Trinity

Trinity

Overview
The Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 doctrine
Christian theology
- Divisions of Christian theology :There are many methods of categorizing different approaches to Christian theology. For a historical analysis, see the main article on the History of Christian theology.- Sub-disciplines :...

 of the Trinity defines God
God in Christianity
In Christianity, God is the eternal being that created and preserves the universe. God is believed by most Christians to be immanent , while others believe the plan of redemption show he will be immanent later...

 as three divine persons (Greek
Koine Greek
Koine Greek is the universal dialect of the Greek language spoken throughout post-Classical antiquity , developing from the Attic dialect, with admixture of elements especially from Ionic....

: ὑποστάσεις): the Father
God the Father
God the Father is a gendered title given to God in many monotheistic religions, particularly patriarchal, Abrahamic ones. In Judaism, God is called Father because he is the creator, life-giver, law-giver, and protector...

, the Son
God the Son
God the Son is the second person of the Trinity in Christian theology. The doctrine of the Trinity identifies Jesus of Nazareth as God the Son, united in essence but distinct in person with regard to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit...

 (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit (Christianity)
For the majority of Christians, the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Holy Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and is Almighty God...

. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial
Consubstantiality
Consubstantial is an adjective used in Latin Christian christology, coined by Tertullian in Against Hermogenes 44, used to translate the Greek term homoousios...

 (Greek: ὁμοούσιοι
Homoousian
Homoousian is a technical theological term used in discussion of the Christian understanding of God as Trinity. The Nicene Creed describes Jesus as being homooúsios with God the Father — that is, they are of the "same substance" and are equally God...

). Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being
Ousia
Ousia is the Ancient Greek noun formed on the feminine present participle of ; it is analogous to the English participle being, and the modern philosophy adjectival ontic...

 (Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

: οὐσία). The Trinity is considered to be a mystery
Sacred Mysteries
The term sacred mysteries generally denotes the area of supernatural phenomena associated with a divinity or a religious ideology.-Pre-Christian religious mysteries:...

 of Christian faith
Faith in Christianity
Faith, in Christianity, has been most commonly defined by the biblical formulation in the Letter to the Hebrews as "'the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen". Most of the definitions in the history of Christian theology have followed this biblical formulation...

.

According to this doctrine, God exists as three persons but is one God, meaning that God the Son and God the Holy Spirit have exactly the same nature or being as God the Father in every way.
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Encyclopedia
The Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 doctrine
Christian theology
- Divisions of Christian theology :There are many methods of categorizing different approaches to Christian theology. For a historical analysis, see the main article on the History of Christian theology.- Sub-disciplines :...

 of the Trinity defines God
God in Christianity
In Christianity, God is the eternal being that created and preserves the universe. God is believed by most Christians to be immanent , while others believe the plan of redemption show he will be immanent later...

 as three divine persons (Greek
Koine Greek
Koine Greek is the universal dialect of the Greek language spoken throughout post-Classical antiquity , developing from the Attic dialect, with admixture of elements especially from Ionic....

: ὑποστάσεις): the Father
God the Father
God the Father is a gendered title given to God in many monotheistic religions, particularly patriarchal, Abrahamic ones. In Judaism, God is called Father because he is the creator, life-giver, law-giver, and protector...

, the Son
God the Son
God the Son is the second person of the Trinity in Christian theology. The doctrine of the Trinity identifies Jesus of Nazareth as God the Son, united in essence but distinct in person with regard to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit...

 (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit (Christianity)
For the majority of Christians, the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Holy Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and is Almighty God...

. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial
Consubstantiality
Consubstantial is an adjective used in Latin Christian christology, coined by Tertullian in Against Hermogenes 44, used to translate the Greek term homoousios...

 (Greek: ὁμοούσιοι
Homoousian
Homoousian is a technical theological term used in discussion of the Christian understanding of God as Trinity. The Nicene Creed describes Jesus as being homooúsios with God the Father — that is, they are of the "same substance" and are equally God...

). Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being
Ousia
Ousia is the Ancient Greek noun formed on the feminine present participle of ; it is analogous to the English participle being, and the modern philosophy adjectival ontic...

 (Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

: οὐσία). The Trinity is considered to be a mystery
Sacred Mysteries
The term sacred mysteries generally denotes the area of supernatural phenomena associated with a divinity or a religious ideology.-Pre-Christian religious mysteries:...

 of Christian faith
Faith in Christianity
Faith, in Christianity, has been most commonly defined by the biblical formulation in the Letter to the Hebrews as "'the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen". Most of the definitions in the history of Christian theology have followed this biblical formulation...

.

According to this doctrine, God exists as three persons but is one God, meaning that God the Son and God the Holy Spirit have exactly the same nature or being as God the Father in every way. Whatever attributes and power God the Father has, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit have as well. "Thus, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are also eternal, omnipresent, omnipotent, infinitely wise, infinitely holy, infinitely loving, omniscient."

According to James Rendel Harris (1852-1941), the doctrine developed as early Christians
Early Christianity
Early Christianity is generally considered as Christianity before 325. The New Testament's Book of Acts and Epistle to the Galatians records that the first Christian community was centered in Jerusalem and its leaders included James, Peter and John....

 tried to reconcile the traditional Jewish monotheism
Monotheism
Monotheism is the belief in the existence of one and only one god. Monotheism is characteristic of the Baha'i Faith, Christianity, Druzism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Samaritanism, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism.While they profess the existence of only one deity, monotheistic religions may still...

 recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

 with their portrayal of Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 as also divine. According to the author of the article on the Trinity in the current Encyclopaedia Britannica, the doctrine of the Trinity developed as the earliest Christians harmonized, over several centuries, the monotheism of the Hebrew Scriptures with their understanding not only of Jesus but also of what they saw as the presence and power of God among them, a presence and power that they called the Holy Spirit. They associated Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together in passages such as the baptismal formula of , which became the most influential text, and the Pauline blessing of In the 3rd century views that were later considered unorthodox were adopted, such as subordinationism
Subordinationism
Subordinationism is a doctrine in Christian theology which holds that the Son and the Holy Spirit are subordinate to God the Father in nature and being...

 and modalism. The doctrine of the Trinity took the form that has since been maintained in all the historic confessions of Christianity by the end of the 4th century
Christianity in the 4th century
Christianity in the 4th century was dominated by Constantine the Great, and the First Council of Nicea of 325, which was the beginning of the period of the First seven Ecumenical Councils and the attempt to reach an orthodox consensus and to establish a unified Christendom as the State church of...

 as a result of controversies concerning the proper sense in which to apply to God, Christ and the Holy Spirit terms such as "person", "nature", "essence", and "substance".

Trinitarianism contrasts with non-Trinitarian positions which include Binitarianism
Binitarianism
Binitarianism is a Christian theology of two personae, two individuals, or two aspects in one Godhead . Classically, binitarianism is understood as strict monotheism — that is, that God is an absolutely single being; and yet with binitarianism there is a "twoness" in God...

 (one deity/two persons), Unitarianism
Unitarianism
Unitarianism is a Christian theological movement, named for its understanding of God as one person, in direct contrast to Trinitarianism which defines God as three persons coexisting consubstantially as one in being....

 (one deity/one person), the Oneness or Modalism belief, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' view of the Godhead as three separate beings who are one in purpose rather than in essence.

Etymology


The English word Trinity is derived from Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 Trinitas, meaning "the number three, a triad". This abstract noun is formed from the adjective trinus (three each, threefold, triple), as the word unitas is the abstract noun formed from unus (one).

The corresponding word in Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 is , meaning "a set of three" or "the number three".

The first recorded use of this Greek word in Christian theology (though not about the Divine Trinity) was by Theophilus of Antioch
Theophilus of Antioch
Theophilus, Patriarch of Antioch, succeeded Eros c. 169, and was succeeded by Maximus I c.183, according to Henry Fynes Clinton, but these dates are only approximations...

 in about 170. He wrote:
"In like manner also the three days which were before the luminaries, are types
Typology (theology)
Typology in Christian theology and Biblical exegesis is a doctrine or theory concerning the relationship between the Old and New Testaments...

 of the Trinity [], of God, and His Word, and His wisdom. And the fourth is the type of man, who needs light, that so there may be God, the Word, wisdom, man."


Tertullian
Tertullian
Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, anglicised as Tertullian , was a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa. He is the first Christian author to produce an extensive corpus of Latin Christian literature. He also was a notable early Christian apologist and...

, a Latin theologian who wrote in the early 3rd century, is credited with using the words "Trinity", "person" and "substance" to explain that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are "one in essence—not one in Person".

About a century later, in 325, the First Council of Nicaea
First Council of Nicaea
The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325...

 established the doctrine of the Trinity as orthodoxy
Orthodoxy
The word orthodox, from Greek orthos + doxa , is generally used to mean the adherence to accepted norms, more specifically to creeds, especially in religion...

 and adopted the Nicene Creed
Nicene Creed
The Nicene Creed is the creed or profession of faith that is most widely used in Christian liturgy. It is called Nicene because, in its original form, it was adopted in the city of Nicaea by the first ecumenical council, which met there in the year 325.The Nicene Creed has been normative to the...

, which described Christ as "God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance (homoousios) with the Father".

Personhood


In the Trinity doctrine, each person is understood as having the same identical essence or nature, not merely similar natures. The being of Christ can be said to have dominated theological discussions and councils of the church until the 7th century, and resulted in the Nicene and Constantinopolitan creeds, the Ephesine Formula of 431, the Christological statement of the Epistola Dogmatica of Leo I to Flavianus, and the condemnation of Monothelism in the Sixth Ecumenical Council (680-681). From these councils, the following christological doctrines were condemned as heresies: Ebionism, Docetism
Docetism
In Christianity, docetism is the belief that Jesus' physical body was an illusion, as was his crucifixion; that is, Jesus only seemed to have a physical body and to physically die, but in reality he was incorporeal, a pure spirit, and hence could not physically die...

, Basilidianism
Basilides
Basilides was an early Gnostic religious teacher in Alexandria, Egypt who taught from 117–138 AD, notes that to prove that the heretical sects were "later than the catholic Church," Clement of Alexandria assigns Christ's own teaching to the reigns of Augustus and Tiberius; that of the apostles,...

, Alogi
Alogi
The Alogi were a group of Christian heretics in Asia Minor that flourished around 170 CE. What we know of them is derived from their doctrinal opponents, whose literature is still extant, particularly St. Epiphanius of Salamis...

sm or Artemon
Artemon
Artemon , a prominent Christian teacher in Rome, who held Adoptionist, or Nontrinitarian views. We know little about his life for certain.He is mentioned as the leader of a nontrinitarian sect at Rome in the third century...

ism, Patripassianism
Patripassianism
In Christian theology, patripassianism is the view that God the Father suffers . Its adherents believe that God the Father was incarnate and suffered on the cross and that whatever happened to the Son happened to the Father and so the Father co-suffered with the human Jesus on the cross...

, Sabellianism
Sabellianism
In Christianity, Sabellianism, is the nontrinitarian belief that the Heavenly Father, Resurrected Son and Holy Spirit are different modes or aspects of one God, as perceived by the believer, rather than three distinct persons in God Himself.The term Sabellianism comes from...

, Arianism
Arianism
Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius , a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt, concerning the relationship of the entities of the Trinity and the precise nature of the Son of God as being a subordinate entity to God the Father...

, Apollinarianism, Nestorianism
Nestorianism
Nestorianism is a Christological doctrine advanced by Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople from 428–431. The doctrine, which was informed by Nestorius's studies under Theodore of Mopsuestia at the School of Antioch, emphasizes the disunion between the human and divine natures of Jesus...

, Eutychianism
Eutychianism
Eutychianism refers to a set of Christian theological doctrines derived from the ideas of Eutyches of Constantinople . Eutychianism is a specific understanding of how the human and divine relate within the person of Jesus Christ .At various times, Eutyches taught that the human nature of Christ was...

, Monophysitism
Monophysitism
Monophysitism , or Monophysiticism, is the Christological position that Jesus Christ has only one nature, his humanity being absorbed by his Deity...

, and Monothelitism
Monothelitism
Monothelitism is a particular teaching about how the divine and human relate in the person of Jesus, known as a Christological doctrine, that formally emerged in Armenia and Syria in 629. Specifically, monothelitism teaches that Jesus Christ had two natures but only one will...

. Since the beginning of the third century
Christianity in the 3rd century
The 3rd century of Christianity was largely the time of the Ante-Nicene Fathers who wrote after the Apostolic Fathers of the 1st and 2nd centuries but before the First Council of Nicaea in 325...

 the doctrine of the Trinity has been stated as "the one God exists in three Persons and one substance, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." Trinitarianism, belief in the Trinity, is a mark of Roman Catholicism
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, Eastern
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 and Oriental Orthodoxy
Oriental Orthodoxy
Oriental Orthodoxy is the faith of those Eastern Christian Churches that recognize only three ecumenical councils — the First Council of Nicaea, the First Council of Constantinople and the First Council of Ephesus. They rejected the dogmatic definitions of the Council of Chalcedon...

 as well as of the "mainstream traditions" arising from the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

, such as Anglicanism
Anglicanism
Anglicanism is a tradition within Christianity comprising churches with historical connections to the Church of England or similar beliefs, worship and church structures. The word Anglican originates in ecclesia anglicana, a medieval Latin phrase dating to at least 1246 that means the English...

, Baptist
Baptist
Baptists comprise a group of Christian denominations and churches that subscribe to a doctrine that baptism should be performed only for professing believers , and that it must be done by immersion...

, Methodism
Methodism
Methodism is a movement of Protestant Christianity represented by a number of denominations and organizations, claiming a total of approximately seventy million adherents worldwide. The movement traces its roots to John Wesley's evangelistic revival movement within Anglicanism. His younger brother...

, Lutheranism
Lutheranism
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation...

 and Presbyterianism
Presbyterianism
Presbyterianism refers to a number of Christian churches adhering to the Calvinist theological tradition within Protestantism, which are organized according to a characteristic Presbyterian polity. Presbyterian theology typically emphasizes the sovereignty of God, the authority of the Scriptures,...

. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church describes the Trinity as "the central dogma of Christian theology
Christian theology
- Divisions of Christian theology :There are many methods of categorizing different approaches to Christian theology. For a historical analysis, see the main article on the History of Christian theology.- Sub-disciplines :...

".

Comma Johanneum


In addition to these, , which is found in the King James Version but not in modern English translations nor in the official Latin text (a revision of the Vulgate
Vulgate
The Vulgate is a late 4th-century Latin translation of the Bible. It was largely the work of St. Jerome, who was commissioned by Pope Damasus I in 382 to make a revision of the old Latin translations...

) of the Roman Catholic Church, states: "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one." However, this Comma Johanneum
Comma Johanneum
The Comma Johanneum is a comma in the First Epistle of John according to the Latin Vulgate text as transmitted since the Early Middle Ages, based on Vetus Latina minority readings dating to the 7th century...

 is not considered to be part of the genuine text. It is commonly found in Latin manuscripts, but is absent from the Greek manuscripts, except for a few late examples, where the passage appears to have been back-translated from the Latin. Erasmus, the compiler of the Textus Receptus
Textus Receptus
Textus Receptus is the name subsequently given to the succession of printed Greek texts of the New Testament which constituted the translation base for the original German Luther Bible, the translation of the New Testament into English by William Tyndale, the King James Version, and for most other...

, on which the King James Version was based, noticed that the passage was not found in any of the Greek manuscripts at his disposal and refused to include it until presented with a manuscript containing it, while still suspecting, as is now agreed, that the phrase was a gloss
Gloss
A gloss is a brief notation of the meaning of a word or wording in a text. It may be in the language of the text, or in the reader's language if that is different....

.
Although the Latin Church Father, Saint Cyprian
Cyprian
Cyprian was bishop of Carthage and an important Early Christian writer, many of whose Latin works are extant. He was born around the beginning of the 3rd century in North Africa, perhaps at Carthage, where he received a classical education...

, alone among early writers, is thought to have referred to the passage, it is now considered not to be part of the original text.

Jesus as God



As opposed to the Synoptic Gospels
Synoptic Gospels
The gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as the Synoptic Gospels because they include many of the same stories, often in the same sequence, and sometimes exactly the same wording. This degree of parallelism in content, narrative arrangement, language, and sentence structures can only be...

, the Gospel of John
Gospel of John
The Gospel According to John , commonly referred to as the Gospel of John or simply John, and often referred to in New Testament scholarship as the Fourth Gospel, is an account of the public ministry of Jesus...

 has been seen as aimed at emphasizing Jesus' divinity, presenting Jesus as the Logos
Logos
' is an important term in philosophy, psychology, rhetoric and religion. Originally a word meaning "a ground", "a plea", "an opinion", "an expectation", "word," "speech," "account," "reason," it became a technical term in philosophy, beginning with Heraclitus ' is an important term in...

, pre-existent and divine, from its first words, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John also portrays Jesus as the creator of the universe
Creator deity
A creator deity is a deity responsible for the creation of the world . In monotheism, the single God is often also the creator deity, while polytheistic traditions may or may not have creator deities...

, such that "without him was not any thing made that was made." Some render John 1:1 as "the Word was a god", "the word was godlike", "the word was divine", denying that the doctrine of the Trinity is supported by the verse.

The Gospel of John ends with Thomas' apparent confession of faith to Jesus, "My Lord and my God!" There is no significant tendency among modern scholars to deny that John 1:1 and John 20:28 identify Jesus with God.

Other passages of John's Gospel interpreted in this sense include, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.", "I and the Father are one.", "....the Father is in me and I am in the Father.", and "....he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God." John is also seen to identify Jesus as the Lord whom Isaiah saw, while other texts are also understood as referring to Jesus as God.

There are also a few possible biblical supports for the Trinity found in the Synoptic Gospels
Synoptic Gospels
The gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as the Synoptic Gospels because they include many of the same stories, often in the same sequence, and sometimes exactly the same wording. This degree of parallelism in content, narrative arrangement, language, and sentence structures can only be...

. The Gospel of Matthew, for example, quotes Jesus as saying "all things have been handed over to me by my Father". This is similar to John, who wrote that Jesus said "All that the Father has is mine". These verses have been quoted to defend the omnipotence of Christ, having all power, as well as the omniscience of Christ, having all wisdom.

Expressions also in the Pauline epistles
Pauline epistles
The Pauline epistles, Epistles of Paul, or Letters of Paul, are the thirteen New Testament books which have the name Paul as the first word, hence claiming authorship by Paul the Apostle. Among these letters are some of the earliest extant Christian documents...

 have been interpreted as attributing divinity to Jesus. They include: "For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him" and "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form", and in Paul the Apostle's claim to have been "sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father".

In the prophet records his vision of "one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven", who "was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him" (v. 14). Christians believe that worship is only properly given to God, and that considering other Bible passages this "son of man" can be identified as the second person of the Trinity. Parallels may be drawn between Daniel's vision and Jesus' words to the Jewish high priest that in the future those assembled would see "the son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven." Jesus was immediately accused of blasphemy, as at other times when he had identified his unity with the Father. Christians also believe that John saw the resurrected, gloried Jesus and described him as "One like the Son of Man
Son of man
The phrase son of man is a primarily Semitic idiom that originated in Ancient Mesopotamia, used to denote humanity or self. The phrase is also used in Judaism and Christianity. The phrase used in the Greek, translated as Son of man is ὁ υἱὸς τοὺ ἀνθρώπου...

."
Some believe the Trinity was also introduced in the Old Testament book of Isaiah
Isaiah
Isaiah ; Greek: ', Ēsaïās ; "Yahu is salvation") was a prophet in the 8th-century BC Kingdom of Judah.Jews and Christians consider the Book of Isaiah a part of their Biblical canon; he is the first listed of the neviim akharonim, the later prophets. Many of the New Testament teachings of Jesus...

 written around 700 years before Jesus, copies of which were preserved from 300 years before Jesus in the Dead Sea Scrolls
Dead Sea scrolls
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 972 texts from the Hebrew Bible and extra-biblical documents found between 1947 and 1956 on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, from which they derive their name...

. prophesies "For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon his shoulder. And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Thus a son who will be born at a particular point in history who is called "Mighty God". Some non-Trinitarians argue that this passage would also imply that Jesus is the Father, the first person in the Trinity. However, Trinitarians contend that Jesus is the second person in the Trinity, and he is called "Everlasting Father" because of his role as Creator of men.

Another possible biblical demonstration of the deity of Jesus comes from the biblical scholar Granville Sharp
Granville Sharp
Granville Sharp was one of the first English campaigners for the abolition of the slave trade. He also involved himself in trying to correct other social injustices. Sharp formulated the plan to settle blacks in Sierra Leone, and founded the St. George's Bay Company, a forerunner of the Sierra...

 who noted the construction of a particular Greek idiom, which is now called Granville Sharp's rule. According to the rule, when two nouns that are personal, singular, and not proper names are connected in a TSKS pattern (The—Substantive—Kai—Substantive, where 'kai' is Greek for 'and') then the two nouns refer to the same person. Passages like and fit this pattern. Therefore, when Paul says: "The great God and savior, Jesus Christ" he is grammatically identifying Jesus Christ as the great God. Proper nouns are not used in this phrase. In his review of over 1,000 years of Greek literature, Christopher Wordsworth confirmed that early church Fathers had this same understanding of the text.

An opposing view of the Granville Sharp rule, however, argues that in Matthew 21:12 Jesus ‘cast out all those that were selling and buying in the temple,’ (τοὺς πωλοῦντας καὶ ἀγοράζοντας). So too, in Mark 11:15 the two classes are made distinct by the insertion of τούς before ἀγοράζοντας. Because of this, they argue that no one can reasonably suppose that the same persons are here described as both selling and buying, yet they fit within the Granville Sharp rule's construction. Therefore, according to this view, there is biblical evidence to distinguish between "the great God" and "our Saviour, Jesus Christ" in Titus 2:13, and by extension, 2 Peter 1:1. However, unlike 2 Peter 1:1 and Titus 2:13, Matthew 21:12 and Mark 11:15 do not fit Sharp's rule, since they use plural participle
Participle
In linguistics, a participle is a word that shares some characteristics of both verbs and adjectives. It can be used in compound verb tenses or voices , or as a modifier...

s, not singular personal nouns.

Some have suggested that John presents a hierarchy when he quotes Jesus as saying, "The Father is greater than I", a statement which was appealed to by non-trinitarian groups such as Arianism
Arianism
Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius , a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt, concerning the relationship of the entities of the Trinity and the precise nature of the Son of God as being a subordinate entity to God the Father...

. However, Church Fathers such as Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo , also known as Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Austin, St. Augoustinos, Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed, was Bishop of Hippo Regius . He was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province...

 argued this statement was to be understood as Jesus speaking in the form of a man.

Others have suggested that passages in the Synoptic Gospels contradict the Trinity. For example, the Agnoetae
Agnoetae
Agnoetae was a general name given to those heretical sects which in one form or another denied the divine omniscience either of the incarnate Christ or of God the Father....

 sect argued that Jesus himself denied omniscience, when he said "but of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father". However, the Church Fathers reasoned that, in the Bible, "to know" can sometimes mean "to reveal". For example, Augustine of Hippo argued that when Deuteronomy 13:3 said "the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart", "to know" here meant "to reveal". So too, Mark 13:32 could be saying that the Father alone reveals that day, but Jesus himself could know the day as well. This is supported by passages that seem to argue that Jesus did know all things, such as "He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.""

Holy Spirit as God


As the Arian controversy was dwindling down, the debate moved from the deity of Jesus Christ to the equality of the Holy Spirit with the Father and Son. On one hand, the Pneumatomachi
Pneumatomachi
The Pneumatomachi, also known as Macedonians or Semi-Arians in Constantinople and the Tropici in Alexandria, were an anti-Nicene Creed sect which flourished in the countries adjacent to the Hellespont during the latter half of the fourth, and the beginning of the fifth century...

 sect declared that the Holy Spirit was an inferior person to the Father and Son. On the other hand, the Cappadocian Fathers
Cappadocian Fathers
The Cappadocian Fathers are Basil the Great , who was bishop of Caesarea; Basil's brother Gregory of Nyssa , who was bishop of Nyssa; and a close friend, Gregory of Nazianzus , who became Patriarch of Constantinople...

 argued that the Holy Spirit was an equal person to the Father and Son.

Although the main text used in defense of the deity of the Holy Spirit was Matthew 28:19, Cappadocian Fathers such as Basil the Great argued from other verses such as "But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God."

Another passage the Cappadocian Fathers quoted from was "By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host." According to their understanding, because "breath" and "spirit" in Hebrew are both "רוּחַ" ("ruach"), Psalm 33:6 is revealing the roles of the Son and Holy Spirit as co-creators. And since, according to them, because the holy God can only create holy beings such as the angels, the Son and Holy Spirit must be God.

Yet another argument from the Cappadocian Fathers to prove that the Holy Spirit is of the same nature as the Father and Son comes from "For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God." They reasoned that this passage proves that the Holy Spirit has the same relationship to God as the spirit within us has to us.

The Cappadocian Fathers also quoted "Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?" and reasoned that it would be blasphemous for an inferior being to take up residence in a temple of God, thus proving that the Holy Spirit is equal with the Father and the Son.

They also combined "the servant does not know what his master is doing" with 1 Corinthians 2:11 in an attempt to show that the Holy Spirit is not the slave of God, and therefore his equal.

The Pneumatomachi contradicted the Cappadocian Fathers by quoting "Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?", in effect arguing that the Holy Spirit is no different than other created angelic spirits. The Church Fathers disagreed, saying that the Holy Spirit is greater than the angels, since the Holy Spirit is the one who grants the foreknowledge for prophesy so that the angels could announce events to come.

Claims of Old Testament prefigurations



Genesis 18–19 have been interpreted by Christians as a Trinitarian text. The narrative has the Lord appearing to Abraham, who was visited by three men. Then in , "the two angels" visited Lot
Lot (Bible)
Lot is a man from the Book of Genesis chapters 11-14 and 19, in the Hebrew Bible. Notable episodes in his life include his travels with his uncle Abram ; his flight from the destruction of Sodom, in the course of which Lot's wife looked back and became a pillar of salt; and the seduction by his...

 at Sodom. The interplay between Abraham on the one hand, and the Lord/three men/the two angels on the other was an intriguing text for those who believed in a single God in three persons. Justin Martyr
Justin Martyr
Justin Martyr, also known as just Saint Justin , was an early Christian apologist. Most of his works are lost, but two apologies and a dialogue survive. He is considered a saint by the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church....

, and John Calvin
John Calvin
John Calvin was an influential French theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation. He was a principal figure in the development of the system of Christian theology later called Calvinism. Originally trained as a humanist lawyer, he broke from the Roman Catholic Church around 1530...

 similarly, interpreted it such that Abraham was visited by God, who was accompanied by two angels. Justin supposed that the god who visited Abraham was distinguishable from the god who remains in the heavens, but was nevertheless identified as the (monotheistic) god. Justin appropriated the god who visited Abraham to Jesus, the second person of the Trinity.

Augustine, in contrast, held that the three visitors to Abraham were the three persons of the Trinity. He saw no indication that the visitors were unequal, as would be the case in Justin's reading. Then in , two of the visitors were addressed by Lot in the singular: "Lot said to them, 'Not so, my lord. Augustine saw that Lot could address them as one because they had a single substance, despite the plurality of persons. Some Christians see indications in the Old Testament of a plurality and unity in God, an idea that is rejected by Judaism.

Some Christians interpret the theophanies
Theophany
Theophany, from the Ancient Greek , meaning "appearance of God"), refers to the appearance of a deity to a human or other being, or to a divine disclosure....

 or appearances of the Angel of the Lord
Angel of the Lord
The Angel of the Lord is one of many terms in the Hebrew Bible used for an angel. The Biblical name for angel, מלאך mal'ach, which translates simply as "messenger," obtained the further signification of "angel" only through the addition of God's name, as The Angel of the Lord (or the Angel of...

 as revelations of a person distinct from God, who is nonetheless called God. This interpretation is found in Christianity as early as Justin Martyr
Justin Martyr
Justin Martyr, also known as just Saint Justin , was an early Christian apologist. Most of his works are lost, but two apologies and a dialogue survive. He is considered a saint by the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church....

 and Melito of Sardis
Melito of Sardis
Melito of Sardis was the bishop of Sardis near Smyrna in western Anatolia, and a great authority in Early Christianity: Jerome, speaking of the Old Testament canon established by Melito, quotes Tertullian to the effect that he was esteemed a prophet by many of the faithful...

, and reflects ideas that were already present in Philo
Philo
Philo , known also as Philo of Alexandria , Philo Judaeus, Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, Yedidia, "Philon", and Philo the Jew, was a Hellenistic Jewish Biblical philosopher born in Alexandria....

. The Old Testament theophanies were thus seen as Christophanies
Christophany
A Christophany is an appearance, or non-physical manifestation, of Christ.Traditionally the term refers to visions of Christ after his ascension such as the bright light of the Damascus Christophany....

, each a "preincarnate appearance of the Messiah".

Theophanies: and —God appeared to Abraham and —God appeared to Isaac, and —God appeared to Jacob and —God appeared to Moses—God appeared to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and —God appeared to Aaron—God appeared to Moses and Joshua—God appeared to Samuel, and —God appeared to Solomon—God appeared to David—God appeared to Solomon

The angel (messenger) of the Lord:

Possible references in the Deuterocanonical books


In Wisdom
Book of Wisdom
The Book of Wisdom, often referred to simply as Wisdom or the Book of the Wisdom of Solomon, is one of the deuterocanonical books of the Bible. It is one of the seven Sapiential or wisdom books of the Septuagint Old Testament, which includes Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon ,...

, Sirach, and Baruch
Book of Baruch
The Book of Baruch, occasionally referred to as 1 Baruch, is called a deuterocanonical book of the Bible. Although not in the Hebrew Bible, it is found in the Septuagint and in the Vulgate Bible, and also in Theodotion's version. It is grouped with the prophetical books which also include Isaiah,...

, the personifications of wisdom have been seen in the Christian traditions as prefigures for Christ. The most explicit reference to the Trinity is in Wisdom of Solomon:

History


Although there is much debate as to whether the beliefs of the Apostles were merely articulated and explained in the Trinitarian Creeds, or were corrupted and replaced with new beliefs, all scholars recognize that the Creeds themselves were created in reaction to disagreements over the nature of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These controversies, however, were great and many, and took many centuries to be resolved.

Of these controversies, the most significant developments were articulated in the first four centuries by the Church Fathers
Church Fathers
The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church were early and influential theologians, eminent Christian teachers and great bishops. Their scholarly works were used as a precedent for centuries to come...

 in reaction to Adoptionism
Adoptionism
Adoptionism, sometimes called dynamic monarchianism, is a minority Christian belief that Jesus was adopted as God's son at his baptism...

, Sabellianism
Sabellianism
In Christianity, Sabellianism, is the nontrinitarian belief that the Heavenly Father, Resurrected Son and Holy Spirit are different modes or aspects of one God, as perceived by the believer, rather than three distinct persons in God Himself.The term Sabellianism comes from...

, and Arianism
Arianism
Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius , a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt, concerning the relationship of the entities of the Trinity and the precise nature of the Son of God as being a subordinate entity to God the Father...

. Adoptionism was the belief that Jesus was an ordinary man, born of Joseph and Mary, who became the Christ and Son of God at his baptism. In 269, the Synods of Antioch
Synods of Antioch
Beginning with three synods convened between 264 and 269 in the matter of Paul of Samosata, more than thirty councils were held in Antioch in ancient times. Most of these dealt with phases of the Arian and of the Christological controversies...

 condemned Paul of Samosata
Paul of Samosata
Paul of Samosata was Bishop of Antioch from 260 to 268. He was a believer in monarchianism, and his teachings anticipate adoptionism.-Life:...

 for his Adoptionist theology, and also condemned the term "homoousios" in the sense he used it.

Sabellianism taught that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are aspects
Prosopon
Prosopon is a technical term encountered in Greek theology. It is most often translated as "person", and as such is sometimes confused in translation with hypostasis, which is also translated as "person." Prosopon originally meant "face" or "mask" in Greek and derives from Greek theatre, in which...

 of how humanity has interacted with or experienced God. In the role of the Father, God is the provider and creator of all. In the role of the Son, God is manifested in the flesh as a human, in order to bring about the salvation of mankind. In the role of the Holy Spirit, God manifests himself from heaven through his actions on the earth and within the lives of Christians. This view was rejected as heresy
Christian heresy
Christian heresy refers to non-orthodox practices and beliefs that were deemed to be heretical by one or more of the Christian churches. In Western Christianity, the term "heresy" most commonly refers to those beliefs which were declared to be anathema by the Catholic Church prior to the schism of...

 by the Ecumenical Councils.

Arianism, which was coming into prominence during the 4th century along with Trinitarianism, taught that the Father came before the Son, and that the Son was a distinct being from the Holy Spirit. In 325, the Council of Nicaea
First Council of Nicaea
The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325...

 adopted a term for the relationship between the Father and the Son that from then on was seen as the hallmark of orthodoxy; it declared that the Son is "of the same being" as the Father. This was further developed into the formula "three persons, one being".

Saint Athanasius, who was a participant in the Council, stated that the bishops were forced to use this terminology, which is not found in Scripture, because the Biblical phrases that they would have preferred to use were claimed by the Arians
Arianism
Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius , a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt, concerning the relationship of the entities of the Trinity and the precise nature of the Son of God as being a subordinate entity to God the Father...

 to be capable of being interpreted in what the bishops considered to be a heretical sense. They therefore "commandeered the non-scriptural term homoousios ('of the same being') to safeguard the essential relation of the Son to the Father that had been denied by Arius
Arius
Arius was a Christian presbyter in Alexandria, Egypt of Libyan origins. His teachings about the nature of the Godhead, which emphasized the Father's divinity over the Son , and his opposition to the Athanasian or Trinitarian Christology, made him a controversial figure in the First Council of...

."

Moreover, the meanings of "ousia" and "hypostasis
Hypostasis (religion)
In Christian theology, a hypostasis or person is one of the three elements of the Holy Trinity.In Christian usage, the Greek word hypostasis means beneath-standing or underpinning and, by extension, the existence of some thing...

" overlapped then, so that the latter term for some meant essence and for others person. Athanasius of Alexandria
Athanasius of Alexandria
Athanasius of Alexandria [b. ca. – d. 2 May 373] is also given the titles St. Athanasius the Great, St. Athanasius I of Alexandria, St Athanasius the Confessor and St Athanasius the Apostolic. He was the 20th bishop of Alexandria. His long episcopate lasted 45 years Athanasius of Alexandria [b....

 (293–373) helped to clarify the terms.

The Confession of the Council of Nicaea said little about the Holy Spirit. The doctrine of the divinity and personality of the Holy Spirit was developed by Athanasius in the last decades of his life. He defended and refined the Nicene formula. By the end of the 4th century, under the leadership of Basil of Caesarea
Basil of Caesarea
Basil of Caesarea, also called Saint Basil the Great, was the bishop of Caesarea Mazaca in Cappadocia, Asia Minor . He was an influential 4th century Christian theologian...

, Gregory of Nyssa
Gregory of Nyssa
St. Gregory of Nyssa was a Christian bishop and saint. He was a younger brother of Basil the Great and a good friend of Gregory of Nazianzus. His significance has long been recognized in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Catholic and Roman Catholic branches of Christianity...

, and Gregory of Nazianzus
Gregory of Nazianzus
Gregory of Nazianzus was a 4th-century Archbishop of Constantinople. He is widely considered the most accomplished rhetorical stylist of the patristic age...

 (the Cappadocian Fathers
Cappadocian Fathers
The Cappadocian Fathers are Basil the Great , who was bishop of Caesarea; Basil's brother Gregory of Nyssa , who was bishop of Nyssa; and a close friend, Gregory of Nazianzus , who became Patriarch of Constantinople...

), the doctrine had reached substantially its current form.

The Ante-Nicene Fathers, although likely foreign to the specifics of Trinitarian theology because they were not defined until the 4th century, nevertheless affirmed Christ's deity and referenced "Father, Son and Holy Spirit". Trinitarians view these as elements of the codified doctrine.

Baptism as the beginning lesson



Baptism is generally conferred with the Trinitarian formula
Trinitarian formula
The trinitarian formula is the phrase "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" , or words to that form and effect referring to the three persons of the Christian Trinity.- Biblical origin :...

, "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." Trinitarians identify this name with the Christian faith into which baptism is an initiation, as seen for example in the statement of Basil the Great (330–379): "We are bound to be baptized in the terms we have received, and to profess faith in the terms in which we have been baptized." "This is the Faith of our baptism", the First Council of Constantinople
First Council of Constantinople
The First Council of Constantinople is recognized as the Second Ecumenical Council by the Assyrian Church of the East, the Oriental Orthodox, the Eastern Orthodox, the Roman Catholics, the Old Catholics, and a number of other Western Christian groups. It was the first Ecumenical Council held in...

 also says (382), "that teaches us to believe in the Name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. According to this Faith there is one Godhead, Power, and Being of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

may be taken to indicate that baptism was associated with this formula from the earliest decades of the Church's existence.

Some groups, such as Oneness Pentecostals, demur from the Trinitarian view on baptism. For them, the omission of the formula in Acts outweighs all other considerations, and is a liturgical guide for their own practice. For this reason, they often focus on the baptisms in Acts, citing many authoritative theological works. For example, Kittel is cited where he is speaking of the phrase "in the name" (Greek
Koine Greek
Koine Greek is the universal dialect of the Greek language spoken throughout post-Classical antiquity , developing from the Attic dialect, with admixture of elements especially from Ionic....

: ) as used in the baptisms recorded in Acts:
The distinctive feature of Christian baptism is that it is administered in Christ , or in the name of Christ . (Gerhard Kittel, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977), 1:539.)
The formula seems to have been a tech. term in Hellenistic commerce ("to the account"). In both cases the use of the phrase is understandable, since the account bears the name of the one who owns it, and in baptism the name of Christ is pronounced, invoked and confessed by the one who baptises or the one baptised or both. (Kittel, 1:540.)


Those who place great emphasis on the baptisms in Acts often likewise question the authenticity of in its present form. A. Ploughman, apparently following F. C. Conybeare
Frederick Cornwallis Conybeare
Frederick Cornwallis Conybeare was a British orientalist, Fellow of University College, Oxford, and Professor of Theology at the University of Oxford.-Biography:...

, has questioned the authenticity of , but most scholars of New Testament textual criticism
Textual criticism
Textual criticism is a branch of literary criticism that is concerned with the identification and removal of transcription errors in the texts of manuscripts...

 accept the authenticity of the passage, since there are no variant manuscripts regarding the formula, and the extant form of the passage is attested in the Didache
Didache
The Didache or The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles is a brief early Christian treatise, dated by most scholars to the late first or early 2nd century...

 and other patristic works of the 1st and 2nd centuries: Ignatius
Ignatius of Antioch
Ignatius of Antioch was among the Apostolic Fathers, was the third Bishop of Antioch, and was a student of John the Apostle. En route to his martyrdom in Rome, Ignatius wrote a series of letters which have been preserved as an example of very early Christian theology...

, Tertullian
Tertullian
Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, anglicised as Tertullian , was a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa. He is the first Christian author to produce an extensive corpus of Latin Christian literature. He also was a notable early Christian apologist and...

