We don’t want to complicate things but it’s probably quite important to explain this (albeit in an amateur way).
We, that is Christians from their very beginnings, have experienced God as 3 persons of the same being. Stick with me. In the Bible, the old testament (which is the one we share with Jews), God is called YHWH. YHWH in the hebrew sounds something like breathing in and out Yah (breathe in), Weh (breathe out). This the same God we believe in. If you go and read the old testament you’ll realise that God appeared in different ways, he was the Father, the creator, the one who walked with them, wisdom, I could go on. Then in about 30ad a man from Nazareth in the middle east, a Jew, started to heal people and talk about something called the Kingdom of God. His name was Jesus (which happens to mean YHWH saves). That man went on to be crucified as a terrorist by the Romans. Then came the accounts that he wasn’t dead. He had died but he was getting seen by people, first a few and then by about 500. He is alive! Jesus was more than they thought he was, he had just broken the powers by giving himself.
We are Christians because we “follow Christ”, that is, we are simply followers of Jesus. We not only believe that he is the son of God, we believe he’s the best way to get to know his Father and he is the one who promised and gives his Holy Spirit to us (check out when the church first experienced the Holy Spirit).
So we believe God is 3 in 1.
God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.
They are three distinct persons but one in the same. They are the original community, dancing in an almost unfathomable relationship that is as older than the universe, out of which life has exploded. They are not just loving, they are love, they are not just creators, they are creativity. And it is their primal hospitality which says come, come and know us. They are the eternal family. And they are not gods but God, 3 in 1.
And if my explanation isn’t enough then take a look at these statements of faith written by the early church which try to outline it comprehensively….
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is,
seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven,
was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.
[The Nicene Creed – 325 AD]
I believe in God the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth:
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead and buried.
He descended into hell;
the third day he rose again from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father almighty;
from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost;
the holy catholic Church;
the communion of saints;
the forgiveness of sins;
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
[The Apostles Creed – 390 AD]