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Question 362

Hi Pater Can you please explain the trinity ?         

   

 

Answer to Question 362

 

You asked for it so here goes:

 

THE HOLY TRINITY

 

According to the teaching of Holy Scripture and the faith of the Orthodox Church, the one True God is triune, the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This does not mean that there are three gods; there is but one God, one God in three persons or hypostases. One God who is discerned in three persons and in each person, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are wholly and entirely God and not part of the one Godhead. The Father is totally God. The Son is totally God. The Holy Spirit is totally God. A monad according to His unique and indivisible essence and a trinity according to His hypostases which are distinguished one from another, but inseparably united and indivisible, and the three possessing one essence, one will, and one energy. The Three Persons of the Holy trinity have the same opinion, make the same decision, and put forth the same energy and action.

The dogma of the Holy Trinity is the “fountainhead of our faith”, according to St. Gregory the Theologian. And the three Persons possess the same attributes and all the inexhaustible riches and treasures of the Divinity. But again each Person has his very own particular and distinguishing mark, his own hypostatic attribute or idioma: that is to say, the Father is unbeggoten, He is the “cause” or “source” of the Godhead, born of none and proceeding from none. He is the principle of unity among the three. The Son is begotten, that is, He was born of the Father from all eternity [before all ages]. This means that the Father begets the Son from His own essence eternally, timelessly and unexplainably. The Holy Spirit proceeds, that is, He proceeds from the father from all eternity and is sent into the world through the Son. All of God’s works, the works of creation, recreation and the salvation of man are brought about by all three Persons of the Godhead for the Father does all things through the Son and in the Holy Spirit.

The concept of One God in Three Persons has always been the most difficult to understand because man can only explain what he hears, sees and understands by other things in his life. What man knows about God is only what God Himself has revealed to him. The Church Fathers have tried to explain this concept by using things we can see e.g. the river and the sun.

THE RIVER

The source of the river is the Father from whom proceeds the Holy Spirit.

The river is the Son, who sends the Holy Spirit after His voluntary sacrifice on the cross and His glorious Resurrection. The water of the river that we drink is the Holy Spirit who distributes grace and gifts. So the three Persons of the Holy Trinity are indivisible as this comparison shows: the source, the river, the water; all three are of the same essence, like the river’s water.

THE SUN

The sun is a great fiery star in the galaxy, and although scientist have a fairly good idea of what it is made of, no man can ever reach the surface of dig into its surface to discover its substance. Here on earth we see the sun as a round body in the sky, but more that just this, it gives out rays of light and heat. Here therefore we have three characters and at the same time one sun. We do not say we have three suns: we have only one sun of which its substance [essence] is beyond our reach. This same rule applies to God. We do not have three gods: we have only one God because the three Persons of God, while still keeping their individual characters, are consubstantial [identical or of one substance] in that they are united in the one nature [essence], which again is inaccessible to all creation.