Table of Contents
Most people, especially those interested in religion hold a belief that all the things bearing the name “Christian” definitely have their origin from Jesus Christ, and His followers as depicted in the Bible. However, the reality stretches beyond this notion to reveal a series of interesting revelations, most of which are found at the beginning of the Bible. Therefore, Christianity holds one of the most controversial doctrines in the aspects of religions, according to most theological experts (Soulen, 11). This doctrine, the Trinity, has been in existent for the most part of the Christian religious history, hence questioning its origin and relevance in the ancient and modern cultural and religious settings. Quoting the words of Dickin (56), “Christian history introduces Trinitarian theology, which concerns the type of God that the Christians worship, hence explaining the significance of this revelation to liturgy and spirituality, for self understanding and ethical definition of the Christian religion.”
The above introduction sets the tone for the arguments in this paper. Consequently, the discussion revolves around explaining the concept of the Trinity according to various theological standpoints. The discussion will further envisage a historical overview of the origin of the Trinity, and the controversies surrounding this theological concept. More to the point, the paper will include an analysis of the impact of Trinity on both cultural and religious settings, with ore specificity on the Christian religion.
Description of the Trinity
The terminology “trinity” is undoubtedly one that forms the foundations of Christianity as a religion. This term, nonetheless, has been in existence for the longest period since the inception of the religion. In detail, the Trinity is a denotation in Christianity that defines God’s existence in a unity form of three distinct persons, explained as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This forms the Trinity; a doctrine defines Christianity in most Christian denominations globally.
When it comes to understanding the doctrine of the Trinity, most people exhibit poor understanding of the concept, with inclusion of Christians. Despite this, the common perception, which meets the truth threshold, is that each of the three persons that constitute the Trinity is different from the other but have an essence of identity among them. To understand this concept further, McLaren, (16) argues that the three persons are identical due to their nature that distinguishes them as fully divine. Furthermore, each person within the trinity has an essence of singularity, hence does not represent the totality of the entire trinity upon referral.
The Father, the top of the trinity cycle, represents a different person from the Son, both of whom are different persons from the Holy Spirit. Despite each of the aforementioned persons of the Trinity being divine, they do not represent gods, instead are a culmination of one God. As such, these persons exhibit subsistence, judging from the existence they denote when speaking in various verses of the Bible. While other Christians fail to understand why the Holy Spirit is referred to as a person, White (68) explains that the term person depicts the elements of self-awareness and individuality not only for the Father and the Son, but also for the Holy Spirit.
In describing the Trinity, it is pivotal to understand what the doctrine entails by depicting its meaning as used in Christianity. The first meaning of the Trinity is that there exists only one God, who manifests in three persons-the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Father is God, just as the Son is God and the Holy Spirit as well. Moreover, the Father is not the Son, neither is the Son the Holy Spirit just as the Holy Spirit is not the Father, and vice versa in all the descriptions of the Trinity. The key terminologies that describe the meaning of the Trinity, as mentioned are persons and essence. Essence refers to Godliness, a quality shared by each of the three persons that formulate the Trinity.
Therefore, a clear depiction of the Trinity explains the existence of subordination in the tenets of the doctrine. The subordination, however, does not entail the elements of essence or substance, but the element of order. As explained, the Father comes first in the trinity, followed by Son, then the Holy Spirit, who comes in third. More to the point, a reference to John 3:16 explain the two persons as different entities, since it distinguishes the Son as begotten, whereas the Father is not begotten (The Holy Bible, 647). Still in the book of John, but on Chapter 15 verse 26, the Bible stipulates the Father as the predecessor of the Holy Spirit. While the Father only sends the Son, as depicted in 1 John 4:10, both the Father and the Son send the Holy Spirit, as highlighted in John 14:26. Therefore, this explanation depicts the Father as the supreme in order of the Trinity, hence being the creator, as explained in Isaiah 44:24. In Galatians 3:13, the Son is depicted as a redeemer whereas Romans 15:16 stipulates the Holy Spirit as the facilitator of the sanctification role.
The order subordination, therefore, is evident in the Trinity. This, however, does not insinuate that these persons are neither divine nor unequal. As illustrated, the concept of the Trinity can be difficult to comprehend. Pundits argue that the elements of its difficulty explains more reason why the doctrine is valid, hence proving the Biblical revelation that God is an infinite being. To this end, it is inevitable that the Trinity is among the incomprehensible concepts encountered when explaining the nature of God, one who takes the form of three persons.
History of the Trinity
Evidently, the Trinity doctrine did not emerge as its own theological concept, since records show its subsequent evolution over the centuries. However, this doctrine originated from an orthodox Christian response directed to the Arian and Samosatene doctrine. The concept began approximately 300 years after the death of Christ. As explained by Young (446) the Council of Nicaea were determined to condemn the Arius doctrine through proving that the unity of Christ and God was distinct and solid despite being two different entities, and that each was fully Godly. However, the council did not include the Holy Spirit, hence their statement being a mere illustration of belief. As such, the council of Nicaea only produced a duality since they were driven by the desire to define the nature of relationship harbored between Christ and God the Father.