, Hippolytus
Hippolytus (writer)
Hippolytus of Rome was the most important 3rd-century theologian in the Christian Church in Rome, where he was probably born. Photios I of Constantinople describes him in his Bibliotheca Hippolytus of Rome (170 – 235) was the most important 3rd-century theologian in the Christian Church in Rome,...

, Cyprian
Cyprian
Cyprian was bishop of Carthage and an important Early Christian writer, many of whose Latin works are extant. He was born around the beginning of the 3rd century in North Africa, perhaps at Carthage, where he received a classical education...

, and Gregory Thaumaturgus
Gregory Thaumaturgus
Gregory Thaumaturgus, also known as Gregory of Neocaesarea or Gregory the Wonderworker, was a Christian bishop of the 3rd century.-Biography:Gregory was born at Neo-Caesarea around 213 A.D...

. The Acts of the Apostles
Acts of the Apostles
The Acts of the Apostles , usually referred to simply as Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament; Acts outlines the history of the Apostolic Age...

 only mentions believers being baptized "in the name of Jesus Christ" and "in the name of the Lord Jesus." There are no biblical references to baptism in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit outside of , nor references, biblical or patristic, to baptism in the name of (the Lord) Jesus (Christ) outside the Acts of the Apostles.

Commenting on , Gerhard Kittel states:
This threefold relation [of Father, Son and Spirit] soon found fixed expression in the triadic formulae in and in . The form is first found in the baptismal formula in ; Did., 7. 1 and 3....[I]t is self-evident that Father, Son and Spirit are here linked in an indissoluble threefold relationship.


In the synoptic Gospels the baptism of Jesus
Baptism of Jesus
The baptism of Jesus marks the beginning of Jesus Christ's public ministry. This event is recorded in the Canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. In John 1:29-33 rather than a direct narrative, the Baptist bears witness to the episode...

 is often interpreted as a manifestation of all three persons of the Trinity: "And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, 'This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.

One God


Christianity, having emerged from Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

, is a monotheistic religion. Never in the New Testament does the trinitarian concept become a "tritheism
Tritheism
Tritheism is the belief that there are three distinct, powerful gods, who form a triad. Generally three gods are envisaged as having separate powers and separate supreme beings or spheres of influence but working together...

" (three Gods) nor even two. God is one, and that the Godhead is a single being is strongly declared in the Bible:
  • The Shema of the Hebrew Scriptures: "Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one."
  • The first of the Ten Commandments
    Ten Commandments
    The Ten Commandments, also known as the Decalogue , are a set of biblical principles relating to ethics and worship, which play a fundamental role in Judaism and most forms of Christianity. They include instructions to worship only God and to keep the Sabbath, and prohibitions against idolatry,...

    —"Thou shalt have no other gods before me".
  • and "Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel and his redeemer the LORD of hosts: I am the first and I am the last; and beside me there is no God."
  • In the New Testament: "The Lord our God is one."


In the Trinitarian view, the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost share the one essence, substance or being. The central and crucial affirmation of Christian faith is that there is one savior, God, and one salvation, manifest in Jesus Christ, to which there is access only because of the Holy Spirit. The God of the Old Testament is still the same as the God of the New. In Christianity, statements about a solitary God are intended to distinguish the Hebraic understanding from the polytheistic
Polytheism
Polytheism is the belief of multiple deities also usually assembled into a pantheon of gods and goddesses, along with their own mythologies and rituals....

 view, which see divine power as shared by several beings, beings which can and do disagree and have conflicts with each other.

God in three persons


According to the Trinity doctrine, God exists as three persons, or hypostases, but is one being, that is, has but a single divine nature. Chalcedonian
Chalcedonian
Chalcedonian describes churches and theologians which accept the definition given at the Council of Chalcedon of how the divine and human relate in the person of Jesus Christ...

s—Roman Catholics, Orthodox Christians
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

, and Protestants—hold that, in addition, the second person of the Trinity—God the Son, Jesus—assumed human nature, so that he has two natures (and hence two wills), and is really and fully both true God and true human. In the Oriental Orthodox theology, the Chalcedonian formulation is rejected in favor of the position that the union of the two natures, though unconfused, births a third nature: redeemed humanity, the new creation.

The members of the Trinity are said to be co-equal and co-eternal, one in essence, nature, power, action, and will. As stated in the Athanasian Creed
Athanasian Creed
The Athanasian Creed is a Christian statement of belief, focusing on Trinitarian doctrine and Christology. The Latin name of the creed, Quicumque vult, is taken from the opening words, "Whosoever wishes." The Athanasian Creed has been used by Christian churches since the sixth century...

, the Father is uncreated, the Son is uncreated, and the Holy Spirit is uncreated, and all three are eternal with no beginning. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that, in the sense of the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 verb procedere (which does not have to indicate ultimate origin and is therefore compatible with proceeding through), but not in that of the Greek verb ἐκπορεύεσθαι (which implies ultimate origin), the Spirit "proceeds" from the Father and the Son (see Filioque), and the Eastern Orthodox Church, which teaches that the Spirit "proceeds" from the Father alone, has made no statement on the claim of a difference in meaning between the two words, one Greek and one Latin, both of which are translated as "proceeds". There is no dispute on the statement in the Nicene Creed that the Holy Spirit is worshipped together with the Father and the Son.

It has been stated that because three persons exist in God as one unity, "The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit" are not three different names for different parts of God but one name for God, because the Father can not be divided from the Son or the Holy Spirit from the Son. God has always loved, and there has always existed perfectly harmonious communion between the three persons of the Trinity. One consequence of this teaching is that God could not have created man to have someone to talk to or to love: God "already" enjoyed personal communion; being perfect, he did not create man because of a lack or inadequacy he had. Another consequence, according to Rev. Fr. Thomas Hopko, an Eastern Orthodox theologian, is that if God were not a Trinity, he could not have loved prior to creating other beings on whom to bestow his love. Thus God says, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." For Trinitarians, emphasis in Genesis 1:26 is on the plurality in the Deity, and in 1:27 on the unity of the divine Essence. A possible interpretation of Genesis 1:26 is that God's relationships in the Trinity are mirrored in man by the ideal relationship between husband and wife, two persons becoming one flesh, as described in Eve
Eve (Bible)
Eve was, according to the creation of Abrahamic religions, the first woman created by God...

's creation later in the next chapter.

Mutually indwelling


A useful explanation of the relationship of the distinct divine persons is called "perichoresis
Perichoresis
Perichoresis is a term in Christian theology first found within the Church Fathers but now reinvigorated among contemporary figures such as C. Baxter Kruger, Jurgen Moltmann, Miroslav Volf and John Zizioulas, amongst others. The term first appears in Gregory of Nazianzus but was explored more...

", from Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 going around, envelopment. This concept refers for its basis to , where Jesus is instructing the disciples concerning the meaning of his departure. His going to the Father, he says, is for their sake; so that he might come to them when the "other comforter" is given to them. Then, he says, his disciples will dwell in him, as he dwells in the Father, and the Father dwells in him, and the Father will dwell in them. This is so, according to the theory of perichoresis, because the persons of the Trinity "reciprocally contain one another, so that one permanently envelopes and is permanently enveloped by, the other whom he yet envelopes". (Hilary of Poitiers
Hilary of Poitiers
Hilary of Poitiers was Bishop of Poitiers and is a Doctor of the Church. He was sometimes referred to as the "Hammer of the Arians" and the "Athanasius of the West." His name comes from the Latin word for happy or cheerful. His optional memorial in the Roman Catholic calendar of saints is 13...

, Concerning the Trinity 3:1).

This co-indwelling may also be helpful in illustrating the Trinitarian conception of salvation. The first doctrinal benefit is that it effectively excludes the idea that God has parts. Trinitarians assert that God is a simple, not an aggregate, being
Divine simplicity
In theology, the doctrine of divine simplicity says that God is without parts. The general idea of divine simplicity can be stated in this way: the being of God is identical to the "attributes" of God. In other words, such characteristics as omnipresence, goodness, truth, eternity, etc...

. The second doctrinal benefit is that it harmonizes well with the doctrine that the Christian's union with the Son in his humanity brings him into union with one who contains in himself, in St. Paul's words, "all the fullness of deity" and not a part. (See also: Theosis
Theosis
In Christian theology, divinization, deification, making divine or theosis is the transforming effect of divine grace. This concept of salvation is historical and fundamental for Christian understanding that is prominent in the Eastern Orthodox Church and also in the Catholic Church, and is a...

). Perichoresis provides an intuitive figure of what this might mean. The Son, the eternal Word, is from all eternity the dwelling place of God; he is the "Father's house", just as the Son dwells in the Father and the Spirit; so that, when the Spirit is "given", then it happens as Jesus said, "I will not leave you as orphans; for I will come to you."

Some forms of human union are considered to be not identical but analogous to the Trinitarian concept, as found for example in Jesus' words about marriage: "For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh." According to the words of Jesus, married persons are in some sense no longer two, but joined into one. Therefore, Orthodox theologians also see the marriage relationship as an image, or "icon
Icon
An icon is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, from Eastern Christianity and in certain Eastern Catholic churches...

" of the Trinity, relationships of communion in which, in the words of St. Paul, participants are "members one of another". As with marriage, the unity of the church with Christ is similarly considered in some sense analogous to the unity of the Trinity, following the prayer of Jesus to the Father, for the church, that "they may be one, even as we are one".

Eternal generation and procession


Trinitarianism affirms that the Son is "begotten" (or "generated") of the Father and that the Spirit "proceeds" from the Father, but the Father is "neither begotten nor proceeds". The argument over whether the Spirit proceeds from the Father alone, or from the Father and the Son, was one of the catalysts of the Great Schism
East-West Schism
The East–West Schism of 1054, sometimes known as the Great Schism, formally divided the State church of the Roman Empire into Eastern and Western branches, which later became known as the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, respectively...

, in this case concerning the Western addition of the Filioque clause
Filioque clause
Filioque , Latin for "and the Son", is a phrase found in the form of Nicene Creed in use in the Latin Church. It is not present in the Greek text of the Nicene Creed as originally formulated at the First Council of Constantinople, which says only that the Holy Spirit proceeds "from the Father":The...

 to the Nicene Creed
Nicene Creed
The Nicene Creed is the creed or profession of faith that is most widely used in Christian liturgy. It is called Nicene because, in its original form, it was adopted in the city of Nicaea by the first ecumenical council, which met there in the year 325.The Nicene Creed has been normative to the...

.

This language is often considered difficult because, if used regarding humans or other created things, it would imply time and change; when used here, no beginning, change in being, or process within time is intended and is excluded. The Son is generated ("born" or "begotten"), and the Spirit proceeds, eternally. Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo , also known as Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Austin, St. Augoustinos, Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed, was Bishop of Hippo Regius . He was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province...

 explains, "Thy years are one day, and Thy day is not daily, but today; because Thy today yields not to tomorrow, for neither does it follow yesterday. Thy today is eternity; therefore Thou begat the Co-eternal, to whom Thou saidst, 'This day have I begotten Thee."

Son begotten, not created


Because the Son is begotten, not made, the substance of his person is that of the deity. The creation is brought into being through the Son, but the Son himself is not part of it except through his incarnation.

The church fathers used several analogies
Analogy
Analogy is a cognitive process of transferring information or meaning from a particular subject to another particular subject , and a linguistic expression corresponding to such a process...

 to express this thought. St. Irenaeus of Lyons was the final major theologian of the 2nd century. He writes "the Father is God, and the Son is God, for whatever is begotten of God is God." (Compare Spinoza's philosophy of God)

Extending the analogy, it might be said, similarly, that whatever is generated (procreated) of humans is human. Thus, given that humanity is, in the words of the Bible, "created in the image and likeness of God", an analogy can be drawn between the Divine Essence and human nature, between the Divine Persons and human persons. However, given the fall, this analogy is far from perfect, even though, like the Divine Persons, human persons are characterized by being "loci of relationship". For Trinitarian Christians, this analogy is important with regard to the Church, which St. Paul calls "the body of Christ" and whose members are, because they are "members of Christ", also "members one of another".

However, an attempt to explain the mystery to some extent must break down, and has limited usefulness, being designed, not so much to fully explain the Trinity, but to point to the experience of communion with the Triune God within the Church as the Body of Christ. The difference between those who believe in the Trinity and those who do not, is not an issue of understanding the mystery. The difference is primarily one of belief concerning the personal identity of Christ. It is a difference in conception of the salvation connected with Christ that drives all reactions, either favorable or unfavorable, to the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. As it is, the doctrine of the Trinity is directly tied up with Christology
Christology
Christology is the field of study within Christian theology which is primarily concerned with the nature and person of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament. Primary considerations include the relationship of Jesus' nature and person with the nature...

.

Economic and ontological Trinity


  • Economic Trinity: This refers to the acts of the triune God with respect to the creation, history, salvation, the formation of the Church, the daily lives of believers, etc. and describes how the Trinity operates within history in terms of the roles or functions performed by each Person of the Trinity—God's relationship with creation.
  • Ontological (or essential or immanent) Trinity: This speaks of the interior life of the Trinity—the reciprocal relationships of Father, Son and Spirit to each other without reference to God's relationship with creation.


Or more simply—the ontological Trinity (who God is) and the economic Trinity (what God does). Most Christians believe the economic reflects and reveals the ontological. Catholic theologian Karl Rahner
Karl Rahner
Karl Rahner, SJ was a German Jesuit and theologian who, alongside Bernard Lonergan and Hans Urs von Balthasar, is considered one of the most influential Roman Catholic theologians of the 20th century...

 went so far as to say "The 'economic' Trinity is the 'immanent' Trinity, and vice versa."

The ancient Nicene theologians argued that everything the Trinity does is done by Father, Son, and Spirit working together with one will. The three persons of the Trinity always work inseparably, for their work is always the work of the one God. Because of this unity of will, the Trinity cannot involve the eternal subordination of the Son to the Father. Eternal subordination can only exist if the Son's will is at least conceivably different from the Father's. But Nicene orthodoxy says it is not. The Son's will cannot be different from the Father's because it is the Father's. They have but one will as they have but one being. Otherwise they would not be one God. If there were relations of command and obedience between the Father and the Son, there would be no Trinity at all but rather three gods. On this point St. Basil observes "When then He says, 'I have not spoken of myself,' and again, 'As the Father said unto me, so I speak,' and 'The word which ye hear is not mine, but [the Father's] which sent me,' and in another place, 'As the Father gave me commandment, even so I do,' it is not because He lacks deliberate purpose or power of initiation, nor yet because He has to wait for the preconcerted key-note, that he employs language of this kind. His object is to make it plain that His own will is connected in indissoluble union with the Father. Do not then let us understand by what is called a 'commandment' a peremptory mandate delivered by organs of speech, and giving orders to the Son, as to a subordinate, concerning what He ought to do. Let us rather, in a sense befitting the Godhead, perceive a transmission of will, like the reflexion of an object in a mirror, passing without note of time from Father to Son.."

In explaining why the Bible speaks of the Son as being subordinate to the Father, the great theologian Athanasius argued that scripture gives a "double account" of the son of God—one of his temporal and voluntary subordination in the incarnation, and the other of his eternal divine status. For Athanasius, the Son is eternally one in being with the Father, temporally and voluntarily subordinate in his incarnate ministry. Such human traits, he argued, were not to be read back into the eternal Trinity.

Like Athanasius, the Cappadocian Fathers also insisted there was no economic inequality present within the Trinity. As Basil wrote: "We perceive the operation of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to be one and the same, in no respect showing differences or variation; from this identity of operation we necessarily infer the unity of nature."

Augustine also rejected an economic hierarchy within the Trinity. He claimed that the three persons of the Trinity "share the inseparable equality one substance present in divine unity". Because the three persons are one in their inner life, this means that for Augustine their works in the world are one. For this reason, it is an impossibility for Augustine to speak of the Father commanding and the Son obeying as if there could be a conflict of wills within the eternal Trinity.

John Calvin
John Calvin
John Calvin was an influential French theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation. He was a principal figure in the development of the system of Christian theology later called Calvinism. Originally trained as a humanist lawyer, he broke from the Roman Catholic Church around 1530...

 also spoke at length about the doctrine of the Trinity. Like Athanasius and Augustine before him, he concluded that prescribed how scripture was to be read correctly. For him the Son's obedience is limited to the incarnation and is indicative of his true humanity assumed for human salvation.

Much of this work is summed up in the Athanasian Creed. This creed stresses the unity of the Trinity and the equality of the persons. It ascribes equal divinity, majesty, and authority to all three persons. All three are said to be "almighty" and "Lord" (no subordination in authority; "none is before or after another" (no hierarchical ordering); and "none is greater, or less than another" (no subordination in being or nature). Thus, since the divine persons of the Trinity act with one will, there is no possibility of hierarchy-inequality in the Trinity.

Since the 1980s, some evangelical theologians have come to the conclusion that the members of the Trinity may be economically unequal while remaining ontologically equal. This theory was put forward by George W. Knight III in his 1977 book The New Testament Teaching on the Role Relationship of Men and Women, states that the Son of God is eternally subordinated in authority to God the Father. This conclusion was used to support the main thesis of his book: that women are permanently subordinated in authority to their husbands in the home and to male leaders in the church, despite being ontologically equal. Subscribers to this theory insist that the Father has the role of giving commands and the Son has the role of obeying them.

Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Protestant distinctions


The Western (Roman Catholic
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

) tradition is more prone to make positive statements concerning the relationship of persons in the Trinity. Explanations of the Trinity are not the same thing as the doctrine; nevertheless, the Augustinian West is inclined to think in philosophical terms concerning the rationality of God's being, and is prone on this basis to be more open than the East
Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity comprises the Christian traditions and churches that developed in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East, Northeastern Africa, India and parts of the Far East over several centuries of religious antiquity. The term is generally used in Western Christianity to...

 to seek philosophical formulations which make the doctrine more intelligible, while recognizing that these formulations are only analogies
Analogy
Analogy is a cognitive process of transferring information or meaning from a particular subject to another particular subject , and a linguistic expression corresponding to such a process...

.

Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity comprises the Christian traditions and churches that developed in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East, Northeastern Africa, India and parts of the Far East over several centuries of religious antiquity. The term is generally used in Western Christianity to...

, for its part, correlates ecclesiology
Ecclesiology
Today, ecclesiology usually refers to the theological study of the Christian church. However when the word was coined in the late 1830s, it was defined as the science of the building and decoration of churches and it is still, though rarely, used in this sense.In its theological sense, ecclesiology...

 and Trinitarian doctrine, and seeks to understand the doctrine of the Trinity via the experience of the Church, which it understands to be "an icon
Icon
An icon is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, from Eastern Christianity and in certain Eastern Catholic churches...

 of the Trinity". Therefore, when St. Paul writes concerning Christians that all are "members one of another", Eastern Christians in turn understand this as also applying to the Divine Persons.

The principal disagreement between Western and Eastern Christianity on the Trinity has been the relationship of the Holy Spirit with the other two hypostases. The original credal formulation
Nicene Creed
The Nicene Creed is the creed or profession of faith that is most widely used in Christian liturgy. It is called Nicene because, in its original form, it was adopted in the city of Nicaea by the first ecumenical council, which met there in the year 325.The Nicene Creed has been normative to the...

 of the Council of Constantinople was that the Holy Spirit proceeds "from the Father". While this phrase is still used unaltered both in the Eastern Churches, including the Eastern Catholic Churches, and, when the Nicene Creed is recited in Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

, in the Latin Church, it became customary in the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

-speaking Church, beginning with the provincial Third Council of Toledo
Third Council of Toledo
The Third Council of Toledo marks the entry of Catholic Christianity into the rule of Visigothic Spain, and the introduction into Western Christianity of the filioque clause...

 in 589, to add "and the Son" (Latin Filioque). Although this insertion into the Creed was explicitly vetoed by Pope Leo III
Pope Leo III
Pope Saint Leo III was Pope from 795 to his death in 816. Protected by Charlemagne from his enemies in Rome, he subsequently strengthened Charlemagne's position by crowning him as Roman Emperor....

, it was finally used in a Papal Mass
Papal Mass
A Papal Mass is the Solemn Pontifical High Mass when offered by the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church.There are numerous special ceremonials which are particular to the pope...

 by Pope Benedict VIII
Pope Benedict VIII
Pope Benedict VIII , born Theophylactus, Pope from 1012 to 1024, of the noble family of the counts of Tusculum , descended from Theophylact, Count of Tusculum like his predecessor Pope Benedict VI .Benedict VIII was opposed by an antipope, Gregory...

 in 1014, thus completing its spread throughout Western Christianity
Western Christianity
Western Christianity is a term used to include the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church and groups historically derivative thereof, including the churches of the Anglican and Protestant traditions, which share common attributes that can be traced back to their medieval heritage...

. The Eastern Orthodox Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

es object to it on ecclesiological and theological grounds, holding that "from the Father" means "from the Father alone", while in the West belief that the Holy Spirit "proceeds", in the Latin (and English) meaning of this word, "from the Father and the Son" had already been dogmatically declared to be orthodox faith in 447 by Pope Leo I
Pope Leo I
Pope Leo I was pope from September 29, 440 to his death.He was an Italian aristocrat, and is the first pope of the Catholic Church to have been called "the Great". He is perhaps best known for having met Attila the Hun in 452, persuading him to turn back from his invasion of Italy...

, the Pope whose Tome was approved at the Council of Chalcedon
Council of Chalcedon
The Council of Chalcedon was a church council held from 8 October to 1 November, 451 AD, at Chalcedon , on the Asian side of the Bosporus. The council marked a significant turning point in the Christological debates that led to the separation of the church of the Eastern Roman Empire in the 5th...

, and Pope Leo III, who opposed insertion of the phrase into the Nicene Creed, "affirmed the orthodoxy of the term Filioque, and approved its use in catechesis and personal professions of faith".

The 1978 Anglican
Anglicanism
Anglicanism is a tradition within Christianity comprising churches with historical connections to the Church of England or similar beliefs, worship and church structures. The word Anglican originates in ecclesia anglicana, a medieval Latin phrase dating to at least 1246 that means the English...

 Lambeth Conference
Lambeth Conferences
The Lambeth Conferences are decennial assemblies of bishops of the Anglican Communion convened by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The first such conference took place in 1867....

 requested:
that all member Churches of the Anglican Communion should consider omitting the Filioque from the Nicene Creed, and that the Anglican-Orthodox Joint Doctrinal Commission through the Anglican Consultative Council should assist them in presenting the theological issues to their appropriate synodical bodies and should be responsible for any necessary consultation with other Churches of the Western tradition.
None of the member Churches has implemented this request; but the Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

, while keeping the phrase in the Creed recited in its own services, presents in its Common Worship
Common Worship
Common Worship is the name given to the series of services authorised by the General Synod of the Church of England and launched on the first Sunday of Advent in 2000. It represents the most recent stage of development of the Liturgical Movement within the Church and is the successor to the...

 series of service books a text of the creed without it for use "on suitable ecumenical occasions".

Most Protestant groups that use the creed also include the Filioque clause. However, the issue is usually not controversial among them because their conception is often less exact than is discussed above (exceptions being the Presbyterian Westminster Confession 2:3, the London Baptist Confession 2:3, and the Lutheran Augsburg Confession
Augsburg Confession
The Augsburg Confession, also known as the "Augustana" from its Latin name, Confessio Augustana, is the primary confession of faith of the Lutheran Church and one of the most important documents of the Lutheran reformation...

 1:1–6, which specifically address those issues). The clause is often understood by Protestants to mean that the Spirit is sent from the Father, by the Son, a conception which is not controversial in either Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy. A representative view of Protestant Trinitarian theology is more difficult to provide, given the diverse and decentralized nature of the various Protestant churches.

Questions of logical coherency



In contrast to Joachim of Fiore
Joachim of Fiore
Joachim of Fiore, also known as Joachim of Flora and in Italian Gioacchino da Fiore , was the founder of the monastic order of San Giovanni in Fiore . He was a mystic, a theologian and an esoterist...

's historicization of the Trinity, there have been recent philosophical attempts to defend the logical coherency of Trinity by men such as Peter Geach
Peter Geach
Peter Thomas Geach is a British philosopher. His areas of interest are the history of philosophy, philosophical logic, and the theory of identity.He was educated at Balliol College, Oxford...

. Regarding the formulation suggested by Geach, not all philosophers would agree with its logical coherency. Geach suggested that "a coherent statement of the doctrine is possible on the assumption that identity is "always relative to a sortal term".

The Canadian philosopher-theologian, Bernard Lonergan, has demonstrated by analogy with the operations of the human subject (the psychological analogy) the logical coherency of the Trinity. It is chiefly in his work "The Triune God: Systematics" that he draws on his abstract phenomenology to show this logical inner coherency in the Trinity doctrine. He sees himself as doing nothing more than standing in the tradition of Augustine and Aquinas on this issue and not based on the Bible.

Most Christians, and probably the wide ecumenical consensus, first and foremost uphold the belief that God is One. "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one" (Deuteronomy 6:4). But how to reconcile the Trinity with a monotheistic faith? The wider ecumenical consensus has viewed God's unity "not as a unity of separable parts, but of distinguishable persons." The Trinity is formed by three distinct persons, yet of one and the same essence. Three persons, one God. To distinguish in what way God is One, and in what way God is Three, helps remove the logical contradiction. This has been upheld as the correct interpretation of the Apostolic teachings since the writings of Athanasius
Athanasius of Alexandria
Athanasius of Alexandria [b. ca. – d. 2 May 373] is also given the titles St. Athanasius the Great, St. Athanasius I of Alexandria, St Athanasius the Confessor and St Athanasius the Apostolic. He was the 20th bishop of Alexandria. His long episcopate lasted 45 years Athanasius of Alexandria [b....

 and the Council of Nicaea
First Council of Nicaea
The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325...

 in AD 325.

Art


The Trinity is most commonly seen in Christian art with the Spirit represented by a dove, as specified in the Gospel accounts of the Baptism of Christ; he is nearly always shown with wings outspread. However depictions using three human figures appear occasionally in most periods of art.

The Father and the Son are usually differentiated by age, and later by dress, but this too is not always the case. The usual depiction of the Father as an older man with a white beard may derive from the biblical Ancient of Days
Ancient of Days
Ancient of Days is a name for God in Aramaic: Atik Yomin; in the Greek Septuagint: Palaios Hemeron; and in the Vulgate: Antiquus Dierum....

, which is often cited in defense of this sometimes controversial representation. However, in Eastern Orthodoxy the Ancient of Days is usually understood to be God the Son, not God the Father (see below)—early Byzantine
Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

 images show Christ as the Ancient of Days, but this iconography
Iconography
Iconography is the branch of art history which studies the identification, description, and the interpretation of the content of images. The word iconography literally means "image writing", and comes from the Greek "image" and "to write". A secondary meaning is the painting of icons in the...

 became rare. When the Father is depicted in art, he is sometimes shown with a halo
Halo (religious iconography)
A halo is a ring of light that surrounds a person in art. They have been used in the iconography of many religions to indicate holy or sacred figures, and have at various periods also been used in images of rulers or heroes...

 shaped like an equilateral triangle, instead of a circle. The Son is often shown at the Father's right hand. He may be represented by a symbol—typically the Lamb or a cross—or on a crucifix
Crucifix
A crucifix is an independent image of Jesus on the cross with a representation of Jesus' body, referred to in English as the corpus , as distinct from a cross with no body....

, so that the Father is the only human figure shown at full size. In early medieval art, the Father may be represented by a hand appearing from a cloud in a blessing gesture, for example in scenes of the Baptism of Christ. Later, in the West, the Throne of Mercy (or "Throne of Grace") became a common depiction. In this style, the Father (sometimes seated on a throne
Throne
A throne is the official chair or seat upon which a monarch is seated on state or ceremonial occasions. "Throne" in an abstract sense can also refer to the monarchy or the Crown itself, an instance of metonymy, and is also used in many expressions such as "the power behind the...

) is shown supporting either a crucifix
Crucifix
A crucifix is an independent image of Jesus on the cross with a representation of Jesus' body, referred to in English as the corpus , as distinct from a cross with no body....

 or, later, a slumped crucified Son, similar to the Pietà
Pietà
The Pietà is a subject in Christian art depicting the Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Jesus, most often found in sculpture. As such, it is a particular form of the Lamentation of Christ, a scene from the Passion of Christ found in cycles of the Life of Christ...

 (this type is distinguished in German as the Not Gottes) in his outstretched arms, whilst the Dove hovers above or in between them. This subject continued to be popular until the 18th century at least.

By the end of the 15th century, larger representations, other than the Throne of Mercy, became effectively standardised, showing an older figure in plain robes for the Father, Christ with his torso partly bare to display the wounds of his Passion, and the dove above or around them. In earlier representations both Father, especially, and Son often wear elaborate robes and crowns. Sometimes the Father alone wears a crown, or even a papal tiara
Papal Tiara
The Papal Tiara, also known incorrectly as the Triple Tiara, or in Latin as the Triregnum, in Italian as the Triregno and as the Trirègne in French, is the three-tiered jewelled papal crown, supposedly of Byzantine and Persian origin, that is a prominent symbol of the papacy...

.

Eastern Orthodox tradition


Direct representations of the Trinity are much rarer in Eastern Orthodox art of any period—reservations about depicting the Father remain fairly strong, as they were in the West until the high Middle Ages. The Second Council of Nicea in 787 confirmed that the depiction of Christ was allowed because he became man; the situation regarding the Father was less clear. The usual Orthodox representation
Holy Trinity Icon
The Holy Trinity is an important subject of iconographic representation in Eastern Orthodox Christianity, and has a rather different treatment from depictions in the Western Churches...

 of the Trinity was through the "Old Testament Trinity" of the three angels visiting Abraham—said in the text to be "the Lord". However scholars generally agree that the direct representation of the Trinity began in Greek works from the 11th century onwards, where Christ is shown as an infant sitting on the Father's lap, with the Dove of the Holy Spirit also present. Such depictions spread to the West and became the standard type there, though with an adult Christ, as described above. This type later spread back to the Orthodox world where post-Byzantine representations similar to those in the West are not uncommon outside Russia. The subject long remained sensitive, and the Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

 at the Great Synod of Moscow in 1667 finally forbade depictions of the Father in human form. The canon is quoted in full here because it explains the Russian Orthodox theology on the subject:

Chapter 2, §44: It is most absurd and improper to depict in icon
Icon
An icon is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, from Eastern Christianity and in certain Eastern Catholic churches...

s the Lord Sabaoth (that is to say, God the Father
God the Father
God the Father is a gendered title given to God in many monotheistic religions, particularly patriarchal, Abrahamic ones. In Judaism, God is called Father because he is the creator, life-giver, law-giver, and protector...

) with a grey beard and the Only-Begotten Son in His bosom with a dove between them, because no-one has seen the Father according to His Divinity, and the Father has no flesh, nor was the Son born in the flesh from the Father before the ages. And though David
David
David was the second king of the united Kingdom of Israel according to the Hebrew Bible and, according to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, an ancestor of Jesus Christ through both Saint Joseph and Mary...

 the prophet
Prophet
In religion, a prophet, from the Greek word προφήτης profitis meaning "foreteller", is an individual who is claimed to have been contacted by the supernatural or the divine, and serves as an intermediary with humanity, delivering this newfound knowledge from the supernatural entity to other people...

 says, "From the womb before the morning star have I begotten Thee", that birth was not fleshly, but unspeakable and incomprehensible. For Christ Himself says in the holy Gospel, "No man hath seen the Father, save the Son".cf. And Isaiah
Isaiah
Isaiah ; Greek: ', Ēsaïās ; "Yahu is salvation") was a prophet in the 8th-century BC Kingdom of Judah.Jews and Christians consider the Book of Isaiah a part of their Biblical canon; he is the first listed of the neviim akharonim, the later prophets. Many of the New Testament teachings of Jesus...

 the prophet says in his fortieth chapter: "To whom have ye likened the Lord? and with what likeness have ye made a similitude of Him? Has not the artificier of wood made an image, or the goldsmiths, having melted gold, gilt it over, and made it a similitude?" In like manner the Apostle Paul says in Acts "Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold or silver or stone, graven by art of man's imagination." And John Damascene says: "But furthermore, who can make a similitude of the invisible, incorporeal, uncircumscribed and undepictable God? It is, then, uttermost insanity and impiety to give a form to the Godhead" (Orthodox Faith, 4:16). In like manner St. Gregory the Dialogist prohibits this. For this reason we should only form an understanding in the mind of Sabaoth, which is the Godhead, and of that birth before the ages of the Only-Begotten-Son from the Father, but we should never, in any wise depict these in icons, for this, indeed, is impossible. And the Holy Spirit is not in essence a dove, but in essence he is God, and "No man hath seen God", as John the Theologian and Evangelist
Gospel
A gospel is an account, often written, that describes the life of Jesus of Nazareth. In a more general sense the term "gospel" may refer to the good news message of the New Testament. It is primarily used in reference to the four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John...

 bears witness and this is so even though, at the Jordan at Christ's holy Baptism
Baptism of Jesus
The baptism of Jesus marks the beginning of Jesus Christ's public ministry. This event is recorded in the Canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. In John 1:29-33 rather than a direct narrative, the Baptist bears witness to the episode...

 the Holy Spirit appeared in the likeness of a dove. For this reason, it is fitting on this occasion only to depict the Holy Spirit in the likeness of a dove. But in any other place those who have intelligence will not depict the Holy Spirit in the likeness of a dove. For on Mount Tabor
Mount Tabor
-Places:*Mount Tabor, a hill in Israel near Nazareth believed by many to be the site of the Transfiguration of ChristIn the United States:*Mount Tabor, Indiana, an unincorporated community...

, He appeared as a cloud and, at another time, in other ways. Furthermore, Sabaoth is the name not only of the Father, but of the Holy Trinity. According to Dionysios the Areopagite, Lord Sabaoth, translated from the Jewish tongue, means "Lord of Hosts". This Lord of Hosts is the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And although Daniel
Daniel
Daniel is the protagonist in the Book of Daniel of the Hebrew Bible. In the narrative, when Daniel was a young man, he was taken into Babylonian captivity where he was educated in Chaldean thought. However, he never converted to Neo-Babylonian ways...

 the prophet says that he beheld the Ancient of Days
Ancient of Days
Ancient of Days is a name for God in Aramaic: Atik Yomin; in the Greek Septuagint: Palaios Hemeron; and in the Vulgate: Antiquus Dierum....

 sitting on a throne, this should not be understood to refer to the Father, but to the Son, Who at His second coming will judge every nation at the dreadful Judgment.

Oriental Orthodox traditions


The Coptic Orthodox Church never depicts God the Father in art although he may be identified by an area of brightness within art such as the heavenly glow at the top of some icons of the baptism of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Syrian, Armenian, Indian and British
British Orthodox Church
The British Orthodox Church is a small Oriental Orthodox jurisdiction, canonically part of the Coptic Patriarchate of Alexandria. Its mission is to the people of the British Isles, and though it is Orthodox in its faith and practice, it remains British in its ethos...

 Orthodox Churches
Oriental Orthodoxy
Oriental Orthodoxy is the faith of those Eastern Christian Churches that recognize only three ecumenical councils — the First Council of Nicaea, the First Council of Constantinople and the First Council of Ephesus. They rejected the dogmatic definitions of the Council of Chalcedon...

 appear to follow the same practice.

In contrast, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is the predominant Oriental Orthodox Christian church in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian Church was administratively part of the Coptic Orthodox Church until 1959, when it was granted its own Patriarch by Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of All...

 has many ancient icons depicting the Holy Trinity as three distinct Persons. These icons often depict all Three Persons sitting upon a single throne to signify unity. The Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church follows the same practice.

Scenes


Only a few of the standard scenes in Christian art normally included a representation of the Trinity. The accounts in the Gospels of the Baptism of Christ were considered to show all three persons as present with a separate role. Sometimes the other two persons are shown at the top of a crucifixion. The Coronation of the Virgin
Coronation of the Virgin
The Coronation of the Virgin or Coronation of Mary is a subject in Christian art, especially popular in Italy in the 13th to 15th centuries, but continuing in popularity until the 18th century and beyond. Christ, sometimes accompanied by God the Father and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove,...

, a popular subject in the West, often included the whole Trinity. But many subjects, such as Christ in Majesty
Christ in Majesty
Christ in Majesty, or Christ in Glory, in Latin Majestas Domini, is the Western Christian image of Christ seated on a throne as ruler of the world, always seen frontally in the centre of the composition, and often flanked by other sacred figures, whose membership changes over time and according to...

 or the Last Judgement, which might be thought to require depiction of the deity in the most amplified form, only show Christ. There is a rare subject where the persons of the Trinity make the decision to incarnate Christ, or God sending out the Son. Even more rarely, the Angel of the Annunciation is shown being given the mission.

Less common types of depiction


Especially in the 15th century, and in the less public form of illuminated manuscript
Illuminated manuscript
An illuminated manuscript is a manuscript in which the text is supplemented by the addition of decoration, such as decorated initials, borders and miniature illustrations...

s, there was experimentation with many solutions to the issues of depicting the three persons of the Trinity. The depiction of the Trinity as three identical persons is rare, because each Person of the Trinity is considered to have distinct attributes. Nonetheless, the earliest known depiction of God the Father
God the Father
God the Father is a gendered title given to God in many monotheistic religions, particularly patriarchal, Abrahamic ones. In Judaism, God is called Father because he is the creator, life-giver, law-giver, and protector...

 as a human figure, on the 4th century Dogmatic Sarcophagus
Dogmatic sarcophagus
The Dogmatic Sarcophagus, also known as the "Trinity Sarcophagus" is an early Christian sarcophagus of about 320–350, now in the Vatican Museums...

, shows the Trinity as three similar bearded men creating Eve
Eve
Eve is the first woman created by God in the Book of Genesis.Eve may also refer to:-People:*Eve , a common given name and surname*Eve , American recording artist and actress-Places:...

 from Adam
Adam
Adam is a figure in the Book of Genesis. According to the creation myth of Abrahamic religions, he is the first human. In the Genesis creation narratives, he was created by Yahweh-Elohim , and the first woman, Eve was formed from his rib...

, probably with the intention of affirming the consubstantiality
Consubstantiality
Consubstantial is an adjective used in Latin Christian christology, coined by Tertullian in Against Hermogenes 44, used to translate the Greek term homoousios...

 recently made dogma
Dogma
Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or a particular group or organization. It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioners or believers...

 in the Nicene Creed
Nicene Creed
The Nicene Creed is the creed or profession of faith that is most widely used in Christian liturgy. It is called Nicene because, in its original form, it was adopted in the city of Nicaea by the first ecumenical council, which met there in the year 325.The Nicene Creed has been normative to the...

. There are many similar sarcophagi, and occasional images at intervals until a revival of the iconography in the 15th century. Even rarer is the depiction of the Trinity as a single anthropoid figure with three faces (Latin "Vultus Trifrons"), because the Trinity is defined as three persons in one Godhead, not one Person with three attributes (this would imply Modalism, which is defined as heresy
Heresy
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

 in traditional Christian orthodoxy). Such "Cerberus" depictions of the Trinity as three faces on one head were mainly made among Catholics during the 15th to 17th centuries, but were condemned after the Catholic Council of Trent
Council of Trent
The Council of Trent was the 16th-century Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church. It is considered to be one of the Church's most important councils. It convened in Trent between December 13, 1545, and December 4, 1563 in twenty-five sessions for three periods...

, and again by Pope Urban VIII in 1628, and many existing images were destroyed.

