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The Trinity: Part One

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Doctrine matters. Doctrine has practical implications in our lives, because what we believe affects the way we live. That’s why I’ve decided to share this three part article with you on one of the most misunderstood of all Bible doctrines concerning the teaching about God’s nature, that is, the Trinity. Christians believe in One God, but many secularists and those of other religions accuse Christians of worshipping three gods or setting forth a form of polytheism.   

Throughout church history, great minds have pondered the mystery of the Trinity. Perhaps your church, as part of their worship service, has the congregation recite the Apostle’s Creed, which says, “I Believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ His Only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost . . . ” The ancient church creed affirms the Trinity, ascribing equal position to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Athanasian creed is named after a 4th century man who was a great defender of the Christian faith in general, and defender of the Trinity in particular. Though named for Athanasius, the content of the creed goes back to the early church, and the creed states, “We worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in unity, neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance (or essence).” Though the Trinity is a difficult subject to comprehend, such creeds do their best to set forth the Bible truth that there is One God yet manifested in three Persons.  

In considering the subject of the Trinity, we are really asking, “What is God like?” This is especially relevant for Christians to be aware of, in light of many erroneous views of God that exist in our day. There are many unscriptural views of God that are currently competing for the allegiance of people. For instance, the New Age view of God is based upon pantheism, meaning that “all is God.” A famous mini-series several years ago presented actress Shirley MacLaine asserting that, “…Man’s problem is not sin, but that he has forgotten that he is God.” The New Agers say that everything (including you and me) is part of God.  

Also, in opposition to the Bible’s depiction of God’s nature, is the viewpoint held by Islam. Islam, says that God is One, but so singular as to not have personality. The Islamic conception of God was very much influenced by the views of Plotinus, a philosopher who lived in the 2nd century AD. Plotinus’ ideas were very influential during the Middle Ages. Many scholars believe that Muslim theology concerning the Oneness of God is a result of the influence of Plotinus. Plotinus, and later Islam, asserted that God is One, yet so simple and undivided, that God is beyond knowing, and beyond consciousness. This implies that God is removed of all personality, relatability, and can’t really be known in a personal way. This is in direct contrast to what God has revealed about Himself to humanity through scripture.   

Yet another false view about the nature of God, comes from the Mormon church. The Mormon church calls itself Christian, but its theological teachings are frequently opposed to Bible doctrines that are central to New Testament Christianity. Mormonism teaches that gods are eternally giving birth to new gods. This belief in many gods is called polytheism and contradicts Bible truths about Who God is. Clearly, a strong understanding of the Trinity is something that each Christian should make a priority in this age of distorted views of God.   

Much can be known about God just by looking at the world around us. The Bible teaches that “the heavens and earth declare the Glory of God.” (Psalm 19:1). Much can be known about God from the world around us, and this is called “natural revelation.” But scripture has taught us many things about God, that otherwise, humanity would not have known. Theologians call this “special revelation.” God has revealed to mankind many things about Himself through His written Word, and the truths of such “special revelation” could not have been deduced by human reason alone. Among the truths of special revelation, is the Bible’s teaching that God’s nature consists of three Persons, equal in power, equal in glory, equal in might. Each is equal to the others, and entitled to the same worship, devotion, trust, and faith. 

Alex McFarland

Alex has preached in over 2,200 churches throughout North America and numerous more internationally. He also speaks at Christian events, conferences, debates, and other venues to teach biblical truths and preach the gospel.

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