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Wrong Doctrines of the Trinity

The main ques­tion for the Church to answer about God is that of the rela­tion­ship between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spir­it. Accord­ing to Ortho­dox Tra­di­tion, there are a num­ber of wrong doc­trines which must be rejected.

One wrong doc­trine is that the Father alone is God and that the Son and the Holy Spir­it are crea­tures, made “from noth­ing” like angels, men and the world. The Church answers that the Son and the Holy Spir­it are not crea­tures, but are uncre­at­ed and divine with the Father, and they act with the Father in the divine act of cre­ation of all that exists.

Anoth­er wrong doc­trine is that God in Him­self is One God who mere­ly appears in dif­fer­ent forms to the world: Now as the Father, then as the Son, and still again as the Holy Spir­it. The Church answers once more that the Son and Word is “in the begin­ning with God”(Jn 1:12) as is the Holy Spir­it, and that the Three are eter­nal­ly dis­tinct. The Son is “of God” and the Spir­it is “of God.” The Son and the Spir­it are not mere­ly aspects of God, with­out, so to speak, a life and exis­tence of their own. How strange it would be to imag­ine, for exam­ple, that when the Son becomes man and prays to his Father and acts in obe­di­ence to Him, it is all an illu­sion with no real­i­ty in fact, a sort of divine pre­sen­ta­tion played before the world with no rea­son or truth for it at all!

A third wrong doc­trine is that God is one, and that the Son and the Spir­it are mere­ly names for rela­tions which God has with Him­self. Thus, the Thought and Speech of God is called the Son, while the Life and Action of God is called the Spir­it; but in fact—in gen­uine actuality—there are no such “real­i­ties in them­selves” as the Son of God and the Spir­it of God. Both are just metaphors for mere aspects of God. Again, how­ev­er, in such a doc­trine the Son and the Spir­it have no exis­tence and no life of their own. They are not real, but are mere illusions.

Still anoth­er wrong doc­trine is that the Father is one God, the Son is anoth­er God, and the Holy Spir­it still anoth­er God. There can­not be “three gods,” says the Church, and cer­tain­ly not “gods” who are cre­at­ed or made. Still less can there be “three gods” of whom the Father is “high­er” and the oth­ers “low­er.” For there to be more than one God, or “degrees of divin­i­ty” are both con­tra­dic­tions which can­not be defend­ed, either by divine rev­e­la­tion or by log­i­cal thinking.

Thus, the Church teach­es that while there is only One God, yet there are Three who are God—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—perfectly unit­ed and nev­er divid­ed yet not merged into one with no prop­er dis­tinc­tion. How then does the Church defend its doc­trine that God is both One and yet Three?