Is Christianity Consistent/Harmonious on the Trinity?
Xristian.org's article, The Triunity of God, introduced the basic tenets of the Christian doctrine of the triunity of God. Some, however, have wondered how well the article truly represents the unity of the Christian Church on the doctrine. Some groups claim Christians are polytheists; and, others believe that Christians are modalists. And, while it may certainly be said that many an average or nominal Christian does NOT properly represent the Trinity, each reliable and major Christian denomination does formally affirm and confess the main points of the teaching, that God is: 1) one being, 2) expressed in three persons, 3) each person being fully divine.
The following is a sampling of what several major Christian1 denominations officially profess in their creeds or catechisms, regarding the Trinity (realize that many of these churches also fundamentally affirm and hold to the Nicean Creed, which is inherently Trinitarian):
- Assemblies of God (U.S.A.): Affirm very clearly a God who is "one Being of three persons" in Section II of their Statement of Fundamental Truths.
- American Baptists: Representatives of this denomination include in the first sentence of their Identity Statement, "American Baptists worship the triune God of the Bible, who is eternally one God in three persons."
- Calvary Chapel: In their Statement of Faith, they affirm "that God is eternally existent in three distinct persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit."
- Episcopal Church in the United States: In its Catechism (1972), the Trinity is affirmed, as well as the trinitarian Nicene and Athanasian Creeds.
- Evangelical Free Church of America: In their Statement of Faith, the EFCA affirms "one God, Creator of all things, infinitely perfect and eternally existing in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit" (#2).
- Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: In its Synod Constitution "confesses the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" (S4.01). Additionally, this church affirms the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds (S4.04), both of which are inherently trinitarian.
- Greek Orthodox Church: Affirms as one of its Fundamental Teachings, that "God is one in substance and Triune in three Persons or Hypostases."
- International Pentecostal Holiness Church: In their Articles of Faith, they affirm that "in the unity of this Godhead there are three Persons of one substance of eternal being, and equal in holiness, justice, wisdom, power, and dignity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost" (Article I).
- Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod: In its Brief Statement of Doctrinal Position, the LCMS teaches "that the one true God... is the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, three distinct persons, but of one and the same divine essence, equal in power, equal in eternity, equal in majesty, because each person possesses the one divine essence entire" (#4).
- Nazarene, Church of the: In their Articles of Faith, they affirm belief in a God who is "Triune in essential being, revealed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" (I).
- Orthodox Church in America: Teaches in its Rainbow Series that there is "One Divine Nature and Being" and "Three Divine Persons" within the Godhead.
- Orthodox Presbyterian Church: Affirms the Westminster Confession of Faith, which teaches that "in the unity of the Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost" (II:III).
- Presbyterian Church, PCA: Affirms in its Synopsis of Beliefs that "there is one God, eternal and self-existing in three persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) who are to be equally loved, honored, and adored" (#2). This church also affirms the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechismsm, which are inherently consistent in Orthodox Trinitarian faith.
- Presbyterian Church, U.S.A: Teaches in its Study Catechism that "the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. And yet they are not three gods, but one God in three persons" (Q. 76, see also Q. 17). This church also affirms the Westminster Confession of Faith and Westminster Catechisms, which are inherently consistent in Orthodox Trinitarian faith. The Confession of 1967, adhered to by this denomination, is also plainly trinitarian.
- Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America: In their Convictions / Beliefs they affirm the "Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit," while upholding the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms, which are both entirely Trinitarian.
- Roman Catholic Church: Teaches in its Catechism that "there is only one true God..., the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; three persons indeed, but one essence, substance or nature entirely simple" (Number 202b).
- Russian Orthodox Church (Outside of Russia): As part of its Heritage, teaches that the one Triune God is expressed as "three Hypostases."
- Southern Baptists: In their Baptist Faith and Message, they affirm that the "eternal triune God reveals Himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being" (Section II).
- United Methodist Church: In their Basic Christian Affirmations, they profess the "historic Christian faith in God," which necessarily includes "belief in the triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." The explicitly affirm the trinity in their Articles of Religion, "there is but one living and true God..., and in unity of this Godhead there are three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost" (Article I).
Historic, Orthodox, and Biblical Christianity has never failed to proclaim the wonderful and majestic Name of God in three persons by affirming the basics of the Trinity. Each of the official creeds and catechisms above makes clear the point that although the church is denominated, it is absolutely united on the fact that God is One Being, expressed in Three Persons. Those groups which deny a trinitarian God (Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc...) are sharply separated from Christendom and guilty of forwarding heresy.
1Certainly, not all Christians agree in all matters of doctrine. The author, of course, does not accept each and every affirmed doctrinal statement by all of the above denominations. However, the point of this article is to make clear that despite other differences, on the matter of the Trinity (as with other key and fundamental Christian beliefs) Christianity is absolutely undivided in affirming a God who is one in being, expressed as three persons, who are each fully God.
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