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I wonder whether God the Father, the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit are actually the same?

If the answer is "yes", why we can't we have our spiritual communication only with Jesus Christ?

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marked as duplicate by maj nem ɪz dæn, DJClayworth, Flimzy, David Stratton, Narnian Jun 11 at 13:14

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Trinity Doctrine headed your way :) –  Affable Geek Feb 4 '12 at 21:11
    
Yes... No.... I mean.... Have you ever seen a shamrock? –  Jim G. Mar 28 '12 at 9:24
    
For what it's worth, you are pretty much exclusively going to get "no" answers here, since practically everyone in Christianity today is a Trinitarian. And Trinitarians will always (more or less) answer by saying "three in one and one in three". If you were interested in considering the "yes" side of the argument, look up "modalism". (I'm not brave enough to venture another 'heretical' answer to this effect... yet.) :) –  Jas 3.1 Jul 9 '12 at 2:23
    
What are you trying to ask? Whether they are one being? Whether they are exactly the same? And what does your second sentence mean? –  curiousdannii Jun 2 at 2:46

4 Answers 4

up vote 15 down vote accepted

It's three Persons in one Divine Nature, all separate in their personhood, all equal in their divinity. An image pulled from an old catechism diagrams the relationship like this:

enter image description here

The legendary analogy that Saint Patrick used when educating the Irish was the shamrock: three distinct leaves in one plant. Obviously, any image we make is going to be an imperfect representation of what the Trinity is, but the essence is that the three distinct persons are united in their shared Divine nature.

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Ah, but in The Trinity, each leaf is the shamrock. :) –  Wikis Feb 5 '12 at 11:58
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I wonder what would happen to the diagram if the Son was the Father (Isaiah 9:6) and the Son was the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:17-18). We might just end up with one big circle (and a lot of questioned assumptions.) But all that "extra-Biblical" stuff aside, we know God the Father is a green man (Rev 4:3) and there are actually seven Holy Spirits in the Trinity (Rev 1:4-5). –  Jas 3.1 Jul 9 '12 at 2:37
    
@Wikis Have a look at the Sierpinski Triangle, which works pretty well as a "mathematical shamrock". –  Alypius Apr 18 '13 at 19:55

If the idea that the Father, Son and Spirit are all the same Being were true, we would expect that we would never see more than One of Them at the same time. Clark Kent and Superman are the same person, and the fact that you never see them together would make you start to suspect that after awhile.

In the Scriptures, we see the Father, Son, and Spirit at the same place and the same time. A classic example of this is at the baptism of Jesus:

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased. Luke 3:21-22 ESV

A good way to test ideas is to try to fit them into Scripture and see what happens. In this case, it gets pretty bizarre...

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, 22 and Jesus descended on Jesus in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “I am My beloved Son; with Me *I* am well pleased. Luke 3:21-22 Weird Version

Additionally, the Great Commission specifically identifies that believers ought to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit. If they are all the same, why not just the name of God? (Matthew 28:18-20)

Other phrases would become nonsensical as well:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ... 1 Peter 1:3 ESV

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you" Colossians 1:3 ESV

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. Hebrews 1:1-3 ESV

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. John 16:7 ESV

So, the Scriptures are pretty clear that the Father, Son and Spirit are distinct Persons, and the Bible starts sounding extremely weird if we assume that they are the same Being. You have God being the Father of Himself, sending Himself, referring to Himself as another Being, sitting next to Himself, and all sorts of strange things.

The doctrine of Modalism or Seballianism just doesn't fit the text.

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Augustine defined all of the following to be true:

  • The Son is God.
  • The Father is God.
  • The Holy Spirit is God.
  • The Father is not the Son.
  • The Son is not the Holy Spirit.
  • The Holy Spirit is not the Father.
  • There is only one God.

Here is a summary of Lecture 10, "The Doctrine of the Trinity", in the class "The History of Christian Theology" by Phillip Cary, Ph.D., which helps better to explain what "is" is. "The Christian doctrine of the Trinity is about how the one true God is Father, Son, and Holy Spririt, even though these three (each of them God) are different from one another. The crucial argument developed in the 4th century was wheter the Son or Logos, the second person of the Trinity, was as fully God as God the Father. In answering yes, the Council of Nicaea in 325 laid the foundations of the orthodox trinitarian tradition. This tradition teachs that the oneness of God consists in a single divine essense or ousia, belonging equally and fully to all three, while the threeness is not three Gods but three hypostases or persons. Because all divine attributes (such as eternity, omniscience, etc.) belong equally to each, they can only be distinguished from another by their relations of origin (for example, the Father begets the Son, not vice versa)."

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2  
I always found this formulation rather confusing. Perhaps it would help to clarify what the "is" relation means here. Clearly, it does not mean "is the same as", as that would imply that they are all the same (by transitivity), so what does it mean? "Is part of"? "Is a role of"? "Is a kind of"? Something else? –  hammar Feb 7 '12 at 1:13
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Of course it's confusing. We're trying to understand God based on our own limited understanding of human relationships. But we can understand something to be true without fully understanding it. –  thursdaysgeek Feb 7 '12 at 4:42

This particular belief, once called Sabellianism after Sabellius, is also called Modalism. In Modalism it is expressed that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are effectively three different masks or personae of the One God.

Orthodox Christians have considered this heretical since the first century, to our knowledge, because it contradicts the scriptures (for instance, who is the 'God of Jesus Christ', and how are we to interpret the prophecies in the Psalms where God makes his anointed placed above all of his brethren? They appear to not be the same person, God and 'the Lord' or 'the Anointed' (the Christ).)

But the reason why our communion is with all of the Godhead and not just Jesus Christ (as it says in our prayers, 'and have Thee (the son) and thy Father and thy Holy Spirit dwelling and abiding in me') is because they are three persons who fully indwell each other. In our liturgy and prayers this is repeated in various ways, but the most prominent is in the liturgy itself:

'Father, Son and Holy Spirit, One in essence and undivided.'

To have communion with one of the persons without the others would effectively divide the Godhead.

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