The Trinity: Fact or Fallacy?
by David Walker
When a person says they believe in the Trinity, what exactly are they saying? Well, believing in the Trinity means that you believe that God is One and Three at the same time. That is, there is only one God, Who exists as three Personifications: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost). Each One is fully God, and yet each a distinct Entity and Aspect of God. I'm sure you can see why there might be confusion and differences of opinion! The subject of the Trinity is probably one of the fiercest battlegrounds in all of Christianity. Even Bible scholars and theologians have disputed each other over this doctrine. Some people have even accused Trinity-believing Christians of being polytheistic. These people obviously don't understand what those who accept the Trinity believe, because, nothing could be further from the truth.
The Trinity and human logic
The first thing to remember is that if you try to rely on human comprehension to understand the Trinity, you will fail. Our limited human logic is not equal to the task. In Isaiah 55:9, the Lord says, "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." The reason many people have a problem accepting the Trinity is because they rely on their own logic and their own experience to make their decisions about it. They discount the Trinity for no other reason than,"It's not possible to be one and three at the same time," and if they were talking about a human being, they would be right. But we're not talking about a human being here. We're talking about God.
There are three main attributes used to describe the power of God. He is 1) Omniscient (all-knowing); 2) Omnipresent (everywhere at once); and 3) Omnipotent (all-powerful). This last one is the key. Those who say it's impossible for God to be One and Three at the same time are, in essence, placing a limit on the power of God. What they're really saying is that God is not all-powerful (omnipotent), even though the Bible makes it very clear that He is.
(Just a quick aside here, in Genesis 1:26, God said, "Let us
(plural) create man in our (pl) own image." Besides
the obvious plurality here, God says man is made in His image. Considering
the triune aspects of the Trinity, I've always found it interesting that
almost every single time man has attempted to define himself, three different
aspects are found, even in modern psychology.
Consider: [id, ego, superego], [mind, body, soul], [conscious, subconscious, superconscious], etc.. I just find it interesting that we say WE can have three different "aspects," and yet GOD, who is infinitely more complex and powerful than we are, can't? Think about it. OK, back to the paper.)
Commonly used Biblical objections to the Trinity
Some people do use the Bible to support their denial of the Trinity. There are a few verses in the Bible that some claim disprove the Trinity. On the surface, each looks convincing. But when you dig a little deeper, you will find the flaws in their arguments.
The first verse we'll look at is Deuteronomy 6:4,"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord." Seems pretty cut and dried doesn't it? However, you have to go back to the original Hebrew to find the real meaning of this verse. The Hebrew word for one used here is 'echad. Depending on the context, it can mean "one," "first," or "unified." The same word is used in Genesis 2:24,"Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and the two shall become one flesh." Does this mean that the husband and wife have become a single entity? Of course not. Anyone can tell you that this simply means that the man and woman are united in not only the physical act of consumation of the marriage, but also that they are united in the eyes of God. However, since 'echad can have more than one meaning, that doesn't really disprove their argument against the Trinity; until we look at the word used here for God, 'elohiym. Now, any Bible scholar can tell you that 'elohiym is a plural word (the singular form is 'eloahh). This word is used over 90% of the time in the Old Testament where our Bible has the word "God." So those that say that this verse disproves the Trinity, are saying that a plural word is being used to refer to a singular Entity. Almost proving our own argument in favor of the Trinity. (If God were only one, why not use the singular form, 'eloahh?) Of course, 'echad in this instance could mean "first," but that would imply that there is more than one God, and we know this isn't true. So, the logical meaning of this verse would be, "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one (unified) Lord." In order for anything to be unified there must first be more than one part to unify.
Other people will refer to Mark 12:29, where Jesus is simply quoting Deut.6:4. The same argument we used above won't work here, though, as this was written in Greek, and the Greek word used, heis, does indeed mean "one." This would seem to present a problem, until we look at John 10:30 where Jesus says,"I and My Father are one." Again, the word used for "one" in this instance is heis. So anyone who uses Mark 12:29 to claim that it refers to a singular, rather than plural, God is again proving our argument for us, by supporting the deity of Christ, because of what Jesus said in John 10:30.
Another popular verse used to discredit the Trinity doctrine is John 14:28, where Jesus makes the statement,"My Father is greater than I." This one's a little stickier. In Philippians 2:5-8 it says,"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Notice that it said Christ "made Himself of no reputation." Obviously, before Christ came to earth He was in a much more exalted position. By lowering Himself, and taking on the "form of a servant," He accepted self-imposed limitations on His power and knowledge. A servant does not have the same power as the master does. Likewise, while Jesus was on earth in the form of a man (in other words, a servant), He did not have the same power and knowledge as God the Father, who had no such limitations. So, while Jesus was on earth, the Father was indeed greater than He was.
