have had many discussions and debates with anti-Trinitarians, both in person
and over the internet. All of their
arguments stem from a hatred of Christianity, but they are easily refuted. These are the most common arguments against
the Trinity put forth by the apologists from various pseudo-Christian groups
such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, United Pentecostal Churches, and the
apologists from Islam.
The word “Trinity” is not found in the Bible.
Response: That is true. The word
“Trinity” is simply meant to be a summary word that encapsulates the whole of
what the Bible teaches about God’s Being and the person’s comprising that
Being. The objection can be turned back
upon the objector as well. For
instance, the United Pentecostal Churches will teach that the Father, Son and
Holy Spirit are all manifestations of one God, or perhaps modes;
but the words manifestation and mode is never used in the Bible
in reference to God. The issue is not
that the word “Trinity” is found in the Bible, but that the word defines
clearly what the Bible teaches.
The doctrine of the Trinity comes from pagan origins.
Response: There are two important
things to note. First, paganism teaches
a plurality of gods, not one God as the Christians do, thus the objection is
false from the start. Secondly, those
individuals who make this objection are either ignorant of the history
surrounding the theological and Christological controversies that occupied the
Church in the first four centuries, or they have been intentionally taught
error by their non-trinitarian group that revises the truth of Church
Some facts about the Trinity from Church History –
- As early as the first
century, just 50 years after the apostolic church, Christian men like Clement
of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp, and Melito
of Sardis, were discussing the foundational elements of the
Trinity in their writings. Each of
them recognized One, eternal Being who was God, and three distinct persons
who were each co-eternal and co-divine.
- Three notable false
teachers, Noetus (ca. 190), Praxeas (ca. 200),
and Sabellius (ca. 263) all taught heresy concerning the
nature of the Godhead. They would
either deny the distinction between the three persons, or reject the
co-eternality of the three persons.
Heretics are marked by causing schisms in a Church because they
depart from the truth. If the
foundational doctrines of the Trinity were unbiblical and not taught by
early Christians, then these men were not heretics, because they had no
foundational truth from which to depart.
In fact, what is interesting to note throughout Church history, is
that God has used heretics and their heresies to stir up the Christian
Church to affirm once and for all, biblical doctrine.
- Orthodox Christians
wrote against such heretics and defended biblical truth. The Church father Tertullian
wrote against Praxeas and was the first to use the word
“Trinity” to describe the person’s of the Godhead. Justin Martyr and Hippolytus
also wrote against heretics who denied the Trinity. The defense against heretics by men
such as these shows that the early Christians had a biblical understanding
of the one, true God and the person’s of the Godhead.
- In the centuries that followed, the
doctrines of the Trinity that the early Christians always affirmed were
articulated in various important creeds that defined the orthodox
teachings of the Christian Church concerning the Trinity.
The Doctrine of the Trinity is not explicitly taught in scripture.
Response: This is an argument that is put forth from a position of
ignorance of the Bible. Usually, the
false teachers who make this claim have a superficial understanding of the scriptures
and the Christian faith. They only know
that passages their anti-trinitarian group teach them, and even then, those
passages are taken out of context and misapplied. As we have seen, the Bible does lay down the foundational
doctrines that form the teaching of the Trinity. Christianity did not invent the Trinity and then make the Bible
teach it. The Trinity is affirmed by
the proper application of biblical hermeneutics and exegesis.
handful of OT passages affirming a tri-personal God.
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our
likeness….” “So God created man in His image; in the image of God He created
the plural pronouns that are used to describe God. Moreover, it is important to realize the verb make is
plural in the original Hebrew. How are
we to explain these two verses?
respond in 2 ways:
- This is God and angels
creating. However, it needs to be pointed out
that angels are never described in scripture as being able to create like
God. They are understood as being
created by God, just as man is a created by God. Furthermore, the words image and likeness are
both singular, meaning that man is not created in the image and likeness
of both angels and God. Man is
only created in the image and likeness of God.
- This is an instance of
the plural of majesty. God is believed to be
speaking as a monarch over all the He has already created. The problem with this argument is that
only modern era monarchs spoke in such a manner, and even then, very few
of them used such an expression.
