The Blessed Trinity

Door-to-door missionaries such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons attempt to convince any Catholic who will listen that the Catholic doctrine of the Trinity is wrong. They argue that the concept of one God in three co-equal, co-eternal, consubstantial persons is not biblical. The Bible, however, says otherwise.

It is clear that:

1) There is only one God: Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:29; 1 Timothy 2:5;

2) The Father is God: Deuteronomy 32:6; Matthew 13:32, 25:34; Luke 11:2; 1 Corinthians 15:24; Ephesians 4:6;

3) The Son, Jesus Christ, is God: John 1:1-14; John 20:28; John 8:58 ff., Acts 20:28.

4) The Holy Spirit is God: John 14: 16-17, 26; John 16:7-14; Acts 5:3-4; Acts 13:2-4; Acts 21:10-11.

From these explicit truths, and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Who guides the Church “into all truth” (cf. Jn 14:25-26; 16:12-3), the Catholic Church teaches that if there is only one God, and the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are each God, then the doctrine of the Trinity -- one God in three persons -- must also be true, or else the revelations that there is one God, and that Father, Son, and Spirit are each true God become a jumbled mass of irreconcilable contradictions. (An excellent book to read on this subject is Frank Sheed’s, ‘‘Theology for Beginners.’’) And though one will not find the word “Trinity” in Scripture, the above passages point us toward the doctrine of the Trinity, which God revealed gradually, indirectly, and in various ways (cf. Heb 10:1). The term “Trinity” was used by St. Theophilus of Antioch in the year A.D. 180. He wrote in his Epistle to Autolycus, a pagan critic of the Catholic Church, that God, his word, and his wisdom are a “Trinity” (Greek: triados).

Some years later, Tertullian (A.D. 160 -- circa 250) coined the Latin term for Trinity (trinitas) in his work ‘‘On Modesty.’’ He wrote about the “Trinity of the One Divinity; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” (Chapter 22).

The early Church writers drew upon the many biblical references to God’s unity and transcendence as well as Old Testament episodes known as “theophanies” -- mysterious appearances of one or more persons of the Trinity.

Examples of theophanies and mysterious and sometimes implicit references to the three persons in the Trinity are Genesis 1:26, (where God speaks of himself in the plural form), Genesis 3:22, 11:27; Genesis 18 ; Psalm 2:7; Psalm 109:1-3; Isaiah 7:14 (Emmanuel is the name prophesied for the miraculously-conceived child of a virgin. It means “God is with us.”), Isaiah 9:6; Isaiah 11:2; and Isaiah 35:4. Other passages include Proverbs 8:22-31; Wisdom 7:22-28; Wisdom 8:3-8; Ezekiel 11:5; Ezekiel 36:27; Joel 2:28; and Malachi 3:1.

Two of the more explicitly Trinitarian passages are Matthew 28:18-19 and John 1:1-14. In the first passage, the Lord said: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Notice that Christ uses the singular form “name,” not the plural “names,” when he gives this directive. This usage implies the unity of the three divine persons in the Trinity.

John 1:1-14 says, “In the beginning was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God and the Word was God . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.” St. Paul echoed this theme that Christ is true God, the second person of the Trinity, when he wrote that he is “the image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15) and the “radiance of the glory of God and the very stamp of his nature” (Heb 1:3).

As the Catholic Church matured and grew, so did the theological vocabulary she used to speak about her doctrines. Terms such as “Trinity” were developed as a way to precisely express what the Church meant by “God.” And though the Church’s understanding of her teaching deepened and developed, she did not “invent” new doctrines. Rather, she inferred truths with certitude from other truths. Some of these truths, such as that there is only one God, are explicitly taught in the Bible as well as sacred tradition. Because, in the sense described above, doctrine “develops” in the Catholic Church (though it never changes or ceases to mean what it once did), the First Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325) authoritatively defined as dogma the doctrine of the Trinity.