Soon after, the concept of Holy Spirit was not understandable in the early Christianity domains. However, with the recognition addressed to the Holy Spirit meant that most Christians regarded this as a concept of divinity. Conversely, Athanasius of Alexandria was the main contributor of the formation of the Trinity, as he explained the concept of Holy Spirit in addition to the duality doctrine maintained by the council of Nicaea. Herein, Athanasius of Alexandria began by clarifying that in the beginning, Christ was with God, and hence Christ is God. He highlights further that Christ and God, who represents the Father in the Trinity, are unified. He then stipulated that new believers were baptized not in the name of the two persons, but in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, hence depicting the concept of the Holy Spirit’s divinity. In making the church believe the validity of the Trinity, Athanasius of Alexandria used tactics such as forceful evangelism and intimidation of the bishops into believing that the doctrine was the main canon of the council of Nicaea, hence its adoption by the church would represent the wishes of the church.
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Controversies surrounding the Trinity
The Trinity is undoubtedly the founding block of Christian belief on one hand, but also an obstacle for persuading other religions and Christians themselves into believing on the other hand. Most analysts argue that the Trinity has a combination of illogic and irrational explanations that have not guided the understanding of the Christians on how to comprehend and explain the Supreme Being (Dickin, 68). To begin with, critics point out the concept of subordination as evident in the order that defines the Trinity. Accordingly, they argue that the Trinity is false, owing to the order that contradicts the claims of equality among the three persons.
According to the Trinity, Jesus, The Son, is truly God. Therefore, no explanation whatsoever can guarantee the inequality between these two persons, as they represent one being. As such, for the Trinity to be true, critics argue that Jesus would be a complete embodiment of equality with God the Father not just in the divinity but also in all the other areas. In isolation, this argument does not make sense to the logic of equality, since subordination objects the truth in the statement.
Secondly, the manner through which the Trinity came into existence draws sharp criticism in relation to its holiness and divinity. As explained, Athanasius of Alexandria used unscrupulous means to promote the doctrine. Besides, the past leaders used fear as the main theme and element in the promotion of the doctrine, a factor that contributes to its controversy. Besides, the past leaders argued that questioning the validity of the Trinity doctrine would amount to blasphemy, hence expressing lack of facts and preparedness to deal with the questions surrounding the doctrine’s validity.
Justification of the Trinity against controversies
According to the first controversy, no proof exists that Jesus is truly God, hence rubbishing the Trinity as false. However, in explaining this concept, White (79) introduces an interesting scenario that captures a king and the servant. The king sends the servant, just as God the Father sent Jesus the Son. While looking into this analogy, it is despicable to argue that the servant sent by the king is not human because he is sent. Therefore, the concept of being sent by the Father does not negate any element of unity in the essence of the Trinity.
Secondly, the nature of God is not understandable to men, hence the validation of the methods used to spread the doctrine. Just like the congregation, the bishops failed to understand the nature of God, hence referring to the beginning of the Bible as the main explanation to the reason as to why human beings should not understand the nature of God.
Impact of the trinity on Culture
The Trinity has been definitive in most cultures globally. Through this doctrine, most people have adopted the concept of hierarchy that forms the basis of all family foundations. The concept of the Trinity, moreover, has been instrumental in shaping the notion that the father is the head of the family in most Christian families. This moreover, explains why certain cultures subject tremendous respect to fathers.
However, the Trinity doctrine has a series of negative consequences on the culture. Despite the fact that the doctrine preaches equality among the three persons, it does not define the concept in the gender composition. Both Father and the Son are male representatives, though the Holy Spirit’s gender does not reflect clearly in the Trinity. As such, this has contributed to the discrimination meted against women in the society. The position of the woman in the Trinity is unspecified and inexistent, thereby explaining the uncertainties surrounding the role of the Trinity in ensuring equality.
Impact of the Trinity on Religion
Evidently, the Trinity has been the pinnacle the Christian religion. However, this doctrine has heightened the mystery surrounding the efforts made by Christians to comprehend the nature of the God they worship. Consequently, most churches have mushroomed, with others disowning the element of the trinity through banishing the Nicaea Creed that recites the doctrine. This has led to several viewpoints on the unity of the Christianity religion, thereby leading to cracks in the institutions that represent the religion.
Similarly, the Trinity has affected the position of several people within the church. Hierarchy within the Trinity is evident, hence making the subordinates answerable to the church heads. Through this notion, the church has adopted a political outlook, with people struggling for supremacy due to the guarantee of control as reflected in the subordination of order. Therefore, this has contributed negatively to the position of the church in performing its role in the society.
The discussion above depicts the description of the Trinity as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Further, it highlights the historic foundations of the doctrine, and the controversies surrounding the doctrine. In conclusion, the process of understanding the Trinity puts to test the faith of a Christian against the common logic of critics, as explained by McLaren (87).
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