In this article we are going to examine an explanation of the theology behind the Trinity doctrine and it was a tough task to complete. The written language used in the early twentieth century made the interpretation of the doctrine of the trinity difficult. At first I thought the language was ambiguous and at times gobbledygook, but it took about three weeks of study before any of it began to sink into my twenty-first century mind. A dictionary and patience was an absolute must. Fortunately God gave man the ability to derive the truth from the opinions of experts, but deciphering the rhetoric was a challenge.
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915) is a Biblical encyclopedia that comes highly recommended for its authoritative explanations of every significant word, person, and place in the Bible. A large number of Christian web sites have bible study tools with a digital version of the ISBE that you can access from the Internet.
There is an abundance of information about the trinity of God on the Internet and each site proclaims the truth according to their beliefs. Some of the beliefs are unbelievable while others did not explain what they were saying. Because the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia is so highly recommended for its authoritative explanations it seemed like a good way to weigh the pros and cons of the trinity against God’s word. Ultimately the purpose of this article is to establish the truth of the doctrine while it allows you to listen to criticism you won’t hear in your local church. For the purposes of space allotted in this article Thinkgodly will discuss the leading sentences of each argument from the 1915 ISBE article on the Trinity.
The primary focus in the series of articles– verifying the trinity - is to establish if in fact God exists in three persons. This series of articles takes a logical approach to establish specific facts and see how they relate to God’s word. Finding the truth becomes essential, as Christians are faced everyday of their life with deceptive information. Christians are in a war where truth and lies are the main weapons used to fight their battles. Therefore, knowing how to verify what truth is absolutely essential. Teaching the word also bears a heavy responsibility because what we teach affects the lives of those who listen. Truth is the strongest weapon in the Christian arsenal and makes God’s word an effective tool for
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work2 Timothy 3:16-17.
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) provides a theological foundation that the church has accepted as their foundation for the doctrine of the trinity. The Following are excerpts taken from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia on the trinity as viewed in PC Study Bible version V5.0E. The opinions of thinkgodly follow in the form of rebuttal.
1. The Term "Trinity":
The term "Trinity" is not a Biblical term, and we are not using Biblical language when we define what is expressed by it as the doctrine that there is one only and true God, but in the unity of the Godhead there are three coeternal and coequal Persons, the same in substance but distinct in subsistence. A doctrine so defined can be spoken of as a Biblical doctrine only on the principle that the sense of Scripture is Scripture. And the definition of a Biblical doctrine in such un-Biblical language can be justified only on the principle that it is better to preserve the truth of Scripture than the words of Scripture. The doctrine of the Trinity lies in Scripture in solution; when it is crystallized from its solvent it does not cease to be Scriptural, but only comes into clearer view.
The term trinity is not a Biblical term because the term trinity was coined into the Latin language some 150 years after the New Testament that we have today was completely written. The problem is in how the nature of God is explained into human terms. What we have is an intellectual theory to explain the existence and basic nature of God that does not agree with the words of God. How can these theologians describe God with so much clarity when no human eye has seen God with their own eyes?
Many theologians claim that the trinity is expressed in other forms and were incorporated within the scriptures even though other reputable theologians believe the trinity is alluded to, implied and assumed. At the same time the same theologians just blatantly state that the Godhead is three persons without giving a supporting argument. God has opened his word to scrutiny commanding us to renew our minds so we may test and approve of God's will. Testing is a good way to established every matter by the testimony of two or three witnesses, 2 Corinthians 13:1
The argument for the trinity teaches that there are three co-equal members of the Godhead even though they are ranked by position and number. A second argument follows with claims made by our church Fathers that God is consubstantial, which comes from the Greek word “homoousios" of the same substance. God made it much simpler to understand who and what he is through the words of Paul.
Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. Romans 1:19-20
God tells us that his nature can be perceived through the sensory organs that he gave us to make decisions. We should be able to understand the divine nature of God through what can be seen of his creation.
