Should You Believe in the Trinity? (2/9)

How Is the Trinity Explained?

THE Roman Catholic Church states: “The Trinity is the term employed to signify the central doctrine of the Christian religion . . . Thus, in the words of the Athanasian Creed: ‘the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and yet there are not three Gods but one God.’ In this Trinity . . . the Persons are co-eternal and co-equal: all alike are uncreated and omnipotent.”- The Catholic Encyclopedia.

Should You Believe in the Trinity?

Each is said to be almighty, with each neither greater nor lesser than the others. Is such reasoning hard to follow? Many sincere believers have found it to be confusing, contrary to normal reason, unlike anything in their experience. How, they ask, could the Father be God, Jesus be God, and the holy spirit be God, yet there be not three Gods but only one God?

Should You Believe in the Trinity?

The Watchtower teaches that Christians believe in 3 gods, they cannot grasp like all non-Christians the understanding how 3 individuals of the Godhead can all be the Almighty God (Jehovah). JW’s agree the Father is God Almighty no argument there. When the subject of the Son or the Holy Spirit comes into play this is when the JW mind shuts down.

A logical illustration is imagine two persons named John and the other Mark. We are indeed talking about two distinct persons, one named John the other Mark; they are distinct one from another. Yet John and Mark are both human, John isn’t more human than Mark or vice versa. When grasping the difference between being and person then we can understand how it’s possible for the 3 Persons of the Godhead to be the 1 God.

This is clearly laid out in the scriptures more strongly in the New Testament but I will endeavour to show this in the Old Testament as the Trinity is all over the Bible.

Before Sodom and Gomorrah had fire and brimstone rained down upon, Abraham was visited by 3 men one of those men was called the LORD. In the beginning of Genesis chapter 18 we read:

Genesis 18:1 And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;

Genesis 18:1 says the LORD appeared to Abraham, God physically came and stood before Abraham in his tent.

Genesis 18:2 And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw [them], he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground,

Genesis 18:2 tells us the LORD came with 2 others, these other two turn out to be angels, later go ahead towards the city of Sodom and Gomorrah in order to witness what’s taking place in those cities.

Abraham eats food with God, the LORD then ask “Where is Sarah thy wife?” (Genesis 18:9) and goes onto tell Abraham how she will give birth (Genesis 18:10).

Genesis 18:10 And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard [it] in the tent door, which [was] behind him.

The covenant keeping God tells Sarah she’ll give birth and Sarah laughs because she’s been struggling with the fact that she’s been unable to give birth (Genesis 18:11). Additionally, she and Abraham are well in age and in unbelief thinks it’s not possible but we know that with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26, Mark 10:27).

The following verse says that “Sarah laughed within herself” (Genesis 18:12) the LORD then replies:

Genesis 18:13, 14 And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.

But wait the Jehovah Witnesses in their attempt to deny the deity of Christ will quote verses which highlights the humanity of Christ, Him being fully man while neglecting the verses which proves His deity. There’s 2 verses written by the apostle John which says:

John 1:18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared [him].

1 John 4:12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

Being that the Bible has no contradictions, then who did Abraham sit down with who is called the LORD in Genesis chapter 18? We can only come to the conclusion that’s it’s not God the Father nor God the Holy Spirit. That leaves only one Person and that’s the Lord Jesus Christ. It was the pre-incarnate Christ who makes numerous appearances in the Old Testament.

“Beyond the Grasp of Human Reason”

THIS confusion is widespread. The Encyclopedia Americana notes that the doctrine of the Trinity is considered to be “beyond the grasp of human reason.” Many who accept the Trinity view it that same way. Monsignor Eugene Clark says: “God is one, and God is three. Since there is nothing like this in creation, we cannot understand it, but only accept it.” Cardinal John O’Connor states: “We know that it is a very profound mystery, which we don’t begin to under- stand.” And Pope John Paul II speaks of “the inscrutable mystery of God the Trinity.”

Should You Believe in the Trinity?

God is beyond His creation but understanding the Godhead is not completely out of our reach. I would have to disagree with the statement “there is nothing like this in creation”, if we look around we can see the stamp of God in creation, while yes it is true God is beyond His creation but He didn’t leave us utterly without being able to grasp the understanding of how God is 1 yet comprised of 3 distinct Persons.

Time is comprised of 3 components, the past, things which occurred or transpired already. There’s also the present which pertains to the time we are currently living or experiencing or occurring now. Lastly, we have the future, events that will happen at a later time. Each of these are part of time which is “the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole.”

