The Trinity (Part 1)

Today, it seems many Christians do not understand the Trinity, that is the Triune God.  It is something that the Christian Church has believed and taught for centuries, and I believe from the beginning.  The Trinity is not directly mentioned in the Bible, but it is something that is strongly implied in the Bible.  When you put together all the Bible passages on God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, you find that everything makes sense with the concept of the Trinity.  The Athanasian Creed lays out the doctrine of the Trinity with an emphasis on Jesus Christ in the latter half.

The Christian faith teaches that there is only one God with three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) to that one God. There are not three Gods under a Godhead council but only one God with one undivided essence/substance. Jesus is not a third of God but he is fully God, just as the Father and the Spirit are fully God.  Each person of the Trinity is equal to one another. There are many analogies for the Trinity, but they all fall short in some way or another.  It is a mystery that does not completely make sense to our limited minds, but the doctrine is derived from the Bible. 

An example from nature of something that does not make sense is the facts about light.  Light is a particle (a photon), and light is an electromagnetic wave.  It should be one or the other.  We have instruments that measure light as a particle and other instruments that measure light as a wave.  The Trinity is like that. We know it to be true but it does not make complete sense.

There are a couple of interesting passages that suggest the Trinity.  The Great Commision says

 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19)

Note that “name” is singular, but it points to three names, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  And from the Old Testament the Great Shema which starts with

 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. (Deuteronomy 6:4)

The word “God” in Hebrew is Elohim and it is actually plural, not singular as the passage or the corresponding verb would indicate.  These two passages suggest that there may be something to this Trinity idea. (Note I may be stretching the context too much for Elohim to be a reference to the Trinity. The word, Elohim, occurs more than 2500 times in the Old Testament, mostly in reference to the one true God.  The plural is also there to emphasize the awesome majesty of God, and maybe that is the only purpose of the plural.)

There are many passages (e.g. Isaiah 46:9, Romans 3:30a) that state that there is only one God.  This meant the many New Testament passages that claim that Jesus is also God (e.g. John 1:1,14, Titus 2:13) had to be resolved with the doctrine of the Trinity. Similarly for the Holy Spirit there are passages that equate the Holy Spirit with God (e.g. Acts 5:3-4, 2 Corinthians 3:17-18) that need to be resolved.  Scripture also records that Jesus and the Holy Spirit have the same attributes as God the Father. This makes the doctrine of the Trinity necessary and true.

Another concept that makes the Trinity necessary is the fact that one of the major defining attributes of God is love.  God needs someone to love.   Because our one God consists of 3 persons he can have that attribute of love.  He did not wait to create us to learn about love, rather love was known because each person of the Trinity is fully loved by the other persons of the Trinity. 

Part 2 will take a look at each person of the Trinity, and will take a look at some alternative views and proofs against those views.

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