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August 17, 2011

Comments

Greetings,

I'll be honest-- I'm not sure that this is a very convincing argument for the trinity. One can agree with the conclusion of an argument, but not its form, and I don't personally perceive the scriptural references to be as strong as suggested. I'm not Mormon, and I'm not looking to pick an argument. This will probably be my only post. However, I think it merits a comment. It's asserted that the Bible states:

1. The Holy Spirit is called or referred to (or granted the status) as God (Genesis 1:2; John 14:26; Acts 13:2, 4; Romans 8:11).

Using Genesis 1:2 is scrupulous; it says the "Spirit of God", not "the Spirit, who is God". If I said, "the spirit of the President", I would obviously not be referring to the President-- I would be referring to his Spirit, unless you think that people are identical with their spirits (which brings up a whole host of issues).

John 14:26 never even hints that the Holy Spirit is God.

Acts 13:2 never states that the Holy Spirit is God. It references people worshiping God, and then the Holy Spirit appears. If this were to mean that the Holy Spirit is God, the same logic could be used to indicate that angels are God, which is certainly not the case.

Romans 8:11 states that the Spirit raised Christ Jesus from the dead; however, the Father raised Christ from the dead (Galations 1:1) and Christ raised himself from the dead (John 2:19-22). Unless you're saying that the Holy Spirit, Christ, and the Father are identical (which is anti-trinitarian), there seems to be problems with the face-value reading of this scripture.

2. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct persons and can be distinguished from one another (the Father is not the Son; the Father is not the Holy Spirit; and the Son is not the Holy Spirit) (Matthew 28:19; Luke 3:22; John 15:26; 16:13–15; 2 Corinthians 13:14).

Matthew 28:19 is unclear about the issue (whether they are all distinct, and in what way). If I said to tell your child the name of Spiderman and the name of Peter Parker, that would not mean that Spiderman and Peter Parker are distinct (and distinct in what ways), even though they have distinct names. Three cheers for the complexities of Leibniz's Law.

John 16:13-15 could go either way. Presumably if all that I have (including my properties) and all that you have (including your properties) are identical, you and I are identical. I'm not sure that this is a strictly pro-Trinitarian verse.

2 Corinthians 13:14 is actually quite problematic: the distinction is between (per the ESV) the grace of Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. In other words, the Father is identified as God, but Christ and the Holy Spirit are distinguished. There are certainly ways around this problem, but it shouldn't be cited without qualification as support for the Father/Son/HS distinction


3. The three persons (Father or God; and Son or Christ or Lord; and Holy Spirit or Spirit) are frequently listed together in a triadic pattern of unity and equality (Romans 15:16, 30; 1 Corinthians 12:4-6; 2 Corinthians 1:21–22; Galatians 4:6).

This entire premise doesn't assist the argument; it also leads to modalism, social trinitarianism, et cetera. Listing the three in a pattern of unity and equality is not unique to orthodox Trinitarian beliefs.

Sorry that the comment is much larger than the original post; however, given the nature of the site, I thought it worthwhile to spend the time. I think it's great that you're trying to offer a defense of what is claimed to be a core Christian doctrine, but to non-Christians assessing the post, it could be disenfranchising. It's worth offering fewer solid arguments than numerous weaker arguments, and the argument in this post isn't the best.

Thanks for helping to maintain this great site!

Please Lisen to Walter Martin or J vernon mcGee they gave great messages on teaching the Trinity.
http://youtu.be/xventhQ4Irc
http://youtu.be/SRgD0fSTFTs

The Language is unmistakable. John 17 clearly shows an I and a You reality/movement between Father/Son, and the Son who was with God before the World was. John 1 echoes the same. Genesis 1 and John 1 and John 17 echo the Us/We/Our, which is Pleural, but is One-God. We/Us (pleural) are One (singular) and back and forth all over Scripture. The Spirit "is God". The Son "is God". The Father "is God". And All are addressed "as such", and yet Each is also addressed as I/You and My/Thy and even as We/Us/Our. We find in God the odd Patterns and Movements of I, and You, and We. Which is simply nothing more than what Love "is" which is that Dance of Movements Among and Between Real Selves. He points us to Marriage, to Weddings, to Love, and anyone who has tasted Love has tasted a kind of Singular-Entity which houses within it the very real I, the very real You, and the very real and Singular We/Us. Love is in itself Triune and as we draw near to that God who calls Himself Love we are not surprised to find such language with that One-God who houses within Himself an I, a You, and a We. God is Triune not because He is Triune, but because He is Love.

