Critical Thinking and the Holy Trinity
Table of Contents
What is the Trinity?
Philosophically Speaking, of Course
The Holy Trinity Dissected
The Final Exam on Authenticity
Another Light
A Final Statement

One of the hardest concepts to grasp in Christianity is that of the Trinity. The disbelievers say it is polytheism at best, or, at the least, proof of fraud. Throughout the gospels, Jesus is seen praying to God, which he states is his Father and your Father - our Father. There are two main differences in the debating of this issue. The idea of God being the Supreme Creator of everything, of the All, the unbegotten being, is what drives such religions as Judaism and Islam. In this sense, is Jesus God? Did Jesus create everything? How would a "truth" about God as a trinity hold ground? Those who believe it to be the nature of God say it is a mystery and should be believed through faith alone, since such a mystery cannot be understood by a human mind. With all that science has provided us, we can comprehend a great deal of what was once a mystery. Does God defy all logic? Or was God the creator of all logic? Could He break the logic? Or are the contradictions in logic something more?

If there is to be believed that there are higher beings other than ourselves, then it is more than likely there is an Infinite Truth which exists as well. The illusion of religions blending and affecting each other may have some truth in it, but who stole from who? Did the practice of sacrifice in the Torah influence the Mayans? The fact of the matter is that the Infinite Truth cannot and will not be forced to bend into that which is false. It can only be veiled and distorted by humanity to become a truth that is not. In that sense, how can you prove that Christianity did not steal the idea of the trinity from another religion if it is part of the Infinite Truth? Well, we must admit that the Israelites were known to be in the habit of taking on pagan traditions. Could this be exactly what happened when their Messiah came?


Philosophically Speaking, of Course


God always was, and is, and will be to come. God has existed infinitely in both the past and will infinitely exist in the future. God was never begotten or created. He simply just always was with no beginning. If there is a great and grand wisdom and mystery that mankind might never understand, this is the one. This mystery calls for the highest kind of faith. However, if God was begotten, or created, does that still make Him God? There are quite certainly philosophical musings we can take on trying to understand what I perceive to be the highest mystery, but it is in these questions that we can try to answer the so called "mystery of the Trinity." As part of the Trinity, Jesus must meet criteria in order to be God. To say that the Trinity is a mystery that defies all logic and reason is simply faith through excuse. However, saying the same about how God existed infinitely in the past and has no beginning calls for the same kind of faith, if not greater.

Even more unforgivable than this is the excuse that the mind of a human cannot understand what the Trinity is. Philosophically speaking, why would God create intelligent beings such as humans that would have the inability to understand their creator in full? People have said that the mystery of God has been completed through Jesus the Christ. If God is a Holy Trinity and the Holy Trinity is a mystery that the human brain cannot comprehend, it implies that, not only are the mysteries of God incomplete, but the revelation of God as a trinity furthers the mystery of God.


The Holy Trinity Dissected


Equality within the Trinity

"You heard me say, 'I am going away and I am coming back to you.' If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I." [John 14:28]

"My Father… is greater than all." [John 10:29]

These are the words spoken by the Christ. Within them, we find an admission by Jesus that he and all are lesser when compared to the Father, which negates the doctrine of three equally complete persons within God. However, people have often thought that, when Jesus called God his father, he made himself equal with God, which comes from John 5:18. Jesus, in the giving of a prayer and in his teachings, referred to God as our Father, as well. He is our only Father. With this, Christians have come to believe the interpretation that Jesus, as a man, would have been lesser than in his true form. Backing this is a prayer which Jesus offered up to the Father in John 17:5, "And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began."

In this verse, we also see that Jesus admits he existed before the world began. However so, does this denote that Jesus existed infinitely into the past so that he, too, has no beginning? Does having a beginning contradict Jesus being present before the creation of the universe? Or, as Jesus stated, before the creation of the world? Not necessarily. In fact, it is very possible.

It is also interesting to note that Jesus wants to be glorified. When in comparison to John 8:50 "I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge."