2. The Trinity Is A Revealed Doctrine.
In point of fact, the doctrine of the Trinity is purely a revealed doctrine. That is to say, it embodies a truth, which has never been discovered, and is indiscoverable, by natural reason. With all his searching, man has not been able to find out for himself the deepest things of God. Accordingly, ethnic thought has never attained a Trinitarian conception of God, nor does any ethnic religion present in its representations of the divine being any analogy to the doctrine of the Trinity.
If the doctrine of the Trinity is indiscoverable by natural reason, why would God say through Paul that the nature of God’s existence – though unseen, has been clearly seen and understood by what he himself created? It appears we have a disparity of opinion between what God openly told us about his nature and what the experts in theology believe. The explanation that the trinity is not discoverable by natural reasoning is really ludicrous and contradicts Romans 1:19-20.
The least we can do is to search and listen to what God has to say about his nature. God is an all-powerful communicator and has explained the unity of the God without describing the Holy Spirit as a third person of the Godhead. God has given humanity two ways to comprehend him as the supreme creator of the world that we were created to exist and mature as God’s children. Taking God’s word to heart demands that we seriously consider every word that comes out of the mouth of God.
3. No Rational Proof of It
As the doctrine of the Trinity is undiscoverable by reason, so it is incapable of proof from reason. There are no analogies to it in Nature, even in the spiritual nature of man, who is made in the image of God. In His Trinitarian mode of being, God is unique; and, as there is nothing in the universe like Him in this respect, so there is nothing which can help us to comprehend Him.
We agree that there is no rational or absolute proof of the trinity. On the other hand, how can man say that the doctrine of the Trinity is incapable of proof when God says that man is without excuse?
No one disputes the fact that In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, and although no man has not seen him, God has made his eternal power and divine nature known to man from what he made. How can we say the doctrine of the trinity is not discoverable when Christians use the Bible to prove that the trinity exists? If there is nothing which can help us to comprehend the nature of God why do Christians all over the world revere him?
4. Supported By Reason
Inconclusive as all such reasoning is, however, considered as rational demonstration of the reality of the Trinity, it is very far from possessing no value. It carries home to us in a very suggestive way the superiority of the Trinitarian conception of God to the conception of Him as an abstract monad, and thus brings important rational support to the doctrine of the Trinity, when once that doctrine has been given us by revelation.
Christians have always supported their beliefs with scripture and reasoning. Anyone of retirement age knows that the human method of deriving a rational decision starts with making logical sense of consistently available information. It is the things that they do not know that causes the problems and as God says my people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge Hosea 4:6. The problem with the trinity theory is that there is a lack of actual hard evidence in the bible and the created things to support the trinity.
5. Not Clearly Revealed in the Old Testament.
So strongly is it felt in wide circles that a Trinitarian conception is essential to a worthy idea of God, that there is abroad a deep-seated unwillingness to allow that God could ever have made Himself known otherwise than as a Trinity. From this point of view it is inconceivable that the Old Testament revelation should know nothing of the Trinity.
God has made his invisible qualities, eternal power and divine nature clear to man so that they are without excuse. If we can accept that God is an all-powerful being capable of conveying his commands in a straightforward manner then any description of his nature should be just as direct. The bible does not describe God in three persons whether implied or written in clear language. Within the baptismal formula are three names and from this formula, man has developed the unity of God from these three names. Keeping Matthew 28:19 in context, everything God commanded the disciples to do was commanded to be taught to their disciples. Matthew was the only person in the entire New Testament to teach that disciples were to be baptized in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit. In addition of those alleged to have heard this commandment did not invoked the names of the father and Holy Spirit in any of the recorded baptisms found in the bible after the death of Christ.
