The next time Dan Brown tells you that the Roman emperor Constantine invented the trinity; or the Jehovah’s Witnesses tell you we worship a “three-headed God” – and they have been showing that fuzzy black-and-white photo for decades! – send them back to the history books! Especially this:
“The Church, although scattered through the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and their disciples this faith:
In one GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY, who made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all things therein;
and in one CHRIST JESUS THE SON OF GOD, who was made flesh for our salvation;
and in the HOLY SPIRIT,
[The HOLY SPIRIT] who through the prophets preached the dispensations and the advents, and the birth from a virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and the bodily assumption into heaven
of the beloved CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD, and his appearing from heaven
in the glory of the FATHER to gather all things together in one, and to raise up all flesh of all mankind,
in order that to CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD AND GOD [from theos/θεος] AND SAVIOUR AND KINGDOM,
according to the pleasure of the FATHER invisible,
every knee should bow of things in heaven and things in earth and things under the earth, and every tongue should confess to him…”
Irenaeus, Against heresies 1.10.1, around AD 180. He insists that he is articulating the faith of the universal church. A few decades later, the African church father Tertullian coined the Latin term “trinitas” (trinity) to describe our God, the Three-In-One.
The doctrine of the Trinity is one of the fundamentals of the faith. In fact, in the Greek Orthodox Church, not a Sunday passes without a proclamation of the Trinity. So – when was the last time you heard/preached a sermon on this theme so basic?
“One God, Three Persons,” by Gary S. Shogren, Professor of New Testament, Seminario ESEPA, San José, Costa Rica
I was just reading about Constantine when I received the post notice. Here’s another article addressing the same topic: https://www.str.org/w/did-the-council-of-nicea-invent-the-deity-of-christ-.
Dave, hi! Thanks!
I don’t ever recall seeing a diagram quite like that before, but I think it is very helpful.
Just one question: In John 14:10,11 (and possibly other verses like it) where Jesus says the he “is in the Father, and the Father is in me.” Those verses clearly indicate to me one God and yet two distinct persons (HS not in view at that point). So, does the “in” refer to both being deity, or does it refer to their being inseparable, both, location, or something else? Does this aspect already fit within your diagram or is it the case that no diagram is sufficiently comprehensive for this mystery?
Don’t know when I’ve last heard a sermon on this truth. That Jesus is God? Yes! But the whole picture? No.
Apparently Jesus saw these things as very important and very practical, that he would teach on separate persons and the deity of each in the Upper Room discourse.
Hi Ron, yes, that use of “in” is the key, and it has at times been taken in both of the ways you describe. Gary
I’m listening to a Dallas Willard sermon entitled “Finding the Kingdom of God”— he describes the Trinity in the best way I’ve ever heard: “the Trinity is that wonderful, personal union of people, three, who are too many to be one; and too one to be many, that sits at the center of the universe.”