June 22, 2008

the Almighty 3-in-1

i came across the page "Mail: Holy Spirit - John 14:16 - Another Comforter", and am reprinting my reply below :)


Kenneth writes:

"I hope this helps you see "where I am coming from." I believe that the Bible clearly teaches that God manifests Himself in a triad form but that He is not three independant "persons" who, as some believe, is able to "stand side by side and face to face to hold a conference to decide who is best for what task." One notorious preacher even has a little, childish story in which the Father and Spirit seem to have tricked the Son into sacrificing Himself for the sins of the world!!"

Why, that is notorious preaching indeed! :) God is supposed to be all-knowing, after all, as well as immeasurably good. :)

But as for the multiple "persons" of God, Tom says,

"[I] respectfully disgree [with Kenneth]. I believe in One God revealed in three persons. This is what I'm convinced the Bible teaches."

I agree with Tom and I will briefly explain why. But I will first focus on the distinction between "God the Father" and "God the Son".

First off, one of the central Jewish prayers goes: "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one." (Deuteronomy 6:4), which Jesus Himself repeats as the greatest commandment (in Mark 12:29). But Jesus also claimed that "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30) and Jews wanted to stone Him because "He made Himself equal with God." (John 19:7) In this and other passages, Jesus claimed and/or others understood that He is God and worthy of worship...BUT distinct from the One Jesus calls "Father". Why?

(1) Let us look at Jesus' words. As Ken himself quotes, Jesus said "The Father is IN me, and I am IN the Father." (John 10:38, 14:10a) (He did NOT say "I am the Father".)

To continue what Ken quoted: "The words that I speak unto you I speak NOT OF MYSELF: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works." (John 14:10b) Quite self-explanatory, and the same distinction applies to us: "For it is God which works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).

Another time Jesus said, “I am the WAY and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except THROUGH Me.” (John 14:6-7) (He did NOT say "No one is the Father except Me.")

(2) If Jesus is simply the Father but only in a different form:
(2a) ...why would Jesus repeatedly pray to the Father? (At dawn, on the cross, in teaching "The Lord's Prayer".)
(2b) ...why did a "loud voice FROM HEAVEN" answer back? (When Jesus was already physically present with the eyewitnesses?) (e.g. See baptism of Jesus [Mark 1:9-11; Matthew 3:16-17; Luke 3:21-22] and His transfiguration (disciples got momentary glimpse of His glory) [Matthew 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35])
(2c) ...why did the voice from heaven say ONLY "This is My Son, in whom I am well pleased"? (NOT "This is Me.") (These do not contradict Jesus' divinity, but we already agree there so I need not elaborate on that here.)

I hope that these clarify that Jesus in the Bible claimed that (i) He is God, (ii) He is the Son of God [as worshipped by the Jews], and (iii) God the Son is distinct from God the Father, yet (iv) God the Son and God the Father are "one".

There is a similar distinction with God the Holy Spirit. Kenneth gave a very comprehensive exposition of the underlying Greek terms which I have no expertise in. :) I do agree, though, in Ken's emphasis that the word "another" denotes "the same sort" [as in, the Holy Spirit is of the same sort as God the Father and God the Son]. In short, we agree that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are *one*, but those who hold to the Trinity doctrine believe that F, S, and HS are also *distinct*.

According to Wikipedia (which is secular but highly objective :) ):

"The Trinity is a Christian doctrine, stating that God is one being who exists, simultaneously and eternally, as a mutual indwelling of three persons: the Father, the Son (incarnate as Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit."

Two clear-cut illustrations of the distinction of Jesus and the Holy Spirit occur at the start of His ministry: when Jesus was baptized and "He saw the Spirit descending on him like a dove" (Mark 1:10), and then "at once the Spirit sent Him out into the desert" (Mark 1:12) where He fasted and was tempted.

To conclude, if one maintains that there is only one God but only manifest to us in different "forms", how come the Bible clearly depicts that these forms *simultaneously manifest* and even *interact*? The doctrine of the Trinity then becomes clearer --- separated "persons", yet united as one Godhead.

Ken writes:

"The Godhead appears to us as separated but only because our minds are not yet equipped to understand the deep things of God."

I think it's "simpler" to say that there are three Gods (completely distinct), or there is only one God in three forms. The concept of the Trinity is more complicated, but I believe it's closest to Scripture compared to the other two concepts.

Ken writes:

"Thanks for treating differences with tolerance because I will never rise above being a student."

I truly appreciate the respect, tolerance and humility in your discussion. :) All praise and glory to God, who is always ready to give wisdom to all who ask Him (James 1:5) :) I am also much indebted to TheBereans.Net and Every Nation Leadership Institute (Apologetics classes, you rock!!!) for being used by God to clarify the Trinity doctrine to me. :)

UPDATE July 9 2008: "Answering Common Objections to the Doctrine of the Trinity" (Thanks to Pastor Winston for the heads up :) )


  1. Greetings teci

    On the subject of the trinity,
    I recommend this video:
    The Human Jesus

    Take a couple of hours to watch it; and prayerfully it will aid you to reconsider "The Trinity"

    Yours In Messiah
    Adam Pastor

  2. Thanks for your comment and your link.

    i only got to watch the first 5 minutes of it and it looks comprehensive and well-researched. But i have to prepare for school etc. so i'll watch it in full within the week, and give my comments here.

    again, my thanks :)

  3. Adam: i still haven't watched the full video (sorry!)

    i updated this blog entry with this link: "Answering Common Objections to the Doctrine of the Trinity"


    (but i repeated it here in the Comments section so hopefully more people can check it out :) )

    Take care and God bless, everyone :)

  4. No Problem!

    When you have time, pls watch the video; and tell me what you think!

    Yours In Messiah
    Adam Pastor
    The Human Jesus