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The Triune God of Christianity

This essential biblical teaching is a profound and deep understanding of the eternal God of the universe.  He condescends these truths about himself just enough for us to be able to understanding Him to this degree.  This understanding allows us to know and understand him on the deepest level in our time in this world.  It also helps us see faiths that know Him and religions that do not know him.  Helps discern false teachings and truth in more clear terms.  The following is known as The Trinity.

It is so profound and at the deepest level of our understanding; it is best that our finite freshly minds can understand of our infinite and eternal creator of the universe.  Anything deeper is incomprehensible for our limited intellectual sinful minds to grasp.  The term "trinity" is not in scripture because it is a word used to describe the triune God described in scripture.  See 'Objections to the Trinity' bellow.

Christianity can be described as Monotheistic Trinitarianism.  Belief in One God made up of three 'persons'.  The word 'persons' does not accurately describe what makes up 'the trinity' but it helps.  It is NOT faith in three different gods. It is NOT One God with three different 'masks' (Modalism/Oneness Pentecostalism). It IS the following:

  1. One Singular God Being (Deuteronomy 6:4; 1 Corinthians 8:4; Galatians 3:20; 1 Timothy 2:5).
  2. That single God being is made up of three 'persons' ( Genesis 1:1,1:26,3:22, 11:7; Isaiah 6:8; Matthew 3:16-17, 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14)
    1. The Hebrew word  "Elohim" is a plural noun.
  3. Each of the three 'persons' is unique within the God being (John 14:16-17). 
    1. The LORD is distinguished from the Lord (Genesis 19:24; Hosea 1:4).
    2. The LORD is distinguished from the Son (Psalm 2:7, 12; Proverbs 30:2-4).
    3. The LORD is distinguished from the Spirit (Numbers 27:18; Psalm 51:10-12).
    4. The Son is distinguished from God the Father (Psalm 45:6-7; Hebrews 1:8-9).
  4. The three Distinguished persons of God
    1. God The Father (John 6:27; Romans 1:7; 1 Peter 1:2).
    2. God The Son (John 1:1, 14; Romans 9:5; Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:8; 1 John 5:20). Also read Jesus Is God
    3. God The Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-4; 1 Corinthians 3:16).
  5. Each 'person' is unique in "subordination" and "tasks"
    1. The Father is the ultimate source or cause of the universe (1 Corinthians 8:6; Revelation 4:11);  divine revelation (Revelation 1:1); salvation (John 3:16-17); and Jesus' human works (John 5:17; 14:10). The Father initiates all of these things.
    2. The Holy Spirit is subordinate to the Father and the Son, (John 14:16, 14:26, 15:26, 16:7, John 16:13-14).  The Holy Spirit is the means by whom the Father does all things (Genesis 1:2; Job 26:13; Psalm 104:30); divine revelation (John 16:12-15; Ephesians 3:5; 2 Peter 1:21); salvation (John 3:6; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:2); and Jesus' works (Isaiah 61:1; Acts 10:38).
    3. The Son is subordinate to the Father. (Luke 22:42, John 5:36, John 20:21, 1 John 4:14). The Son is the agent through whom the Father does all things.   (1 Corinthians 8:6; John 1:3; Colossians 1:16-17); divine revelation (John 1:1, 16:12-15; Matthew 11:27; Revelation 1:1); and salvation (2 Corinthians 5:19; Matthew 1:21; John 4:42).
    4. This is an internal relationship and does not deny the deity of any Person of the Trinity.
Objections to the Trinity:

1.  Specifically Stated

One common objection to The Trinity is this:  '"The Trinity' is not specifically stated in the bible".   This argument assumes that because it is not stated, therefore it does not exist, but fails when tested with other truths.  "The Bible" is not specifically stated anywhere in scripture either.  "Christology" is not specifically stated in the Bible either, but it is a term given to describe a specifics area of study.  "Pornography" is not specifically stated in the Bible does that make it moral?  The Bible does not also specifically state that little green men from mars do not exist either.  Nor does it specifically deny the existence if an invisible flying pink elephant.  Using that same argument against the existence of the Trinity we must also assume; 'The Bible' does not actually exist and little green men from mars who ride on invisible flying pink elephants may exist as well.  Why? Because those are not specifically stated in scripture either.  The problem with the argument against the Trinity out of lack of specifics is solely based off of assumptions outside of scripture.  But, what is specifically revealed in scripture about God The Father, God's own Son, and The Holy Spirit being unique but equal; is specific proofs for the existence of The Triune God.  The Trinity is a name given to these proofs in scripture.  The Apostles worshiped God The Father, they worshiped Jesus as God, and acknowledge The Holy Spirit as a being of God as well (also read the proof texts above).  These three were all simply understood as the One God.  It was not until later in Church history these truths began to be questioned and a uniform name was given to describe the proofs in scripture.  A common source for this failed argument comes from Jehovah's Witnesses.  They base their understanding of scripture from the imputed assumptions and directed influence from The Watchtower. 

