Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Can someone explain the trinity?!?

One area of the Christian doctrine that I've never really truly grasped is the trinity. The word "trinity" appears in the Bible a grand total of zero times in the King James version, the New International Version, the New American Standard version, the Message, the Modern English Translation, the New King James version, .... you get the idea.

The doctrine of the trinity wasn't even established until the fourth century. So for all of the purists who believe that nonbelievers of the trinity are doomed to hell, well, that's four hundred years of damned souls. Sorry. Don't get me wrong here - I know what the trinity is, but I've always had a hard time swallowing it. The whole notion of the trinity is that The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are not the same entity, and yet at the same time they are the same entity, namely, God.

I was taught the trinity at a very young age - I remember talking about it when I was about eight years old. I didn't understand it then because it just didn't make any sense. I thought back then, "how could something both not be the same thing and yet be the same thing at the same time?" Now that I've read the Bible several times over, I still don't understand it. There are many verses that stand out and and suggest that, while being divine in nature, Jesus not the same being as God, but is totally the son of God.
  • 1 Timothy 2:5: "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus"
  • John 14:28: "You heard me say, 'I am going away and I am coming back to you.' If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I."
  • John 17:3: "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent."
  • John 5:19: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does."
  • Matthew 27:46: "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"
  • John 17:20-23: "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."
There are several more verses that seem to somewhat contradict the whole notion of the trinity. But on the other hand, there are several verses that directly support the notion of the trinity. The most popular, of course, is Matthew 28:19. Then there's the really confusing John 8:58. And Colossians 2:9 confirms the divine nature of Jesus.

So what is a Christian to believe? Personally, I believe that Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit are all divine, but they are not the same being. Does that mean I'm polytheistic? No. I believe in the one God. But Jesus is the son of God, begotten by God in God's perfect image, which suggests that Jesus is subordinate to God and perhaps didn't even exist before he was begotten.

I'm obviously not the only one struggling with this concept. It has been a controversial subject among Christians for nearly two millennia now. The great theologian Arius didn't believe in the trinity. ‘If the Father begat the Son, he that was begotten had a beginning of existence: and from this it is evident, that there was a time when the Son was not. It therefore necessarily follows, that he had his substance from nothing.’ This line of reasoning seems to goes against John 8:58, but I completely agree with Arius' beliefs.

Entire sects have completely rejected the notion of the trinity. Jehova Witnesses, although a bit wacky, are on to something in this area. Mormons don't believe in the trinity - they believe, and I got the same thing when I read these passages, that when Jesus says "The father and I are one", that Jesus meant "one in purpose", or "one in nature." I'm not familiar with the native languages, so I cannot vouch for that position other than to say it seems that way on the surface. The Quaran completely denounces the trinity. Etc.

Just because I struggle with the trinity concept doesn't mean I'm not a Christian. I love God with all of my heart, mind, and soul. I try to praise Jesus in everything I do. I see God's beauty in everything around me.

If anyone has a bullet-proof defense of the Trinity, I'd be interested to read it. I'd love to see how trinitarians cover the verses mentioned here along with several other controversial verses that seem to contradict the notion of the trinity. And I'd love to finally be able to grasp the paradox of two entities both not being the same entity while simultaneously being the same entity.

15 Comments:

Blogger The Swiss Chesse Monster said...

There is a zillion ways people try to explain the trinity.

I lean to "all the same" theology.

While trinity is something to wrestle with, doing so misses the point of scripture. IE: it is something we need to put some thought into, but as humans, we will never really be able to understand it. By the time we get to a place where we can understand the idea of trinity - we will not care.

1:46 AM  
Blogger gapid said...

1 Thesselonians 5:21: "But test and prove all things until you can recognize what is good; to that, hold fast"

some people consider the trinity to be a salvation issue. they say that if you don't believe that jesus was fully man and fully God at the same time, then all is lost. if it is such an important doctrine such that our eternal fate allegedly hinges upon it, then the trinity should be closely studied and fully understood. but, alas, i believe what the bible teaches - that jesus is my lord and savior; i can't really just close my eyes and take for granted the trinity doctrine. i believe in the one God, and i'm finding it really hard to believe what amounts to three gods making up God.

11:53 AM  
Blogger Adam Pastor said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:06 AM  
Blogger Adam Pastor said...

Greetings Ben Perry

I can understand your difficulty in NOT grasping the trinity.