The Relationship of Jesus and the Father

On a number of occasions, the Messiah calls upon the Father as his God and our God. [John 20:17] While on the cross, Jesus shouts out, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" which means "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Jesus is also recorded as praying to the Father on a number of occasions. This is seen during the story of Lazarus rising from the dead in John 11:32-44 as Jesus prays, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you have sent me." This is seemingly a prayer answered.

John 17:3-4 "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do." This is certainly clear that Jesus made a distinction between the only true God and Jesus, even referring to himself in the third person. The rebuttal to this is that, while in his lesser, human body, Jesus had to rely on the Father as his God just as any other human would as well as to show us the perfect example of a relationship with the Father.

Another example of this comes in Matthew 26:36-46 as Jesus agonizes just before his arrest in the garden. He seemingly asks the Father for the cup to be taken from him. In a paradox, some see passages like these as Jesus being imprisoned in his human body, while others see it as proof that Jesus is not God. It does, however, show that Jesus is distinct from the Father. The debate would be seemingly endless as each party sees itself as being in the truth and the other in the false.


Jesus as Son that Always Was

In Colossians 1:15, Paul tells us Jesus "is the image of the invisible God, the first born over all creation." Setting aside the fact that God was visible and dwelt amongst the Israelites beginning with Moses, this does state that Jesus was the first born. Through Paul's statement, Jesus, having been born of God, he takes on the image of God and role of a being born. Thus, it is impossible, through any logic, that Jesus had existed infinitely and eternally into the past so that he has no beginning. For having been born, as well as all things that have been born, birth is the beginning, the starting point. If there is a beginning, there cannot be a claim to having been in existence eternally into the past as to having no start. The only being in all of existence that has any claim to having no birth, no creation, no start point, is the Creator, or God.


Who Ever Said Jesus is God?

After Jesus the Christ's resurrection, Mary Magdalene saw him and Jesus stated that that he was returning to his "Father and your Father" to his God and to "your God." (John 20:17) The question arises: since Jesus said that he had a God, does this make him God? It is logical to say that if anybody has a god, then they are not God.

"When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, 'Who do people say the Son of Man is?'

"They replied, 'Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.'

"'But what about you?' he asked. "Who do you say I am?'

"Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'" [Mt 16:13-16]

After the resurrection, in a single act, Thomas would forever be preceded by the word "doubting" by asking Jesus to show him the holes in hands and the wound in his side. At the point the Doubting Thomas was shown these, he exclaimed to Jesus, "My Lord and my God!" Some say this is an admission by Thomas that Jesus is his God, goes unrefuted, thus proving Jesus knows he is God. From the passage, it is hard to tell if it is in the same nature of the same phrase that we say today when something extraordinary happens, such as a seeing or hearing of terrible car accident that a close friend was involved in, but lived.

It is shown many times throughout the Gospels that Jesus was worshiped, not only by close friends [Mt 28:9] and disciples [Mt 28:17], but by those who he healed [Jn 9:38] and preached to. Why did Jesus receive this worship? Is this because he is truly God? Why didn't Jesus tell a single person to stop worshiping him?


"I and the Father are One"

After Jesus uttered the statement of him being one with the Father, the Jews picked up stones to stone him because Jesus, "a mere man, claim[s] to be God." In response to this, Jesus reminds them what is written in their scripture, that all are sons of God, while reminding them that he claims to be God's Son. [John 10:30-36]

"Don't you believe that I [Jesus] am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. " [John 14:10-11]

Jesus also stated in John 17:20-25, "My prayer is not for them [the Disciples] alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world."

By looking at this passage of prayer, Jesus tells us that the unity between the Father and him is different from that of the rest of the world. However, how can that which is not bound by the Trinity be entered into the trinity? Not to twist scripture or the nature of things, but merely to prove a point, will there be a point where the Trinity becomes a Quadity? Or a Quinity, Septity, etc as more and more people enter into this Holy union? For the theory of the trinity to hold up, the answer is no.

"Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father." [Jn 14:9]

What can me made of this? In John tells us in Chapter 1, Verse 18, that "no one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known." Some manuscripts put but the only (or only Begotten) Son, instead of but God the One and Only. Using the latter translations should be more beneficial towards a more complete understanding. 1 John 4:12 states "No one has ever seen God." Unfortunately for John, he has been mistaken. Among the handful which have seen God that come to mind, there is one that cannot be debated - Moses.

"Moses said to the Lord, 'You have been telling me, "Lead these people," but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, "I know you by name and you have found favor with me." If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people'

"The Lord replied, 'My Presence will go with you, and I will give you the rest.'

"Then Moses said to him, 'If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?'

"And the Lord said to Moses, 'I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.'

"Then Moses said, 'Now show me your glory.'

"And the Lord said, 'I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,' he said, 'you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.'

"Then the Lord said, 'There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.'" [Ex 33:12-23]

After chiseling out two tablets to replace the ones he smashed, Moses, coming alone as ordered, the time finally came and "then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, 'The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving the wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to third and fourth generation.'"

Moses at this point bowed down and worshiped God. [Ex 34:1-8]


Jesus as the Old Testament God

An often referred to verse to prove that Jesus is the God of the Old Testament is when Jesus is confronted by Jews, telling them he knows what Abraham thought about seeing his day. [John 8:56] When refuted on having to have seen Abraham, Jesus responded, "I tell you the truth… before Abraham was born, I am!" the term I Am is used in Exodus 3:14, when Moses asked God who to tell the Israelites. God responded, "I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I Am has sent me to you."

Did Jesus call himself I Am, or did he actually just admit to having seen Abraham or being with Abraham before he was born?

"Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior." [Isa 43:10-11]

"And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me." [Isa 45:21]

Hebrew word for "God," which is 'elohim,' a plural noun always joined to singular verbs. The word occurs around 2700 times in the Old Testament. In Creation account, does God seemingly refer to Himself as plural in Gen 1:26 by saying "Let us make man in our, in our likeness." In the next verse, 27, we take it in the singular, third person form. "So God created man his own image of God he cream him; male and female he created them." In Gen 3:22, the Lord God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil." And finally, in Gen 11:7, God said, "Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other." Should this be taken as proof of the Trinity? It very well could be, but it could also be reasoned out that God was talking to somebody, maybe Jesus, who is "the faithful witness." [Rev1:15] To bring in the philosophy of Islam, which tells us directly that the Trinity concept is false, and preach of an absolute oneness of God, in "The Holy Qur'an" there are some passages where God decrees as "Us," "We," "Our" and others where God (English for the Arabic "Allah") speaks as a singular being. To some, this would be proof of the Trinity, but, using Islamic understanding, it should be noted that when God refers to himself as plural, it is merely calling for His infinite majesty.

If that does not buy a plausible explanation, it may be comforting in understanding that Jews have always interpreted those statements to mean that God was speaking to somebody or somebodies. The understanding of Judaism is that God was speaking to his angels. It should be noted that when the angels came to Lot, the people took these angels to be just mere men. [Gen 19:1-5] When Abraham saw these angels he took them for mere men as well. [Gen 18:1-2]

"Listen to me, O Jacob, Israel, whom I have called: I am he; I am the first and I am the last. My own hand laid the foundations of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens." [Isa 48:12-13]

"'I am the Alpha and the Omega,' says the Lord God, 'who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.'" [Rev 1:8] Revelations 2:8 clearly is Jesus speaking, and claiming to be First and the Last, the Alpha and the Omega, who died and came to life again.

When questioned under the custody of the religious leaders, Jesus stated that even if he told them he was the messiah, they would not believe. "But the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the Mighty God." [Lk 22:69] In this we see that Jesus states that he would sit at the right hand of the Mighty God, which is the First (Alpha) and the Last (Omega). This seems to state that Jesus is different from God.


