"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Introduction: The Trinity

If you ever are curious enough to learn more about those peculiar Christians that you find a Bible and start thumbing through the index stopping at T looking for "Trinity," let me save you some time. It's not there. At least if you are looking through a concordance with key words from the Bible. Trinity - true enough - is not in the Bible.

What?!, you sputter. Then why do many of you believe in it? Aren't you making God into three gods?

Let me assure you, we are not. Or at least I am not, and everyone who has ever taught me believes we worship the One and Only True God, the Creator of heaven and earth.

So what's with this Trinity thing?

Right off the bat let me assure you that if you are looking for a cute egg or apple or water illustration to satisfy your logic then you'll be disappointed. It's not so easy to put God into some neat visual that we can logically understand. I wish it were so, but He is too complex for that. Or as Isaiah 55 reports:

8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,"
declares the LORD.

9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts."

So if the Lord is higher than us in His ways and thoughts then I'm guessing His nature isn't going to be as easily explained as an egg (yolk, shell, white part: three in one) or water (steam, liquid, ice: all are still water) or anything else. Too bad, right? Hey, I wish it were easier to explain this to others, too! :-)

I think first we should understand this about the Trinity.

"The Trinity is one God existing in three Persons. Understand that this is not in any way suggesting three Gods. Keep in mind when studying this subject that the word 'Trinity' is not found in Scripture. This is a term that is used to attempt to describe the triune God—three coexistent, co-eternal Persons who make up God. Of real importance is that the concept represented by the word 'Trinity' does exist in Scripture." Source

Take note of the word "attempt" in that paragraph and realize even the word Trinity is just that, "an attempt to describe the triune God."

For those who have read or are familiar with the Bible, do you agree or disagree that "the concept represented by the word 'Trinity' does exist" there? As always, I'd love to read your thoughts.

Next I want to better understand Jesus. Many people believe Jesus was a great person, a prophet sent from God with a message of peace and love and service. So is his message so great that some have wrongly deified him? Put him on the pedestal that ONLY belongs to God? I want to talk more about this in an upcoming post so if you are interested, stay tuned.

If there are other aspects that you'd like to cover, please leave me a comment.


Wafa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wafa said...

i did the bible susanne and yes the concept of trinity was not there, but then listening to Christians talk about Jesus and God, you only hear Trinity !! so i thought there maybe some other Christian teaching that i don't know about !! it's amazing for me to read your post and that you only worship one God.
i'm waiting for the coming post :)

Amber said...


Well, I obviously believe that the Trinity is contained within the Bible, though the word is not there. Hmmm...I'm not at home, or I'd look up my notes so I could do a better comment. Sadly the references are one of the (many) things I can't recall off the top of my head. :)

*wanders off* Okay, I'm totally ganking this from Alana's site (http://morningcoffee.blogspot.com/2009/02/one-god.html) - but it's the analogy that makes the most sense to me - of course, everything that we say or think will fall *far* short of the truth:

"I am myself. When I speak, my word is as much a part of me as myself, for it is I who have spoken and my word is inseparable from me. My word reveals who I am and shows my true character. I cannot speak without my breath, and my breath is as much a part of myself as myself, for without my breath I am not myself and I would cease to exist. And without my word I am not myself because self involves expression, and yet without myself neither my word can exist, nor my breath. Nor can my word exist without myself or my breath, and when I breathe my word comes from me. I am one.

Scripture teaches about the Word made flesh, Jesus the Annointed One (Christ, Messiah):

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it." (John 1:1-5)

"And the Word became 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." John 1:14


"Jesus answered: "If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God. Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say 'I do not know Him,' I shall be a liar like you: but I do know Him and keep His word. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad."
Then the Jews said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?"
Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM."

John 8: 54-58

And about the oneness of God, Jesus testifies:

"Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves." John 14:10-11

And about the Holy Spirit:

"And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever-the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you." John 14: 16-17

and further:

"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you." John 14:26

So, One God: the Father who begets the Word who became incarnate, Jesus Christ and who sends his Spirit, his breath, upon us in the name of His Word. Inseparably One God, mysteriously in three persons."

Achelois said...

Thank you so much for this post, Susanne. It is very helpful. That is what I have read as well.

I would say I can see Trinity in the Gospel of John. But I don't think it is so clear elsewhere.

I admit it is a complex idea and I don't fully understand it. Like you explain God is one, but why some people don't understand Trinity is because Christian worship includes worshiping Jesus as well. But I guess if one believes that they are only praying to the different parts of God then it all makes sense.

I don't believe that Jesus was just another human being or just an ordinary prophet. He was greater than a prophet or messenger. While I believe that he was not a part of God, I believe in a Jesus who was larger and more scared than life; who had divine powers. In that way yes, he had a part of God in him. How else would we explain that his message is the greatest?! And I can't help it, its just a belief.