Much like an melting ice cube in the summer heat.  You see the liquid puddle, the ice cube, and it steaming.  Three unique forms sourced from one thing, one object of water.  The same is true for the Trinity.  The Bible declares the One Essene of the Godhead but also describes this One God in three unique persons.  Yet, all from one source.

2.  Invented Later

A follow up objection is "The Trinity was not developed until later in Christian history".  This deceptive argument fails to take into account all that is revealed in scripture already.  Scripture reveals there is One God made up of three persons.  A name for these proofs was  not needed because the Apostles and early church understood this already.  The name that designated this was developed later in Church history yes, but only to sum up and describe in specific what was already known.  This argument relates to the first argument above.

Another objection: "The early church did not believe in The Trinity until later".  This argument assumes that The Bible does not reveal a Truine God at its premise.  Given the totality of scriptural references we see that this is flat out untrue.  Putting what is revealed in scripture aside, we see in early church history this argument is a gross ignorant lie. Ignatius of Antioch (105AD), a disciple of the Apostle John stated this: "God Himself was manifested in human form for the renewal of eternal life" He later states "Continue in intimate union with Jesus Christ our God" and "I pray for your happiness forever in our God, Jesus Christ". Justin Martyr (150AD) stated this: "The Father of the universe has a Son. And He, being the first-begotten Word of God, is even God". Irenaeus of Lyons (185AD) stated "He indicates in clear terms that He is God, and that His advent was in Bethlehem… God, then, was made man, and the Lord Himself save us". And "He is God for the name Emmanuel indicates this". Hippolytus (203AD) stated this: "The Logos alone of this One is from God Himself. For that reason also, He is God. Being of the substance of God. In contrast, the world was made from nothing. Therefore, it is not God". Tertullian (213AD) even declared "For the very church itself--properly and principally--the Spirit Himself, in whom is the Trinity [trinitas], of the One Divinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit". The earliest use of the actual "Trinity" word itself is used as early as 180AD by Theophilus of Antioch when he stated "In like manner also the three days which were before the luminaries, are types of the Trinity [triados] of God, and His Word, and His wisdom". Finally, Origen (228AD) stated "Saving baptism was not complete except by the authority of the most excellent Trinity of them all. That is, it is made complete by naming the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In this, we join the name of the Holy Spirit to the Unbegotten God (the Father) and to His Only-Begotten Son". You can read early church writers at ccel.org.  

From what is stated IN scripture and quotes from the earliest church writers, we see that the doctrine of The Trinity was not only taught by the early church but also describes truths already understood in scripture before it needed a specific name to pinpoint the specific topic.

3.  From Pagans

The Trinity is a pagan concept adopted by Christianity. This objection, again, like all the other objections, fail to understand its own argument.   Ancient Babylonian and Assyrian beliefs did not believe in A Triune God. They believed in triads of gods who headed up a council of other gods. In other words, whereas the doctrine of the Trinity teaches that ONE GOD is comprised of three co-equal and co-eternal persons, the Babylonians and Assyrians believed that three separate gods formed a leadership over other gods. The Trinity is monotheistic, whereas the Babylonians and Assyrians believed in a polytheistic henotheisitc system; completely different. The Babylonian and Assyrian beliefs were far removed from Christianity AND do not even contain a trinitarian belief system. Ironically, the Babylonian and Assyrian are more similar to the belief systems of Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses in that they believe in gods who have a headship over lesser gods. A second point is possible similarities does not negate truth. Ancient pagan religions have global flood stories, does this make Noah and the flood untrue? Some ancient cultures have 'messiah' legends, does this negate the truthfulness of The Messiah of The Bible? Therefore, similar pagan doctrines in triads of gods are not the same as the Trinitarian doctrine of Christianity, and it is baseless to assume that the Trinity was “borrowed” from paganism. It’s simply not true.

