Trinity: General Introduction

The word Trinity comes from Trinitas, a Latin abstract noun that means “three-ness,” “the property of occurring three at once,” or “three are one.” The Greek term used for the Christian Trinity – “Trias” means “a set of three,” and has expressed by the English word Trinity. This word literally means “a unity of three.”

It is the truth that in the unity of the Godhead there are Three Divine Personsthe Fatherthe Son, and the Holy Spirit. These Three Persons being truly distinct one from another are co-eternal persons and are of one indivisible Divine essence.

It is only in the light of the divine life, “One God in Three” that all the other realities of revelation can fully be appreciated. It is in the light of the Blessed Trinity that the essence of Christian life is clarified. It is only when we begin to understand the implications of a personal Trinity in God that we can grasp the importance on union with Christ, activated by faith and baptism, and consummated in the possession of the beatific vision. The mystery of the Blessed Trinity is the most fundamental among the revealed mysteries of Christianity (ccc 234).

There are two approaches to our attempts to understand more about and reflect over the doctrine of Trinity.

One way is to speak about Immanent Trinity (ad intra); it is the esoteric exposition of God’s inner life. It is rational speculation aided by reason and faith about the self-relatedness of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is also called the Ontological Trinity. It speaks of the essence (Jn 1, 1-2), nature or attributes of the Trinity. Or more simply who is God.

The second way is to speak of the Economic Trinity (ad extra), as we see how salvation is worked out by three divine persons. The approach is more consistent with the Bible, Creeds, and Liturgy. This method of reflection makes it possible to think of the Triune God in relation to our redemption. In short ‘what does the Trinity have to do with our salvation?’ When we describe the acts of the Triune God with respect to the creation, history, salvation, our daily lives, etc, we describe the Economic Trinity. This approach refers to how Trinity operates within redemptive history as we think of the roles or functions performed by each of the persons of the Trinity (Karl Rahner, in his essay The Trinity).

These two approaches are complementary not contradictory. The economic Trinity reflects and reveals the ontological Trinity. The integration of these two ways of knowing God shows how the Trinitarian pattern of salvation history is correlated with the eternal being of God.

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8 thoughts on “Trinity: General Introduction

  1. Hi there! Yes, I appreciate the scriptures you cited Freedom born and I agree with you. Just to clarify, because perhaps my question was not clear, : you said in your article:

    “When we describe the acts of the Triune God with respect to the creation, history, salvation, our daily lives, etc, we describe the Economic Trinity.”

    You were making conceptual distinctions about how to understand the Trinity. With respect to the Economic trinity, I was curious (if you like, on a personal level) how you experience the trinity operating in your daily life. would you like to give an example? That was it. I hope it’s clear. Thanks!

  2. Hi, I was asking about how the trinity impacts you personally, in your life and as spirituality becomes practical. I have the sense that that question may not really be part of your purpose with this particular blog. It seems like you deliberately wish to stay on the conceptual level to expound the doctrine itself.

    1. Everything!! Bible for Love, I hope Sharon and you don’t mind my replying to your question but your instance, he answer personally, which as you said yourself is not this Blogs purpose, then it makes me feel you are not sure yourself but the answer is very clearly seen in the Scriptures below, which I’m sure you will be able to confirm as True being someone who loves the Bible.

      1Corinthians 12:3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is The LORD, but by the Holy Ghost.

      Unless you believe in the Trinity or as They are called in Scriptures, The Godhead, you do not have The Holy Spirit He assures us of this Truth, which means that if you are not indwelt by Jesus, than as you can see clearly below, as far Salvation in Him is concerned and there is no other way to be saved, your a reprobate.

      Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

      Christian Love from both of us – Anne

  3. As promised Sharon, below is a powerful confirmation in the Scriptures of The Godhead or Trinity as we call Them today, The 3 In One, all Compleat as One but also having different roles like we do in Marriage, which was Ordained by God and is Holy.

    1Corinthians 12:3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is The LORD, but by the Holy Ghost.

    Matthew 1:22-23 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a Virgin shall be with Child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call His Name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

    John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made. In Him was life; and the life was the Light of men. And the Light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

    Genesis 1:26 – 27 And God said, Let us make man in Our image, after Our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in His Own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

    Colossians 1:15 -17 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by Him were all things created, that are in Heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him: And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.

    1 John 5: 7 For there are three that bear record in Heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these Three are One.

    Revelation 1:7-8 Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

    Revelation 19:15-16 And out of His mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations: and He shall rule them with a rod of iron: and He treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He hath on His vesture and on His thigh a Name written, KING OF Kings and LORD OF Lords.

    Isaiah 9:6-7 For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the Government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His Government and Peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His Kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

    Isaiah 54 :5 For thy Maker is thine Husband; the Lord of hosts is His Name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall He be called.

    Blessings – Anne

  4. Thank you Sharon, or what is your name you keep changing it which I find Bloggers do a lot and it is confusing, just as well God knows our name it is engraved on the palms of His hands meaning it’s everlasting.

    But what you shared was a very good explanation of The Trinity, and it is all Truth, the word Trinity was first used in the 1800s before this as you said they were called The Godhead (see below) this is were the Cults are confused because they don’t see the word Trinity in the Scripture they reject Them as 3 in One but if they had The Holy Spirit they would not because He makes The Godhead a reality in our hearts.

    Colossians 2:8-10 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in Him, which is the Head of all principality and power.

    There are other modern words that are used today but were called something different in the Bible, or have a different focus, some of these don’t have a name but are explained so we know what they are referring to, The Rapture, D.N.A , Aids, Dinosaurs, Debate etc God also told us in Scripture that the World was round when man believed it was flat and had no other way of knowing different. In Genesis we can see clearly in the days of Creation why Evolution can not be accepted as a reality for Christians.

    Sharon I hope you don’t mind but I would like to just share some Scripture in the next comment that confirms The Godhead or The Trinity as you shared about with us and as They are called today, for those who are confused.

    I believe it is God’s words that have power to change hearts not ours, although God can use ours to plant or water seeds that will bear good fruit for Eternity, when the time of harvest comes for those who are known by God as His, even if they do not believe in Him now.

    Christian Love from both of us and many Blessings for Christmas and in the New year – Anne

  5. Fr. Jeff: Thank you for this post. I hope that you will continue to do more on the Trinity as I enjoy you sharing your wisdom. You have a good ability to take the richness of Catholic theology and present it in digestible pieces.

    Peace,
    W. Ockham

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