The reason for your difficulty is because it is NOT Scriptural

Not only does the word 'trinity' not appear in ANY 20th century translation of the Scriptures; it is a concept that was NOT taught by Christ or ANY of his disciples!
The early church knew of no such concept of a triune God or that there are 3 persons who can (co-)equally be called Almighty GOD.

When one reads Mark 12:28-34, one understands that our Lord & Master, Jesus the Messiah; understood the clear scriptural (as well as Hebrew) message that there is solely ONE being/person who is Almighty GOD; Jesus affirmed this by quoting Deut 6.4 as the foremost commandment. And the scribe sure did not think that Jesus was a trinitarian.
(Mark 12:32) And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he:

It ought to be obvious that neither Jesus nor the scribe were trinitarians; they both understood that solely ONE being is Almighty GOD, and that there are no other claimants than HE.

You are absolutely correct when you say it just didn't make any sense. As a child you rightly understood that it was and is pious nonsense.
You understood this as a child; a child can see that it is false; as adults we have to be 'taught' such erroneous doctrines. No wonder, we have to be child-like to enter the Kingdom of GOD. My dear brother, keep that child-like mentality.


Matthew 28:19 speaks of baptism being authorized in the name of the ONE GOD, the Father; Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father; and the spirit which is basically the operational presence of the ONE GOD & His Son, in the church.
In practice, therefore, this authorized baptism is carried out in the name of Jesus Christ as shown throughout the Book of Acts. The apostles did NOT understand that baptism must be performed in the name of three persons; hence, they never practised triune baptism.

John 8:58 ... is speaking of the fact that before Abraham even came into existence, Jesus of Nazareth was foreordained to be the Messiah. The phrase 'I am he' (ego eimi) is simply an affirmation that Jesus is indeed the Messiah. See Christ's usage of the phrase in John 4:26, 8.24,28; 13.19; Mark 13.6, cp. John 9.9.
See also Jesus’ “I am He” Does Not Mean “I am God”

Colossians 2:9 is stating that all the fulness of GOD dwells bodily in Christ. But that no more makes him, Almighty GOD, than the temple being filled with the glory of GOD, makes the temple, Almighty GOD! Paul also prayed that that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. [Eph 3.19]

Thus, Jesus the Messiah, is indeed, the ultimate vessel/temple in which Almighty GOD his Father in His fulness dwells [John 14.10-11]

You state "I believe in the one God. But Jesus is the son of God, begotten by God in God's perfect image, which suggests that Jesus is subordinate to God and perhaps didn't even exist before he was begotten."

I say, Amen!!

And Jesus indeed did NOT exist before he was begotten, just like every human being does not pre-exist their conception.
(1 Pet 1:20) Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you
Christ was foreordained before his conception in a similar way as Jeremiah was [Jere 1.5]

(Mat 1:18) Now the birth [genesis] of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

Both Matthew & Luke describe the genesis, the beginning, of Jesus the Christ. They have no knowledge or concept of a literal pre-existing Messiah who somehow pre-exist his own conception. No, they speak of his genesis. See also Gabriel Was Not a Trinitarian


Ben, like you I am indeed a Christian. And I just want to encourage you and let you know that there are thousands of fellow Christians who have come to the awesome knowledge and truth that there is solely ONE GOD, the Father; and that the ONE GOD has made the man Jesus of Nazareth, His Son, both Lord & Messiah. This man was indeed crucified but the ONE GOD raised him from the dead, & immortalized & glorified him; and he is henceforth at the right hand of the ONE GOD awaiting the time when GOD will send him back to earth to inaugurate GOD's Kingdom upon the earth. [Acts 3.20-21]

Be encouraged by dear brother.

For more resources, I recommend this website:

God Bless

7:14 AM  
Blogger Adam Pastor said...

Oops
That last website was


http://www.mindspring.com/~anthonybuzzard

7:17 AM  
Anonymous Michael said...