There is no biblical instance where a king or ruler spoke for the
people in a plural fashion.
The only conclusion is that God is speaking with plural
pronouns, because he is a tri-personal God comprising the Father, Son and Holy
Spirit. This plural use by God is also
found in Genesis 3:22, Genesis 11:7-9, and Isaiah 6:8.
YHWH rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from YHWH out of the
verse makes a distinction between two separate YHWHs: One on earth calling down fire and brimstone, the other in heaven
sending forth the fire and brimstone.
The only conclusion that can be drawn is what the council of Sirmium
declared: “God the Son brought down the brimstone from God the Father.”
6:4, The Shema Hear O Israel, The Lord our God is one Lord.
is an all too familiar verse for Jews and Christians alike, and yet it
establishes that God is one, tri-personal being. The important word in the verse is one. In Hebrew, there are two main words used for
– meaning absoluteness, or only one as in “absolute singularity.”
– oneness in the sense of unity. Echad is used in Genesis 2:4 to describe how
the man and woman will be one (echad) flesh.
Two individuals becoming one.
Second Chronicles 30:12 speaks of God giving the people one (echad)
heart. Several people with one, unified
is the word echad that is used in Deut. 6:4.
God is described as one Lord in the sense that He is one, unified
Lord. In other words, God is one being,
composed of three distinct, yet unified persons.
The Angel of the LORD passages
throughout the Old Testament, the mysterious Angel of the LORD (mal’ ak YHWH)
figure appears. This Angel of the LORD
is different from a regular angel, because he lays claim to divine attributes
16 – the Angel of the LORD found
Hagar who had been cast out by Sarai.
After promising to bless Hagar’s descendents, Hagar addresses this Angel
as the LORD (YHWH, God’s personal name) who spoke to her. (Gen.
21 – God
commands Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac to Him. Before Abraham could do so, the Angel of the LORD called to
Abraham out of heaven and said, Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do
anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld
your son, your only son, from Me. (Gen. 22:12) The Angel of the LORD
identifies Himself as the God of Abraham.
3:2-6 – The
Angel of the LORD appears to Moses in a burning bush and identifies Himself as
the God of your father – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac,
and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his
face, for he was afraid to look upon God.
are just three passages identifying the Angel of the LORD with the God of the
Bible. There are many more that could
be considered. It is clear from the
host of passages that describe this Angel that He is a divine person,
and what is more, God at times differentiates Himself from Him, while at the
same time, the Angel maintains His divinity.
The only biblical understanding of this figure is to conclude that He is
a pre-incarnate appearing of Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity;
what is called a Christophany.
Many passages in the NT teach that Jesus is lesser than God, or that God
created him. For example,
John 14:28 – “I am going to the
Father, for my Father is greater than I.”
Colossians 1:15 – “He is the image of
the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.”
Response: Three problems riddle this objection:
- First, the objection
does not take into consideration the context where such verses are
found. It also does not utilize
the principles of proper exegesis and hermeneutics to understand these
kinds of verses, nor consider the whole of what the Bible teaches about
- The objection does not
consider the functionality of the persons of the
Trinity. In other words, the Bible
reveals that each person has a specific role, or function, within the
Trinity. This functionality is
seen in Ephesians 1:4-14 where each member of the Trinity has a role in
the salvation of men. The Father
decrees the eternal purposes and elects men to salvation, the Son redeems
those elect men, and the Spirit sets His seal upon them and sanctifies
them in holiness.
- The objection does not
take into account the role of Christ’s incarnation, and the use of
incarnational language by the biblical writers. When the Son became man, he put on human flesh and limited
the use of his deity to fulfill the will of the Father (John 6:37-44) and
depended upon the Spirit for His ministry. In his incarnation, Jesus would speak of God from the
vantage point of a man.
for further independent study:
Forgotten Trinity: Recovering the Heart of Christian Belief – James R. White
Trinity: Evidence and Issues – Robert Morey
the stout of heart)
Doctrine of God – John Frame
One Like Him – John Feinberg
Divine Messiah – Robert Reymond This book
is primarily a study on the person of Christ, but important in highlighting the
Old and New Testament’s teaching on Christ’s deity and incarnation.