This is just one example but as was demonstrated God has fixed the truth of Himself in all that before our eyes. This is why in the book of Romans says that we are without excuse.

Romans 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, [even] his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

Trinitarians are not without understanding, the Watchtower would have people think we’re scratching our heads in confusion but it’s just not so. Jesus Christ is of the same substance or nature as the Father, the same is true of the Holy Spirit. God is the perfect being who doesn’t need anything outside of Himself, all 3 Persons of the Godhead have eternally enjoyed perfect love and fellowship among the 3. The apostle John sums it up clearly in John 1:1, 1 John 5:7.

God didn’t leave us stranded without understanding how the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are the 1 God spoken of in scripture. He left us His word and we can see it in creation itself.

Thus, A Dictionary of Religious Knowledge says: “Precisely what that doctrine is, or rather precisely how it is to be explained, Trinitarians are not agreed among themselves.” We can understand, then, why the New Catholic Encyclopedia observes: “There are few teachers of Trinitarian theology in Roman Catholic seminaries who have not been badgered at one time or another by the question, ‘But how does one preach the Trinity?’ And if the question is symptomatic of confusion on the part of the students, perhaps it is no less symptomatic of similar confusion on the part of their professors.”

Should You Believe in the Trinity?

Here we have the comment “Trinitarians are not agreed among themselves” this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Those who hold to the Trinity doctrine all agree on the fundamental teachings. Unfortunately, there are doctrines which may seem similar but in actuality are not the same as Trinitarianism.

For instance modalist believe God is 1 being, where they differ is they claim God is absolutely 1 person. Modalism (also Sabellianism, Monarchianism) teaches the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are 1 Person, The Father changed into the Son at some point in time; and the Son turned into the Holy Spirit. Modalist deny the distinction of Persons within the Godhead, and it was classified as heresy by the early church. People who believe in modalism are not identified as Trinitarians.

Another heresy that exist is arianism which teaches the Father as Almighty God alone with the Son as a lesser created god such is the case with the Jehovah Witnesses in which they have a lower demi god. They also claim the Holy Spirit is not a Person but God’s “active force.” This heresy came about by Arius of Alexandria and has been the biggest criticizer of the Trinitarian doctrine.

The Godhead has been always present in scripture, Christians has always believed since the beginning there’s one God, who exists as three co-equal, co-eternal and co-substantial divine persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And while we do not get our doctrine from the early church fathers we can certainly establish they also held to the Trinity doctrine from these few early quotes.

Origen: “If anyone would say that the Word of God or the Wisdom of God had a beginning, let him beware lest he direct his impiety rather against the unbegotten Father, since he denies that he was always Father, and that he has always begotten the Word, and that he always had wisdom in all previous times or ages or whatever can be imagined in priority . . . There can be no more ancient title of almighty God than that of Father, and it is through the Son that he is Father” (De Princ. 1.2.; PG 11.132).

“For if [the Holy Spirit were not eternally as He is, and had received knowledge at some time and then became the Holy Spirit] this were the case, the Holy Spirit would never be reckoned in the unity of the Trinity, i.e., along with the unchangeable Father and His Son, unless He had always been the Holy Spirit.” (Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds., The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975 rpt., Vol. 4, p. 253, de Principiis, 1.111.4)

Ignatius of Antioch: “In Christ Jesus our Lord, by whom and with whom be glory and power to the Father with the Holy Spirit for ever” (n. 7; PG 5.988).
“We have also as a Physician the Lord our God Jesus the Christ the only-begotten Son and Word, before time began, but who afterwards became also man, of Mary the virgin.  For ‘the Word was made flesh.’ Being incorporeal, He was in the body; being impassible, He was in a passable body; being immortal, He was in a mortal body; being life, He became subject to corruption, that He might free our souls from death and corruption, and heal them, and might restore them to health, when they were diseased with ungodliness and wicked lusts.” (Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds., The ante-Nicene Fathers, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975 rpt., Vol. 1, p. 52, Ephesians 7.)

Tertullian: “We define that there are two, the Father and the Son, and three with the Holy Spirit, and this number is made by the pattern of salvation . . . [which] brings about unity in trinity, interrelating the three, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  They are three, not in dignity, but in degree, not in substance but in form, not in power but in kind.  They are of one substance and power, because there is one God from whom these degrees, forms and kinds devolve in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” (Adv. Prax. 23; PL 2.156-7).

