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The Christian doctrine of the trinity applies to the unity of God’s three-fold person-hood: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Those familiar with the Bible will know that the trinity is never explicitly mentioned in the Bible, nor is the modern understanding explicitly stated. In fact, the Trinity didn’t become officially sanctioned doctrine until around the 4th century. The explicit trinitarian doctrine arose more as a response to theological questions posed during the 3rd and 4th century, than it did as an explicit Biblical principle. However, it can be argued that trinitarian principles exist implicitly within the Bible.
Trinitarian doctrine can be difficult to explain. God consists of three essential persons: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Each of these persons is exclusive in relation to each other. However, none are exclusively God. The three are one, unified God. Yet, the three are not simply unique roles that the single God takes on depending on the situation. Jesus is God, but he is not the Holy Spirit or the Father. The Holy Spirit is God, but she is not Jesus or the Father. The Father is God, but he is not Jesus or the Holy Spirit.
Trinitarian doctrine attempts to answer questions that were being posed during the 3rd and 4th century by divergent schools of Christian thought (namely, Arianism, Docetism and Sabellianism). These divergent views, eventually labeled as heresies, challenged either the deity or humanity of Jesus. Athanasius, the Council of Nicaea and several other councils eventually denounced these views in favor of the doctrine Christianity hold today.
Obviously, for one who rejects the notion of God as a causal personality, the trinity seems a difficult concept to accept. While the Bible never explicitly mentions or explain the trinity, it does refer to the three persons of God. These persons are not difficult for me to accept. Of course, I do not see them as literal persons. Rather, they are the expressions and embodiment of the Divine Mystery.
In scripture, God the Father is the creator. Mystery, the desert, the blank spaces in our lives, are fertile grounds for growth. From the creation account, to the Israelites in the deserts, to the woman at the well in Samaria, beauty springs ex nihilo. For example, one may not always understand how beauty arises from personal tragedy, why humans persevere in the face of unimaginable hardship, or the mysteries of the origins of the universe. God the Creator is embodied when order arises out of chaos.
God the Holy Spirit prompts and guides humans throughout scripture. Akin and often synonymous with our conscience according to popular Christian belief, she is a powerful, mysterious force by which people wrestle with decisions. She is our ethical compass, the impetus for compassion and love.
God the Son is the physical and active manifestation of God. God’s Kingdom is brought to completion through the work of the Son. Jesus’ actions challenged the corrupt and sinful systems of this world, challenging social norms and aggressively assaulting oppressive and devaluing systems. God the Son is embodied in restorative and saving acts of justice.