I recommend the book "God Crucified" by Richard Baucham, in which he painstakingly details that Jesus is intrinsic to who God is. Excellent work, and of course The Forgotten Trinity by James R White

It appears to me that the interpretations of the scriptures sited contradict each other. From the outside, the contradictions only tell me that Christianity is false. Instead of recognizing the contradictions and walking away, Christians make up a "trinity" that makes absolutely no sense.

i'm with Eluros (the first response).

Is the Holy Ghost God?

1. Job 33:4 Says that the Spirit of God made me and the breath of the Almighty give me life (The Hebrew words translated by NASB as "spirit" and "breath" could both be translated as "spirit" and both be translated as "breath"). Genesis 2:7 says that it is YHWH who does those things. So Job is saying that the Spirit is YHWH.

2. In Hebrews 3:7-11, Paul describes the Holy Spirit as saying that He was tested by the Hebrews in the wilderness. In Exodus 17:7, Moses says that it was YHWH who was tested. So Paul is saying that the Holy Spirit is YHWH.

3. In Acts 5:3-4, Peter tells Ananias that he has lied to the Holy Spirit. He then describes the same act as lying to God. Peter is saying that the Holy Spirit is God.

4. In the triadic formula of Baptism in Matthew 28:19, it is not just that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are lumped together. They are declared to have a single name (into which new disciples are to be baptized).

The name is not "The Father".

It is not "The Son".

It is not "The Holy Spirit".

It is not "The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit".

It it is not even "God" or "The Trinity"

The reason for this is that none of these terms are names. The name is "YHWH". That is the only name Scripture ever gives us for God (well, OK, "Jesus" too...but that means "YHWH Saves"). When the Pastor says "I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost", He is saying "I baptize you in the name of YHWH". That's the only thing he could be saying.

5. In I Corinthians 12:11-18, Paul begins by saying that the Spirit distributes Spiritual gifts. He goes on to liken this to the fitting of members in the Body of Christ. He then says that it is God who fits the members. So Paul is saying that the Spirit is God.

6. On Romans 8:11, saying that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit raised Christ from the dead does show the unity of the Godhead. This was a singular act carried out by One Almighty God.

This is not anti-trinitarian, but pro-trinitarian. What it means to be Trinitarian is that you accept the claims about the Godhead made by the creeds. In particular, the Athanasian Creed. The Athanasian Creed says "The Father is Almighty, The Son is Almighty, and the Holy Spirit is Almighty. But they are not three almighties, but One Almighty". There are not three separate doers in the Godhead, to say that there are is to say that there are three almighties.

Are the Persons of the Godhead Distinct?

It is important to be clear about what we mean by "person". This term comes from the Latin "persona". It has not always had the same meaning. It's original meaning was "mask". Tertullian tried to nail it down to mean something stronger. He did this in order to put the kibosh on the Modalist heresy.*

The Modalist heresy treated the Persons of the Godhead as mere accidents. Things God could change as easily as changing a mask. Tertullian wanted to reject the idea that, for example, the incarnation amounts to nothing more than God 'putting on His Jesus hat'.

But Tertullian did not reject the term "persona" outright. The connotation of a dramatic role remains important. This is because the Persons are distinguished in Scripture by their distinctive works. By their distinctive roles in the universe.

All of these works, of course, are done by the One God (for there are not three almighties, but One Almighty). But some are done in virtue of His being the Father. Some are done in virtue of His being the Son. Some are done in virtue of His being the Holy Spirit. And nothing is done apart from this.

So we retain the dramatic connotation of "persona" in order to distinguish the Persons of the Godhead. We add to it the idea of the persons being essential in order to retain the unity of the Godhead.

Building on the dramatic role, you might say that Merkin Muffley, Lionel Mandrake and Dr. Strangelove are quite different persons, but they are united in one being: Peter Sellers.

Before you start shouting "Modalism", note that this isn't the whole story.

I wouldn't leave the analogy here. If I did, it would be Modalism, and it would only be a little better than saying that persons are masks. Muffley, Mandrake and Strangelove are accidents of Sellers. Sellers might not have gotten the role, or they might have followed the book Red Alert more closely and not created the character of Strangelove, and so on.

So the notion of a dramatic role, by itself, falls short. To fill in the gap, imagine, if you will, that Sellers has these roles so fully, that if he didn't play them, he would cease to exist. So fully that he would never have existed in the first place.

Also imagine that there's nothing to Sellers but these roles. There's no Peter Sellers married to Brit Ekland and working the role of Inspector Clouseau (as he was at the same time).

