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In Christianity, God is the eternal being who created and preserves all things. Christians believe God to be both transcendent (wholly independent of, and removed from, the material universe) and immanent (involved in the world).[1][2] Christian teachings of the immanence and involvement of God and his love for humanity exclude the belief that God is of the same substance as the created universe[3] but accept that God's divine nature was hypostatically united to human nature in the person of Jesus Christ, in an event known as the Incarnation.

Early Christian views of God were expressed in the Pauline epistles and the early creeds, which proclaimed one God and the divinity of Jesus, almost in the same breath as in 1 Corinthians (8:5-6): "For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many 'gods' and many 'lords'), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live."[4][5][6] "Although the Judeo-Christian sect of the Ebionites protested against this apotheosis of Jesus,[7] the great mass of Gentile Christians accepted it."[8] This began to differentiate the Gentile Christian views of God from traditional Jewish teachings of the time.[4]

The theology of the attributes and nature of God has been discussed since the earliest days of Christianity, with Irenaeus writing in the 2nd century: "His greatness lacks nothing, but contains all things".[9] In the 8th century, John of Damascus listed eighteen attributes which remain widely accepted.[10] As time passed, theologians developed systematic lists of these attributes, some based on statements in the Bible (e.g., the Lord's Prayer, stating that the Father is in Heaven), others based on theological reasoning.[11][12] The Kingdom of God is a prominent phrase in the Synoptic Gospels and while there is near unanimous agreement among scholars that it represents a key element of the teachings of Jesus, there is little scholarly agreement on its exact interpretation.[13][14]

Although the New Testament does not have a formal doctrine of the Trinity as such, "it does repeatedly speak of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit... in such a way as to compel a Trinitarian understanding of God." This never becomes a tritheism, i.e. this does not imply three Gods.[15] Around the year 200, Tertullian formulated a version of the doctrine of the Trinity which clearly affirmed the divinity of Jesus and came close to the later definitive form produced by the Ecumenical Council of 381.[16][17] The doctrine of the Trinity can be summed up as: "The One God exists in Three Persons and One Substance, as God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit."[18][19] Trinitarians, who form the large majority of Christians, hold it as a core tenet of their faith.[20][21] Nontrinitarian denominations define the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in a number of different ways.[22]

To Trinitarian Christians (which include Catholic Christians, [86]

The doctrine was expressed at length in the 4th-century Athanasian Creed of which the following is an extract:[19][20]

We worship one God in Trinity, and 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 all one; the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal.
Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit.

To Trinitarian Christians (which include Catholic Christians, Eastern Orthodox Christians, and most Protestant denominations), God the Father is not at all a separate god from the Son (of whom Jesus is the incarnation) and the Holy Spirit, the other Hypostases of the Christian Godhead.[88]

The 2

The 20th century witnessed an increased theological focus on the doctrine of the Trinity, partly due to the efforts of Karl Barth in his fourteen volume Church Dogmatics.[89] This theological focus relates the revelation of the Word of God to the Trinity, and argues that the doctrine of Trinity is what distinguishes the "Christian concept of God" from all other religions.[89][90]

The emergence of Trinitarian theology of God the Father in early Christianity was based on two key ideas: first the shared identity of the Yahweh of the Old Testament and the God of Jesus in the New Testament, and then the self-distinction and yet the unity between Jesus and his Father.[91][92] An example of the unity of Son and Father is Matthew 11:27: "No one knows the Son except the Father and no one knows the Father except the Son", asserting the mutual knowledge of Father and Son.[93]

The concept of fatherhood of God does appear in the Old Testament, but is not a major theme.[91][94] While the view of God as the Father is used in the Old Testament, it only became a focus in the New Testament, as Jesus frequently referred to it.[91][94] This is manifested in the Lord's prayer which combines the earthly needs of daily bread with the reciprocal concept of forgiveness.[94] And Jesus' emphasis on his special relationship with the Father highlights the importance of the distinct yet unified natures of Jesus and the Father, building to the unity of Father and Son in the Trinity.[94]

