THE TRINITY From Biblical Reason and from the Old Testament I. FROM BIBLICAL REASON: Introduction: The biblical basis of the Trinity. Once we come to the conclusion that we can really know if God exists and we can know about God, then we must decide upon the Origin of our Knowledge of God. Where do we find objective truth about God. (Both Islam and Christianity would answer, in the written revelation of God.) Pagan concepts of god are almost always based on the a priori assumption that God cannot be personal and infinite at the same time. Another false a priori assumption is that God must be either One or Many. Special Revelation: God has not been silent. In addition to His witness of Himself in creation He has spoken through His prophets in the Scriptures. Thus, through the Scriptures we can know the facts of God as will as know God in a personal way. Furthermore, the ONLY way to know God personally and to know about God truly is through God's revelation of Himself given to us in Scriptures. Any attempt to know God truly and to define God on any other basis than a careful study of Scripture leads to heresy and futility. But through the study of Scripture we CAN know about God and know God personally and intellectually. The Christian doctrine of the Trinity is not the result of human reasoning, the product of man's mind, emotions, or experience. It has its origin in and is a direct the result of a careful study of the Scriptures. Presuppositions: If we begin with the Trinity as a priori concept (and this is the only Christian way to proceed), if the Trinity is true, what kinds of things should we expect to find in the Bible? Then, if we go to the Bible and we do find those very things which "must be" in order for the Trinity "to be what it is," then we have all the proof we need that the Trinity doctrine is true. The only alternative is to begin with the a priori assumption that the Trinity is not true. While we can understand why a non-Christian would want to begin with this assumption, why would a professing Christian want to start there as well? To begin with unbelief is to lose the battle before it begins. Only One God The FIRST principle of the doctrine of the Trinity is that THERE IS ONLY ONE TRUE ETERNAL, LIVING GOD, the maker and sustainer of all things. The doctrine of the Trinity is completely monotheistic and absolutely opposed to any form of polytheism. All so called "Trinitys" in the pagan world are based not on ONE God in Three Persons but THREE GODS in Three persons, as we have seen in the examples given by some of the Muslims members of this discussions. If the Trinity is true what then should we expect to find in the Bible? 1. We would expect to find in the Bible where God Himself says that He alone is the one true God and that there are no other gods, that any other gods of any other religions are false gods. 2. We would expect to find the teachings of all the prophets, priests, kings, and apostles to teach that there is only one God and the gods of all other religions are false gods. When we study the Bible what do we find? Gods own testimony: Duet 6:4 Deut 32:29; Isa. 43:10; 44:6; 44:8b; 45:5-6,18b, 21-22;46:9 The testimony of prophets, priests, kings, and apostles: 2Sam 7:22;1Kings 8:60; 1Chron 17:20; Isa. 37:16, 45:14; Jer 10:6,7; 1Cor 8:4-6; 1Tim 2:5 The testimony of the demons: James 2:19 God is not totally comprehensible to man: The doctrine of the Trinity begins with the assumption that the true God is not totally comprehensible to man because God is not totally comprehensible to man. Any god we could fully understand and explain would be no greater then what we are. Such a god would not be worthy of our worship, awe or praise. But although God is not FULLY comprehensible to man He is comprehensible to man as much as He has revealed Himself to us. The inescapable truth is that God will and must always be greater than our finite capacity to understand fully or to explain exhaustively. Our failure or understand or explain fully the Trinity or any other aspect of God is not due to some defect in God or in His revelation but rather the result of the fact that God is infinite and we are finite and our abilities and intellects are limited. If the Trinity were fully understandable, this in itself, would be an indication that it is erroneous. Christians are not ashamed that the Trinity is difficult to comprehend, that we are left with unresolved problems, and unanswered questions, because the Trinity is a mystery and we boast in it, 1Cor 1:31. But to say the Trinity is not totally understandable or explainable does not mean that it is irrational, illogical, or unknowable at all. We simply that God is beyond man's ability to understand or explain exhaustively and beyond mans understanding not contrary to it. We can have limited but true knowledge of God. Jer 9:23,24; Dan 11:32; Jn 17:3; Gal 4:8,9; 1Jn 4:4-8; 5:18-21. What would we expect to find in Scripture? In order for the doctrine of the Trinity to be true we would expect to find: 1. If the doctrine of the Trinity is true then we would expect to find the doctrine of the incomprehensibility of God is also true. 2. and we would expect to find the doctrine of the incomprehensibility of God in the Scripture. Job 1:21; 5:8,9; 9:10-12;11:7-11; 13:15; 42:1-6; Deut 29:29; Ps 139:6; Ps 145:3; Isa 40:28; 55:6-11; Rom 11:33-36; Phil 4:7 II. FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT: OT Evidence: 1. 