The Jehovah’s Witnesses, argue that the doctrine was “made up” during the time of the Council of Nicea (325).  This council was brought together by Emperor Constantine to deal with the heresy of Arianism which was threatening the Christian Church. The council defined what was already established in the Bible concerning the Godhead, the nicene council sought to defend against the attack on the Person and deity of Christ. Which is what arianism is all about and continues today with such cults as the Watchtower.

The truth of that observation can be verified by going to a library and examining books that support the Trinity. Countless pages have been written attempting to explain it. Yet, after struggling through the labyrinth of confusing theological terms and explanations, investigators still come away unsatisfied.

Should You Believe in the Trinity?

What proof does the Watchtower have to substantiate such a claim? The Watchtower consistently misrepresents the biblical teaching of the Trinity, a organisation which makes the following statements.

“Isaiah was foretelling a dereliction of duty on the part of religious leaders. For instance, they do not teach Bible truth but teach their flocks unscriptural doctrines regarding eternal torment in a fiery hell, a trinity of three gods in one, and immortality of the soul—all of pagan origin. And the clergy have supported all the wars of their nations, even when it meant killing people of their own religion. This is in direct violation of God’s commandments.”

Awake 12/8/2098, p. 11 What Jesus Is Now

“The doctrine, in brief, is that there are three gods in one: ‘God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost,; all three equal in power, substance and eternity.” (Let God Be True, 1952, p. 100).

Christians never taught “three gods in one” this misunderstanding of the Watchtower is the basis why Jehovah Witnesses do not understand the Trinity; as they continually misrepresent the teaching.

In this regard, Jesuit Joseph Bracken observes in his book What Are They Saying About the Trinity?: “Priests who with considerable effort learned . . . the Trinity during their seminary years naturally hesitated to present it to their people from the pulpit, even on Trinity Sunday. . . . Why should one bore people with something that in the end they wouldn’t properly understand anyway?” He also says: “The Trinity is a matter of formal belief, but it has little or no [effect] in day to day Christian life and worship.” Yet, it is “the central doctrine” of the churches!

Should You Believe in the Trinity?

It’s clear that if individuals seek to approach the Trinity doctrine purely through a carnal mind it’s beyond their understanding. This statement only proves there are people who find the Trinity perplexing not that the teaching itself is hard to understand. It becomes more understood if you can make the distinction between “Being” and “Person”, the first refers to nature while the second refers to an individual.

Catholic theologian Hans Kung observes in his book Christianity and the World Religions that the Trinity is one reason why the churches have been unable to make any significant headway with non-Christian peoples. He states: “Even well-informed Muslims simply cannot follow, as the Jews thus far have likewise failed to grasp, the idea of the Trinity.

Should You Believe in the Trinity?

Just because Muslims cannot grasp the Trinity doctrine doesn’t make it not true, the same way Catholics have a hard time understanding faith alone in Christ alone is how an individual is saved. The children of Israel sinned multiple times, they didn’t understand the LORD’s ways, we are not to follow the Jews but Christ Jesus Himself. Christ said He is the Way (John 14:6) not the Jews. The book of Isaiah tells us that the Jews eyes are closed to the truth (Isaiah 6:10, Isaiah 44:18), but there’s coming a time in which God will open their eyes to the truth.

As for this portion of the statement “Even well-informed Muslims…” according to their own sources Muslims deny Jesus died on the cross, that He’s the Son of God, and the Trinity is “the Father, Son and Mary.” How can the Watchtower even begin to think Muslims are an authority on scripture, their own Quran and Hadiths are contradictory to the Word of God. We certainly cannot take Islam’s word for how we are to understand doctrine.

The distinctions made by the doctrine of the Trinity between one God and three hypostases do not satisfy Muslims, who are confused, rather than enlightened, by theological terms derived from Syriac, Greek, and Latin. Muslims find it all a word game. . . . Why should anyone want to add anything to the notion of God’s oneness and uniqueness that can only dilute or nullify that oneness and uniqueness?”

Should You Believe in the Trinity?

It’s strange that the Watchtower would appeal towards Islam as a source of authority. Groups like Jehovah Witnesses, Muslims, Unitarians etc. Will over emphasise the “oneness” of God at the expense of the plurality in the Godhead. Witnesses will agree with the Christian on every point when it comes to God being 1, even though the Witnesses actually are not monotheist technically.

They are blinded by the fact that just as God the Father works, the Son also works (John 5:17). Anything the Father can do the Lord Jesus can do, this is a devastating passage for the Witnesses. Just as the Father raises the dead the Son does likewise (John 5:21). The Son of God gives eternal life (John 10:28), this can not be spoken of a mere angel; not even an archangel such as Michael can be spoken of giving eternal life. Eternal life can only come from God Himself and this is why while the word “Trinity” is not found in the Bible the doctrine is.

