From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity (from Latin trinitas "triad", from trinus "threefold") defines God as three consubstantial persons, expressions, or hypostases: the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit; "one God in three persons". The three persons are distinct, yet are one "substance, essence or nature". In this context, a "nature" is what one is, while a "person" is who one is.
According to this central mystery of most Christian faiths, there is only one God in three persons: while distinct from one another in their relations of origin (as the Fourth Lateran Council declared, "it is the Father who generates, the Son who is begotten, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds") and in their relations with one another, they are stated to be one in all else, co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial, and "each is God, whole and entire". Accordingly, the whole work of creation and grace is seen as a single operation common to all three divine persons, in which each shows forth what is proper to him in the Trinity, so that all things are "from the Father", "through the Son" and "in the Holy Spirit".
Terms such as "monotheism", "incarnation", "omnipotence", are not found in the Bible, but they denote theological concepts concerning Christian faith that are believed to be contained in the Bible. Even the term "Bible" is not found in the Bible. "Trinity" is another such term.
While the Fathers of the Church saw even Old Testament elements such as the appearance of three men to Abraham in Book of Genesis, chapter 18, as foreshadowings of the Trinity, it was the New Testament that they saw as a basis for developing the concept of the Trinity. The most influential of the New Testament texts seen as implying the teaching of the Trinity was Template:Bibleverse, which mandated baptizing "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit". Reflection, proclamation and dialogue led to the formulation of the doctrine that was felt to correspond to the data in the Bible. The simplest outline of the doctrine was formulated in the 4th century, largely in terms of rejection of what was considered not to be consonant with general Christian belief. Further elaboration continued in the succeeding centuries.
Scripture does not contain expressly a formulated doctrine of the Trinity. Rather, according to the Christian theology, it "bears witness to" the activity of a God who can only be understood in trinitarian terms. The doctrine did not take its definitive shape until late in the fourth century. During the intervening period, various tentative solutions, some more and some less satisfactory were proposed. Trinitarianism contrasts with nontrinitarian positions which include Binitarianism (one deity in two persons, or two deities), Unitarianism (one deity in one person, analogous to Jewish interpretation of the Shema and Muslim belief in Tawhid), Oneness Pentecostalism or Modalism (one deity manifested in three separate aspects).
The English word "trinity" is derived from Latin trinitas, meaning "the number three, a triad". This abstract noun is formed from the adjective trinus (three each, threefold, triple), as the word unitas is the abstract noun formed from unus (one).
The first recorded use of this Greek word in Christian theology (although not about the Divine Trinity) was by Theophilus of Antioch in about 170. He wrote:
In like manner also the three days which were before the luminaries, are types of the Trinity Τριάδος, of God, and His Word, and His wisdom. And the fourth is the type of man, who needs light, that so there may be God, the Word, wisdom, man.
Tertullian, a Latin theologian who wrote in the early 3rd century, is credited as being the first to use the Latin words "Trinity", "person" and "substance" to explain that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are "one in essence—not one in Person".
- Ahura, the Zoroastrian Trinity
- Ayyavazhi Trinity
- Cult of the Holy Spirit
- Islamic view of the Trinity
- Social Trinity
- Trikaya, the three Buddha bodies
- Trinitarian Order
- Trinitarian Universalism
- Triple deity
- Trinity in art
- Trinity Sunday
- Trimurti in Hinduism
- Unholy Trinity (Christian eschatology)