The Sellers we are imagining doesn't just play Muffley, Mandrake and Strangelove. He is Muffley, Mandrake and Strangelove. Why does Sellers have a hand that intermittently does a Hitleresque salute? Well that's in virtue of his being Dr.Stranglove. Does the one who is Merkin Muffley have such a hand? Sure. But not in virtue of being Merkin Muffley.

Are Muffley, Mandrake and Strangelove different? Absolutely. But how many doers, how many knowers, how many lovers and thinkers are there? One.

----------------------------

*-In so doing, Tertullian really started an evolution of the term "person" that led us to today, where saying that God is three persons is practically tantamount to saying that there are three gods, three almighty beings, three all-knowing beings, three all-loving beings, three all-wise beings.

I'm getting old. I took it for granted in the previous post that everyone would, of course, know who Merkin Muffley, Lionel Mandrake and Dr. Strangelove are. These are three caharcters, all played by Peter Sellers in his best performance in the movie Dr. Strangelove. (Also, I think, the best of Stanley Kubrick's films...well, I haven't, and don't plan to see Eyes Wide Shut, but I doubt it would be in the running).

If you haven't seen this one, you should.

Triadic Formulae, and Reading Between the Lines

Another word for a "Father, Son and Holy Ghost" passage is Triadic Formula.

If you already have Trinitarianism in hand, it's clear how to read triadic formulae. It is less clear that they prove any part of the Doctrine the Trinity in the first place. (With the exception of the triadic formula of baptism, which shows that the three Persons have a single name).

So I agree with Eluros on this limited point.

This is because, in general, we need to avoid drawing conclusions from the Bible, or any other text, based on what it does not say. Triadic formulae, by themselves, seem neither to identify the Godhead as a single being, nor distinguish it as three Persons. Only the other Scriptural supports for the Doctrine of the Trinity allow us to unambiguously interpret these texts in that way.

But this caution against reading between the lines cuts both ways. If you find a passage that calls the Father God, but not the Son, or not the Holy Spirit, that is no evidence against the Trinity.

The formula Eluros mentions, from 2 Corinthians 13:14, is a case in point. The passage parallels the grace of Christ with the love of God with the communion of the Holy Ghost.

It is interesting and prejudicial that we assume "God" even refers to "The Father" here. Maybe it does, but the passage does not say that. There is no reason, none whatsoever, to assume that when the Bible speaks of God without clear identification of the Person, that it is always referring to the Father. It would probably be a really good corrective to assume that it's always referring to Christ.

But even if we grant that in the 2 Corinthians passage "God" refers to the Father, the passage still does not deny the Deity of Christ or of the Holy Ghost. That is reading into the passage something that it does not say.

Who purchased the Church through His own blood?
Act 20:28 Then take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit placed you as overseers, to shepherd the assembly of God which He purchased through His own blood.

Who should we bow down to?
Isa 45:22 Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.
Isa 45:23 I have sworn by Myself, the Word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that to Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.

Php 2:9 Because of this also God highly exalted Him and gave Him a name above every name,
Php 2:10 that at the name of Jesus "every knee should bow," of heavenly ones, and earthly ones, and ones under the earth,
Php 2:11 and "every tongue should confess" that Jesus Christ is "Lord," to the glory of God the Father. Isa. 45:23

Isaiah 44:6 States the God is the first and last and apart from Him there is not God...

"This is what the LORD says — Israel’s King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty:
I am the first and I am the last;
Apart from me there is no God."

Please cross reference this with Jesus’ words to John in Revelation 1:17-18

"Do not be afraid.
I am the First and the Last.
I am the Living One.
I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever."

God was DEAD and now alive.. this points to Jesus as being God.


When we say that a Triune Personhood is either not possible, or is a contradiction, we begin to betray our own limited Perspective, and we come across as one who argues that our Universe has only One Dimension, rather than Three Dimensions and, therein, our listeners begin to wonder how it is we have eyes but do not see. And, further, and even worse, when we say that a Triune Personhood is not possible, or is a contradiction, we then begin to say that Love Itself is either not possible, or is a contradiction. For those who have loved, who have been loved, seeing this comes easily. For those who have not known love, this is more difficult to see because here seeing really means a kind of tasting.

