Trouble With the Trinity?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by OldRegular, Jan 26, 2014.

  1. OldRegular

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    In a recent thread on the Trinity a number of people expressed difficulty with different aspects of this Doctrine of God including difficulty with the concept of God as a person.

    It must be admitted that the word Trinity does not appear in Scripture, neither does the Name Triune God or Triune Godhead. The use of the Name Godhead appears only three times according to my count, all by the Apostle Paul.

    That being said I believe that the Doctrine of the Trinity and the Personhood of God are clearly taught in Scripture. In fact, Judeo-Christianity is unique in the belief that a personal relationship can exist between God and man.
     
    #1 OldRegular, Jan 26, 2014
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  2. Archie the Preacher

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    Yes; understand it or not, the Bible clearly speaks of the Triune nature of God as existing.

    "Understanding" it is a bit more difficult. As has been mentioned in other places, 'understanding' is not required for salvation, or even living a Spirit filled life. God fills in the gaps if we surrender and obey.
     
  3. JamesL

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    I'm not sure I recall anyone expressing difficulty with the concept of God as A person. There were two or three (including me) who expressed difficulty with God as Three persons.

    My issue is that "Person" can be understood in several different ways. I even quoted you and someone else attempting to define "Person". Your definition didn't even relate to God, it related to man. And in trying to apply your definition to 3 Persons of God, I was strained almost to the point of a headache. It seemed to describe "personality" rather than Person.


    The other person who tried to define Person was not near as ambiguous as you were, but still was not perfectly clear. He seemed to define Person as a being, thus 3 beings comprising one Godhead. I say "seemed" because it just wasn't 100% clear what he meant.

    I think that would depend on which doctrine you're talking about. There are several different doctrines.

    One difficulty I have is with the "doctrine" that the Godhead is comprised of "3 Coequal Persons" because I see that nowhere in scripture.

    Also the Nicene Creed, from the 4th century, states:
    We believe in one God,
    the Father, the Almighty,
    maker of heaven and earth,
    of all that is, seen and unseen.

    We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
    the only Son of God,
    eternally begotten of the Father,
    God from God, Light from Light,
    true God from true God,
    begotten, not made,
    of one Being with the Father

    We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
    who proceeds from the Father and the Son



    That sounds nothing like three coequal persons.

    The Athanasian Creed, from the 6th century, employs the word "Persons" but does not clarify what Person is supposed to mean.

    As I noted in the other thread, Theophilus of Antioch appears to have been the first to use the word Trinity - God, His Word, His Wisdom.


    I believe in one thread, the biggest issue some had is the notion that everyone must give a nod to this "3 Persons" doctrine without having a clear definition of Person, and also the notion that everyone keeps saying it's clearly taught in scripture, when there isn't one verse that clearly says it.

    Seems that the doctrine was developed and given the nod first, then those who were taught it later accept the doctrine as more supreme than scripture.

    The battle cry of virtually every heretic has been "but scripture says"
    The battle is not won by hurling anathemas at him, the battle is won by providing clear biblical proof that the heretic is incorrect.

    Thus far, I see no evidence that anyone has produced a clear doctrinal teaching of this "3 Persons", and scripture doesn't say it at all. I would think that a matter of such eternal significance would have been clearly defined by the apostles.

    And, most proponents of "3 Persons" make the emphatic claim that revelation to man ended at the close of the canon. Yet, this "3 Persons" appears to be a revelation which came along after the canon closed. Otherwise, someone would have developed it before the canon closed - no?

    Unfortunately, most are content embracing the doctrine - regardless of whether or not scripture clearly says it, and no matter how ambiguous the doctrine is
     
  4. OldRegular

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    You asked for a definition of person. I gave you mine. Sorry it gave you a headache but get ready for another!

    As for God being a person consider:

    The words person or persons are used 110 times in Scripture according to my count. From the use of person one should be able to get an idea of what constitutes a person.

    God is Spirit yet God created man in His own image. Since man is described as person it logically follows that God is person. Furthermore Scripture is replete with the relationship of God with man.

    Scripture tells us that Jesus Christ is the Incarnate God. John 1:1, 2 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. Scripture also tells us: John 10:30 I and my Father are one. I believe you concede that God is a person. It cannot be denied that the Incarnate God, God the Son, then is a person. So here we have two in the Godhead identified as persons.

    Before His death on the Cross Jesus Christ tells His disciples: 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.[/i] Here we are introduced to a third member of the Godhead first mentioned in Genesis 1. If two members of the Godhead are identified as persons is it rational to conclude the the third member is not?

    Now consider where we are introduced to the Godhead as composed of three persons.

    Luke 3:21, 22
    21. Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,
    22. And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.

