In theological terms, the word Trinity refers to the existence of God in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
The mainstream Christian position is that God is three divine persons who are co-equal, co-eternal, and of the same being. Each person is distinct, but at the same time, each person is God.
This orthodox position was adopted in the 4th century when the Emperor Constantine wanted to make Christianity the state religion. At the time, Christian bishops disagreed about the nature of Christ. Arian Christianity held the view that although Christ had existed â€œbefore the ages,â€he had been created by God and was therefore not â€œco-eternal.â€ Constantine summoned a gathering of Christian bishops to what is known as the Council of Nicaea (CE 325) and told them to get their act together and decide one way or the other. The result was the Nicene Creed in which the nature of Christ is described as â€œbegotten, not made.â€ Today this definition of the divinity of Christ as one with God the Father is accepted by Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, Calvinists, Methodists, and many other Christians.
Several Christian sects disagree with this view of the Trinity. Three of the better-known are:
Christian Science: God is the only thing that truly exists. Jesus is the son of God and the Messiah, but not a deity.
Mormonism (Church of the Latter-Day Saints): Jesus was born in heaven as Michael, the spirit child of God the Father by one of his wives. Lucifer is his brother.
Jehovahâ€™s Witnesses: Jesus is Godâ€™s first creation, but he is not God. He is higher than the angels, but inferior to God. Before he came to earth, he was known as Michael the archangel.
I’ll bet we are among the few who have ever stopped to consider what we were saying when reciting it in church.
Writing this post has set me off on a religious tear. I’ve since written one on the soul. I’ll let that go live on Monday. I’m also thinking about trying the NaNoWrMo this year. If I do, I’m going to write about an episode in church history.
Thanks for sharing and commenting. So far, I think you’re the only one who has read it.
Good post, Dr Maddox. I’ve had a philosophical problem with the Nicene Creed for several years now. Few Christians know church history. Perhaps this will stimulate some thought and research.