The Final Exam on Authenticity


Omniscience

Having complete or infinite knowledge, awareness, and understanding defines exactly who and what God is. In order for anybody claim that he or she is God, or for anybody to claim that another is God, he or she must provide proof for this characteristic. In this sense, do we have any confession by Jesus that he is omniscient? Do we have proof that the Holy Spirit is of the same nature?


Omnipresence

Any claim on being God also has to stand on grounds that God is everywhere at all times


Omnipotence

Having unlimited or universal power and authority is also a legit claim towards being God.


Perfection

Would the Israelites have had any concept of a trinity before Jesus came? If so, where and when did it surface? And, if it is borrowed, why was it borrowed? Did they need a way to understand or explain any of the teachings of Jesus? Or, was it them who really did the borrowing at all?

When referring to the Heavens and the Earth passing away, Jesus says, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." [Mk 13:32] This verse clearly shows that Jesus is not All-Knowing as surely God is.


Another Light


The Concept of a Trinity

The philosophy that the trinity was a unity of persons initially mean that a perfect agreement upon all things, made them one. In other words, they were one in mindset. This understanding then merged into the idea of this unity was also one in essence and nature. There are trinities that date back to the religions of Babylon, Egypt, Backslidden Israel, Greece, and Rome, as well as Hinduism.


Understanding The Holy Spirit Differently

The Holy Spirit is also sometimes called the Holy Ghost. Is there a difference between the two phrases? Looking at Dictionary.com, the word "spirit" has, aside from the liquor synonym, four concepts within the 25 definitions it lists for nouns. The first concept supports the idea that "ghost" and "spirit" are interchangeable with no problem. Another concept is that "spirit" is another word for the feelings of a person, as in: Tommy seems to be in good spirit today. The third concept is that the word can describe "an attitude or principle that inspires, animates, or pervades thought, feeling, or action: the spirit of reform." The forth one mixes in a new idea about the spirit being the mediator between the body and soul. Perhaps in this last one the trinity can be understood as God being the Soul, Jesus being the Body, and the Holy Spirit being the Spirit of course. This would differ because "ghost" and "soul" are interchangeable, and it can be said of the "spirit" as well. What definition do we need to adhere to? And how do we refer to this third person of the trinity? In the New International Version bible, it clearly has the term Holy Spirit, and most people also call it the Holy Spirit, as well as the "Catechism of the Catholic Church."

It is clear that we must address exactly what or who the Holy Spirit is. It is arguabl that, if it is a "who," we should call it the Holy Ghost. When referring to the spirit, there is a tendeency to leave out the synonym of "soul." However, looking at the "Catechism of the Catholic Church," we can see that the Holy Spirit contains seven gifts which are: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. (1831) These gifts come from a prophecy in Isaiah. Chapter 11, Verses 1-2 state these as qualifications as the spirit of God. Thus, this leads us to the third concept rather than an actual person.

There are also fruits of the Holy Spirit which include "charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, [and] chastity." (1832) This is understood through Gal 5:22-23, where it makes clear that the third concept still holds true, as the verses state that the Holy Spirit opposes the acts of sinful nature in verses 19-21.

From the Hebrew word ruah, we get the translation is "spirit." Ruah, in its primary sense, means breath, air, wind." When Jesus talked about the Holy Spirit, he referred to it as the "Spirit of Truth" who "will not speak on his own," but on "only what he hears." (Jn 16:13) This seems to state that third concept still holds true. If you wish to personify the Holy Spirit, it is the Spirit that does not tell a lie. However, does this imply it as a creation? By nature, God has created humanity with free will and free choice. If the Holy Spirit is believed to be a person, the Spirit either has incredible discipline to tell the truth; or, for lack of a better word, it has been programmed, or ingrained to be the very nature of Truth itself. The third concept holds true, because the previous example denotes a creation.


