In looking at some of the common terms for the Trinity, a number of questions arise. Going with the section of terms that we just reviewed, there are some common questions the we need to look at and try to provide answers. Some may not like these answer, and I will admit not every answer is thorough and detailed. A 15 page paper could probably be written on each topic and that may still not be enough space. This is just an attempt to provide a brief introduction, some clarity and a high-level overview of these questions. I would encourage each reader to look more closely at each topic.
What Are Primary Biblical Evidences for the Doctrine of the Trinity?
- God is One. In the OT, evidence that there is no god before or after the true God nor does He give His glory to another. Monotheism is expressly affirmed. We also see that this divine oneness can be understood as inclusive oneness and does not necessarily confine God to a single person. Two frequent names of God (‘Elohim, ‘Adonai), the use of the personal pronouns (“we”, “us”) and a significant number of passages indicate another person or agent whi is also in some sense God (Isa 9:6, Da 7:13).
- The Father is God-both John and Jesus introduced the use of “Father” as normative, yet distinguished “my Father” from “your Father”. God is referred to as the Father to Israel (Ex 4:22), Christ, the Son of God (Mt 3:17; 11:27), and to all believers (Ro 8:14-17; Gal 4:4-7). God the Father is the Creator of life, the Sovereign Ruler over all. Every occurrence happens with God’s knowledge and determination, yet He is also personal with His creation, especially humans. He Is the Holy Judge, whose holiness guides His essence and demands payment for sin. He is the Compassionate Reconciler who sent his Son to be our substitute but calls us to salvation, forgives, justifies, adopts and makes sons of the redeemed
- Jesus Christ is God-Jesus was revealed as God, “the Son of God”, the “Logos”—simultaneously the same as, but different from God, most noticeable in John. Jesus’ claims included sharing in the glory of the Father before the world began (Jn 17:5), possessing authority to send the Holy Spirit (Jn 15:26) and being destined not only to save the world but to judge it. Jesus is specifically ascribed as “God” (Ac 20:28, Ro 9:5, Tit 1:3) along with other titles of divinity including “Immanuel” (My 1:23), “Mighty God” (Isa 9:6) and Alpha and Omega (Rev 22:13).
- The Holy Spirit is God-the Spirit is frequently revealed with the characteristics of a person not only in relationship to belieers but also to God himself. The Holy Spirit is identified as God in specific texts (Ac 5:3-4, 2 Co 3:17-18). As “another Counselor (Jn 14:16), the Spirit stands as one together with the Son. Sent forth by the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit searches out the mind of God (I Co 2:10), speaks to what he hears (Jn 16:13), intercedes to the Father in our behalf (Ro 8:26), glorifies the Son (Jn 16:14) and resides in believers, the temples of God (I Co 2:16, 6:19) and children of God (Ro 8:15). The Holy Spirit is God in the same personal sense as the Son and the Father
Why in the Incarnation Did the Son not Absolutely, Publically Prove He Is God?-Christ’s divine nature was not always suppressed during His public ministry.The Savior’s sonship and innate authority were often the point of His teaching and miracles. His submission to the Father and anointing by the Spirit do not negate the active operation of His divine nature. He sometimes acted as God, even Lord of the Spirit. There is every bit enough evidence to confirm that Jesus is indeed God, yet we are not bludgeoned by the truth. He reveals himself to whom he chooses. Jesus could not only quite ably reveal his deity but he could also conceal it. Philippians 2:5–7 instructs believers to assume the same attitude as Christ who, although he was God did not go about flaunting or “grasping” at his deity. He drew people to himself in such a manner that they began to question the very nature of his being. Jesus Christ’s most forceful witness of his own deity was, remarkably, indirect. If Jesus had loudly, indisputably proved he was God (as skeptics seem to require), could the response have been the heart-changing submission that God desires? on at least four occasions Jesus seems explicitly to state his own deity. In each of the three instances prior to his crucifixion, Jesus attests his deity to those who already angrily rejected him.