The paternal view of God as the Father extends beyond Jesus to his disciples, and the entire Church, as reflected in the petitions Jesus submitted to the Father for his followers at the end of the Farewell Discourse, the night before his crucifixionThe concept of fatherhood of God does appear in the Old Testament, but is not a major theme.[91][94] While the view of God as the Father is used in the Old Testament, it only became a focus in the New Testament, as Jesus frequently referred to it.[91][94] This is manifested in the Lord's prayer which combines the earthly needs of daily bread with the reciprocal concept of forgiveness.[94] And Jesus' emphasis on his special relationship with the Father highlights the importance of the distinct yet unified natures of Jesus and the Father, building to the unity of Father and Son in the Trinity.[94]

The paternal view of God as the Father extends beyond Jesus to his disciples, and the entire Church, as reflected in the petitions Jesus submitted to the Father for his followers at the end of the Farewell Discourse, the night before his crucifixion.[95] Instances of this in the Farewell Discourse are John 14:20 as Jesus addresses the disciples: "I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you" and in John 17:22 as he prays to the Father: "I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one."[96]

In Trinitarian theology, God the Father is the "arche" or "principium" (beginning), the "source" or "origin" of both the Son and the Holy Spirit, and is considered the eternal source of the Godhead.[97] The Father is the one who eternally begets the Son, and the Father eternally breathes the Holy Spirit. The Son is eternally born from God the Father, and the Spirit eternally proceeds from the Father,[26][97] and, in the Western tradition, also from the Son.

Yet, notwithstanding this difference as to origin, Father is one with, co-equal to, co-eternal, and con-substantial with the Son and the Holy Spirit, each Person being the one eternal God and in no way separated, who is the creator: all alike are uncreated and omnipotent.[26] Thus, the Divine Unity consists of God the Father, with his Son and his Spirit distinct from God the Father and yet perfectly united together in him.[26] Because of this, the Trinity is beyond reason and can only be known by revelation.[98][99]

Trinitarians believe that God the Father is not pantheistic, in that he is not viewed as identical to the universe, but exists outside of creation, as its Creator.[100][101] He is viewed as a loving and caring God, a Heavenly Father who is active both in the world and in people's lives.[100][101] He created all things visible and invisible in love and wisdom, and man for his own sake.[100][101][102]

Since early Christianity, a number of titles have been attributed to Jesus, including, Messiah (Christ) and the Son of God.[103][104] Theologically, these are different attributions: Messiah refers to his fulfilling the expected Old Testament prophecies, while Son of God refers to a paternal relationship.[103][104] God the Son is distinct from both Messiah and Son of God and its theology as part of the doctrine of the Trinity was formalized well over a century after those.[104][105][106]

According to the Gospels, Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born from the Virgin Mary.[107] The Biblical accounts of Jesus' ministry include: his baptism, miracles, preaching, teaching, and healing. The narrative of the gospels place significant emphasis on the death of Jesus, devoting about one third of the text to just seven days, namely the last week of the life of Jesus in Jerusalem.[108] The core Christian belief is that through the death and resurrection of Jesus, sinful humans can be reconciled to God and thereby are offered salvation and the promise of eternal life.[109] The belief in the redemptive nature of Jesus' death predates the Pauline letters and goes back to the earliest days of Christianity and the Jerusalem church.[110] The Nicene Creed's statement that "for our sake he was crucified" is a reflection of this core belief.[109]

The two Christological concerns as to how Jesus could be truly God while preserving faith in the existence of one God and how the human and the divine could be combined in one person were fundamental concerns from well before the First Council of Nicaea (325).[111] However, the theology of "God the Son" was eventually reflected in the statement of the Nicene Creed of the 4th century.[112]

