Posted by: Jay | April 23, 2007

What is the Trinity?

Have you had difficulty understanding the concept of the Trinity? I sure have. Reading from different sources and talking to Trinitarians, unfortunately, has not lead to a clear understanding of the concept either. Are God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost one? Do they have a body? Why does Jesus talk of the Father and Holy Spirit like they are totally separate from him? I know of many scriptures that support the idea of three separate beings united in purpose. However, I know of very few that support the concept of the Trinity (as I understand it). In fact, I’ve never seen the word Trinity in the bible. As far as I can figure it is a product of the Council of Nicene. If you are one of the few that understands the doctrine, please cite any scriptures that might help me know where this belief comes from. This is one of the issues that keep me in the Mormon Church.

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Responses

  1. Hi,

    Here’s my stab at explaining the trinity.

    Principle 1-There is only one God. (Isaiah 43:10, 44:6, Deuteronomy 6:4)

    Principle 2-There are 3 divine persons.
    -The Father is God. (2 Thessalonians 1:2)
    -The Son is God. (John 1:1-5, 10:30-33, 20:28)
    -The Holy Spirit is God. (Acts 5:3-4, 2 Corinthians 3:17).

    Principle 3-The Persons Are Co-Equal and Co-Eternal.
    -the Father is the Lord of lords (Deuteronomy 10:17, Psalm 136:3).
    -Jesus is the Lord of lords (1 Timothy 6:15, Revelation 17:14, 19:16).
    -the Father is the first and the last (Isaiah 44:6).
    -Jesus is the first and the last (Revelation 22:13).
    -the Father created the universe (Genesis 1:1).
    -Jesus created the universe (John 1:3, Colossians 1:16, Hebrews 1:2,10).
    -the Father is unchanging and eternal (Psalm 90:2, 102:26-27, Malachi 3:6).
    -Jesus is unchanging and eternal (John 8:58, Colossians 1:17, Hebrews 1:11-12, 13:8).

    If those principles are true, the trinity must be true.

    Something else that will help you understand this is to see yourself as you really are by looking in the mirror of God’s law (the Ten Commandments). Have you ever told a lie, stolen, looked at someone with lust, or taken God’s name in vain? I have to plead guilty to those four, and all of the rest. So, I’m a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer at heart (Matthew 5:27-28).

    If I waw standing in front of a judge in a court of law, guilty of serious crimes, he would have to punish me. Only an evil judge could just forgive me. God is infinitely just, and He has to punish every sin.

    The Bible says that all liars will have their part in the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8), and no thief, adulterer, blasphemer, drukard, etc. will enter the kingdom of heaven (1 Corinthians 6:9,10). If God gives me what I deserve He would crush me and send me to hell for what I did yesterday.

    But, God was so kind to provide a way for us to go to heaven, and still maintain his justice. God punished Jesus on our behalf, and we receive that forgiveness by repenting and putting our faith in Jesus. We have to make sure that we have the right Jesus, or we won’t be forgiven.

    I hope that helps.

    Thanks,
    Bill

  2. Here is a blog that I wrote that I hope you find helpful. It’s different than the rest of my post here.
    http://ldstalk.wordpress.com/2007/02/09/ah-the-trinity/

    The Trinity is indeed a difficult doctrine to understand. There is nothing simplistic about it. You are correct, the word “trinity” can be found no where in the Bible. It’s a word that is used to describe what the Bible tells us about the nature of God. (much like the word polygamy is not found in the Bible). It’s a sophisticated way to reconcile seemingly contradictory statements about who is God and what he is like. Because it is difficult does not mean that it is not true.

    Bill did a pretty decent job of giving some scriptural basis to the doctrine. The basic explanation is that it is

    3 Who’s and 1 What.

    Who is God? The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. What are they? God

    It really wasn’t a product of the Council of Nicea. This is a legend that non-Trinitarians like to promote. The doctrine was well established before the council and was not an issue of contest at the council. The idea that the council was all about compromise is also a myth. The “vote” was for all practical purposes unanimous. It is true that the doctrine was not immediately well stated by even 2nd Century Christians. That’s because it’s an theologically academic way of describing what the Bible expresses. Christian higher education took a little bit to develop with all of the torture and executions.

  3. Bill,
    Thanks for those great scriptures I’m going to check them out tonight.

    Dando,
    I agree just because things are difficult doesn’t mean they are not true. I would really like to take a closer look at the council of Nicene from your perspective and a non-Trinitarian perspective. Then I’ll really be able to decide for myself what is true.

    Thank you for the reference to your post. I really do think it is important to understand the “why” behind beliefs. Too many times we dismiss someone’s contrary belief as ignorance when in reality it is based on sound logic and precedent. Thank you for sharing with me.

  4. Keep studying, Jay. And I will, too.

  5. What if I said that the trinity is a man-made construct intended to define God (but falling woefully short in its exclusivity)?

    Three is a traditional number that people all over the world use to gain a sense of completeness. You see evidence of this all over the place.

    Mormon theology — while sustaining the idea of father/son/holy ghost — does not really define very clearly who/what the HG is our how he/she/it really fits in to this LDS-cosmic view of divine offspring progressing through the eternities with the ultimate goal of getting a celestial body. Where does a spirit fit into that model — and a spirit on par with the godhead? There is no depiction of the HG in the temple narrative.

    Could the trinity just be borrowed and assumed from earlier christian tradition? We certainly don’t restrict ourselves to a belief in only one god with three personalities or whatever. It’s an interesting question.

    By the way, I blogged about this three-pattern issue on my site, but didn’t get any nibbles on it. But like you, I am just getting started with my blog (at least it looks like yours is pretty new), so maybe as it grows it will get some conversation — but I think there is a lot that could be said about it.

    Cheers.

  6. Glenn,
    Sounds interesting, I’ll take a look at your blog.

  7. Maybe a simple way to view , just my opinion…We as human beings have body,mind and spirit but are of course one person. Maybe God is like that…trinity.


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