6. Prepared for in the Old Testament:
It is an old saying that what becomes patent in the New Testament was latent in the Old Testament. And it is important that the continuity of the revelation of God contained in the two Testaments should not be overlooked or obscured. If we find some difficulty in perceiving for ourselves, in the Old Testament, definite points of attachment for the revelation of the Trinity, we cannot help perceiving with great clearness in the New Testament abundant evidence that its writers felt no incongruity whatever between their doctrine of the Trinity and the Old Testament conception of God.
What was true in the Old Testament is true in the New Testament is what the writer of the ISBE article had in mind. Those who believe in the one God in three-person would say that the evidence supporting the Trinity is equally evident in both testaments. On the other hand those who do not believe in the Trinity say that the facts supporting the trinity are nonexistent. The concept that the Trinity doctrine was prepared for in the Old Testament is just an opinion of those who believe in a triune God.
7. Presupposed in the New Testament:
The simplicity and assurance with which the New Testament writers speak of God as a Trinity has, however, a further implication. If they betray no sense of novelty in so speaking of Him, this is undoubtedly in part because it was no longer a novelty so to speak of Him. It is clear, in other words, that, as we read the New Testament, we are not witnessing the birth of a new conception of God. What we meet with in its pages is a firmly established conception of God underlying and giving its tone to the whole fabric. It is not in a text here and there that the New Testament bears its testimony to the doctrine of the Trinity. The whole book is Trinitarian to the core; all its teaching is built on the assumption of the Trinity; and its allusions to the Trinity are frequent, cursory (casual), easy and confident.
The core of the New Testament is about salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The topic of the holy Scriptures as a whole speak of Jesus Christ from the beginning to the end.
The language of point 7 supporting the Trinity doctrine is misleading. The words used in the Trinitarian argument are simply compared to the meaning supporting the conclusion.
The willingness of man to solidify the Trinity theology from any of these definitions into truth is absolutely ludicrous. The only way anyone can understand the nature of God is to listen to God’s side of the story and understand it from his perspective.
8. Manifested in Son and Spirit
We cannot speak of the doctrine of the Trinity, therefore, if we study exactness of speech, as revealed in the New Testament, any more than we can speak of it as revealed in the Old Testament. The Old Testament was written before its revelation, the New Testament after it. The revelation itself was made not in word but in deed. It was made in the incorruption of God the Son, and the outpouring of God the Holy Spirit.
This argument was concluded in this manner.
We are to look for, and we shall find, in the New Testament allusions to the Trinity, rather evidence of how the Trinity, believed in by all, was conceived by the authoritative teachers of the church, than formal attempts, on their part, by authoritative declarations, to bring the church into the understanding that God is a Trinity.
Every Christian understands that God doesn’t change and that he is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. If the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is the revelation perhaps we should pay closer attention to the personal pronouns that God used.
In both the Old and New testaments God uses the words “I will pour out my Spirit.” These words are first person singular referring to God the father. If I and my, were spoken by the Holy Spirit we would have support for the trinity. However, Jesus Christ received the promise from the father to baptize and poured the Holy Spirit out on men.
These terms referring to “I and My, gift and a promise,” “poured out,” show that the Holy Spirit is a possession of God that he is able to give freely.
9. Implied in the Whole New Testament
The fundamental proof that God is a Trinity is supplied thus by the fundamental revelation of the Trinity in fact: that is to say, in the incarnation of God the Son and the outpouring of God the Holy Spirit. In a word, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are the fundamental proof of the doctrine of the Trinity. This is as much as to say that all the evidence of whatever kind, and from whatever source derived, that Jesus Christ is God manifested in the flesh, and that the Holy Spirit is a Divine Person, is just so much evidence for the doctrine of the Trinity; and that when we go to the New Testament for evidence of the Trinity we are to seek it, not merely in the scattered allusions to the Trinity as such, numerous and instructive as they are, but primarily in the whole mass of evidence which the New Testament provides of the Deity of Christ and the divine personality of the Holy Spirit.
