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Is God a Trinity... Index

Carol Brooks

Although most people cannot wrap their heads around much less explain the concept of the trinity, the vast majority of Christians believe it to be an unassailable and inviolable doctrine that comes straight from the pages of Scripture itself. But is this true?

Index Below

Is God a Trinity? - Introduction
When non-Christians hold to the beliefs they may have held from their childhood, we urge them to examine the evidence for themselves. Yet Christians rarely seem to take their own advice, seemingly unwilling to even consider that any of the doctrines they have unquestioningly accepted may not conform to what the Bible teaches.

Let us never forget that the book of Acts (17:11) describes the people from the city of Berea as

    "...more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so".

If the Bereans did not take Paul and Silasí word for it but checked what they said against the Scriptures, why in the world do we imagine that we can take any modern day pastor or theologianís word at face value without checking for ourselves that what they teach is true? We must be a LOT more gullible and, dare I say it, more stupid than those ancient people.

The doctrine of the trinity is a prime example. (Several Others Are Linked Below)

Although the actual origin of the doctrine of a triune God is shocking, it so quickly became set in stone that despite the fact that the Greek grammar does NOT necessarily indicate that the Holy Sprit is a male being, this preconceived idea influenced modern translations to use the pronoun "He" for the Holy Spirit.  Most 'orthodox' explanations I have ever read, do no more than quote verses that list Father, Son and Holy Spirit in one place, although this cannot possibly tell us what the nature of the Holy Spirit is.

But if you take the time to look closely and carefully you will find that there is far, far more Biblical evidence against the Holy Spirit being the third person of the Trinity, than there is for this doctrine. In fact, although this evidence against a third 'person' is overwhelming it is rarely ever mentioned or even considered.

Sadly, those that disagree with orthodox church doctrine are immediately dismissed as heretics. Yet, in the final analysis, doctrine cannot be based on what the official position is of any given denomination is, what seminaries and Bible schools teach, what this or that 'church father' believed and taught, what conclusions various councils came to. Nor can we blindly take as Gospel truth what modern scholars and theologians hold to - regardless of how well respected and highly thought of they may be. And we certainly cannot trust what Catholic mystics, deeply immersed in Greek philosophy, would have us believe. Also See Relying On Others To Decide What We Should Believe in Part I

By this, I certainly do not mean that we cannot learn from those who may have devoted much of their lives to the study of the Scriptures, and may have great insight into God's word. What I am saying is that every single word that proceeds from the mouth and pen of man has to be carefully checked against the standard that the Almighty Himself has given us. Regardless of how eminent the theologian and how high flown his phrasing, if what he says does not agree with Scriptures, then it is to be discarded and opposed without delay or hesitation.

This orthodox version of one God in three persons prevailed because it satisfied a number of requirements. a) It cleared the church against the multi-god accusation, albeit with a very intricate and complicated explanation. b) The doctrine could be considered 'safeí as no Bible verse explicitly states the exact nature of the Holy Spirit, And, finally c) It allowed the church to happily go about their business under the impression that they had solved the dilemma of seemingly contradictory statements in the Bible.

As far as they were concerned... they had a nice tidy solution. The difficulty was resolved, and the case could be closed. However, the fact that the conclusion did not follow from nor agree with all the evidence was ignored.

So let us not make the same tragic mistakes and see for ourselves what the Bible teaches and how the Bible describes and defines the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and their relationship to each other.

001white Note: Challenging the doctrine of the Trinity does not mean challenging the Divinity of Christ and it does not mean challenging the Divinity of the Holy Spirit. The New Testament abounds with much proof of the deity of Jesus Christ and Acts 5:3-4 is more than enough to clinch the issue of the Holy Spirit being God. However, there is absolutely no evidence that the Holy Spirit is the 'third person of the trinity. Theologians over simplify the matter when they state that the Biblical evidence permits only one of two conclusion a) Jesus and the Holy Spirit are not Divine, or b) God is a Tri-unity. It's either this or that... take it or leave it.

However, 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.