4.  Sources

Fact check the sources of quotes and historical information is important in this area too.  Some will quote from their own.  For example, Jehovah's Witnesses will quote from the Watchtower organization literature.  That is like being your own witness at your own trial to prove you are right.  They also do not take into account the bias of their own sources.  Of course anti-trinitarian sources will purposefully be anti-trinitarian in its efforts.  Also, the sources will pick out three similar gods and say "ha, see, a pagan trinity" but ignore the fact that religion and culture had many other gods as well, like the Egyptians for example.  They are quoted often as proof the Trinaity comes from Egyptian paganism but maliciously and purposefully, or even ignorantly, fail to take into account that religion had more than three gods.  Even Zeus, Hades and Poseidon is at times claimed to be a trinity of gods of which the Christian trinity came form.  This is an extremely historically inaccurate claim as the totality of history shows they were not a trinity of one God nor did the culture believe it as such.  What is not considered is the OTHER erroneous information the source puts out as they pick and choose what they feel the source reliably states.  The dishonest technique of 'selective quoting' often takes just a fraction of a quote and frames it to claim something that the quote is not actually saying.  Lastly, it is impossible to escape the fact that scripture (verses listed above) reveals The Triune God its self.  The argument is then completely depended on the coined term 'The Trinity' and when it was officially coined and not the revelation of the subject itself.  The term itself can be traced to Theophilus of Antioch and Tertullian in the 2nd century BUT the truth of itself was already revealed in scripture.  Before them, the early church fathers often just stated the persons of the trinity; as stated in scripture.  The church simply, over time, expressed the distinction between the ontological and economic Trinity and the doctrine of vestiges of the Trinity in creation and roles the co-equal, co-eternal distinct persons of the Trinity; not creating the concept of the Trinity itself (which was already revealed in scripture).

5.  But Jesus Said

The Bible proves that Jesus is not God The Father.  Some people will quote scripture as proof against the Trinity (despite all the proofs listed above) and cherry pick bible verses without considering the totality of what God has revealed about himself in all of the Bible.  John 17:3 is a common misunderstood quote.  Yes, Jesus does say that the Father is the only true God.  That is true.  But, Jesus' statement does not exclude himself or The Holy Spirit from being the only true God.  The Trinity details that The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the only true God.  What this verse DOES do is exclude the notion of more than one God.  It DOES exclude the possibility of Jesus and The Holy Spirit from being SEPARATE gods; which they are not.  Thus, this does not contradict the Trinity.  That statement THEN contradicts the New World Translation of the Jehovah's Witnesses in their failed translation of John 1:1 where they attempt to say "the word was a god".  Where Jesus prayed to God The Father in the garden, also, does not contradict his deity, but validated his willing and voluntary limitations in the form of man to communicate to His Father.

Some will argue that the Bible states Jesus was the 'first-created' but this is a translator decision.  “Firstborn” does not necessarily mean “first-created.” When used of Christ, “firstborn” denotes Christ’s preeminent position over creation as the supreme Creator of “all things” (Colossians 1:16-18). Jesus is not part of the creation which He began (Revelation 3:14) because John 1:3 states: “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” If “nothing” was created apart from Christ, Jesus could not be part of creation or He would have had to create Himself! Indeed Isaiah 44:24 in the New World Translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses reads: “This is what Jehovah says, your Repurchaser, Who formed you since you were in the womb: I am Jehovah, who made everything. I stretched out the heavens by myself, And I spread out the earth. Who was with me?” Since no one was with Jehovah when He created the earth, Jesus must be Jehovah God Himself.  The word 'other' is inserted into the text in several places, which is not in any of the biblical manuscripts.  Again, that is a translator insertion of the NWT not found in any biblical source texts.  John 14:28 also relates to his POSITION and not nature.  When Jesus lived upon the earth, He operated under the limitations of His humanity. Thus, He spoke of the Father as being in a “greater” position because the Father was in Heaven while He was humbly living under the weakness of frail humanity. Regarding this, the Athanasian Creed states that Christ was: “Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood…”.  Different position does not negate equal nature.  