These days, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Oneness Pentecostals, and other religious groups try to convince people that the Catholic Church “invented” the doctrine of the Trinity

Cardinal beatifies 22-year-old Romanian as 'martyr to chastity'

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- A 22-year-old Romanian peasant has taken a step closer to sainthood as a "martyr to chastity," six decades after she was murdered ...

Maryland attorney general will review church records on child sex abuse

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- In a Sept. 24 letter to the clergy of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Archbishop William E. Lori informed priests and deacons that the ...

People helping people is what attracted actor to 'God Friended Me'

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Television audiences may recall seeing actor Joe Morton as Eli Rowan Pope, the father of professional Washington fixer Olivia Pope, ...

Pa. bishops support creating fund to compensate survivors of sex abuse

PHILADELPHIA (CNS) -- The bishops of Pennsylvania's eight Roman Catholic dioceses are supporting creation of an independent fund to compensate survivors ...

CRS sells fair trade coffee, supporting Mexican farmers and land

Baltimore, Md., Sep 24, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Catholic Relief Services is now offering fair trade coffee beans that will benefit local farming communities ...

The Jesuit who survived the KGB

Vilnius, Lithuania, Sep 24, 2018 CNA.- When Pope Francis visited a former KGB building in Vilnius, Lithuania Sept. 23, Archbishop Sigitas Tamkevicius ...

Next step toward artificial reproduction violates human fundamentals, ethicist warns

Washington D.C., Sep 25, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Artificial human reproduction appears to be on the horizon with Japanese scientists’ claim to ...

Update: Scandals create outrage, but there is time for conversion, pope says

TALLINN, Estonia (CNS) -- In what is probably the least religious country in Europe, Pope Francis said he is surprised by how many people hold firm to ...

Catholic leaders oppose administration's plan to limit green cards

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Catholic leaders are speaking out against a Trump administration proposed rule announced Sept. 22 that would deny green cards to legal ...

Head of Georgetown Prep urges renewed commitment to being 'men for others'

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In a letter to the school community, the president of an all-boys Jesuit high school in suburban Washington emphasized the schools' ...

Today is 'hour of the laity,' Archbishop Gomez tells Encuentro delegates

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Hispanic Catholic leaders are living an important moment in the history of the Catholic church in the U.S. and are called to ...

Stay close to the suffering, forgive one another, pope tells Latvians

AGLONA, Latvia (CNS) -- What would Mary do? was the question Pope Francis, in effect, asked Latvian Catholics gathered at their nation's popular Marian ...

Joy, hope contagious for Encuentro participants as they discern priorities

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Joy, hope, energy and a spirit of continued collaboration are contagious among the participants of the Fifth National Encuentro, ...

Update: Pope in Lithuania: Don't let anti-Semitism, hatred resurge

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- Outside the former KGB headquarters in Vilnius, Pope Francis ended a day of paying homage to victims of totalitarianism and ...

God is patient, even with failures, pope tells young Lithuanians

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- Meeting young Lithuanians in Vilnius, Pope Francis said he wanted a relaxed conversation, like they were sitting in a pub ...

Update: Vatican signs provisional agreement with China on naming bishops

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- For the first time in decades, all of the Catholic bishops in China are in full communion with the pope, the Vatican announced. Pope ...

Find strength in tolerance, solidarity, pope tells Lithuanians

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- In Lithuania, a nation that experienced invasions, atrocities and persecution, Pope Francis began his visit with a plea to ...

Ospino: Encuentro reflects 'energy, maturity' of a church 'here to stay'

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- The thousands of Hispanic Catholic ministry leaders gathered in Texas for the Fifth National Encuentro shared views on the maturity ...

N.J. cardinal won't attend synod, asks to remain home at 'time of crisis'

NEWARK, N.J. (CNS) -- Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark told the people of his archdiocese Sept. 21 that Pope Francis has granted his request that he ...

Detroit Archdiocese welcomes investigation into Michigan dioceses

DETROIT (CNS) -- Michigan's attorney general has opened an investigation into the handling of sexual abuse by clergy in all of Michigan's seven Catholic ...

