Christian conception of God as consisting of three persons (hypostases) — the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit — sharing the same substance (ousia)
- I could wish that men would consider three things which are within themselves. These three things are quite different from the Trinity, but I mention them in order that men may exercise their minds and test themselves and come to realize how different from it they are. The three things I speak of are: to be, to know, and to will. For I am, and I know, and I will. I am a knowing and a willing being; I know that I am and that I will; and I will to be and to know. In these three functions, therefore, let him who can see how integral a life is; for there is one life, one mind, one essence. Finally, the distinction does not separate the things, and yet it is a distinction.
- Augustine, Confessions, A. Outler, trans. (Dover: 2002), Book 13, Chapter 11, Section 12, p. 275
- When I, who conduct this inquiry, love something, then three things are found: I, what I love, and the love itself. … There are, therefore three things: the lover, the beloved and the love.
- Augustine, On The Trinity (Cambridge: 2002), Book 9, Chapter 2, Section 2, p. 26
- The mind itself, its love [of itself] and its knowledge [of itself] are a kind of trinity.
- Augustine, On The Trinity (Cambridge: 2002), Book 9, Chapter 4, Section 4, p. 27
- TRINITY, n. In the multiplex theism of certain Christian churches, three entirely distinct deities consistent with only one. Subordinate deities of the polytheistic faith, such as devils and angels, are not dowered with the power of combination, and must urge individually their claims to adoration and propitiation. The Trinity is one of the most sublime mysteries of our holy religion. In rejecting it because it is incomprehensible, Unitarians betray their inadequate sense of theological fundamentals. In religion we believe only what we do not understand, except in the instance of an intelligible doctrine that contradicts an incomprehensible one. In that case we believe the former as a part of the latter.
- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
- To Jesus and Paul the doctrine of the trinity was apparently unknown; at any rate, they say nothing about it.
- E. Washburn Hopkins, Origin and Evolution of Religion, p. 336
- The word ‘person’ has changed its meaning since the third century when it began to be used in connection with the ‘threefoldness of God’. When we talk about God as a person, we naturally think of God as being one person. But theologians such as Tertullian, writing in the third century, used the word ‘person’ with a different meaning. The word ‘person’ originally derives from the Latin word persona, meaning an actor’s face-mask—and, by extension, the role which he takes in a play. By stating that there were three persons but only one God, Tertullian was asserting that all three major roles in the great drama of human redemption are played by the one and the same God. The three great roles in this drama are all played by the same actor: God. Each of these roles may reveal God in a somewhat different way, but it is the same God in every case. So when we talk about God as one person, we mean one person in the modern sense of the word, and when we talk about God as three persons, we mean three persons in the ancient sense of the word. ... Confusing these two senses of the word ‘person’ inevitably leads to the idea that God is actually a committee.
- Alister E. McGrath, Understanding the Trinity, 130-131
- The doctrine, that there are three persons in one God, is principally founded on I John 5, 7. "There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one." ... These three are one. They are one, or agree in their testimony; as, in the next verse, the three witnesses on earth agree in one. To say these three are one God, would contradict the original; for the word hen, translated one, is in the neuter gender, and cannot agree with the word God. ... Now as all believers are not one substance nor one being; and as they are all one, even as the Father and Son are one; we must then conclude, that the Father and Son are not one substance, nor one being. This is farther evident from John 10, 30, "I and my Father are (hen) one," says Jesus. Yet in the same Evangelist he said, "My Father is greater than I." John 14, 28. If they were one substance, or one being, there could be no comparison; as one cannot be greater or less than itself. The fact is, all believers are one in spirit, purpose, and mind—and this is the oneness which our Lord prayed they might have—this was the oneness of Paul and Apollos.—This appears to me to be the oneness of the Father and the Son.
- Barton W. Stone, An Address to the Christian Churches in Kentucky, Tennessee & Ohio on Several Important Doctrines of Religion, Address to the Christian Churches, 2nd edition, Lexington, Kentucky, Printed by I. T. Cavins, & Co., 1821.
- “I and the Father Are One” (John 10:30) is often cited to support the Trinity, even though no third person is mentioned there. But Jesus himself showed what he meant by his being “one” with the Father. At John 17:21, 22, he prayed to God that his disciples “may all be one, just as you, Father, are in union with me and I am in union with you, that they also may be in union with us, ... that they may be one just as we are one.” Was Jesus praying that all his disciples would become a single entity? No, obviously Jesus was praying that they would be united in thought and purpose, as he and God were.