Refuting False Teachings About the Trinity
The concept of God as a Trinity of “persons” sharing one will is hotly debated, even among professing Christians. To find the truth, we must look at what the Bible itself tells us. After all, there is no point in debating the nature of the Christian God without using the Bible and presuming its divine authorship.
One important aspect of God as a Trinity, which is not expressly stated as such but strongly inferred from many references, is that God has only one will. There is never an instance in scripture where the will of God is plural (that is, the “wills” of God). The sole exception is that of Jesus, who has had a dual divine/human nature since his incarnation.
The reason this is important is because hierarchy cannot exist in a single will. It is only Jesus’ human nature that has its own will and is subordinate to God, just as all other humans are subordinate to God.
The Unity of the One True God
(against tritheism, meaning three gods)
- The Father and Son are one God— John 1:1, 18, 10:30, 17:21-23, Phil. 2:6, Col. 1:15-20, Heb. 1:3
- All three are the one Creator— Gen. 1:2, Deut. 32:6, Col. 1:15-20
- The Father and Spirit conceived the incarnate Son— Mat. 1:18, Luke 1:35
- Jesus raised himself from the dead— John 2:19-21
- God raised Jesus from the dead— Acts 2:24
- The Father raised Jesus from the dead— Gal. 1:1
- The Son is God and became human— Phil. 2:5-11
- The Son and Father cannot be separated— 1 John 2:23
The Diversity of the Persons
(against modalism, meaning one God with three roles or manifestations)
- The Father begets the Son— Psalm 2:7
- All three present at once— Mat. 3:16-17
- The Son speaks of his Father— John 8:54
- The Son prays to the Father and was sent by him— Luke 23:34, John 11:41-42
- The Son sends the Spirit— John 15:26, 16:7
- The Son and Father both mentioned— 1 John 2:23
The Shared Authority of the Persons
(against strict and exclusive roles among the Persons)
- The Father sends the Son— 1 John 4:14
- The Father sends the Spirit— Luke 11:13, John 14:26
- The Father glorifies the Son— John 8:54
- The Father is one in whose name people are to be baptized— Mt. 28:19
- The Son sends the Spirit— John 15:26, 16:7
- The Son sends the Father— Mt. 26:53, Luke 23:34, John 17:1
- The Son is called “the everlasting Father ”— Isaiah 9:6
- The Son is one in whose name people are to be baptized— Mt. 28:19
- The Spirit sends the Son— Mt. 4:1
- The Spirit anoints the Son— Acts 10:38
- The Spirit goes as he wills— John 3:8
- The Spirit inspired all scripture— Acts 1:16, 1 Peter 1:12, 2 Peter 1:21
- The Spirit indwells believers— Acts 2:4,
- The Spirit teaches— Luke 12:12
- The Spirit gives gifts— Heb. 2:4
- The Spirit indwelt John the Baptist and Jesus— Luke 1:15, 4:1
- The Spirit must not be blasphemed— Luke 12:10, Mt. 12:32
- The Spirit gives orders to people— Acts 13:2-4, 16:6 20:28
- The Spirit seals believers— Eph. 1:13
- The Spirit is one in whose name people are to be baptized— Mt. 28:19
The Divinity of the Son
- Many references have people offering worship to Jesus. Though the Greek word for ’worship’ is often used for a fellow human with higher social rank, it is also used for deity. But it should be noted that in Rev. 22:8-9, whatever John was doing toward the angel should only be done toward God.
- In Mat. 22:44 Jesus quotes Ps. 110:1 to the Pharisees, who agree that it is about the Messiah. Jesus asks them how the Messiah can be David’s descendant when David calls him "Lord", and they could not answer. In that verse we see that there is a "Lord" of David who says something to David’s "Lord", and even the Pharisees interpreted it as that the Messiah must be more than human, or they would have said something.
- In Mat. 28:18 Jesus instructs the disciples to baptize people in the name (singular) of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Clearly the Son is as much God as God’s own Spirit.
- John 1:14 states that "the Word became flesh and lived among us".
- John 17:5 quotes Jesus as saying to the Father, "Glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began". This is the same book of John that began with the statement, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God".
- Phil. 2:5-11 states that Jesus temporarily set aside his privileges as God to become human, then returned to his place with God.
- Col. 1:16 states that "In him all things were created... all things were created through him and for him".
- Heb. 1:2 states that the Son created the universe. Vs. 3 states that the Son "is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being". Vs. 6 says to "let all God’s angels worship him". In vs. 8 God says about the Son, "Your throne, O God, will last forever". Vs. 10 says that "In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth".
- Isaiah 9:6 says, "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given... And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Here the Son is called the Father and the Mighty God.
The Divinity and Sentience of the Holy Spirit
(being both God and a Person)
- The HS can be blasphemed— Mark 3:29, Luke 12:10
- God pours his love into our hearts through the HS— Rom. 4:25
- Our bodies are the temple of the HS— 1 Cor. 6: 18-20
- We are sealed with the HS as a guarantee of our salvation— Eph. 1:14
- We must not grieve the HS— Eph. 4:30
- The HS lives in us— 2 Tim. 1:14
- The HS gives us rebirth when poured out on us via Jesus— Titus 3:5-6
- The HS speaks to us— Heb. 3:7-11, 9:8
- The HS commisioned the apostles— 1 Peter 1:12
- The HS gives prophecies— 2 Peter 1:21
Here is the logical proof:
- P1 Only persons can be grieved, and only divinity can be blasphemed
- P2 The HS can be grieved (Eph. 4:30) and blasphemed (Luke 12:10)
- ∴ The HS is a divine Person
The Holy Spirit is referred to as “she” in the Hebrew, and “it ” in the Greek. But regardless of the grammatical gender of pronouns, it is clear from the totality of scripture that the Holy Spirit is not a mere force but is in fact a Person of the Trinity just as much as the Father and Son. But just as clearly, the Holy Spirit is not gendered, just as the Father is not gendered (Num. 23:19, John 4:24). Though God is described as having body parts in various passages, these are anthropomorphisms (ways to describe in human terms). Only Jesus in his incarnation is gendered (Phil. 2:5-11), since he alone has the dual nature of both God and human.
There is one God, composed of three Persons, each of which is fully God and not a physical or gendered entity. Jesus alone has a dual nature as both divine and human, the latter of which was physical and gendered at his incarnation. Critics of this view, whether believers or unbelievers, have to ignore or reinterpret all of these passages in order to claim otherwise.