The Trinity may also be represented abstractly by symbol
Symbol
A symbol is something which represents an idea, a physical entity or a process but is distinct from it. The purpose of a symbol is to communicate meaning. For example, a red octagon may be a symbol for "STOP". On a map, a picture of a tent might represent a campsite. Numerals are symbols for...

s, such as the triangle
Triangle
A triangle is one of the basic shapes of geometry: a polygon with three corners or vertices and three sides or edges which are line segments. A triangle with vertices A, B, and C is denoted ....

 (or three triangles joined together), trefoil
Trefoil
Trefoil is a graphic form composed of the outline of three overlapping rings used in architecture and Christian symbolism...

 or the triquetra
Triquetra
Triquetra originally meant "triangle" and was used to refer to various three-cornered shapes. Nowadays, it has come to refer exclusively to a particular more complicated shape formed of three vesicae piscis, sometimes with an added circle in or around it...

—or a combination of these. Sometimes a halo is incorporated into these symbols. The use of such symbols are often found not only in painting but also in needlework
Needlework
Needlework is a broad term for the handicrafts of decorative sewing and textile arts. Anything that uses a needle for construction can be called needlework...

 on tapestries
Tapestry
Tapestry is a form of textile art, traditionally woven on a vertical loom, however it can also be woven on a floor loom as well. It is composed of two sets of interlaced threads, those running parallel to the length and those parallel to the width ; the warp threads are set up under tension on a...

, vestment
Vestment
Vestments are liturgical garments and articles associated primarily with the Christian religion, especially among Latin Rite and other Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans, and Lutherans...

s and antependia
Antependia
An antependium , more commonly known as a hanging, or, when speaking specifically of the hanging for the altar, an altar frontal , is a decorative piece of material that can adorn a Christian altar, lectern, pulpit, or table...

, in metalwork and in architectural
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

 details.

Different depictions


Four 15th century depictions of the Coronation of the Virgin
Coronation of the Virgin
The Coronation of the Virgin or Coronation of Mary is a subject in Christian art, especially popular in Italy in the 13th to 15th centuries, but continuing in popularity until the 18th century and beyond. Christ, sometimes accompanied by God the Father and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove,...

 show the main ways of depicting the persons of the Trinity.

Mysticism


The Catholic nun Anne Catherine Emmerich
Anne Catherine Emmerich
Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich was a Roman Catholic Augustinian nun, stigmatic, mystic, visionary and ecstatic....

 said that as a child she had had visions, in which she had seen the core of the Holy Trinity in the form of three concentric interpenetrating spheres - the biggest but less lit sphere represented the Father core, the medium sphere the Son core, and the smallest and brightest sphere as the Holy Spirit.

Non-orthodoxy



The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints affirms that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost) are three individual members of a heavenly council, completely united in purpose—each member of the Godhead being a distinct being of physical form (God the Father, Jesus Christ) or spiritual form (the Holy Ghost). Both leaders and scriptural texts often refer to the council as the Godhead (a term used by the Apostle Paul in Acts 17:29, Romans 1:20, and Colossians 2:9), distinguishing between this conception and the traditional Trinity. However, Daniel C. Peterson of Brigham Young University states that "uniquely Mormon scriptural texts assert the unity of Father, Son and Holy Ghost at least as strongly as the Bible does (John 17:11, 20-21). An April 1830 revelation to Joseph Smith, for instance, affirms that they 'are one God, infinite and eternal, without end' (Doctrine and Covenants 20:28)."

Non-orthodox views of the Christian trinitarian God have also been suggested by process theologians
Process theology
Process theology is a school of thought influenced by the metaphysical process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead and further developed by Charles Hartshorne . While there are process theologies that are similar, but unrelated to the work of Whitehead the term is generally applied to the...

 like Lewis S. Ford, who endorse the entitative view of God as timeless and eternal concrescence
Concrescence (process philosophy)
Concrescence is a term coined by Alfred North Whitehead to show the process of jointly forming an actual entity that was without form, but about to manifest itself into an entity Actual full based on datums or for information on the universe. The process of forming an actual entity is the case...

, but interpret the Whiteheadian
Alfred North Whitehead
Alfred North Whitehead, OM FRS was an English mathematician who became a philosopher. He wrote on algebra, logic, foundations of mathematics, philosophy of science, physics, metaphysics, and education...

 natures of God (primordial nature, consequent nature, and superjective nature) in a trinitarian way. Other process theologians like Joseph A. Bracken consider the three divines persons, each understood in the Neo-Whiteheadian societal view of God sensu Charles Hartshorne
Charles Hartshorne
Charles Hartshorne was a prominent American philosopher who concentrated primarily on the philosophy of religion and metaphysics. He developed the neoclassical idea of God and produced a modal proof of the existence of God that was a development of St. Anselm's Ontological Argument...

 and David Ray Griffin
David Ray Griffin
David Ray Griffin is a retired American professor of philosophy of religion and theology. Along with John B. Cobb, Jr., he founded the Center for Process Studies in 1973, a research center of Claremont School of Theology which seeks to promote the common good by means of the relational approach...

, as constituting a primordial field of divine activity.

Nontrinitarianism


Some Christian traditions either reject the doctrine of the Trinity or consider it unimportant. Persons and groups espousing this position generally do not refer to themselves as "Nontrinitarians". They can vary in both their reasons for rejecting traditional teaching on the Trinity, and in the way they describe God.

History


Since Trinitarianism is central to so much of Catholic and Orthodox church doctrine, Christian nontrinitarians were mostly groups that existed before the Nicene Creed was codified in 325 or are groups that developed after the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

, when many church doctrines came into question.

In the early centuries of Christian history Adoptionists, Arians
Arianism
Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius , a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt, concerning the relationship of the entities of the Trinity and the precise nature of the Son of God as being a subordinate entity to God the Father...

, Ebionites
Ebionites
Ebionites, or Ebionaioi, , is a patristic term referring to a Jewish Christian sect or sects that existed during the first centuries of the Christian Era. They regarded Jesus as the Messiah and insisted on the necessity of following Jewish religious law and rites...

, some Gnostics, Marcionites, and others held nontrinitarian beliefs. The Council of Nicaea professed the divinity of Jesus, and the Council of Chalcedon made a declaration on the issue of the relationship between Jesus' divine and human natures, against Monophysitism
Monophysitism
Monophysitism , or Monophysiticism, is the Christological position that Jesus Christ has only one nature, his humanity being absorbed by his Deity...

 ("one nature only"), a belief that did not deny his divinity. Miaphysitism
Miaphysitism
Miaphysitism is a Christological formula of the Oriental Orthodox Churches and of the various churches adhering to the first three Ecumenical Councils...

 ("one nature") and monothelitism
Monothelitism
Monothelitism is a particular teaching about how the divine and human relate in the person of Jesus, known as a Christological doctrine, that formally emerged in Armenia and Syria in 629. Specifically, monothelitism teaches that Jesus Christ had two natures but only one will...

 ("one will") were other attempts to explain this relationship, while upholding Trinitarianism.

During more than a thousand years of Trinitarian orthodoxy, formal nontrinitarianism, i.e., a doctrine held by a church, group, or movement, was rare, existing, for example, as a belief among the Cathars, a Christian dualist heresy in W. Europe in the 13th–14th centuries. The Cathars were a serious threat to the authority of the Catholic Church especially in southern France Albigenses and northern Italy, until they were suppressed. They were forced into secrecy by a war between the nobles of the north and south of France, the northern nobles were supported by a crusade authorized by the Catholic Church.

The Protestant Reformation of the 16th century also brought tradition into question. At first, nontrinitarians were executed (such as Servetus), or forced to keep their beliefs secret (such as Isaac Newton
Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton PRS was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian, who has been "considered by many to be the greatest and most influential scientist who ever lived."...

). The eventual establishment of religious freedom, however, allowed nontrinitarians to more easily preach their beliefs, and the 19th century saw the establishment of several nontrinitarian groups in North America and elsewhere. These include Christadelphians
Christadelphians
Christadelphians is a Christian group that developed in the United Kingdom and North America in the 19th century...

, Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses is a millenarian restorationist Christian denomination with nontrinitarian beliefs distinct from mainstream Christianity. The religion reports worldwide membership of over 7 million adherents involved in evangelism, convention attendance of over 12 million, and annual...

, and Unitarians
Unitarianism
Unitarianism is a Christian theological movement, named for its understanding of God as one person, in direct contrast to Trinitarianism which defines God as three persons coexisting consubstantially as one in being....

. Some Messianic groups are also nontrinitarian. Servetus heavily influenced the theology of Emanuel Swedenborg
Emanuel Swedenborg
was a Swedish scientist, philosopher, and theologian. He has been termed a Christian mystic by some sources, including the Encyclopædia Britannica online version, and the Encyclopedia of Religion , which starts its article with the description that he was a "Swedish scientist and mystic." Others...

; the church founded on his writings is a small but influential nontrinitarian movement. Some groups espousing Binitarianism
Binitarianism
Binitarianism is a Christian theology of two personae, two individuals, or two aspects in one Godhead . Classically, binitarianism is understood as strict monotheism — that is, that God is an absolutely single being; and yet with binitarianism there is a "twoness" in God...

 such as the Living Church of God
Living Church of God
The Living Church of God is one of the church groups formed by followers of the teachings of the late Herbert W. Armstrong. It was formed as a series of major doctrinal changes were introduced in the Worldwide Church of God after Armstrong's death in 1986...

 claim that Binitarianism
Binitarianism
Binitarianism is a Christian theology of two personae, two individuals, or two aspects in one Godhead . Classically, binitarianism is understood as strict monotheism — that is, that God is an absolutely single being; and yet with binitarianism there is a "twoness" in God...

 was the majority view of those that professed Christ in the 2nd century.

20th century nontrinitarian movements include Iglesia ni Cristo
Iglesia ni Cristo
Iglesia ni Cristo also known as INC, is the largest entirely indigenous Christian religious organization that originated from the Philippines and the largest independent church in Asia. Due to a number of similarities, some Protestant writers describe the INC's doctrines as restorationist in...

, Most Holy Church of God in Christ Jesus
Most Holy Church of God in Christ Jesus
The Most Holy Church of God in Christ Jesus , is a Christian denomination founded in the Philippines by Bishop Teofilo D. Ora in May 1922....

, and the Unification Church
Unification Church
The Unification Church is a new religious movement founded by Korean religious leader Sun Myung Moon. In 1954, the Unification Church was formally and legally established in Seoul, South Korea, as The Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity . In 1994, Moon gave the church...

. Nontrinitarian groups differ from one another in their views of Jesus Christ, depicting him variously as a divine being second only to God the Father (e.g., Jehovah's Witnesses), as Yahweh of the Old Testament in human form (Modalism), as God (but not eternally God), as Son of God but inferior to the Father (versus co-equal), as a prophet, or simply as a holy man.

Modalism


Modalism teaches that the Heavenly Father, Resurrected Son and Holy Spirit identified by the Trinity Doctrine are different modes or aspects of the One God, as perceived by the believer, rather than three coeternal persons
Godhead (Christianity)
Godhead is a Middle English variant of the word godhood, and denotes the Divine Nature or Substance of the Christian God, or the Trinity. Within some traditions such as Mormonism, the term is used as a nontrinitarian substitute for the term Trinity, denoting the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit not as...

in God Himself. In passages of scripture such as Matthew 3:16-17 where the Son, Father, and Holy Spirit are separated in the text, they view this phenomenon as confirming God's omnipresence
Omnipresence
Omnipresence or ubiquity is the property of being present everywhere. According to eastern theism, God is present everywhere. Divine omnipresence is thus one of the divine attributes, although in western theism it has attracted less philosophical attention than such attributes as omnipotence,...

, and His ability to manifest himself as he pleases
Omnipotence
Omnipotence is unlimited power. Monotheistic religions generally attribute omnipotence to only the deity of whichever faith is being addressed...

. Oneness Pentecostals, other Oneness adherents, and Modalists dispute the traditional Trinitarian doctrine, while affirming the Christian doctrine of God taking on flesh as Jesus Christ. Like Trinitarians, Oneness adherents believe that Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man. However, whereas Trinitarians believe that "God the Son", the eternal second person of the Trinity, became man, Oneness adherents hold that the one and only true God—who manifests himself in any way he chooses, including as Father, Son and Holy Spirit—became man. Oneness Pentecostals and other modalists are regarded by Catholic, Orthodox, and some other mainstream Christians as heretical for rejecting the Trinity Doctrine, which they regard as equivalent to Unitarianism
Unitarianism
Unitarianism is a Christian theological movement, named for its understanding of God as one person, in direct contrast to Trinitarianism which defines God as three persons coexisting consubstantially as one in being....

. Modalists differentiate themselves from Unitarians by affirming Christ's Deity
Deity
A deity is a recognized preternatural or supernatural immortal being, who may be thought of as holy, divine, or sacred, held in high regard, and respected by believers....

. Oneness teaches that there is only one being, revealing himself in different ways. Modalists cite passages in the New Testament that refer to God in the singular, and note the lack of the word "Trinity" in any canonical scripture. They claim that refers to Christ's relationship with the Father in a similar sense:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by (that is, by means of; or in) him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities; all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

They also cite Christ's response to Philip
Philip the Apostle
Philip the Apostle was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. Later Christian traditions describe Philip as the apostle who preached in Greece, Syria, and Phrygia....

's query on who the Father was in :
Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?

A notable modern adherent of Modalism is T.D. Jakes
Baptismal formula

When criticized by Trinitarian believers who cite the Great Commission
Great Commission
The Great Commission, in Christian tradition, is the instruction of the resurrected Jesus Christ to his disciples, that they spread his teachings to all the nations of the world. It has become a tenet in Christian theology emphasizing missionary work, evangelism, and baptism...

 in as being the biblical affirmation of "in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" baptismal formula, Oneness adherents point to the singular sense of that phrase, and argue that if the passage was really supporting what the Trinitarians propose, it would have said the "Names" in the plural instead of "Name". Oneness Scholars then state that the passage is referring to The Name, in other words, Jesus, and they point to passages like as being the correct baptismal formula. Oneness believers view "Father", "Son" and "Holy Spirit" as titles or forms, reflecting different manifestations of the one true God. Apostolic Christians
Primitive Apostolic Christianity (Sabbatarian)
Primitive Apostolic Christianity or Sabbatarianism is movement that attempts to reconstruct the earliest forms of Christianity. Adherents to this movement commonly refer to early Roman Christian requirements to be separated from Jewish traditions which began in Antisemitism and Antinomianism, as...

 also point out that there is no passage that appears to confirm Matthew 28:19 as being the correct baptismal formula (going against the scriptural requirement of "two witnesses" to establish a verdict), while all the other passages in the Gospels and Acts point to "in the Name of Jesus" as the correct form. They also state that Jesus was not referencing Water Baptism
Baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

, but the long term "baptism in thought, word, and deed" (2 Corinthians 10:5 and ) that all believers undergo as they mature in the Word.

Unitarianism


Unitarianism is a form of Christian theology
Christian theology
- Divisions of Christian theology :There are many methods of categorizing different approaches to Christian theology. For a historical analysis, see the main article on the History of Christian theology.- Sub-disciplines :...

 holding that God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 is only one person, in contrast to the doctrine
Doctrine
Doctrine is a codification of beliefs or a body of teachings or instructions, taught principles or positions, as the body of teachings in a branch of knowledge or belief system...

 of the Trinity (God as three persons in one), and that God is a separate being from Jesus Christ. It is a specific type of nontrinitarian theology, and resembles strictly monotheistic conceptions of God upheld in Judaism
God in Judaism
The conception of God in Judaism is strictly monotheistic. God is an absolute one indivisible incomparable being who is the ultimate cause of all existence. Jewish tradition teaches that the true aspect of God is incomprehensible and unknowable, and that it is only God's revealed aspect that...

 and Islam
God in Islam
In Islamic theology, God is the all-powerful and all-knowing creator, sustainer, ordainer, and judge of the universe. Islam puts a heavy emphasis on the conceptualization of God as strictly singular . God is unique and inherently One , all-merciful and omnipotent. According to the Islamic...

.

Some confusion has resulted because the term "unitarianism" (uncapitalized) has sometimes been used informally to describe any Christology
Christology
Christology is the field of study within Christian theology which is primarily concerned with the nature and person of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament. Primary considerations include the relationship of Jesus' nature and person with the nature...

 (i.e. understanding of Jesus Christ) that denies the Trinity or believes that only the Father of Jesus (and not Jesus himself) is God. Mere denial of the Trinity, however, is more commonly called nontrinitarianism
Nontrinitarianism
Nontrinitarianism includes all Christian belief systems that disagree with the doctrine of the Trinity, namely, the teaching that God is three distinct hypostases and yet co-eternal, co-equal, and indivisibly united in one essence or ousia...

. Recently some religious groups have adopted the term "biblical unitarianism
Biblical Unitarianism
Today, biblical Unitarianism identifies the Christian belief that the Bible teaches God is a singular person—the Father—and that Jesus his son is a distinct being...

" to describe their theology, but they hold to a conservative form of nontrinitarianism, which rejects many of the teachings of liberal Unitarianism.

So, too, Unitarianism does not accept the Godhood of Jesus, and therefore does not include Modalist belief systems which do—for example, Oneness Pentecostalism
Oneness Pentecostalism
Oneness Pentecostalism refers to a grouping of denominations and believers within Pentecostal Christianity, all of whom subscribe to the nontrinitarian theological doctrine of Oneness...

, United Pentecostal Church International
United Pentecostal Church International
The United Pentecostal Church International is a Pentecostal Christian denomination, headquartered in the St. Louis suburb of Hazelwood, Missouri. It is a part of the Oneness or "Apostolic" portion of the Pentecostal Movement, and was formed in 1945 by a merger of the former Pentecostal Church,...

 and the True Jesus Church
True Jesus Church
The True Jesus Church is a non-denominational Christian church that originated in Beijing, China, in 1917. The current elected chairman of the TJC International Assembly is Preacher Yong-Ji Lin. Today, there are approximately 2.5 million members in fifty three countries and six continents...

—that maintain that Jesus is God as a single person.

Binitarianism


George Johnson, a proponent of Binitarianism
Binitarianism
Binitarianism is a Christian theology of two personae, two individuals, or two aspects in one Godhead . Classically, binitarianism is understood as strict monotheism — that is, that God is an absolutely single being; and yet with binitarianism there is a "twoness" in God...

, argues that Jesus is the God of the Old Testament, distinct from the God who is called the Ancient of Days in , and that the Holy Spirit is not a person.

Islam


Zia H. Shah, a Muslim, interprets the Christian doctrine of the Trinity as saying that "the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three complete and separate Gods and are yet one at the same time", a thought that he describes as absurd and incompatible with monotheism.
Al-Quran says: Surely, disbelievers are those who said: "Allah is the third of the three (in a Trinity)." But there is no Allah (god) (none who has the right to be worshipped) but One Allah (God -Allah). And if they cease not from what they say, verily, a painful torment will befall on the disbelievers among them.
{{About|the Christian Trinity}}
{{redirect|Holy Trinity}}
{{Attributes of God}}
{{Christianity}}

The Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 doctrine
Christian theology
- Divisions of Christian theology :There are many methods of categorizing different approaches to Christian theology. For a historical analysis, see the main article on the History of Christian theology.- Sub-disciplines :...

 of the Trinity defines God
God in Christianity
In Christianity, God is the eternal being that created and preserves the universe. God is believed by most Christians to be immanent , while others believe the plan of redemption show he will be immanent later...

 as three divine persons (Greek
Koine Greek
Koine Greek is the universal dialect of the Greek language spoken throughout post-Classical antiquity , developing from the Attic dialect, with admixture of elements especially from Ionic....

: ὑποστάσεις): the Father
God the Father
God the Father is a gendered title given to God in many monotheistic religions, particularly patriarchal, Abrahamic ones. In Judaism, God is called Father because he is the creator, life-giver, law-giver, and protector...

, the Son
God the Son
God the Son is the second person of the Trinity in Christian theology. The doctrine of the Trinity identifies Jesus of Nazareth as God the Son, united in essence but distinct in person with regard to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit...

 (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit (Christianity)
For the majority of Christians, the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Holy Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and is Almighty God...

. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial
Consubstantiality
Consubstantial is an adjective used in Latin Christian christology, coined by Tertullian in Against Hermogenes 44, used to translate the Greek term homoousios...

 (Greek: ὁμοούσιοι
Homoousian
Homoousian is a technical theological term used in discussion of the Christian understanding of God as Trinity. The Nicene Creed describes Jesus as being homooúsios with God the Father — that is, they are of the "same substance" and are equally God...

). Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being
Ousia
Ousia is the Ancient Greek noun formed on the feminine present participle of ; it is analogous to the English participle being, and the modern philosophy adjectival ontic...

 (Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

: οὐσία). The Trinity is considered to be a mystery
Sacred Mysteries
The term sacred mysteries generally denotes the area of supernatural phenomena associated with a divinity or a religious ideology.-Pre-Christian religious mysteries:...

 of Christian faith
Faith in Christianity
Faith, in Christianity, has been most commonly defined by the biblical formulation in the Letter to the Hebrews as "'the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen". Most of the definitions in the history of Christian theology have followed this biblical formulation...

.

According to this doctrine, God exists as three persons but is one God, meaning that God the Son and God the Holy Spirit have exactly the same nature or being as God the Father in every way. Whatever attributes and power God the Father has, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit have as well. "Thus, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are also eternal, omnipresent, omnipotent, infinitely wise, infinitely holy, infinitely loving, omniscient."

According to James Rendel Harris (1852-1941), the doctrine developed as early Christians
Early Christianity
Early Christianity is generally considered as Christianity before 325. The New Testament's Book of Acts and Epistle to the Galatians records that the first Christian community was centered in Jerusalem and its leaders included James, Peter and John....

 tried to reconcile the traditional Jewish monotheism
Monotheism
Monotheism is the belief in the existence of one and only one god. Monotheism is characteristic of the Baha'i Faith, Christianity, Druzism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Samaritanism, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism.While they profess the existence of only one deity, monotheistic religions may still...

 recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

 with their portrayal of Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 as also divine. According to the author of the article on the Trinity in the current Encyclopaedia Britannica, the doctrine of the Trinity developed as the earliest Christians harmonized, over several centuries, the monotheism of the Hebrew Scriptures with their understanding not only of Jesus but also of what they saw as the presence and power of God among them, a presence and power that they called the Holy Spirit. They associated Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together in passages such as the baptismal formula of {{bibleverse||Matthew|28:19|ESV}}, which became the most influential text, and the Pauline blessing of {{bibleverse|2|Corinthians|13:14|ESV}} In the 3rd century views that were later considered unorthodox were adopted, such as subordinationism
Subordinationism
Subordinationism is a doctrine in Christian theology which holds that the Son and the Holy Spirit are subordinate to God the Father in nature and being...

 and modalism. The doctrine of the Trinity took the form that has since been maintained in all the historic confessions of Christianity by the end of the 4th century
Christianity in the 4th century
Christianity in the 4th century was dominated by Constantine the Great, and the First Council of Nicea of 325, which was the beginning of the period of the First seven Ecumenical Councils and the attempt to reach an orthodox consensus and to establish a unified Christendom as the State church of...

 as a result of controversies concerning the proper sense in which to apply to God, Christ and the Holy Spirit terms such as "person", "nature", "essence", and "substance".

Trinitarianism contrasts with non-Trinitarian positions which include Binitarianism
Binitarianism
Binitarianism is a Christian theology of two personae, two individuals, or two aspects in one Godhead . Classically, binitarianism is understood as strict monotheism — that is, that God is an absolutely single being; and yet with binitarianism there is a "twoness" in God...

 (one deity/two persons), Unitarianism
Unitarianism
Unitarianism is a Christian theological movement, named for its understanding of God as one person, in direct contrast to Trinitarianism which defines God as three persons coexisting consubstantially as one in being....

 (one deity/one person), the Oneness or Modalism belief, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' view of the Godhead as three separate beings who are one in purpose rather than in essence.

Etymology


The English word Trinity is derived from Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 Trinitas, meaning "the number three, a triad". This abstract noun is formed from the adjective trinus (three each, threefold, triple), as the word unitas is the abstract noun formed from unus (one).

The corresponding word in Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 is {{lang|grc|Τριάς}}, meaning "a set of three" or "the number three".

The first recorded use of this Greek word in Christian theology (though not about the Divine Trinity) was by Theophilus of Antioch
Theophilus of Antioch
Theophilus, Patriarch of Antioch, succeeded Eros c. 169, and was succeeded by Maximus I c.183, according to Henry Fynes Clinton, but these dates are only approximations...

 in about 170. He wrote:
"In like manner also the three days which were before the luminaries, are types
Typology (theology)
Typology in Christian theology and Biblical exegesis is a doctrine or theory concerning the relationship between the Old and New Testaments...

 of the Trinity [{{lang|grc|Τριάδος}}], of God, and His Word, and His wisdom. And the fourth is the type of man, who needs light, that so there may be God, the Word, wisdom, man."


Tertullian
Tertullian
Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, anglicised as Tertullian , was a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa. He is the first Christian author to produce an extensive corpus of Latin Christian literature. He also was a notable early Christian apologist and...

, a Latin theologian who wrote in the early 3rd century, is credited with using the words "Trinity", "person" and "substance" to explain that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are "one in essence—not one in Person".

About a century later, in 325, the First Council of Nicaea
First Council of Nicaea
The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325...

 established the doctrine of the Trinity as orthodoxy
Orthodoxy
The word orthodox, from Greek orthos + doxa , is generally used to mean the adherence to accepted norms, more specifically to creeds, especially in religion...

 and adopted the Nicene Creed
Nicene Creed
The Nicene Creed is the creed or profession of faith that is most widely used in Christian liturgy. It is called Nicene because, in its original form, it was adopted in the city of Nicaea by the first ecumenical council, which met there in the year 325.The Nicene Creed has been normative to the...

, which described Christ as "God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance (homoousios) with the Father".

Personhood


In the Trinity doctrine, each person is understood as having the same identical essence or nature, not merely similar natures. The being of Christ can be said to have dominated theological discussions and councils of the church until the 7th century, and resulted in the Nicene and Constantinopolitan creeds, the Ephesine Formula of 431, the Christological statement of the Epistola Dogmatica of Leo I to Flavianus, and the condemnation of Monothelism in the Sixth Ecumenical Council (680-681). From these councils, the following christological doctrines were condemned as heresies: Ebionism, Docetism
Docetism
In Christianity, docetism is the belief that Jesus' physical body was an illusion, as was his crucifixion; that is, Jesus only seemed to have a physical body and to physically die, but in reality he was incorporeal, a pure spirit, and hence could not physically die...

, Basilidianism
Basilides
Basilides was an early Gnostic religious teacher in Alexandria, Egypt who taught from 117–138 AD, notes that to prove that the heretical sects were "later than the catholic Church," Clement of Alexandria assigns Christ's own teaching to the reigns of Augustus and Tiberius; that of the apostles,...

, Alogi
Alogi
The Alogi were a group of Christian heretics in Asia Minor that flourished around 170 CE. What we know of them is derived from their doctrinal opponents, whose literature is still extant, particularly St. Epiphanius of Salamis...

sm or Artemon
Artemon
Artemon , a prominent Christian teacher in Rome, who held Adoptionist, or Nontrinitarian views. We know little about his life for certain.He is mentioned as the leader of a nontrinitarian sect at Rome in the third century...

ism, Patripassianism
Patripassianism
In Christian theology, patripassianism is the view that God the Father suffers . Its adherents believe that God the Father was incarnate and suffered on the cross and that whatever happened to the Son happened to the Father and so the Father co-suffered with the human Jesus on the cross...

, Sabellianism
Sabellianism
In Christianity, Sabellianism, is the nontrinitarian belief that the Heavenly Father, Resurrected Son and Holy Spirit are different modes or aspects of one God, as perceived by the believer, rather than three distinct persons in God Himself.The term Sabellianism comes from...

, Arianism
Arianism
Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius , a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt, concerning the relationship of the entities of the Trinity and the precise nature of the Son of God as being a subordinate entity to God the Father...

, Apollinarianism, Nestorianism
Nestorianism
Nestorianism is a Christological doctrine advanced by Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople from 428–431. The doctrine, which was informed by Nestorius's studies under Theodore of Mopsuestia at the School of Antioch, emphasizes the disunion between the human and divine natures of Jesus...

, Eutychianism
Eutychianism
Eutychianism refers to a set of Christian theological doctrines derived from the ideas of Eutyches of Constantinople . Eutychianism is a specific understanding of how the human and divine relate within the person of Jesus Christ .At various times, Eutyches taught that the human nature of Christ was...

, Monophysitism
Monophysitism
Monophysitism , or Monophysiticism, is the Christological position that Jesus Christ has only one nature, his humanity being absorbed by his Deity...

, and Monothelitism
Monothelitism
Monothelitism is a particular teaching about how the divine and human relate in the person of Jesus, known as a Christological doctrine, that formally emerged in Armenia and Syria in 629. Specifically, monothelitism teaches that Jesus Christ had two natures but only one will...

. Since the beginning of the third century
Christianity in the 3rd century
The 3rd century of Christianity was largely the time of the Ante-Nicene Fathers who wrote after the Apostolic Fathers of the 1st and 2nd centuries but before the First Council of Nicaea in 325...

 the doctrine of the Trinity has been stated as "the one God exists in three Persons and one substance, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." Trinitarianism, belief in the Trinity, is a mark of Roman Catholicism
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, Eastern
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 and Oriental Orthodoxy
Oriental Orthodoxy
Oriental Orthodoxy is the faith of those Eastern Christian Churches that recognize only three ecumenical councils — the First Council of Nicaea, the First Council of Constantinople and the First Council of Ephesus. They rejected the dogmatic definitions of the Council of Chalcedon...

 as well as of the "mainstream traditions" arising from the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

, such as Anglicanism
Anglicanism
Anglicanism is a tradition within Christianity comprising churches with historical connections to the Church of England or similar beliefs, worship and church structures. The word Anglican originates in ecclesia anglicana, a medieval Latin phrase dating to at least 1246 that means the English...

, Baptist
Baptist
Baptists comprise a group of Christian denominations and churches that subscribe to a doctrine that baptism should be performed only for professing believers , and that it must be done by immersion...

, Methodism
Methodism
Methodism is a movement of Protestant Christianity represented by a number of denominations and organizations, claiming a total of approximately seventy million adherents worldwide. The movement traces its roots to John Wesley's evangelistic revival movement within Anglicanism. His younger brother...

, Lutheranism
Lutheranism
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation...

 and Presbyterianism
Presbyterianism
Presbyterianism refers to a number of Christian churches adhering to the Calvinist theological tradition within Protestantism, which are organized according to a characteristic Presbyterian polity. Presbyterian theology typically emphasizes the sovereignty of God, the authority of the Scriptures,...

. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church describes the Trinity as "the central dogma of Christian theology
Christian theology
- Divisions of Christian theology :There are many methods of categorizing different approaches to Christian theology. For a historical analysis, see the main article on the History of Christian theology.- Sub-disciplines :...

".

Comma Johanneum


{{Main|Comma Johanneum}}

In addition to these, {{bibleref2|1John|5:7|KJV|1 John 5:7}}, which is found in the King James Version but not in modern English translations nor in the official Latin text (a revision of the Vulgate
Vulgate
The Vulgate is a late 4th-century Latin translation of the Bible. It was largely the work of St. Jerome, who was commissioned by Pope Damasus I in 382 to make a revision of the old Latin translations...

) of the Roman Catholic Church, states: "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one." However, this Comma Johanneum
Comma Johanneum
The Comma Johanneum is a comma in the First Epistle of John according to the Latin Vulgate text as transmitted since the Early Middle Ages, based on Vetus Latina minority readings dating to the 7th century...

 is not considered to be part of the genuine text. It is commonly found in Latin manuscripts, but is absent from the Greek manuscripts, except for a few late examples, where the passage appears to have been back-translated from the Latin. Erasmus, the compiler of the Textus Receptus
Textus Receptus
Textus Receptus is the name subsequently given to the succession of printed Greek texts of the New Testament which constituted the translation base for the original German Luther Bible, the translation of the New Testament into English by William Tyndale, the King James Version, and for most other...

, on which the King James Version was based, noticed that the passage was not found in any of the Greek manuscripts at his disposal and refused to include it until presented with a manuscript containing it, while still suspecting, as is now agreed, that the phrase was a gloss
Gloss
A gloss is a brief notation of the meaning of a word or wording in a text. It may be in the language of the text, or in the reader's language if that is different....

.
Although the Latin Church Father, Saint Cyprian
Cyprian
Cyprian was bishop of Carthage and an important Early Christian writer, many of whose Latin works are extant. He was born around the beginning of the 3rd century in North Africa, perhaps at Carthage, where he received a classical education...

, alone among early writers, is thought to have referred to the passage, it is now considered not to be part of the original text.

Jesus as God



As opposed to the Synoptic Gospels
Synoptic Gospels
The gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as the Synoptic Gospels because they include many of the same stories, often in the same sequence, and sometimes exactly the same wording. This degree of parallelism in content, narrative arrangement, language, and sentence structures can only be...

, the Gospel of John
Gospel of John
The Gospel According to John , commonly referred to as the Gospel of John or simply John, and often referred to in New Testament scholarship as the Fourth Gospel, is an account of the public ministry of Jesus...

 has been seen as aimed at emphasizing Jesus' divinity, presenting Jesus as the Logos
Logos
' is an important term in philosophy, psychology, rhetoric and religion. Originally a word meaning "a ground", "a plea", "an opinion", "an expectation", "word," "speech," "account," "reason," it became a technical term in philosophy, beginning with Heraclitus ' is an important term in...

, pre-existent and divine, from its first words, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."{{bibleref2c|John|1:1}} John also portrays Jesus as the creator of the universe
Creator deity
A creator deity is a deity responsible for the creation of the world . In monotheism, the single God is often also the creator deity, while polytheistic traditions may or may not have creator deities...

, such that "without him was not any thing made that was made."{{bibleref2c|John|1:3}} Some render John 1:1 as "the Word was a god", "the word was godlike", "the word was divine", denying that the doctrine of the Trinity is supported by the verse.

The Gospel of John ends with Thomas' apparent confession of faith to Jesus, "My Lord and my God!"{{bibleref2c|John|20:28}} There is no significant tendency among modern scholars to deny that John 1:1 and John 20:28 identify Jesus with God.

Other passages of John's Gospel interpreted in this sense include, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.",{{bibleref2c-nb|John|8:58}} "I and the Father are one.",{{bibleref2c-nb|John|10:30}} "....the Father is in me and I am in the Father.",{{bibleref2c-nb|John|10:38}} and "....he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God."{{bibleref2c|John|5:18}} John is also seen to identify Jesus as the Lord whom Isaiah saw,{{bibleref2c|John|12:34-45}}{{bibleref2c|Isa|6:1-10}} while other texts{{bibleref2c|Heb|1:1-12}} are also understood as referring to Jesus as God.

There are also a few possible biblical supports for the Trinity found in the Synoptic Gospels
Synoptic Gospels
The gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as the Synoptic Gospels because they include many of the same stories, often in the same sequence, and sometimes exactly the same wording. This degree of parallelism in content, narrative arrangement, language, and sentence structures can only be...

. The Gospel of Matthew, for example, quotes Jesus as saying "all things have been handed over to me by my Father".{{bibleref2c|Mt|11:27}} This is similar to John, who wrote that Jesus said "All that the Father has is mine".{{bibleref2c|John|16:15}} These verses have been quoted to defend the omnipotence of Christ, having all power, as well as the omniscience of Christ, having all wisdom.

Expressions also in the Pauline epistles
Pauline epistles
The Pauline epistles, Epistles of Paul, or Letters of Paul, are the thirteen New Testament books which have the name Paul as the first word, hence claiming authorship by Paul the Apostle. Among these letters are some of the earliest extant Christian documents...

 have been interpreted as attributing divinity to Jesus. They include: "For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him"{{bibleref2c|Colossians|1:16}} and "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form",{{bibleref2c|Colossians|2:9}} and in Paul the Apostle's claim to have been "sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father".{{bibleref2c|Galatians|1:1}}

In {{bibleref2|Daniel|7}} the prophet records his vision of "one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven", who "was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him" (v. 14). Christians believe that worship is only properly given to God, and that considering other Bible passages this "son of man" can be identified as the second person of the Trinity. Parallels may be drawn between Daniel's vision and Jesus' words to the Jewish high priest that in the future those assembled would see "the son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven."{{bibleref2c|Mt|26:64-65}} Jesus was immediately accused of blasphemy, as at other times when he had identified his unity with the Father.{{bibleref2c|John|10:33}} Christians also believe that John saw the resurrected, gloried Jesus and described him as "One like the Son of Man
Son of man
The phrase son of man is a primarily Semitic idiom that originated in Ancient Mesopotamia, used to denote humanity or self. The phrase is also used in Judaism and Christianity. The phrase used in the Greek, translated as Son of man is ὁ υἱὸς τοὺ ἀνθρώπου...

."{{bibleref2c|Rev|1:13}}
Some believe the Trinity was also introduced in the Old Testament book of Isaiah
Isaiah
Isaiah ; Greek: ', Ēsaïās ; "Yahu is salvation") was a prophet in the 8th-century BC Kingdom of Judah.Jews and Christians consider the Book of Isaiah a part of their Biblical canon; he is the first listed of the neviim akharonim, the later prophets. Many of the New Testament teachings of Jesus...

 written around 700 years before Jesus, copies of which were preserved from 300 years before Jesus in the Dead Sea Scrolls
Dead Sea scrolls
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 972 texts from the Hebrew Bible and extra-biblical documents found between 1947 and 1956 on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, from which they derive their name...

. {{Bibleref2|Isaiah|9:6}} prophesies "For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon his shoulder. And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Thus a son who will be born at a particular point in history who is called "Mighty God". Some non-Trinitarians argue that this passage would also imply that Jesus is the Father, the first person in the Trinity. However, Trinitarians contend that Jesus is the second person in the Trinity, and he is called "Everlasting Father" because of his role as Creator of men.

Another possible biblical demonstration of the deity of Jesus comes from the biblical scholar Granville Sharp
Granville Sharp
Granville Sharp was one of the first English campaigners for the abolition of the slave trade. He also involved himself in trying to correct other social injustices. Sharp formulated the plan to settle blacks in Sierra Leone, and founded the St. George's Bay Company, a forerunner of the Sierra...

 who noted the construction of a particular Greek idiom, which is now called Granville Sharp's rule. According to the rule, when two nouns that are personal, singular, and not proper names are connected in a TSKS pattern (The—Substantive—Kai—Substantive, where 'kai' is Greek for 'and') then the two nouns refer to the same person. Passages like {{bibleref2|Titus|2:13}} and {{bibleref2|2Peter|1:1}} fit this pattern. Therefore, when Paul says:{{bibleref2c|Titus|2:13}} "The great God and savior, Jesus Christ" he is grammatically identifying Jesus Christ as the great God. Proper nouns are not used in this phrase. In his review of over 1,000 years of Greek literature, Christopher Wordsworth confirmed that early church Fathers had this same understanding of the text.

