The correct position is that position expounded in Holy Scripture, which has been held and taught from antiquity by the Holy Catholic Church: The Lord is one God in three Divine Persons. Let us first see what the Church says, and then we will examine the Scriptures:
Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, Sess. 8, Nov. 22, 1439, ex cathedra (Athanasian Creed):
- “...we worship one God in the Trinity, and the Trinity in unity, neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance.
- For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the holy Spirit. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son and of the holy Spirit is one, the glory equal, and the majesty co-eternal.
- Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the holy Spirit. The Father uncreated the Son uncreated and the holy Spirit uncreated. The Father infinite, the Son infinite and the holy Spirit infinite. The Father eternal, the Son eternal and the holy Spirit eternal. Yet they are not three eternals, but one eternal. As also they are not three uncreateds nor three infinites, but one uncreated and one infinite.
- Likewise the Father is almighty, the Son is almighty and the holy Spirit is almighty. Yet they are not three almighties, but one almighty. Likewise the Father is God, the Son is God and the holy Spirit is God. Yet they are not three gods, but one God. Likewise the Father is Lord, the Son is Lord and the holy Spirit is Lord. Yet they are not three lords, but one Lord.
- For just as we are compelled by the Christian truth to acknowledge each person by himself to be God and Lord, so we are forbidden by the Catholic religion to say there are three gods or three lords.
- The Father is made by none, neither created nor begotten. The Son is from the Father alone; not made nor created, but begotten. The holy Spirit is from the Father and the Son; not made nor created nor begotten, but proceeding.
- So there is one Father, not three fathers; one Son, not three sons; one holy Spirit, not three holy spirits. And in this Trinity nothing is before or after, nothing is greater or less; but the whole three persons are co-eternal together and co-equal.
- So that in all things, as has been said above, the unity in Trinity and the Trinity in unity is to be worshiped.
- Whoever, therefore, wishes to be saved, let him think thus of the Trinity.”
Now we must examine this dogma of the Catholic Church in light of Scripture and see if it is supported or opposed.
Genesis 1:26: “And he said: Let us make man to our image and likeness: and let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and the beasts, and the whole earth, and every creeping creature that moveth upon the earth.”
God is speaking here as a group, rather than an individual, as seen by the words “Let us” and “our image”. One must at this point make a decision. Either God is speaking nonsense, or there is a reason for His choice of wording.
Christ used similar wording in his discussion with Nicodemus, wording indicating plurality of persons.
St. John 3:11: “Amen, amen I say to thee, that we speak what we know, and we testify what we have seen, and you receive not our testimony.”
Genesis 2:18: “And the Lord God said: It is not good for man to be alone: let us make him a help like unto himself.”
Here is another indication of God speaking from plurality. This brings up a question: Is God in fact multiple gods, and Monotheists are wrong? The Bible has the infallible answer:
Deuteronomy 6:4: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.”
We know that to deny the singular nature of God is to deny the very Word of God, and this would make us heretics and set us firmly upon the road to perdition. So how can we reconcile this with the Catholic belief that the Lord is one God in three Divine Persons?
1 St. John 5:7-8: “And there are three who give testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost. And these three are one…”
This verse teaches a clear distinction of persons in the one God. There is no other choice, one simply must admit that St. John the Evangelist tells us that “there are three” distinct persons who are nevertheless one. There is further support for this assertion in the next verse.
St. Luke 3:22: “And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape, as a dove upon him; and a voice came from heaven: Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.”
God the Father here speaks to God the Word/God the Son, while God the Holy Ghost descends upon him for all to see. Either God was attempting to mislead people at the beginning of Jesus ministry by misrepresenting Himself, or He was demonstrating the truth of His nature.
St. John 14:26: “But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you.”
Christ tells us that the Father, in Christ’s name, will send the Holy Ghost. We either have God playing hard to get and misleading people as to the plurality of persons involved in the divine being, or we have Him showing Himself plainly.
The Holy Ghost is the third Person of the Most Holy Trinity
St. Luke 1:35: "And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God."
The Blessed Virgin Mary conceived of the Holy Ghost. Christ is the Son of God, therefore it is evidently clear that the holy Ghost is God.
1 Corinthians 3:16: "Know you not, that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?"
1 Corinthians 6:19-20: "Or know you not, that your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you, whom you have from God; and you are not your own? For you are bought with a great price. Glorify and bear God in your body."
St. Paul tells the faithful, in the same epistle, both that they are the temple of God and the Temple of the Holy Ghost. It is a clear and unavoidable conclusion that the Holy Ghost is therefore God.
St. Matthew 28:19: "Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
The Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost: three distinct names for three distinct Persons who are one in the Divine nature, as stated by St. John above (1 St. John 5:8).
Finally, in order to bring the question to a decisive end (as though any more proofs were needed), we will look to the book of the Apocalypse, or as it is called in Protestant 'Bibles', Revelation, chapters 4 and 5:
Apocalypse 4:10-11: “The four and twenty ancients fell down before him that sitteth on the throne, and adored him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: Thou art worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory, and honour, and power: because thou hast created all things; and for thy will they were, and have been created.”
Nobody will deny that here we see the saints in heaven praising God, who sits on the throne. Now let us look at chapter 5 to see the puzzle pieces fall nicely into place, proving the plurality of persons in the One True God.
Apocalypse 5:1-3: “And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne, a book written within and without, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel, proclaiming with a loud voice: Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man was able, neither in heaven, nor on earth, nor under the earth, to open the book, nor to look on it.”
So we see that nobody is considered worthy to open this book. But wait! The book is in the hand of God Almighty! Why does He not open the book? How is God not worthy? Let us examine the text that follows to understand:
Apocalypse 5:4-10: “And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open the book, nor to see it. And one of the ancients said to me: Weep not; behold the lion of the tribe of Juda, the root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. And I saw: and behold in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the ancients, a Lamb standing as it were slain… And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat on the throne. And when he had opened the book, the four living creatures, and the four and twenty ancients fell down before the Lamb… And they sung a new canticle, saying: Thou art worthy, O Lord, to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; because thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God, in thy blood, out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation. And hast made us to our God a kingdom and priests, and we shall reign on the earth.”
Now it all makes sense. He who sits on the throne in Apocalypse 4 and 5 is God the Father, who is not counted worthy to open the book. Naturally, He is certainly able to do so by the power of His divinity, but for the sake of divine justice, only the Lamb, God the Son, is worthy to open it, for it was He who died upon the cross for humanity, thus it is His just due that He should be the one to open the book. Clearly, God the Father and God the Son are distinctly unique persons, though sharing the same Divine nature.
Apocalypse shows us that we cannot assert that God the Father died on the cross, or He would have considered Himself worthy to open the book. Only Jesus Christ died on the cross, not God the Father, nor God the Holy Ghost. To assert that God is one God and one Person necessarily means stating that God the Father died on the cross, but this is a heresy, which was condemned by the Catholic Church as Patripassionism.
The reason that the Catholic Church has always taught that the Lord is one God in three Divine Persons is because She is the one Church established by Jesus Christ, outside of which there is no salvation. You need to learn the true Catholic Faith, and convert to it, or you cannot attain salvation.