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INDEX

Part I - Introduction, Definition and Historical Background
 
The doctrine of the trinity is one of mainstream Christianity's most universally accepted and hallowed doctrines held sacrosanct by Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox believers alike. This doctrine, as defined by the Second Ecumenical Council, is so set in stone that it has become a commonly used litmus test for true belief. Although most cannot wrap their heads around the concept, the vast majority of Christians believe it to be an unassailable and inviolable doctrine that comes straight from the pages of Scripture/the time of the first apostles.

It doesn't.

The concept was developed as a defense against charges that Christians worshipped two or three Gods. After debating various suggestions and rejecting most as heretical, in 381 AD., under the influence of very questionable pagan philosophers, the church ultimately settled on the idea of the trinity. The fact is there is absolutely no evidence that the Holy Spirit is the 'third person of the trinity.

Interestingly, the very same scholars who claim that one cannot be saved without believing in the Trinity (although the Bible says nothing of the sort), make no bones about the fact that the doctrine itself is incomprehensible.

 

Proof Texts and The Grammar
(The next two chapters show why the various reasons put forth for the three-in-one doctrine do not prove anything)

Part II - 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. Read without prejudice or preconceived ideas, the "proof texts" merely state that Father, Son and Holy Spirit. None of them speak of or even hint at a triune God, nor do any of them present the Spirit as a separate being.

Yet, asking a person to read the actual text, and not allow anyone to tell them what they think the text means seems to be quite a novel concept in Christianity. Why? Are we just so used to having the Bible interpreted for us that we are too lazy or too gullible to check for ourselves? Or have we been so indoctrinated that when we read the verses in question, we read into them what we have been led to believe they say / have always been told what the meaning is.

Part III - The Grammar
Because the Holy Spirit is referred to as 'He' or "Him" in quite a few places in The New Testament, many people assume that the Holy Spirit is male. In fact, the grammar is often used as the first line of defense against any challenges to the doctrine. The problem is that the grammar cannot necessarily be used to support the idea that the Holy Spirit is a 'he' - much less the third Person of the Trinity. Doctrinal bias, not grammatical accuracy, is responsible for referring to the Holy Spirit with masculine rather than neuter pronouns when both are equally legitimate. In other words, there is no clear grammatical foundation for the orthodox view of the Trinity.

 

Is God One Or More?

Part IV - The Deity of Christ & The Holy Spirit
It is true that not a single Scriptural passage unambiguously says "Jesus is God", nor did Jesus ever utter a single unequivocal "I am God" statement. 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 come to a conclusion that was already glaringly obvious.

Part V - Can God Be More Than One?
Can Divinity be ascribed to Jesus considering that the famous Shema of Israel clearly and emphatically declares that God is "one"? Actually the Hebrew Scriptures do not eliminate the possibility of God existing as more than one Divine Person simply because some of the words used in the Old Testament can indicate a plurality.

 

So If Both The Holy Spirit is Divine But Not A 'Person',
What Is It?

Part V - The Holy Spirit... A Separate Person, Or...?
Acts 5:3-4 makes it clear that lying to the Holy Spirit is lying to God, thus this short passage is more than enough to attribute Divinity to the Holy Spirit. However, that does not necessarily mean that there are three coequal Persons in one Divine Being.

Consider that the Holy Spirit The -  supposed "third person of the trinity" is missing from the opening salutation of most of the New Testament books and from the approximately eighteen doxologies found in these books. "He" is also conspicuously absent from Daniel, Stephen, and John's visions of heaven. Is it possible that the New Testament authors were just careless or even worse - horribly insulting?

Is this possible or is it more likely that as the Bible makes very clear (and something we gloss over) that there is only one Spirit which means the Spirit of God the Father, the Spirit of Christ and the Holy Spirit are one and the same Spirit. This makes the Holy Spirit the very power of God Himself.

 

If Not The Scriptures, Where Did The Idea Of The Trinity Come From?

