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I was asked the following question:
"My fiancee is VERY christian, and SHE has a problem with the whole Holy Trinity thing, she tells me that the Bible doesn't mention the Holy Trinity at all, and that it was 'created' by the Catholics. Anyone care to put me/her right on this?"
My response to this question is..
The Trinity is a concept more than anything else. Being omniscient and omnipresent God is beyond our comprehension. To help us in our Human terms come to some understanding of God we have come up with the Trinity.
The Bible talks about the Jesus as the Son of God - hence he is called the Son. God is quite often called the Father and the Holy Spirit is the invisible mark given to Christians to mark their salvation.
When we refer to the Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit we refer to three separate entities that we can understand that are all God - the best analogy is Water, Steam and Ice. All have the same chemical composition being H2O but have different physical properties, looks and feels when observed in different states.
We can see in Mathew 28:18-20 where the Bible states "Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'"
Here we can see that the Apostles taught the three aspects of God but it is true that the word Trinity itself does not appear in the Bible. For that matter neither do the words "Bible" or "Sunday School".
A couple of definitions of the Trnity from Bible Dictionaries are:
Trinity - a word not found in Scripture, but used to express the doctrine
of the unity of God as subsisting in three distinct Persons. This word
is derived from the Greek "trias", first used by Theophilus
(A.D. 168-183), or from the Latin "trinitas", first used by
Tertullian (A.D. 220), to express this doctrine. The propositions involved
in the doctrine are these: 1. That God is one, and that there is but one
God (Deuteronomy 6:4; 1st
Kings 8:60; Isaiah 44:6;
Mark 12:29-32; John
10:30). 2. That the Father is a distinct divine Person (hypostasis,
subsistentia, persona, suppositum intellectuale), distinct from the Son
and the Holy Spirit. 3. That Jesus Christ was truly God, and yet was a
Person distinct from the Father and the Holy Spirit. 4. That the Holy
Spirit is also a distinct divine Person.
Trinity - The word Trinity is not found in the Bible, and though used by Tertullian in the last decade of the 2nd century, it did not find a place formally in the theology of the church till the 4th century. It is, however, the distinctive and all-comprehensive doctrine of the Christian faith. It makes three affirmations: that there is but one God, that the Father, the Son and the Spirit is each God, and that the Father, the Son and the Spirit is each a distinct Person. In this form it has become the faith of the church since it received its first full formulation at the hands of Tertullian, Athanasius and Augustine.
a. In the Old Testament
There are many other passages where God and his Word and Spirit are brought together as 'co-causes of effects'. In Isaiah 63:8-10 we have the three speakers, the covenant God of Israel (v. 8), the angel of the presence (v. 9) and the Spirit 'grieved' by their rebellion (v. 10). Both the creative activity of God and his government are, at a later stage, associated with the Word personified as 'Wisdom' (Proverbs 8:22; Job 28:23-27), as well as with the Spirit as the Dispenser of all blessings and the source of physical strength, courage, culture and government (Exodus 31:3; Numbers 11:25; Judges 3:10).
The threefold source revealed in creation becomes still more evident in the unfolding of redemption. At an early stage there are the remarkable phenomena connected with the angel of Yahweh who receives and accepts divine honour (Genesis 16:2-13; 22:11-16). Not in every OT passage in which it appears does the designation refer to a divine being, for it is clear that in such passages as 2 Samuel 24:16; 2 Kings 19:35, the reference is to a created angel invested with divine authority for the execution of a special mission. In other passages the angel of Yahweh not only bears the divine name, but has divine dignity and power, dispenses divine deliverance, and accepts homage and adoration proper only to God. In short, the Messiah has deity ascribed to him, even when he is regarded as a person distinct from God (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6).
The Spirit of God is also given prominence in connection with revelation and redemption, and is assigned his office in the equipment of the Messiah for his work (Isaiah 11:2; 42:1; 61:1), and of his people for the response of faith and obedience (Joel 2:28; Isaiah 32:15; Ezekiel 36:26-27). Thus the God who revealed himself objectively through the Angel-Messenger revealed himself subjectively in and through the Spirit, the Dispenser of all blessings and gifts within the sphere of redemption. The threefold Aaronic blessing (Numbers 6:24) must also be noted as perhaps the prototype of the NT apostolic blessing.