It is not prudent to interpret or assume something to be true that not has been corroborated. Trinitarians believe the fundamental proof that God is a Trinity, which is based on an opinion that names are attributes in themselves and the substantial proof of three persons. While names identify one person from another, it is the arrangement of facial and body structure that identify these attributes with a name. Both the father and son are described with facial and body structure similar to man, but the Holy Spirit has no description of his person. He has no throne to rule from and there is no conversation between him the father and the Son.
10. Conditions the Whole Teaching of Jesus:
With this as a starting-point, the teaching of Jesus is conditioned throughout in a Trinitarian way. He has much to say of God His Father, from whom as His Son He is in some true sense distinct, and with whom He is in some equally true sense one. And He has much to say of the Spirit, who represents Him as He represents the Father, and by whom He works as the Father works by Him.
The first sentence is obviously a matter of personal opinion that solely depends on how the scriptures are interpreted. Chapter 14 of John is the most authoritative teaching on the Holy Spirit. Throughout chapter 14, Jesus kept referring to his relationship with his father.
Jesus Christ spoke of being united with the Father during the whole time he was teaching about the Holy Spirit. He said nothing about a third person. He asked the father to send another counselor and then said I will come to you. The request for another person to accompany Jesus Christ when he came into our lives is Christ’s perspective of the Holy Spirit indwelling. That means that you would have a total of two counselors that would come to make our home with you. Why did Jesus discuss who the counselors were and after teaching this, refer to the counselor, the Holy Spirit? Reflect upon that thought.
11. Father and Son in Johannine Discourses:
It is in the discourses recorded in John, however, that Jesus most copiously refers to the unity of Himself, as the Son, with the Father, and to the mission of the Spirit from Himself as the dispenser of the divine activities. Here He not only with great directness declares that He and the Father are one (John 10:30; compare 17:11,21-22,25) with a unity of interpenetration ("The Father is in me, and I in the Father," 10:38; compare 16:10-11), so that to have seen Him was to have seen the Father (14:9; compare 15:21); but He removes all doubt as to the essential nature of His oneness with the Father by explicitly asserting His eternity ("Before Abraham was born, I am," John 8:58), His co-eternity with God ("had with thee before the world was," 17:5; compare 17:18; 6:62), His eternal participation in the divine glory itself ("the glory which I had with thee," in fellowship, community with Thee "before the world was," 17:5).
Why would Jesus give an abundance of direct statements regarding his relationship of unity with his father unless they were true? The uniqueness of John’s discourse was that Jesus did not speak of a three-person unity but with a union with the father. Jesus plainly said.
However Jesus always spoke the words his father commanded him to say.
Does the Godhead exist in a Trinity form? There are a number of statements, which plainly state a union of two persons within the godhead. There are none that plainly speak of God existing in a unit of three persons and no statements from the Holy Spirit claiming deity.
The words of Jesus Christ’s were shown to be the words of the Father. Why would the combined members of the Godhead purposely omit the name of the Holy Spirit in their statements describing their unity? Isn’t that the sin of omission? However, those who wrote letters to the church also omitted the name of the Holy Spirit in their greetings. They also were unaware of the deity of the Holy Spirit.
Pentecostals believe that Christ operated in the gifts of the Holy Spirit to perform miracles. The Jews they knew that the miracles performed by Jesus could not have been done unless God was with him. Jesus response to this question was,
12. Spirit in Johannine Discourses:
It is more important to point out that these phenomena of interrelationship are not confined to the Father and Son, but are extended also to the Spirit. Thus, for example, in a context in which our Lord had emphasized in the strongest manner His own essential unity and continued interpenetration with the Father (" If ye had known me, ye would have known my Father also"; "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father"; "I am in the Father, and the Father in me OQ; "The Father abiding in me doeth his works," John 14:7,9-10), we read as follows (John 14:16-26): 'And I will make request of the Father, and He shall give you another (thus sharply distinguished from Our lord as a distinct Person) Advocate, that He may be with you forever, the Spirit of Truth .... He abideth with you and shall be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I come unto you. .... In that day ye shall know that I am in the Father. .... If a man love me, he will keep my word; and my Father will love him and we (that is, both Father and Son) will come unto him and make our abode with him. .... These things have I spoken unto you while abiding with you.
