Trinity – Introduction

We were all baptised “in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” And not in our names – for there is only one God, the almighty Father, His only Son and the Holy Spirit: the Most Holy Trinity.

Catechism of the Catholic Church says “the mystery of Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in Himself.”[1] It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them. It is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the “hierarchy of the truths of faith.”[2] For us Christians, fixing our eyes and hearts on Jesus is relatively easy. It happens almost daily for many. His generous life and engaging personality spontaneously attract our attention and generate an abiding loyalty in believers. The mystery of the Trinity does not arouse the same kind of unrehearsed attraction and allegiance. From early on we were told that the Trinity is a mystery, the loftiest and most impenetrable of mysteries. We were not expected to understand it, but simply to believe it.

God we were told, is triune. There are three distinct persons in the one Deity. These three are co-equal, and we are to adore and revere each of them. The Father is identified as the Creator, and the Son, Jesus is proclaimed as the Saviour of humankind. The third divine figure is worshipped as the one who even now touches us with the graciousness of Christ.

Doctrine of Trinity is the centre of Christian faith. The Doctrine of Trinity is the foundation of liturgical worship including the greeting, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all,” the doxology, “Through him, with him, in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honour is yours almighty Father,” and the benediction, “Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, bless you now and forever,” including the perennial custom of invoking the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit when making the sign of the cross are all Trinitarian in structure. it has Been and continuous to be the structure of creeds both ancient and modern. The Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds both begin with a paragraph on God the Father who creates the world, followed by a paragraph on the Son, Jesus Christ, and conclude with a paragraph on the Holy Spirit.

However it was neglected, evaded or even derided because critics have suggested that Christianity would suffer no noticeable loss of coherence and might even become more intelligible and more widely accepted, if it were to abandon the Doctrine of the Trinity. Because of this attitude or outlook, in the recent past, theological education on Catholic seminaries often went no further than requiring students to memorise the 5-4-3-2-1 formula, a mnemonic device for retaining the essential elements of the Thomistic Doctrine of the Trinity: God is “five notions, four relations, three persons, two processions, and one nature.” When Bernard Lonergan taught this he is reported to have added, “and zero comprehension!”

Over the past one hundred years, the Trinity has generated a good deal of attention from theologians, Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox. Furthermore, a number of scholars have attempted to create a theological portrait of triune Deity that would render the divine identities more lifelike and approachable, for our God must be accessible, and to some extent recognisable, to be loved and adored. So our aim is to answer the questions how do we know the Tri-personal God and how do we experience in faith the Tri-personal God? And bring the divine persons down to earth to dwell among us and speak to us in our life situation.

Today Trinitarian theology is being recovered as a fruitful and intelligible way to articulate what it means to be “saved by God through Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.”


[1] CCC, 50.

[2] GCD, 43.

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