9 different Hebrew words for "ONE" Of these 9 words the words "man", "woman" and "soul" those used to indicate "one thing" are never applied to God or express the oneness of God because God is not a "man", "woman", or "a soul". There is also a word which means "absolute oneness" Ps.68:6, and this word is also never applied to God. 2. There are several words for one that are applied to God but these words indicate a "compound oneness." Gen 1:5 The first day, a combination with two things "the evening and morning, one day". Gen 2:24 Adam and Eve became "one flesh" but they were both still separate individuals. They were two but one and one but two. Gen 3:22 "the man has become one of us, to know good and evil;" Adam and Eve became one with God yet they did not lose their personhood or God his divinity. There is nothing in the text to infer that God is speaking to the angels. Thus the "us" in the text is God HIMSELF referring to HIMSELF in the plural. Gen 11:6 "the people were one" they were "one and many" at the same time. Gen 34:16,22 The Shechemites wanted to become "one people" with the Jews. 2Chron 30:12 God gave the people "one heart" but they were thousands of individuals. Ezra 2:64 The congregation, 42,360 persons, is called "one". Jer 32:39 Under the New Covenant God will give His people "one heart". 3. Deut 6:4, the main verse Jews use to teach the oneness of God uses the same Hebrew word for one that the above examples use to show "compound oneness." This is exactly want a Christian, Trinitarian, would expect to find. It is the only way in Hebrew to indicate that God is a composite unity of Persons and not just one person. There is no other Hebrew word to express this. The Hebrew word for absolute unity is never applied to God. Why have the Jews rejected the doctrine of the Trinity? David Cooper writes, Prior to the days of Moses Maimonides, the unity of God was expressed by a word, as has been proven beyond a doubt, has as its primary meaning that of a compound unity. Maimonides, who drafted the 13 articles of faith, in the second one set forth the unity of God using the a word for God that expresses absolute solidarity and unity... Hence from the days of Maimonides on, an interpretation different from the ancient one was placed upon this most important passage. 4. In the OT both singular and plural nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and verbs are used for God. Many scholars have tried to say that the use of plurals in the OT is simple the "plural of majesty." Which is the same argument that Muslims use to answer why Allah speaks of himself as "We" in the Quran. Unfortunately this is a fundamental error. It is an attempt to take a modern monarchical idiosyncrasy and read it back into the ancient text. This was an unknown idea in OT times. Richard Davies pointed this out as long ago as 1891 (Doctrine of the Trinity, p.227). See Gen 3:22 God speaking about Himself Gen 11:7-9 where there are both plural pronouns and verbs used of God Isa 6:3 Where Isaiah is called as a spokes man for God and God addresses himself in the plural. 5. Passages where more than one person is address as God: A. Gen 19:24 A special passage because more then one person is addressed as God. One person is on earth and one is in heaven One "Jehovah" is on earth and brings down brimstone and fire from the second "Jehovah" who is in heaven. Luther said "Moses mentions Jehovah twice to show that there is but one God, but that in this one God there are distinct persons." This cannot be a mention of the same "Jehovah" twice because, 1. Moses is contrasting heaven and earth here. 2. There are no passages like that in the Torah where the same name is mentioned twice in the same verse for emphasis. There is no evidence that Moses ever used that kind of literary style. B. Ps 45:6,7 Here God, who is sitting on the throne of heaven anoints God with oil. David address the one true God and identifies the throne as the throne of God so this cannot be applied to David or Solomon or any other earthly king. C. Isa 48:12-17 The speaker is identified as the "first and the last" a title of God (Isa 44:6) and He is identified as doing things which only the true God can do, 48:3-6,11,13,15. But this one who is identified as the true God is peaking and says that He, along with the HS, are sent by God, v16. If the passage is interpreted in its natural and normal