“Not a God of Confusion”

HOW could such a confusing doctrine originate? The Catholic Encyclopedia claims: “A dogma so mysterious presupposes a Divine revelation.” Catholic scholars Karl Rahner and Herbert V orgrimler state in their Theological Dictionary: “The Trinity is a mystery . . . in the strict sense … , which could not be known without revelation, and even after revelation cannot become wholly intelligible.”

Should You Believe in the Trinity?

The Watchtower loves to partially quote sources using dots and gaps in quotes to try to support their view, making it seem as if the other party is agreeing with their position, here’s the above quotes in their entirety.

“It is manifest that a dogma so mysterious presupposes a Divine revelation. When the fact of revelation, understood in its full sense as the speech of God to man, is no longer admitted, the rejection of the doctrine follows as a necessary consequence. For this reason it has no place in the Liberal Protestantism of today. The writers of this school contend that the doctrine of the Trinity, as professed by the Church, is not contained in the New Testament, but that it was first formulated in the second century and received final approbation in the fourth, as the result of the Arian and Macedonian controversies. In view of this assertion it is necessary to consider in some detail the evidence afforded by Holy Scripture. Attempts have been made recently to apply the more extreme theories of comparative religion to the doctrine of the Trinity, and to account for it by an imaginary law of nature compelling men to group the objects of their worship in threes. It seems needless to give more than a reference to these extravagant views, which serious thinkers of every school reject as destitute of foundation.”

Another use of the dots and gaps by Watchtower is in this statement by Karl Rahner and Herbert V orgrimler “The Trinity is a mystery . . . in the strict sense … , which could not be known without revelation, and even after revelation cannot become wholly intelligible.” That statement goes on to say: “Its import is as follows. (1) The one God exists in three “Persons” (Subsistence) which are the one divine Nature (the one divine essence, of divine substance) and therefore are equally eternal and almighty.

However, contending that since the Trinity is such a confusing mystery, it must have come from divine revelation creates another major problem. Why? Because divine revelation itself does not allow for such a view of God: “God is not a God of confusion.”-1 Corinthians 14:33, Revised Standard Version (RS). In view of that statement, would God be responsible for a doctrine about himself that is so confusing that even Hebrew, Greek, and Latin scholars cannot really explain it?

Should You Believe in the Trinity?

Deception at its finest by the Watchtower. The source by Rahner and Orgrimler clearly states that God did reveal the trinity doctrine in the scriptures. Even God Himself couldn’t be understood without revelation and even after cannot be fully known. The Jehovah’s Witnesses use deception to make an argument against this fact. The LORD created all from nothing, does the Watchtower understand how God did this? God did not disclose how exactly He created everything, does that mean He’s a God of confusion? Definitely not! How can the finite creature explain the infinite the nature of the Creator? God is omniscient, how can God be all-knowing? That’s only for God to know and not us.

Furthermore, do people have to be theologians ‘to know the only true God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent’? (John 17:3, JB) If that were the case, why did so few of the educated Jewish religious leaders recognize Jesus as the Messiah? His faithful disciples were, instead, humble farmers, fishermen, tax collectors, housewives. Those common people were so certain of what Jesus taught about God that they could teach it to others and were even willing to die for their belief.- Matthew 15: 1-9; 21:23-32, 43; 23 :13-36; John 7:45-49; Acts 4:13.

Should You Believe in the Trinity?

One must be born again to know the Father and Jesus Christ who sent into the world to save sinners. The Watchtower in the above statement is appealing to “knowledge” claiming the Pharisees who were educated didn’t recognise the Lord Jesus as the Messiah. Are Christians now to follow the Pharisees or Christ Himself? We do not get our doctrine from the Jewish religious leaders but from the risen Lord.

As the Bible says the Comforter who is the Holy Spirit, He will teach believers all things concerning Jesus Christ our Lord; He will testify about Christ and this is the only true way to know who God is.

John 14:26 But the Comforter, [which is] the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

John 15:26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, [even] the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:

Unfortunate for the Jehovah Witnesses who don’t believe in having the Holy Spirit, nor being born again. The Watchtower consistently goes against the teachings of Christ to their own detriment. If you’re an active Jehovah Witness leave the Watchtower and run to Jesus Christ for salvation, He’s the only salvation one can have.

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