Chapter 7: The Trinity: One God, Three Persons
The Trinity is an essential doctrine in the historic Christian church. Unfortunately, many people who object have an improper understanding of what it says. Simply put, the Trinity describes one God as revealed in three Persons: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The three Persons are not only one in purpose but also one in essence, as each is fully God. The biblical evidence to support this important teaching provides clarity. Undoubtedly, any rejection of the Trinity is a rejection of God Himself.
Discussion Questions Chapter 7
1. What is the problem with illustrations that attempt to explain the nuances of the Trinity?
Because God is incomprehensible, it’s impossible to come up with an illustration that is both appropriate and accurate. Illustrations that might look correct initially can easily demonstrate heresy. For example, modalism (one person, three roles), such a man who is a father/son/husband, is not the Trinity. This is why the early church fathers declared Sabellianism to be a heresy. No illustration can do justice to the Triune God of this universe.
2. Suppose someone suggests that the Trinity is not true because the word is not found in the Bible. Is this a good argument? How can this idea be countered?
It really is a silly argument. I could respond, “Heavenly Mother” is not only never mentioned in the Bible but also never once talked about in the other Standard Works. Does that mean there is no Heavenly Mother. Besides, would we really expect a Latin word (comprised of Tri and Unity) to be found in the Greek New Testament. The concept of the Trinity, however, is certainly found in the Bible, and that’s what this chapter is all about.
3. James White said, “Knowledge does not save; but true worship does not exist without knowledge.” What did he mean? Do you agree or disagree with this assessment? Why?
It is true that knowledge itself does not save a person, but how can we worship God without knowledge. I may not know my wife perfectly, even after more than three decades of marriage, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a pretty good idea of who she is. At the very least, I know her name, I know the things that makes her happy, and I can distinguish her from all of the other women in the world. (I may be a guy, but I’m not that dumb!) The Bible is very clear that worshiping anything besides God is blasphemous. Despite our limitations in understanding, we can know enough to worship the true God of the Bible and not Baal or Asherah.
4. Someone may complain about the Trinity because the concept it teaches cannot be understood. How would you answer this objection?
Because God is incomprehensible and cannot be fully understood, the essence of God’s nature is a mystery. For instance, I can’t fathom eternity–going back or forward as far as possible)–yet I still believe Psalm 90:2 is true. It says, “From everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” For Mormons, I like to ask if they fully grasp the idea of the first God. Like, what was his name? Which planet did he reside? Who was his father? etc. I have been told that there is not enough information to answer these questions. In other words, they don’t fully grasp the very nature of God and His history. Yet Mormonism has historically taught, “As man is, God once was.” So why should the incomprehensible nature of the Trinity be rejected just because it too cannot be understood?
5. Some people have suggested that the Trinity teaches that God was the Father in the Old Testament. He then became Jesus in the New Testament and today God is revealed through the Holy Spirit. What is the problem with this thinking?
The problem is that this is a wrong view of who God is. This idea is called Modalism, also known as Sabellianism, which was refuted by the early church. It is not what the Bible teaches and ought to be rejected, as should all wrong views of God.
- A series of article and videos on the topic. A great resource. Click here.
Viewpoint on Mormonism podcasts
- Rob Bowman on the Trinity Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 March 4-8, 2019
- The Trinity (James White) Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 January 7-11, 2013