The scriptures above speak of a oneness of the Father and the Son without being united with the Holy Spirit. To establish the Godhead as a trinity, we must be able to distinguish each person of the Godhead as an individual.
The argument involving John 14:16 speaks of another comforter and not a third person. Grammars wise, both the father and Son would have to ask for another comforter to show the need for a third person. In this case, Jesus Christ was the only person who was asking the father for another comforter. Lets remember that a comforter must be in residence before another comforter can reside at his side.
13. The Baptismal Formula:
Meanwhile, the nearest approach to a formal announcement of the doctrine of the Trinity which is recorded from our Lord's lips, or, perhaps we may say, which is to be found in the whole compass of the New Testament, has been preserved for us, not by John, but by one of the synoptists. It too, however, is only incidentally introduced, and has for its main object something very different from formulating the doctrine of the Trinity. It is embodied in the great commission which the resurrected Lord gave His disciples to be their "marching orders" "even unto the end of the world": "Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19). In seeking to estimate the significance of this great declaration, we must bear in mind the high solemnity of the utterance, by which we are required to give its full value to every word of it.
The great commission could be seen as a step by step operational procedure of making disciples. The great commission is considered to be as follows.
The disciples did not baptize or record a baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in their lifetime. Secondly, no one besides Matthew taught a method of baptizing in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Apparently, those who heard the Great Commission have ignored two of the stipulations of the great commission. The lack of actions showing the disciples carrying out the command leaves room for doubt. To get to the truth of the matter, God commanded a simple but prudent way to find the truth.
According to the history of Baptisms, baptizing in the name of the father Son and Holy Spirit did not take place in the church until the mid 2nd to the early 3rd century. The first baptism in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit recorded by a bishop named Justin martyr (100–165AD.)
14. Genuineness of Baptismal Formula:
A passage of such range of implication has, of course, not escaped criticism and challenge. An attempt which cannot be characterized as other than frivolous has even been made to dismiss it from the text of Matthew's Gospel. Against this, the whole body of external evidence cries out; and the internal evidence is of itself not less decisive to the same effect. When the "universalism," "ecclesiasticism," and "high theology" of the passage are pleaded against its genuineness, it is forgotten that to the Jesus of Matthew there are attributed not only such parables as those of the Leaven and the Mustard Seed, but such declarations as those contained in Matthew 8:11-12; 21:43; 24:14; that in this Gospel alone is Jesus recorded as speaking familiarly about His church (16:18; 18:17); and that, after the great declaration of 11:27 if, nothing remained in lofty attribution to be assigned to Him.
If the Baptismal Formula was Genuine we would find the disciples reinforcing the formula with deeds and teaching according to the great commission. In other words, we do not see the church leaders responding to Christ’s command in reverent obedience. We must consider why the disciples did not baptize according the formula prescribed by Matthew or teach it during their lifetime. Everything the disciples did was done in the name of Jesus and accredited with signs and wonders from God.
15. Paul's Trinitarianism:
When we turn from the discourses of Jesus to the writings of His followers with a view to observing how the assumption of the doctrine of the Trinity underlies their whole fabric also, we naturally go first of all to the letters of Paul. Their very mass is impressive; and the definiteness with which their composition within a generation of the death of Jesus may be fixed adds importance to them as historical witnesses. Certainly they leave nothing to be desired in the richness of their testimony to the Trinitarian conception of God which underlies them. Throughout the whole series, from 1 Thessalonians, which comes from about 52 A.D., to 2 Timothy, which was written about 68 A.D., the redemption, which it is their one business to proclaim and commend, and all the blessings which enter into it or accompany it are referred consistently to a threefold divine causation.
