The Trinity

Dear Grace,
A few friends and I were discussing God and Jesus. Some say they are the same being, while others claim they are separate beings. Could you please tell us which is correct, and show us some proof?

I am always amazed when I hear this question, and yet I realize there are many who are baffled by it but will not ask anyone because they are too embarrassed to do so. So, let us explain it in simple terms. Yes, indeed, Jesus is God. The Father and the Son are one in being but, at the same time, they are also two distinct Persons. We are speaking here about the greatest and most essential mystery of the Christian faith — the Most Holy Trinity. And do you know that one cannot rightly call himself a Christian without believing it?

What is the Holy Trinity? As Christians, we profess belief in one God in three Persons — Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We believe that they are all three completely God. That is what the word “trinity” means — three in the unity of one. Now, you might ask, “But how can that be? How can three persons be one? Why do we believe that? What proof do we have for it?”

Something very important that we must understand about the Holy Trinity is that it is a mystery. This means that, with our finite mind, we are probably never going to understand or grasp it totally, at least not in this world. Yet we believe it because God Himself has revealed it. How did He do that?

Listen to the words of Scripture: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD; and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” (Dt 6:4-5). “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other…. To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. ‘Only in the LORD, it shall be said of me, are righteousness and strength’” (Is 45: 22-24; cf. Phil 2: 10-11) (CCC #201).

So, if there is only one God, where do we get the idea that Jesus and God are one and the same? Did Jesus ever say He was God? Yes, He did! Here are three passages from the Gospel of John. Jesus said: “I and the Father are one” (Jn 10:30). “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn 14:9). “He who beholds me beholds the One who sent me” (Jn 12:45).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that just as we come to know a person by his actions, we also come to know God through His works (CCC #236). And in His works, we can see that He has manifested Himself to the world in three ways, in three Persons. Why did He do that? He did it because He loved us. He sent Himself in His Son and in His Holy Spirit into the world out of love for us.

God assumed a human nature and became a man to pay the price for our sinfulness so that we could one day be with Him in heaven. That is how much He loves us. And after doing that, the Father and the Son together send the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Holy Trinity, to finish the mission by being with us in the world and guiding us to heaven.

When we say that we believe in “God” we mean by that word God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

We cannot fully experience God without making that complete circle and confess belief in all three Persons.

And thus for us Christians our experience of the Trinity and our belief in God stand or fall together.

You should explain to your friends that being a Christian means to be a follower of Jesus Christ, and to be a follower of Christ means precisely to believe that He was who He said He was. He said that He was God.

© Copyright 2005 Grace D. MacKinnon

For permission to reprint this article, or to have Grace speak at your event, contact Grace MacKinnon at

Grace MacKinnon holds an MA in theology and is a syndicated columnist and public speaker on Catholic doctrine. Her new book You may also visit her online at

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