The Three Persons of the Trinity are consubstantial

In the Creed, we say that Jesus is consubstantial (formerly phrased as ‘one in being’) with the Father. What does this mean?

A Dogma of the Faith

The dogma concerning the Nature of the Trinity is that all Three Persons are consubstantial, not only the Father and Son.

The term ‘Substance’ refers to the Nature of God, to His Being or Essence. The term ‘consubstantial’ means that each of the Three Persons entirely possesses the one Nature.

The Nature of God is One; very thoroughly One. In God, existence is the same as will is the same as knowledge is the same as justice is the same as mercy is the same as love, and so on. Everything that can truly be said about God is One. So in God, justice and mercy are the same. Literally exactly the same. In God, His existence and His Love are exactly the same. If God stopped loving (which is impossible), He would literally cease to exist. For God, to love is to exist, and to exist is to love.

The true things that we can say about God are His attributes: that God exists, that He has will and knowledge, that He is justice, mercy, love, etc. From our point of view as weak and mortal finite creatures, it seems as if these are distinct qualities. But God actually has no qualities or attributes per se. Everything that seems like a quality or attribute is His very Nature. And all the qualities or attributes of God are One.

What consubstantial means is that the attributes of God are not distributed among the Three Persons. The knowledge of God is an attribute of all Three Persons; it is not confined to the Son. The love of God is an attribute of all Three Persons; it is not confined to the Spirit.

A Severe Heresy

Now there is a certain analogy that is often used to explain the Trinity, and to show how the human person is created in the image of God. The Father is analogous to will, the Son is analogous to intellect (thought, knowledge), the Spirit is analogous to love. Human persons have free will, intellect, and the ability to love. In this way, created persons are more like God than the rest of Creation. But this is just an analogy; it is not literal.

But if anyone were to say that all the love of God is in the Spirit, and not in the Father or Son, he would be denying the dogma that the Three Persons are consubstantial. The same would be true if anyone were to say that all the knowledge of God were only in the Son, not in the Father and the Spirit. It is abject heresy to claim that any attribute of the Divine Nature is only in one Person and not in another. For they each and all possess the One Divine Nature fully.

This heresy of denying that the Three Persons are consubstantial is taught by Michael Voris. He is a teacher of heresy. And yet many Catholics approve of his teaching and support his work. Why? because he is conservative and they are conservative. He rails against the U.S. Bishops for being too liberal. He speaks as if most Bishops have gone astray, but he has not. He presents himself as a guardian of conservatism in the Church. But when I consider the content of his teaching, I quickly find grave doctrinal errors and abject heresy.

Most Catholics today are in a state of at least material heresy. Many are in a state of formal heresy. Many Catholics, even those who are faithful, have a very poor understanding of Catholic teaching. They are unable to recognize blatant heresy, and unable to distinguish heresy from dogma, doctrinal error from true doctrine. And so they fall prey to the many false teachers who have risen up in the Church today. And when I point out the heresies of one false teacher or another, it does not weigh on them. They like the ideas that they like. They want the teachers that they want. They want what they want, and they don’t care how.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and
translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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