Meeting The Orthodox (Page 12 of 25)

By: Fr. Thomas HopkoRead time: 40 mins11778 Hits


12. The Holy Trinity

You have mentioned Christ, the Holy Spirit and God the Father. Can you say something more about the Trinity?

According to the Orthodox teaching, God is always and forever unknowable and incomprehensible to creatures. Even in the eternal life of the Kingdom of God — heaven , as we say — men will never know the essence of God, that is, what God really is in Himself.

But we believe and confess that God the “ineffable, inconceivable, incomprehensible, ever-existing God,” to use the words of the Orthodox liturgy, has made Himself known to creatures. He has revealed Himself in the creation of man and the world, in the Old Testament Law and the Prophets, and fully and perfectly in Christ through the Holy Spirit in the New Testament Church.

In every way that God reveals Himself, He does so through His Son (or Word-Logos) and through the Holy Spirit. It is the same Son and Spirit through whom God made the world, through whom God revealed Himself in the Old Testament, through whom God enlightens and makes alive every man in the world … that come to us personally in the New Testament Church. The Son comes as a man in the person of Jesus Christ — we have discussed this already. The Spirit comes to those who believe in Christ in order to make them sons of God in Him.

Thus we have always and everywhere God the Father, the Son of God who comes as Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. In the Orthodox Church we confess that these three are not three competitive gods, divided, and separated from each other. On the contrary we believe that the Father, who is the Source of all that exists, always has His Son and His Spirit who are not creatures, Who were not made like everything and everyone else, but Who exist eternally with Him; from, in and by His very own divine being.

Thus what God the Father is, the Son and the Holy Spirit also are, namely: eternal, perfect, good, wise, holy, timeless, spaceless … divine and worthy of the title GOD.

We believe as well that each of the three divine persons is divine in his own unique way, yet always living and acting in the perfectly absolute unity of the divine truth and love. Thus the Three are one not only because what they are is one and the same, but because their divine union allows of no separation or duality or division whatsoever.

We must hasten to point out here that the Orthodox teaching about the Holy Trinity is not an “abstract dogma” thought up by some clever minds. It is the expression on the level of words — which are always and of necessity inadequate to reality — of the loving experience of God in the Church. The doctrine of the Trinity is the product of man’s living communion with the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit.


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