In the all of his letters Paul greeted the church in the same way stating,
The absence of the Holy Spirit from these greetings shows that Paul was unaware that the Holy Spirit was God or part of the divine nature. Paul also described your body as the temple of God.
Paul describes the body you live in as purchased by God with the blood of Christ
Therefore your body is the property of God used as a temple and Paul reflects that idea in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 with an apostrophe showing God in the possessive case. Your body belongs to God and he is there to strengthen your stand in Christ.
Then Paul says that you are in Christ who is working with you to make you into a holy temple where God can live.
Ephesians 2:18-22 corresponds with John 14:23 and the teaching Jesus Christ.
Paul did not refer to the Holy Spirit as God or as the third person. In addition, no one writing the Holy Scriptures used the term – threefold – third person - or three persons - to describe God.
16. Conjunction of the Three in Paul:
In numerous passages scattered through Paul's Epistles, from the earliest of them (1 Thessalonians 1:2-5; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14) to the latest (Titus 3:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:3,13-14), all three Persons, God the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, are brought together, in the most incidental manner, as co-sources of all the saving blessings which come to believers in Christ. A typical series of such passages may be found in Ephesians 2:18; 3:2-5,14,17; 4:4-6; 5:18-20. But the most interesting instances are offered to us perhaps by the Epistles to the Corinthians. In 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 Paul presents the abounding spiritual gifts with which the church was blessed in a threefold aspect, and connects these aspects with the three Divine Persons. "Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are diversities of ministrations, and the same Lord. And there are diversities of workings, but the same God, who worketh all things in all.
The presence of the three names known as God is located in close proximity in some fifty locations of the scriptures. Of those fifty locations the context of the subject matter does not speak of the unity of God. However, a name does not provide the needed attribute to show that a person exists. It is the attributes, the physical description of a person's presence that we associate and identify with a name. The lack of a physical description for the Holy Spirit's presence makes it impossible to identify the Holy Spirit from the Father and Son. The argument Trinitarians base their beliefs on simply assumes that the Holy Spirit is a person. Didn’t Paul recommend that all Christians test everything?
17. Trinitarianism of Other New Testament Writers:
The phenomena of Paul's Epistles are repeated in the other writings of the New Testament. In these other writings also it is everywhere assumed that the redemptive activities of God rest on a threefold source in God the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit; and these three Persons repeatedly come forward together in the expressions of Christian hope or the aspirations of Christian devotion (e.g. Hebrews 2:3-4; 6:4-6; 10:29-31; 1 Peter 1:2; 2:3-12; 4:13-19; 1 John 5:4-8; Jude 20-21; Revelation 1:4-6). Perhaps as typical instances as any are supplied by the two following: "According to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:2); "Praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life" (Jude verses 20,21).
Take note of how James, Peter, and John greeted the church in their letters.
The context of the letters James, Peter, Jude and John sent to the churches did not speak of the unity of God in the subject matter. They did not identify themselves as servants of the Holy Spirit. Lets remember that God is all-powerful, his speech is explicit, straight forward and straight to a point. Implied language is deceptive in that you can say something with deniability. One has to agree that if the Holy Spirit were God in their minds they would have included his name in their greetings
18. Variations in Nomenclature:
It will not have escaped observation that the Trinitarian terminology of Paul and the other writers of the New Testament is not precisely identical with that of our Lord as recorded for us in His discourses. Paul, for example-and the same is true of the other New Testament writers (except John) - does not speak, as our Lord is recorded as speaking, of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, so much as of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. This difference of terminology finds its account in large measure in the different relations in which the speakers stand to the Trinity. Our Lord could not naturally speak of Himself, as one of the Trinitarian Persons, by the designation of "the Lord," while the designation of "the Son," expressing as it does His consciousness of close relation, and indeed of exact similarity, to God, came naturally to His lips.
