The Doctrine of the Trinity

“We can know only just as much of this subject of the Trinity as is definitely set forth in the Bible, and no more. Our office here is that, simply, of humble disciples~ to observe and interpret the self-exhibition of the Triune God in Scripture.”

                          -A.A. Hodge

A Rising Rejection

Christians have adopted a more “modern” view of Christianity. They have rejected the understanding of God in three persons. Deeming it an inadequate description of the God of Christianity. They argue that this traditional God; three in one, no longer communicates anything meaningful today. They have adopted 6 prominent philosophical arguments to attack the doctrine of the Trinity. Some even from within the church.

Arguments from Opponents and Critics

Logical Positivism

Many opponents and critics attack the doctrine of the Trinity with the philosophy of Logical Positivism. This philosophy argues that only statements made from sense experience or by verified observation can be held with value as true and reasonable. Thus, and discussion of God is meaningless because, by definition, it is beyond our sense experience and verifiable observation. Their argument, however, is self-contradictory from the very beginning. One simple question can be asked a logical positivist and their whole philosophical argument will come crumbling down. One only need look at their grounds for reason and ask; Through observation how have you verified that your statement of no statement is meaningful unless verified by either self-experience and observation? As they cannot answer such a question, their philosophy offers no basis for knowledge and is, therefore, an insufficient argument to use in opposition to God’s Holy Trinity.

Pragmatism

Another fallible argument of philosophy is that of the pragmatist. He argues that the meaning of a statement is its practical consequences. Thus to him, the doctrine of the Trinity holds no ground as meaningful, because it has no practical relevance. This argument of what is invalid and what is practical is entirely dependent upon every single mind’s basic presuppositions of life. Practicality and relevance differ in folds within even the closest of people, how much more so than those of contradictory belief. The doctrine of the Trinity is both practical and relevant to everyday life, Christians should pay close attention to the beliefs and practices that God has laid forth for us to follow, as they enable believers to fulfill Christian values, those revealed by God. Now, these values may differ from the mainstream culture, but seeing as they hold to God’s nature in plans, they are the only sincere values acceptable to hold to.

Existentialism

Many self-contradictory arguments have presented themselves with the intent of attacking the doctrine of the Trinity. Thus, one does not need to look deep into their philosophies to find their contradictory nature. Another such philosophy and argument that of the existentialist. This philosophy devotes itself to self-affirming action, and not reflection. Thus, all life is irrational. The discussions of doctrinal issues are spent entirely in fruitless an endless argument, thus dodging decision and self-affirming actions. Any discussion of the Trinity is therefore useless. Ironically the existentialist exerts endless energy and rational thought to argue his affirmation that all life is irrational. The existentialist’s beliefs are self-contradictory, and thus they present an invalid philosophical argument.

Liberation Theology

Many philosophies when confronted with the inability to sway the masses to their argument, have recognized that they have no power of their own, and thus they borrow from a different idiom that does, in fact, have that power and ability; Christianity. One such philosophy that practices this is the liberation theology. This idiom takes Christian terms and redefines them to Marxist philosophy. They argue that the doctrine of the Trinity is irrelevant and abstract to the economic oppression from which the less fit must be liberated from. However, liberation theology recognizes its powerless, and must unwillingly conform to the truth and power of Christianity. When an untwisted biblical and Christian foundation is built, and a society is based upon its premises, liberty, and justice reign supreme as a blessing from God. But, when a society is based on non-biblical and non-Christian foundations, justice is perverted, and the masses become enslaved and oppressed by the very beliefs the attempt to hold to.

New Age and Cults

The attack on the doctrine of the Trinity is also present within the “so-called“ Christian faith. These anti-trinitarian cults and new age religions, attempt to blur and dissolve the Creator/creature distinction. This damages the view of the Trinity and paints a picture of a false god. These cults always hold two philosophies; Unitarianism, like Jehovah’s Witnesses, and polytheism, like Mormonism.

Feminism

One final attack on God‘s Holy Trinity has grown at an alarming rate, just within the last hundred years and especially at the turn-of-the-century. Some of the most outspoken and prominent assaults have taken ground in the form of feminism. Feminists have adopted a goddess religion, and they attempt to supplement the all masculine Trinity. They believe that within each woman, there is in the ability to be known by every individual internally, by her “magnificent diversity.” The feminist argues that the statement; God the father, God the son, and God the Holy Ghost, is inherently sexist. They claim that God’s generic male personhood has made man and masculinity an object of worship. They advocate for God to be referred to as a “non-gender,“ this, however, reduces the doctrine of the Trinity, to merely a “functional Trinity, and “ this destroys real distinction of personhood and tends toward modalism.

