30 May 2021
In the early years of the Christian Church, there were many debates, concerning the nature of the “Holy Trinity?” The concept of a “One God in three Divine Persons” first appeared toward the end of the first Century AD. An early Church Father, Clement of Rome,asks in his epistle: "Do we not have one God, and one Christ, and one gracious Spirit, that has been poured out upon us, and one calling in Christ?" Ignatius of Antioch provides his support for the doctrine of Blessed Trinity around 110 AD, teaching a faith, in the obedience to "Christ, and to the Father, and to the Spirit ,” Justin Martyr 100– 165 AD) writes, "In the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit".
Please note that many other early Christian Church Fathers wrote concerning the Holy Trinity, and even to the present day, many modern-day theologians and biblical scholars continue to write books trying to convey the concept of the “Holy Trinity” to the laity of the Church.
During the early years of the Christian Church, there were many heresies that came forth, which included many pseudo-canonical and Gnostic writings, questioning many theological issues, such as to the true nature of Christ and the understanding of a “Holy Trinity. This would cause much confusion and separation in the early Christian Church through much blood shed,
The successors to the Apostles of Christ, the first Bishops of the Church, gathered in Nicaea (modern day Turkey) and in 324 AD accepted and adopted a the standard of one’s faith, a creed that is known as the “Profession of Faith,” or the Nicene Creed, which many Christian denominations recite on Sundays and other Solemnities and holy Days of obligation in the Christian Church, as their core belief.
Though there are differences in the concept of the Holy Trinity, it should be noted, that all major Christian denominations, all adhere to the beliefs as professed in the Nicene Creed.
It has been said that it is not God whom we debate about, but rather man’s interpretation of God for God is Eternal in relationship to His creation.
In the first Seven Ecumenical Church Councils of the “Undivided Church” religious leaders were to address and define the “One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church and the relationship between God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, which was to put to rest several of major heresies. It was at the First Ecumenical Church Council in Nicaea in 324 AD, that the Trinitarian formulas of Father Son and Holy Spirit was set. When the “Great Schism” took place in 1054 AD which separated the Western Rite (Catholic) in Rome from the Eastern Rite (Orthodox) in Constantinople, one of the others major differences that separated the Christian Church was their understanding the Holy Trinity
In the Western Rite, the Roman Catholic Church, declared in the Nicaean Creed, that the Holy Spirit “proceeds from the Father (and the Son) and who with the Father and the Sonis adored and glorified.” This is known as the “Filioque” and was not included at the Second Ecumenical Church Council held in Constantinople in 381 AD.
The Eastern Rite, the Orthodox Church, kept the early Church teachings, declaring that the Holy Spirit “proceeded from the Father, who together with the Father (and the Son) is adored and glorified.” In the PNCC, we agree with the teachings of the Early Undivided Church and with the Orthodox faith, in reference to the Blessed Trinity.
In the Sacrament of Baptism, we follow the words of Jesus who speaks in the Matthew 28:19: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” It was Basil the Great(330–379 AD) who writes: "We are bound to be baptized in the terms we have received, and to profess faith in the terms in which we have been baptized." At the Second Council of Constantinople, held in 381 AD we also read, "This is the Faith of our baptism that teaches us to believe in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. According to this faith, there is one Godhead of the Father, the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
In the Protestant branch of Christianity, there are many denominations who hold fast to the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. They include the Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, Episcopalian, and the United Church of Christ churches, as outlined in the Nicaean Creed.
There are other Christian denominations who do not hold to the doctrine of the Holy Trinity as outlined in the early Church Councils. Among them are: Christian Scientists, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints(Mormons), Jehovah's Witnesses, the Seventh Day Church of God, Unitarian Universalist Christiansand others who do not hold to the belief of One God, in three separate & divine persons.
Rev. Fr. Robert M. Koerber