Finding the truth does not depend on terminology but in how words link common ideas and facts. The names of God have remained the same through out the scriptures, and the change of terminology has more to do with the writer and his relationship with his father than God’s relationship with the Godhead. The names of God are based upon the role in a family relationship and the character of role member. Most are self-explanatory. The most popular relationship is between God the father and Jesus Christ the Son of God. In this relationship the Son is subservient to the father just as man is subservient in the king of kings relationship. Does the Holy Spirit have a name related to a role of a family member?
However, the Bible does not speak of a personal relationship between the Father and the Holy Spirit. Instead the bible states that the Holy Spirit is a possession of God the father that he has promised to give as a gift to his children.
19. Implications of "Son" and "Spirit":
Such facts as these have a bearing upon the testimony of the New Testament to the interrelations of the Persons of the Trinity. To the fact of the Trinity-to the fact, that is, that in the unity of the Godhead there subsist three Persons, each of whom has his particular part in the working out of salvation-the New Testament testimony is clear, consistent, pervasive and conclusive. There is included in this testimony constant and decisive witness to the complete and undiminished Deity of each of these Persons; no language is too exalted to apply to each of them in turn in the effort to give expression to the writer's sense of His Deity: the name that is given to each is fully understood to be "the name that is above every name."
The number of people debating the validity of the trinity doctrine show that the scriptures are not pervasive or conclusive to support a true doctrine, particularly when solid evidence to the contrary is presented. To resolve the issue the scriptures must support the Holy Spirit as a third person with a relationship with the remaining members of the Godhead. These facts do not depend upon our personal beliefs.
20. The Question of Surbordination:
There is, of course, no question that in "modes of operation," as it is technically called-that is to say, in the functions ascribed to the several persons of the Trinity in the redemptive process, and, more broadly, in the entire dealing of God with the world-the principle of subordination is clearly expressed. The Father is first, the Son is second, and the Spirit is third, in the operations of God as revealed to us in general, and very especially in those operations by which redemption is accomplished. Whatever the Father does, He does through the Son (Romans 2:16; 3:22; 5:1,11,17,21; Ephesians 1:5; 1 Thessalonians 5:9; Titus 3:5) by the Spirit. The Son is sent by the Father and does His Father's will (John 6:38); the Spirit is sent by the Son and does not speak from Himself, but only takes of Christ's and shows it unto His people (John 17:7 ff); and we have our Lord's own word for it that 'one that is sent is not greater than he that sent him' (John 13:16).
Multi-tasking is a familiar term to man today. Its also a common but hidden term associated with job descriptions. Titles and job descriptions are multi-tasked and it means that a supervisor may have to substitute for a sick or laid-off employee. The important thing is not in who does the job, but a team effort to see the job is successfully completed. The bible tells us that certain members of the Godhead have specific tasks that they perform but the bible also says that each member have common tasks that they do on a regular basis in one accord. The goal is our salvation.
21. Witness of the Christian Consciousness:
The Trinity of the Persons of the Godhead, shown in the incarnation and the redemptive work of God the Son, and the descent and saving work of God the Spirit, is thus everywhere assumed in the New Testament, and comes to repeated fragmentary but none the less emphatic and illuminating expression in its pages. As the roots of its revelation are set in the threefold divine causality of the saving process, it naturally finds an echo also in the consciousness of everyone who has experienced this salvation. Every redeemed soul, knowing himself reconciled with God through His Son, and quickened into newness of life by His Spirit, turns alike to Father, Son and Spirit with the exclamation of reverent gratitude upon his lips, "My Lord and my God!" If he could not construct the doctrine of the Trinity out of his consciousness of salvation, yet the elements of his consciousness of salvation are interpreted to him and reduced to order only by the doctrine of the Trinity which he finds underlying and giving their significance and consistency to the teaching of the Scriptures as to the processes of salvation.