Understandability

The Westminster Larger Catechism answers the question of the Trinity in a straightforward, easily understandable way.

Q.9: How many persons are there in the Godhead?

A.: There be three persons in the Godhead, the father, the son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one true, eternal God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory; although distinguished by their properties. Before we can understand the Trinity, we must first understand the personhood of God. He gives many examples in Scripture, painting a picture to us what his attributes are, and we must first understand them to understand the doctrine of the Trinity.

God is One

  1. 8: Are there more Gods than one?

A.: There is but one, living and true God.

In Deuteronomy 6:4, I Corinthians 8:4,6, and Jeremiah 10:10, God declares himself as one God, and that there are no other gods before him (Exodus 20:3; Deuteronomy 5:7). God clearly is one God, he created all, he governs all. This is such a basic and important fact that it is repeated in scripture time and time again (Isaiah 45:5, 18, 21; Romans 3:30). God is the only God, means that all creation is His, and thus under his authority. We all recognize God’s sovereignty and authority. Even the unregenerate cannot escape the fact of God’s oneness. For what can be known about God is plain to them because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world (Romans 1:19-20). God has made himself known to us in His creation, “but they suppress the truth in their own righteousness.“ God has inscribed his signature on all of creation, he has put his name on all men’s consciences, and we are all without excuse. When God describes himself as, “the one, living and true God,“ he says simply that he IS. Because God is one absolute, infinite, personal God, then there can be only one of him. Simply because there cannot be two absolute, infinite, personal beings in the universe. Right along with this fact is that if there is only one true God, there can be only one true revealed word, and gospel. Thus God‘s personhood in and out of itself proves the sufficiency of Scripture, no other argument need be made on the matter. Only one absolute revelation from one absolute God is possible. God’s sovereignty, through his oneness, is established, thus there is the only room in the world for one absolute victory and plan; God’s. One God means one law, one Lord, one gospel, one Savior, one Victor, and all people are inexcusable to refuse to submit to his sovereignty in faith.

God in Three

In clarity, we must first define the term “Trinity.“ To call God, the “Trinity“ is to recognize it in the being of the one true God, there are three distinct persons. All the same being, equal in power and glory. “In the highest Trinity one as much as the three together, Nor are to anything more than one; moreover they’re infinite in themselves. So both each is in each, and all are in each, and each is in all, and all are in all, and all or one.“ (Bavinck, The Doctrine of God, 302) three in unity, all three persons are infinite, eternal, unchangeable, and absolute in the Godhead. These three persons may be distinguished by the unique individual distinctions, each one is truly and fully God.

Practical Applications

Do you understand created reality and human society? It is necessary to believe in and understand what the Bible teaches about the Trinity. God’s three persons are perfectly one, and perfectly three. They each have individual aspects that make them unique to themselves. Yes, they are perfectly related to one God. There is nothing in the whole being of God that is not fully expressed in the unity of the three. God has created all things, and having printed his signature on all creation, has created all aspects of reality equal. No aspect of the created universe can be regarded as any more ultimate than another. That both material and physical aspects of the world are created equal with the spiritual and immaterial, both created by God, both equally important in his eyes. Thus the Trinity applies to all areas of life, belief in the Trinity recognizes that in life and society either the sovereignty of the state, no the sovereignty of individual stand above and over that of the sovereignty of the Triune God.

When the tri-unity of God is ejected, the foundation of Christianity is destroyed. The sum and substance of the Christian faith is the Trinity, it is the root of all truth, the essence of all being in reality. It is the foundation of God‘s covenant with man, the heart of his entire revelation of redemption. Any view which overlooks or objects God’s threeness is a view doomed to poverty. If there is no Trinity, then there is no incarnation. For God could not send his son to die for the sins of the world, if he had no son to send. Non-trinitarian schemes are inadequate to revive the foundation for the experience of the Christian salvation. The Trinity is basic for salvation. God the Father planned salvation in eternity (Ephesians 1:3-14). God the Son accomplished salvation in history (Hebrews 9:1). God the Holy Ghost applies salvation throughout history (John 3:6). The object of the Trinity is an object of faith. It is a mystery. Human reason would never have conceived the idea unless it had been divinely revealed. Even though it has been revealed to us, it still remains incomprehensible. There being three persons in the Godhead, all deserve equal worship and obedience.

 

~KT

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