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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Trinity: One God in Three Persons

Don Stewart :: Do Christians Believe in Three Different Gods?

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Do Christians Believe in Three Different Gods? (Tritheism)

The Trinity: One God in Three Persons – Question 20

The doctrine of the Trinity teaches that only one God exists. Within the nature of this one God there are three distinct persons or centers of consciousness. They are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are not three different gods.

There is a false view of the Trinity known as Tritheism. Tritheism holds that Christians believe in three gods who are independent and self-existing. Tritheism rejects the idea of one God or the unity of God. In Tritheism God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit are three separate gods. Tritheism accepts the threeness of God, but ignores the unity. The following observations need to be made about Tritheism

1. Tritheism Is Not the Trinitarian View

This view is often stated as though it is what Trinitarians believe. But this is not the case. While some Christians may have imprecisely explained the Trinity in a way that sounds like Tritheism this is not what the Bible teaches about the nature of God. There is only one God, not three gods.

2. It Overstresses the Deity of the Son and the Holy Spirit

In laying stress upon the Deity of Jesus Christ and of the Holy Spirit, some people fall into the error of Tritheism. They want so much to emphasize the Deity of these two Persons that they fall into the mistake of making them into separate gods. They are not. They are distinct persons who, along with God the Father, make up the one God.

3. The Bible Says There Is Only One True God: Not Three Gods

Trinitarians emphatically believe that only one God exists. They do not believe in three separate Gods. As we have emphasized, Scripture says there is one God who is made up of three distinct Persons or centers of consciousness. These three co-operate with each other in one mind and purpose. Therefore in the truest sense of the word they are one. The Lord has said of Himself,

“ all the world from east to west will know there is no other God. I am the LORD, and there is no other.” (Isaiah 45:6 NLT)

The Lord, the God of the Bible is the only God who exists. He alone has all-power and all authority.

We also must emphasize that Tritheism is neither taught in Scripture nor has it been the historic belief of the church. It is an incorrect way of explaining the nature of God.

There Would Be Reason For Loyalty or Devotion to Any One of Them

There is one other thing which also needs to be mentioned. If Tritheism were true, then there would be no loyalty or devotion to any one of the three gods. A person could never really be certain which one deserved their trust. The worship and devotion would have to be spread out to each of the three gods. This idea is totally contrary to what the Scripture teaches because only one God does indeed exist.

Conclusion: While Some Christians Mistakenly Explain the Trinity as Three Gods, This Is Not What the Scripture Teaches

The Bible does not, in any way, teach Tritheism. Unhappily, many people explain the Trinity in such a way that it implies Tritheism. This is why it is important to have a biblical understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity as well as to be able to explain, as best we can, what the Scripture has to say about the nature of God.

Summary – Question 20
Do Christians Believe in Three Gods? (Tritheism)

The doctrine of the Trinity says that there is only one God which exists. However, the one God consists of three distinct persons or centers of consciousness. The one God is made up of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They are co-equal and co-eternal. They constitute the one God. This is the biblical doctrine of the Trinity.

There is a faulty view of the Trinity known as Tritheism. It says the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three separate gods, rather than one God in three distinct Persons. While the Bible does not teach Tritheism, some Christians have explained the Trinity in such a way that it sounds like they believe in three separate Gods.

This sometimes happens when Christians emphasize the deity of Jesus Christ and the deity of the Holy Spirit. While attempting to refute those who make the Son and the Holy Spirit something less than God they emphasize the divine nature of these Persons to the point as to make them into separate gods. This is not the teaching of Scripture neither has it been the historic belief of the church. There is only one God which exists, the God the Bible.

Furthermore, those who embrace the idea of Tritheism will have a problem determining which God deserves their devotion. If there are three separate gods then their love and respect has to be divided among them. One could never know whom to put their trust. On the other hand, with the Bible doctrine of the Trinity, there is no such problem. Only one God exists and he deserves our love and complete devotion. Hence the idea of Tritheism should be soundly rejected.

How Can We Categorize False Views about the Trinity? ← Prior Section
Does the One God Have Three Different Modes? Next Section →
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