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Is God a Trinity... Part III
 Challenging the doctrine of the Trinity does not mean challenging the Divinity of Christ nor the Divinity of the Holy Spirit

Carol Brooks

    Part I: Definition and Historical Background, Relying On Others To Decide What We Should Believe

    Part II - Plurality in The Godhead 

    You Are Here 001orange Part III - The Deity of Christ & The Deity of The Holy Spirit

    Part IV: Passages That Supposedly "Prove" the Trinity.

    Part V: The Grammar... Can it legitimately be used to support the idea that the Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Trinity

    Part VI: The Holy Spirit... a Separate Person, Or The Divine Presence And Power Of The Father Himself

    Part VII: The doctrine of the trinity that has remained virtually unchanged to this day found its roots in paganism not the Bible. This largely due to the part played by the Cappadocian Fathers - three ancient Greek philosophers and mystics.

    Part VII: The doctrine of the trinity that has remained virtually unchanged to this day found its roots in paganism not the Bible. This largely due to the part played by the Cappadocian Fathers - three ancient Greek philosophers and mystics.

    Part VIII: The Son is "begotten" of the Father, and the Spirit "proceeds" from the Father.
    A difference yes, but not what The Cappadocian Fathers made it out to be

    Part IX: Summary and Conclusion

 

The Deity of Christ
It is possible that many of those who emphatically declare that a person cannot be saved without a belief in the Trinity may actually have the Deity of Christ in mind. As said by Michael Gleghorn of Probe Ministries...

    Although the doctrine of the Trinity is a fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith, I do not personally think that a person needs to have an orthodox understanding of this doctrine in order to be saved. Indeed, when you think about it, many of the people in Christian churches today have an inadequate and unorthodox understanding of this doctrine (but this doesn't necessarily mean that they aren't saved). He or she can still be saved through genuine faith in Christ. Of course, if one were to deny the deity of Christ, that would be another issue! [01]

There is no question that the Incarnation of Christ is an essential component of the Gospel. To deny the Incarnation is to deny that God Himself took human form in order to pay the price for the sins of those who would follow Him. Therefore, there can be no salvation without believing in the Deity of Christ. In fact, Jesus Himself, using the term I Am, told the Jews...

    "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins." (John 8:24 NASB)

Note: The word "He" has been italicized because it was not in the original text. The problem is that although the word 'He' was added in order to aid understanding of the passage/make Jesus' words more grammatically correct, it has actually led the reader away from a true understanding of what Jesus meant. The addition of this single word obscures the fact that when Jesus used the words "I Am", He was not only claiming existence prior to Abraham but, even more tellingly, was using the same appellation God gave Himself when asked by Moses what he should say were the Israelites to ask him who sent him. The Father told Moses that he was to tell the sons of Israel that "'I AM has sent me to you". (Exodus 3:14) By using the exact words, Jesus was claiming to be the  "I AM' "of the Old Testament Scriptures.

In other words, Jesus said that unless we believe HE IS (God), we will die in our sins.

(See How the Jehovah's Witnesses have altered this verse so that it falls in line with their belief that Jesus is not God and should not be worshipped. Manipulating Scripture.

Bible scholar, F. F. Bruce, has often been quoted as saying "the deity of Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity are embedded in the New Testament, although not explicitly formulated there". (This quote is said to be from his book The Spreading Flame). However, I have to disagree... on both counts.

It is true that there is not one passage in which the Bible unambiguously says "Jesus is God", neither is there an unequivocal "I am God" statement from the lips of the Saviour Himself. However, the New Testament abounds with so much proof of the deity of Jesus Christ, that it is puzzling that so many who claim to believe in the Bible repudiate it. It is equally bewildering that it took a battle royal in the church and a council convened by an emperor to sort the problem out.

In fact, although there is evidence aplenty, the case for the Deity of Christ is pretty much established by a single verse.

Psalm 45 uses the term elhym in verse 6, which is the very first term in the Bible to refer to the Supreme God.... "In the beginning God (Heb. elhym) created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1). Besides which, only God's throne will last forever, as verse 6 says. However, the author of Hebrews applied the Psalm to the Messiah. When he quoted this verse, he made it very clear that it is Jesus who is being spoken to, and addressed as God (theos). The next verse says that His (Christ's) God has anointed Him with the oil of gladness.  In other words, God's God has anointed Him.