Part VI - The Cappadocian Fathers
Three theologians from Cappadocia ... Basil (bishop of Caesarea), his brother Gregory (bishop of Nyssa) and Basil's close friend Gregory of Nazianzus jointly known as the Cappadocian fathers, gave definitive shape to the doctrine of the Trinity. The problem is that not only were all three trained Greek philosophers but they were greatly influenced by the writings of Origen known for introducing Greek ideas into Christianity. In fact, Gregory of Nyssa applied Origen's line of reasoning to the trinity claiming we would have no content for our thoughts about Father, Son, and Spirit, if we did not find an outline of their nature within ourselves. In other words, the key to the Trinity is in our triple nature ... our minds or reasoning, our word, and our souls.

If that isn't enough all three of the men were Catholic mystics. Basil and Gregory of Nazianzus actually pioneered the rules of monastic life, compiling what became known as "the Rule of St. Basil".


Part VII - The Cappadocian fathers - Begotten and Proceeds
The Cappadocian fathers believed and taught that both Son and Holy Spirit derive from the father, but are derived in different ways i.e the Son is "begotten" of the Father, and the Spirit "proceeds" from the Father. They apparently missed or ignored the fact that Jesus also spoke of 'proceeding' or 'coming from' the Father and that "begotten" was used in an entirely different way.

 

To Summarize

Part VIII - Summary and Conclusion:
The church, substituting their own rules for what the Scriptures teach, has often insisted you believe in the trinity in order to consider yourself as being saved. The truth is that how many Beings the Godhead consists of has absolutely no bearing on salvation. We are no closer to really understanding everything about the Father and the spiritual realm than we are to taking a stroll around Pluto.

Make no mistake, the Lord is not going to judge you on whether you are right or wrong about this or how well you "understand" this doctrine. The judgment passed on you will depend on your faith that Christ as God Himself came to earth to pay the price for our sins AND on whether or not you have followed His commandments. Everything else is the product of man's seeming determination to set his own standards.

If you wish to believe there is a trinity, go right ahead. However, if you actually look into the historical and Biblical evidence for yourself, you are very likely to realize what a concoction the whole issue is. The church has based their decision about this "crucial" matter on biased interpretations and self-serving translations of pronouns. Besides which the church is knows nothing about or is ignoring the fact that the doctrine stemmed from very pagan ideas.

 

Other Mistranslations and Misinterpretations
Also See Relying On Others To Decide What We Should Believe in Part I

Sadly, this is far from the only erroneous doctrine that is taught as 'Biblical' - the list is a very long one and covers almost every major doctrine in Christianity. One can only conclude that a pre-bias drove many of the so called translations. What we do know is that in the effort to put forward what they believe to be true, the translators have led people away from what the Scriptures actually say. Most believers rely on these inaccurate translations without realizing that even if they do not speak Hebrew or Greek, it is possible to check what is being taught. But, fair warning - it takes time, effort and dedication and a great attention to context. See Context is CRUCIAL

As said above, let us never forget that the book of Acts (17:11) describes the people from the city of Berea as

    "...more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so".

If the Bereans did not take Paul and Silasí word for it but checked what they said against the Scriptures, why in the world do we imagine that we can take any modern day pastor or theologianís word at face value without checking for ourselves that what they teach is true? We must be a LOT more gullible and, dare I say it, more stupid than those ancient people.

    1.) Babel / Babylon: There is clear Scriptural evidence that Babel and Babylon were the same place including the fact that both words were rendered from the same exact Hebrew word ba∑bel. So the fact that they were translated into two separate English words is one of the many mysteries that surround the translation of some Biblical words. However, this issue has direct bearing on understanding why Abraham was called out of his homeland, and in how the world has been shaping up for centuries as it inexorably inches towards the final conflict. See Babel To Babylon.  

    2.) Free Gift: Have you ever noticed how often Christians (rightly) make it a point to say that we should never ever add or take   away anything from God's word? Yet, it is done all the time even by those we consider upstanding leaders and scholars. Deception is often very, very subtle. For example, in Romans 6:23 and 5:15-16 the word charisma that simply means a gift - is rendered "Free Gift". The word "free" does NOT exist in the original Greek.