The Chalcedonian Creed of 451, accepted by the majority of Christians, holds that Jesus is God incarnate and "true God and true man" (or both fully divine and fully human). Jesus, having become fully human in all respec

According to the Gospels, Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born from the Virgin Mary.[107] The Biblical accounts of Jesus' ministry include: his baptism, miracles, preaching, teaching, and healing. The narrative of the gospels place significant emphasis on the death of Jesus, devoting about one third of the text to just seven days, namely the last week of the life of Jesus in Jerusalem.[108] The core Christian belief is that through the death and resurrection of Jesus, sinful humans can be reconciled to God and thereby are offered salvation and the promise of eternal life.[109] The belief in the redemptive nature of Jesus' death predates the Pauline letters and goes back to the earliest days of Christianity and the Jerusalem church.[110] The Nicene Creed's statement that "for our sake he was crucified" is a reflection of this core belief.[109]

The two Christological concerns as to how Jesus could be truly God while preserving faith in the existence of one God and how the human and the divine could be combined in one person were fundamental concerns from well before the First Council of Nicaea (325).[111] However, the theology of "God the Son" was eventually reflected in the statement of the Nicene Creed of the 4th century.[112]

The Chalcedonian Creed of 451, accepted by the majority of Christians, holds that Jesus is God incarnate and "true God and true man" (or both fully divine and fully human). Jesus, having become fully human in all respects, suffered the pains and temptations of a mortal man, yet he did not sin. As fully God, he defeated death and rose to life again.[113] The Third Council of Constantinople in 680 then held that both divine and human wills exist in Jesus, with the divine will having precedence, leading and guiding the human will.[114]

In mainstream Christianity, Jesus Christ as God the Son is the second Person of the Holy Trinity, due to his eternal relation to the first Person (God as Father).[115] He is considered coequal with the Father and Holy Spirit and is all God and all human: the Son of God as to his divine nature, while as to his human nature he is from the lineage of David.[107][115][116][117]

More recently, discussions of the theological issues related to God the Son and its role in the Trinity were addressed in the 20th century in the context of a "Trinity-based" perspective on divine revelation.[118][119]

In mainstream Christianity, the Holy Spirit is one of the three divine persons of the Holy Trinity who make up the single substance of God; that is, the Spirit is considered to act in concert with and share an essential nature with God the Father and God the Son (Jesus).[120][121] The New Testament has much to say about the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit's presence was especially felt following the ascension of Christ, although not to the exclusion of an early presence as attested by the Old Testament and throughout the New Testament.[15]:p.39 The Christian theology of the Holy Spirit, or pneumatology, was the last piece of Trinitarian theology to be fully explored and developed, and there is thus greater theological diversity among Christian understandings of the Spirit than there is among understandings of the Son and the Father.[120][121] Within Trinitarian theology, the Holy Spirit is usually referred to as the "Third Person" of the triune God—with the Father being the First Person and the Son the Second Person.[120]

Reflecting the Annunciation in Luke 1:35, the early Apostles' Creed states that Jesus was "conceived by the Holy Spirit".[122] The Nicene Creed refers to the Holy Spirit as "the Lord and Giver of Life" who with the Father and the Son together is "worshiped and glorified".[123] While in the act of the Incarnation, God the Son became manifest as the Son of God, the same did not take place for God the Holy Spirit which remained unrevealed.[124] Yet, as in 1 Corinthians 6:19 God the Spirit continues to dwell in bodies of the faithful.Reflecting the Annunciation in Luke 1:35, the early Apostles' Creed states that Jesus was "conceived by the Holy Spirit".[122] The Nicene Creed refers to the Holy Spirit as "the Lord and Giver of Life" who with the Father and the Son together is "worshiped and glorified".[123] While in the act of the Incarnation, God the Son became manifest as the Son of God, the same did not take place for God the Holy Spirit which remained unrevealed.[124] Yet, as in 1 Corinthians 6:19 God the Spirit continues to dwell in bodies of the faithful.[124][125]