    Your throne, O God (Heb. elhym), is forever and ever; A scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; Therefore God (Heb. elhym), Your God (Heb. elhym), has anointed You With the oil of joy above Your fellows. (Psalms 45:6-7 NASB)

    But of the Son He says, "Your throne, O God (Gr. theos), Is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom. "You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God (Gr. theos), your God (Gr. theos), has anointed You with the oil of gladness above Your companions." (Hebrews 1:8-9 NASB)

And this is only the tip of the iceberg. The fact is, that anyone who is willing to do just a little digging will find that the Deity of Christ quite literally screams at them from innumerable pages in the Scriptures, especially when it comes to the many strikingly significant parallels between Yahweh in the Old Testament, and Jesus in the New. The Deity of Jesus Christ. Was He Lord, Liar Or Lunatic?)


The 'Second Person' of The Trinity?
As you see, challenging the doctrine of the Trinity does not mean challenging the Divinity of Christ. What it does mean is that Christ is not the "second Person" of the Trinity but God Himself, which is very, very difficult for us to comprehend. However, we are no closer to really understanding everything about the Father and the spiritual realm than we are to taking a stroll around Pluto. Whether we can explain it or not, the inescapable fact is that when Jesus said He and the Father were one, and that He was in the Father and the Father was in Him (John 10:30, 14:7-10)

    He was not just saying that they had the same mindset, nature, and attributes, although they do.

    He was not simply saying that they were united in purpose, although they are.

    He was not just saying that He was Divine, although He is.

    Jesus went much further than that... He literally meant that He and the Father were one.

Because, if Jesus and the Father were not one, it would not be possible for innumerable statements in the Old Testament concerning God the Father, to be quoted in the New Testament as referring to Jesus. For example...

Isaiah's Vision
Compare the statements made by two inspired Biblical authors. Although it is very clear that the prophet Isaiah saw the glory of Yahweh... God the Father, John expressly applies Isaiah's vision to Christ. Unless we are willing to believe that one of them was mistaken, or lying through their teeth, we have to accept that they were both right, when each of them said

    In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw the Lord (adny) sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple... Then I said, "Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord (Yahweh) of hosts." (Isaiah 6:1, 5 NASB)

    But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke: "Lord, who has believed our report? and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?" For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, "He has blinded their eyes and he hardened their heart, so that they would not see with their eyes and perceive with their heart, and be converted and I heal them. "These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him. (John 12:37-41 NASB)

Additionally, Isaiah 8:13-14 refers to Yahweh as the one who would become a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, yet the New Testament applies these very same terms to Jesus.

    "It is the Lord (Yahweh) of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, And He shall be your dread. "Then He shall become a sanctuary; But to both the houses of Israel, a stone to strike and a rock to stumble over, And a snare and a trap for the inhabitants of Jerusalem. (Isaiah 8:13-14 NASB)

    you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For this is contained in Scripture: "Behold , I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, and he who believes inHhim will not be disappointed." This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, "The stone which the builders rejected, this became the very corner stone," and, "A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence "; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed. (1 Peter 2:5-8 NASB)

The following two Old Testament verses speak of the messenger who would prepare the way of the Lord.

    Behold, I send my messenger (Heb. mal'k), and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord (Heb. dn), whom ye seek, will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant, whom ye desire, behold, he cometh, saith the Lord (Yahweh) of hosts. (Malachi 3:1)

    The voice of one that crieth, Prepare ye in the wilderness the way of the Lord (Yahweh); make level in the desert a highway for our God (Gr. elohym). (Isaiah 40:3)

Strikingly, both prophecies found fulfillment in the coming of John the Baptist, who heralded Jesus' public ministry. Matthew is very evidently quoting Malachi.

    Yea and thou, child (John The Baptist), shalt be called the prophet of the Most High: For thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to make ready his ways; (Luke 1:76)

    This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, Who shall prepare thy way before thee. (Matthew 11:10)

See Many More Parallels on THIS Page


"Came Forth From" Vs. 'Sent By'
Particular evidence is found in the words Jesus used when He said...

    for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth (Gk. exelthon) from the Father. "I came forth (Gk. exelthon) from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father." His disciples *said, "Lo, now You are speaking plainly and are not using a figure of speech. "Now we know that You know all things, and have no need for anyone to question You; by this we believe that You came from (Gk. exelthes) God." (John 16:27-30 NASB)

If the intended meaning of the verses above was solely that Jesus was dispatched on a mission by the Father, John would probably have used the word apostello from which we get the word 'apostle'. It literally or figuratively means to send on a mission. There is no question that Jesus was sent on a mission by the Father, as the following two examples show... Note exapostello is a combination of apostello and the preposition ek which denotes origin.