The trinity is an established doctrine in scripture. I struggled with this same issue at one time while I was in college. It is true that the word Trinity does not appear in the bible but neither do many names of theological doctrines. Nevertheless the scriptural support for the trinity is established in many passages of scripture. John chapter 1 for instance "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us" "Word" being God who became flesh and dwelt (eskuneo greek) among us. Eskuneo is actually a hebrew loan word from shakan the word used for God dwelling in the tabernacle in the Old Testament. Another passage is John 11 where Jesus claims divinity "I and the father are one." and the Jews prepare to stone him. At anyrate I do not intend to debate with the poster above. If you honstly want answers just let me know. Maybe I can address some of your concerns over email or IM. You can email me at michael@firestorm-fx.com

5:16 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Here are a few things to ponder:

You mentioned that if someone doesn't believe Jesus is God, many say all is lost. Let's go through a few logical steps:

1. We must believe in Jesus to be saved. John 3:16

2. We are saved through him because he lived a perfect life and brought a spotless sacrifice to atone for our sins. Hebrews 9:26

3. If Jesus is God, he is eternal. Look at John 1:1,3,14. He is God, the creator of the world (Colossians 1:12-16).

4. Jesus calls himself the I AM. This refers to his eternal existence. I AM implies the present state, present before Abraham, present in the gospels, and present in 2007.

5. Jesus is God and ALSO man at the same time. I think we all accept that here because we know he had a physical mother and lived a life just as we all do.

In conclusion, it is self-defeating to think of Jesus as simply a man. This would undermine his sacrifice and give us no way to be cleansed of sins. If a perfect man died on that cross, he would atone for one fallen man. It took a perfect God's death to atone for all mankind.

Only begotten? Yes, Mary was his mother and God was his father. Joseph was in no direct way related to Christ. As for the many references of Christ's submission to his father, you have to remember he was a man also. Why was Christ baptized? Did he need to be reborn? No, but he needed to give an example on how to live. Submission to his father was not just an example, but a necessity, because he was a human here on earth that was tempted in all ways as we are. He needed prayer and God's direction in his life, because he was not all-powerful and all-knowing. Whatever power he had was from above. He relied on God just as we must.

Why do we describe God as the union of a Father, Son, and Spirit? Why is God called our heavenly Father? So that we as humans can understand His relation to us and to themselves. When God whom we call Jesus decided to come down and live among his creation, he became the subordinate Son. Remember, he became the Son, or at least that's how we can use familiar language to explain to ourselves what happened when Christ came to earth.

8:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

God is like a database w/different views - He is, Jesus, Holy Spirit.

5:07 PM  
Blogger Kiki said...

Who was Christ speaking with when he prayed to his Father to end his suffering? I don't think anyone is denying Christ's divinity. He can be divine and yet not God. Here is an Eastern way of looking at it:

The Word is begotten of the Mind
The Breath proceeds from the Mind,
Yet there was never a time when the Mind existed without the Word and Breath.

The Word brings forth and fulfills the command of the Mind,
The Action-Breath accomplishes and perfects,
And with these two hands of the Mind,
Thought becomes deed.
- "Christ the Eternal Tao"

4:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am learning about the trinity in secondary school.
it is quite easy to understand.
the trinity is three persons in one god.
basically the three persons are the father the son and the holy spirit. and they are all in god.
another of showing this is by H2o. H2o can be a liquid a solid and a gas. so h2o is like god and the liqiud solid and gas are the three persons in it.

1:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If i had a millon dollars and you asked me to borrow 1$ would that be any sacrifice for me? {FOR THOSE WITH AN UNDERSTANDIND PROBLEM, THE ANSWER IS NO!} Now if all I have is 1$ and I give it to you, now then that a sacrifice! Right? {AGAIN THE ANSWER IS YES}
If Jesus was the true sacrifice of the Bible for all of mankind and could therfore still exist in another form of the Godhead...FOR EXAMPLE GOD THE FATHER OR THE HOLY SPIRIT and not actually taste death, then the whole sacrifice issue is bogas, in other words where Is the sacrifice? [SOMEBODY HAD TO DIE]
{SEE ECCL.9:5,10 TO EXPLAIN DEATH... LIKE AS THE DOE DOE BIRD!

12:37 AM  
Blogger GREENWINGS said...

Isaiah 55:8
My thoughts are not your thoughts.Nor,are your ways my ways.Says the Lord.
Philippians 4:7
And the peace of God which transcends all understanding,will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Why is it easier for some of us (myself included)to accept certain things in this worldly world that we cannot understand or even attempt to explain ,yet we seem determined to question things about God almost as if we are trying to justify our doubt and rebellious spirit?
In Matthew chapter 13- Jesus explains a lot about our own selves.Why certain things remain a mystery.
In John 10:33 Jesus says> "I and the Father are ONE.
When Jesus was baptized by John the baptist in Matthew 3. This is a great example to us- surely Jesus did not need to be baptized. God was revealing Himself all at once.

1:45 PM  
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