An opposing view of the Granville Sharp rule, however, argues that in Matthew 21:12 Jesus ‘cast out all those that were selling and buying in the temple,’ (τοὺς πωλοῦντας καὶ ἀγοράζοντας). So too, in Mark 11:15 the two classes are made distinct by the insertion of τούς before ἀγοράζοντας. Because of this, they argue that no one can reasonably suppose that the same persons are here described as both selling and buying, yet they fit within the Granville Sharp rule's construction. Therefore, according to this view, there is biblical evidence to distinguish between "the great God" and "our Saviour, Jesus Christ" in Titus 2:13, and by extension, 2 Peter 1:1. However, unlike 2 Peter 1:1 and Titus 2:13, Matthew 21:12 and Mark 11:15 do not fit Sharp's rule, since they use plural participle
Participle
In linguistics, a participle is a word that shares some characteristics of both verbs and adjectives. It can be used in compound verb tenses or voices , or as a modifier...

s, not singular personal nouns.

Some have suggested that John presents a hierarchy when he quotes Jesus as saying, "The Father is greater than I",{{bibleref2c-nb|John|14:28}} a statement which was appealed to by non-trinitarian groups such as Arianism
Arianism
Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius , a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt, concerning the relationship of the entities of the Trinity and the precise nature of the Son of God as being a subordinate entity to God the Father...

. However, Church Fathers such as Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo , also known as Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Austin, St. Augoustinos, Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed, was Bishop of Hippo Regius . He was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province...

 argued this statement was to be understood as Jesus speaking in the form of a man.

Others have suggested that passages in the Synoptic Gospels contradict the Trinity. For example, the Agnoetae
Agnoetae
Agnoetae was a general name given to those heretical sects which in one form or another denied the divine omniscience either of the incarnate Christ or of God the Father....

 sect argued that Jesus himself denied omniscience, when he said "but of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father".{{bibleref2c|Mark|13:32}}{{bibleref2c|Matthew|24:36}} However, the Church Fathers reasoned that, in the Bible, "to know" can sometimes mean "to reveal". For example, Augustine of Hippo argued that when Deuteronomy 13:3 said "the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart", "to know" here meant "to reveal". So too, Mark 13:32 could be saying that the Father alone reveals that day, but Jesus himself could know the day as well. This is supported by passages that seem to argue that Jesus did know all things, such as "He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.""{{bibleref2c|John|21:17}}

Holy Spirit as God


As the Arian controversy was dwindling down, the debate moved from the deity of Jesus Christ to the equality of the Holy Spirit with the Father and Son. On one hand, the Pneumatomachi
Pneumatomachi
The Pneumatomachi, also known as Macedonians or Semi-Arians in Constantinople and the Tropici in Alexandria, were an anti-Nicene Creed sect which flourished in the countries adjacent to the Hellespont during the latter half of the fourth, and the beginning of the fifth century...

 sect declared that the Holy Spirit was an inferior person to the Father and Son. On the other hand, the Cappadocian Fathers
Cappadocian Fathers
The Cappadocian Fathers are Basil the Great , who was bishop of Caesarea; Basil's brother Gregory of Nyssa , who was bishop of Nyssa; and a close friend, Gregory of Nazianzus , who became Patriarch of Constantinople...

 argued that the Holy Spirit was an equal person to the Father and Son.

Although the main text used in defense of the deity of the Holy Spirit was Matthew 28:19, Cappadocian Fathers such as Basil the Great argued from other verses such as "But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God."{{bibleref2c|Acts|5:3-4}}

Another passage the Cappadocian Fathers quoted from was "By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host."{{bibleref2c|Psalm|33:6}} According to their understanding, because "breath" and "spirit" in Hebrew are both "רוּחַ" ("ruach"), Psalm 33:6 is revealing the roles of the Son and Holy Spirit as co-creators. And since, according to them, because the holy God can only create holy beings such as the angels, the Son and Holy Spirit must be God.

Yet another argument from the Cappadocian Fathers to prove that the Holy Spirit is of the same nature as the Father and Son comes from "For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God."{{bibleref2c|1Cor.|2:11}} They reasoned that this passage proves that the Holy Spirit has the same relationship to God as the spirit within us has to us.

The Cappadocian Fathers also quoted "Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?"{{bibleref2c|1Cor.|3:16}} and reasoned that it would be blasphemous for an inferior being to take up residence in a temple of God, thus proving that the Holy Spirit is equal with the Father and the Son.

They also combined "the servant does not know what his master is doing"{{bibleref2c|John|15:15}} with 1 Corinthians 2:11 in an attempt to show that the Holy Spirit is not the slave of God, and therefore his equal.

The Pneumatomachi contradicted the Cappadocian Fathers by quoting "Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?",{{bibleref2c|Hebrews|1:14}} in effect arguing that the Holy Spirit is no different than other created angelic spirits. The Church Fathers disagreed, saying that the Holy Spirit is greater than the angels, since the Holy Spirit is the one who grants the foreknowledge for prophesy{{bibleref2c|1Cor.|12:8-10}} so that the angels could announce events to come.

Claims of Old Testament prefigurations



Genesis 18–19 have been interpreted by Christians as a Trinitarian text. The narrative has the Lord appearing to Abraham, who was visited by three men.{{bibleref2c|Gen|18:1-2}} Then in {{bibleref2|Genesis|19}}, "the two angels" visited Lot
Lot (Bible)
Lot is a man from the Book of Genesis chapters 11-14 and 19, in the Hebrew Bible. Notable episodes in his life include his travels with his uncle Abram ; his flight from the destruction of Sodom, in the course of which Lot's wife looked back and became a pillar of salt; and the seduction by his...

 at Sodom. The interplay between Abraham on the one hand, and the Lord/three men/the two angels on the other was an intriguing text for those who believed in a single God in three persons. Justin Martyr
Justin Martyr
Justin Martyr, also known as just Saint Justin , was an early Christian apologist. Most of his works are lost, but two apologies and a dialogue survive. He is considered a saint by the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church....

, and John Calvin
John Calvin
John Calvin was an influential French theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation. He was a principal figure in the development of the system of Christian theology later called Calvinism. Originally trained as a humanist lawyer, he broke from the Roman Catholic Church around 1530...

 similarly, interpreted it such that Abraham was visited by God, who was accompanied by two angels. Justin supposed that the god who visited Abraham was distinguishable from the god who remains in the heavens, but was nevertheless identified as the (monotheistic) god. Justin appropriated the god who visited Abraham to Jesus, the second person of the Trinity.

Augustine, in contrast, held that the three visitors to Abraham were the three persons of the Trinity. He saw no indication that the visitors were unequal, as would be the case in Justin's reading. Then in {{bibleref2|Genesis|19}}, two of the visitors were addressed by Lot in the singular: "Lot said to them, 'Not so, my lord.{{'"}}{{bibleref2c|Gen|19:18|KJV|Gen 19:18 KJV}} Augustine saw that Lot could address them as one because they had a single substance, despite the plurality of persons. Some Christians see indications in the Old Testament of a plurality and unity in God, an idea that is rejected by Judaism.

Some Christians interpret the theophanies
Theophany
Theophany, from the Ancient Greek , meaning "appearance of God"), refers to the appearance of a deity to a human or other being, or to a divine disclosure....

 or appearances of the Angel of the Lord
Angel of the Lord
The Angel of the Lord is one of many terms in the Hebrew Bible used for an angel. The Biblical name for angel, מלאך mal'ach, which translates simply as "messenger," obtained the further signification of "angel" only through the addition of God's name, as The Angel of the Lord (or the Angel of...

 as revelations of a person distinct from God, who is nonetheless called God. This interpretation is found in Christianity as early as Justin Martyr
Justin Martyr
Justin Martyr, also known as just Saint Justin , was an early Christian apologist. Most of his works are lost, but two apologies and a dialogue survive. He is considered a saint by the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church....

 and Melito of Sardis
Melito of Sardis
Melito of Sardis was the bishop of Sardis near Smyrna in western Anatolia, and a great authority in Early Christianity: Jerome, speaking of the Old Testament canon established by Melito, quotes Tertullian to the effect that he was esteemed a prophet by many of the faithful...

, and reflects ideas that were already present in Philo
Philo
Philo , known also as Philo of Alexandria , Philo Judaeus, Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, Yedidia, "Philon", and Philo the Jew, was a Hellenistic Jewish Biblical philosopher born in Alexandria....

. The Old Testament theophanies were thus seen as Christophanies
Christophany
A Christophany is an appearance, or non-physical manifestation, of Christ.Traditionally the term refers to visions of Christ after his ascension such as the bright light of the Damascus Christophany....

, each a "preincarnate appearance of the Messiah".

Theophanies: and {{bibleref2|Genesis|18:1}}—God appeared to Abraham and {{bibleref2|Genesis|26:24}}—God appeared to Isaac, {{bibleref2|Genesis|35:9}} and {{bibleref2|Genesis|48:3}}—God appeared to Jacob and {{bibleref2|Exodus|4:5}}—God appeared to Moses—God appeared to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and {{bibleref2|Leviticus|6:2}}—God appeared to Aaron—God appeared to Moses and Joshua—God appeared to Samuel, {{bibleref2|1Kings|9:2||1 Kings 9:2}} and {{Bibleref2|1Kings|11:9||1 Kings 11:9}}—God appeared to Solomon—God appeared to David—God appeared to Solomon

The angel (messenger) of the Lord:

Possible references in the Deuterocanonical books


In Wisdom
Book of Wisdom
The Book of Wisdom, often referred to simply as Wisdom or the Book of the Wisdom of Solomon, is one of the deuterocanonical books of the Bible. It is one of the seven Sapiential or wisdom books of the Septuagint Old Testament, which includes Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon ,...

, Sirach, and Baruch
Book of Baruch
The Book of Baruch, occasionally referred to as 1 Baruch, is called a deuterocanonical book of the Bible. Although not in the Hebrew Bible, it is found in the Septuagint and in the Vulgate Bible, and also in Theodotion's version. It is grouped with the prophetical books which also include Isaiah,...

, the personifications of wisdom have been seen in the Christian traditions as prefigures for Christ. The most explicit reference to the Trinity is in Wisdom of Solomon:
{{quote|Who has learned your counsel, unless you have given wisdom and sent your holy spirit from on high? And thus the paths of those on earth were set right, and people were taught what pleases you, and were saved by wisdom|{{bverse|Wisdom|9:17-18|Wisdom of Solomon 9:17-18|nrs}}}}

History



{{Main|Trinity of the Church Fathers}}
Although there is much debate as to whether the beliefs of the Apostles were merely articulated and explained in the Trinitarian Creeds, or were corrupted and replaced with new beliefs, all scholars recognize that the Creeds themselves were created in reaction to disagreements over the nature of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These controversies, however, were great and many, and took many centuries to be resolved.

Of these controversies, the most significant developments were articulated in the first four centuries by the Church Fathers
Church Fathers
The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church were early and influential theologians, eminent Christian teachers and great bishops. Their scholarly works were used as a precedent for centuries to come...

 in reaction to Adoptionism
Adoptionism
Adoptionism, sometimes called dynamic monarchianism, is a minority Christian belief that Jesus was adopted as God's son at his baptism...

, Sabellianism
Sabellianism
In Christianity, Sabellianism, is the nontrinitarian belief that the Heavenly Father, Resurrected Son and Holy Spirit are different modes or aspects of one God, as perceived by the believer, rather than three distinct persons in God Himself.The term Sabellianism comes from...

, and Arianism
Arianism
Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius , a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt, concerning the relationship of the entities of the Trinity and the precise nature of the Son of God as being a subordinate entity to God the Father...

. Adoptionism was the belief that Jesus was an ordinary man, born of Joseph and Mary, who became the Christ and Son of God at his baptism. In 269, the Synods of Antioch
Synods of Antioch
Beginning with three synods convened between 264 and 269 in the matter of Paul of Samosata, more than thirty councils were held in Antioch in ancient times. Most of these dealt with phases of the Arian and of the Christological controversies...

 condemned Paul of Samosata
Paul of Samosata
Paul of Samosata was Bishop of Antioch from 260 to 268. He was a believer in monarchianism, and his teachings anticipate adoptionism.-Life:...

 for his Adoptionist theology, and also condemned the term "homoousios" in the sense he used it.

Sabellianism taught that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are aspects
Prosopon
Prosopon is a technical term encountered in Greek theology. It is most often translated as "person", and as such is sometimes confused in translation with hypostasis, which is also translated as "person." Prosopon originally meant "face" or "mask" in Greek and derives from Greek theatre, in which...

 of how humanity has interacted with or experienced God. In the role of the Father, God is the provider and creator of all. In the role of the Son, God is manifested in the flesh as a human, in order to bring about the salvation of mankind. In the role of the Holy Spirit, God manifests himself from heaven through his actions on the earth and within the lives of Christians. This view was rejected as heresy
Christian heresy
Christian heresy refers to non-orthodox practices and beliefs that were deemed to be heretical by one or more of the Christian churches. In Western Christianity, the term "heresy" most commonly refers to those beliefs which were declared to be anathema by the Catholic Church prior to the schism of...

 by the Ecumenical Councils.{{which?|date=December 2010}}

Arianism, which was coming into prominence during the 4th century along with Trinitarianism, taught that the Father came before the Son, and that the Son was a distinct being from the Holy Spirit. In 325, the Council of Nicaea
First Council of Nicaea
The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325...

 adopted a term for the relationship between the Father and the Son that from then on was seen as the hallmark of orthodoxy; it declared that the Son is "of the same being" ({{Polytonic|ὁμοούσιος
Ousia
Ousia is the Ancient Greek noun formed on the feminine present participle of ; it is analogous to the English participle being, and the modern philosophy adjectival ontic...

}}) as the Father. This was further developed into the formula "three persons, one being".

Saint Athanasius, who was a participant in the Council, stated that the bishops were forced to use this terminology, which is not found in Scripture, because the Biblical phrases that they would have preferred to use were claimed by the Arians
Arianism
Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius , a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt, concerning the relationship of the entities of the Trinity and the precise nature of the Son of God as being a subordinate entity to God the Father...

 to be capable of being interpreted in what the bishops considered to be a heretical sense. They therefore "commandeered the non-scriptural term homoousios ('of the same being') to safeguard the essential relation of the Son to the Father that had been denied by Arius
Arius
Arius was a Christian presbyter in Alexandria, Egypt of Libyan origins. His teachings about the nature of the Godhead, which emphasized the Father's divinity over the Son , and his opposition to the Athanasian or Trinitarian Christology, made him a controversial figure in the First Council of...

."

Moreover, the meanings of "ousia" and "hypostasis
Hypostasis (religion)
In Christian theology, a hypostasis or person is one of the three elements of the Holy Trinity.In Christian usage, the Greek word hypostasis means beneath-standing or underpinning and, by extension, the existence of some thing...

" overlapped then, so that the latter term for some meant essence and for others person. Athanasius of Alexandria
Athanasius of Alexandria
Athanasius of Alexandria [b. ca. – d. 2 May 373] is also given the titles St. Athanasius the Great, St. Athanasius I of Alexandria, St Athanasius the Confessor and St Athanasius the Apostolic. He was the 20th bishop of Alexandria. His long episcopate lasted 45 years Athanasius of Alexandria [b....

 (293–373) helped to clarify the terms.

The Confession of the Council of Nicaea said little about the Holy Spirit. The doctrine of the divinity and personality of the Holy Spirit was developed by Athanasius in the last decades of his life. He defended and refined the Nicene formula. By the end of the 4th century, under the leadership of Basil of Caesarea
Basil of Caesarea
Basil of Caesarea, also called Saint Basil the Great, was the bishop of Caesarea Mazaca in Cappadocia, Asia Minor . He was an influential 4th century Christian theologian...

, Gregory of Nyssa
Gregory of Nyssa
St. Gregory of Nyssa was a Christian bishop and saint. He was a younger brother of Basil the Great and a good friend of Gregory of Nazianzus. His significance has long been recognized in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Catholic and Roman Catholic branches of Christianity...

, and Gregory of Nazianzus
Gregory of Nazianzus
Gregory of Nazianzus was a 4th-century Archbishop of Constantinople. He is widely considered the most accomplished rhetorical stylist of the patristic age...

 (the Cappadocian Fathers
Cappadocian Fathers
The Cappadocian Fathers are Basil the Great , who was bishop of Caesarea; Basil's brother Gregory of Nyssa , who was bishop of Nyssa; and a close friend, Gregory of Nazianzus , who became Patriarch of Constantinople...

), the doctrine had reached substantially its current form.

The Ante-Nicene Fathers, although likely foreign to the specifics of Trinitarian theology because they were not defined until the 4th century, nevertheless affirmed Christ's deity and referenced "Father, Son and Holy Spirit". Trinitarians view these as elements of the codified doctrine.

Baptism as the beginning lesson



Baptism is generally conferred with the Trinitarian formula
Trinitarian formula
The trinitarian formula is the phrase "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" , or words to that form and effect referring to the three persons of the Christian Trinity.- Biblical origin :...

, "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."{{bibleref2c|Mt|28:19}} Trinitarians identify this name with the Christian faith into which baptism is an initiation, as seen for example in the statement of Basil the Great (330–379): "We are bound to be baptized in the terms we have received, and to profess faith in the terms in which we have been baptized." "This is the Faith of our baptism", the First Council of Constantinople
First Council of Constantinople
The First Council of Constantinople is recognized as the Second Ecumenical Council by the Assyrian Church of the East, the Oriental Orthodox, the Eastern Orthodox, the Roman Catholics, the Old Catholics, and a number of other Western Christian groups. It was the first Ecumenical Council held in...

 also says (382), "that teaches us to believe in the Name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. According to this Faith there is one Godhead, Power, and Being of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

{{bibleref2|Matthew|28:19}} may be taken to indicate that baptism was associated with this formula from the earliest decades of the Church's existence.

Some groups, such as Oneness Pentecostals, demur from the Trinitarian view on baptism. For them, the omission of the formula in Acts outweighs all other considerations, and is a liturgical guide for their own practice. For this reason, they often focus on the baptisms in Acts, citing many authoritative theological works. For example, Kittel is cited where he is speaking of the phrase "in the name" (Greek
Koine Greek
Koine Greek is the universal dialect of the Greek language spoken throughout post-Classical antiquity , developing from the Attic dialect, with admixture of elements especially from Ionic....

: {{Polytonic|εἰς τὸ ὄνομα}}) as used in the baptisms recorded in Acts:
The distinctive feature of Christian baptism is that it is administered in Christ ({{Polytonic|εἰς Χριστόν}}), or in the name of Christ ({{Polytonic|εἰς τὸ ὄνομα Χριστοῦ}}). (Gerhard Kittel, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977), 1:539.)
The formula ({{Polytonic|εἰς τὸ ὄνομα}}) seems to have been a tech. term in Hellenistic commerce ("to the account"). In both cases the use of the phrase is understandable, since the account bears the name of the one who owns it, and in baptism the name of Christ is pronounced, invoked and confessed by the one who baptises or the one baptised{{bibleref2c|Acts|22:16}} or both. (Kittel, 1:540.)


Those who place great emphasis on the baptisms in Acts often likewise question the authenticity of {{bibleref2|Matthew|28:19}} in its present form. A. Ploughman, apparently following F. C. Conybeare
Frederick Cornwallis Conybeare
Frederick Cornwallis Conybeare was a British orientalist, Fellow of University College, Oxford, and Professor of Theology at the University of Oxford.-Biography:...

, has questioned the authenticity of {{bibleref2|Matthew|28:19}}, but most scholars of New Testament textual criticism
Textual criticism
Textual criticism is a branch of literary criticism that is concerned with the identification and removal of transcription errors in the texts of manuscripts...

 accept the authenticity of the passage, since there are no variant manuscripts regarding the formula, and the extant form of the passage is attested in the Didache
Didache
The Didache or The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles is a brief early Christian treatise, dated by most scholars to the late first or early 2nd century...

 and other patristic works of the 1st and 2nd centuries: Ignatius
Ignatius of Antioch
Ignatius of Antioch was among the Apostolic Fathers, was the third Bishop of Antioch, and was a student of John the Apostle. En route to his martyrdom in Rome, Ignatius wrote a series of letters which have been preserved as an example of very early Christian theology...

, Tertullian
Tertullian
Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, anglicised as Tertullian , was a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa. He is the first Christian author to produce an extensive corpus of Latin Christian literature. He also was a notable early Christian apologist and...

, Hippolytus
Hippolytus (writer)
Hippolytus of Rome was the most important 3rd-century theologian in the Christian Church in Rome, where he was probably born. Photios I of Constantinople describes him in his Bibliotheca Hippolytus of Rome (170 – 235) was the most important 3rd-century theologian in the Christian Church in Rome,...

, Cyprian
Cyprian
Cyprian was bishop of Carthage and an important Early Christian writer, many of whose Latin works are extant. He was born around the beginning of the 3rd century in North Africa, perhaps at Carthage, where he received a classical education...

, and Gregory Thaumaturgus
Gregory Thaumaturgus
Gregory Thaumaturgus, also known as Gregory of Neocaesarea or Gregory the Wonderworker, was a Christian bishop of the 3rd century.-Biography:Gregory was born at Neo-Caesarea around 213 A.D...

. The Acts of the Apostles
Acts of the Apostles
The Acts of the Apostles , usually referred to simply as Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament; Acts outlines the history of the Apostolic Age...

 only mentions believers being baptized "in the name of Jesus Christ"{{bibleref2c|Acts|2:38}} {{bibleref2c-nb|Acts|10:48}} and "in the name of the Lord Jesus."{{bibleref2c-nb|Acts|8:16}} {{bibleref2c-nb|Acts|19:5}} There are no biblical references to baptism in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit outside of {{bibleref2|Matthew|28:19}}, nor references, biblical or patristic, to baptism in the name of (the Lord) Jesus (Christ) outside the Acts of the Apostles.

Commenting on {{bibleref2|Matthew|28:19}}, Gerhard Kittel states:
This threefold relation [of Father, Son and Spirit] soon found fixed expression in the triadic formulae in {{bibleref2|2Cor|13:14||2 Cor. 13:14}} and in {{bibleref2|1Cor|12:4–6||1 Cor. 12:4-6}}. The form is first found in the baptismal formula in {{bibleref2|Matthew|28:19}}; Did., 7. 1 and 3....[I]t is self-evident that Father, Son and Spirit are here linked in an indissoluble threefold relationship.


In the synoptic Gospels the baptism of Jesus
Baptism of Jesus
The baptism of Jesus marks the beginning of Jesus Christ's public ministry. This event is recorded in the Canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. In John 1:29-33 rather than a direct narrative, the Baptist bears witness to the episode...

 is often interpreted as a manifestation of all three persons of the Trinity: "And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, 'This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.{{'"}}{{bibleref2c|Mt|3:16–17}}

One God


{{Main|Monotheism}}

Christianity, having emerged from Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

, is a monotheistic religion. Never in the New Testament does the trinitarian concept become a "tritheism
Tritheism
Tritheism is the belief that there are three distinct, powerful gods, who form a triad. Generally three gods are envisaged as having separate powers and separate supreme beings or spheres of influence but working together...

" (three Gods) nor even two. God is one, and that the Godhead is a single being is strongly declared in the Bible:
  • The Shema of the Hebrew Scriptures: "Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one."{{bibleref2c|Deut|6:4}}
  • The first of the Ten Commandments
    Ten Commandments
    The Ten Commandments, also known as the Decalogue , are a set of biblical principles relating to ethics and worship, which play a fundamental role in Judaism and most forms of Christianity. They include instructions to worship only God and to keep the Sabbath, and prohibitions against idolatry,...

    —"Thou shalt have no other gods before me"{{bibleref2c-nb|Deut|5:7}}.
  • and "Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel and his redeemer the LORD of hosts: I am the first and I am the last; and beside me there is no God."{{bibleref2c|Isa|44:6}}
  • In the New Testament: "The Lord our God is one."{{Bibleref2c|Mk|12:29}}


In the Trinitarian view, the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost share the one essence, substance or being. The central and crucial affirmation of Christian faith is that there is one savior, God, and one salvation, manifest in Jesus Christ, to which there is access only because of the Holy Spirit. The God of the Old Testament is still the same as the God of the New. In Christianity, statements about a solitary God are intended to distinguish the Hebraic understanding from the polytheistic
Polytheism
Polytheism is the belief of multiple deities also usually assembled into a pantheon of gods and goddesses, along with their own mythologies and rituals....

 view, which see divine power as shared by several beings, beings which can and do disagree and have conflicts with each other.

God in three persons


According to the Trinity doctrine, God exists as three persons, or hypostases, but is one being, that is, has but a single divine nature. Chalcedonian
Chalcedonian
Chalcedonian describes churches and theologians which accept the definition given at the Council of Chalcedon of how the divine and human relate in the person of Jesus Christ...

s—Roman Catholics, Orthodox Christians
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

, and Protestants—hold that, in addition, the second person of the Trinity—God the Son, Jesus—assumed human nature, so that he has two natures (and hence two wills), and is really and fully both true God and true human. In the Oriental Orthodox theology, the Chalcedonian formulation is rejected in favor of the position that the union of the two natures, though unconfused, births a third nature: redeemed humanity, the new creation.

The members of the Trinity are said to be co-equal and co-eternal, one in essence, nature, power, action, and will. As stated in the Athanasian Creed
Athanasian Creed
The Athanasian Creed is a Christian statement of belief, focusing on Trinitarian doctrine and Christology. The Latin name of the creed, Quicumque vult, is taken from the opening words, "Whosoever wishes." The Athanasian Creed has been used by Christian churches since the sixth century...

, the Father is uncreated, the Son is uncreated, and the Holy Spirit is uncreated, and all three are eternal with no beginning. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that, in the sense of the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 verb procedere (which does not have to indicate ultimate origin and is therefore compatible with proceeding through), but not in that of the Greek verb ἐκπορεύεσθαι (which implies ultimate origin), the Spirit "proceeds" from the Father and the Son (see Filioque), and the Eastern Orthodox Church, which teaches that the Spirit "proceeds" from the Father alone, has made no statement on the claim of a difference in meaning between the two words, one Greek and one Latin, both of which are translated as "proceeds". There is no dispute on the statement in the Nicene Creed that the Holy Spirit is worshipped together with the Father and the Son.

It has been stated that because three persons exist in God as one unity, "The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit" are not three different names for different parts of God but one name for God, because the Father can not be divided from the Son or the Holy Spirit from the Son. God has always loved, and there has always existed perfectly harmonious communion between the three persons of the Trinity. One consequence of this teaching is that God could not have created man to have someone to talk to or to love: God "already" enjoyed personal communion; being perfect, he did not create man because of a lack or inadequacy he had. Another consequence, according to Rev. Fr. Thomas Hopko, an Eastern Orthodox theologian, is that if God were not a Trinity, he could not have loved prior to creating other beings on whom to bestow his love. Thus God says, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."{{bibleref2c|Gen|1:26-27}} For Trinitarians, emphasis in Genesis 1:26 is on the plurality in the Deity, and in 1:27 on the unity of the divine Essence. A possible interpretation of Genesis 1:26 is that God's relationships in the Trinity are mirrored in man by the ideal relationship between husband and wife, two persons becoming one flesh, as described in Eve
Eve (Bible)
Eve was, according to the creation of Abrahamic religions, the first woman created by God...

's creation later in the next chapter.{{bibleref2c-nb|Genesis|2:22}}

Mutually indwelling


A useful explanation of the relationship of the distinct divine persons is called "perichoresis
Perichoresis
Perichoresis is a term in Christian theology first found within the Church Fathers but now reinvigorated among contemporary figures such as C. Baxter Kruger, Jurgen Moltmann, Miroslav Volf and John Zizioulas, amongst others. The term first appears in Gregory of Nazianzus but was explored more...

", from Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 going around, envelopment. This concept refers for its basis to {{bibleref2|John|14–17}}, where Jesus is instructing the disciples concerning the meaning of his departure. His going to the Father, he says, is for their sake; so that he might come to them when the "other comforter" is given to them. Then, he says, his disciples will dwell in him, as he dwells in the Father, and the Father dwells in him, and the Father will dwell in them. This is so, according to the theory of perichoresis, because the persons of the Trinity "reciprocally contain one another, so that one permanently envelopes and is permanently enveloped by, the other whom he yet envelopes". (Hilary of Poitiers
Hilary of Poitiers
Hilary of Poitiers was Bishop of Poitiers and is a Doctor of the Church. He was sometimes referred to as the "Hammer of the Arians" and the "Athanasius of the West." His name comes from the Latin word for happy or cheerful. His optional memorial in the Roman Catholic calendar of saints is 13...

, Concerning the Trinity 3:1).

This co-indwelling may also be helpful in illustrating the Trinitarian conception of salvation. The first doctrinal benefit is that it effectively excludes the idea that God has parts. Trinitarians assert that God is a simple, not an aggregate, being
Divine simplicity
In theology, the doctrine of divine simplicity says that God is without parts. The general idea of divine simplicity can be stated in this way: the being of God is identical to the "attributes" of God. In other words, such characteristics as omnipresence, goodness, truth, eternity, etc...

. The second doctrinal benefit is that it harmonizes well with the doctrine that the Christian's union with the Son in his humanity brings him into union with one who contains in himself, in St. Paul's words, "all the fullness of deity" and not a part. (See also: Theosis
Theosis
In Christian theology, divinization, deification, making divine or theosis is the transforming effect of divine grace. This concept of salvation is historical and fundamental for Christian understanding that is prominent in the Eastern Orthodox Church and also in the Catholic Church, and is a...

). Perichoresis provides an intuitive figure of what this might mean. The Son, the eternal Word, is from all eternity the dwelling place of God; he is the "Father's house", just as the Son dwells in the Father and the Spirit; so that, when the Spirit is "given", then it happens as Jesus said, "I will not leave you as orphans; for I will come to you."{{bibleref2c|John|14:18}}

Some forms of human union are considered to be not identical but analogous to the Trinitarian concept, as found for example in Jesus' words about marriage: "For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh."{{bibleref2c|Mark|10:7–8}} According to the words of Jesus, married persons are in some sense no longer two, but joined into one. Therefore, Orthodox theologians also see the marriage relationship as an image, or "icon
Icon
An icon is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, from Eastern Christianity and in certain Eastern Catholic churches...

" of the Trinity, relationships of communion in which, in the words of St. Paul, participants are "members one of another". As with marriage, the unity of the church with Christ is similarly considered in some sense analogous to the unity of the Trinity, following the prayer of Jesus to the Father, for the church, that "they may be one, even as we are one".{{bibleref2c|John|17:22}}

Eternal generation and procession


Trinitarianism affirms that the Son is "begotten" (or "generated") of the Father and that the Spirit "proceeds" from the Father, but the Father is "neither begotten nor proceeds". The argument over whether the Spirit proceeds from the Father alone, or from the Father and the Son, was one of the catalysts of the Great Schism
East-West Schism
The East–West Schism of 1054, sometimes known as the Great Schism, formally divided the State church of the Roman Empire into Eastern and Western branches, which later became known as the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, respectively...

, in this case concerning the Western addition of the Filioque clause
Filioque clause
Filioque , Latin for "and the Son", is a phrase found in the form of Nicene Creed in use in the Latin Church. It is not present in the Greek text of the Nicene Creed as originally formulated at the First Council of Constantinople, which says only that the Holy Spirit proceeds "from the Father":The...

 to the Nicene Creed
Nicene Creed
The Nicene Creed is the creed or profession of faith that is most widely used in Christian liturgy. It is called Nicene because, in its original form, it was adopted in the city of Nicaea by the first ecumenical council, which met there in the year 325.The Nicene Creed has been normative to the...

.

This language is often considered difficult because, if used regarding humans or other created things, it would imply time and change; when used here, no beginning, change in being, or process within time is intended and is excluded. The Son is generated ("born" or "begotten"), and the Spirit proceeds, eternally. Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo , also known as Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Austin, St. Augoustinos, Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed, was Bishop of Hippo Regius . He was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province...

 explains, "Thy years are one day, and Thy day is not daily, but today; because Thy today yields not to tomorrow, for neither does it follow yesterday. Thy today is eternity; therefore Thou begat the Co-eternal, to whom Thou saidst, 'This day have I begotten Thee."{{bibleref2c|Ps|2:7}}

Son begotten, not created


Because the Son is begotten, not made, the substance of his person is that of the deity. The creation is brought into being through the Son, but the Son himself is not part of it except through his incarnation.

The church fathers used several analogies
Analogy
Analogy is a cognitive process of transferring information or meaning from a particular subject to another particular subject , and a linguistic expression corresponding to such a process...

 to express this thought. St. Irenaeus of Lyons was the final major theologian of the 2nd century. He writes "the Father is God, and the Son is God, for whatever is begotten of God is God." (Compare Spinoza's philosophy of God)

Extending the analogy, it might be said, similarly, that whatever is generated (procreated) of humans is human. Thus, given that humanity is, in the words of the Bible, "created in the image and likeness of God", an analogy can be drawn between the Divine Essence and human nature, between the Divine Persons and human persons. However, given the fall, this analogy is far from perfect, even though, like the Divine Persons, human persons are characterized by being "loci of relationship". For Trinitarian Christians, this analogy is important with regard to the Church, which St. Paul calls "the body of Christ" and whose members are, because they are "members of Christ", also "members one of another".

However, an attempt to explain the mystery to some extent must break down, and has limited usefulness, being designed, not so much to fully explain the Trinity, but to point to the experience of communion with the Triune God within the Church as the Body of Christ. The difference between those who believe in the Trinity and those who do not, is not an issue of understanding the mystery. The difference is primarily one of belief concerning the personal identity of Christ. It is a difference in conception of the salvation connected with Christ that drives all reactions, either favorable or unfavorable, to the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. As it is, the doctrine of the Trinity is directly tied up with Christology
Christology
Christology is the field of study within Christian theology which is primarily concerned with the nature and person of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament. Primary considerations include the relationship of Jesus' nature and person with the nature...

.

Economic and ontological Trinity


  • Economic Trinity: This refers to the acts of the triune God with respect to the creation, history, salvation, the formation of the Church, the daily lives of believers, etc. and describes how the Trinity operates within history in terms of the roles or functions performed by each Person of the Trinity—God's relationship with creation.
  • Ontological (or essential or immanent) Trinity: This speaks of the interior life of the Trinity{{bibleref2c|John|1:1–2}}—the reciprocal relationships of Father, Son and Spirit to each other without reference to God's relationship with creation.


Or more simply—the ontological Trinity (who God is) and the economic Trinity (what God does). Most Christians believe the economic reflects and reveals the ontological. Catholic theologian Karl Rahner
Karl Rahner
Karl Rahner, SJ was a German Jesuit and theologian who, alongside Bernard Lonergan and Hans Urs von Balthasar, is considered one of the most influential Roman Catholic theologians of the 20th century...

 went so far as to say "The 'economic' Trinity is the 'immanent' Trinity, and vice versa."

The ancient Nicene theologians argued that everything the Trinity does is done by Father, Son, and Spirit working together with one will. The three persons of the Trinity always work inseparably, for their work is always the work of the one God. Because of this unity of will, the Trinity cannot involve the eternal subordination of the Son to the Father. Eternal subordination can only exist if the Son's will is at least conceivably different from the Father's. But Nicene orthodoxy says it is not. The Son's will cannot be different from the Father's because it is the Father's. They have but one will as they have but one being. Otherwise they would not be one God. If there were relations of command and obedience between the Father and the Son, there would be no Trinity at all but rather three gods. On this point St. Basil observes "When then He says, 'I have not spoken of myself,' and again, 'As the Father said unto me, so I speak,' and 'The word which ye hear is not mine, but [the Father's] which sent me,' and in another place, 'As the Father gave me commandment, even so I do,' it is not because He lacks deliberate purpose or power of initiation, nor yet because He has to wait for the preconcerted key-note, that he employs language of this kind. His object is to make it plain that His own will is connected in indissoluble union with the Father. Do not then let us understand by what is called a 'commandment' a peremptory mandate delivered by organs of speech, and giving orders to the Son, as to a subordinate, concerning what He ought to do. Let us rather, in a sense befitting the Godhead, perceive a transmission of will, like the reflexion of an object in a mirror, passing without note of time from Father to Son.."

In explaining why the Bible speaks of the Son as being subordinate to the Father, the great theologian Athanasius argued that scripture gives a "double account" of the son of God—one of his temporal and voluntary subordination in the incarnation, and the other of his eternal divine status. For Athanasius, the Son is eternally one in being with the Father, temporally and voluntarily subordinate in his incarnate ministry. Such human traits, he argued, were not to be read back into the eternal Trinity.

Like Athanasius, the Cappadocian Fathers also insisted there was no economic inequality present within the Trinity. As Basil wrote: "We perceive the operation of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to be one and the same, in no respect showing differences or variation; from this identity of operation we necessarily infer the unity of nature."

Augustine also rejected an economic hierarchy within the Trinity. He claimed that the three persons of the Trinity "share the inseparable equality one substance present in divine unity". Because the three persons are one in their inner life, this means that for Augustine their works in the world are one. For this reason, it is an impossibility for Augustine to speak of the Father commanding and the Son obeying as if there could be a conflict of wills within the eternal Trinity.

John Calvin
John Calvin
John Calvin was an influential French theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation. He was a principal figure in the development of the system of Christian theology later called Calvinism. Originally trained as a humanist lawyer, he broke from the Roman Catholic Church around 1530...

 also spoke at length about the doctrine of the Trinity. Like Athanasius and Augustine before him, he concluded that {{Bibleref2|Philippians|2:4-11}} prescribed how scripture was to be read correctly. For him the Son's obedience is limited to the incarnation and is indicative of his true humanity assumed for human salvation.

Much of this work is summed up in the Athanasian Creed. This creed stresses the unity of the Trinity and the equality of the persons. It ascribes equal divinity, majesty, and authority to all three persons. All three are said to be "almighty" and "Lord" (no subordination in authority; "none is before or after another" (no hierarchical ordering); and "none is greater, or less than another" (no subordination in being or nature). Thus, since the divine persons of the Trinity act with one will, there is no possibility of hierarchy-inequality in the Trinity.

Since the 1980s, some evangelical theologians have come to the conclusion that the members of the Trinity may be economically unequal while remaining ontologically equal. This theory was put forward by George W. Knight III in his 1977 book The New Testament Teaching on the Role Relationship of Men and Women, states that the Son of God is eternally subordinated in authority to God the Father. This conclusion was used to support the main thesis of his book: that women are permanently subordinated in authority to their husbands in the home and to male leaders in the church, despite being ontologically equal. Subscribers to this theory insist that the Father has the role of giving commands and the Son has the role of obeying them.

Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Protestant distinctions


The Western (Roman Catholic
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

) tradition is more prone to make positive statements concerning the relationship of persons in the Trinity. Explanations of the Trinity are not the same thing as the doctrine; nevertheless, the Augustinian West is inclined to think in philosophical terms concerning the rationality of God's being, and is prone on this basis to be more open than the East
Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity comprises the Christian traditions and churches that developed in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East, Northeastern Africa, India and parts of the Far East over several centuries of religious antiquity. The term is generally used in Western Christianity to...

 to seek philosophical formulations which make the doctrine more intelligible, while recognizing that these formulations are only analogies
Analogy
Analogy is a cognitive process of transferring information or meaning from a particular subject to another particular subject , and a linguistic expression corresponding to such a process...

.

Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity comprises the Christian traditions and churches that developed in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East, Northeastern Africa, India and parts of the Far East over several centuries of religious antiquity. The term is generally used in Western Christianity to...