    And this is life eternal, that they should know thee the only true God, and him whom thou didst send (apostello), even Jesus Christ. (John 17:3)

    but when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth (Gr. exapostello) his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, that he might redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God sent forth (Gr. exapostello) the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father. (Galatians 4:4-6)

However, the Greek verb exerchomai that John used three times in 16:27-30, is a compound word, composed of ek (origin) and the verb erchomai (to come). In other words, it means to, literally or figuratively, issue from. The word is used overwhelmingly of emerging, or coming out of something. Different forms of exerchomai have been used in the examples below

    Prison: Truly I say to you, you will not come out (Gk. exelthes) of there until you have paid up the last cent. (Matthew 5:26 NASB)

    A City: And as for those who do not receive you, as you go out (Gr. exerchomenoi) from that city, shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them." (Luke 9:5 NASB)

    Sodom: but on the day that Lot went out (Gr. exelthen) from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all.  (Luke 17:29 NASB)

    People: And He said to her, "Because of this answer go; the demon has gone out (Gr. exelelythen) of your daughter." And going back to her home, she found the child lying on the bed, the demon having left (Gr. exelelythos). (Mark 7:29-30 NASB)

There is at least one verse where Jesus, using both words, says He 'came forth from' and was 'sent by' the Father.

    Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth (Gk. exelthon) and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent (Gr. apostello) Me.  (John 8:42 NASB)

Jesus was not "created" by the Father but, in His words, He literally "came out" of the Father. Yet, the fact that the Father and the Son spoke to each other provides shows they are distinct Persons.

    and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased." (Matthew 3:17 NASB)

    Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, (John 17:1 NASB)

    And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will." (Matthew 26:39 NASB)

Please note that a very similar word is used in the New Testament to show that the Holy Spirit also came forth from the Father. This is covered in detail in a later section.


The Deity of The Holy Spirit

is a far simpler matter. Note Peter's words in Acts 5:3-4...

    "Then Peter said, 'Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn't it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.' (Emphasis added)

Since lying to the Holy Spirit is lying to God, this short passage is more than enough to clinch the issue of the Holy Spirit being God. However, that does not necessarily mean that there are three coequal Persons in one Divine Being.

Either/Or Theology
Charles Ryrie, professor of systematic theology, and dean of doctoral studies, at Dallas Theological Seminary says

    "It is fair to say that the Bible does not clearly teach the doctrine of the Trinity, if by clearly one means there are proof texts for the doctrine. In fact, there is not even one proof text, if by proof text we mean a verse or passage that "clearly" states that there is one God who exists in three persons.

He goes on to say that we arrive at a clear doctrine of the Trinity by

    "accepting two lines of evidence in the Bible: (a) clear statements that teach there is only one God; and (b) equally clear statements that teach there was Someone called Jesus and Someone designated the Holy Spirit who in addition to God the Father claimed to be God. Such evidence permits only one of two conclusions: either Jesus and the Holy Spirit are not divine, or God exists as a Triunity." [02]

I am afraid that this is a vast over simplification of the matter, since it does not entertain any possibility other than a) Jesus and the Holy Spirit are not Divine, or b) God is a Triunity. It's either this or that... take it or leave it. The fact is that while the Divinity of Christ and the Divinity of the Holy Spirit are unarguable, these are NOT the only choices.


The "Third Person" of The Trinity
While it is pretty much established that the Holy Spirit is God, the question of the Holy Spirit being the third person of the trinity - a
co-equal member of the Godhead, is not as set in stone as orthodox doctrine would like us to believe.

The problem is that when it comes to a defense of the orthodox version of the doctrine of the trinity, very little research and investigation is ever undertaken. Instead, as previously mentioned, the doctrine was given shape way back in the mists of antiquity and, since then, has been passed down as Gospel truth from one generation to the next... with the same 'proof texts' offered and accepted. The result being that when people go to their Bibles, they do so with preconceived ideas already firmly in place.

Although, as Charles Ryrie says, there isn't a single verse or passage that "clearly" states that there is one God who exists in three persons, Trinitarians usually advance a number of verses (in less polite terms, the usual suspects are rounded up) as evidence for there being three co-equal members of the Godhead.

In reality these verses do no such thing.


Continue On To Part IV - Passages That Supposedly "Prove" the Trinity. Although there isn't a single verse or passage that "clearly" states that there is one God who exists in three persons, Trinitarians usually advance a number of verses (in less polite terms, the usual suspects are rounded up) as evidence for there being three co-equal members of the Godhead. In reality these verses do no such thing. HERE


Endnotes
[01] Michael Gleghorn. © 2010 Probe Ministries.
http://www.probe.org/site/c.fdKEIMNsEoG/b.6467479/k.E47A/Does_One_Have_to_Believe_in_the_Trinity_to_be_Saved.htm

[02] Charles C. Ryrie Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth Hardcover. Moody Publishers; New Edition edition (January 11, 1999) Pg 89- 90

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The Trinity Part II

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