Also, in 1Corinthians 15:50 it says that "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption." By this verse we see that flesh and blood are inferior to the substance of the glorified bodies we will have when we enter the kingdom of God. While Jesus was on earth, He was in a body of flesh and blood, an inferior body to the one He had after the resurrection, and, according to John 14:28 (above), inferior to the form He was in before His incarnation. By being in any way inferior to Father, who was not flesh and blood, Jesus was, again, not as exalted as God the Father. So, again, the Father was greater than Jesus.
Many people ask, "If God the Father and Jesus are the same, how can one be any less than the other, even if one of them is on earth?" It can be a little confusing, I know, but remember what I said at the beginning? If we try to rely on our own logic, knowledge, and experiences to understand the Trinity, we will fail. We must simply accept what the Bible tells us on faith, and believe that one day, when we are all in Heaven, we will understand. Remember John 4:25,"The woman saith unto him, 'I know that Messiah cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.'"
I'm sure there are other verses that have been used to deny the Trinity, I just can't think of any others as I'm writing this. If you know of some other verse that has been used to disprove the Trinity, please use the button below to e-mail it to me. When I get it, I will add it to this paper.
In support of the Trinity
In this section, I will focus on verses that support the Trinity doctrine. I'll look at verses showing that Jesus and God are the same Being, verses that show that the Holy Spirit and Jesus are the same Being, and finally, verses that show that God and the Holy Spirit are the same Being.
THE DEITY OF CHRIST: Jesus and God are the same Being.
The first verse I'll look at is found in the second half of Zechariah 12:10, where the Lord says,"and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn." Notice the change here from first person to second person. This is the Lord speaking, and yet He says they will "look upon Me whom they have pierced." If Jesus (who was the One pierced) was not God, why would the Lord phrase this verse this way? Then the Lord immediately turns around and says "they shall mourn for Him." If we believe that the Bible is the inspired, innerrent word of God, then we must also believe that God was very particular in the way He wanted His word written. Zechariah 12:10 is not an accidental mistake between first and second person. This is a deliberate example proving the deity of Christ, and His identity as God.
Another example is shown in the first chapter of Hebrews. Paul is talking about the things that the Lord has said at different times. In verse 8 he says, "But unto the Son He (the Lord) saith, 'Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy kingdom.'" Here, the Lord Himself is being quoted, and yet He calls the Son, O God. This is another clear example showing the deity of Christ.
If we look in the book of Revelation, we can see Jesus calling Himself the First and the Last. However, if we go back to Isaiah 44:6, we see, "Thus saith Jehovah, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, Jehovah of hosts: 'I am the first, and I am the last, and besides me there is no God.'" I will be looking again at this passage from Revelation a little later.
Next, there are the verses concerning the creation of the earth. There are many verses that assert that God created the earth. The very first verse tell us this. Genesis 1:1,"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." And yet if we look at some other verses, we see that they say Jesus Christ created the earth. Colossians 1:15-16 says, speaking of Christ,"Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him." Of course, some will try to disprove this with Ephesians 3:9,"And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ." Those who use this verse claim that God "told" Jesus to create the earth, and deny that God and Jesus Christ are the same being. However, this viewpoint is in direct opposition to Isaiah 45:12, (The Lord speaking) "I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even My hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I created." This clearly says that God created the earth with His own hands. He didn't "tell" Jesus to do it. The only viewpoint that reconciles these verses is that Jesus and God are the same Being.
Then there is possibly the most popular passage showing that God and Jesus are the same Being: John 1:1-3, & 1:14, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made." John 1:14,"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father.) full of grace and truth." The "Word" in these verses is Christ Jesus, who "was God," and "was made flesh" and was "the only begotten of the Father." This is a very clear passage and, perhaps, the most blatant example that Jesus and God are the same.
