Reflections on the Creed: “I believe in one God”

The Holy Trinity by Antonio de Pereda, first half of 17th century

Jesus reveals to us that God is our Father.  He is such because he is the origin of everything, maker of all things visible and invisible and also because through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, we are invited into a relationship with God as adopted children.  We are asked to call God “Our Father.”  We dare because Jesus told us we could and because we are baptized into Jesus’ life and so we become God’s adopted children.

But before we come to recognize that relationship in grace, we come to know God who created everything out of nothing.  When Moses encountered God in the burning bush and asked his name, God responded, “I am who I am” (Exodus 3:14) – only God simply is.  He is Truth and therefore he is One.  Everything else in the cosmos, everything in heaven and on earth, has been created by God and is dependent on God for its very existence.

By observation and reason alone we might conclude that a divine creator exists, as cultures have in every age of human history.  But we could never come to the conclusion that God is one and yet three: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit even if we devoted ourselves to study over several lifetimes.  We need to have this revealed to us by God.  He reveals divine mysteries to accommodate our human weakness.

The Church would come to speak of this mystery using the term Trinity.  It is the central mystery of the Christian faith.  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all equal in power, all co-eternal, and all divine.  All are God and all three are one in an eternal communion.

Since the earliest days, the Church’s faith has been Trinitarian, and its blessings and prayers reflect this faith.  Jesus tells his disciples to baptize with a Trinitarian formula: “…in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).

It would seem to be logically inconsistent to assert that three are one, but although it is a mystery, we can grasp that the Trinity is reasonable because the One True God is Love (1 John 4:8, 16).  The Catholic author G.K. Chesterton observed that the Trinity is “simply the logical side of love.”  Love is necessarily, by its very nature, relational – love does not exist in isolation.  Within the One God himself is (1) Someone who loves and (2) Someone who is loved, and (3) there is Love who proceeds from them. That is, there is the Father and the Son, and the love they share is so profound that he is a Person as well: the Holy Spirit.

The nature of love not only requires another, it cannot be imposed, it is necessarily a matter of free choice.  God respects our spiritual freedom. We are free to accept his love or reject it, to cultivate it or neglect it.

When we reflect on the article of the Creed that says, “I believe in One God,” we not only recognize the God who creates all that is but the God who so loves us that he invites us into our relationship with him that transcends the created order and makes it possible for us to have a unique yet real relationship.  “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God.  Yet so we are” (1 John 3:1).

That is the faith that Christians have proclaimed since Jesus ascended to heaven. We call it the Gospel, which means “Good News.” The mysteries of our faith are indeed mysterious, but they are a positive, uplifting, and joyful message.

This is the first in a series based on passages from “Faith that Transforms Us: Reflections on the Creed.”