I have met atheists through the Unitarian church who don't believe in God or His prophets but who deeply respect Jesus. I have not met an atheist who would say anything so nice about any other person believed to be a prophet as they say about Jesus.

That is what makes Jesus so special and it really amazes me how some people would just not see that he was the greatest. Fine one can claim that they don't believe in Trinity but how can anyone believe that there could be anyone greater than Jesus?! Or maybe I'm being sentimental about Jesus :)

Susanne said...

Wafa', how neat to know you read the Bible! Thanks for leaving your comment and stay tuned for whenever I get around to writing the next post on this topic. ;)

Amber, I always glad when you chime in with a lot of good facts and Scriptures. Thanks for the illustration you shared from Alana's blog. I really liked that! It's much better than the egg or apple illustrations. :) And the verses you used to support the illustration were really great, too! Thank you so much for that.

Achelois, I remember reading somewhere else that you think only John speaks the most of Jesus' divinity. Thus my quest is to, hopefully, show you passages from other places just so you can have other examples. Not that I'm trying to persuade you one way or another, but I want you to see where *I* am coming from. I don't want you to think I only take John's word for it. :-D

I love the comment you left and really you don't know how much your expressing your love for Jesus makes me feel so happy. The best advice I have for any of us is to just keep following Him.

Thank you all for your comments. Enjoyed 'em!

Niki said...

Jesus is God/Creator:

II Kings 19:15
"...thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth."

Nehemiah 9:6
"Thou, even thou, art Lord alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee."

Psalms 136:1-9, 26
"O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
O give thanks unto the God of gods:....
O give thanks unto the Lord of lords:...
To him who alone doeth great wonders:...
To him that stretched out the earth above the waters:...
To him that made great lights:...
The sun to rule by day:...
The moon and stars to rule by night:...
O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever."

Isaiah 37:16
"O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, that dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth: thou hast made heaven and earth."

Isaiah 44:24
"Thus saith the Lord, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the Lord that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself;"

John 1:1, 3, 10
"In the beginning was the Word [Jesus], and the Word [Jesus] was with God, and the Word [Jesus] was God...
"All things were made by him [Jesus]; and without him [Jesus] was not any thing made that was made...
"He was in the world, and the world was made by him [Jesus], and the world knew him not."

Acts 14:15
"And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things therein:"

Acts 17:24
"God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;"

Colossians 1:15-16
"Who [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
"For by him [Jesus] 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 [Jesus], and for him:"

Achelois said...

*Looking up from the mince pies* :)

If you get the time read verse 72 onwards. This is why Muslims don't agree with or understand Trinity.

I think Islam teaches that Christianity relies on the belief that there are three individual Gods and the Father is one of them (Allah).

Susanne said...

Niki, thanks for those verses. :)

Achelois, glad you took time away from your pie to leave a comment. Ha! I'd be glad to read those verses, but I wasn't sure what book and chapter you wanted me to read. Let me know so I can read it, OK?

Merry Christmas to you!

Suroor said...

Oh dear Lord! I didn't copy the link! Shoot! I'd have to look it up all over again. Just a minute...

Here it is - http://www.usc.edu/schools/college/crcc/engagement/resources/texts/muslim/quran/005.qmt.html#005.071.

It is from Surah (chapter) 5.

The mince pies had my undivided attention :)

Merry Christmas!!

Susanne said...

Achelois, thanks for the link. It was good to actually read the verses. I was familiar with them because my Muslim friends have told me similar things, plus I've read Muslim blogs. But it was good to read them for myself, and, yes, I can see very much why Muslims believe as they do. It makes sense if you believe the Qu'ran so I've never "faulted" them for that. I am only trying to explain my point of view based on the Bible here and when I share on other blogs of similar discussion (like Wrestling w/ Religion.)

Please share anything more that you think would be good for me to read. Thank you for taking time from your pies to send that link. :)

Sarah said...

I don't think the divinity of Jesus is stated in any gospel except John. The term "son of God" mentioned in the other gospels did not necessarily mean second person of a trinity. I am still open to the idea of the trinity, though. Since I let go of Islam, I have started to think that people can express their understanding of the divine in many different ways, and there's not just one "right" way. I can't get my head around the idea of Jesus being God incarnate, but I don't feel the need to dismiss it as blasphemy!

Susanne said...

WwR Sarah, thanks for dropping by with your comment.

I was wondering what "son of God" meant to you in the other gospels. Just curious. Thanks!

Hope you had a nice Christmas! :)

Sarah said...

"Son of God" had many meanings historically:

As for what Jesus meant when he said it (if he did say it), I don't know. I don't want to give the impression I've thought it all through cos I haven't!

I had a lovely Christmas thanks, how about you?

Susanne said...

Sarah, thanks for that link. I included one at the bottom of my post yesterday that also gave some biblical definitions of "son of God." Unfortunately that site was blocked where Achelois lives.

Glad your Christmas was lovely. Mine was good. I enjoyed hanging out all day with family. :)