The Trinity Properly Defined

The Trinity confuses most people. It confuses some people so much that they either reject Christianity because of it or they modify it so much that Christianity ceases to be Christianity. It shouldn’t surprise us much that most Christian cults deny the doctrine.

Over the next few weeks, we are going to be posting some articles to help explain this difficult doctrine by looking at it from different angles and answering different questions. The first step to all that is to properly define it up front.

The Trinity is not, as many phrase it, three beings who are one God. The Trinity is not three Gods who are really one God. The Trinity is not three beings who are one being.

The Trinity is three Persons who are one Being. These Persons are called the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and are all the same essence; they are co-equal and co-eternal.

This basic definition is extremely important, because it answers most of the logical objections people have. It would certainly be self-contradictory to say three beings are one being. No matter how pious we are, we cannot say things that are just self-contradictory. God is, after all, a God of order, and He gave us a mind for a reason! It is not self-contradictory, though, to say that three persons can be one being, because a person is not necessarily a being, and a being is not necessarily a person.

Proof for this is easy enough. A tree is a being (it “be’s”). Anything that is is a being. Yet a tree is obviously not a person. You are a person, and you are also a being. Personhood, then, is something that is found in a being; it is not a being itself. There is nothing in the definition of a person (which, in philosophical terms, is “a complete, essential, rational, subject of predication that does not exist apart from the individual”) that says that there cannot be multiple persons who exist as one being.

For those who want to get into the philosophy behind important words like “person,” “being,” “substance,” “essence,” “predication,” and many others, we’ll provide those discussions in the near future. For everyone else, just keep the basic definition and this fact in mind: a person is not the same thing a being, and a being is not the same thing as a person. There is no logical contradiction of any kind, no matter what opponents argue. When they assert there is a contradiction in spite of this, they are simply being irrational, not you.


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