, for its part, correlates ecclesiology
Ecclesiology
Today, ecclesiology usually refers to the theological study of the Christian church. However when the word was coined in the late 1830s, it was defined as the science of the building and decoration of churches and it is still, though rarely, used in this sense.In its theological sense, ecclesiology...

 and Trinitarian doctrine, and seeks to understand the doctrine of the Trinity via the experience of the Church, which it understands to be "an icon
Icon
An icon is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, from Eastern Christianity and in certain Eastern Catholic churches...

 of the Trinity". Therefore, when St. Paul writes concerning Christians that all are "members one of another", Eastern Christians in turn understand this as also applying to the Divine Persons.

The principal disagreement between Western and Eastern Christianity on the Trinity has been the relationship of the Holy Spirit with the other two hypostases. The original credal formulation
Nicene Creed
The Nicene Creed is the creed or profession of faith that is most widely used in Christian liturgy. It is called Nicene because, in its original form, it was adopted in the city of Nicaea by the first ecumenical council, which met there in the year 325.The Nicene Creed has been normative to the...

 of the Council of Constantinople was that the Holy Spirit proceeds "from the Father". While this phrase is still used unaltered both in the Eastern Churches, including the Eastern Catholic Churches, and, when the Nicene Creed is recited in Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

, in the Latin Church, it became customary in the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

-speaking Church, beginning with the provincial Third Council of Toledo
Third Council of Toledo
The Third Council of Toledo marks the entry of Catholic Christianity into the rule of Visigothic Spain, and the introduction into Western Christianity of the filioque clause...

 in 589, to add "and the Son" (Latin Filioque). Although this insertion into the Creed was explicitly vetoed by Pope Leo III
Pope Leo III
Pope Saint Leo III was Pope from 795 to his death in 816. Protected by Charlemagne from his enemies in Rome, he subsequently strengthened Charlemagne's position by crowning him as Roman Emperor....

, it was finally used in a Papal Mass
Papal Mass
A Papal Mass is the Solemn Pontifical High Mass when offered by the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church.There are numerous special ceremonials which are particular to the pope...

 by Pope Benedict VIII
Pope Benedict VIII
Pope Benedict VIII , born Theophylactus, Pope from 1012 to 1024, of the noble family of the counts of Tusculum , descended from Theophylact, Count of Tusculum like his predecessor Pope Benedict VI .Benedict VIII was opposed by an antipope, Gregory...

 in 1014, thus completing its spread throughout Western Christianity
Western Christianity
Western Christianity is a term used to include the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church and groups historically derivative thereof, including the churches of the Anglican and Protestant traditions, which share common attributes that can be traced back to their medieval heritage...

. The Eastern Orthodox Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

es object to it on ecclesiological and theological grounds, holding that "from the Father" means "from the Father alone", while in the West belief that the Holy Spirit "proceeds", in the Latin (and English) meaning of this word, "from the Father and the Son" had already been dogmatically declared to be orthodox faith in 447 by Pope Leo I
Pope Leo I
Pope Leo I was pope from September 29, 440 to his death.He was an Italian aristocrat, and is the first pope of the Catholic Church to have been called "the Great". He is perhaps best known for having met Attila the Hun in 452, persuading him to turn back from his invasion of Italy...

, the Pope whose Tome was approved at the Council of Chalcedon
Council of Chalcedon
The Council of Chalcedon was a church council held from 8 October to 1 November, 451 AD, at Chalcedon , on the Asian side of the Bosporus. The council marked a significant turning point in the Christological debates that led to the separation of the church of the Eastern Roman Empire in the 5th...

, and Pope Leo III, who opposed insertion of the phrase into the Nicene Creed, "affirmed the orthodoxy of the term Filioque, and approved its use in catechesis and personal professions of faith".

The 1978 Anglican
Anglicanism
Anglicanism is a tradition within Christianity comprising churches with historical connections to the Church of England or similar beliefs, worship and church structures. The word Anglican originates in ecclesia anglicana, a medieval Latin phrase dating to at least 1246 that means the English...

 Lambeth Conference
Lambeth Conferences
The Lambeth Conferences are decennial assemblies of bishops of the Anglican Communion convened by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The first such conference took place in 1867....

 requested:
that all member Churches of the Anglican Communion should consider omitting the Filioque from the Nicene Creed, and that the Anglican-Orthodox Joint Doctrinal Commission through the Anglican Consultative Council should assist them in presenting the theological issues to their appropriate synodical bodies and should be responsible for any necessary consultation with other Churches of the Western tradition.
None of the member Churches has implemented this request; but the Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

, while keeping the phrase in the Creed recited in its own services, presents in its Common Worship
Common Worship
Common Worship is the name given to the series of services authorised by the General Synod of the Church of England and launched on the first Sunday of Advent in 2000. It represents the most recent stage of development of the Liturgical Movement within the Church and is the successor to the...

 series of service books a text of the creed without it for use "on suitable ecumenical occasions".

Most Protestant groups that use the creed also include the Filioque clause. However, the issue is usually not controversial among them because their conception is often less exact than is discussed above (exceptions being the Presbyterian Westminster Confession 2:3, the London Baptist Confession 2:3, and the Lutheran Augsburg Confession
Augsburg Confession
The Augsburg Confession, also known as the "Augustana" from its Latin name, Confessio Augustana, is the primary confession of faith of the Lutheran Church and one of the most important documents of the Lutheran reformation...

 1:1–6, which specifically address those issues). The clause is often understood by Protestants to mean that the Spirit is sent from the Father, by the Son,{{Citation needed|date=May 2008}} a conception which is not controversial in either Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy. A representative view of Protestant Trinitarian theology is more difficult to provide, given the diverse and decentralized nature of the various Protestant churches.

Questions of logical coherency


{{Emphasis|date=February 2010|reason=The last paragraph on "gender-shift" is not well documented in way to establish it as other than a fringe idea.}}
In contrast to Joachim of Fiore
Joachim of Fiore
Joachim of Fiore, also known as Joachim of Flora and in Italian Gioacchino da Fiore , was the founder of the monastic order of San Giovanni in Fiore . He was a mystic, a theologian and an esoterist...

's historicization of the Trinity, there have been recent philosophical attempts to defend the logical coherency of Trinity by men such as Peter Geach
Peter Geach
Peter Thomas Geach is a British philosopher. His areas of interest are the history of philosophy, philosophical logic, and the theory of identity.He was educated at Balliol College, Oxford...

. Regarding the formulation suggested by Geach, not all philosophers would agree with its logical coherency. Geach suggested that "a coherent statement of the doctrine is possible on the assumption that identity is "always relative to a sortal term".

The Canadian philosopher-theologian, Bernard Lonergan, has demonstrated by analogy with the operations of the human subject (the psychological analogy) the logical coherency of the Trinity. It is chiefly in his work "The Triune God: Systematics" that he draws on his abstract phenomenology to show this logical inner coherency in the Trinity doctrine. He sees himself as doing nothing more than standing in the tradition of Augustine and Aquinas on this issue and not based on the Bible.

Most Christians, and probably the wide ecumenical consensus, first and foremost uphold the belief that God is One. "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one" (Deuteronomy 6:4). But how to reconcile the Trinity with a monotheistic faith? The wider ecumenical consensus has viewed God's unity "not as a unity of separable parts, but of distinguishable persons." The Trinity is formed by three distinct persons, yet of one and the same essence. Three persons, one God. To distinguish in what way God is One, and in what way God is Three, helps remove the logical contradiction. This has been upheld as the correct interpretation of the Apostolic teachings since the writings of Athanasius
Athanasius of Alexandria
Athanasius of Alexandria [b. ca. – d. 2 May 373] is also given the titles St. Athanasius the Great, St. Athanasius I of Alexandria, St Athanasius the Confessor and St Athanasius the Apostolic. He was the 20th bishop of Alexandria. His long episcopate lasted 45 years Athanasius of Alexandria [b....

 and the Council of Nicaea
First Council of Nicaea
The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325...

 in AD 325.

Art


{{mergefrom|Holy Trinity Icon|date=November 2011}}
{{See also|God the Father in Western art}}
The Trinity is most commonly seen in Christian art with the Spirit represented by a dove, as specified in the Gospel accounts of the Baptism of Christ; he is nearly always shown with wings outspread. However depictions using three human figures appear occasionally in most periods of art.

The Father and the Son are usually differentiated by age, and later by dress, but this too is not always the case. The usual depiction of the Father as an older man with a white beard may derive from the biblical Ancient of Days
Ancient of Days
Ancient of Days is a name for God in Aramaic: Atik Yomin; in the Greek Septuagint: Palaios Hemeron; and in the Vulgate: Antiquus Dierum....

, which is often cited in defense of this sometimes controversial representation. However, in Eastern Orthodoxy the Ancient of Days is usually understood to be God the Son, not God the Father (see below)—early Byzantine
Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

 images show Christ as the Ancient of Days, but this iconography
Iconography
Iconography is the branch of art history which studies the identification, description, and the interpretation of the content of images. The word iconography literally means "image writing", and comes from the Greek "image" and "to write". A secondary meaning is the painting of icons in the...

 became rare. When the Father is depicted in art, he is sometimes shown with a halo
Halo (religious iconography)
A halo is a ring of light that surrounds a person in art. They have been used in the iconography of many religions to indicate holy or sacred figures, and have at various periods also been used in images of rulers or heroes...

 shaped like an equilateral triangle, instead of a circle. The Son is often shown at the Father's right hand.{{bibleref2c|Acts|7:56}} He may be represented by a symbol—typically the Lamb or a cross—or on a crucifix
Crucifix
A crucifix is an independent image of Jesus on the cross with a representation of Jesus' body, referred to in English as the corpus , as distinct from a cross with no body....

, so that the Father is the only human figure shown at full size. In early medieval art, the Father may be represented by a hand appearing from a cloud in a blessing gesture, for example in scenes of the Baptism of Christ. Later, in the West, the Throne of Mercy (or "Throne of Grace") became a common depiction. In this style, the Father (sometimes seated on a throne
Throne
A throne is the official chair or seat upon which a monarch is seated on state or ceremonial occasions. "Throne" in an abstract sense can also refer to the monarchy or the Crown itself, an instance of metonymy, and is also used in many expressions such as "the power behind the...

) is shown supporting either a crucifix
Crucifix
A crucifix is an independent image of Jesus on the cross with a representation of Jesus' body, referred to in English as the corpus , as distinct from a cross with no body....

 or, later, a slumped crucified Son, similar to the Pietà
Pietà
The Pietà is a subject in Christian art depicting the Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Jesus, most often found in sculpture. As such, it is a particular form of the Lamentation of Christ, a scene from the Passion of Christ found in cycles of the Life of Christ...

 (this type is distinguished in German as the Not Gottes) in his outstretched arms, whilst the Dove hovers above or in between them. This subject continued to be popular until the 18th century at least.

By the end of the 15th century, larger representations, other than the Throne of Mercy, became effectively standardised, showing an older figure in plain robes for the Father, Christ with his torso partly bare to display the wounds of his Passion, and the dove above or around them. In earlier representations both Father, especially, and Son often wear elaborate robes and crowns. Sometimes the Father alone wears a crown, or even a papal tiara
Papal Tiara
The Papal Tiara, also known incorrectly as the Triple Tiara, or in Latin as the Triregnum, in Italian as the Triregno and as the Trirègne in French, is the three-tiered jewelled papal crown, supposedly of Byzantine and Persian origin, that is a prominent symbol of the papacy...

.

Eastern Orthodox tradition


Direct representations of the Trinity are much rarer in Eastern Orthodox art of any period—reservations about depicting the Father remain fairly strong, as they were in the West until the high Middle Ages. The Second Council of Nicea in 787 confirmed that the depiction of Christ was allowed because he became man; the situation regarding the Father was less clear. The usual Orthodox representation
Holy Trinity Icon
The Holy Trinity is an important subject of iconographic representation in Eastern Orthodox Christianity, and has a rather different treatment from depictions in the Western Churches...

 of the Trinity was through the "Old Testament Trinity" of the three angels visiting Abraham—said in the text to be "the Lord"{{bibleref2c|Genesis|18:1-15|NRSV}}. However scholars generally agree that the direct representation of the Trinity began in Greek works from the 11th century onwards, where Christ is shown as an infant sitting on the Father's lap, with the Dove of the Holy Spirit also present. Such depictions spread to the West and became the standard type there, though with an adult Christ, as described above. This type later spread back to the Orthodox world where post-Byzantine representations similar to those in the West are not uncommon outside Russia. The subject long remained sensitive, and the Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

 at the Great Synod of Moscow in 1667 finally forbade depictions of the Father in human form. The canon is quoted in full here because it explains the Russian Orthodox theology on the subject:

Chapter 2, §44: It is most absurd and improper to depict in icon
Icon
An icon is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, from Eastern Christianity and in certain Eastern Catholic churches...

s the Lord Sabaoth (that is to say, God the Father
God the Father
God the Father is a gendered title given to God in many monotheistic religions, particularly patriarchal, Abrahamic ones. In Judaism, God is called Father because he is the creator, life-giver, law-giver, and protector...

) with a grey beard and the Only-Begotten Son in His bosom with a dove between them, because no-one has seen the Father according to His Divinity, and the Father has no flesh, nor was the Son born in the flesh from the Father before the ages. And though David
David
David was the second king of the united Kingdom of Israel according to the Hebrew Bible and, according to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, an ancestor of Jesus Christ through both Saint Joseph and Mary...

 the prophet
Prophet
In religion, a prophet, from the Greek word προφήτης profitis meaning "foreteller", is an individual who is claimed to have been contacted by the supernatural or the divine, and serves as an intermediary with humanity, delivering this newfound knowledge from the supernatural entity to other people...

 says, "From the womb before the morning star have I begotten Thee"{{bibleref2c|Psalm|109:3}}, that birth was not fleshly, but unspeakable and incomprehensible. For Christ Himself says in the holy Gospel, "No man hath seen the Father, save the Son".cf.{{bibleref2c|John|6:46}} And Isaiah
Isaiah
Isaiah ; Greek: ', Ēsaïās ; "Yahu is salvation") was a prophet in the 8th-century BC Kingdom of Judah.Jews and Christians consider the Book of Isaiah a part of their Biblical canon; he is the first listed of the neviim akharonim, the later prophets. Many of the New Testament teachings of Jesus...

 the prophet says in his fortieth chapter: "To whom have ye likened the Lord? and with what likeness have ye made a similitude of Him? Has not the artificier of wood made an image, or the goldsmiths, having melted gold, gilt it over, and made it a similitude?"{{bibleref2c|Isa|40:18-19}} In like manner the Apostle Paul says in Acts{{bibleref2c|Acts|17:29|KJV}} "Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold or silver or stone, graven by art of man's imagination." And John Damascene says: "But furthermore, who can make a similitude of the invisible, incorporeal, uncircumscribed and undepictable God? It is, then, uttermost insanity and impiety to give a form to the Godhead" (Orthodox Faith, 4:16). In like manner St. Gregory the Dialogist prohibits this. For this reason we should only form an understanding in the mind of Sabaoth, which is the Godhead, and of that birth before the ages of the Only-Begotten-Son from the Father, but we should never, in any wise depict these in icons, for this, indeed, is impossible. And the Holy Spirit is not in essence a dove, but in essence he is God, and "No man hath seen God", as John the Theologian and Evangelist
Gospel
A gospel is an account, often written, that describes the life of Jesus of Nazareth. In a more general sense the term "gospel" may refer to the good news message of the New Testament. It is primarily used in reference to the four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John...

 bears witness{{bibleref2c|John|1:18}} and this is so even though, at the Jordan at Christ's holy Baptism
Baptism of Jesus
The baptism of Jesus marks the beginning of Jesus Christ's public ministry. This event is recorded in the Canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. In John 1:29-33 rather than a direct narrative, the Baptist bears witness to the episode...

 the Holy Spirit appeared in the likeness of a dove. For this reason, it is fitting on this occasion only to depict the Holy Spirit in the likeness of a dove. But in any other place those who have intelligence will not depict the Holy Spirit in the likeness of a dove. For on Mount Tabor
Mount Tabor
-Places:*Mount Tabor, a hill in Israel near Nazareth believed by many to be the site of the Transfiguration of ChristIn the United States:*Mount Tabor, Indiana, an unincorporated community...

, He appeared as a cloud and, at another time, in other ways. Furthermore, Sabaoth is the name not only of the Father, but of the Holy Trinity. According to Dionysios the Areopagite, Lord Sabaoth, translated from the Jewish tongue, means "Lord of Hosts". This Lord of Hosts is the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And although Daniel
Daniel
Daniel is the protagonist in the Book of Daniel of the Hebrew Bible. In the narrative, when Daniel was a young man, he was taken into Babylonian captivity where he was educated in Chaldean thought. However, he never converted to Neo-Babylonian ways...

 the prophet says that he beheld the Ancient of Days
Ancient of Days
Ancient of Days is a name for God in Aramaic: Atik Yomin; in the Greek Septuagint: Palaios Hemeron; and in the Vulgate: Antiquus Dierum....

 sitting on a throne, this should not be understood to refer to the Father, but to the Son, Who at His second coming will judge every nation at the dreadful Judgment.

Oriental Orthodox traditions


The Coptic Orthodox Church never depicts God the Father in art although he may be identified by an area of brightness within art such as the heavenly glow at the top of some icons of the baptism of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Syrian, Armenian, Indian and British
British Orthodox Church
The British Orthodox Church is a small Oriental Orthodox jurisdiction, canonically part of the Coptic Patriarchate of Alexandria. Its mission is to the people of the British Isles, and though it is Orthodox in its faith and practice, it remains British in its ethos...

 Orthodox Churches
Oriental Orthodoxy
Oriental Orthodoxy is the faith of those Eastern Christian Churches that recognize only three ecumenical councils — the First Council of Nicaea, the First Council of Constantinople and the First Council of Ephesus. They rejected the dogmatic definitions of the Council of Chalcedon...

 appear to follow the same practice{{Citation needed|date=December 2008}}.

In contrast, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is the predominant Oriental Orthodox Christian church in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian Church was administratively part of the Coptic Orthodox Church until 1959, when it was granted its own Patriarch by Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of All...

 has many ancient icons depicting the Holy Trinity as three distinct Persons. These icons often depict all Three Persons sitting upon a single throne to signify unity. The Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church follows the same practice.

Scenes


Only a few of the standard scenes in Christian art normally included a representation of the Trinity. The accounts in the Gospels of the Baptism of Christ were considered to show all three persons as present with a separate role. Sometimes the other two persons are shown at the top of a crucifixion. The Coronation of the Virgin
Coronation of the Virgin
The Coronation of the Virgin or Coronation of Mary is a subject in Christian art, especially popular in Italy in the 13th to 15th centuries, but continuing in popularity until the 18th century and beyond. Christ, sometimes accompanied by God the Father and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove,...

, a popular subject in the West, often included the whole Trinity. But many subjects, such as Christ in Majesty
Christ in Majesty
Christ in Majesty, or Christ in Glory, in Latin Majestas Domini, is the Western Christian image of Christ seated on a throne as ruler of the world, always seen frontally in the centre of the composition, and often flanked by other sacred figures, whose membership changes over time and according to...

 or the Last Judgement, which might be thought to require depiction of the deity in the most amplified form, only show Christ. There is a rare subject where the persons of the Trinity make the decision to incarnate Christ, or God sending out the Son. Even more rarely, the Angel of the Annunciation is shown being given the mission.

Less common types of depiction


Especially in the 15th century, and in the less public form of illuminated manuscript
Illuminated manuscript
An illuminated manuscript is a manuscript in which the text is supplemented by the addition of decoration, such as decorated initials, borders and miniature illustrations...

s, there was experimentation with many solutions to the issues of depicting the three persons of the Trinity. The depiction of the Trinity as three identical persons is rare, because each Person of the Trinity is considered to have distinct attributes. Nonetheless, the earliest known depiction of God the Father
God the Father
God the Father is a gendered title given to God in many monotheistic religions, particularly patriarchal, Abrahamic ones. In Judaism, God is called Father because he is the creator, life-giver, law-giver, and protector...

 as a human figure, on the 4th century Dogmatic Sarcophagus
Dogmatic sarcophagus
The Dogmatic Sarcophagus, also known as the "Trinity Sarcophagus" is an early Christian sarcophagus of about 320–350, now in the Vatican Museums...

, shows the Trinity as three similar bearded men creating Eve
Eve
Eve is the first woman created by God in the Book of Genesis.Eve may also refer to:-People:*Eve , a common given name and surname*Eve , American recording artist and actress-Places:...

 from Adam
Adam
Adam is a figure in the Book of Genesis. According to the creation myth of Abrahamic religions, he is the first human. In the Genesis creation narratives, he was created by Yahweh-Elohim , and the first woman, Eve was formed from his rib...

, probably with the intention of affirming the consubstantiality
Consubstantiality
Consubstantial is an adjective used in Latin Christian christology, coined by Tertullian in Against Hermogenes 44, used to translate the Greek term homoousios...

 recently made dogma
Dogma
Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or a particular group or organization. It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioners or believers...

 in the Nicene Creed
Nicene Creed
The Nicene Creed is the creed or profession of faith that is most widely used in Christian liturgy. It is called Nicene because, in its original form, it was adopted in the city of Nicaea by the first ecumenical council, which met there in the year 325.The Nicene Creed has been normative to the...

. There are many similar sarcophagi, and occasional images at intervals until a revival of the iconography in the 15th century. Even rarer is the depiction of the Trinity as a single anthropoid figure with three faces (Latin "Vultus Trifrons"), because the Trinity is defined as three persons in one Godhead, not one Person with three attributes (this would imply Modalism, which is defined as heresy
Heresy
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

 in traditional Christian orthodoxy). Such "Cerberus" depictions of the Trinity as three faces on one head were mainly made among Catholics during the 15th to 17th centuries, but were condemned after the Catholic Council of Trent
Council of Trent
The Council of Trent was the 16th-century Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church. It is considered to be one of the Church's most important councils. It convened in Trent between December 13, 1545, and December 4, 1563 in twenty-five sessions for three periods...

, and again by Pope Urban VIII in 1628, and many existing images were destroyed.

The Trinity may also be represented abstractly by symbol
Symbol
A symbol is something which represents an idea, a physical entity or a process but is distinct from it. The purpose of a symbol is to communicate meaning. For example, a red octagon may be a symbol for "STOP". On a map, a picture of a tent might represent a campsite. Numerals are symbols for...

s, such as the triangle
Triangle
A triangle is one of the basic shapes of geometry: a polygon with three corners or vertices and three sides or edges which are line segments. A triangle with vertices A, B, and C is denoted ....

 (or three triangles joined together), trefoil
Trefoil
Trefoil is a graphic form composed of the outline of three overlapping rings used in architecture and Christian symbolism...

 or the triquetra
Triquetra
Triquetra originally meant "triangle" and was used to refer to various three-cornered shapes. Nowadays, it has come to refer exclusively to a particular more complicated shape formed of three vesicae piscis, sometimes with an added circle in or around it...

—or a combination of these. Sometimes a halo is incorporated into these symbols. The use of such symbols are often found not only in painting but also in needlework
Needlework
Needlework is a broad term for the handicrafts of decorative sewing and textile arts. Anything that uses a needle for construction can be called needlework...

 on tapestries
Tapestry
Tapestry is a form of textile art, traditionally woven on a vertical loom, however it can also be woven on a floor loom as well. It is composed of two sets of interlaced threads, those running parallel to the length and those parallel to the width ; the warp threads are set up under tension on a...

, vestment
Vestment
Vestments are liturgical garments and articles associated primarily with the Christian religion, especially among Latin Rite and other Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans, and Lutherans...

s and antependia
Antependia
An antependium , more commonly known as a hanging, or, when speaking specifically of the hanging for the altar, an altar frontal , is a decorative piece of material that can adorn a Christian altar, lectern, pulpit, or table...

, in metalwork and in architectural
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

 details.

Different depictions


Four 15th century depictions of the Coronation of the Virgin
Coronation of the Virgin
The Coronation of the Virgin or Coronation of Mary is a subject in Christian art, especially popular in Italy in the 13th to 15th centuries, but continuing in popularity until the 18th century and beyond. Christ, sometimes accompanied by God the Father and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove,...

 show the main ways of depicting the persons of the Trinity.

Mysticism


The Catholic nun Anne Catherine Emmerich
Anne Catherine Emmerich
Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich was a Roman Catholic Augustinian nun, stigmatic, mystic, visionary and ecstatic....

 said that as a child she had had visions, in which she had seen the core of the Holy Trinity in the form of three concentric interpenetrating spheres - the biggest but less lit sphere represented the Father core, the medium sphere the Son core, and the smallest and brightest sphere as the Holy Spirit.

Non-orthodoxy


{{see also|Godhead (Latter Day Saints)}}
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints affirms that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost) are three individual members of a heavenly council, completely united in purpose—each member of the Godhead being a distinct being of physical form (God the Father, Jesus Christ) or spiritual form (the Holy Ghost). Both leaders and scriptural texts often refer to the council as the Godhead (a term used by the Apostle Paul in Acts 17:29, Romans 1:20, and Colossians 2:9), distinguishing between this conception and the traditional Trinity. However, Daniel C. Peterson of Brigham Young University states that "uniquely Mormon scriptural texts assert the unity of Father, Son and Holy Ghost at least as strongly as the Bible does (John 17:11, 20-21). An April 1830 revelation to Joseph Smith, for instance, affirms that they 'are one God, infinite and eternal, without end' (Doctrine and Covenants 20:28)."

Non-orthodox views of the Christian trinitarian God have also been suggested by process theologians
Process theology
Process theology is a school of thought influenced by the metaphysical process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead and further developed by Charles Hartshorne . While there are process theologies that are similar, but unrelated to the work of Whitehead the term is generally applied to the...

 like Lewis S. Ford, who endorse the entitative view of God as timeless and eternal concrescence
Concrescence (process philosophy)
Concrescence is a term coined by Alfred North Whitehead to show the process of jointly forming an actual entity that was without form, but about to manifest itself into an entity Actual full based on datums or for information on the universe. The process of forming an actual entity is the case...

, but interpret the Whiteheadian
Alfred North Whitehead
Alfred North Whitehead, OM FRS was an English mathematician who became a philosopher. He wrote on algebra, logic, foundations of mathematics, philosophy of science, physics, metaphysics, and education...

 natures of God (primordial nature, consequent nature, and superjective nature) in a trinitarian way. Other process theologians like Joseph A. Bracken consider the three divines persons, each understood in the Neo-Whiteheadian societal view of God sensu Charles Hartshorne
Charles Hartshorne
Charles Hartshorne was a prominent American philosopher who concentrated primarily on the philosophy of religion and metaphysics. He developed the neoclassical idea of God and produced a modal proof of the existence of God that was a development of St. Anselm's Ontological Argument...

 and David Ray Griffin
David Ray Griffin
David Ray Griffin is a retired American professor of philosophy of religion and theology. Along with John B. Cobb, Jr., he founded the Center for Process Studies in 1973, a research center of Claremont School of Theology which seeks to promote the common good by means of the relational approach...

, as constituting a primordial field of divine activity.

Nontrinitarianism


{{Main|Nontrinitarianism}}

Some Christian traditions either reject the doctrine of the Trinity or consider it unimportant. Persons and groups espousing this position generally do not refer to themselves as "Nontrinitarians". They can vary in both their reasons for rejecting traditional teaching on the Trinity, and in the way they describe God.

History


Since Trinitarianism is central to so much of Catholic and Orthodox church doctrine, Christian nontrinitarians were mostly groups that existed before the Nicene Creed was codified in 325 or are groups that developed after the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

, when many church doctrines came into question.

In the early centuries of Christian history Adoptionists, Arians
Arianism
Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius , a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt, concerning the relationship of the entities of the Trinity and the precise nature of the Son of God as being a subordinate entity to God the Father...

, Ebionites
Ebionites
Ebionites, or Ebionaioi, , is a patristic term referring to a Jewish Christian sect or sects that existed during the first centuries of the Christian Era. They regarded Jesus as the Messiah and insisted on the necessity of following Jewish religious law and rites...

, some Gnostics, Marcionites, and others held nontrinitarian beliefs. The Council of Nicaea professed the divinity of Jesus, and the Council of Chalcedon made a declaration on the issue of the relationship between Jesus' divine and human natures, against Monophysitism
Monophysitism
Monophysitism , or Monophysiticism, is the Christological position that Jesus Christ has only one nature, his humanity being absorbed by his Deity...

 ("one nature only"), a belief that did not deny his divinity. Miaphysitism
Miaphysitism
Miaphysitism is a Christological formula of the Oriental Orthodox Churches and of the various churches adhering to the first three Ecumenical Councils...

 ("one nature") and monothelitism
Monothelitism
Monothelitism is a particular teaching about how the divine and human relate in the person of Jesus, known as a Christological doctrine, that formally emerged in Armenia and Syria in 629. Specifically, monothelitism teaches that Jesus Christ had two natures but only one will...

 ("one will") were other attempts to explain this relationship, while upholding Trinitarianism.

During more than a thousand years of Trinitarian orthodoxy, formal nontrinitarianism, i.e., a doctrine held by a church, group, or movement, was rare, existing, for example, as a belief among the Cathars, a Christian dualist heresy in W. Europe in the 13th–14th centuries. The Cathars were a serious threat to the authority of the Catholic Church especially in southern France Albigenses and northern Italy, until they were suppressed. They were forced into secrecy by a war between the nobles of the north and south of France, the northern nobles were supported by a crusade authorized by the Catholic Church.

The Protestant Reformation of the 16th century also brought tradition into question. At first, nontrinitarians were executed (such as Servetus), or forced to keep their beliefs secret (such as Isaac Newton
Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton PRS was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian, who has been "considered by many to be the greatest and most influential scientist who ever lived."...

). The eventual establishment of religious freedom, however, allowed nontrinitarians to more easily preach their beliefs, and the 19th century saw the establishment of several nontrinitarian groups in North America and elsewhere. These include Christadelphians
Christadelphians
Christadelphians is a Christian group that developed in the United Kingdom and North America in the 19th century...

, Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses is a millenarian restorationist Christian denomination with nontrinitarian beliefs distinct from mainstream Christianity. The religion reports worldwide membership of over 7 million adherents involved in evangelism, convention attendance of over 12 million, and annual...

, and Unitarians
Unitarianism
Unitarianism is a Christian theological movement, named for its understanding of God as one person, in direct contrast to Trinitarianism which defines God as three persons coexisting consubstantially as one in being....

. Some Messianic groups are also nontrinitarian. Servetus heavily influenced the theology of Emanuel Swedenborg
Emanuel Swedenborg
was a Swedish scientist, philosopher, and theologian. He has been termed a Christian mystic by some sources, including the Encyclopædia Britannica online version, and the Encyclopedia of Religion , which starts its article with the description that he was a "Swedish scientist and mystic." Others...

; the church founded on his writings is a small but influential nontrinitarian movement. Some groups espousing Binitarianism
Binitarianism
Binitarianism is a Christian theology of two personae, two individuals, or two aspects in one Godhead . Classically, binitarianism is understood as strict monotheism — that is, that God is an absolutely single being; and yet with binitarianism there is a "twoness" in God...

 such as the Living Church of God
Living Church of God
The Living Church of God is one of the church groups formed by followers of the teachings of the late Herbert W. Armstrong. It was formed as a series of major doctrinal changes were introduced in the Worldwide Church of God after Armstrong's death in 1986...

 claim that Binitarianism
Binitarianism
Binitarianism is a Christian theology of two personae, two individuals, or two aspects in one Godhead . Classically, binitarianism is understood as strict monotheism — that is, that God is an absolutely single being; and yet with binitarianism there is a "twoness" in God...

 was the majority view of those that professed Christ in the 2nd century.

20th century nontrinitarian movements include Iglesia ni Cristo
Iglesia ni Cristo
Iglesia ni Cristo also known as INC, is the largest entirely indigenous Christian religious organization that originated from the Philippines and the largest independent church in Asia. Due to a number of similarities, some Protestant writers describe the INC's doctrines as restorationist in...

, Most Holy Church of God in Christ Jesus
Most Holy Church of God in Christ Jesus
The Most Holy Church of God in Christ Jesus , is a Christian denomination founded in the Philippines by Bishop Teofilo D. Ora in May 1922....

, and the Unification Church
Unification Church
The Unification Church is a new religious movement founded by Korean religious leader Sun Myung Moon. In 1954, the Unification Church was formally and legally established in Seoul, South Korea, as The Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity . In 1994, Moon gave the church...

. Nontrinitarian groups differ from one another in their views of Jesus Christ, depicting him variously as a divine being second only to God the Father (e.g., Jehovah's Witnesses), as Yahweh of the Old Testament in human form (Modalism), as God (but not eternally God), as Son of God but inferior to the Father (versus co-equal), as a prophet, or simply as a holy man.

Modalism


{{Main|Modalism}}
{{Quotation|"Origen introduced the phrase ‘the Son's eternal generation’"-Robert Isaac Wilberforce
Robert Isaac Wilberforce
Robert Isaac Wilberforce was an English clergyman and writer, second son of abolitionist William Wilberforce, and active in the Oxford Movement.-Early life and education:...

}}
Modalism teaches that the Heavenly Father, Resurrected Son and Holy Spirit identified by the Trinity Doctrine are different modes or aspects of the One God, as perceived by the believer, rather than three coeternal persons
Godhead (Christianity)
Godhead is a Middle English variant of the word godhood, and denotes the Divine Nature or Substance of the Christian God, or the Trinity. Within some traditions such as Mormonism, the term is used as a nontrinitarian substitute for the term Trinity, denoting the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit not as...

in God Himself. In passages of scripture such as Matthew 3:16-17 where the Son, Father, and Holy Spirit are separated in the text, they view this phenomenon as confirming God's omnipresence
Omnipresence
Omnipresence or ubiquity is the property of being present everywhere. According to eastern theism, God is present everywhere. Divine omnipresence is thus one of the divine attributes, although in western theism it has attracted less philosophical attention than such attributes as omnipotence,...

, and His ability to manifest himself as he pleases
Omnipotence
Omnipotence is unlimited power. Monotheistic religions generally attribute omnipotence to only the deity of whichever faith is being addressed...

. Oneness Pentecostals, other Oneness adherents, and Modalists dispute the traditional Trinitarian doctrine, while affirming the Christian doctrine of God taking on flesh as Jesus Christ. Like Trinitarians, Oneness adherents believe that Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man. However, whereas Trinitarians believe that "God the Son", the eternal second person of the Trinity, became man, Oneness adherents hold that the one and only true God—who manifests himself in any way he chooses, including as Father, Son and Holy Spirit—became man. Oneness Pentecostals and other modalists are regarded by Catholic, Orthodox, and some other mainstream Christians as heretical for rejecting the Trinity Doctrine, which they regard as equivalent to Unitarianism
Unitarianism
Unitarianism is a Christian theological movement, named for its understanding of God as one person, in direct contrast to Trinitarianism which defines God as three persons coexisting consubstantially as one in being....

. Modalists differentiate themselves from Unitarians by affirming Christ's Deity
Deity
A deity is a recognized preternatural or supernatural immortal being, who may be thought of as holy, divine, or sacred, held in high regard, and respected by believers....

. Oneness teaches that there is only one being, revealing himself in different ways. Modalists cite passages in the New Testament that refer to God in the singular, and note the lack of the word "Trinity" in any canonical scripture. They claim that {{bibleverse||Colossians|1:15-20|ESV}} refers to Christ's relationship with the Father in a similar sense:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by (that is, by means of; or in) him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities; all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

They also cite Christ's response to Philip
Philip the Apostle
Philip the Apostle was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. Later Christian traditions describe Philip as the apostle who preached in Greece, Syria, and Phrygia....

's query on who the Father was in {{bibleverse||John|14:10|NIV}}:
Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?

A notable modern adherent of Modalism is T.D. Jakes
Baptismal formula

When criticized by Trinitarian believers who cite the Great Commission
Great Commission
The Great Commission, in Christian tradition, is the instruction of the resurrected Jesus Christ to his disciples, that they spread his teachings to all the nations of the world. It has become a tenet in Christian theology emphasizing missionary work, evangelism, and baptism...

 in {{bibleverse||Matthew|28:19|NIV}} as being the biblical affirmation of "in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" baptismal formula, Oneness adherents point to the singular sense of that phrase, and argue that if the passage was really supporting what the Trinitarians propose, it would have said the "Names" in the plural instead of "Name". Oneness Scholars then state that the passage is referring to The Name, in other words, Jesus, and they point to passages like {{bibleverse|Acts|2:38|KJV}} as being the correct baptismal formula. Oneness believers view "Father", "Son" and "Holy Spirit" as titles or forms, reflecting different manifestations of the one true God. Apostolic Christians
Primitive Apostolic Christianity (Sabbatarian)
Primitive Apostolic Christianity or Sabbatarianism is movement that attempts to reconstruct the earliest forms of Christianity. Adherents to this movement commonly refer to early Roman Christian requirements to be separated from Jewish traditions which began in Antisemitism and Antinomianism, as...

 also point out that there is no passage that appears to confirm Matthew 28:19 as being the correct baptismal formula (going against the scriptural requirement of "two witnesses" to establish a verdict), while all the other passages in the Gospels and Acts point to "in the Name of Jesus" as the correct form. They also state that Jesus was not referencing Water Baptism
Baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

, but the long term "baptism in thought, word, and deed" (2 Corinthians 10:5 and {{bibleverse|Romans|15:18|NIV}}) that all believers undergo as they mature in the Word.

Unitarianism


{{Main|Unitarianism}}

Unitarianism is a form of Christian theology
Christian theology
- Divisions of Christian theology :There are many methods of categorizing different approaches to Christian theology. For a historical analysis, see the main article on the History of Christian theology.- Sub-disciplines :...

 holding that God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 is only one person, in contrast to the doctrine
Doctrine
Doctrine is a codification of beliefs or a body of teachings or instructions, taught principles or positions, as the body of teachings in a branch of knowledge or belief system...

 of the Trinity (God as three persons in one), and that God is a separate being from Jesus Christ. It is a specific type of nontrinitarian theology, and resembles strictly monotheistic conceptions of God upheld in Judaism
God in Judaism
The conception of God in Judaism is strictly monotheistic. God is an absolute one indivisible incomparable being who is the ultimate cause of all existence. Jewish tradition teaches that the true aspect of God is incomprehensible and unknowable, and that it is only God's revealed aspect that...

 and Islam
God in Islam
In Islamic theology, God is the all-powerful and all-knowing creator, sustainer, ordainer, and judge of the universe. Islam puts a heavy emphasis on the conceptualization of God as strictly singular . God is unique and inherently One , all-merciful and omnipotent. According to the Islamic...

.

Some confusion has resulted because the term "unitarianism" (uncapitalized) has sometimes been used informally to describe any Christology
Christology
Christology is the field of study within Christian theology which is primarily concerned with the nature and person of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament. Primary considerations include the relationship of Jesus' nature and person with the nature...

 (i.e. understanding of Jesus Christ) that denies the Trinity or believes that only the Father of Jesus (and not Jesus himself) is God. Mere denial of the Trinity, however, is more commonly called nontrinitarianism
Nontrinitarianism
Nontrinitarianism includes all Christian belief systems that disagree with the doctrine of the Trinity, namely, the teaching that God is three distinct hypostases and yet co-eternal, co-equal, and indivisibly united in one essence or ousia...

