Choose a topic from Vol 3:


Reason proves God's existence
Primitive monotheism
Mystery of God's inner nature
Personality of God
Providence of God and the problem of evil


Immortal destiny of man
Can earth give true happiness?
Do human souls evolve?
Is transmigration possible?
Animal souls
Freedom of will
Free will and faith


Religion and God
The duty of prayer
The mysteries of religion
Can we believe in miracles?

The Religion of the Bible

Historical character of the Gospels
Canonical Books of the Bible
Original Manuscripts
Copyists' errors
Truth of the Bible
New Testament "contradictions"

The Christian Religion

Christianity alone true
Not the product of religious experience
Compared with Buddhism, Confucianism, Mahometanism, Bahaism, etc.,
Rejected by modern Jews
The demand for miracles
The necessity of faith
Difficulties not doubts
Proofs available
Dispositions of unbelievers

A Definite Christian Faith

One religion not as good as another
Changing one's religion
Catholic convictions and zeal
Religious controversy
The curse of bigotry
Towards a solution

The Problem of Reunion

Efforts at the reunion of the Churches
The Church of England as a "Bridge-Church"
Anglicans and the Greek Orthodox Church
The "Old Catholics" of Holland
Reunion Conferences
Catholic Unity
The Papacy as reunion center
Protestant hostility to Catholicism
The demands of charity

The Truth of Catholicism

Necessity of the Church
The true Church
Catholic claim absolute
A clerical hierarchy
Papal Supremacy
Temporal Power
Unity of the Church
Holiness of the Church
Catholicity of the Church
Catholic attitude to converts
Indefectible Apostolicity
Necessity of becoming a Catholic

The Church and the Bible

Catholic belief in the Bible
Bible-reading and private interpretation
Value of Tradition and the "Fathers"
Guidance of the Church necessary

The Dogmas of the Catholic Church

Dogmatic certainty
Credal statements
Faith and reason
The voice of science
Fate of rationalists
The dogma of the Trinity
Creation and evolution
The existence of angels
Evil spirits or devils
Man's eternal destiny
The fact of sin
Nature and work of Christ
Mary, the mother of God
Grace and salvation
The sacraments
Holy Eucharist
The Sacrifice of the Mass
Holy Communion
Marriage and divorce
Extreme Unction
Man's death and judgment
Resurrection of the body
End of the World

Moral Teachings of the Catholic Church

Catholic intolerance
The Spanish Inquisition
Prohibition of Books
Liberty of worship
Forbidden Socieities
Church attendance
The New Psychology
Deterministic philosophy
Marriage Legislation
Birth Prevention
Monastic Life
Convent Life
Legal defense of murderers
Laywers and divorce proceedings
Judges in Divorce
Professional secrecy

The Church in Her Worship

Why build churches?
Glamor of ritual
The "Lord's Prayer"
Pagan derivations
Liturgical symbolism
Use of Latin
Intercession of Mary and the Saints

The Church and Social Welfare

The Church and Education
The Social Problem
Social Duty of the Church
Catholicism and Capitalism

The dogma of the Trinity

567. When was the doctrine of the Trinity given to man?

It was given to man explicitly when God sent His Eternal and Only-begotten Son in human form as the Christ in order to give that more perfect revelation of Himself and of His plans for which the Old Testament manifestations were but a preparation.

568. It is a vicious circle to prove the Divinity of Christ by quoting the doctrine of the Trinity, and to prove the Trinity by quoting Christ.

There is no vicious circle. The proof of Christ's Divinity is drawn from quite other sources, independent of the doctrine of the Trinity.

569. Prior to the coming of Christ, was anything revealed to the Jews that would justify a belief in the Holy Trinity?

God had no intention of revealing the doctrine of the Trinity in its fullness to the Jews generally prior to the coming of Christ. However, in the Old Testament, there are many veiled references to the Word of God and to the Spirit of God which could serve as a preparation to men of good will for the full teaching of the New Testament. But actually, although the possibility of the full truth could be inferred, nothing approaching proof could be adduced from the Old Testament without the additional light of the New Testament and Catholic teaching. The Jews, therefore, could not have attained to the knowledge of the Trinity we possess prior to the coming of Christ.

570. Before the coming of Christ did not men, seeing the male, female, and offspring principle throughout nature, quite reasonably ascribe these same characteristics to the Author of nature?

It would be a great mistake to imagine that to be the explanation of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. Men are, of course, incurably religious. And those without the true religion revealed by God almost of necessity invented religious theories which could not really transcend the human level. So we find male gods, female gods, and their progeny as part of the ancient pagan mythologies. I deny that this introduction of sex-life into the divinity was reasonable. But still it is intelligible. Yet these notions have nothing whatever in common with the Christian Trinity which is purely spiritual, and abstracts from sexual elements altogether. The notions of masculine and feminine cannot be applied to the First and Second Persons; and the Holy Spirit who proceeds from them both is not generated as a result of any "marital" union between them. The ideas you suggest have nothing in common with the Christian doctrine except the number three, and that certainly does not warrant the conclusion that the Trinity is nothing but a variant of the man, woman, and child principle.

571. Other men, with equal vehemence, declared the consistent unitarian nature of God.

I must reject your implication that, whilst the unitarian view is consistent, the trinitarian concept is inconsistent. Again, I must point out that there is no question here of pitting the personal thoughts of unitarians against the personal thoughts of trinitarians. The whole question must be one of objective fact. Did God reveal His trinitarian character to mankind? If so, then the Christian doctrine of the Trinity is right, to whatever other conclusions men's own thoughts may lead them.

