Scutum Fidei - Basic Description

Basic Description

This diagram consists of four nodes (generally circular in shape) interconnected by six links. The three nodes at the edge of the diagram are labelled with the names of the three persons of the Trinity (traditionally the Latin-language names, or scribal abbreviations thereof): The Father ("PATER"), The Son ("FILIUS"), and The Holy Spirit ("SPIRITUS SANCTUS"). The node in the center of the diagram (within the triangle formed by the other three nodes) is labelled God (Latin "DEUS"), while the three links connecting the center node with the outer nodes are labelled "is" (Latin "EST"), and the three links connecting the outer nodes to each other are labelled "is not" (Latin "NON EST").

The links are non-directional — this is emphasized in one thirteenth-century manuscript by writing the link captions "EST" or "NON EST" twice as many times (going in both directions within each link), and is shown in some modern versions of the diagram by superimposing each occurrence of the "is" / "is not" text on a double-headed arrow ↔ (rather than enclosing it within a link). So the following twelve propositions can be read off the diagram:

  • "The Father is God"
  • "The Son is God"
  • "The Holy Spirit is God"
  • "God is the Father"
  • "God is the Son"
  • "God is the Holy Spirit"
  • "The Father is not the Son"
  • "The Son is not the Father"
  • "The Father is not the Holy Spirit"
  • "The Holy Spirit is not the Father"
  • "The Son is not the Holy Spirit"
  • "The Holy Spirit is not the Son"

The Shield of the Trinity is not generally intended to be any kind of schematic diagram of the structure of God, but instead is merely a compact visual device from which the above statements (contained in or implied by the Athanasian Creed) can be read off.

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