6.  Confusing

Some will argue that the Trinity is confusing and God is not an author of confusing things.  But we must consider this:  We are finite imperfect beings with limited knowledge using a humanistic system of imperfect languages that describes the absolute most holy and perfect all powerful being with supreme absolute knowledge as revealed in scripture.  God even expresses this comprehension gap in Isa 55:8-9, Romans 11:33, and 1 Corinthians 11:12.  Jehovah's Witnesses, whom often use this argument against the Trinity even admit there are things that are hard to understand as stated in Reasoning from the Scriptures (Brooklyn: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1989), p. 148.2.  Joseph Smith, Jr., The King Follett Discourse (Salt Lake City: Joseph Lyon & Associates, 1963), p. 9. in regards to explaining Ps 90:2.  Therefore, just because it is hard to understand and is confusing to some, does not negate its truth.  When considering the totality of scripture and what is revealed as a whole, the Trinity takes shape when considering all the verses above together.  Taking a car engine apart and looking at just one piece, it is hard to understand what that one piece does alone, but when looking at the engine together, and all its pieces, we see that one piece makes more sense as it fits within the total function of the engine.  The same is true for bible verses.  When we pull out one bible verse some times it can be hard to understand how it fits within the Trinity such as Jesus' divinity, the divinity of the Holy Spirit, and the plurality of God in the Old Testament.  But when one single verse is placed among all other trinitarian verses, the Trinity takes shape and can be comprehended; thus the Trinity is not confusing in light of the totality of all the bible verses that relate to it.

7.  Undifferentiated Unity

Islam denies the trinity with the mathematical argument of undifferentiated unity.  But we see in nature this is not always true.  If we split a rock, we have two separate rocks but if we slip a human in half, we do not have two separate humans.  First it is important to understand that complexity does not negate unity.  Internal differentiation does not contradict absolute unity.  The eye functions completely different than the ears.  If you lose site, you are still you, with hearing.  If you lose hearing, you are still you, with site.  The essence of a human being is unified, yet there is unique plurality in its parts.  This is the case for the Trinity, the same for the human body;  it has unique and different functioning parts yet is perfect in unity of being.  The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are co-eternal, co-existing, unique 'persons', but are perfectly unified in One absolute essence- One Triune God.

8.  Philosophical issue of 'God is love'

The nature of God being love, necessitates him to love something.  If he existed eternally, before creation of anything, how could he love if there was nothing to love?  If God IS love, than he can not be God if there is no object to love for love to exist before creation.  A perfect, ontologically divine love demands plurality.  Merely two persons would not logically resolve this issue. While two persons can love one another, this type of love is individualistic. A perfect love demands some type of shared, selfless love.  This is only accomplished while three persons exist within the Godhead.  Thus each person within the essence of God can love the other in perfect selfless harmony.  For the purpose of ontological, perfect love, only three divine persons are needed. Stated concisely, the doctrine of the Trinity is not irrational.

9.  God died on the cross?

If Jesus is God, and Jesus died on the cross, than God died.  This seems like a logical conclusion but again fails to consider every aspect of the actual person of Jesus.  Jesus is God incarnate.  God came down to earth in the form of a man, Jesus.  It is true that Jesus did physically die on the cross, but Jesus' divine spirit did not die.  The divine nature of Jesus and the deity of God the Father did not die when the man Jesus died. Philippians 2:5-11 states that although Jesus existed in the form and nature of God, He “emptied Himself” to take upon Himself the additional nature of humanity and thus, brought manhood into His divine Person. So, while the human nature of Jesus died, His divine nature raised His physical human body from the dead (John 2:18-22; 10:17-18).  Again, when in light of the totality of scripture, we see that Jesus' body can die, yet the divine person of Jesus did not; which proved alive by raising Jesus' body back to life three days later.

Objection Conclusions:

All the objections to The Trinity fail in common ways.  Either they fail their own tests when tested against them self or assumptions are made and injected in scripture what is not there.  The 'Specifically Stated' objection is self defeating.  The 'Invented Later' objection fails when researching what the early church actually taught.  The 'From Pagans' objection fails when properly understanding what the pagan religions taught and correctly understanding the monotheism of the Triune God.  And finally the 'But Jesus Said' objection fails when actually considering the implications of what he said and what it does and does not actually exclude.  The doctrine of The Trinity does not violate what is revealed in scripture nor does it come from influences after scripture.  The doctrine of the Trinity describes what is already made known in the totality of scripture.

Simply Put:

There is One triune God that is made up of three co-equal, coexistent 'persons', with unique order and tasks: The Father is God, the Son Jesus Christ is God, and the Holy Spirit is God- as described in all of scripture.

Best illustration and diagram of The Trinity:

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