Is the TRINITY Biblical teaching?

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True Bible Teaching - Gods Word Explained

Is the TRINITY Biblical teaching?

Is the TRINITY Biblical teaching?Trinity Symbol

The doctrine of the Trinity is widely accepted in orthodox Christianity and many accept it as truth without question.

But people who believe that the Bible contains the truth that God has revealed about Himself and His purpose will want to satisfy themselves that the Bible really teaches that God, the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit are indeed three-in-one, as the creeds declare. This matters because the Lord Jesus, in a prayer to his Father, said:

This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent (John17:3).

The Origins

The word “Trinity” is not found in the Bible, neither in the Old nor the New Testaments. It is a word that came into existence many years after the New Testament was completed and circulated.

It first appeared in the writings of church fathers and was developed into a system of belief by church councils about 400 years later. Three creeds were formulated – the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed – and those creeds are still in use in some churches today. But are they a true expression of what the Bible teaches? We’ll look at just two.

The Apostles’ Creed

This creed is the oldest of the three and is the nearest to the original faith of the early Christians.

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead.

On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.1

You can see that the wording is simple and its statements largely summarize Bible teaching. But subsequent church councils developed a much more complicated way of describing the relationship between the Lord Jesus and his Father, as they saw it, resulting in another set of statements.

The Athanasian Creed

Although called after Athanasius, who was a bishop in Alexandria, this wording came long after his death. It was the product of a church council which wanted to end controversy and the difference of opinion which had existed throughout the established church for centuries. That is why the wording is so emphatic that this is the only belief that will lead to salvation.

Here are a few selections from the creed:

“Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled; without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding the Persons; nor dividing the Essence. For there is one Person of the Father; another of the Son; and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one…

Then a bit further, we have:

As also there are not three uncreated; nor three infinites, but one uncreated; and one infinite. So likewise the Father is Almighty; the Son Almighty; and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties; but one Almighty.

So the Father is God; the Son is God; and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods; but one God.

So likewise the Father is Lord; the Son Lord; and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords; but one Lord.

And again, a little later:

 So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is before, or after another; none is greater, or less than another. But the whole three Persons are coeternal, and coequal. So that in all things, as aforesaid; the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved, let him thus think of the Trinity.”

Man-Made

It should never be forgotten that this wording is the result of a church council, and is therefore very different from Bible teaching which is what God has revealed about Himself and His purpose. Indeed, the Bible cautions its readers about man-made statements:

Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile” (1 Corinthians 3:18–20).

A Fact of History

If we look back in history we will found very quickly that the real origins of this belief in a 3 in 1 God or Trinity comes from pagan beliefs that go back to ancient Greek beliefs.

Hecate Greek GoddessHecate or Hekate (hέkəti or hέkit; Greek Ἑκάτη, Hekátē) is a goddess in Greek religion and mythology, most often shown holding two torches or a key and in later periods depicted in triple form. She was variously associated with crossroads, entrance-ways, dogs, light, the moon, magic, witchcraft, knowledge of herbs and poisonous plants, ghosts, necromancy, and sorcery. In the post-Christian writings of the Chaldean Oracles (2nd-3rd century CE) she was regarded with (some) rulership over earth, sea and sky, as well as a more universal role as Saviour (Soteira), Mother of Angels and the Cosmic World Soul.  She was one of the main deities worshiped in Athenian households as a protective goddess and one who bestowed prosperity and daily blessings on the family.

Variations in interpretations of Hecate's role or roles can be traced back to the 5th-century BC in Athens. Ie. 500 years before Christ.

With that caution in mind, we should remember that it is a failing of human nature to corrupt things that were originally simple and to lose sight of the simple truth in the process. Thus in the time of Jesus the religious leaders of Israel were so sure of their own beliefs and traditions they failed to recognize the Lord Jesus as their long-awaited Messiah and sought instead to have him executed. Jesus warned his disciples to:

Beware of the leaven (or teaching) of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy (Luke 12:1).

Later the apostles warned of the way that ideas would circulate which would distort and damage the truth that God had revealed:

"Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ (Colossians 2:8);

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron" (1 Timothy 4:1–2).

These are serious warnings and show how important it is that we look carefully at what the Bible teaches, to see if the creeds are right or wrong.

God is One

It is a fundamental teaching of the Bible that God is a Unity, not a Trinity. The Jews understand that to be one of the key teachings of the Old Testament:

"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength" (Deuteronomy 6:4–6).

The Lord Jesus endorsed that understanding when he said of this passage that it was the first and greatest commandment:

‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’ Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind’ (Matthew 22:36– 37).

Wherever we look in the Bible we are assured that God is unique and supreme above all.

The prophet said:

"I am the Lord, and there is no other; there is no God besides Me. I will gird you, though you have not known Me, that they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting that there is none besides Me. I am the Lord, and there is no other…" (Isaiah 45:5–6).

The apostle said:

"There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all" (Ephesians 4:4–6).

The Lord Jesus said about his followers:

"My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of my Father’s hand..." (John 10:29).

Unity of Purpose

Read that last passage and you will see that it continues like this:

"…I and my Father are one" (John 10:30).

It was an immediate cause of contention with the Jews who heard Jesus say that, so much so that they tried to stone him for blasphemy, thinking that he was claiming to be God. Read on and you will find that Jesus makes no such claim, and never did. What he claims to be is “the Son of God” (John 10:36), one who was working in perfect harmony with his heavenly Father, a harmony that he wanted his disciples to share (John 17:11).

A lot more could be written about the relationship that existed between the Father and His Son, but I hope that this article will start you thinking about the importance of understanding what the Bible really teaches, regardless of what creeds or traditions declare.

Remember what Jesus said:

"This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent"  (John 17:3).

From this we clearly learn that ‘Life Eternal’ is only found in ‘knowing’ the “only true God, and Jesus Christ” 

So we have to know the truth as it is taught by God in the Bible as to believer otherwise puts us on the same level as the pagans of old who knew not the “only true God” as Paul told the Athenians in Acts 17:23-31

“For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. 24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; 26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: 28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. 29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. 30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: 31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.”

Rather than believer any false teaching we must 12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”  Philippians 2:12

By Grahame A Cooper

1 The “holy catholic Church”, here means the whole church. In older versions of this Creed, “he descended to the dead” reads “he descended to hell”. This sentence is merely saying that Jesus was laid in the grave.