meaning there are three persons in this passage who are call God! The only way to deny this is to claim Isaiah is speaking and not God. But to say Isaiah is speaking at the end of verse 16 you must say he is speaking the whole of the passage. D. Hosea 1:7 The "I" at the beginning of verse 7 is clearly Jehovah and says that He will do something for you through yet another person called "their God (Jehovah)". The "Jehovah their God" is clearly a different person from the "Jehovah" who is speaking at the beginning of the verse. Other OT evidence 6. Theophanies "God appeared" using a verb which means a physical manifestation that could be seen and heard and not a vision or dream. Gen 12:7; 18:1 to Ab. Gen 26:2, 24 to Isaac Gen 35:1, 9, 48:3 to Jacob Ex. 3:16; 4:5 to Moses Ex. 6:3 to Ab., Isaac, Jacob Lev 9:4; 16:2 to Aaron Deut 31:15 to Moses and Joshua 1Sam 3:21 to Samuel 1Kings 3:5; 9:2; 11:9 to Solomon 2Chron 3:1 to David 2Chron 7:12 to Solomon 7. The Angel (Messenger) of the Lord Gen 16:7-14 Judges 2:1-5 Gen 22:9-14 Judges 6:11-22 Ex 3:2 (comp 4:5 Jehovah) Judges 13:3 (a woman) Ex 23:20,21 Num 22:21-35 8. God identified as "the Father" in the OT Deut 32:6 (Moses' time) Isa 63:16; 64:8 (pre-exile) Mal 2:10 (post exile) 9. God identified as "the Son" in the OT Ps. 2:12 "kiss the Son" a. The "Anointed One" in v2 is called the "Son in v12. b. Both Jewish and Christian scholars say this Psalm speaks of the Messiah. c. God's works are applied to "the Son" (comp. Ps. 24:1,2; Job 34:24; Jer 51:19-23 d. The "Son" is begotten (comp 2Sam.7:14; Acts 13:33) Prov. 30:4 "His son's name" a. Two separate persons are spoken of, "His name or His son's name" b. This cannot be a metaphor or impersonal force. c. This is not Hebrew parallelism. Isa. 9:6 "a son given" a. "Wonderful Counselor" comp Judges 13:17,18 b. "born to us" comp Isa 7:14 - "God with us" c. "Mighty God" comp Isa 10:21 d. "Eternal Father" better translation "Father of Eternal Life" - the one who give eternity to others. e. "Prince of Peace" the divine ruler. Ps 2:7-9 10. God the Spirit in the OT 1Sam10:10, 19:20,23 2Sam 23:1 1Kings 22:24 Neh 9:30 Ps 51:11 Isa 63:10,11 Micah 2:7 11. Deity of the HS in the OT Job 33:4 Ps 104:30 Ps 139:7 12. Words of the HS called the words of God 1Sam 10:10 2Sam 23:2 Zach 7:12; 12:10 (comp Ps 84:11 who gives grace?) Some Common Objection to the Trinity: 1. The doctrine of the Trinity cannot be true because it is impossible to fully understand and comprehend it. Christians admit that the Trinity is beyond our finite understanding to understand completely. That is because God is beyond our finite understanding to understand completely. We should expect this. See section one above. A God that we could fully comprehend and explain would be no God at all. 2. Why should God be three instead of One? How can God be One and Three at the same time? There is simply nothing in this world which is one and three at the same time, in the same sense in which God is One in Three. That does not mean it is nonsense only that God is greater than His creation. Why should God be one person instead of three? Who can explain WHY and HOW about God? God is what He says He is regardless of whether we can understand it and explain it or not. 3. The Trinity is irrational. It is not in accord with human reason. This is humanism and rationalism of the 16th and 17 century. Many things in religion, especially about God, cannot be fully understood by reason. 4. The word "Trinity" does not appear in the early Church. Thus, they did not believe in the Trinity. This is an argument from silence. (JW's - the word "Jehovah" was not used for God until the Middle Ages.) 5. Since the Nicene Creed does not state that the Holy Spirit is a person or God, then it is clear that the early Church did not believe that the Holy Spirit was a person or God. Again an argument from silence. The Nicene Creed after saying that they believe in the Father and in the Son go on directly to say "We believe in the HS." Remember the issue that prompted the Nicene Council was the issue of the deity of JC not the HS. This argument is totally false and shows a lack of understanding of history. 6. Many NT concepts of God and X have been traced back to pre-Christian pagan religious and philosophies such as Gnosticiam ie. virgin birth, redeemer-myth, dying and rising, logos, etc. No one has produced any such pre-Christian source materials. They only quote 19th and 20 century liberals. 7. The Christian church derived it doctrine of the Trinity from Greek philosophy. No original source material has been produced and relates together concepts which have no relationship to one another. 8. The early Christians took Plato's concept of Demiurge and turned into their concept of Christ. But Plato's Demiurge was a finite being not a god. Enough for now. There is much much more if you really want it.
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