Catholics believe in God but 'don't believe in us,' Miami archbishop says

MIAMI (CNS) -- The crisis the Catholic Church is facing is not "a crisis of faith" or "mainly about a crisis of sexual abuse by clergy," but is "a crisis ...

Update: Disney animator says grounding in Catholic schools led to success

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (CNS) -- Ron Clements is a renowned animator, screenwriter and producer-director of award-winning Disney films, including the blockbuster ...

#WhyImCatholic movement aims to share hope at difficult time for church

CHICAGO (CNS) -- Catholic Extension has launched a new social media campaign called #WhyImCatholic to offer "hope and unity" for Catholics by inviting ...

Continue to be an evangelizing church, nuncio tells Encuentro delegates

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Quoting from Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation "The Joy of the Gospel," Archbishop Christophe Pierre encouraged Hispanic Catholic ...

Encuentro opens with procession, papal message, prayers for abuse victims

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- A video message from Pope Francis and a procession of Encuentro crosses representing all of the participating episcopal regions ...

Retired Green Bay auxiliary bishop failed to report abuse, withdraws from ministry

Green Bay, Wis., Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Bishop Robert Morneau, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Green Bay, has withdrawn from public ministry saying ...

Dolan 'impatient' waiting for apostolic visitation in response to McCarrick

New York City, N.Y., Sep 20, 2018 CNA.- The Archbishop of New York said Thursday that while he has confidence in the way Pope Francis is handling the ...

Two more Chilean bishops step down in wake of abuse crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis accepted the resignations of two more Chilean bishops, bringing to seven the number of bishops who have stepped down ...

Celebration of the Priesthood dinner raises over $1.8 million

BOSTON -- A record 1,700 people attended the 10th annual Celebration of the Priesthood dinner to raise funds for the Clergy Health and Retirement Trust ...

Lawrence parish helps community cope with gas explosion aftermath

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Ceremony, Mass kick off St. Augustine Chapel bicentennial

SOUTH BOSTON -- St. Augustine Chapel and Cemetery began its year-long bicentennial celebration on the weekend of Sept. 14-16 with tours, special Masses, ...

Mass. Knights install new officers

The Massachusetts State Council Knights of Columbus recently held its Installation of State Officers at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Canton with ...

Deal will keep Sancta Maria Nursing Facility open

CAMBRIDGE -- Sancta Maria Nursing Facility announced Sept. 17 that it has negotiated a comprehensive operational contract with Advocate Healthcare Management ...

From Cardinal Seán's blog

As I mentioned in my preface to last week's blog, this week and last, I have been in Rome for meetings related to the work of the Pontifical Commission ...

N.Y. Archdiocese names judge as independent reviewer on abuse protocols

NEW YORK (CNS) -- New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan has named a former federal judge to study archdiocesan policies and procedures with respect to sexual ...

U.S. reports poverty declines, but agencies finding needs remain great

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The good news from the U.S. Census Bureau Sept. 12 was that the poverty rate dropped for the third straight year in 2017 and median ...

Class-action lawsuit filed against eight Pennsylvania dioceses

PITTSBURGH (CNS) -- A class-action lawsuit was filed Sept. 17 against eight Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania demanding the dioceses provide proof that ...

Apostolic visitor outlines plans for expansion at Medjugorje shrine

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- The Polish archbishop tasked with overseeing Bosnia-Herzegovina's Medjugorje shrine has outlined plans for expansion, including ...

Pope names administrator as Indian bishop investigated for alleged rape

MUMBAI, India (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the request of an Indian bishop accused of raping a nun to be relieved of his duties during the investigation. In ...

In letters to German cardinal, retired pope defends way he stepped down

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Retired Pope Benedict XVI expressed his displeasure with the way a German cardinal publicly criticized his stepping down as pontiff, ...

Thousands of Hispanics expected in Texas for Encuentro summit

Fort Worth, Texas, Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- As many as 3,000 Catholics of Hispanic background are expected in Texas this week for the National V Encuentro, ...