Within this thing called Love, called Us, called Marriage, called Wedding, called the Collective Body, all of which Christ points us towards in His explanations of what Real “is”, we find, or I find, I taste, I experience, something that is three and yet one, and by this I mean that I find within Marriage a very real and a very unique and a very distinct “We” or “Us”, and, I also find housed within this Love a very real and a very distinct “I”, and a very real and a very distinct “You”. This Movement Among and Between Real Selves is the “experience I taste as love” and it not only is comprised of Me, but it also surpasses Me, exceeds Me, improves upon Me, and brings Me to Something Beyond the purely One-Dimensional “I”, and into the I-You. Love is We. And if we make the argument that this “Fabric” of I and You and We is either “not possible” or is “a contradiction” then we make that argument against the very “pattern and fabric” with which we describe the Felt Reality we call Love. A Love that is void of a real I is not Love as we taste Love. And, a Love that is void of a real You is not Love as we taste Love. And, a Love that is void of a real Us, a real We, is not Love as we taste Love. Love is both Pleural and Singular by default within our Felt Reality. The Intellectually Described Reality with which we describe this Existential/Felt/Tasted Reality comes in various forms and this quote by C.S. Lewis is one among many of those, and all of this eludes to the nuance that it is only a Perspective, a Vantage Point, a Mindset, that is too small, too limited, too un-exposed, too One-Dimensional, which insists, and really believes, that there can be no such thing as a Second Dimension or a Third Dimension:


“A world of one dimension would be a straight line. In a two-dimensional world, you still get straight lines, but many lines make a figure. In a three-dimensional world, you still get figures but many figures make one solid body. In other words, as you advance to more real and more complicated levels, you do not leave behind you the things you found on the simpler levels: you still have them, but combined in new ways --- in ways you could not imagine if you knew only the simpler levels…….. the Christian account of God involves just the same principle. The human level is a simple and rather empty level. On the human level one person is one being, and any two persons are two separate beings --- just as, in two dimensions (say on a flat sheet of paper) one square is one figure and any two squares are two separate figures. On the Divine level you still find personalities; but up there we find them combined in new ways which we, who do not live on that level, cannot imagine. In God's dimension, so to speak, you find a Being who is three Persons while remaining one Being, just as a cube is six squares while remaining one cube. Of course we cannot fully conceive a being like that: just as, if we were so made that we perceived only two dimensions in space we could never properly imagine a cube. But we can get a sort of faint notion of it. And, when we do, we are then, for the first time in our lives, getting some positive idea, however faint, of something “super-personal” --- something more than a person......” C.S. Lewis


And, to again offer, the Language is unmistakable. John 17 clearly shows an I and a You reality / movement between Father/Son, and the Son who was with God before the World was. John 1 echoes the same. Genesis 1 and John 1 and John 17 echo the Us/We/Our, which is Pleural, but is One-God. We/Us (pleural) are One (singular) and back and forth all over Scripture. The Spirit "is God". The Son "is God". The Father "is God". And All are addressed "as such", and yet Each is also addressed as I/You and My/Thy and even as We/Us/Our. We find in God the odd Patterns and Movements of I, and You, and We. Which is simply nothing more than what Love "is" which is that Dance of Movements Among and Between Real Selves. He points us to Marriage, to Weddings, to Love, and anyone who has tasted Love has tasted a kind of Singular-Entity which houses within it the very real I, the very real You, and the very real and Singular We/Us. Love is in itself Triune and as we draw near to that God who calls Himself Love we are not surprised to find such language with that One-God who houses within Himself an I, a You, and a We. God is Triune not because He is Triune, but because He is Love.

For those who argue that the “Ultimate Ethic is love” I would point you towards the Final and Eventual Bedrock of “the Ultimate Reality is Love Himself” which is the only Bedrock that can ultimately/finally support the weight of such an incredible claim, and, also, I would point you towards the One God of Whom it is said, “God Is Love” and, within that Triune Fabric, within His Eternally Sacrificed Self, you will find all the necessary constituents with which to build such an Ultimate Reality.


Thanks Vee for the verses showing that Jesus is God. There are quite a lot of these, but you've given a very nice selection many of which I hadn't noticed before.

I've given some, but not all of the verses that show Scripture's teaching that the Holy Ghost is God. And there are also many verses showing that the Father is God.

Indeed, you can argue that Scripture unambiguously identifies the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost as that Single Divine Being that goes by the name YHWH. So that part of the doctrine of the Trinity (which more-or-less undercuts every stripe of Arianism) is almost impossible to miss in Scripture.

Just a young guy trying to figure this stuff out...

trinity..cannnnn someone help me?? i just got done reading an article...don't really know what to think of it..

Why study the Trinity http://goo.gl/Df35V

is there any relevance/urgency in understanding this???

sincerely,
john

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