From the Confessions: The Athanasian Creed
For the Father is one person, the Son is another, and the Spirit still another. But the deity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one, equal in glory, coeternal in majesty. What the Father is, the Son is, and so is the Holy Spirit. Uncreated is the Father; uncreated is the Son; uncreated is the Spirit. The Father is infinite; the Son is infinite; the Holy Spirit is infinite. Eternal is the Father; eternal is the Son; eternal is is the Spirit. And yet there are not three eternal beings, but one who is eternal; as there are not three uncreated and unlimited beings, but one who is uncreated and unlimited. Almighty is the Father; almighty is the Son; almighty is the Spirit; and yet there are not three almighty beings, but one who is almighty. Thus the Father is God; the Son is God; the Holy Spirit is God. And yet there are not three gods, but one God. Thus the Father is Lord; the Son is Lord; the Holy Spirit is Lord. And yet there are not three lords, but one Lord. As Christian truth compels us to acknowledge each distinct person as God and Lord, so catholic religion forbids us to say that there are three gods or lords.
Pulling It Together
When reading the Bible, it is easy enough to see that there is a personal God called the Father. He interacts with people in many of the same ways that we do. Again, it is easy to regard Jesus as a person when reading the gospels, but it takes a more careful reading to notice that he is God, on the level of the Father, even though he tells us that he is. On a first reading, one may not notice that the Holy Spirit is also the personal God. Once one has noticed that each is honored as Lord, that all three are regarded as personal, and that each Person is called God, it may take still longer before we notice that there is only one God.
Once we have seen this, we struggle. How can it be that there are three Persons but only one God? We try to make sense of it through human and earthly analogies but of course, all of them fall short of the glory who is God. We try to make sense of it, using reason alone. But reason cannot make sense of the Triune God. Nevertheless, when we read the Scripture, we learn that the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are each uncreated, infinite, and eternal, and each is the almighty Lord God. Further, we are taught by the Word itself that what one is, so is the other, and that all three are one. It is not that they are not so similar that it seems like they are one. They are one God. Yet they are three Persons.
As we confess the three, distinct persons of the one God, let us also admit our limitations. Being merely human, we cannot fully understand God. We have been given a divine gift, a revelation from God of who he is. In Scripture, he has revealed himself to us, but in ways that we cannot fully grasp. This is to be expected. Who could fathom the depths of divinity, and the divine still be God? Though acknowledging that we cannot fully comprehend, we may still believe what the Lord has revealed of himself.
Prayer: Open my mind and my heart, Lord, that I may believe through the Scripture what I cannot fully comprehend. Amen.
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