      This is a clear case of people intentionally adding their own thoughts and ideas to God's word. But remember when any portion of God's Word is changed in any way, that portion is no longer God's Word.

      What makes it worse is that Charisma is used some 21 times in the New Testament - most often in regard to the gifts of the Spirit (healing, miracles, teaching. etc. Yet, it was translated 'free gift'' ONLY in the three instances when it occurred in connection with salvation. In all other verses charisma is rendered as gift.

      The word 'gift' means something that is bestowed voluntarily and without compensation. But just because a gift is bestowed voluntarily and without compensation, it does not necessarily mean that there are no conditions attached. Matthew 5:20 is a good example. See Free Gift?

    3.) Sin, Iniquity, and Transgression were translated from entirely separate and distinct Hebrew words for which definitions are offered without a smidgen of Biblical support. However, if you take the time to carefully study the original Hebrew words - paying special attention to how the words were used - you will see that most definitions are baseless. See Sin

    4.) Salvation: The church teaches we are saved. The Bible makes it clear that no living Christian is completely and finally saved. See The Two Phase Atonement

    5.) Faith: Although the Bible does state that no one can be saved without faith, it disputes the idea that faith alone is sufficient to enter God's kingdom. See The Myth of Faith Alone

    6.) Original Sin:  I have to wonder how many of those that profess to believe in Original Sin have given any thought to the fact that sin is not a substance with physical properties that can be transmitted from person to person like a virus. Much to the contrary, sin is a conscious, willful act performed by an individual (in thought, word or deed) that transgresses God's law. Think about it. Sin can not even exist unless a sinner makes an bad choice and follows through with it. Besides which, if sin is transferable there is absolutely no reason why virtue, goodness, and righteousness cannot also be physically transmitted. See Original Sin,

    7.) Calvinism: The Reformed doctrine of Calvinism claims to adhere to a very 'high view' of scripture based solely on Gods word, but is this true? So many churches teach Calvinism, so many books and online articles are written about it that, to the average person exposed to this avalanche of skillful presentations, it may seem that this doctrine came straight from the mouths of the apostles and prophets themselves, but .. See Calvinism

    8.) Guarantee or Earnest: In certain verses (Ephesians 1:14, 2 Corinthians 1:22, and 2 Corinthians 5:5) that refer to God's promise of the Holy Spirit the NIV and several other popular translations render the Hebrew arrhabon as 'deposit' when the word actually means 'earnest'. This is important because there is a world of difference between the two words. To make matters worse, some versions not only translated arrhabon into the English 'deposit', but then went on to add the word guarantee. Unknowingly, countless people have been led to believe that Scripture actually speaks of a 'guarantee' when, in fact, it does no such thing. This "mis-translation" can only be accounted for by a clear and biased Calvinistic bent. See Guarantee or Earnest?  

    9.) Hell: Just like the trinity, the belief that Hell is a place of unending torment has been so strongly held for so long that few have dared to challenge it. However, the deeper one delves into the subject the less persuasive the argument in favor of the traditional view becomes. "Hell" is used in place of not one but three separate Hebrew and Greek proper names (Sheol, Hades and Gehenna). Proper names? Who in the world "translates' proper names?

      In any case "hell" does not mean fire and brimstone. It comes from an old English word which means to 'cover over' that ties in with the description of Sheol found in the Old Testament. Also note that when the New Testament authors quoted an OT verse that mentioned 'Sheol' they used the Greek' Hades. In other words, Sheol and Hades are the same place. So how does the Old Testament describe Sheol? Also what did Jesus mean when He referred to 'Gehenna'? - Definitely not the illogical and nonsensical story about perpetually burning fires outside Jerusalem city. It goes MUCH deeper than that. See What and Where is Hell?

    10.) Heaven: As an aside, Christians who believe they will spend an eternity in "heaven", seem to have little or no idea where this heaven is, what it will look like, or what they will do there. This is not helped at all by the pious gobbledygook (pretentious jargon in this case) spouted by many theologians. See What and Where is Heaven?

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