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Definition: Trinity from Philip's Encyclopedia

Central doctrine of Christianity, according to which God is three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost. There is only one God, but he exists as 'three in one and one in three'. The nature of the Trinity is held to be a mystery that cannot be fully comprehended. The doctrine of the Trinity was stated in early Christian creeds to counter heresies such as Gnosticism. See also Apostles' Creed; Athanasian Creed; Jesus Christ; Nicene Creed


Summary Article: Trinity
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

In Christianity, the union of three persons – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit/Holy Ghost – in one Godhead. The precise meaning of the doctrine has been the cause of unending dispute, and was the chief cause of the split between the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches. Trinity Sunday occurs on the Sunday after Pentecost.

The doctrine (official teaching) of the Trinity does not appear in the Bible, but was developed by early church councils, and expressed in the creeds. Its meaning has been a subject of disagreement among Christian scholars. Some try to explain the idea of the Trinity by comparing the Godhead appearing in three forms to water, which can be ice, liquid, or steam. In the same way, the three aspects or energies are all part of the same God and exist in harmony. Christian belief in the Trinity may be described as:

God the Father; God over us. The Creator and Ruler, who is beyond human understanding.

God the Son; God with us. Jesus the Saviour, or Redeemer, who takes away sins.

God the Holy Spirit; God in us. The power of God experienced by people in their lives, the living force of God all over the world; often pictured as a dove. The Holy Spirit inspires people, brings them to a new life, and gives them strength in times of difficulty.

The Christian understanding of the relationship between God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are shown in the doctrine of the Trinity as set out in the Apostles' Creed and Nicene Creed. The term Trinity is made up of ‘tri’, meaning three, and ‘unity’. Christian belief states that God is ‘Three in One’ and Christians need to refer to all three to fully describe the nature of God. The Trinity is monotheistic, one God, not three. However, God has three ways of being God, just as a triangle has three sides, but is one shape. This idea of God working in three ways is expected to strengthen the Christian belief in the ‘Oneness of God’. All three are regarded as eternal (everlasting) and fully God without dividing the true nature of God.

The doctrine of the Trinity has caused great problems for Christians who often find the beliefs involved difficult. Christians proclaim their beliefs by joining in the prayer known as ‘the Grace’, from 2 Corinthians 13:13. They may also sing hymns with words referring to the Trinity, and God as ‘three Persons’.

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