The Three-Personed God

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The Holy and Triune God. What is specific to Christian belief is the person of Jesus and the event of his life, death and resurrection. In this particularity is rooted faith in the one and triune God, the feast we celebrate today.

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Christian faith first came to deal with the triadic understanding of God in the history of salvation as a matter of sheer fact. This doctrine did not arise out of idle speculation about the Supreme Being, nor out of an attempt by logical thinking to explain to itself what the fountain of all being was like.

Since the time the Risen Christ commissioned his followers to go to the ends of the earth, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, believers have tried to make sense out of this article of faith – that the Christian name for God is “Father, Son and Spirit.”

The doctrine of the Trinity developed out of the effort to digest what was experienced in the history of Jesus. The death and resurrection of Jesus revealed to us the essential character of the divine life of the holy and triune God.

This revelation claims that the Christian religious experience could not be anything less than union with the Trinity. Salvation is entrance into trinitarian communion – the Father saves us in Jesus through the Spirit.

In the carpenter from Galilee, one meets a human being who at the same time knew and professed himself to be Son of God. On the one hand, Jesus called God Abba (Father) with others – he was someone different from this Father to whom he spoke and to whom we also speak. On the other hand, he was himself the divine Word coming to dwell among us, the Emmanuel (God-with-us), one in being with the Father.

Jesus himself is the coming of the Kingdom of God, something that could not be if he were not divine but merely human or just some intermediary being.

We therefore see in Christ a certain duality in the deity: God as “I” and “You” in one person. This experience of God is followed by another, the experience of the Spirit at Pentecost as the “We,” the presence of the triune God in our innermost being.

And so, Christians believe in a self-giving God whom love has driven to become a human being and who loves human beings irrevocably, precisely because this God is one and triune.

The roots of the mystery
This self-emptying of a God vulnerable to human pain is possible only because the Abba (Father) is truly beginning and end for us. This is possible only because there is a Divine Word who has entered history for our sake. This is possible only because there is the Spirit of love poured out among us.

All this is possible only because there is a God who is triune, in whom to be, to know and to love coincide infinitely.

John declared that Jesus is identical to the eternal Logos who created the world, who is with God and is God (Jn. 1:1-18). Christ is the love of God. He is the fullness of life, and so he is at the very center and core and what our destiny will be, in terms of being a part of God’s ongoing plan for the convergent universe.

The New Testament proclaims the coming of the Son to inaugurate the Kingdom of the Father through the power of the Spirit. The Trinity is the center of the entire theological edifice. It is the Christian way of speaking about human relatedness to divine reality and the fundamental interrelatedness of everything that is.

The religious experience of the Trinity should be accompanied by an earth-centered spirituality because the idea of God as community provides the foundation for seeing ourselves as fully embedded in the fabric of nature, for seeing our connection to the other species and to the ecosystem.

The Father through the Risen Christ and the grace of the Spirit continues to make this relationship present in human and cosmic history. In John, the coming of the Spirit is the same as the Father and the Son coming to us (Jn. 14:21-23).

Paul refers to the Spirit in the same breath as the Father and the Son (Rom. 8:9-11; 1 Cor. 12:4-6; 2 Cor. 13:13; Eph. 4:4-6). He mentions the Spirit in triadic statements linking him to the Father and the Son (Rom. 15:30; 1 Cor. 12:4-6; 2 Cor. 13:14).

The God who saves us from alienation and draws us into communion in grace is one and triune. Jesus related to the God he called Father with great intimacy. He allowed his whole life to be shaped by this intimate relationship by the Spirit of God.

And because Jesus is the incarnate Second Person of the Trinity through the power of the Spirit, every human being shares the divine nature.

The same power that brought the world into being and raised Jesus from the dead will make becoming end in being and not in nothingness.

God is a Community
St. Athanasius said that God became a human being so that every human being may become God. Divine revelation is the historical manifestation of the Trinity as the Godhead impinges upon our lives in nature and in history. Salvation is ultimately personal union with the one and triune God.

The Trinity is the Mystery that grounds the fact that there is a universe at all, a universe where life can arise. The triune God is a community of loving relationships that created the universe out of the overflow of love.

The Death and Resurrection of Jesus as a revelation of the one and triune God is a symbol of how new life, new opportunities and new possibilities came out of chaos and destruction in the history of the cosmos.

In the history of the universe, giant stars explode and give birth to other stars and planets over and over again. Every atom in our bodies was forged in the inner core of stars that exploded billions of years ago.

Without the dying of stars and galaxies, there would be no planets and no life. Thus, pain, suffering disillusionment and even death are not the end of the story. Trinitarian faith grounds the hope that compassion will finally triumph over cruelty because this evolving universe turns chaos and catastrophes into new opportunities.