In Christian theology Holy Spirit is believed to perform specific divine functions in the life of the Christian or the church. The action of the Holy Spirit is seen as an essential part of the bringing of the person to the Christian faith.[126] The new believer is "born again of the Spirit".[127]

The Holy Spirit enables Christian life by dwelling in the individual believers and enables them to live a righteous and faithful life.[126] He acts as Comforter or Paraclete, one who intercedes, or supports or acts as an advocate, particularly in times of trial. He acts to convince unredeemed persons both of the sinfulness of their actions and thoughts, and of their moral standing as sinners before God.[128] The Holy Spirit both inspired the writing of the scriptures and now interprets them to the Christian and church.[129]

In Eastern Orthodox theology, essence of God being that which is beyond human comprehension and can not be defined or approached by human understanding.[130] Roman Catholic teachings are somewhat similar in considering the mysteries of the Trinity as being beyond human reason.[99] However, differences exist in that in Roman Catholic theology and teaching, God the Father is the eternal source of the Son (begot the Son by an eternal generation) and of the Holy Spirit (by an eternal procession from the Father and the Son) and the one who breathes the Holy Spirit with and through the Son, but the Eastern Orthodox consider the Spirit to proceed from the Father alone.[131]

Most Protestant denominations and other traditions arising since the Protestant denominations and other traditions arising since the Protestant Reformation, hold general Trinitarian beliefs and theology regarding God the Father similar to that of Roman Catholicism. This includes churches arising from Anglicanism, Baptist, Methodism, Lutheranism and Presbyterianism. Likewise, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church describes the Trinity as "the central dogma of Christian theology".[132] However, a precise representative view of Protestant Trinitarian theology regarding "God the Father", etc., is more difficult to provide, given the diverse and less centralized nature of the various Protestant churches.[132]

Some Christian traditions reject the doctrine of the Trinity, and are called nontrinitarian.[133] These groups differ from one another in their views, variously depicting Jesus as a divine being second only to God the Father, Yahweh of the Old Testament in human form, God (but not eternally God), prophet, or simply a holy man.[133] Some broad definitions of Protestantism include these groups within Protestantism, but most definitions do not.[134]

Nontrinitarianism goes back to the early centuries of Christian history and groups such as the Arians, Ebionites, Gnostics, and others.[22] These nontrinatarian views were rejected by many bishops such as Irenaeu

Nontrinitarianism goes back to the early centuries of Christian history and groups such as the Arians, Ebionites, Gnostics, and others.[22] These nontrinatarian views were rejected by many bishops such as Irenaeus and subsequently by the Ecumenical Councils. The Nicene Creed raised the issue of the relationship between Jesus' divine and human natures.[22] After it was rejected by the Council of Nicea, nontrinitarianism was rare among Christians for many centuries, and those rejecting the doctrine of the Trinity faced hostility from other Christians, but the 19th century saw the establishment of a number of groups in North America and elsewhere.[134]

In Jehovah's Witness theology, only God the Father is the one true and almighty God, even over his Son Jesus Christ. While the Witnesses acknowledge Christ's pre-existence, perfection, and unique "Sonship" with God the Father, and believe that Christ had an essential role in creation and redemption, and is the Messiah, they believe that only the Father is without beginning.[135]

In the theology of God in Mormonism, the most prominent conception of God is the Godhead, a divine council of three distinct beings: Elohim (the Father), Jehovah (the Son, or Jesus), and the Holy Spirit. The Father and Son are considered to have perfected, material bodies, while the Holy Spirit has a body of spirit. Mormonism recognizes the divinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but believes they are distinct beings, united not in substance but in will and purpose, and they are each omniscient, omnipotent, and omni-benevolent.[136]

Other groups include Oneness Pentecostals, Christadelphians, Christian Scientists, and The New Church.