Is Mary the Mother of God? Why should we not pray to Mary? The term “Mother of God” originated in the 4-5th Century, intended to denote the full deity of Christ. This term was not meant to indicate that Mary was the mother of Christ’s divine nature, but that Jesus was a singular person, “the perfect [pre-] existent God became perfect man, made flesh of the Virgin”. Mary is the physical mother of God, not the source or origin of His deity. There is very little biblical evidence to suggest that Mary herself would have been a deity or someone to be worshipped (she was not free from sin, nor does the Bible indicate her deity). A common criticism is that Mariology is a form of heresy-a rejection of the authority of the Bible for more popular traditions and it is a result of the pervasive influence of Gnosticism. Some more criticisms include Mariology is viewed as Paganism and included the need for the worship of a female god; lastly in anthropocentrism, where the human desire to create our own religion is demonstrated. Praying to Mary detracts from the glory of Christ, substituting the Son of God with others and negating the total sufficiency of Christ’s death on the cross, His role as our Intercessor, and His ability to sustain and provide all of our needs. We have fulfillment in Him and He asks us to talk to the Father in His name.
Description of the IntraTrinitarian Relationships in the NT.
- Persons as Distinct Centers of Consciousness-the NT records the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit each speaking as the divine “I” (Mk 1:11; Jn 10:30; Ac 13:2).
- Genuinely Personal Relationships-John’s commentary declare that the Son and the Spirit were with God; multiple references display “seeing”, “hearing”, and “being taught” among each member of the Trinity to convey the personeity of each divine member and the intimate relationship each enjoys with the other.
- They Know and Testify of Each Other- Interpersonally, the Father knows the Son (Jn 10:15) and the Son knows the Father; the knowledge Jesus has of God is based on relation. The Spirit also profoundly knows the Father and is known by the Father (1 Co 2:11-13, 2 Co 3:3; Ep 2:18) just as the Spirit knows the Son and is known by the Son (Jn 14:26, 15:26, 16:14-15). Because each of the divine persons has eternal, infinitely deep knowledge of the other, the Father testifies of the Son, the Son of the Father and the Spirit of the truth that is in the Father and the Son. As the Spirit alights upon the Son to testify of him at his baptism, so it is the Son who presents the Spirit, testifies of his coming and with the Father sends and gives the Spirit.
- Free Personal Choice-John’s Gospel demonstrates that the Father, Son and Spirit can and do operate freely but freely in submission; each is seen as a unique person, yet certain expressions reflect distinct separate consciousness. Every member of the Godhead is seen in free acts of self-giving; the functional order of the Godhead is never violated yet concurrently their relationship is intense and passionate.
- The Glory of Self-Rendering Love-John speaks of an innate glory of both the Father and the Son, the lovely reality is that the Father delights in glorifying the Son, the Son delights in glorifying the Father and the Spirit delights in glorifying the Son and thereby the Father. Each member of the Trinity honors each other-the entire Gospel repetitiously shapes and hammers an extraordinary sculpture of the immense love between each member of the Trinity.
- Each Mutually Indwells the Other-each member is distinct person that share divine nature as one God (perichoresis), yet they indwell each other. John 14:20 refers to the Father being in the Son and the Son in the Father, and implicitly, the Spirit was in Jesus
- The Come Forth from the Father-the Bible displays an eternal order of function within the Trinity. The Father is the fons divinatatis, the divine fountainhead and two of the most repeated phrases in John’s Gospel are that the Son comes/came from the Father and is sent by/from the Father. The Spirit of truth comes (Jn 15:26; 6:7-8, 13) and most significantly is describes as one who “goes forth” or “proceeds” from the Father.
Was the Earliest Church Trinitarian? Why or Why Not?
The greatest difficulty of the early church was to understand the declarations of Jesus’ deity coupled with those of his humanity. If he is God, then in what sense is he human? The early church did not waver from belief that God is one. Yet believers were also experiencing God in a threefold way. The earliest records of the second century reveal an underdeveloped Christology, yet one generally in concurrence with what later was later clarified with the Ecumenical Councils of Nicea and Chalcedon. Docetism, Ebionism, Monarchianism.