    Matthew 28:19. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

    2 Corinthians 13:14. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.

    1 Peter 1:2. Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.


    You see it in the Scripture above if you will accept it. In particular consider again the following: John 1:1, 2 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. Scripture also tells us: John 10:30 I and my Father are one. If the Word, God the Son, was God then He must be coequal with God the Father. Furthermore Scripture is clear that the Holy Spirit is coequal with the Father and the Son, but only if you believe it!

    The 1644 London Baptist Confession of Faith (1646 Edition) has the following definition off the Trinity though that Name is not mentioned.

     
  5. preachinjesus

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    I completely agree with most of the OP. As I've found it most folks are immediately suspicious of anyone talking about the Trinity, happy to raise objections to any attempt at formulating a coherent Trinitarian statement, and yet so many have never read anything remotely deep about the Trinity (while feeling entirely justified in critiquing those who have done substantial research.)

    This is especially noticeable in online forums.

    The best recent discussion I've seen has been from Bruce Ware.

    One point here, Judaism doesn't posit a personal God like Christianity. Instead, God, though knowable, remains detached from humanity. Just a point.
     
  6. Jkdbuck76

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    RC Sproul & James White have some good stuff on explaining & defending the Trinity. JamesL, u might look them up online.
     
  7. Archie the Preacher

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    Personal?

    I'll agree most 'modern' Judaism does not look upon God in a personal view, but historically it has.

    Think about the relationship between God and Abram, God and Moses, most of the prophets, King David and King Solomon. They were all rather 'personal' relationships.

    Then again, the people in Moses' time were afraid to hear God directly and that seemed to find a wider audience as time went on.

    The story of Job is also rather full of personal interplay between God and Job. I believe Job pre-dates Abram; but it's still the same sequence and chain of God dealing with humanity.

    It strikes me that Judaism had the potential at least for a personal relationship.
     
  8. preachinjesus

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    The Israel of the Old Testament is different Judaism of the Second Temple and Jesus' era.

    We mustn't confuse Jews with Israelites. :)

    There are aspects to a personal relationship with YHWH in the OT, but this gone by the time of the Second Temple literature which deeply informed the Judaism of Jesus' day and beyond. Particularly here I'm looking at the Qumran documents and Apocryphal literature, where God is pictured as distant and not close.

    There is massive difference between the Israelites and the Jews.
     
  9. OldRegular

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    I guess I was speaking of Judeo-Christianity in the broader context of the Biblical Revelation. Abraham is called "the Friend of God" [James 2:23] and David is spoken of "a man after God's own heart"[Acts 13:22]!

    My understanding of Judaism at the present time is that many if not most are agnostic!
     
  10. OldRegular

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    It seems to me that a Christian must believe in the Divine Nature of Jesus Christ.

    The Doctrine of the Incarnation, as clearly taught by Scripture, is that God the Son laid aside His Glory but not His Deity and took upon Himself the nature of man, both body and soul, but He retained all the characteristics of Deity. In the Incarnation there is only one person, Jesus Christ, but two natures. Jesus Christ was truly God and truly man.

    Now if we can accept the Incarnation I cannot see the difficulty in accepting the Scriptural teaching of the Triune Godhead [or Trinity] in which there are three persons; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, but only one nature, the Divine Nature.
     
  11. convicted1

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    Brother O.R., if I am not mistaken, in either the WCF or LBF, or maybe both, they stated that God was "formless", if I remember correctly. Do you see God having literal arms, legs, eyes, just like us? I ask this w/o any baiting.
     
  12. convicted1

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    1689 BCF:

    CHAPTER 2; OF GOD AND OF THE HOLY TRINITY


    Paragraph 1. The Lord our God is but one only living and true God;1 whose subsistence is in and of Himself,2 infinite in being and perfection; whose essence cannot be comprehended by any but Himself;3 a most pure spirit,4 invisible, without body, parts, or passions, who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto;5 who is immutable,6 immense,7 eternal,8 incomprehensible, almighty,9 every way infinite, most holy,10 most wise, most free, most absolute; working all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will,11 for His own glory;12 most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him,13 and withal most just and terrible in His judgments,14 hating all sin,15 and who will by no means clear the guilty.16
    1 1 Cor. 8:4,6; Deut. 6:4
    2 Jer. 10:10; Isa. 48:12
    3 Exod. 3:14
    4 John 4:24
    5 1 Tim. 1:17; Deut. 4:15,16
    6 Mal. 3:6
    7 1 Kings 8:27; Jer. 23:23
    8 Ps. 90:2
    9 Gen. 17:1
    10 Isa. 6:3
    11 Ps. 115:3; Isa. 46:10
    12 Prov. 16:4; Rom. 11:36
    13 Exod. 34:6,7; Heb. 11:6
    14 Neh. 9:32,33
    15 Ps. 5:5,6
    16 Exod. 34:7; Nahum 1:2,3