. Recently some religious groups have adopted the term "biblical unitarianism
Biblical Unitarianism
Today, biblical Unitarianism identifies the Christian belief that the Bible teaches God is a singular person—the Father—and that Jesus his son is a distinct being...

" to describe their theology, but they hold to a conservative form of nontrinitarianism, which rejects many of the teachings of liberal Unitarianism.

So, too, Unitarianism does not accept the Godhood of Jesus, and therefore does not include Modalist belief systems which do—for example, Oneness Pentecostalism
Oneness Pentecostalism
Oneness Pentecostalism refers to a grouping of denominations and believers within Pentecostal Christianity, all of whom subscribe to the nontrinitarian theological doctrine of Oneness...

, United Pentecostal Church International
United Pentecostal Church International
The United Pentecostal Church International is a Pentecostal Christian denomination, headquartered in the St. Louis suburb of Hazelwood, Missouri. It is a part of the Oneness or "Apostolic" portion of the Pentecostal Movement, and was formed in 1945 by a merger of the former Pentecostal Church,...

 and the True Jesus Church
True Jesus Church
The True Jesus Church is a non-denominational Christian church that originated in Beijing, China, in 1917. The current elected chairman of the TJC International Assembly is Preacher Yong-Ji Lin. Today, there are approximately 2.5 million members in fifty three countries and six continents...

—that maintain that Jesus is God as a single person.

Binitarianism


George Johnson, a proponent of Binitarianism
Binitarianism
Binitarianism is a Christian theology of two personae, two individuals, or two aspects in one Godhead . Classically, binitarianism is understood as strict monotheism — that is, that God is an absolutely single being; and yet with binitarianism there is a "twoness" in God...

, argues that Jesus is the God of the Old Testament, distinct from the God who is called the Ancient of Days in {{bibleverse||Daniel|7:13}}, and that the Holy Spirit is not a person.

Islam


Zia H. Shah, a Muslim, interprets the Christian doctrine of the Trinity as saying that "the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three complete and separate Gods and are yet one at the same time", a thought that he describes as absurd and incompatible with monotheism.
Al-Quran says: Surely, disbelievers are those who said: "Allah is the third of the three (in a Trinity)." But there is no Allah (god) (none who has the right to be worshipped) but One Allah (God -Allah). And if they cease not from what they say, verily, a painful torment will befall on the disbelievers among them.
{{About|the Christian Trinity}}
{{redirect|Holy Trinity}}
{{Attributes of God}}
{{Christianity}}

The Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 doctrine
Christian theology
- Divisions of Christian theology :There are many methods of categorizing different approaches to Christian theology. For a historical analysis, see the main article on the History of Christian theology.- Sub-disciplines :...

 of the Trinity defines God
God in Christianity
In Christianity, God is the eternal being that created and preserves the universe. God is believed by most Christians to be immanent , while others believe the plan of redemption show he will be immanent later...

 as three divine persons (Greek
Koine Greek
Koine Greek is the universal dialect of the Greek language spoken throughout post-Classical antiquity , developing from the Attic dialect, with admixture of elements especially from Ionic....

: ὑποστάσεις): the Father
God the Father
God the Father is a gendered title given to God in many monotheistic religions, particularly patriarchal, Abrahamic ones. In Judaism, God is called Father because he is the creator, life-giver, law-giver, and protector...

, the Son
God the Son
God the Son is the second person of the Trinity in Christian theology. The doctrine of the Trinity identifies Jesus of Nazareth as God the Son, united in essence but distinct in person with regard to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit...

 (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit (Christianity)
For the majority of Christians, the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Holy Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and is Almighty God...

. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial
Consubstantiality
Consubstantial is an adjective used in Latin Christian christology, coined by Tertullian in Against Hermogenes 44, used to translate the Greek term homoousios...

 (Greek: ὁμοούσιοι
Homoousian
Homoousian is a technical theological term used in discussion of the Christian understanding of God as Trinity. The Nicene Creed describes Jesus as being homooúsios with God the Father — that is, they are of the "same substance" and are equally God...

). Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being
Ousia
Ousia is the Ancient Greek noun formed on the feminine present participle of ; it is analogous to the English participle being, and the modern philosophy adjectival ontic...

 (Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

: οὐσία). The Trinity is considered to be a mystery
Sacred Mysteries
The term sacred mysteries generally denotes the area of supernatural phenomena associated with a divinity or a religious ideology.-Pre-Christian religious mysteries:...

 of Christian faith
Faith in Christianity
Faith, in Christianity, has been most commonly defined by the biblical formulation in the Letter to the Hebrews as "'the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen". Most of the definitions in the history of Christian theology have followed this biblical formulation...

.

According to this doctrine, God exists as three persons but is one God, meaning that God the Son and God the Holy Spirit have exactly the same nature or being as God the Father in every way. Whatever attributes and power God the Father has, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit have as well. "Thus, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are also eternal, omnipresent, omnipotent, infinitely wise, infinitely holy, infinitely loving, omniscient."

According to James Rendel Harris (1852-1941), the doctrine developed as early Christians
Early Christianity
Early Christianity is generally considered as Christianity before 325. The New Testament's Book of Acts and Epistle to the Galatians records that the first Christian community was centered in Jerusalem and its leaders included James, Peter and John....

 tried to reconcile the traditional Jewish monotheism
Monotheism
Monotheism is the belief in the existence of one and only one god. Monotheism is characteristic of the Baha'i Faith, Christianity, Druzism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Samaritanism, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism.While they profess the existence of only one deity, monotheistic religions may still...

 recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

 with their portrayal of Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 as also divine. According to the author of the article on the Trinity in the current Encyclopaedia Britannica, the doctrine of the Trinity developed as the earliest Christians harmonized, over several centuries, the monotheism of the Hebrew Scriptures with their understanding not only of Jesus but also of what they saw as the presence and power of God among them, a presence and power that they called the Holy Spirit. They associated Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together in passages such as the baptismal formula of {{bibleverse||Matthew|28:19|ESV}}, which became the most influential text, and the Pauline blessing of {{bibleverse|2|Corinthians|13:14|ESV}} In the 3rd century views that were later considered unorthodox were adopted, such as subordinationism
Subordinationism
Subordinationism is a doctrine in Christian theology which holds that the Son and the Holy Spirit are subordinate to God the Father in nature and being...

 and modalism. The doctrine of the Trinity took the form that has since been maintained in all the historic confessions of Christianity by the end of the 4th century
Christianity in the 4th century
Christianity in the 4th century was dominated by Constantine the Great, and the First Council of Nicea of 325, which was the beginning of the period of the First seven Ecumenical Councils and the attempt to reach an orthodox consensus and to establish a unified Christendom as the State church of...

 as a result of controversies concerning the proper sense in which to apply to God, Christ and the Holy Spirit terms such as "person", "nature", "essence", and "substance".

Trinitarianism contrasts with non-Trinitarian positions which include Binitarianism
Binitarianism
Binitarianism is a Christian theology of two personae, two individuals, or two aspects in one Godhead . Classically, binitarianism is understood as strict monotheism — that is, that God is an absolutely single being; and yet with binitarianism there is a "twoness" in God...

 (one deity/two persons), Unitarianism
Unitarianism
Unitarianism is a Christian theological movement, named for its understanding of God as one person, in direct contrast to Trinitarianism which defines God as three persons coexisting consubstantially as one in being....

 (one deity/one person), the Oneness or Modalism belief, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' view of the Godhead as three separate beings who are one in purpose rather than in essence.

Etymology


The English word Trinity is derived from Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 Trinitas, meaning "the number three, a triad". This abstract noun is formed from the adjective trinus (three each, threefold, triple), as the word unitas is the abstract noun formed from unus (one).

The corresponding word in Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 is {{lang|grc|Τριάς}}, meaning "a set of three" or "the number three".

The first recorded use of this Greek word in Christian theology (though not about the Divine Trinity) was by Theophilus of Antioch
Theophilus of Antioch
Theophilus, Patriarch of Antioch, succeeded Eros c. 169, and was succeeded by Maximus I c.183, according to Henry Fynes Clinton, but these dates are only approximations...

 in about 170. He wrote:
"In like manner also the three days which were before the luminaries, are types
Typology (theology)
Typology in Christian theology and Biblical exegesis is a doctrine or theory concerning the relationship between the Old and New Testaments...

 of the Trinity [{{lang|grc|Τριάδος}}], of God, and His Word, and His wisdom. And the fourth is the type of man, who needs light, that so there may be God, the Word, wisdom, man."


Tertullian
Tertullian
Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, anglicised as Tertullian , was a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa. He is the first Christian author to produce an extensive corpus of Latin Christian literature. He also was a notable early Christian apologist and...

, a Latin theologian who wrote in the early 3rd century, is credited with using the words "Trinity", "person" and "substance" to explain that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are "one in essence—not one in Person".

About a century later, in 325, the First Council of Nicaea
First Council of Nicaea
The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325...

 established the doctrine of the Trinity as orthodoxy
Orthodoxy
The word orthodox, from Greek orthos + doxa , is generally used to mean the adherence to accepted norms, more specifically to creeds, especially in religion...

 and adopted the Nicene Creed
Nicene Creed
The Nicene Creed is the creed or profession of faith that is most widely used in Christian liturgy. It is called Nicene because, in its original form, it was adopted in the city of Nicaea by the first ecumenical council, which met there in the year 325.The Nicene Creed has been normative to the...

, which described Christ as "God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance (homoousios) with the Father".

Personhood


In the Trinity doctrine, each person is understood as having the same identical essence or nature, not merely similar natures. The being of Christ can be said to have dominated theological discussions and councils of the church until the 7th century, and resulted in the Nicene and Constantinopolitan creeds, the Ephesine Formula of 431, the Christological statement of the Epistola Dogmatica of Leo I to Flavianus, and the condemnation of Monothelism in the Sixth Ecumenical Council (680-681). From these councils, the following christological doctrines were condemned as heresies: Ebionism, Docetism
Docetism
In Christianity, docetism is the belief that Jesus' physical body was an illusion, as was his crucifixion; that is, Jesus only seemed to have a physical body and to physically die, but in reality he was incorporeal, a pure spirit, and hence could not physically die...

, Basilidianism
Basilides
Basilides was an early Gnostic religious teacher in Alexandria, Egypt who taught from 117–138 AD, notes that to prove that the heretical sects were "later than the catholic Church," Clement of Alexandria assigns Christ's own teaching to the reigns of Augustus and Tiberius; that of the apostles,...

, Alogi
Alogi
The Alogi were a group of Christian heretics in Asia Minor that flourished around 170 CE. What we know of them is derived from their doctrinal opponents, whose literature is still extant, particularly St. Epiphanius of Salamis...

sm or Artemon
Artemon
Artemon , a prominent Christian teacher in Rome, who held Adoptionist, or Nontrinitarian views. We know little about his life for certain.He is mentioned as the leader of a nontrinitarian sect at Rome in the third century...

ism, Patripassianism
Patripassianism
In Christian theology, patripassianism is the view that God the Father suffers . Its adherents believe that God the Father was incarnate and suffered on the cross and that whatever happened to the Son happened to the Father and so the Father co-suffered with the human Jesus on the cross...

, Sabellianism
Sabellianism
In Christianity, Sabellianism, is the nontrinitarian belief that the Heavenly Father, Resurrected Son and Holy Spirit are different modes or aspects of one God, as perceived by the believer, rather than three distinct persons in God Himself.The term Sabellianism comes from...

, Arianism
Arianism
Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius , a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt, concerning the relationship of the entities of the Trinity and the precise nature of the Son of God as being a subordinate entity to God the Father...

, Apollinarianism, Nestorianism
Nestorianism
Nestorianism is a Christological doctrine advanced by Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople from 428–431. The doctrine, which was informed by Nestorius's studies under Theodore of Mopsuestia at the School of Antioch, emphasizes the disunion between the human and divine natures of Jesus...

, Eutychianism
Eutychianism
Eutychianism refers to a set of Christian theological doctrines derived from the ideas of Eutyches of Constantinople . Eutychianism is a specific understanding of how the human and divine relate within the person of Jesus Christ .At various times, Eutyches taught that the human nature of Christ was...

, Monophysitism
Monophysitism
Monophysitism , or Monophysiticism, is the Christological position that Jesus Christ has only one nature, his humanity being absorbed by his Deity...

, and Monothelitism
Monothelitism
Monothelitism is a particular teaching about how the divine and human relate in the person of Jesus, known as a Christological doctrine, that formally emerged in Armenia and Syria in 629. Specifically, monothelitism teaches that Jesus Christ had two natures but only one will...

. Since the beginning of the third century
Christianity in the 3rd century
The 3rd century of Christianity was largely the time of the Ante-Nicene Fathers who wrote after the Apostolic Fathers of the 1st and 2nd centuries but before the First Council of Nicaea in 325...

 the doctrine of the Trinity has been stated as "the one God exists in three Persons and one substance, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." Trinitarianism, belief in the Trinity, is a mark of Roman Catholicism
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, Eastern
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 and Oriental Orthodoxy
Oriental Orthodoxy
Oriental Orthodoxy is the faith of those Eastern Christian Churches that recognize only three ecumenical councils — the First Council of Nicaea, the First Council of Constantinople and the First Council of Ephesus. They rejected the dogmatic definitions of the Council of Chalcedon...

 as well as of the "mainstream traditions" arising from the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

, such as Anglicanism
Anglicanism
Anglicanism is a tradition within Christianity comprising churches with historical connections to the Church of England or similar beliefs, worship and church structures. The word Anglican originates in ecclesia anglicana, a medieval Latin phrase dating to at least 1246 that means the English...

, Baptist
Baptist
Baptists comprise a group of Christian denominations and churches that subscribe to a doctrine that baptism should be performed only for professing believers , and that it must be done by immersion...

, Methodism
Methodism
Methodism is a movement of Protestant Christianity represented by a number of denominations and organizations, claiming a total of approximately seventy million adherents worldwide. The movement traces its roots to John Wesley's evangelistic revival movement within Anglicanism. His younger brother...

, Lutheranism
Lutheranism
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation...

 and Presbyterianism
Presbyterianism
Presbyterianism refers to a number of Christian churches adhering to the Calvinist theological tradition within Protestantism, which are organized according to a characteristic Presbyterian polity. Presbyterian theology typically emphasizes the sovereignty of God, the authority of the Scriptures,...

. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church describes the Trinity as "the central dogma of Christian theology
Christian theology
- Divisions of Christian theology :There are many methods of categorizing different approaches to Christian theology. For a historical analysis, see the main article on the History of Christian theology.- Sub-disciplines :...

".

Comma Johanneum


{{Main|Comma Johanneum}}

In addition to these, {{bibleref2|1John|5:7|KJV|1 John 5:7}}, which is found in the King James Version but not in modern English translations nor in the official Latin text (a revision of the Vulgate
Vulgate
The Vulgate is a late 4th-century Latin translation of the Bible. It was largely the work of St. Jerome, who was commissioned by Pope Damasus I in 382 to make a revision of the old Latin translations...

) of the Roman Catholic Church, states: "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one." However, this Comma Johanneum
Comma Johanneum
The Comma Johanneum is a comma in the First Epistle of John according to the Latin Vulgate text as transmitted since the Early Middle Ages, based on Vetus Latina minority readings dating to the 7th century...

 is not considered to be part of the genuine text. It is commonly found in Latin manuscripts, but is absent from the Greek manuscripts, except for a few late examples, where the passage appears to have been back-translated from the Latin. Erasmus, the compiler of the Textus Receptus
Textus Receptus
Textus Receptus is the name subsequently given to the succession of printed Greek texts of the New Testament which constituted the translation base for the original German Luther Bible, the translation of the New Testament into English by William Tyndale, the King James Version, and for most other...

, on which the King James Version was based, noticed that the passage was not found in any of the Greek manuscripts at his disposal and refused to include it until presented with a manuscript containing it, while still suspecting, as is now agreed, that the phrase was a gloss
Gloss
A gloss is a brief notation of the meaning of a word or wording in a text. It may be in the language of the text, or in the reader's language if that is different....

.
Although the Latin Church Father, Saint Cyprian
Cyprian
Cyprian was bishop of Carthage and an important Early Christian writer, many of whose Latin works are extant. He was born around the beginning of the 3rd century in North Africa, perhaps at Carthage, where he received a classical education...

, alone among early writers, is thought to have referred to the passage, it is now considered not to be part of the original text.

Jesus as God



As opposed to the Synoptic Gospels
Synoptic Gospels
The gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as the Synoptic Gospels because they include many of the same stories, often in the same sequence, and sometimes exactly the same wording. This degree of parallelism in content, narrative arrangement, language, and sentence structures can only be...

, the Gospel of John
Gospel of John
The Gospel According to John , commonly referred to as the Gospel of John or simply John, and often referred to in New Testament scholarship as the Fourth Gospel, is an account of the public ministry of Jesus...

 has been seen as aimed at emphasizing Jesus' divinity, presenting Jesus as the Logos
Logos
' is an important term in philosophy, psychology, rhetoric and religion. Originally a word meaning "a ground", "a plea", "an opinion", "an expectation", "word," "speech," "account," "reason," it became a technical term in philosophy, beginning with Heraclitus ' is an important term in...

, pre-existent and divine, from its first words, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."{{bibleref2c|John|1:1}} John also portrays Jesus as the creator of the universe
Creator deity
A creator deity is a deity responsible for the creation of the world . In monotheism, the single God is often also the creator deity, while polytheistic traditions may or may not have creator deities...

, such that "without him was not any thing made that was made."{{bibleref2c|John|1:3}} Some render John 1:1 as "the Word was a god", "the word was godlike", "the word was divine", denying that the doctrine of the Trinity is supported by the verse.

The Gospel of John ends with Thomas' apparent confession of faith to Jesus, "My Lord and my God!"{{bibleref2c|John|20:28}} There is no significant tendency among modern scholars to deny that John 1:1 and John 20:28 identify Jesus with God.

Other passages of John's Gospel interpreted in this sense include, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.",{{bibleref2c-nb|John|8:58}} "I and the Father are one.",{{bibleref2c-nb|John|10:30}} "....the Father is in me and I am in the Father.",{{bibleref2c-nb|John|10:38}} and "....he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God."{{bibleref2c|John|5:18}} John is also seen to identify Jesus as the Lord whom Isaiah saw,{{bibleref2c|John|12:34-45}}{{bibleref2c|Isa|6:1-10}} while other texts{{bibleref2c|Heb|1:1-12}} are also understood as referring to Jesus as God.

There are also a few possible biblical supports for the Trinity found in the Synoptic Gospels
Synoptic Gospels
The gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as the Synoptic Gospels because they include many of the same stories, often in the same sequence, and sometimes exactly the same wording. This degree of parallelism in content, narrative arrangement, language, and sentence structures can only be...

. The Gospel of Matthew, for example, quotes Jesus as saying "all things have been handed over to me by my Father".{{bibleref2c|Mt|11:27}} This is similar to John, who wrote that Jesus said "All that the Father has is mine".{{bibleref2c|John|16:15}} These verses have been quoted to defend the omnipotence of Christ, having all power, as well as the omniscience of Christ, having all wisdom.

Expressions also in the Pauline epistles
Pauline epistles
The Pauline epistles, Epistles of Paul, or Letters of Paul, are the thirteen New Testament books which have the name Paul as the first word, hence claiming authorship by Paul the Apostle. Among these letters are some of the earliest extant Christian documents...

 have been interpreted as attributing divinity to Jesus. They include: "For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him"{{bibleref2c|Colossians|1:16}} and "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form",{{bibleref2c|Colossians|2:9}} and in Paul the Apostle's claim to have been "sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father".{{bibleref2c|Galatians|1:1}}

In {{bibleref2|Daniel|7}} the prophet records his vision of "one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven", who "was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him" (v. 14). Christians believe that worship is only properly given to God, and that considering other Bible passages this "son of man" can be identified as the second person of the Trinity. Parallels may be drawn between Daniel's vision and Jesus' words to the Jewish high priest that in the future those assembled would see "the son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven."{{bibleref2c|Mt|26:64-65}} Jesus was immediately accused of blasphemy, as at other times when he had identified his unity with the Father.{{bibleref2c|John|10:33}} Christians also believe that John saw the resurrected, gloried Jesus and described him as "One like the Son of Man
Son of man
The phrase son of man is a primarily Semitic idiom that originated in Ancient Mesopotamia, used to denote humanity or self. The phrase is also used in Judaism and Christianity. The phrase used in the Greek, translated as Son of man is ὁ υἱὸς τοὺ ἀνθρώπου...

."{{bibleref2c|Rev|1:13}}
Some believe the Trinity was also introduced in the Old Testament book of Isaiah
Isaiah
Isaiah ; Greek: ', Ēsaïās ; "Yahu is salvation") was a prophet in the 8th-century BC Kingdom of Judah.Jews and Christians consider the Book of Isaiah a part of their Biblical canon; he is the first listed of the neviim akharonim, the later prophets. Many of the New Testament teachings of Jesus...

 written around 700 years before Jesus, copies of which were preserved from 300 years before Jesus in the Dead Sea Scrolls
Dead Sea scrolls
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 972 texts from the Hebrew Bible and extra-biblical documents found between 1947 and 1956 on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, from which they derive their name...

. {{Bibleref2|Isaiah|9:6}} prophesies "For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon his shoulder. And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Thus a son who will be born at a particular point in history who is called "Mighty God". Some non-Trinitarians argue that this passage would also imply that Jesus is the Father, the first person in the Trinity. However, Trinitarians contend that Jesus is the second person in the Trinity, and he is called "Everlasting Father" because of his role as Creator of men.

Another possible biblical demonstration of the deity of Jesus comes from the biblical scholar Granville Sharp
Granville Sharp
Granville Sharp was one of the first English campaigners for the abolition of the slave trade. He also involved himself in trying to correct other social injustices. Sharp formulated the plan to settle blacks in Sierra Leone, and founded the St. George's Bay Company, a forerunner of the Sierra...

 who noted the construction of a particular Greek idiom, which is now called Granville Sharp's rule. According to the rule, when two nouns that are personal, singular, and not proper names are connected in a TSKS pattern (The—Substantive—Kai—Substantive, where 'kai' is Greek for 'and') then the two nouns refer to the same person. Passages like {{bibleref2|Titus|2:13}} and {{bibleref2|2Peter|1:1}} fit this pattern. Therefore, when Paul says:{{bibleref2c|Titus|2:13}} "The great God and savior, Jesus Christ" he is grammatically identifying Jesus Christ as the great God. Proper nouns are not used in this phrase. In his review of over 1,000 years of Greek literature, Christopher Wordsworth confirmed that early church Fathers had this same understanding of the text.

An opposing view of the Granville Sharp rule, however, argues that in Matthew 21:12 Jesus ‘cast out all those that were selling and buying in the temple,’ (τοὺς πωλοῦντας καὶ ἀγοράζοντας). So too, in Mark 11:15 the two classes are made distinct by the insertion of τούς before ἀγοράζοντας. Because of this, they argue that no one can reasonably suppose that the same persons are here described as both selling and buying, yet they fit within the Granville Sharp rule's construction. Therefore, according to this view, there is biblical evidence to distinguish between "the great God" and "our Saviour, Jesus Christ" in Titus 2:13, and by extension, 2 Peter 1:1. However, unlike 2 Peter 1:1 and Titus 2:13, Matthew 21:12 and Mark 11:15 do not fit Sharp's rule, since they use plural participle
Participle
In linguistics, a participle is a word that shares some characteristics of both verbs and adjectives. It can be used in compound verb tenses or voices , or as a modifier...

s, not singular personal nouns.

Some have suggested that John presents a hierarchy when he quotes Jesus as saying, "The Father is greater than I",{{bibleref2c-nb|John|14:28}} a statement which was appealed to by non-trinitarian groups such as Arianism
Arianism
Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius , a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt, concerning the relationship of the entities of the Trinity and the precise nature of the Son of God as being a subordinate entity to God the Father...

. However, Church Fathers such as Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo , also known as Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Austin, St. Augoustinos, Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed, was Bishop of Hippo Regius . He was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province...

 argued this statement was to be understood as Jesus speaking in the form of a man.

Others have suggested that passages in the Synoptic Gospels contradict the Trinity. For example, the Agnoetae
Agnoetae
Agnoetae was a general name given to those heretical sects which in one form or another denied the divine omniscience either of the incarnate Christ or of God the Father....

 sect argued that Jesus himself denied omniscience, when he said "but of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father".{{bibleref2c|Mark|13:32}}{{bibleref2c|Matthew|24:36}} However, the Church Fathers reasoned that, in the Bible, "to know" can sometimes mean "to reveal". For example, Augustine of Hippo argued that when Deuteronomy 13:3 said "the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart", "to know" here meant "to reveal". So too, Mark 13:32 could be saying that the Father alone reveals that day, but Jesus himself could know the day as well. This is supported by passages that seem to argue that Jesus did know all things, such as "He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.""{{bibleref2c|John|21:17}}

Holy Spirit as God


As the Arian controversy was dwindling down, the debate moved from the deity of Jesus Christ to the equality of the Holy Spirit with the Father and Son. On one hand, the Pneumatomachi
Pneumatomachi
The Pneumatomachi, also known as Macedonians or Semi-Arians in Constantinople and the Tropici in Alexandria, were an anti-Nicene Creed sect which flourished in the countries adjacent to the Hellespont during the latter half of the fourth, and the beginning of the fifth century...

 sect declared that the Holy Spirit was an inferior person to the Father and Son. On the other hand, the Cappadocian Fathers
Cappadocian Fathers
The Cappadocian Fathers are Basil the Great , who was bishop of Caesarea; Basil's brother Gregory of Nyssa , who was bishop of Nyssa; and a close friend, Gregory of Nazianzus , who became Patriarch of Constantinople...

 argued that the Holy Spirit was an equal person to the Father and Son.

Although the main text used in defense of the deity of the Holy Spirit was Matthew 28:19, Cappadocian Fathers such as Basil the Great argued from other verses such as "But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God."{{bibleref2c|Acts|5:3-4}}

Another passage the Cappadocian Fathers quoted from was "By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host."{{bibleref2c|Psalm|33:6}} According to their understanding, because "breath" and "spirit" in Hebrew are both "רוּחַ" ("ruach"), Psalm 33:6 is revealing the roles of the Son and Holy Spirit as co-creators. And since, according to them, because the holy God can only create holy beings such as the angels, the Son and Holy Spirit must be God.

Yet another argument from the Cappadocian Fathers to prove that the Holy Spirit is of the same nature as the Father and Son comes from "For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God."{{bibleref2c|1Cor.|2:11}} They reasoned that this passage proves that the Holy Spirit has the same relationship to God as the spirit within us has to us.

The Cappadocian Fathers also quoted "Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?"{{bibleref2c|1Cor.|3:16}} and reasoned that it would be blasphemous for an inferior being to take up residence in a temple of God, thus proving that the Holy Spirit is equal with the Father and the Son.

They also combined "the servant does not know what his master is doing"{{bibleref2c|John|15:15}} with 1 Corinthians 2:11 in an attempt to show that the Holy Spirit is not the slave of God, and therefore his equal.

The Pneumatomachi contradicted the Cappadocian Fathers by quoting "Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?",{{bibleref2c|Hebrews|1:14}} in effect arguing that the Holy Spirit is no different than other created angelic spirits. The Church Fathers disagreed, saying that the Holy Spirit is greater than the angels, since the Holy Spirit is the one who grants the foreknowledge for prophesy{{bibleref2c|1Cor.|12:8-10}} so that the angels could announce events to come.

Claims of Old Testament prefigurations



Genesis 18–19 have been interpreted by Christians as a Trinitarian text. The narrative has the Lord appearing to Abraham, who was visited by three men.{{bibleref2c|Gen|18:1-2}} Then in {{bibleref2|Genesis|19}}, "the two angels" visited Lot
Lot (Bible)
Lot is a man from the Book of Genesis chapters 11-14 and 19, in the Hebrew Bible. Notable episodes in his life include his travels with his uncle Abram ; his flight from the destruction of Sodom, in the course of which Lot's wife looked back and became a pillar of salt; and the seduction by his...

 at Sodom. The interplay between Abraham on the one hand, and the Lord/three men/the two angels on the other was an intriguing text for those who believed in a single God in three persons. Justin Martyr
Justin Martyr
Justin Martyr, also known as just Saint Justin , was an early Christian apologist. Most of his works are lost, but two apologies and a dialogue survive. He is considered a saint by the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church....

, and John Calvin
John Calvin
John Calvin was an influential French theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation. He was a principal figure in the development of the system of Christian theology later called Calvinism. Originally trained as a humanist lawyer, he broke from the Roman Catholic Church around 1530...

 similarly, interpreted it such that Abraham was visited by God, who was accompanied by two angels. Justin supposed that the god who visited Abraham was distinguishable from the god who remains in the heavens, but was nevertheless identified as the (monotheistic) god. Justin appropriated the god who visited Abraham to Jesus, the second person of the Trinity.

Augustine, in contrast, held that the three visitors to Abraham were the three persons of the Trinity. He saw no indication that the visitors were unequal, as would be the case in Justin's reading. Then in {{bibleref2|Genesis|19}}, two of the visitors were addressed by Lot in the singular: "Lot said to them, 'Not so, my lord.{{'"}}{{bibleref2c|Gen|19:18|KJV|Gen 19:18 KJV}} Augustine saw that Lot could address them as one because they had a single substance, despite the plurality of persons. Some Christians see indications in the Old Testament of a plurality and unity in God, an idea that is rejected by Judaism.

Some Christians interpret the theophanies
Theophany
Theophany, from the Ancient Greek , meaning "appearance of God"), refers to the appearance of a deity to a human or other being, or to a divine disclosure....

 or appearances of the Angel of the Lord
Angel of the Lord
The Angel of the Lord is one of many terms in the Hebrew Bible used for an angel. The Biblical name for angel, מלאך mal'ach, which translates simply as "messenger," obtained the further signification of "angel" only through the addition of God's name, as The Angel of the Lord (or the Angel of...

 as revelations of a person distinct from God, who is nonetheless called God. This interpretation is found in Christianity as early as Justin Martyr
Justin Martyr
Justin Martyr, also known as just Saint Justin , was an early Christian apologist. Most of his works are lost, but two apologies and a dialogue survive. He is considered a saint by the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church....

 and Melito of Sardis
Melito of Sardis
Melito of Sardis was the bishop of Sardis near Smyrna in western Anatolia, and a great authority in Early Christianity: Jerome, speaking of the Old Testament canon established by Melito, quotes Tertullian to the effect that he was esteemed a prophet by many of the faithful...

, and reflects ideas that were already present in Philo
Philo
Philo , known also as Philo of Alexandria , Philo Judaeus, Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, Yedidia, "Philon", and Philo the Jew, was a Hellenistic Jewish Biblical philosopher born in Alexandria....

. The Old Testament theophanies were thus seen as Christophanies
Christophany
A Christophany is an appearance, or non-physical manifestation, of Christ.Traditionally the term refers to visions of Christ after his ascension such as the bright light of the Damascus Christophany....

, each a "preincarnate appearance of the Messiah".

Theophanies: and {{bibleref2|Genesis|18:1}}—God appeared to Abraham and {{bibleref2|Genesis|26:24}}—God appeared to Isaac, {{bibleref2|Genesis|35:9}} and {{bibleref2|Genesis|48:3}}—God appeared to Jacob and {{bibleref2|Exodus|4:5}}—God appeared to Moses—God appeared to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and {{bibleref2|Leviticus|6:2}}—God appeared to Aaron—God appeared to Moses and Joshua—God appeared to Samuel, {{bibleref2|1Kings|9:2||1 Kings 9:2}} and {{Bibleref2|1Kings|11:9||1 Kings 11:9}}—God appeared to Solomon—God appeared to David—God appeared to Solomon

The angel (messenger) of the Lord:

Possible references in the Deuterocanonical books


In Wisdom
Book of Wisdom
The Book of Wisdom, often referred to simply as Wisdom or the Book of the Wisdom of Solomon, is one of the deuterocanonical books of the Bible. It is one of the seven Sapiential or wisdom books of the Septuagint Old Testament, which includes Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon ,...

, Sirach, and Baruch
Book of Baruch
The Book of Baruch, occasionally referred to as 1 Baruch, is called a deuterocanonical book of the Bible. Although not in the Hebrew Bible, it is found in the Septuagint and in the Vulgate Bible, and also in Theodotion's version. It is grouped with the prophetical books which also include Isaiah,...

, the personifications of wisdom have been seen in the Christian traditions as prefigures for Christ. The most explicit reference to the Trinity is in Wisdom of Solomon:
{{quote|Who has learned your counsel, unless you have given wisdom and sent your holy spirit from on high? And thus the paths of those on earth were set right, and people were taught what pleases you, and were saved by wisdom|{{bverse|Wisdom|9:17-18|Wisdom of Solomon 9:17-18|nrs}}}}

History



{{Main|Trinity of the Church Fathers}}
Although there is much debate as to whether the beliefs of the Apostles were merely articulated and explained in the Trinitarian Creeds, or were corrupted and replaced with new beliefs, all scholars recognize that the Creeds themselves were created in reaction to disagreements over the nature of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These controversies, however, were great and many, and took many centuries to be resolved.

Of these controversies, the most significant developments were articulated in the first four centuries by the Church Fathers
Church Fathers
The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church were early and influential theologians, eminent Christian teachers and great bishops. Their scholarly works were used as a precedent for centuries to come...

 in reaction to Adoptionism
Adoptionism
Adoptionism, sometimes called dynamic monarchianism, is a minority Christian belief that Jesus was adopted as God's son at his baptism...

, Sabellianism
Sabellianism
In Christianity, Sabellianism, is the nontrinitarian belief that the Heavenly Father, Resurrected Son and Holy Spirit are different modes or aspects of one God, as perceived by the believer, rather than three distinct persons in God Himself.The term Sabellianism comes from...

, and Arianism
Arianism
Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius , a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt, concerning the relationship of the entities of the Trinity and the precise nature of the Son of God as being a subordinate entity to God the Father...

. Adoptionism was the belief that Jesus was an ordinary man, born of Joseph and Mary, who became the Christ and Son of God at his baptism. In 269, the Synods of Antioch
Synods of Antioch
Beginning with three synods convened between 264 and 269 in the matter of Paul of Samosata, more than thirty councils were held in Antioch in ancient times. Most of these dealt with phases of the Arian and of the Christological controversies...

 condemned Paul of Samosata
Paul of Samosata
Paul of Samosata was Bishop of Antioch from 260 to 268. He was a believer in monarchianism, and his teachings anticipate adoptionism.-Life:...

 for his Adoptionist theology, and also condemned the term "homoousios" in the sense he used it.

Sabellianism taught that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are aspects
Prosopon
Prosopon is a technical term encountered in Greek theology. It is most often translated as "person", and as such is sometimes confused in translation with hypostasis, which is also translated as "person." Prosopon originally meant "face" or "mask" in Greek and derives from Greek theatre, in which...

 of how humanity has interacted with or experienced God. In the role of the Father, God is the provider and creator of all. In the role of the Son, God is manifested in the flesh as a human, in order to bring about the salvation of mankind. In the role of the Holy Spirit, God manifests himself from heaven through his actions on the earth and within the lives of Christians. This view was rejected as heresy
Christian heresy
Christian heresy refers to non-orthodox practices and beliefs that were deemed to be heretical by one or more of the Christian churches. In Western Christianity, the term "heresy" most commonly refers to those beliefs which were declared to be anathema by the Catholic Church prior to the schism of...

 by the Ecumenical Councils.{{which?|date=December 2010}}

Arianism, which was coming into prominence during the 4th century along with Trinitarianism, taught that the Father came before the Son, and that the Son was a distinct being from the Holy Spirit. In 325, the Council of Nicaea
First Council of Nicaea
The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325...

 adopted a term for the relationship between the Father and the Son that from then on was seen as the hallmark of orthodoxy; it declared that the Son is "of the same being" ({{Polytonic|ὁμοούσιος
Ousia
Ousia is the Ancient Greek noun formed on the feminine present participle of ; it is analogous to the English participle being, and the modern philosophy adjectival ontic...

}}) as the Father. This was further developed into the formula "three persons, one being".

Saint Athanasius, who was a participant in the Council, stated that the bishops were forced to use this terminology, which is not found in Scripture, because the Biblical phrases that they would have preferred to use were claimed by the Arians
Arianism
Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius , a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt, concerning the relationship of the entities of the Trinity and the precise nature of the Son of God as being a subordinate entity to God the Father...

 to be capable of being interpreted in what the bishops considered to be a heretical sense. They therefore "commandeered the non-scriptural term homoousios ('of the same being') to safeguard the essential relation of the Son to the Father that had been denied by Arius
Arius
Arius was a Christian presbyter in Alexandria, Egypt of Libyan origins. His teachings about the nature of the Godhead, which emphasized the Father's divinity over the Son , and his opposition to the Athanasian or Trinitarian Christology, made him a controversial figure in the First Council of...

."

Moreover, the meanings of "ousia" and "hypostasis
Hypostasis (religion)
In Christian theology, a hypostasis or person is one of the three elements of the Holy Trinity.In Christian usage, the Greek word hypostasis means beneath-standing or underpinning and, by extension, the existence of some thing...

" overlapped then, so that the latter term for some meant essence and for others person. Athanasius of Alexandria
Athanasius of Alexandria
Athanasius of Alexandria [b. ca. – d. 2 May 373] is also given the titles St. Athanasius the Great, St. Athanasius I of Alexandria, St Athanasius the Confessor and St Athanasius the Apostolic. He was the 20th bishop of Alexandria. His long episcopate lasted 45 years Athanasius of Alexandria [b....

 (293–373) helped to clarify the terms.

The Confession of the Council of Nicaea said little about the Holy Spirit. The doctrine of the divinity and personality of the Holy Spirit was developed by Athanasius in the last decades of his life. He defended and refined the Nicene formula. By the end of the 4th century, under the leadership of Basil of Caesarea
Basil of Caesarea
Basil of Caesarea, also called Saint Basil the Great, was the bishop of Caesarea Mazaca in Cappadocia, Asia Minor . He was an influential 4th century Christian theologian...

, Gregory of Nyssa
Gregory of Nyssa
St. Gregory of Nyssa was a Christian bishop and saint. He was a younger brother of Basil the Great and a good friend of Gregory of Nazianzus. His significance has long been recognized in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Catholic and Roman Catholic branches of Christianity...

, and Gregory of Nazianzus
Gregory of Nazianzus
Gregory of Nazianzus was a 4th-century Archbishop of Constantinople. He is widely considered the most accomplished rhetorical stylist of the patristic age...

 (the Cappadocian Fathers
Cappadocian Fathers
The Cappadocian Fathers are Basil the Great , who was bishop of Caesarea; Basil's brother Gregory of Nyssa , who was bishop of Nyssa; and a close friend, Gregory of Nazianzus , who became Patriarch of Constantinople...

), the doctrine had reached substantially its current form.

The Ante-Nicene Fathers, although likely foreign to the specifics of Trinitarian theology because they were not defined until the 4th century, nevertheless affirmed Christ's deity and referenced "Father, Son and Holy Spirit". Trinitarians view these as elements of the codified doctrine.

Baptism as the beginning lesson



Baptism is generally conferred with the Trinitarian formula
Trinitarian formula
The trinitarian formula is the phrase "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" , or words to that form and effect referring to the three persons of the Christian Trinity.- Biblical origin :...

