The teaching of the Trinity is the foundational teaching upon which almost all of professed Christianity rests. To be a member of the World Council of Churches an organization must profess belief in this doctrine. Let's take a look at what the Trinity actually teaches and where this doctrine came from. As I have discussed this teaching with Christians of many faiths it has become increasingly clear to me that very few people actually realize what it says.
If we were to refer to any one of the summaries of beliefs of the various major denominations existing today, we would find that they espouse the idea that there is one God consisting of three distinct persons. As we look at the various descriptions we find that this doctrine of a "Trinity" teaches:
Three beings who are co-eternal
Three beings who are immortal
Three beings who are all-powerful, all-knowing, etc.
Three beings who are worthy of worship and praise
Three beings, each acting out a different role
For example, the Catholic Encyclopedia says:
"...the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and yet there are not three Gods but one God... the Persons are co-eternal and co-equal: all alike are uncreated and omnipotent."
Nearly all churches in Christianity have the same concept of the Trinity; some with slight modifications.
Looking at this a little closer, we begin to see what is really being said. If all three members of the Godhead are eternal, it means that they have all existed throughout eternity as distinct persons. They must then be all the same age. If it is true that they are all the same age, then the titles which they possess must merely reflect roles taken to act out the plan of redemption. These titles cannot be taken in a literal sense. For example: the Son of God then, is not really God's Son; He is the member of the Godhead playing the role of the Son. The Father is not really the father of Jesus; He is the member of the Godhead playing the role of the Father.
The implications of this teaching are profound when you think about it. The Scriptures tell us over and over again that God gave His Son to die for you and me, but the doctrine of the Trinity says Jesus was not really the Son. The Trinitarian would say that Jesus was "called" the Son because of His birth in Bethlehem but was not really God's Son in Heaven before He came to this earth.
This, in abbreviated form, is the teaching of the Trinity:
"There is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." Three questions we want to ask ourselves are, "Has this teaching about God been from the beginning of time, is it biblical, and does it matter?"