We who believe have to render intelligible the deeper meaning of our lives in the light of this revelation of God as a community of persons, a revelation which redefines who and what we are, makes us transcend self-interest towards sacrifice, expands our moral concerns, and reduces our fixation on self-gratification.

Faith in the Trinity when taken seriously can be illuminating and transformative. It can lead us to a fuller life and inspire us to better serve one another and the whole planet.

“Batter my heart, three-person’d God; for you

As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;

That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend

Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.” (John Donne)

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14 Comments

  1. Ang binangit ko sa una,ay mali ba at imposible?kailan at matino ba na ang isang bansa ay may tatlong pangulo? Ang pangulo, senado at kongresso at may kanya-kanyang kapangyarihan,at halos magkakapantay,ibig bang sabihin, lahat sila ay presidente? Kung ang may ari ay naglagay ng mangangasiwa sa lahat ng negosyo niya, ibang bang sabihin pareho na silang nagmamay-ari nito?kung magpadala ka memo para sundin ang pinag-uutos mo,! Yung memo ay may-ari na rin!!misteryo at kataka -taka at kababalaghan na ito sa inyo!!

  2. Amnata Pundit on

    Will the incidence of sexual abuse in the Church go down if priests are no longer required to be celibate? What’s the connection? As one author said, “I am a spiritual being having a human experience,” so therefore I am God, but so are you and everybody else, because the Holy Spirit that creates my consciousness is the same one as yours. The problem is for some unfathomable reason the Holy Spirit has been cut off from the Christian human being, and this human – lets call him Pedro- now believes he has an individual spirit, Pedro’s soul, that is a small god in its own right because, like God or the Holy Spirit, Pedro’s soul lives for eternity (in heaven or in hell). It doesn’t really matter if Pedro’s soul really exists or not, or if there is really a heaven and a hell in the afterlife. What matters is that the Church believes in ONE HOLY SPIRIT. What exactly does the Church’s teachings propose that will enable one to reconnect, unite or be filled with the Holy Spirit? Obviously mere belief in Jesus as God is not enough as shown by the behavior of Catholics in our government and society. In short, a true spiritual practice that is rooted in true not false teachings should result in a drop in the rate of sin in the Church’s flock, shouldn’t it? That is the connection.

    • Justaskingseriously on

      What is the statistics for sin? What is the going rate for the occurrence of sin? And what is the underlying cause for whatever rate there is for sinning? And how would one arrive at the statistics for such a thing as sin? And what is sin? Is sin synonymous with sexual abuse? And how does one go about establishing the lowering of the rate of sinning if it can even be determined in any way?

      Try searching by typing “the just man sins”. Yeah, the just man sins. How much more the unjust persons?

  3. Phylliss Quinn on

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, Abba Pater, Jesus my Lord and dear Holy Spirit for letting Fr Ben Beltran write this and being a good priest of yours, doing all his good works.
    Holy Spirit, please help hom some more in making the Three-Persons doctrine clearer whenever he write about it.
    Thank you, Fr. Ben Beltran, keep up the good work and be always and constantly faithful to your vow to struggle hard so that you can be not just another Christ but Christ himself!

  4. I was born Christian and graduated in a catholic school. Questions which could not be answered by the faith is replied by– it is one of the mysteries of the faith which human being could not be understood. That is, faith. The problem is on the presentation that God is composed of three personas- the father, the son, and the holy spirit. From here you could see that God as one is an organization which is chaired by the Father god with its members the Son god and Holy spirit god. In the bible, Jesus is called , God the Son and everything pass thru him before the God the Father. The Holy Spirit inspired the apostles and prophets to write the bible. There is that human weakness in writing the bible , please note the word inspires- which means motivates,etc.. Just asking. As I pray before sleeping which I taught to my apos — to thank God for his blessings, all saints and angels protect us and Mary help of Christians, pray for us.

    • NOWHERE IN THE PAGES OF THE BIBLE WILL YOU SEE ANY SEGMENT OR A WRITTEN WORK DEFINING JESUS AS “GOD THE SON.” INSTEAD, IT LEAVES NOTHING IMPLIED EXCEPT TO READ THE WORDING THAT JESUS CHRIST IS THE SON OF GOD

    • Justaskingseriously on

      Sandy, did the bible come first? Did the apostles wait for the bible to be written before they started spreading the faith? What does the written word tell you? And did Jesus command any of the disciples to write at all? Or did Jesus leave behind anything in writing? Collectors of rare artifacts would love to get even just a copy of a copy.

  5. May these awesome truths about the Trinity just do not stay only as truth in our mind but grow to a living Truth, in our hearts that hunger and thirst for transformation into the image and likeness of Christ.