572. Can a believer in the Trinity on the male, female, and offspring principle claim to be surely right despite the equally reasonable thought of God as one?

The idea that the Trinity is a development of the male, female, and offspring principle is false. Nor can you contrast believers in the Trinity with those who think of God as one. Trinitarians believe absolutely in God as one. The three Divine Persons possess but one Divine Nature, and our doctrine of the Trinity insists most emphatically on the unity of the Godhead. Here precisely it differs from the pagan myths which, whatever their triad might be, absolutely denied the unity of God. If, however, you wish to contrast the trinitarian belief in three Divine Personalities in the one God with the unitarian denial of those three Personalities, then the trinitarians can surely claim to be right and that unitarianism is wrong.

573. Osiris, Isis, and Horus are probably as right or as wrong as Jehovah.

That cannot be admitted. According to Egyptian mythology, Osiris is treacherously slain by a rival god, Set, and descends to the netherworld to become god of the dead. Isis, his sister-wife, posthumously gives birth to a child, Horus, who is the triumphant sun in the heavens avenging his father. Possibly the Egyptians used the male, female, and offspring idea in a primitive dramatization of the sun being slain at night by darkness and rising triumphantly to a new life in the morning. But again there is no resemblance to the Trinity save in the number three. The Christian doctrine was not the slow fruit of speculations based on existing Jewish or pagan ideas. It was the direct revelation of Christ. And to depict Him as a theorizer with other people's opinions is not to write history, but to indulge in fancies opposed to all available evidence.

574. What precisely is the sense of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity? How is it explained?

The Christian doctrine of the Trinity means that there are three Divine Personalities possessing the one Divine Nature. The word itself, of course, is but the blending of the two words, "tri-unity." The idea of a unity containing within itself a multiplicity is not very difficult. A single human being is very complex if you begin to analyze him. New just as you have a human nature, God has a Divine Nature. But, where there are many men, there is but one God; and there can be only one Divine Nature. Yet God is the living God. There is a life in Him who is the Author of life; and life means activity. As you, for example, though silent and still, can be intensely active within yourself, able to be thinking of yourself, and forming an estimate of yourself, so God must be able to know Himself within Himself, and must be capable of a great love following His knowledge of the infinitely Beautiful and Good and True. But this knowledge and love within God must be identified with Him, yet in some way distinct from the source from which they proceed. His knowledge must be the child of Infinite Intelligence, and it must give rise to a Spirit of Infinite Love. And we are told by Christ that in the one God there is a Fatherhood, a Sonship, and a Holy Spirit of Love. And these make three personal relationships within the one Divine Nature.So we are bidden to baptize in the one name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

575. Was the Son due to the Primal Will of the Father, or did He have a primordial right to His derived existence?

Neither of your ideas can be applied to God. You are thinking in human terms which have only analogical application to God, and according to notions of successive priority which are excluded by the eternal simultaneity of God. Also you are attributing to the Divine Persons notions of will and of rights which are proper to one and the same Divine Nature possessed equally by all three Divine Persons, and which cannot be unequally distributed amongst those Persons. You must keep in mind that, if the Son is begotten by the Father, it is not by subsequent communication of being, but by an immanent eternal relationship of Nature. The successive idea that the Father exercised a Primal Will which led to the later origin of the Son is impossible in relation to God. So, too, is any talk of primordial rights in the Son to account for His derivation. The only reason for the Holy Trinity as revealed to us is to be found in the fact that the Divine Nature is what it is. God is the reason for His own existence and for all the conditions of that existence.

576. If there are gradations of perfection in the spiritual nature of angels and of human souls, surely there is room for gradations of perfection amongst the Persons in the Divine Nature.

The idea that the Eternal Son could possibly be less perfect than the Eternal Father is absolutely opposed to Christian doctrine. Gradations of perfection are possible only amongst created natures in which limitations are possible. God is not a finite, limited, created Being. He is uncreated, and uniformly perfect in an infinite degree. There is no room for gradation of perfection amongst the uncreated Persons subsisting in the one uncreated Divine Nature.

577. How can the Trinity be defended against the age-old charge of contradiction?

You are right in calling it an age-old charge. And you can be quite sure that all the great minds of the ages have met the charge, and have discovered that there was nothing in it. Unity and multiplicity under the same aspects of comparison would, of course, involve contradiction. But not when they are not under the same aspects of comparison. I do not undertake to explain fully the mystery of the Trinity. Could I do so, it would no longer be a mystery. But the absence of contradiction can be shown. For the doctrine does not say that there are three Gods and yet one God; nor does it say that there are three Persons yet one only Person. It says that there is but one God and three Persons. Unity in plurality is not a contradiction. One tree with three branches makes but one tree. But we do not say that the one and the multiple in God are even equally absolute, as is the case with the tree and its branches. The Divine Nature is Absolute; the multiplicity is constituted by pure relations. The absolute exists in itself; the relative does not, but only in dependence upon the absolute. The charge of contradiction does not allow for these divergent aspects, and is, therefore, invalid. A man may or may not believe in the Trinity. But he speaks foolishly when he accuses those who do believe of an absurdity.



Prefer a PRINT version?