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Belief in the Holy Trinity


The underlying teaching of the Christian faith is that of Tri-Une God. God is one in substance and three in Persons. Father is God, Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. However, there is only one God and not three Gods. The notion of Person is close to that of personality, self-consciousness, individuality. In the everyday life, self-conscious personalities are separate beings. It would not have been hard to master the doctrine of Divine Unity, if it had been a teaching about three divine powers, or three operations, or three appearances; but how to explain that the three Persons comprise one Substance in God? To uphold the Christian doctrine of God in its fidelity, we must reconcile with the idea that understanding of inner life of Deity is above our limited intelligence. That is why it is necessary to complement imperfect intellect with faith to comprehend the truth of Divine Tri-Unity.

Man cannot explore the sun directly, because he would be burnt down in an attempt to approach him. However, man lives, moves and has food due to sun light. In a like way, we cannot come in so close a fellowship with God which would let us experience the mysteries of His inner life. But the light of His grace warms our hearts and enlightens our intellect. This divine light comes into us when we open up our souls for it. It also comes from the inspired Scriptures, which is from and about God.

The Persons of God have Their Personal, or Hypostatic properties, which are described as follows: Father is not begotten; Son is begotten of the Father; the Holy Ghost proceeds from God Father. Different words are given use in the Holy Scripture to denote personal properties. However, the difference between begetting and procession is inexplicable. The word "begotten" applied to the Son is usually in the past tense, while "proceeding" is normally in the present tense when applied to the Holy Ghost. These different grammatical tense forms do not signify any time relations: both begetting and procession are pre-eternal, beyond time. The Father has never been without the Son and the Spirit. He has always been in Trinity, for God is unchangeable and immutable. Each Person of the Trinity possesses the entirety and wholeness of perfection, being eternal, omnipotent, omnipresent, infinitely good and just. All Persons of the Trinity co-acted in the creation of world and man, as the Scripture has it, "become as one of Us" (Genesis 3:22). The plural form is used in the Old Testament, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness" (Genesis 1:26), and later on, "Behold, the man is become as one of Us" (Genesis 3:22), which can be comprehended only in the context of New Testamentís teaching of the Holy Trinity.

All attempts to bring the Trinitarian teaching closer to our experience of physical life inevitably led to perversion of this teaching. A few non-orthodox teachings about Triune God have sprung up throughout the history of Christianity. They can be divided into two categories: they either diminished the Divinity of the Second and Third Persons and treated these Persons as creatures, superior to humans but inferior to the Father, i.e. a sort of "half-gods" (Arius, Macedonius, Paul of Samos); or they considered the Second and Third Persons as manifestations or revelations of the First Person (modalists). Teachings that distort the true faith of the Holy Trinity are called antitrinitarian. They are quite attractive because they appear to be logical for the limited human intellect. Jehovah Witnesses, Christian Science, Moonies and some other cults can be listed as modern antitrinitarian sects.

The attempts to comprehend the teaching of the Holy Trinity in full have a hidden threat of perversion of the true faith, thus suggesting that God communicated this knowledge about Himself to us because the belief in the Trinity is necessary to master many other truths of Christianity, and it is the cornerstone and foundation for the belief in Christ the God-Man.

The trinity in the persons of God is manifested in the New Testament by the advent of the Son of God and sending down of the Holy Ghost. The Lord send the Apostles to preach and told them to disseminate the belief in the Holy Trinity: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Matthew 28:19), and "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mark 16:16). He did not say, "in the names," but "in the name," for Father, Son and the holy Ghost is the name of One God. "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one" (1 John 5:7), writes St. John the Theologian. The belief in the Trinity is also confirmed by all those passages of the Holy Scripture which speak for the unity of God the Father and God the Son, e.g. "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work" (John 5:17); "I and my Father are one" (John 10:30); "The Father is in me, and I in him" (John 10:38); "...And of whom (Jews) as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever" (Romans 9:5); "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father" (John 14.9).

In the same way, there are passages in the Scriptures where the Holy Ghost is called God, directly and indirectly. "Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost?... Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God," said Peter to Ananias (Acts 5:3-4). "And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come" (Matthew 12:32).

The doctrine about the Sonís begetting of the Father points at the mysterious inner relationship of Persons in God, Godís life within Himself. This temporal relationship is clearly distinguishable from manifestations of the Holy Trinity in the created universe, from Godís providential acts in the world. These providential acts were taking place at all times. In the historical era, the Son of God was born from a Virgin, and the Holy Ghost descended onto the Apostles as tongues of fire. In this providential aspect of human salvation, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity put Himself in a sort of subordination to God the Father. The Son, as expressed by the Apostle Paul, "made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant" (Philippians 2:7-8). In the light of salvation of man, the Lord Jesus Christ speaks about His seeming disparity with the Father: "My Father is greater than I" (John 14:28); "But of that day and that hour (end of the world) knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father" (Mark 13:32); "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me" (Matthew 26:39) and other like words. These words in their totality refer only to temporal relations between the Father and the Son of God, Who became Man and obeyed the Father in order to rectify our disobedience. Still, it is important to remember that naming Our Lord Jesus Christ as God does already speak for the completeness of His Divinity. "God" cannot be (from a logical and philosophical point of view) of a "second grade," "lower rank," limited in any way. The qualities of Divine nature are not conditional and cannot be diminished. If "God," then God in full, not in parts.

Thus, upright belief in the Holy Trinity, founded on the Scriptures, is necessary for the adoption of Christian truths in their entirety. The pure faith gives the right direction not to our thought only, but also to our will. Indeed, Christianity calls for spiritual unity of all people. In this unity, any enmity, dislike, rivalry, malevolence, touchy selfishness, ethnical pride, race discrimination, and anything causing people quarrel and war, should cease to exist. Removing petty, trifling and sinful elements from us, our faith does not suppress personal good qualities and abilities of man, though. Contrarily, it makes them even nobler, lets them reveal clearer and brighter. So, in the perfect spiritual unity of Christians, each member of this born-again community would shine with the beautiful qualities of his soul. In this aspect, Christian teaching is opposed to Buddhism, which has its utter ideal in complete psychic extinction, dissolution in nirvana. In Christianity, we are encouraged to develop and improve our abilities. The Holy Trinity provides an ideal of non-confusion of Persons and oneness of substance, as it is obvious in the High Priestís prayer of Our Savior: "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in Me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us" (John 17:21).

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