Of course, some say that Jesus never claimed to be God. While it's true that Jesus may never have flatly stated, "I am God," He certainly implied it with the things He said and by His actions. We've already seen above where He said "I and My Father are one." That's pretty straight-forward if you think about it, but He also implied it with His actions. When Jesus went into the wilderness so that Satan could tempt Him, Satan showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and offered to give them to Jesus if He would fall down and worship him. Jesus answered,"Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve." Clearly, Jesus was saying that only the Lord God was to be worshipped, and yet in the book of Matthew alone, there are at least six different instances where people worshipped Jesus, and He did not stop any of them. In John 20:28, Thomas even called Jesus "My Lord and my God." Considering that the first commandment says, in part, "Thou shalt have no other Gods before Me," if Jesus was not showing that He was God in the flesh, He would have rebuked or at least corrected Thomas. In the New Testament we can find places where the desciples refused to be worshipped, and angels refused to be worshipped, yet nowhere does Jesus refuse to allow people to worship Him. Even the Jews in the temple understood what Jesus was claiming, because they tried to stone Him for it. In John 10:30, we find this passage: "Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, 'Many good works have I shewed you from My Father; for which of those works do you stone Me?' The Jews answered Him, saying, 'For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.'" Over and over again, it is very plain that Jesus and God are the same Being!
Jesus and the Holy Spirit are the same Being
For this we need look no further than the book of Revelation. This book is more aptly titled The Revelation of Jesus Christ, because it was given to John by Christ Himself, during John's exile on the island of Patmos.
Looking at the passage of Revelation 1:10-18 we read:
I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, 'I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last': and, 'What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodecia.' And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire; And His feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters. And He had in His right hand seven stars: and out of His mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying unto me, 'Fear not; I am the First and the Last: I am He that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.'
In verse 18, the identity of this Being is established. By stating that He was the One that liveth, and was dead, we have no doubt that the one speaking is Jesus Himself.
Moving on to the letters: In each letter to the seven churches, the first verse gives the identity of the person dictating it through a description of the speaker. For example, the first verse is to the church of Ephesus. Revelation 2:1 "Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith He that holdeth the seven stars in His right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks." From the previous passage we can identify the One sending the letter as Christ. But if we go to the last verse of the letter we read, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches . . ." It was very clear at the beginning of the letter that Christ was the One speaking, yet at the end of the letter it says to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches! This is not an isolated occurrence. In each and every letter to the churches, the first verse gives a description of the writer that can only apply to Jesus Christ, and at the end of the letters, they close with "he that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith . . ." This cannot be an accident, therefore, the only conclusion we can draw is that Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are one and the same Being.
The Holy Spirit and God are the same Being
We could stop here, without this section. If we use the two sections above and simple logic, we could arrive at this conclusion. God = Jesus. Jesus = Holy Spirit. Therefore, God = Holy Spirit. This would supply the final piece of the Trinity puzzle. However, I'd like to go ahead and point out a couple of examples showing that God and the Holy Spirit are the same Being.
First, let's go back to creation. We already know that Genesis 1:1 says, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." The Lord's creation of man is described in Genesis 1:26-27, and Genesis 2:7. Malachi 2:10 also tells us that God also created men, saying, ". . . hath not one God created us? . . ." Yet in Job 33:4, we find this: "The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life."
Another example is found in the story of Ananias, in Acts 5:3-4, "But Peter said, 'Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? And after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? Why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.'"
Other examples reflecting the Trinity
We've already seen that the Trinity is reflected in creation. In various parts of the Bible we find verses that say God created, Jesus Christ created, and the Holy Spirit created. Here's a couple of other examples confirming the Trinity.
The Trinity shown in baptism.
In Isaiah 42:8 God says, "I am the Lord: that is My name: and My glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images." Besides speaking about graven images (idols), the Lord says that He will not give His praise to any other. But in Matthew 28:19, when Jesus sends the apostles into the world, He commands them to baptize people in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Not just giving glory to one other, but to two others! Unless, of course, all three (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) are actually the same Being, in other words, the Trinity. This is the only approach that reconciles these verses.
The Trinity displayed in the resurrection.
God resurrected Jesus
In Acts 2:24, we see (speaking of Jesus), "Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it."
And in Acts 3:15, "And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses."
But in John 2:19 we read, "Jesus answered and said unto them, 'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.'" When He spoke of the temple, He was, of course, referring to His own body, and saying that He would raise Himself in three days.
And finally in 1Peter 3:18 it says, "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit."
Time and time again, thoughout the pages of the Bible we can see examples showing the validity of the Trinity position. This is a VERY important thing for us to know. It's difficult to worship the Lord, if we don't have a clear understanding of exactly who He is! The Lord God Almighty is Father, Son, and Spirit. All three, and yet ONE God. Just because we can't understand it, doesn't mean it's not true. God's truth does not depend on whether or not we believe it or understand it. It just is.
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
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