, "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."{{bibleref2c|Mt|28:19}} Trinitarians identify this name with the Christian faith into which baptism is an initiation, as seen for example in the statement of Basil the Great (330–379): "We are bound to be baptized in the terms we have received, and to profess faith in the terms in which we have been baptized." "This is the Faith of our baptism", the First Council of Constantinople
First Council of Constantinople
The First Council of Constantinople is recognized as the Second Ecumenical Council by the Assyrian Church of the East, the Oriental Orthodox, the Eastern Orthodox, the Roman Catholics, the Old Catholics, and a number of other Western Christian groups. It was the first Ecumenical Council held in...

 also says (382), "that teaches us to believe in the Name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. According to this Faith there is one Godhead, Power, and Being of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

{{bibleref2|Matthew|28:19}} may be taken to indicate that baptism was associated with this formula from the earliest decades of the Church's existence.

Some groups, such as Oneness Pentecostals, demur from the Trinitarian view on baptism. For them, the omission of the formula in Acts outweighs all other considerations, and is a liturgical guide for their own practice. For this reason, they often focus on the baptisms in Acts, citing many authoritative theological works. For example, Kittel is cited where he is speaking of the phrase "in the name" (Greek
Koine Greek
Koine Greek is the universal dialect of the Greek language spoken throughout post-Classical antiquity , developing from the Attic dialect, with admixture of elements especially from Ionic....

: {{Polytonic|εἰς τὸ ὄνομα}}) as used in the baptisms recorded in Acts:
The distinctive feature of Christian baptism is that it is administered in Christ ({{Polytonic|εἰς Χριστόν}}), or in the name of Christ ({{Polytonic|εἰς τὸ ὄνομα Χριστοῦ}}). (Gerhard Kittel, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977), 1:539.)
The formula ({{Polytonic|εἰς τὸ ὄνομα}}) seems to have been a tech. term in Hellenistic commerce ("to the account"). In both cases the use of the phrase is understandable, since the account bears the name of the one who owns it, and in baptism the name of Christ is pronounced, invoked and confessed by the one who baptises or the one baptised{{bibleref2c|Acts|22:16}} or both. (Kittel, 1:540.)


Those who place great emphasis on the baptisms in Acts often likewise question the authenticity of {{bibleref2|Matthew|28:19}} in its present form. A. Ploughman, apparently following F. C. Conybeare
Frederick Cornwallis Conybeare
Frederick Cornwallis Conybeare was a British orientalist, Fellow of University College, Oxford, and Professor of Theology at the University of Oxford.-Biography:...

, has questioned the authenticity of {{bibleref2|Matthew|28:19}}, but most scholars of New Testament textual criticism
Textual criticism
Textual criticism is a branch of literary criticism that is concerned with the identification and removal of transcription errors in the texts of manuscripts...

 accept the authenticity of the passage, since there are no variant manuscripts regarding the formula, and the extant form of the passage is attested in the Didache
Didache
The Didache or The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles is a brief early Christian treatise, dated by most scholars to the late first or early 2nd century...

 and other patristic works of the 1st and 2nd centuries: Ignatius
Ignatius of Antioch
Ignatius of Antioch was among the Apostolic Fathers, was the third Bishop of Antioch, and was a student of John the Apostle. En route to his martyrdom in Rome, Ignatius wrote a series of letters which have been preserved as an example of very early Christian theology...

, Tertullian
Tertullian
Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, anglicised as Tertullian , was a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa. He is the first Christian author to produce an extensive corpus of Latin Christian literature. He also was a notable early Christian apologist and...

, Hippolytus
Hippolytus (writer)
Hippolytus of Rome was the most important 3rd-century theologian in the Christian Church in Rome, where he was probably born. Photios I of Constantinople describes him in his Bibliotheca Hippolytus of Rome (170 – 235) was the most important 3rd-century theologian in the Christian Church in Rome,...

, Cyprian
Cyprian
Cyprian was bishop of Carthage and an important Early Christian writer, many of whose Latin works are extant. He was born around the beginning of the 3rd century in North Africa, perhaps at Carthage, where he received a classical education...

, and Gregory Thaumaturgus
Gregory Thaumaturgus
Gregory Thaumaturgus, also known as Gregory of Neocaesarea or Gregory the Wonderworker, was a Christian bishop of the 3rd century.-Biography:Gregory was born at Neo-Caesarea around 213 A.D...

. The Acts of the Apostles
Acts of the Apostles
The Acts of the Apostles , usually referred to simply as Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament; Acts outlines the history of the Apostolic Age...

 only mentions believers being baptized "in the name of Jesus Christ"{{bibleref2c|Acts|2:38}} {{bibleref2c-nb|Acts|10:48}} and "in the name of the Lord Jesus."{{bibleref2c-nb|Acts|8:16}} {{bibleref2c-nb|Acts|19:5}} There are no biblical references to baptism in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit outside of {{bibleref2|Matthew|28:19}}, nor references, biblical or patristic, to baptism in the name of (the Lord) Jesus (Christ) outside the Acts of the Apostles.

Commenting on {{bibleref2|Matthew|28:19}}, Gerhard Kittel states:
This threefold relation [of Father, Son and Spirit] soon found fixed expression in the triadic formulae in {{bibleref2|2Cor|13:14||2 Cor. 13:14}} and in {{bibleref2|1Cor|12:4–6||1 Cor. 12:4-6}}. The form is first found in the baptismal formula in {{bibleref2|Matthew|28:19}}; Did., 7. 1 and 3....[I]t is self-evident that Father, Son and Spirit are here linked in an indissoluble threefold relationship.


In the synoptic Gospels the baptism of Jesus
Baptism of Jesus
The baptism of Jesus marks the beginning of Jesus Christ's public ministry. This event is recorded in the Canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. In John 1:29-33 rather than a direct narrative, the Baptist bears witness to the episode...

 is often interpreted as a manifestation of all three persons of the Trinity: "And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, 'This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.{{'"}}{{bibleref2c|Mt|3:16–17}}

One God


{{Main|Monotheism}}

Christianity, having emerged from Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

, is a monotheistic religion. Never in the New Testament does the trinitarian concept become a "tritheism
Tritheism
Tritheism is the belief that there are three distinct, powerful gods, who form a triad. Generally three gods are envisaged as having separate powers and separate supreme beings or spheres of influence but working together...

" (three Gods) nor even two. God is one, and that the Godhead is a single being is strongly declared in the Bible:
  • The Shema of the Hebrew Scriptures: "Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one."{{bibleref2c|Deut|6:4}}
  • The first of the Ten Commandments
    Ten Commandments
    The Ten Commandments, also known as the Decalogue , are a set of biblical principles relating to ethics and worship, which play a fundamental role in Judaism and most forms of Christianity. They include instructions to worship only God and to keep the Sabbath, and prohibitions against idolatry,...

    —"Thou shalt have no other gods before me"{{bibleref2c-nb|Deut|5:7}}.
  • and "Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel and his redeemer the LORD of hosts: I am the first and I am the last; and beside me there is no God."{{bibleref2c|Isa|44:6}}
  • In the New Testament: "The Lord our God is one."{{Bibleref2c|Mk|12:29}}


In the Trinitarian view, the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost share the one essence, substance or being. The central and crucial affirmation of Christian faith is that there is one savior, God, and one salvation, manifest in Jesus Christ, to which there is access only because of the Holy Spirit. The God of the Old Testament is still the same as the God of the New. In Christianity, statements about a solitary God are intended to distinguish the Hebraic understanding from the polytheistic
Polytheism
Polytheism is the belief of multiple deities also usually assembled into a pantheon of gods and goddesses, along with their own mythologies and rituals....

 view, which see divine power as shared by several beings, beings which can and do disagree and have conflicts with each other.

God in three persons


According to the Trinity doctrine, God exists as three persons, or hypostases, but is one being, that is, has but a single divine nature. Chalcedonian
Chalcedonian
Chalcedonian describes churches and theologians which accept the definition given at the Council of Chalcedon of how the divine and human relate in the person of Jesus Christ...

s—Roman Catholics, Orthodox Christians
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

, and Protestants—hold that, in addition, the second person of the Trinity—God the Son, Jesus—assumed human nature, so that he has two natures (and hence two wills), and is really and fully both true God and true human. In the Oriental Orthodox theology, the Chalcedonian formulation is rejected in favor of the position that the union of the two natures, though unconfused, births a third nature: redeemed humanity, the new creation.

The members of the Trinity are said to be co-equal and co-eternal, one in essence, nature, power, action, and will. As stated in the Athanasian Creed
Athanasian Creed
The Athanasian Creed is a Christian statement of belief, focusing on Trinitarian doctrine and Christology. The Latin name of the creed, Quicumque vult, is taken from the opening words, "Whosoever wishes." The Athanasian Creed has been used by Christian churches since the sixth century...

, the Father is uncreated, the Son is uncreated, and the Holy Spirit is uncreated, and all three are eternal with no beginning. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that, in the sense of the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 verb procedere (which does not have to indicate ultimate origin and is therefore compatible with proceeding through), but not in that of the Greek verb ἐκπορεύεσθαι (which implies ultimate origin), the Spirit "proceeds" from the Father and the Son (see Filioque), and the Eastern Orthodox Church, which teaches that the Spirit "proceeds" from the Father alone, has made no statement on the claim of a difference in meaning between the two words, one Greek and one Latin, both of which are translated as "proceeds". There is no dispute on the statement in the Nicene Creed that the Holy Spirit is worshipped together with the Father and the Son.

It has been stated that because three persons exist in God as one unity, "The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit" are not three different names for different parts of God but one name for God, because the Father can not be divided from the Son or the Holy Spirit from the Son. God has always loved, and there has always existed perfectly harmonious communion between the three persons of the Trinity. One consequence of this teaching is that God could not have created man to have someone to talk to or to love: God "already" enjoyed personal communion; being perfect, he did not create man because of a lack or inadequacy he had. Another consequence, according to Rev. Fr. Thomas Hopko, an Eastern Orthodox theologian, is that if God were not a Trinity, he could not have loved prior to creating other beings on whom to bestow his love. Thus God says, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."{{bibleref2c|Gen|1:26-27}} For Trinitarians, emphasis in Genesis 1:26 is on the plurality in the Deity, and in 1:27 on the unity of the divine Essence. A possible interpretation of Genesis 1:26 is that God's relationships in the Trinity are mirrored in man by the ideal relationship between husband and wife, two persons becoming one flesh, as described in Eve
Eve (Bible)
Eve was, according to the creation of Abrahamic religions, the first woman created by God...

's creation later in the next chapter.{{bibleref2c-nb|Genesis|2:22}}

Mutually indwelling


A useful explanation of the relationship of the distinct divine persons is called "perichoresis
Perichoresis
Perichoresis is a term in Christian theology first found within the Church Fathers but now reinvigorated among contemporary figures such as C. Baxter Kruger, Jurgen Moltmann, Miroslav Volf and John Zizioulas, amongst others. The term first appears in Gregory of Nazianzus but was explored more...

", from Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 going around, envelopment. This concept refers for its basis to {{bibleref2|John|14–17}}, where Jesus is instructing the disciples concerning the meaning of his departure. His going to the Father, he says, is for their sake; so that he might come to them when the "other comforter" is given to them. Then, he says, his disciples will dwell in him, as he dwells in the Father, and the Father dwells in him, and the Father will dwell in them. This is so, according to the theory of perichoresis, because the persons of the Trinity "reciprocally contain one another, so that one permanently envelopes and is permanently enveloped by, the other whom he yet envelopes". (Hilary of Poitiers
Hilary of Poitiers
Hilary of Poitiers was Bishop of Poitiers and is a Doctor of the Church. He was sometimes referred to as the "Hammer of the Arians" and the "Athanasius of the West." His name comes from the Latin word for happy or cheerful. His optional memorial in the Roman Catholic calendar of saints is 13...

, Concerning the Trinity 3:1).

This co-indwelling may also be helpful in illustrating the Trinitarian conception of salvation. The first doctrinal benefit is that it effectively excludes the idea that God has parts. Trinitarians assert that God is a simple, not an aggregate, being
Divine simplicity
In theology, the doctrine of divine simplicity says that God is without parts. The general idea of divine simplicity can be stated in this way: the being of God is identical to the "attributes" of God. In other words, such characteristics as omnipresence, goodness, truth, eternity, etc...

. The second doctrinal benefit is that it harmonizes well with the doctrine that the Christian's union with the Son in his humanity brings him into union with one who contains in himself, in St. Paul's words, "all the fullness of deity" and not a part. (See also: Theosis
Theosis
In Christian theology, divinization, deification, making divine or theosis is the transforming effect of divine grace. This concept of salvation is historical and fundamental for Christian understanding that is prominent in the Eastern Orthodox Church and also in the Catholic Church, and is a...

). Perichoresis provides an intuitive figure of what this might mean. The Son, the eternal Word, is from all eternity the dwelling place of God; he is the "Father's house", just as the Son dwells in the Father and the Spirit; so that, when the Spirit is "given", then it happens as Jesus said, "I will not leave you as orphans; for I will come to you."{{bibleref2c|John|14:18}}

Some forms of human union are considered to be not identical but analogous to the Trinitarian concept, as found for example in Jesus' words about marriage: "For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh."{{bibleref2c|Mark|10:7–8}} According to the words of Jesus, married persons are in some sense no longer two, but joined into one. Therefore, Orthodox theologians also see the marriage relationship as an image, or "icon
Icon
An icon is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, from Eastern Christianity and in certain Eastern Catholic churches...

" of the Trinity, relationships of communion in which, in the words of St. Paul, participants are "members one of another". As with marriage, the unity of the church with Christ is similarly considered in some sense analogous to the unity of the Trinity, following the prayer of Jesus to the Father, for the church, that "they may be one, even as we are one".{{bibleref2c|John|17:22}}

Eternal generation and procession


Trinitarianism affirms that the Son is "begotten" (or "generated") of the Father and that the Spirit "proceeds" from the Father, but the Father is "neither begotten nor proceeds". The argument over whether the Spirit proceeds from the Father alone, or from the Father and the Son, was one of the catalysts of the Great Schism
East-West Schism
The East–West Schism of 1054, sometimes known as the Great Schism, formally divided the State church of the Roman Empire into Eastern and Western branches, which later became known as the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, respectively...

, in this case concerning the Western addition of the Filioque clause
Filioque clause
Filioque , Latin for "and the Son", is a phrase found in the form of Nicene Creed in use in the Latin Church. It is not present in the Greek text of the Nicene Creed as originally formulated at the First Council of Constantinople, which says only that the Holy Spirit proceeds "from the Father":The...

 to the Nicene Creed
Nicene Creed
The Nicene Creed is the creed or profession of faith that is most widely used in Christian liturgy. It is called Nicene because, in its original form, it was adopted in the city of Nicaea by the first ecumenical council, which met there in the year 325.The Nicene Creed has been normative to the...

.

This language is often considered difficult because, if used regarding humans or other created things, it would imply time and change; when used here, no beginning, change in being, or process within time is intended and is excluded. The Son is generated ("born" or "begotten"), and the Spirit proceeds, eternally. Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo , also known as Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Austin, St. Augoustinos, Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed, was Bishop of Hippo Regius . He was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province...

 explains, "Thy years are one day, and Thy day is not daily, but today; because Thy today yields not to tomorrow, for neither does it follow yesterday. Thy today is eternity; therefore Thou begat the Co-eternal, to whom Thou saidst, 'This day have I begotten Thee."{{bibleref2c|Ps|2:7}}

Son begotten, not created


Because the Son is begotten, not made, the substance of his person is that of the deity. The creation is brought into being through the Son, but the Son himself is not part of it except through his incarnation.

The church fathers used several analogies
Analogy
Analogy is a cognitive process of transferring information or meaning from a particular subject to another particular subject , and a linguistic expression corresponding to such a process...

 to express this thought. St. Irenaeus of Lyons was the final major theologian of the 2nd century. He writes "the Father is God, and the Son is God, for whatever is begotten of God is God." (Compare Spinoza's philosophy of God)

Extending the analogy, it might be said, similarly, that whatever is generated (procreated) of humans is human. Thus, given that humanity is, in the words of the Bible, "created in the image and likeness of God", an analogy can be drawn between the Divine Essence and human nature, between the Divine Persons and human persons. However, given the fall, this analogy is far from perfect, even though, like the Divine Persons, human persons are characterized by being "loci of relationship". For Trinitarian Christians, this analogy is important with regard to the Church, which St. Paul calls "the body of Christ" and whose members are, because they are "members of Christ", also "members one of another".

However, an attempt to explain the mystery to some extent must break down, and has limited usefulness, being designed, not so much to fully explain the Trinity, but to point to the experience of communion with the Triune God within the Church as the Body of Christ. The difference between those who believe in the Trinity and those who do not, is not an issue of understanding the mystery. The difference is primarily one of belief concerning the personal identity of Christ. It is a difference in conception of the salvation connected with Christ that drives all reactions, either favorable or unfavorable, to the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. As it is, the doctrine of the Trinity is directly tied up with Christology
Christology
Christology is the field of study within Christian theology which is primarily concerned with the nature and person of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament. Primary considerations include the relationship of Jesus' nature and person with the nature...

.

Economic and ontological Trinity


  • Economic Trinity: This refers to the acts of the triune God with respect to the creation, history, salvation, the formation of the Church, the daily lives of believers, etc. and describes how the Trinity operates within history in terms of the roles or functions performed by each Person of the Trinity—God's relationship with creation.
  • Ontological (or essential or immanent) Trinity: This speaks of the interior life of the Trinity{{bibleref2c|John|1:1–2}}—the reciprocal relationships of Father, Son and Spirit to each other without reference to God's relationship with creation.


Or more simply—the ontological Trinity (who God is) and the economic Trinity (what God does). Most Christians believe the economic reflects and reveals the ontological. Catholic theologian Karl Rahner
Karl Rahner
Karl Rahner, SJ was a German Jesuit and theologian who, alongside Bernard Lonergan and Hans Urs von Balthasar, is considered one of the most influential Roman Catholic theologians of the 20th century...

 went so far as to say "The 'economic' Trinity is the 'immanent' Trinity, and vice versa."

The ancient Nicene theologians argued that everything the Trinity does is done by Father, Son, and Spirit working together with one will. The three persons of the Trinity always work inseparably, for their work is always the work of the one God. Because of this unity of will, the Trinity cannot involve the eternal subordination of the Son to the Father. Eternal subordination can only exist if the Son's will is at least conceivably different from the Father's. But Nicene orthodoxy says it is not. The Son's will cannot be different from the Father's because it is the Father's. They have but one will as they have but one being. Otherwise they would not be one God. If there were relations of command and obedience between the Father and the Son, there would be no Trinity at all but rather three gods. On this point St. Basil observes "When then He says, 'I have not spoken of myself,' and again, 'As the Father said unto me, so I speak,' and 'The word which ye hear is not mine, but [the Father's] which sent me,' and in another place, 'As the Father gave me commandment, even so I do,' it is not because He lacks deliberate purpose or power of initiation, nor yet because He has to wait for the preconcerted key-note, that he employs language of this kind. His object is to make it plain that His own will is connected in indissoluble union with the Father. Do not then let us understand by what is called a 'commandment' a peremptory mandate delivered by organs of speech, and giving orders to the Son, as to a subordinate, concerning what He ought to do. Let us rather, in a sense befitting the Godhead, perceive a transmission of will, like the reflexion of an object in a mirror, passing without note of time from Father to Son.."

In explaining why the Bible speaks of the Son as being subordinate to the Father, the great theologian Athanasius argued that scripture gives a "double account" of the son of God—one of his temporal and voluntary subordination in the incarnation, and the other of his eternal divine status. For Athanasius, the Son is eternally one in being with the Father, temporally and voluntarily subordinate in his incarnate ministry. Such human traits, he argued, were not to be read back into the eternal Trinity.

Like Athanasius, the Cappadocian Fathers also insisted there was no economic inequality present within the Trinity. As Basil wrote: "We perceive the operation of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to be one and the same, in no respect showing differences or variation; from this identity of operation we necessarily infer the unity of nature."

Augustine also rejected an economic hierarchy within the Trinity. He claimed that the three persons of the Trinity "share the inseparable equality one substance present in divine unity". Because the three persons are one in their inner life, this means that for Augustine their works in the world are one. For this reason, it is an impossibility for Augustine to speak of the Father commanding and the Son obeying as if there could be a conflict of wills within the eternal Trinity.

John Calvin
John Calvin
John Calvin was an influential French theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation. He was a principal figure in the development of the system of Christian theology later called Calvinism. Originally trained as a humanist lawyer, he broke from the Roman Catholic Church around 1530...

 also spoke at length about the doctrine of the Trinity. Like Athanasius and Augustine before him, he concluded that {{Bibleref2|Philippians|2:4-11}} prescribed how scripture was to be read correctly. For him the Son's obedience is limited to the incarnation and is indicative of his true humanity assumed for human salvation.

Much of this work is summed up in the Athanasian Creed. This creed stresses the unity of the Trinity and the equality of the persons. It ascribes equal divinity, majesty, and authority to all three persons. All three are said to be "almighty" and "Lord" (no subordination in authority; "none is before or after another" (no hierarchical ordering); and "none is greater, or less than another" (no subordination in being or nature). Thus, since the divine persons of the Trinity act with one will, there is no possibility of hierarchy-inequality in the Trinity.

Since the 1980s, some evangelical theologians have come to the conclusion that the members of the Trinity may be economically unequal while remaining ontologically equal. This theory was put forward by George W. Knight III in his 1977 book The New Testament Teaching on the Role Relationship of Men and Women, states that the Son of God is eternally subordinated in authority to God the Father. This conclusion was used to support the main thesis of his book: that women are permanently subordinated in authority to their husbands in the home and to male leaders in the church, despite being ontologically equal. Subscribers to this theory insist that the Father has the role of giving commands and the Son has the role of obeying them.

Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Protestant distinctions


The Western (Roman Catholic
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

) tradition is more prone to make positive statements concerning the relationship of persons in the Trinity. Explanations of the Trinity are not the same thing as the doctrine; nevertheless, the Augustinian West is inclined to think in philosophical terms concerning the rationality of God's being, and is prone on this basis to be more open than the East
Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity comprises the Christian traditions and churches that developed in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East, Northeastern Africa, India and parts of the Far East over several centuries of religious antiquity. The term is generally used in Western Christianity to...

 to seek philosophical formulations which make the doctrine more intelligible, while recognizing that these formulations are only analogies
Analogy
Analogy is a cognitive process of transferring information or meaning from a particular subject to another particular subject , and a linguistic expression corresponding to such a process...

.

Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity comprises the Christian traditions and churches that developed in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East, Northeastern Africa, India and parts of the Far East over several centuries of religious antiquity. The term is generally used in Western Christianity to...

, for its part, correlates ecclesiology
Ecclesiology
Today, ecclesiology usually refers to the theological study of the Christian church. However when the word was coined in the late 1830s, it was defined as the science of the building and decoration of churches and it is still, though rarely, used in this sense.In its theological sense, ecclesiology...

 and Trinitarian doctrine, and seeks to understand the doctrine of the Trinity via the experience of the Church, which it understands to be "an icon
Icon
An icon is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, from Eastern Christianity and in certain Eastern Catholic churches...

 of the Trinity". Therefore, when St. Paul writes concerning Christians that all are "members one of another", Eastern Christians in turn understand this as also applying to the Divine Persons.

The principal disagreement between Western and Eastern Christianity on the Trinity has been the relationship of the Holy Spirit with the other two hypostases. The original credal formulation
Nicene Creed
The Nicene Creed is the creed or profession of faith that is most widely used in Christian liturgy. It is called Nicene because, in its original form, it was adopted in the city of Nicaea by the first ecumenical council, which met there in the year 325.The Nicene Creed has been normative to the...

 of the Council of Constantinople was that the Holy Spirit proceeds "from the Father". While this phrase is still used unaltered both in the Eastern Churches, including the Eastern Catholic Churches, and, when the Nicene Creed is recited in Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

, in the Latin Church, it became customary in the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

-speaking Church, beginning with the provincial Third Council of Toledo
Third Council of Toledo
The Third Council of Toledo marks the entry of Catholic Christianity into the rule of Visigothic Spain, and the introduction into Western Christianity of the filioque clause...

 in 589, to add "and the Son" (Latin Filioque). Although this insertion into the Creed was explicitly vetoed by Pope Leo III
Pope Leo III
Pope Saint Leo III was Pope from 795 to his death in 816. Protected by Charlemagne from his enemies in Rome, he subsequently strengthened Charlemagne's position by crowning him as Roman Emperor....

, it was finally used in a Papal Mass
Papal Mass
A Papal Mass is the Solemn Pontifical High Mass when offered by the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church.There are numerous special ceremonials which are particular to the pope...

 by Pope Benedict VIII
Pope Benedict VIII
Pope Benedict VIII , born Theophylactus, Pope from 1012 to 1024, of the noble family of the counts of Tusculum , descended from Theophylact, Count of Tusculum like his predecessor Pope Benedict VI .Benedict VIII was opposed by an antipope, Gregory...

 in 1014, thus completing its spread throughout Western Christianity
Western Christianity
Western Christianity is a term used to include the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church and groups historically derivative thereof, including the churches of the Anglican and Protestant traditions, which share common attributes that can be traced back to their medieval heritage...

. The Eastern Orthodox Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

es object to it on ecclesiological and theological grounds, holding that "from the Father" means "from the Father alone", while in the West belief that the Holy Spirit "proceeds", in the Latin (and English) meaning of this word, "from the Father and the Son" had already been dogmatically declared to be orthodox faith in 447 by Pope Leo I
Pope Leo I
Pope Leo I was pope from September 29, 440 to his death.He was an Italian aristocrat, and is the first pope of the Catholic Church to have been called "the Great". He is perhaps best known for having met Attila the Hun in 452, persuading him to turn back from his invasion of Italy...

, the Pope whose Tome was approved at the Council of Chalcedon
Council of Chalcedon
The Council of Chalcedon was a church council held from 8 October to 1 November, 451 AD, at Chalcedon , on the Asian side of the Bosporus. The council marked a significant turning point in the Christological debates that led to the separation of the church of the Eastern Roman Empire in the 5th...

, and Pope Leo III, who opposed insertion of the phrase into the Nicene Creed, "affirmed the orthodoxy of the term Filioque, and approved its use in catechesis and personal professions of faith".

The 1978 Anglican
Anglicanism
Anglicanism is a tradition within Christianity comprising churches with historical connections to the Church of England or similar beliefs, worship and church structures. The word Anglican originates in ecclesia anglicana, a medieval Latin phrase dating to at least 1246 that means the English...

 Lambeth Conference
Lambeth Conferences
The Lambeth Conferences are decennial assemblies of bishops of the Anglican Communion convened by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The first such conference took place in 1867....

 requested:
that all member Churches of the Anglican Communion should consider omitting the Filioque from the Nicene Creed, and that the Anglican-Orthodox Joint Doctrinal Commission through the Anglican Consultative Council should assist them in presenting the theological issues to their appropriate synodical bodies and should be responsible for any necessary consultation with other Churches of the Western tradition.
None of the member Churches has implemented this request; but the Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

, while keeping the phrase in the Creed recited in its own services, presents in its Common Worship
Common Worship
Common Worship is the name given to the series of services authorised by the General Synod of the Church of England and launched on the first Sunday of Advent in 2000. It represents the most recent stage of development of the Liturgical Movement within the Church and is the successor to the...

 series of service books a text of the creed without it for use "on suitable ecumenical occasions".

Most Protestant groups that use the creed also include the Filioque clause. However, the issue is usually not controversial among them because their conception is often less exact than is discussed above (exceptions being the Presbyterian Westminster Confession 2:3, the London Baptist Confession 2:3, and the Lutheran Augsburg Confession
Augsburg Confession
The Augsburg Confession, also known as the "Augustana" from its Latin name, Confessio Augustana, is the primary confession of faith of the Lutheran Church and one of the most important documents of the Lutheran reformation...

 1:1–6, which specifically address those issues). The clause is often understood by Protestants to mean that the Spirit is sent from the Father, by the Son,{{Citation needed|date=May 2008}} a conception which is not controversial in either Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy. A representative view of Protestant Trinitarian theology is more difficult to provide, given the diverse and decentralized nature of the various Protestant churches.

Questions of logical coherency


{{Emphasis|date=February 2010|reason=The last paragraph on "gender-shift" is not well documented in way to establish it as other than a fringe idea.}}
In contrast to Joachim of Fiore
Joachim of Fiore
Joachim of Fiore, also known as Joachim of Flora and in Italian Gioacchino da Fiore , was the founder of the monastic order of San Giovanni in Fiore . He was a mystic, a theologian and an esoterist...

's historicization of the Trinity, there have been recent philosophical attempts to defend the logical coherency of Trinity by men such as Peter Geach
Peter Geach
Peter Thomas Geach is a British philosopher. His areas of interest are the history of philosophy, philosophical logic, and the theory of identity.He was educated at Balliol College, Oxford...

. Regarding the formulation suggested by Geach, not all philosophers would agree with its logical coherency. Geach suggested that "a coherent statement of the doctrine is possible on the assumption that identity is "always relative to a sortal term".

The Canadian philosopher-theologian, Bernard Lonergan, has demonstrated by analogy with the operations of the human subject (the psychological analogy) the logical coherency of the Trinity. It is chiefly in his work "The Triune God: Systematics" that he draws on his abstract phenomenology to show this logical inner coherency in the Trinity doctrine. He sees himself as doing nothing more than standing in the tradition of Augustine and Aquinas on this issue and not based on the Bible.

Most Christians, and probably the wide ecumenical consensus, first and foremost uphold the belief that God is One. "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one" (Deuteronomy 6:4). But how to reconcile the Trinity with a monotheistic faith? The wider ecumenical consensus has viewed God's unity "not as a unity of separable parts, but of distinguishable persons." The Trinity is formed by three distinct persons, yet of one and the same essence. Three persons, one God. To distinguish in what way God is One, and in what way God is Three, helps remove the logical contradiction. This has been upheld as the correct interpretation of the Apostolic teachings since the writings of Athanasius
Athanasius of Alexandria
Athanasius of Alexandria [b. ca. – d. 2 May 373] is also given the titles St. Athanasius the Great, St. Athanasius I of Alexandria, St Athanasius the Confessor and St Athanasius the Apostolic. He was the 20th bishop of Alexandria. His long episcopate lasted 45 years Athanasius of Alexandria [b....

 and the Council of Nicaea
First Council of Nicaea
The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325...

 in AD 325.

Art


{{mergefrom|Holy Trinity Icon|date=November 2011}}
{{See also|God the Father in Western art}}
The Trinity is most commonly seen in Christian art with the Spirit represented by a dove, as specified in the Gospel accounts of the Baptism of Christ; he is nearly always shown with wings outspread. However depictions using three human figures appear occasionally in most periods of art.

The Father and the Son are usually differentiated by age, and later by dress, but this too is not always the case. The usual depiction of the Father as an older man with a white beard may derive from the biblical Ancient of Days
Ancient of Days
Ancient of Days is a name for God in Aramaic: Atik Yomin; in the Greek Septuagint: Palaios Hemeron; and in the Vulgate: Antiquus Dierum....

, which is often cited in defense of this sometimes controversial representation. However, in Eastern Orthodoxy the Ancient of Days is usually understood to be God the Son, not God the Father (see below)—early Byzantine
Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

 images show Christ as the Ancient of Days, but this iconography
Iconography
Iconography is the branch of art history which studies the identification, description, and the interpretation of the content of images. The word iconography literally means "image writing", and comes from the Greek "image" and "to write". A secondary meaning is the painting of icons in the...

 became rare. When the Father is depicted in art, he is sometimes shown with a halo
Halo (religious iconography)
A halo is a ring of light that surrounds a person in art. They have been used in the iconography of many religions to indicate holy or sacred figures, and have at various periods also been used in images of rulers or heroes...

 shaped like an equilateral triangle, instead of a circle. The Son is often shown at the Father's right hand.{{bibleref2c|Acts|7:56}} He may be represented by a symbol—typically the Lamb or a cross—or on a crucifix
Crucifix
A crucifix is an independent image of Jesus on the cross with a representation of Jesus' body, referred to in English as the corpus , as distinct from a cross with no body....

, so that the Father is the only human figure shown at full size. In early medieval art, the Father may be represented by a hand appearing from a cloud in a blessing gesture, for example in scenes of the Baptism of Christ. Later, in the West, the Throne of Mercy (or "Throne of Grace") became a common depiction. In this style, the Father (sometimes seated on a throne
Throne
A throne is the official chair or seat upon which a monarch is seated on state or ceremonial occasions. "Throne" in an abstract sense can also refer to the monarchy or the Crown itself, an instance of metonymy, and is also used in many expressions such as "the power behind the...

) is shown supporting either a crucifix
Crucifix
A crucifix is an independent image of Jesus on the cross with a representation of Jesus' body, referred to in English as the corpus , as distinct from a cross with no body....

 or, later, a slumped crucified Son, similar to the Pietà
Pietà
The Pietà is a subject in Christian art depicting the Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Jesus, most often found in sculpture. As such, it is a particular form of the Lamentation of Christ, a scene from the Passion of Christ found in cycles of the Life of Christ...

 (this type is distinguished in German as the Not Gottes) in his outstretched arms, whilst the Dove hovers above or in between them. This subject continued to be popular until the 18th century at least.

By the end of the 15th century, larger representations, other than the Throne of Mercy, became effectively standardised, showing an older figure in plain robes for the Father, Christ with his torso partly bare to display the wounds of his Passion, and the dove above or around them. In earlier representations both Father, especially, and Son often wear elaborate robes and crowns. Sometimes the Father alone wears a crown, or even a papal tiara
Papal Tiara
The Papal Tiara, also known incorrectly as the Triple Tiara, or in Latin as the Triregnum, in Italian as the Triregno and as the Trirègne in French, is the three-tiered jewelled papal crown, supposedly of Byzantine and Persian origin, that is a prominent symbol of the papacy...

.

Eastern Orthodox tradition


Direct representations of the Trinity are much rarer in Eastern Orthodox art of any period—reservations about depicting the Father remain fairly strong, as they were in the West until the high Middle Ages. The Second Council of Nicea in 787 confirmed that the depiction of Christ was allowed because he became man; the situation regarding the Father was less clear. The usual Orthodox representation
Holy Trinity Icon
The Holy Trinity is an important subject of iconographic representation in Eastern Orthodox Christianity, and has a rather different treatment from depictions in the Western Churches...

 of the Trinity was through the "Old Testament Trinity" of the three angels visiting Abraham—said in the text to be "the Lord"{{bibleref2c|Genesis|18:1-15|NRSV}}. However scholars generally agree that the direct representation of the Trinity began in Greek works from the 11th century onwards, where Christ is shown as an infant sitting on the Father's lap, with the Dove of the Holy Spirit also present. Such depictions spread to the West and became the standard type there, though with an adult Christ, as described above. This type later spread back to the Orthodox world where post-Byzantine representations similar to those in the West are not uncommon outside Russia. The subject long remained sensitive, and the Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

 at the Great Synod of Moscow in 1667 finally forbade depictions of the Father in human form. The canon is quoted in full here because it explains the Russian Orthodox theology on the subject:

Chapter 2, §44: It is most absurd and improper to depict in icon
Icon
An icon is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, from Eastern Christianity and in certain Eastern Catholic churches...

s the Lord Sabaoth (that is to say, God the Father
God the Father
God the Father is a gendered title given to God in many monotheistic religions, particularly patriarchal, Abrahamic ones. In Judaism, God is called Father because he is the creator, life-giver, law-giver, and protector...

) with a grey beard and the Only-Begotten Son in His bosom with a dove between them, because no-one has seen the Father according to His Divinity, and the Father has no flesh, nor was the Son born in the flesh from the Father before the ages. And though David
David
David was the second king of the united Kingdom of Israel according to the Hebrew Bible and, according to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, an ancestor of Jesus Christ through both Saint Joseph and Mary...

 the prophet
Prophet
In religion, a prophet, from the Greek word προφήτης profitis meaning "foreteller", is an individual who is claimed to have been contacted by the supernatural or the divine, and serves as an intermediary with humanity, delivering this newfound knowledge from the supernatural entity to other people...

 says, "From the womb before the morning star have I begotten Thee"{{bibleref2c|Psalm|109:3}}, that birth was not fleshly, but unspeakable and incomprehensible. For Christ Himself says in the holy Gospel, "No man hath seen the Father, save the Son".cf.{{bibleref2c|John|6:46}} And Isaiah
Isaiah
Isaiah ; Greek: ', Ēsaïās ; "Yahu is salvation") was a prophet in the 8th-century BC Kingdom of Judah.Jews and Christians consider the Book of Isaiah a part of their Biblical canon; he is the first listed of the neviim akharonim, the later prophets. Many of the New Testament teachings of Jesus...

 the prophet says in his fortieth chapter: "To whom have ye likened the Lord? and with what likeness have ye made a similitude of Him? Has not the artificier of wood made an image, or the goldsmiths, having melted gold, gilt it over, and made it a similitude?"{{bibleref2c|Isa|40:18-19}} In like manner the Apostle Paul says in Acts{{bibleref2c|Acts|17:29|KJV}} "Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold or silver or stone, graven by art of man's imagination." And John Damascene says: "But furthermore, who can make a similitude of the invisible, incorporeal, uncircumscribed and undepictable God? It is, then, uttermost insanity and impiety to give a form to the Godhead" (Orthodox Faith, 4:16). In like manner St. Gregory the Dialogist prohibits this. For this reason we should only form an understanding in the mind of Sabaoth, which is the Godhead, and of that birth before the ages of the Only-Begotten-Son from the Father, but we should never, in any wise depict these in icons, for this, indeed, is impossible. And the Holy Spirit is not in essence a dove, but in essence he is God, and "No man hath seen God", as John the Theologian and Evangelist
Gospel
A gospel is an account, often written, that describes the life of Jesus of Nazareth. In a more general sense the term "gospel" may refer to the good news message of the New Testament. It is primarily used in reference to the four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John...

 bears witness{{bibleref2c|John|1:18}} and this is so even though, at the Jordan at Christ's holy Baptism
Baptism of Jesus
The baptism of Jesus marks the beginning of Jesus Christ's public ministry. This event is recorded in the Canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. In John 1:29-33 rather than a direct narrative, the Baptist bears witness to the episode...

 the Holy Spirit appeared in the likeness of a dove. For this reason, it is fitting on this occasion only to depict the Holy Spirit in the likeness of a dove. But in any other place those who have intelligence will not depict the Holy Spirit in the likeness of a dove. For on Mount Tabor
Mount Tabor
-Places:*Mount Tabor, a hill in Israel near Nazareth believed by many to be the site of the Transfiguration of ChristIn the United States:*Mount Tabor, Indiana, an unincorporated community...

, He appeared as a cloud and, at another time, in other ways. Furthermore, Sabaoth is the name not only of the Father, but of the Holy Trinity. According to Dionysios the Areopagite, Lord Sabaoth, translated from the Jewish tongue, means "Lord of Hosts". This Lord of Hosts is the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And although Daniel
Daniel
Daniel is the protagonist in the Book of Daniel of the Hebrew Bible. In the narrative, when Daniel was a young man, he was taken into Babylonian captivity where he was educated in Chaldean thought. However, he never converted to Neo-Babylonian ways...

 the prophet says that he beheld the Ancient of Days
Ancient of Days
Ancient of Days is a name for God in Aramaic: Atik Yomin; in the Greek Septuagint: Palaios Hemeron; and in the Vulgate: Antiquus Dierum....

 sitting on a throne, this should not be understood to refer to the Father, but to the Son, Who at His second coming will judge every nation at the dreadful Judgment.