    Brother O.R., what would you say about that which I bolded? I am just curious. I have to study this more, but you brought up something very immense, very deep, and very exspanse(sp?). :thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:
     
  13. OldRegular

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    Scripture says God is Spirit. I take that literally and believe the WCF and LBC's of 1644 and 1689 are correct. [The LBC of 1644 is somewhat different from the revision of 1646.] Some of the Word of Faith people want to make God a "big man"! The Mormons believe that God the Father has a body of "flesh and bones". Of course Mormons are polytheistic!

    Your bolded parts above are Correct!
     
    #13 OldRegular, Jan 27, 2014
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  14. sag38

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    Who raised Jesus from the dead?

    God the Father raised Jesus from the dead: Galatians 1:1 “Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead),”
    The Holy Spirit raised Jesus from the dead: Romans 8:11 “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”
    Jesus raised Jesus from the dead: “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again.”
    So, who raised Jesus from the dead? The answer is very simple. It was the Triune God who raised Jesus from the dead. It was God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
     
  15. Yeshua1

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    there are 3 seperates persons in the bible called God, with full attributes of such!

    Father /Son/Holy Spirit

    if there was ONLY one God and one person, there would be NO love known to that God, as HAD to create other objects, like man, to experience love, as Allah in islam is not known as God of love, but judgement!

    Also, if NO trinity, God would have becoem jesus, and God would have really died, but that cannot happen!

    To be cruse, while jesus was God on earth, someone else had to be in heaven minding the store, and sitting on the thrown!

    One Being, eternally co existing within that Nature as 3 seperate person, in perfect unity/agreement, all sharing same essense/nature as God!
     
  16. Yeshua1

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    ONLY God the Son assumed a human form/nature, so he was/is a Man, a God man , but God as to His very nature/essense is eternally Spirit,the ONLY uncreated being, for he ALONE has eternal existence!
     
  17. convicted1

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    :thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbs:
     
  18. Aaron

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    we baptize in the name (not names) of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.
     
  19. Yeshua1

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    Good point!

    Also, do not baptise in name of Jesus only!
     
  20. JamesL

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    I've heard them both attempt it. You might want to have Old Regular debate against James White, though, because they do not agree. OR seems to think that Person=Being, while White emphatically claims that Person and Being are NOT synonymous.

    At least one of them has the wrong trinity, for two people who disagree cannot both be right

    I'm not trying to suggest that I have difficulty with what scripture affirms, only that scripture does not use the same language of the creeds.

    For goodness sake. Somewhere, in someone's explanation, there ought to be at least a couple of verbatim quotes from scripture.

    And if someone's 25 sentence definition cannot contain even one scriptural phrase, then at least be honest enough to clearly define the words you are using.

    Take Old Regular, for example.

    When I take everything together, I have to conclude that he believes God is One Person, while at the same time is Three Persons. How this is different from people, I have no idea.

    But in one sentence, there is one person. Then a few sentences later, there are three persons.

    His "definition" of person used the word "being" in the first sentence.

    So from that, it's pretty safe to say that Old Regular believes that One Being exists as Three Beings.

    And I will tell you, I cannot give the nod to any "trinity" that includes three beings.

    Then we get to Coequal Persons. Is there any scripture which says that? I have found ZERO. Scripture teaches that Jesus is FROM the Father, not coequal. The Holy Spirit is from them BOTH, not coequal.


    I can affirm positively that the Father is God, the Word is God, the Breath of God is God.
    The Word, who was God, was with God, and is God, became flesh as the man Jesus. Being God, He is the only man to have ever lived sinless. After His crucifixion, He was raised - by God, by the Holy Spirit, by Himself.

    The Father, His Word, and His Spirit somehow interact in a personal way , communicating, cooperating, and being ever existent together without beginning or end.

    How the Father, His Word, and His Breath can distinctly display attributes of personality, I cannot answer. Scripture does not answer, so it is best for me to remain humbly silent on the matter. Beyond what scripture affirms, I cannot consent to press God into an imaginary box that is only big enough to fit into a proud ego. I cannot agree that the incomprehensible God might be reduced to a neatly packaged formula

    Three Persons? No. I cannot see any supposed "God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit" in scripture, and I will not affirm it because it reeks of Three Gods. I don't care how many times someone denies the polytheism, it is still there.

    Use some biblical language, and we can talk. Use ambiguous words and phrases that can mean 6 or 8 different things, then fail to define them, and I call foul.
     

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