There are certain immutable facts contained in the Holy Scriptures to which there is no denying. To deny them is more than just the butchering of sound theology, it is self-damnation (Rev 22:19 ). Among these things [the depravity of man, the virgin birth, and the resurrection just to name a few] is the most important doctrine of the Trinity. This doctrine is vital to the Christian faith as its existence helps declare to us both the character and nature of God. Removing or altering the doctrine of the Trinity in any way, completely destroys the continuity of the Scriptures; a continuity I’ll dive further into. I undertake this defense as I have yet to read another work online that addresses the continuity factor directly.
I touch only lightly on the two false extremes of the Trinity doctrine, modalism and tritheism. In short, modalism denies the individuality of the Godhead and says that Father, Son & Holy Spirit are all manifestations of the same person. Here is a link for a more complete look at modalism. The other extreme, tritheism, states that there are 3 separate gods in the same group and thus denies the ‘oneness’ factor. Modern church movements tend to fall into the latter more than the former. You can find a further overview of modalism and tritheism at Contending for the Faith. These extremes are, to a limited degree, understandable as man tries to wrap his finite mind around the full nature of God; an impossible task. However, they destroy Scripture in the process.
The full doctrine of the Trinity is so embedded into the Bible that the only way one can escape it is to resort to arguments about ‘original manuscripts’ and other such nonsense. The only defense anti-trinitarians have is to reinterpret the scriptures by removing those parts that directly teach the doctrine. If you visit ANY anti-trinitarian website, you will find phrases such as “in the original Greek”, “in the original Hebrew”, and “this older manuscript”, etc. The fallacy of such arguments is that ‘There Are No Originals’ and the age of a manuscript does not make it more valid. Let’s also not forget that Jesus was the Word made flesh. There was a death & resurrection of Christ, there was also a death & resurrection of the Word. That resurrection is as perfect as Christ. I’ll spend no time validating the authority of the KJV (those arguments are hashed out elsewhere on the internet); it is my supporting text and I’ll leave it at that.
Briefly, I’ll tell you how tell you how to weed out the poorly educated anti-trinitarians on the internet. If you ever see the words or phrasing “The word Trinity isn’t even in the bible” then run like the plague. That person has no use of sound logic. No, the word trinity isn’t in the bible. It’s a word we use to describe a doctrinal concept. Doctors, lawyers, politicians, etc.. all use words to describe concepts and theologians do the same. But, if it makes one feel better, we can use the word that is in the bible: Godhead (which DOES refer to Father, Son & Holy Spirit).
When studying the issue, many people rightly take a worthy look at the founding fathers of Judaism and their beliefs on the nature of God. Without surprise, Judaism does not accept the doctrine of the trinity though it should be pointed out that no valid Jewish scholar denies the fact that God refers to himself in the Plural. Jewish scholars continue to debate amongst themselves as to why that plurality exists. The vast majority agree though, when God refers to himself in the plural, he was not referring to the hosts of heaven.
For our first introductions to the Godhead, we need go no further than Genesis chapter one:
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. Gen 1:2
Here in this verse we have the Spirit (capital letter S) upon the waters. The word ‘of’ according to Oxford simply means ‘expressing the relationship between a part and a whole’. The definition (at this point), neither confirms no denies a trinitarian viewpoint. Emphasis should be placed on the capital letter S as I will later show how the entire trinity was involved in the creation process.
Our next view of the Godhead is in Genesis 1:26.
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. Gen 1:26-27
Here we have a plural (our image) which is followed the singular (in his own image). The natural question at this point is, “Who all does the word ‘our’ encompass?” This answer is not definitive in the Old Testament by itself. In fact, the Old Testament by itself probably adds more confusion to the mystery. I’ll address ‘the mystery’ later but I’ll provide an example of why this is the case [using a very well known prophecy].
Generally, anti-trinitarians (or should I call them anti-Godheads) have no problem referring to God as the Father. After all, even Jesus Christ did the same repeatedly. What those poor saps fail to realize is that, in the Old Testament, ONLY ONE TIME is God ever called the Father and, more importantly, it is a prophecy concerning the birth of Jesus Christ!
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
In fact, Christ is called both God and Father in this verse. This is only one of many verses that the opposition attempts to remove and I won’t waste space addressing the poor linguistic hack-jobs they do. God meant what God said.
I’ll reiterate here that most objectors do not get aggravated at the extremes of modalism and tritheism. It is that middle ground of ‘three distinct yet still one’ that they struggle with. That struggle should be there as God calls it a mystery [we're getting to that point].
For those struggling with the concept of the Godhead, let me throw another scriptural log on the fire for you.
But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Mar 13:32
Here in this verse there is no denying the distinct individuality of Jesus as, simply put, Jesus does not know when he is returning to earth! This verse alone puts clear distinction between Father, Son & Holy Spirit. However, contrary to the claims of modalists and tritheists that this supports their position, I find it to be the nail in their coffin.
Returning back to Genesis, let us answer the question of ‘who’ created the heavens and the earth. Was it God the Father? God the Son? God the Holy Spirit, as we saw in verse two? In a manner of speaking, the answer is all three.
Paul’s letter to the Colossians makes it abundantly clear that Jesus Christ created the heavens and the earth:
For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. Col 1:16-17
Jesus Christ created the heavens and the earth and this fact is only reinforced in seeing that other verses also directly names Jesus Christ as God (Heb 1:8, Rev 1:6). This truth is not limited to Colossians, it is also quite plain in the Gospel of John:
All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. John 1:3
Note: For the sake of brevity, I’m not spending time on defining the Holy Spirit as a member of the Godhead; I believe that issue is adequately addressed in other places. Ok, but where does that put the Holy Spirit we noted in Genesis? The Holy Spirit was equally involved in creation as shown by Job:
The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life. Job 33:4
This is doctrinally sound as it is completely in keeping with the fact that it is the Holy Ghost that regenerates us and seals our redemption:
In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Eph 1:13
Destroying that fact destroys that continuity of Scripture. However, that example is only a very mild illustration of the truth. It goes much, much further. Consider the following verses of unity that pertain to marriage:
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. Gen 2:24
What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. 1Co 6:16-17
For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Eph 5:31-32
Those who wish to argue against the accepted doctrine of the Godhead fail miserably at addressing the above verses. Most of the time, they do not bother to address them at all (as they are blind). The entire promise (and mystery) of Christ towards us is embodied in the fact that we will be one with Christ, a unity that is embodied in the Godhead with the individuality intact.
How is a husband and wife one flesh? Even after the honeymoon, it still looks like there’s two of them. Indeed, they are two; and yet, at the same time, they are now ONE FLESH. Yes, but logically, how can that be? I don’t know. It is a mystery and the bible calls it a mystery. None the less, it is one of the greatest promises that the Scriptures offer.
To destroy the Godhead (the doctrine of the trinity), is to destroy the promise of Christ. Were the whole concept something we could wrap our heads around, it would not repeatedly be called a mystery!
And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: Eph 3:9
The doctrine of the trinity is theologically necessary, not only because of its abundant presence in the Scriptures, but also because it lays the solid foundation of our very hope. If God is not distinct in his persons, then we and our wives are not one flesh. If this be the case, what is to be said of our hope of being one with Christ? I’ll leave off with the following verses declaring this hope and mystery:
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. 1 Jn 3:2-3
For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Eph 5:31 -32
Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;