Oriental Orthodox traditions


The Coptic Orthodox Church never depicts God the Father in art although he may be identified by an area of brightness within art such as the heavenly glow at the top of some icons of the baptism of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Syrian, Armenian, Indian and British
British Orthodox Church
The British Orthodox Church is a small Oriental Orthodox jurisdiction, canonically part of the Coptic Patriarchate of Alexandria. Its mission is to the people of the British Isles, and though it is Orthodox in its faith and practice, it remains British in its ethos...

 Orthodox Churches
Oriental Orthodoxy
Oriental Orthodoxy is the faith of those Eastern Christian Churches that recognize only three ecumenical councils — the First Council of Nicaea, the First Council of Constantinople and the First Council of Ephesus. They rejected the dogmatic definitions of the Council of Chalcedon...

 appear to follow the same practice{{Citation needed|date=December 2008}}.

In contrast, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is the predominant Oriental Orthodox Christian church in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian Church was administratively part of the Coptic Orthodox Church until 1959, when it was granted its own Patriarch by Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of All...

 has many ancient icons depicting the Holy Trinity as three distinct Persons. These icons often depict all Three Persons sitting upon a single throne to signify unity. The Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church follows the same practice.

Scenes


Only a few of the standard scenes in Christian art normally included a representation of the Trinity. The accounts in the Gospels of the Baptism of Christ were considered to show all three persons as present with a separate role. Sometimes the other two persons are shown at the top of a crucifixion. The Coronation of the Virgin
Coronation of the Virgin
The Coronation of the Virgin or Coronation of Mary is a subject in Christian art, especially popular in Italy in the 13th to 15th centuries, but continuing in popularity until the 18th century and beyond. Christ, sometimes accompanied by God the Father and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove,...

, a popular subject in the West, often included the whole Trinity. But many subjects, such as Christ in Majesty
Christ in Majesty
Christ in Majesty, or Christ in Glory, in Latin Majestas Domini, is the Western Christian image of Christ seated on a throne as ruler of the world, always seen frontally in the centre of the composition, and often flanked by other sacred figures, whose membership changes over time and according to...

 or the Last Judgement, which might be thought to require depiction of the deity in the most amplified form, only show Christ. There is a rare subject where the persons of the Trinity make the decision to incarnate Christ, or God sending out the Son. Even more rarely, the Angel of the Annunciation is shown being given the mission.

Less common types of depiction


Especially in the 15th century, and in the less public form of illuminated manuscript
Illuminated manuscript
An illuminated manuscript is a manuscript in which the text is supplemented by the addition of decoration, such as decorated initials, borders and miniature illustrations...

s, there was experimentation with many solutions to the issues of depicting the three persons of the Trinity. The depiction of the Trinity as three identical persons is rare, because each Person of the Trinity is considered to have distinct attributes. Nonetheless, the earliest known depiction of God the Father
God the Father
God the Father is a gendered title given to God in many monotheistic religions, particularly patriarchal, Abrahamic ones. In Judaism, God is called Father because he is the creator, life-giver, law-giver, and protector...

 as a human figure, on the 4th century Dogmatic Sarcophagus
Dogmatic sarcophagus
The Dogmatic Sarcophagus, also known as the "Trinity Sarcophagus" is an early Christian sarcophagus of about 320–350, now in the Vatican Museums...

, shows the Trinity as three similar bearded men creating Eve
Eve
Eve is the first woman created by God in the Book of Genesis.Eve may also refer to:-People:*Eve , a common given name and surname*Eve , American recording artist and actress-Places:...

 from Adam
Adam
Adam is a figure in the Book of Genesis. According to the creation myth of Abrahamic religions, he is the first human. In the Genesis creation narratives, he was created by Yahweh-Elohim , and the first woman, Eve was formed from his rib...

, probably with the intention of affirming the consubstantiality
Consubstantiality
Consubstantial is an adjective used in Latin Christian christology, coined by Tertullian in Against Hermogenes 44, used to translate the Greek term homoousios...

 recently made dogma
Dogma
Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or a particular group or organization. It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioners or believers...

 in the Nicene Creed
Nicene Creed
The Nicene Creed is the creed or profession of faith that is most widely used in Christian liturgy. It is called Nicene because, in its original form, it was adopted in the city of Nicaea by the first ecumenical council, which met there in the year 325.The Nicene Creed has been normative to the...

. There are many similar sarcophagi, and occasional images at intervals until a revival of the iconography in the 15th century. Even rarer is the depiction of the Trinity as a single anthropoid figure with three faces (Latin "Vultus Trifrons"), because the Trinity is defined as three persons in one Godhead, not one Person with three attributes (this would imply Modalism, which is defined as heresy
Heresy
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

 in traditional Christian orthodoxy). Such "Cerberus" depictions of the Trinity as three faces on one head were mainly made among Catholics during the 15th to 17th centuries, but were condemned after the Catholic Council of Trent
Council of Trent
The Council of Trent was the 16th-century Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church. It is considered to be one of the Church's most important councils. It convened in Trent between December 13, 1545, and December 4, 1563 in twenty-five sessions for three periods...

, and again by Pope Urban VIII in 1628, and many existing images were destroyed.

The Trinity may also be represented abstractly by symbol
Symbol
A symbol is something which represents an idea, a physical entity or a process but is distinct from it. The purpose of a symbol is to communicate meaning. For example, a red octagon may be a symbol for "STOP". On a map, a picture of a tent might represent a campsite. Numerals are symbols for...

s, such as the triangle
Triangle
A triangle is one of the basic shapes of geometry: a polygon with three corners or vertices and three sides or edges which are line segments. A triangle with vertices A, B, and C is denoted ....

 (or three triangles joined together), trefoil
Trefoil
Trefoil is a graphic form composed of the outline of three overlapping rings used in architecture and Christian symbolism...

 or the triquetra
Triquetra
Triquetra originally meant "triangle" and was used to refer to various three-cornered shapes. Nowadays, it has come to refer exclusively to a particular more complicated shape formed of three vesicae piscis, sometimes with an added circle in or around it...

—or a combination of these. Sometimes a halo is incorporated into these symbols. The use of such symbols are often found not only in painting but also in needlework
Needlework
Needlework is a broad term for the handicrafts of decorative sewing and textile arts. Anything that uses a needle for construction can be called needlework...

 on tapestries
Tapestry
Tapestry is a form of textile art, traditionally woven on a vertical loom, however it can also be woven on a floor loom as well. It is composed of two sets of interlaced threads, those running parallel to the length and those parallel to the width ; the warp threads are set up under tension on a...

, vestment
Vestment
Vestments are liturgical garments and articles associated primarily with the Christian religion, especially among Latin Rite and other Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans, and Lutherans...

s and antependia
Antependia
An antependium , more commonly known as a hanging, or, when speaking specifically of the hanging for the altar, an altar frontal , is a decorative piece of material that can adorn a Christian altar, lectern, pulpit, or table...

, in metalwork and in architectural
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

 details.

Different depictions


Four 15th century depictions of the Coronation of the Virgin
Coronation of the Virgin
The Coronation of the Virgin or Coronation of Mary is a subject in Christian art, especially popular in Italy in the 13th to 15th centuries, but continuing in popularity until the 18th century and beyond. Christ, sometimes accompanied by God the Father and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove,...

 show the main ways of depicting the persons of the Trinity.

Mysticism


The Catholic nun Anne Catherine Emmerich
Anne Catherine Emmerich
Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich was a Roman Catholic Augustinian nun, stigmatic, mystic, visionary and ecstatic....

 said that as a child she had had visions, in which she had seen the core of the Holy Trinity in the form of three concentric interpenetrating spheres - the biggest but less lit sphere represented the Father core, the medium sphere the Son core, and the smallest and brightest sphere as the Holy Spirit.

Non-orthodoxy


{{see also|Godhead (Latter Day Saints)}}
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints affirms that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost) are three individual members of a heavenly council, completely united in purpose—each member of the Godhead being a distinct being of physical form (God the Father, Jesus Christ) or spiritual form (the Holy Ghost). Both leaders and scriptural texts often refer to the council as the Godhead (a term used by the Apostle Paul in Acts 17:29, Romans 1:20, and Colossians 2:9), distinguishing between this conception and the traditional Trinity. However, Daniel C. Peterson of Brigham Young University states that "uniquely Mormon scriptural texts assert the unity of Father, Son and Holy Ghost at least as strongly as the Bible does (John 17:11, 20-21). An April 1830 revelation to Joseph Smith, for instance, affirms that they 'are one God, infinite and eternal, without end' (Doctrine and Covenants 20:28)."

Non-orthodox views of the Christian trinitarian God have also been suggested by process theologians
Process theology
Process theology is a school of thought influenced by the metaphysical process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead and further developed by Charles Hartshorne . While there are process theologies that are similar, but unrelated to the work of Whitehead the term is generally applied to the...

 like Lewis S. Ford, who endorse the entitative view of God as timeless and eternal concrescence
Concrescence (process philosophy)
Concrescence is a term coined by Alfred North Whitehead to show the process of jointly forming an actual entity that was without form, but about to manifest itself into an entity Actual full based on datums or for information on the universe. The process of forming an actual entity is the case...

, but interpret the Whiteheadian
Alfred North Whitehead
Alfred North Whitehead, OM FRS was an English mathematician who became a philosopher. He wrote on algebra, logic, foundations of mathematics, philosophy of science, physics, metaphysics, and education...

 natures of God (primordial nature, consequent nature, and superjective nature) in a trinitarian way. Other process theologians like Joseph A. Bracken consider the three divines persons, each understood in the Neo-Whiteheadian societal view of God sensu Charles Hartshorne
Charles Hartshorne
Charles Hartshorne was a prominent American philosopher who concentrated primarily on the philosophy of religion and metaphysics. He developed the neoclassical idea of God and produced a modal proof of the existence of God that was a development of St. Anselm's Ontological Argument...

 and David Ray Griffin
David Ray Griffin
David Ray Griffin is a retired American professor of philosophy of religion and theology. Along with John B. Cobb, Jr., he founded the Center for Process Studies in 1973, a research center of Claremont School of Theology which seeks to promote the common good by means of the relational approach...

, as constituting a primordial field of divine activity.

Nontrinitarianism


{{Main|Nontrinitarianism}}

Some Christian traditions either reject the doctrine of the Trinity or consider it unimportant. Persons and groups espousing this position generally do not refer to themselves as "Nontrinitarians". They can vary in both their reasons for rejecting traditional teaching on the Trinity, and in the way they describe God.

History


Since Trinitarianism is central to so much of Catholic and Orthodox church doctrine, Christian nontrinitarians were mostly groups that existed before the Nicene Creed was codified in 325 or are groups that developed after the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

, when many church doctrines came into question.

In the early centuries of Christian history Adoptionists, Arians
Arianism
Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius , a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt, concerning the relationship of the entities of the Trinity and the precise nature of the Son of God as being a subordinate entity to God the Father...

, Ebionites
Ebionites
Ebionites, or Ebionaioi, , is a patristic term referring to a Jewish Christian sect or sects that existed during the first centuries of the Christian Era. They regarded Jesus as the Messiah and insisted on the necessity of following Jewish religious law and rites...

, some Gnostics, Marcionites, and others held nontrinitarian beliefs. The Council of Nicaea professed the divinity of Jesus, and the Council of Chalcedon made a declaration on the issue of the relationship between Jesus' divine and human natures, against Monophysitism
Monophysitism
Monophysitism , or Monophysiticism, is the Christological position that Jesus Christ has only one nature, his humanity being absorbed by his Deity...

 ("one nature only"), a belief that did not deny his divinity. Miaphysitism
Miaphysitism
Miaphysitism is a Christological formula of the Oriental Orthodox Churches and of the various churches adhering to the first three Ecumenical Councils...

 ("one nature") and monothelitism
Monothelitism
Monothelitism is a particular teaching about how the divine and human relate in the person of Jesus, known as a Christological doctrine, that formally emerged in Armenia and Syria in 629. Specifically, monothelitism teaches that Jesus Christ had two natures but only one will...

 ("one will") were other attempts to explain this relationship, while upholding Trinitarianism.

During more than a thousand years of Trinitarian orthodoxy, formal nontrinitarianism, i.e., a doctrine held by a church, group, or movement, was rare, existing, for example, as a belief among the Cathars, a Christian dualist heresy in W. Europe in the 13th–14th centuries. The Cathars were a serious threat to the authority of the Catholic Church especially in southern France Albigenses and northern Italy, until they were suppressed. They were forced into secrecy by a war between the nobles of the north and south of France, the northern nobles were supported by a crusade authorized by the Catholic Church.

The Protestant Reformation of the 16th century also brought tradition into question. At first, nontrinitarians were executed (such as Servetus), or forced to keep their beliefs secret (such as Isaac Newton
Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton PRS was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian, who has been "considered by many to be the greatest and most influential scientist who ever lived."...

). The eventual establishment of religious freedom, however, allowed nontrinitarians to more easily preach their beliefs, and the 19th century saw the establishment of several nontrinitarian groups in North America and elsewhere. These include Christadelphians
Christadelphians
Christadelphians is a Christian group that developed in the United Kingdom and North America in the 19th century...

, Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses is a millenarian restorationist Christian denomination with nontrinitarian beliefs distinct from mainstream Christianity. The religion reports worldwide membership of over 7 million adherents involved in evangelism, convention attendance of over 12 million, and annual...

, and Unitarians
Unitarianism
Unitarianism is a Christian theological movement, named for its understanding of God as one person, in direct contrast to Trinitarianism which defines God as three persons coexisting consubstantially as one in being....

. Some Messianic groups are also nontrinitarian. Servetus heavily influenced the theology of Emanuel Swedenborg
Emanuel Swedenborg
was a Swedish scientist, philosopher, and theologian. He has been termed a Christian mystic by some sources, including the Encyclopædia Britannica online version, and the Encyclopedia of Religion , which starts its article with the description that he was a "Swedish scientist and mystic." Others...

; the church founded on his writings is a small but influential nontrinitarian movement. Some groups espousing Binitarianism
Binitarianism
Binitarianism is a Christian theology of two personae, two individuals, or two aspects in one Godhead . Classically, binitarianism is understood as strict monotheism — that is, that God is an absolutely single being; and yet with binitarianism there is a "twoness" in God...

 such as the Living Church of God
Living Church of God
The Living Church of God is one of the church groups formed by followers of the teachings of the late Herbert W. Armstrong. It was formed as a series of major doctrinal changes were introduced in the Worldwide Church of God after Armstrong's death in 1986...

 claim that Binitarianism
Binitarianism
Binitarianism is a Christian theology of two personae, two individuals, or two aspects in one Godhead . Classically, binitarianism is understood as strict monotheism — that is, that God is an absolutely single being; and yet with binitarianism there is a "twoness" in God...

 was the majority view of those that professed Christ in the 2nd century.

20th century nontrinitarian movements include Iglesia ni Cristo
Iglesia ni Cristo
Iglesia ni Cristo also known as INC, is the largest entirely indigenous Christian religious organization that originated from the Philippines and the largest independent church in Asia. Due to a number of similarities, some Protestant writers describe the INC's doctrines as restorationist in...

, Most Holy Church of God in Christ Jesus
Most Holy Church of God in Christ Jesus
The Most Holy Church of God in Christ Jesus , is a Christian denomination founded in the Philippines by Bishop Teofilo D. Ora in May 1922....

, and the Unification Church
Unification Church
The Unification Church is a new religious movement founded by Korean religious leader Sun Myung Moon. In 1954, the Unification Church was formally and legally established in Seoul, South Korea, as The Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity . In 1994, Moon gave the church...

. Nontrinitarian groups differ from one another in their views of Jesus Christ, depicting him variously as a divine being second only to God the Father (e.g., Jehovah's Witnesses), as Yahweh of the Old Testament in human form (Modalism), as God (but not eternally God), as Son of God but inferior to the Father (versus co-equal), as a prophet, or simply as a holy man.

Modalism


{{Main|Modalism}}
{{Quotation|"Origen introduced the phrase ‘the Son's eternal generation’"-Robert Isaac Wilberforce
Robert Isaac Wilberforce
Robert Isaac Wilberforce was an English clergyman and writer, second son of abolitionist William Wilberforce, and active in the Oxford Movement.-Early life and education:...

}}
Modalism teaches that the Heavenly Father, Resurrected Son and Holy Spirit identified by the Trinity Doctrine are different modes or aspects of the One God, as perceived by the believer, rather than three coeternal persons
Godhead (Christianity)
Godhead is a Middle English variant of the word godhood, and denotes the Divine Nature or Substance of the Christian God, or the Trinity. Within some traditions such as Mormonism, the term is used as a nontrinitarian substitute for the term Trinity, denoting the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit not as...

in God Himself. In passages of scripture such as Matthew 3:16-17 where the Son, Father, and Holy Spirit are separated in the text, they view this phenomenon as confirming God's omnipresence
Omnipresence
Omnipresence or ubiquity is the property of being present everywhere. According to eastern theism, God is present everywhere. Divine omnipresence is thus one of the divine attributes, although in western theism it has attracted less philosophical attention than such attributes as omnipotence,...

, and His ability to manifest himself as he pleases
Omnipotence
Omnipotence is unlimited power. Monotheistic religions generally attribute omnipotence to only the deity of whichever faith is being addressed...

. Oneness Pentecostals, other Oneness adherents, and Modalists dispute the traditional Trinitarian doctrine, while affirming the Christian doctrine of God taking on flesh as Jesus Christ. Like Trinitarians, Oneness adherents believe that Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man. However, whereas Trinitarians believe that "God the Son", the eternal second person of the Trinity, became man, Oneness adherents hold that the one and only true God—who manifests himself in any way he chooses, including as Father, Son and Holy Spirit—became man. Oneness Pentecostals and other modalists are regarded by Catholic, Orthodox, and some other mainstream Christians as heretical for rejecting the Trinity Doctrine, which they regard as equivalent to Unitarianism
Unitarianism
Unitarianism is a Christian theological movement, named for its understanding of God as one person, in direct contrast to Trinitarianism which defines God as three persons coexisting consubstantially as one in being....

. Modalists differentiate themselves from Unitarians by affirming Christ's Deity
Deity
A deity is a recognized preternatural or supernatural immortal being, who may be thought of as holy, divine, or sacred, held in high regard, and respected by believers....

. Oneness teaches that there is only one being, revealing himself in different ways. Modalists cite passages in the New Testament that refer to God in the singular, and note the lack of the word "Trinity" in any canonical scripture. They claim that {{bibleverse||Colossians|1:15-20|ESV}} refers to Christ's relationship with the Father in a similar sense:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by (that is, by means of; or in) him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities; all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

They also cite Christ's response to Philip
Philip the Apostle
Philip the Apostle was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. Later Christian traditions describe Philip as the apostle who preached in Greece, Syria, and Phrygia....

's query on who the Father was in {{bibleverse||John|14:10|NIV}}:
Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?

A notable modern adherent of Modalism is T.D. Jakes
Baptismal formula

When criticized by Trinitarian believers who cite the Great Commission
Great Commission
The Great Commission, in Christian tradition, is the instruction of the resurrected Jesus Christ to his disciples, that they spread his teachings to all the nations of the world. It has become a tenet in Christian theology emphasizing missionary work, evangelism, and baptism...

 in {{bibleverse||Matthew|28:19|NIV}} as being the biblical affirmation of "in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" baptismal formula, Oneness adherents point to the singular sense of that phrase, and argue that if the passage was really supporting what the Trinitarians propose, it would have said the "Names" in the plural instead of "Name". Oneness Scholars then state that the passage is referring to The Name, in other words, Jesus, and they point to passages like {{bibleverse|Acts|2:38|KJV}} as being the correct baptismal formula. Oneness believers view "Father", "Son" and "Holy Spirit" as titles or forms, reflecting different manifestations of the one true God. Apostolic Christians
Primitive Apostolic Christianity (Sabbatarian)
Primitive Apostolic Christianity or Sabbatarianism is movement that attempts to reconstruct the earliest forms of Christianity. Adherents to this movement commonly refer to early Roman Christian requirements to be separated from Jewish traditions which began in Antisemitism and Antinomianism, as...

 also point out that there is no passage that appears to confirm Matthew 28:19 as being the correct baptismal formula (going against the scriptural requirement of "two witnesses" to establish a verdict), while all the other passages in the Gospels and Acts point to "in the Name of Jesus" as the correct form. They also state that Jesus was not referencing Water Baptism
Baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

, but the long term "baptism in thought, word, and deed" (2 Corinthians 10:5 and {{bibleverse|Romans|15:18|NIV}}) that all believers undergo as they mature in the Word.

Unitarianism


{{Main|Unitarianism}}

Unitarianism is a form of Christian theology
Christian theology
- Divisions of Christian theology :There are many methods of categorizing different approaches to Christian theology. For a historical analysis, see the main article on the History of Christian theology.- Sub-disciplines :...

 holding that God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 is only one person, in contrast to the doctrine
Doctrine
Doctrine is a codification of beliefs or a body of teachings or instructions, taught principles or positions, as the body of teachings in a branch of knowledge or belief system...

 of the Trinity (God as three persons in one), and that God is a separate being from Jesus Christ. It is a specific type of nontrinitarian theology, and resembles strictly monotheistic conceptions of God upheld in Judaism
God in Judaism
The conception of God in Judaism is strictly monotheistic. God is an absolute one indivisible incomparable being who is the ultimate cause of all existence. Jewish tradition teaches that the true aspect of God is incomprehensible and unknowable, and that it is only God's revealed aspect that...

 and Islam
God in Islam
In Islamic theology, God is the all-powerful and all-knowing creator, sustainer, ordainer, and judge of the universe. Islam puts a heavy emphasis on the conceptualization of God as strictly singular . God is unique and inherently One , all-merciful and omnipotent. According to the Islamic...

.

Some confusion has resulted because the term "unitarianism" (uncapitalized) has sometimes been used informally to describe any Christology
Christology
Christology is the field of study within Christian theology which is primarily concerned with the nature and person of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament. Primary considerations include the relationship of Jesus' nature and person with the nature...

 (i.e. understanding of Jesus Christ) that denies the Trinity or believes that only the Father of Jesus (and not Jesus himself) is God. Mere denial of the Trinity, however, is more commonly called nontrinitarianism
Nontrinitarianism
Nontrinitarianism includes all Christian belief systems that disagree with the doctrine of the Trinity, namely, the teaching that God is three distinct hypostases and yet co-eternal, co-equal, and indivisibly united in one essence or ousia...

. Recently some religious groups have adopted the term "biblical unitarianism
Biblical Unitarianism
Today, biblical Unitarianism identifies the Christian belief that the Bible teaches God is a singular person—the Father—and that Jesus his son is a distinct being...

" to describe their theology, but they hold to a conservative form of nontrinitarianism, which rejects many of the teachings of liberal Unitarianism.

So, too, Unitarianism does not accept the Godhood of Jesus, and therefore does not include Modalist belief systems which do—for example, Oneness Pentecostalism
Oneness Pentecostalism
Oneness Pentecostalism refers to a grouping of denominations and believers within Pentecostal Christianity, all of whom subscribe to the nontrinitarian theological doctrine of Oneness...

, United Pentecostal Church International
United Pentecostal Church International
The United Pentecostal Church International is a Pentecostal Christian denomination, headquartered in the St. Louis suburb of Hazelwood, Missouri. It is a part of the Oneness or "Apostolic" portion of the Pentecostal Movement, and was formed in 1945 by a merger of the former Pentecostal Church,...

 and the True Jesus Church
True Jesus Church
The True Jesus Church is a non-denominational Christian church that originated in Beijing, China, in 1917. The current elected chairman of the TJC International Assembly is Preacher Yong-Ji Lin. Today, there are approximately 2.5 million members in fifty three countries and six continents...

—that maintain that Jesus is God as a single person.

Binitarianism


George Johnson, a proponent of Binitarianism
Binitarianism
Binitarianism is a Christian theology of two personae, two individuals, or two aspects in one Godhead . Classically, binitarianism is understood as strict monotheism — that is, that God is an absolutely single being; and yet with binitarianism there is a "twoness" in God...

, argues that Jesus is the God of the Old Testament, distinct from the God who is called the Ancient of Days in {{bibleverse||Daniel|7:13}}, and that the Holy Spirit is not a person.

Islam


Zia H. Shah, a Muslim, interprets the Christian doctrine of the Trinity as saying that "the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three complete and separate Gods and are yet one at the same time", a thought that he describes as absurd and incompatible with monotheism.
Al-Quran says: Surely, disbelievers are those who said: "Allah is the third of the three (in a Trinity)." But there is no Allah (god) (none who has the right to be worshipped) but One Allah (God -Allah). And if they cease not from what they say, verily, a painful torment will befall on the disbelievers among them.{{cite web |url=http://www.searchtruth.com/search.php?keyword=third&chapter=&translator=5&search=1&start=0&records_display=10&search_word=all
One of the strongest rejections of the Trinity is the monumental calligraphic inscription partly from the Qur'an (4:171-172 and 19:33-37) that is inscribed upon the inside arcade of the Dome of the Rock
Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock is a shrine located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. The structure has been refurbished many times since its initial completion in 691 CE at the order of Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik...

 on al-Haram esh-Sharif
Temple Mount
The Temple Mount, known in Hebrew as , and in Arabic as the Haram Ash-Sharif , is one of the most important religious sites in the Old City of Jerusalem. It has been used as a religious site for thousands of years...

 in Jerusalem, just 500m (.3 miles) east of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Eric Cline states, "The inscribed verses of the Koran explicitly deny the Christian concept of the Trinity." The inner walls reading counter-clockwise beginning with the S panel and ending with the SW panel (verses from the Qur'an given here in italics) read:
Panel Text
S In the name of God, the Merciful the Compassionate. There is no god but God. He is One. He has no associate. Unto Him belongeth sovereignty and unto Him belongeth praise. He quickeneth and He giveth death; and He has Power over all things. Muhammad is the servant of God and His Messenger.
SE Lo! God and His angels shower blessings on the Prophet. O ye who believe! Ask blessings on him and salute him with a worthy salutation. The blessing of God be on him and peace be on him, and may God have mercy. O People of the Book! Do not exaggerate in your religion
E nor utter aught concerning God save the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a Messenger of God, and His Word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in God and His messengers, and say not 'Three' - Cease!
NE (it is) better for you! - God is only One God. Far be it removed from His transcendent majesty that He should have a son. His is all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. And God is sufficient as Defender. The Messiah will never scorn to be a
N servant unto God, nor will the favoured angels. Whoso scorneth His service and is proud, all such will He assemble unto Him. Oh God, bless Your Messenger and Your servant Jesus
NW son of Mary. Peace be on him the day he was born, and the day he dies, and the day he shall be raised alive! Such was Jesus, son of Mary, (this is) a statement of the truth concerning which they doubt. It befitteth not (the Majesty of) God that He should take unto Himself a son. Glory be to Him!
W When He decreeth a thing, He saith unto it only: Be! and it is. Lo! God is my Lord and your Lord. So serve Him. That is the right path. God (Himself) is witness that there is no God save Him. And the angels and the men of learning (too are witness). Maintaining His creation in justice, there is no God save Him,
SW the Almighty, the Wise. Lo! religion with God (is) Islam. Those who (formerly) received the Book differed only after knowledge came unto them, through transgression among themselves. Whoso disbelieveth the revelations of God (will find that) lo! God is swift at reckoning!

Judaism


Cher-El L. Hagensick says that the Trinity doctrine owes more of its Triune philosophy to pagan Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

ian and Stoic
STOIC
STOIC was a variant of Forth.It started out at the MIT and Harvard Biomedical Engineering Centre in Boston, and was written in the mid 1970s by Jonathan Sachs...

 sources, and that the word Trinity was formulated 100 years after the crucifixion
Crucifixion
Crucifixion is an ancient method of painful execution in which the condemned person is tied or nailed to a large wooden cross and left to hang until dead...

 by Tertullian
Tertullian
Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, anglicised as Tertullian , was a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa. He is the first Christian author to produce an extensive corpus of Latin Christian literature. He also was a notable early Christian apologist and...

: "The word ‘trinity’ was not coined until Tertullian, more than 100 years after Christ's death, and the key words (meaning substance) from the Nicene debate, homousis and ousis, are not biblical, but from Stoic thought. Nowhere in the Bible is the Trinity mentioned." In other words, the writer says, the early church began to slowly include pagan Greek philosophy that was not taught in the Bible. Scholars also criticize efforts to introduce plurality into God's names in the Old Testament:
"Enough has been said to show that a great majority of the most learned authors in the ‘orthodox’ body who have treated of the subject acknowledge that the argument drawn from the plural forms of Hebrew nouns applied to Deity are totally invalid, in support either of a Trinity or any plurality of Persons in the Godhead. To deduce a plurality in God from a Hebrew idiom is impossible. The argument for plurality in God seems never to have been thought of before the time of Peter Lombard, a puerile writer who lived in the twelfth century"-John Wilson

Mormonism


Mormonism
Mormonism
Mormonism is the religion practiced by Mormons, and is the predominant religious tradition of the Latter Day Saint movement. This movement was founded by Joseph Smith, Jr. beginning in the 1820s as a form of Christian primitivism. During the 1830s and 1840s, Mormonism gradually distinguished itself...

 teaches that the "Godhead" is a council of three distinct deities perfectly one in purpose, unity and mission, but nevertheless separate and distinct individuals. This belief of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost being physically distinct beings is in contrast to most denominations of Christianity which continue to uphold the doctrine of the relationship of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost in the terms recorded in creeds, such as the Nicene Creed
Nicene Creed
The Nicene Creed is the creed or profession of faith that is most widely used in Christian liturgy. It is called Nicene because, in its original form, it was adopted in the city of Nicaea by the first ecumenical council, which met there in the year 325.The Nicene Creed has been normative to the...

, which were formulated as part of the Arian Controversy
Arian controversy
The Arian controversy describes several controversies between the Christian Church fathers Arius and Athanasius related to Christology which divided the Christian church from before the Council of Nicaea in 325 to after the Council of Constantinople in 381...

.

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints draw their understanding of the Godhead (Christianity)
Godhead (Christianity)
Godhead is a Middle English variant of the word godhood, and denotes the Divine Nature or Substance of the Christian God, or the Trinity. Within some traditions such as Mormonism, the term is used as a nontrinitarian substitute for the term Trinity, denoting the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit not as...

 primarily from the First Vision
First Vision
The First Vision refers to a vision that Joseph Smith, Jr. said he received as a youth in a wooded area in Manchester, New York, which his followers call the Sacred Grove. Smith described it as a personal theophany in which he received a forgiveness of sins...

 of Joseph Smith, Jr., who claimed to have actually seen God the Father and Jesus Christ and recounted seeing "two personages," one of which referred to the other as His "Beloved Son." Mormons also cite Biblical script to support their position that God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are actually three distinct beings. See in the Authorized King James Version: John 20:17; Acts 7:55-56; John 17:5,11,20-26; Matt 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22.

Jehovah's Witnesses


Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses is a millenarian restorationist Christian denomination with nontrinitarian beliefs distinct from mainstream Christianity. The religion reports worldwide membership of over 7 million adherents involved in evangelism, convention attendance of over 12 million, and annual...

 rejects the trinity doctrine. According to their belief, Jehovah is the only true God. Jesus Christ is considered to be the son of the true God. Holy spirit, according to them is God's active force and not a person.

Christian Science


Christian Science explicitly denies the deity of Jesus and has therefore always been non-Trinitarian, for which reason the term is of little significance within its core texts, though Mary Baker Eddy did adopt it on occasion for discussion of a wider spiritual unity with God which characterized all mankind rather than Jesus alone, as in her statement that "The Trinity in Christian Science
Christian Science
Christian Science is a system of thought and practice derived from the writings of Mary Baker Eddy and the Bible. It is practiced by members of The First Church of Christ, Scientist as well as some others who are nonmembers. Its central texts are the Bible and the Christian Science textbook,...

 is found in the unity of God, Christ, and the Holy Ghost or—"God the Father-Mother; Christ the spiritual idea of sonship; divine Science or the Holy Comforter." Its elements thus united but distinct in essential identity, this Trinity indicated "the intelligent relation of God to man and the universe".

See also

  • Ahura
    Ahura
    Ahura is an Avestan language designation for a particular class of Zoroastrian divinities.-Etymology:Avestan ahura derives from Indo-Iranian *asura, also attested in an Indian context as RigVedic asura...

    , the Zoroastrian Trinity
  • Avatar
    Avatar
    In Hinduism, an avatar is a deliberate descent of a deity to earth, or a descent of the Supreme Being and is mostly translated into English as "incarnation," but more accurately as "appearance" or "manifestation"....

  • Ayyavazhi Trinity
    Ayyavazhi Trinity
    According to the Ayyavazhi religion the Ayyavazhi Trinity is the incarnation of God in the current stage of world development . Ayya Vaikundar, the Incarnation, is the combination of the Ultimate God, Narayana and Human Being. In Akilam immediately after the Incarnation of Vaikundar, he was viewed...

  • Binitarianism
    Binitarianism
    Binitarianism is a Christian theology of two personae, two individuals, or two aspects in one Godhead . Classically, binitarianism is understood as strict monotheism — that is, that God is an absolutely single being; and yet with binitarianism there is a "twoness" in God...

  • Christ
    Christ
    Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...

  • God the Father in Western art
    God the Father in Western art
    For about a thousand years, in obedience to interpretations of specific Bible passages, pictorial representations of God the Father in Western art had been avoided by Christian painters. At first only the Hand of God, often emerging from a cloud, was portrayed...

  • Godhead (Christianity)
    Godhead (Christianity)
    Godhead is a Middle English variant of the word godhood, and denotes the Divine Nature or Substance of the Christian God, or the Trinity. Within some traditions such as Mormonism, the term is used as a nontrinitarian substitute for the term Trinity, denoting the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit not as...

  • Holy Trinity Icon
    Holy Trinity Icon
    The Holy Trinity is an important subject of iconographic representation in Eastern Orthodox Christianity, and has a rather different treatment from depictions in the Western Churches...

  • Holy Trinity columns
    Marian and Holy Trinity columns
    Marian columns are religious monuments built in honour of the Virgin Mary, often in thanksgiving for the ending of a plague or for some other help. The purpose of the Holy Trinity columns was usually simply to celebrate the church and the faith. However, the plague motif could sometimes play its...

  • Nontrinitarianism
    Nontrinitarianism
    Nontrinitarianism includes all Christian belief systems that disagree with the doctrine of the Trinity, namely, the teaching that God is three distinct hypostases and yet co-eternal, co-equal, and indivisibly united in one essence or ousia...

  • Oneness Pentecostal
    Oneness Pentecostal
    Oneness Pentecostalism refers to a grouping of denominations and believers within Pentecostal Christianity, all of whom subscribe to the nontrinitarian theological doctrine of Oneness...

  • Order of the Holy Trinity
    Trinitarian Order
    The Order of the Holy Trinity is a Catholic religious order that was founded in the area of Cerfroid, some 80 km northeast of Paris, at the end of the twelfth century. The founder was St. John de Matha, whose feast day is celebrated on 17 December...

  • Shituf
    Shituf
    is a term used in Jewish sources for the worship of the God of Israel in a manner which Judaism does not deem to be monotheistic. The term connotes a theology that is not outright polytheistic, but also should not be seen as purely monotheistic...

  • Social Trinity
    Social trinity
    Social Trinity is an interpretation of the Christian doctrine of the trinity. Its central idea is that the trinity consists of three persons whose unity consists of a loving relationship...

  • Subordinationist
  • Trikaya
    Trikaya
    The Trikāya doctrine is an important Mahayana Buddhist teaching on both the nature of reality and the nature of a Buddha. By the 4th century CE the Trikāya Doctrine had assumed the form that we now know...

    , the three Buddha bodies
  • Trimurti
    Trimurti
    The Trimurti is a concept in Hinduism "in which the cosmic functions of creation, maintenance, and destruction are personified by the forms of Brahmā the creator, Vishnu the maintainer or preserver, and Śhiva the destroyer or transformer," These three deities have been called "the Hindu triad" or...

     (Hindu Trinity)
  • Trinitarian Universalism
    Trinitarian Universalism
    Trinitarian Universalism is a variant of belief in universal salvation, the belief that every person will be saved, that also held the Christian belief in Trinitarianism as opposed to liberal Unitarianism which is more usually associated with Unitarian Universalism...

  • Trinity in Islam
    Trinity in Islam
    Within Christianity, the doctrine of the Trinity states that God is a single being who exists, simultaneously and eternally, as a communion of three distinct persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Within Islam however, such a concept of plurality within God is a denial of monotheism,...

  • Triple deity
    Triple deity
    A triple deity is a deity associated with the number three. Such deities are common throughout world mythology; the number three has a long history of mythical associations. C. G...

  • Tritheism
    Tritheism
    Tritheism is the belief that there are three distinct, powerful gods, who form a triad. Generally three gods are envisaged as having separate powers and separate supreme beings or spheres of influence but working together...

  • Unitarianism
    Unitarianism
    Unitarianism is a Christian theological movement, named for its understanding of God as one person, in direct contrast to Trinitarianism which defines God as three persons coexisting consubstantially as one in being....

  • Cult of the Holy Spirit
    Cult of the Holy Spirit
    The Cult of the Holy Spirit is a religious sub-culture, inspired by Christian millenarian mystics, associated with Azorean Catholic identity, consisting of iconography, architecture, and religious practices that have continued in many communities of the archipelago as well as the broader...


  • Further reading

    • Bigham, Steven, Image of God the Father in Orthodox Theology and Iconography, Studies in Orthodox iconography, St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1995, ISBN 1879038153, 97818790381, Google books
    • Paul Fiddes
      Paul Fiddes
      Paul Stuart Fiddes is a British Baptist theologian. He is Professor of Systematic Theology in the University of Oxford and was formerly Principal of Regent's Park College and Chairman of the Theology Faculty...

      , The Trinity in worship and preaching (London: London Baptist Preachers' Association, 1991)
    • Paul Fiddes
      Paul Fiddes
      Paul Stuart Fiddes is a British Baptist theologian. He is Professor of Systematic Theology in the University of Oxford and was formerly Principal of Regent's Park College and Chairman of the Theology Faculty...

      , Participating in God : a pastoral doctrine of the Trinity (London: Darton, Longman, & Todd, 2000)
    • Roger E. Olson
      Roger E. Olson
      Roger E. Olson is Professor of Theology, George W. Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University, Waco, Texas, USA.He is also an ordained Baptist minister.He is married with two children.-Bibliography:Among Olson's many works are:...

      , The Story of Christian Theology : Twenty Centuries of Tradition & Reform (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1999)
    • William J. La Due, The Trinity guide to the Trinity (Continuum International Publishing Group, 2003 ISBN 1563383950, 9781563383953)
    • Damon W. K. So, Jesus' Revelation of His Father: A Narrative-Conceptual Study of the Trinity with Special Reference to Karl Barth. (Milton Keynes: Paternoster, 2006). ISBN 184227323X

    External links



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