b. In the Gospels
It can be said, however, that preparatory to the advent of Christ, the Holy Spirit came into the consciousness of God-fearing men in a degree that was not known since the close of Malachi's prophetic ministry. John the Baptist, more especially, was conscious of the presence and calling of the Spirit, and it is possible that his preaching had a trinitarian reference. He called for repentance toward God, faith in the coming Messiah, and spoke of a baptism of the Holy Spirit, of which his baptism with water was a symbol (Matthew 3:11). The special epochs of trinitarian revelations were as follows:
(i) The annunciation. The agency of the Trinity in the incarnation was disclosed to Mary in the angelic annunciation that the Holy Spirit would come upon her, the power of the Most High would overshadow her and the child born of her would be called the Son of God (Luke 1:35). Thus the Father and the Spirit were disclosed as operating in the incarnation of the Son.
(ii) The baptism of Christ. At the baptism of Christ in the Jordan the three Persons can be distinguished, the Son being baptized, the Father speaking from heaven in recognition of his Son and the Spirit descending in the objective symbol of a dove. Jesus, having thus received the witness of the Father and the Spirit, received authority to baptize with the Holy Spirit. John the Baptist would seem to have recognized very early that the Holy Spirit would come from the Messiah, and not merely with him. The third Person was thus the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ.
(iii) The teaching of Jesus. The teaching of Jesus is trinitarian throughout. He spoke of the Father who sent him, of himself as the one who reveals the Father, and the Spirit as the one by whom he and the Father work. The interrelations between Father, Son and Spirit are emphasized throughout (see John 14:7-10). He declared with emphasis: 'I will pray the Father, and he will give you another counselor (Advocate), to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth' (John 14:16-26). There is thus a distinction made between the Persons, and also an identity. The Father who is God sent the Son, and the Son who is God sent the Spirit, who is himself God. This is the basis of the Christian belief in the 'double procession' of the Spirit. In his disputation with the Jews, Christ claimed that his Sonship was not simply from David, but from a source that made him David's Lord, and that he had been so at the very time when David uttered the words (Matthew 22:43). This would indicate both his deity and his pre-existence.
(iv) The commission of the Risen Lord. In the commission given by Christ before his ascension, instructing his disciples to go into the whole world with his message, he made specific reference to baptism as 'in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit'. It is significant that the name is one, but within the bounds of the one name there are three distinct Persons. The Trinity as tri-unity could not be more clearly expressed.
c. The New Testament writings
In 1st Corinthians there is mention of the gifts of the Spirit, the varieties of service for the same Lord and the inspiration of the same God for the work (1st Corinthians 12:4-6). Peter traces salvation to the same triunal source: 'destined by God the Father and sanctified by the Spirit for obedience to Jesus Christ' (1st Peter 1:2). The apostolic benediction: 'The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all' (2nd Corinthians 13:14), not only sums up the apostolic teaching, but interprets the deeper meaning of the Trinity in Christian experience, the saving grace of the Son giving access to the love of the Father and to the communion of the Spirit.
What is amazing, however, is that this confession of God as One in Three took place without struggle and without controversy by a people indoctrinated for centuries in the faith of the one God, and that in entering the Christian church they were not conscious of any break with their ancient faith.
a. Unity in Diversity
b. Equality in Dignity
The Son is called the 'only begotten' perhaps to suggest uniqueness rather than derivation. Christ always claimed for himself a unique relationship to God as Father, and the Jews who listened to him apparently had no illusions about his claims. Indeed they sought to kill him because he "called God his own Father, making himself equal with God" (John 5:18).
The Spirit is revealed as the One who alone knows the depths of God's nature: "For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God ... No one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God" (1 Corinthians 2:10f). This is saying that the Spirit is 'just God himself in the innermost essence of his being'.
This puts the seal of NT teaching upon the doctrine of the equality of the three Persons.
c. Diversity in Operation
It has to be recognised that the doctrine arose as the spontaneous expression of the Christian experience. The early Christians knew themselves to be reconciled to God the Father, and that the reconciliation was secured for them by the atoning work of the Son, and that it was mediated to them as an experience by the Holy Spirit. Thus the Trinity was to them a fact before it became a doctrine, but in order to preserve it in the credal faith of the church the doctrine had to be formulated.
III. Implications of the doctrine
a. It means that God is revealable
b. It means that God is communicable
c. It means that the Trinity is the basis of all true fellowship
in the world
d. It gives variety to the life of the universe