  6. Rosauro Feliciano on

    The Jesuit Priests taught us senior high students that Jesus has two personalities, a divine personality and a human personality. That God came into this moral world in order to communicate with us human because in spite of sending many prophets we human, because of our free-will, which even the God-created-angels are envious of such free-will given to us, our ancestors did not FULLY believe in any of those prophets and so God Himself came into our mortal world to save us from continually committing sins. That Christ Jesus resurrected through His OWN POWEER because He is God incarnate. These are the things the Jesuit taught us students when I was in Ateneo de Zamboanga in 1957. Now at my old age I am wondering why our Catholic teaching seems to be in contradictory that Christ Jesus was resurrected by Father God. I am confused. Somebody please clarify. My email address appears as correct as it appears here: rosauro_feliciano@yahoo.com

    • Carlo L. Adan on

      With due respect, sir, what all CORRECT doctrine and theology teachers of the Roman Catholic Church teach (you may look it up in any basic catechism) that Jesus has two NATURES. Not personalities. sir. If that iwere the case then our Lord Jesus would be a schizopphrenic.
      His two natures make him both PERFECT God and PERFECT man.

      It is the one true God–ONE–who has three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit (or when we were young Holy Ghost). .

    • Justaskingseriously on

      Jesus is true God and true man. You can speak of Jesus as either true God or true man. There is no confusion if you look at Jesus this way. In relation to His being true God, Jesus raised Himself at His resurrection. In relation to His being true man, he was raised from the dead by the power of God.

  7. Wala naman pinagtatalunan kung tatlo sila,totoo naman tatlo sila!
    Iba-iba nga lang ng posisyon! Ang ama ay isa, siya ang dios,si Cristo ay isa,siya ang anak,na sinugo ng dios,at ang espiritu ang power o kapanyarihan na galing sa dios,naipinadadala niya sa tao!kaya tatlo sila!
    Si cristo at espiritu ay tools ng dios upang ipaabot sa mga tao ang nais niyang mangyari at maipaabot ang batas na dapat sundin ng tao,para sa ikabubuti nila!
    Si cristo ay noon pa sa isipan ng dios, upang kung magkamali ang tao ay ipadadala niya at maging taoupang muling ibalik sa dios at ang espiritu ay naipinadadala niya upang gumawa ng himala!
    Sila ay ginagamit ng dios,taga pamagitan sa tao!
    Kaya iisa lang ang tunay na dios,mahirap bang unawain ito?

    • Justaskingseriously on

      Ayon sa sinasabi niyo na hindi mahirap unawain na “iisa lang ang tunay na dios,” malinaw na ang ibig sabihin na ang tunay na dios ay ang Dios Ama at hindi kasama sa pagka dios ang Anak at ang Espiritu Santo. Hindi ito katumbas sa tunay na pananampalataya. Ito ay katumbas sa ating sariling pag-iisip. Nguni’t ang Dios ay hindi tulad ng anumang bagay sa mundo na maaring ipasok sa ating utak na isa rin sa mga bagay sa mundo. Ang Dios ay siya ang taga-gawa ng lahat na mga bagay sa mundo. Kaya hindi ang Dios maaring mauunawaan ng kahit sinumang ginawa Niya. Kaya rin sinsabi natin na tayo ay sumasampalataya na iisa lang an Dios nguni’t tatlo ang Persona.

      Ayon sa sampalataya, ang mga salita na nagpapatunay ng ating sampalataya ay palaging ginagamit sa ating pagdasal. Mula pa sa simula hanggang ngayon, palaging nagtatapos ang opisyal na dasal sa mga salitang ito: “Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God forever and ever. Amen.” Ito ay para sa dasal sa Dios Ama. Nguni’t ang dasal sa Dios Anak ay nagtatapos ng “You who live and reign with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God forever and ever. Amen.”
      Ang pananampalataya ay napapatunayan sa pagdasal na opisyal.

      Kaya rin sinasabi na ito ay Misterio. Ang Misterio ay hindi maaring maunawaan ng isip. Ang Misterio ay maaring pananampalatayanan. At hindi lahat ng tao ay sumasampalataya. Isang biyaya ng Dios ang pagsampalataya. Bilang biyaya, nasa sa atin ang pagtanggap o pag-ayaw. Maaring sabihin din na kahit ang pagtanggap ng biyaya ay isa ring biyaya. Ang Bathala talaga ay siyang bahala.

    • Tama! Iisa lang ang Diyos na ang kapangyarihan ay hindi kaya maarok ng kaisipan ng tao lang. Imposibli ba sa Diyos para magkaroon ng Tatlong Persona? Wala yata sa biblia na tools lang si Cristo at ang Banal na Spirito. At kung di ka naniniwala sa trinidad dahil wala ito sa biblia, bendisyunan ang mga kasapi sa ngalan ng ama lang. Mahirap bang unawain yan?