Spiritually speaking, consciousness is a state of the heart, a condition that God says is deceitful above all things and beyond cure (Jeremiah 17:9)? What about those who do not believe in God and are not interested in knowing God? What about those who believe in other Gods? They have an embedded belief of God’s existence but their culture and upbringing shape each person’s understanding of God’s nature.
Your consciousness is an awareness and sensitivity to specific beliefs that you hold sacred. When you do wrong your conscious will trouble you until your state of consciousness is either seared or you do something to correct the issue. One group of people believes that God is One, another group believes that God is a united God of more than one person. Gut feelings have been known to be wrong and those feelings change with the knowledge of what you believe is right.
Consciousness has little to do with processing the information learned by Christians as the argument suggests. Consciousness is the awareness of your life in relation to right and wrong instilled in the basic core of your being. It makes you aware that something is wrong when your experiences and knowledge don’t agree. You were born with survival instincts that did little more than allow you to cry for the things you needed. The training you received from your parents instilled the knowledge of right and wrong. In the same way, your training with in the church community created your core beliefs about God.
22. Formulation of the Doctrine:
The determining impulse to the formulation of the doctrine of the Trinity in the church was the church's profound conviction of the absolute Deity of Christ, on which as on a pivot the whole Christian conception of God from the first origins of Christianity turned. The guiding principle in the formulation of the doctrine was supplied by the Baptismal Formula announced by Jesus (Matthew 28:19), from which was derived the ground-plan of the baptismal confessions and "rules of faith" which very soon began to be framed all over the church. It was by these two fundamental principia-the true Deity of Christ and the Baptismal Formula-that all attempts to formulate the Christian doctrine of God were tested, and by their molding power that the church at length found itself in possession of a form of statement which did full justice to the data of the redemptive revelation as reflected in the New Testament and the demands of the Christian heart under the experience of salvation.
The doctrine of the Trinity was formulated by the words.
The disciples who we believed to have heard this command did not baptize their disciples according to this command nor did they teach this command to their disciples. The names of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit alone do not have the proper attributes to identify a living being. God gave everyone a distinctive appearance that we associate with a name. In addition to a name, every distinctive appearance is also associated a personal character. It is the combination of the distinctive appearance and character that gives attributes of a person’s existence to other people.
Christians choose to follow the scholar’s wisdom of God fearing men who developed the doctrine from what appears to be based on nothing more than three names. God gave man a mind capable of thinking independently of scholarly wisdom and he gave all of mankind his words containing his thoughts and ways to carefully consider.
A note from Thinkgodly:
How would you instruct people to handle specific tasks concerning your family long after you have been in the grave? In the same way, how does God express his commands so they will be obeyed in a precise manner? Wouldn’t God express himself in a precise manner so that his thoughts and ideas could not be denied? Couldn’t we assume that things God did not say may be contrary to what he did say? In my mind there are a number of ways for God to express his nature, but he chose to say I and the Father are one. In my mind there are a number of ways for God to express his thoughts to every man and woman with a mind capable of thinking. This is especially true when God also gave you his Holy Spirit to assist in interpreting the word of God. It is your responsibility to work out your salvation with God and develop a personal relationship with him. It is also your spiritual act of worship to renew your mind so that you may test and approve God’s good and perfect will.
Then you will know if it is possible to blaspheme God for saying what God has led you to believe? Whether we agree or disagree on the trinity, our task is to present the truth of God’s word accurately. Thinkgodly did not intend to offend anyone in our audience while discussing a doctrine of this magnitude. We also recognize that it is not our duty to God to quarrel over his word, but to present his word in a factual manner.
Overall our knowledge and experience with God determines how we serve him. A personal relationship with God cannot be based upon the opinions of other men or what they believe. As God’s ambassadors, we are required to handle God’s word correctly with the responsibility to take God’s message to the world. This was our only goal when writing this article.
(All excerpts taken from International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Electronic Database Copyright © 1996, 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved. As viewed in PC Study Bible version V5.0E)
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