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Don Stewart :: What Is the Doctrine of the Trinity?

Don Stewart

One of the most important doctrines of the Christian faith is that of the Trinity. From Scripture we learn that God, by nature is a Triune Being or Trinity. The subject of the Trinity is holy ground because it discusses the nature of the one, true, God. Consequently we should approach the subject with all humility and reverence.

All Doctrine Must Be Derived From The Bible

At the outset we must state that any belief about the Trinity must come from the Bible and the Bible alone. It is the only authoritative source to discover answers about God and His nature. The Bible, by itself, must answer the question as to whether or not there is such a thing as a Trinity. Tradition or the pronouncements of some church authority does not make the doctrine true.

The Trinity Is Only Known By Revelation

In addition, the doctrine of the Trinity could only be known by divine revelation- it cannot be known by human reason. The only way in which the inner working of God could be known is that God revealed it to humanity. The Bible says the mind of the Lord is unknown to humanity.

For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).

The Trinity is a doctrine that God has revealed to humankind through the Scriptures. It is not the result of human reasoning.

The Definition Of The Trinity

The doctrine of the Trinity, simply stated, is as follows: The Bible teaches that there is one eternal God who is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. He is the only God that exists. However, within the nature of this one God are three persons, or three centers of consciousness - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three Persons are co-equal and co-eternal. They are also distinguishable or distinct from one another. These three distinct Persons are the one God. Everything that is true about God is true about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The Reverse Is Not True

While the Bible teaches that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Spirit is God it is wrong to say that God is the Father, God is the Son, or God is the Spirit. God's nature consists of three distinct Persons. Therefore it is incorrect to limit God to one particular member of the Trinity.

Scripture makes the following points about the nature of God.

1. There Is Only One God That Exists

Foundational to the doctrine of the Trinity is the biblical teaching of the existence of only one God. No other divine being has real existence. Trinitarians, or those who believe in the Trinity, are emphatic that only one God exists. Furthermore the essence of God cannot be divided. God, by nature, is spirit - He has no physical form. It is not possible to divide up spirit. The God of the Bible is one single eternal, infinite being who is indivisible - impossible to divide.

2. There Are Three Distinct Persons Who Exist (The Father, Son, And The Holy Spirit)

Scripture is also clear there are three distinct persons who exist - God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is not the Father. For example, Jesus prayed to God the Father, He did not pray to Himself. At His baptism the voice of the Father spoke in an approving way of Jesus - it was not Jesus who spoke of Himself. Therefore the three Persons should not be confused with one another.

3. Each Of These Three Persons Is Called God

The Bible teaches that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. Each are called God, each possess attributes that only God can possess, each perform works that only God can perform.

4. The Three Persons Are The One God (The Trinity)

The conclusion to the above facts is as follows: if only one God exists, and if there are three distinct persons who are all called God, then the three persons must be the one God. This is the doctrine of the Trinity.

Some Important Clarifications Of The Doctrine Of The Trinity

There are some much-needed clarifications that should be made about the Trinity. They include the following.

They Are Distinct In Their Roles

The members of the Trinity have distinct roles. Although they are all equally God they have different functions within the Godhead. The Father is the one who sends while the Son is the One who is sent. The Holy Spirit is also sent to testify of Jesus. Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit are equal with God the Father in nature. However they are subordinate in their relationships. Subordinate in a relationship does not mean lesser in character.

Each Member is Equal In Importance

All three Persons of the Trinity are of equal importance. Christians often overlook the importance of Father and the Holy Spirit because Jesus, the Son, is where the faith centers. He is the one who became a human being, suffered for the sins of humanity, and rose from the dead. He is the one who will return to the earth and set up His kingdom. Eternal life is based upon how we view Him. Consequently Jesus Christ is central to the heart of the believer. However we must realize that each member of the Trinity is of equal importance. They are equal in dignity, majesty, glory, and power but different in the roles in which they have.

There Are No Analogies In Nature

Finally, the idea of three centers of consciousness or three distinct personalities has no analogy for us as humans. All attempts to equate the Trinity with some analogy will miserably fail. This includes trying to compare the Trinity to a human being who has intellect, feeling, and will. This is not the same as the Triune God who has three distinct centers of consciousness. Therefore it is best to admit that the Trinity has no analogy with which we can compare it.

Summary

The truth of the Trinity must be decided solely on what the Bible has to say about the subject. The doctrine of the Trinity can only be known by divine revelation - human reason cannot discover anything about the personal nature of God. When we look at what the Scripture has to say we discover that one God exists in three Persons - the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is found by noting the following points: only one God exists; there are three distinct Persons in the New Testament - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; each of these three distinct Persons is called God. Therefore the three distinct Persons must be the one God.

The members of the Trinity have different roles though they are equal in character. Each member of the Trinity is equally important although Christians tend to emphasize Jesus, the Second Person of Trinity. There is no real analogy to the Trinity to which humans can compare the Trinity.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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