“All hail, adored Trinity!
all hail, eternal Unity!
O God the Father, God the Son,
and God the Spirit, ever One.”
This hymn, which is sung to the same tune as “Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow”, is sung at most parishes across the country on Trinity Sunday. This feast day, which falls in between Pentecost and Corpus Christi, is the day where we recognize the revelation of the Holy Trinity. The Doctrine of the Trinity is authentic Christian doctrine, but what is it, and how can we best understand it?
The Doctrine of the Trinity states,
Within the One being of God, there exists three coequal and coeternal persons, namely The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit
Where does this doctrine come from? Those who oppose the Trinity state that it comes centuries after the New Testament was written, and was forced by pagan impositions into the faith. But this is not the case. Simply put, the Father is identified as God, Jesus is identified as God (John 1:1, John 12:41, John 20:28, Philippians 2, Romans 9:5, Titus 2:13, Hebrews 1:8), and The Spirit is identified as God (Acts 5).
One of the major Christian denominations that oppose the Trinity are called Modalists. The largest of these groups are the Oneness Pentecostal. They believe in one person in the Godhead, and that he presents himself in different modes, as Father, as Son, and as Spirit. They claim that when Jesus was praying to the Father, that it was his human side praying to his divine side. This is the denomination I came from, and I would like to offer a simple knockdown argument.
All a Trinitarian would need to do to prove the doctrine of the Trinity from scripture is to demonstrate that the Son existed as a divine person, in relation to the Father, prior to the incarnation and his birth in Bethlehem. In Philippians 2:5-11, St. Paul states,
“5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped; 7 rather, he made himself nothing, taking the very natureof a servant, and being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross!9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
In this passage we clearly see that Jesus existed in relation to the Father (in the form of God, yet having equality with God), and does things that only a person can do (considers equality, empties himself, takes on human likeness). This is a passage that I believe settles the Trinity issue once and for all. There are several more passages that demonstrate these points, but for brevity’s sake I will leave them out.
Reading the church fathers can help us understand how the church viewed Jesus’ deity. While they identified Jesus and the Spirit as God, it took some time before the word Trinity was used. This word is not found in the Bible, but neither are other words that describe God’s attributes (like Omniscience, Omnipresence). But studying sacred scripture, the Church draws out the beautiful truths.
The eternal unity of the Father, Son, and Spirit, the love between them, their role in creation, and their role in the salvation of God’s people are great things to study and meditate on. As a former Oneness Pentecostal, the revelation of the Trinity was one of the major areas leading to my conversion. I love reading about it, and helping others to understand this mystery even just a little further. I will wrap up with the final verse of a hymn I wrote recently for Father Quinn’s last mass. This is sung to the hymn tune FINLANDIA:
“Be to our God all praise and adoration
let all creation glorify His name!
Be to the Son, our Savior and redeemer
glory and power, honor, might and praise!
And Holy Spirit, source of gifts delivered
be humble hearts assembled around the throne”
God bless you all,