The Mindset of Jesus

Some people even go so far as to say that saying of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit causes great confusion and is misleading. They state that Jesus the Christ is God the Father in the flesh, noting 1 Timothy 3:16. This verse is officially translated in the NIV translation as "He appeared in a body." However, in some manuscripts, "he" is translated into "God" and "body" into "in the flesh."

The mindset of Jesus, through his words, is very contra supportive to this notion. If Jesus had the mindset of the Father, there would be no value or point in talking as if the Father was another being. If a being is as aware of the Infinite Truth as to the point of Infinite Understanding of the All as one would expect the Creator to be, there would be no point in making yourself lesser while on earth.

On the path towards the Infinite Truth, there cannot be an agreement to disagree. There must be proof either way in order for it to prevail. With all of the talk between the relation of the Father and the Son, where does the Holy Spirit fit into the relation between the two? Is Jesus also the incarnation of the Spirit? Using the logic used within the previous section, Jesus clearly makes the distinction between himself, the Father and the Holy Spirit.


Forgiveness of Sins

When a sinful woman anointed the feet of Jesus with her tears and "wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and poured perfume on them." [Lk 7:37-38] Jesus told her that her sins were forgiven.

"A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, 'Son, your sins are forgiven.'

"Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, ''Why does this fellow talk like that? He's blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?'

"Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, 'Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up, take your mat and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.'" [Mk 2:1-10]

How can Jesus not be God and still forgiven sins? This is surely proof that Jesus is God, isn't it? He did, after all, also know that which was in the teachers' hearts. It was stated by the angel at the announcement of the birth of Jesus that he would save people from their sins. [Mt 1:21] This was seemingly his whole purpose, and hence, would receive the authority or teach people the true meaning of forgiving sins.


A Final Statement


Some state that if Jesus is not God, and if God's name is not Jesus, that there is no Christianity. Since Jesus fulfilled prophecies from Judaism, it would be more accurate to call all who claim that Jesus is the Christ, which is Greek for "Messiah" as Messianic Jews. The term Christian, then, would still be applicable to all that hold Jesus as the Messiah, or the Christ, as the center of Christendom is the Christ himself, whether or not he is God. To throw out the whole Christian doctrine, based upon one misunderstanding of the Infinite Truth, does a great injustice to it. The only thing that can be concluded by one misunderstanding is that you have a simple misunderstanding, whether due to intentional or unintentional means.

People have used the same Gospels to prove or disprove the notion of the Holy Trinity as God, changing nothing about their text and noting its various translation "errors." Therefore, the argument of the Gospels having to be false if Jesus is not God stands on very shaky ground itself. The only thing being shaken is the understanding of the apparent truth within the Gospels.

In the translation from ruah, which is roughly "spirit," it is also meaning breath, air, wind. In Genesis 2:7, after man was formed from dust, God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life." In the sense that we all have the breath of life in us, we can affirm that, yes, God is in us and us in God as well. There is scriptural evidence for this, proved when Jesus sent out the twelve apostles to aid him in his mission. "Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons." [Mt 10:5-8] Preparing them for persecution, Jesus warned, "But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you wil be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you." [Mt 10:19-20] With this we can affirm that, not only have they accomplished what Jesus has done, but God will act through them, just as it is written, He acted through Jesus.

In John 14:12, Jesus states, "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father." In this, Jesus tells us that we are capable of performing even greater feats than Jesus had achieved. At this point, it should be told that Jesus was yet to be crucified, so it is hard to state that we could rise from death based on this verse. If Jesus quoted Psalm 82:6, telling us that we are all sons of God, and that God is our Father who art in heaven, could it be possible that there is something being ignored if we could achieve greater feats than those of Jesus,? If we can do it, does that make us God as well? The fact of the matter is that God made man in his own image and likeness. [Gen 1:27] In all sense of this statement, if God created us in both his own image and likeness, then we are all trinities in and of ourselves. The problem is that we are not trinities, but merely triad creations consisting of a mind, body and soul.



Sources


New International Version Life Application Study Bible Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1995 & Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1984.

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