Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Defense of the Trinity

Deut 6:4 "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord"

Christianity is monotheistic - there is one God.  But it is also trinitarian - three persons in the Godhead (three in one, "triple unity", trinity).

Obviously, understanding the fundamental nature of God is a hard problem.  He is infinite and holy, while we are finite and not.  But God has stooped down to our level to reveal Himself, and we must try to reconcile what has been revealed.

Attacks on the Trinity usually come in one of two forms:
  1. Jesus is not God (Arianism)
  2. God is not three "persons", but rather, three "modes", "roles" or "forms" (Sabellianism, or modalism)
Let us address the first point first.
  1. The Old Testament (Is 9:6) says the child born unto us will be called the "mighty God" and "everlasting Father".
  2. Sin is an offence, and only the one offended can forgive.  When Jesus forgives sins, He is claiming to be God (the people at that time understood this, and sometimes took up stones against Him)
  3. In Hebrew the term "son", in the metaphorical sense, means to have the nature and attributes ("son of destruction" is a destructive person).  We think of "son" as derivative (less than), but that is not the original meaning.  "Son of God" is claiming to be God (again, the people at that time understood this, and took up stones).
  4. God is love, and love is a relationship (there must be some object for the love).  Under orthodoxy, the three Persons love each other.  Apart from that, it is hard to say what God's love is.
As to the second:
  1. We see all three Persons present at Jesus' baptism.  (Also, there are two other occasions where the Father speaks from Heaven to Jesus on Earth).
  2. God is love - number four above.
  3. Jesus repeatedly prays to the Father.  Is Jesus addressing Himself?
  4. We see the Trinity at work in many places.  The Resurrection is attributed to all three Persons.  Salvation is the work of all three.

Finally, it is good to note that no one would fabricate such a hard doctrine.  The easy way would be to support modalism or Arianism (Arianists excercised a great deal of power for a time).  But we cannot deny what the Bible teaches, God is Three in One.


rabbi-philosopher said...

Ned, sorry this is misplaced but I appreciated your defense of the sovereignty of God on I-Monk (which of course they rejected - sigh)

1) If God is in control, but there is evil which serves no purpose, I don’t see how that makes God more evil than you imagine the Reformed view is. At least I can claim God is achieving some higher end (not that ends justify the means).

2) If evil is truly random, then they are outside of God’s control (which means God is not in control).

I’m not intending to find the good behind everything. I just trust that God knows what He’s doing.


nedbrek said...

Thank you. It worries me when people presented with an accurate view of God so violently reject it :(

rabbi-philosopher said...

There are numbers of blogs and blog commenters that have decided evangelicals are the cause of all their problems; particularly those of a reformed persuasion. These bloggers believe they are called to correct those who take Scripture literally.

They serve satans purposes but as the Scripture says; satan ultimately serves God's purposes; but the vitrol for bible believing evangelicals is pretty strong.