Questions Concerning the Trinity

Introduction:

In 1 John 4:8 we read “God is love.” It is very interesting to learn that many Bible teachers claim that, since God is love, He must be a Trinity. I have even heard it taught from the pulpit that one of the reasons to believe this assumption is because the phrase “God is love” is composed of three words. Although I do not believe this latter reason holds any merit whatsoever and therefore no rebuttal needed, the claim that “in order for God to be love, He must be a Trinity”, does have an attractive reasoning to the point that many call it a “slam dunk argument.” For example, in an article on thegospelcoalition.org, entitled: No Trinity, No Love, dated May 7, 2016, Jared C. Wilson writes:

“Think about it: A solitary god cannot be love. He may learn to love. He may yearn for love. But he cannot in himself be love, since love requires an object. Real love requires relationship. In the doctrine of the Trinity we finally see how love is part of the fabric of creation; it’s essential to the eternal, need-nothing Creator. From eternity past, the Father and the Son and the Spirit have been in community, in relationship. They have loved each other. That loving relationship is bound up in the very nature of God himself. If God were not a Trinity but merely a solitary divinity, he could neither be love nor be God.”

However, keep in mind that in 1 John 4:8, it does not say “God is loving” (even though He is). John is not discussing God’s behavior here, but instead His nature. God’s nature is love, and since His nature is love, His behavior is loving. God’s nature of being love is not dependent on His behavior, but His behavior is most definitively dependent upon His nature.

The Greek word John uses for "love" here is agape. This love is an other-centered love, which finds value in others at the cost of oneself. Most Christians when they say or think of God they think Trinity – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit— a unity of three co-eternal (the same age), co-equal (self-existent) persons. If it is true that “love requires an object” and that the Trinity has eternally “loved each other”, then doesn’t that describe self-love since all three make up the one God? If God needs an object equal to Himself for His full powers of love to be expressed, then this type of love is seeking value and fulfilling a need. These are not descriptions of agape but another form of love— eros.

Another idea common among mainstream Christianity is, since all three members of the Trinity are co-equal and co-eternal, then the Sonship of Christ is to be understood as metaphorical or figurative. For example, referring to Psalm 2:7, where God says to Jesus, “You are My Son, today I have begotten You”, Baptist pastor John MacArthur explains:

“It is reasonable to conclude that the begetting spoken of there is also something that pertains to eternity rather than a point in time. The temporal language should therefore be understood as figurative, not literal” (John MacAthur, gracetoyou.org, Reexamining the Eternal Sonship of Christ)

Echoing this thought, Adventist teacher, Eric Livingston says:

“The name ‘Son of God’ is a metaphor, a figure of speech.” (Eric Livingston, ericlivingston.com, The ‘Son of God’: Literal or Metaphor?)

The conclusion is that the three members of the Trinity decided amongst themselves who would play the role of the Father, the role of the Son, and the role of the Holy Spirit. One commentator explains it like this:

"I believe the three Gods cast lots to see which role each God would take on. As distinct, separate, coeternal deities, any one of the three Gods could perfectly fill any of the three roles. Assuming lots were cast, they chose one God to serve as ‘Ruler of the Universe’ [1 Timothy 6:15] who would sit on the throne and be called ‘Holy Father’ … Another God was chosen to serve as the Holy Spirit ... Finally, the remaining God was appointed to serve as ‘Creator and Speaker of the House.’ Today, we call this God, ‘Jesus' ... At the end of the meeting, the three Gods were satisfied with their agreements, plans, limitations, and roles. A new organization was established called The Godhead or Trinity.” (Larry W. Wilson, Untold Story of Jesus – Three Roles of the Godhead Decided, Ch. 3)

The above comment is very confusing. Is the Trinity one God or "three Gods"? And the statement that, after these "three Gods" agreed to their roles, "A new organization was established called The Godhead or Trinity" suggests that the Trinity did not exists prior to this agreement. Would this not go against the traditional understanding of the Trinity doctrine? And finally, Mr. Wilson also suggests that the word "Godhead" means "Trinity" which it does not.  

Speaking of the Father and Son, Gordon Jenson, writes:

“In order to eradicate sin and rebellion from the universe and to restore harmony and peace, one of the divine Beings accepted, and entered into, the role of the Father, another the role of the Son.” (Gordon Jenson, Adventist Review, October 31, 1996, p.12. Week of Prayer readings, article Jesus the Heavenly Intercessor)

So, to these teachers it is all role-playing because if it were literal, then God would be a literal Father and Jesus would be a literal Son, therefore Jesus would not be divine, but a created being. However, it is actually the literal Sonship of Christ which makes Him divine.

In his gospel account, John writes: “For as the Father hath life in Himself; so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself” (John 5:26). Since God gave His Son to have life in Himself, then is this not an expression of agape? God the Father invests value in His Son and makes Him equal. Is this not what 1 John 4:8 indicates? It is precisely in giving/investing everything to His Son that God shows He is agape. Since Jesus was given everything by His Father, when we behold the Son of God, we are beholding One who has had everything invested in Him. We no longer behold a picture of one who finds acceptance by being equal, but rather, we behold One that was made equal. That is other-centered love, not the eros love that needs a being equal with it to actually love. 

But do not misinterpret the word “made” here to mean “created.” The book of Hebrews teaches that Jesus inherited all that the Father has and is fully divine through that inheritance: “He [Jesus] hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name” than any of the created angels (Hebrews 1:4). Scripture does not say that Jesus is God’s “only” Son, it says He is the “only begotten” Son. Scripture describes many “sons of God” such as the angels (Job 38:6-7); Adam (Luke 3:38), and of course all believers (Romans 8:4).

Jesus however is not a Son by creation, as were the angels and humanity, but He is a Son begotten in the express image of the Father’s person (Hebrews 1:3), who “came forth and proceeded from God” (John 8:42) “in the days of eternity” (Micah 5:2). The Greek word translated “from” in John 8:42 is the word ἐκ (ek), which literally means, “from out, out from among, from, suggesting from the interior outwards.” Jesus literally came out from within the Father (God).

In Genesis chapter 1, we learn that everything begets “after their kind.” Thus Christ is God (divine) because He was begotten and came forth out of God. Again, He is not a created being (i.e., a different species than God, like angels and humanity), but is a Son begotten (i.e., of the same species— divine). God built this law into creation when He said to His Son: “Let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness” (Genesis 1:26). Just as Jesus is of the same kind as God, we are all human, of the same kind, because we were begotten and came out of humans. It is the perfect divine pattern of life, thus Adam said this concerning Eve: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man” (Genesis 2:23). 

In the inheritance given to Christ we are able to hear the loving words of a real Father who spoke to His real Son: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased [or, ‘in whom I delight’]” (Matthew 3:17). The words “Father and Son” only find meaning through inheritance which agape allows.

In conclusion, let’s read this verse, also from John:

“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not.” (1 John 3:1)

Here again, the word for love is agape. Just as agape was bestowed upon His only begotten divine Son Jesus, this agape has been “bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons [or, children] of God.” As He prayed to His Father the night before His death, Jesus desired “that the world may know that You [Father] have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me” (John 17:23). Here Jesus assures us that God loves us as much as He loves Him. And, after His resurrection, Jesus comforts us saying, "I am ascending to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God" (John 20:17). Isn’t it a joy to know that the relationship between God and His only begotten Son is not metaphorical? 

Note: In this section, we will examine all of the Bible’s “evidence” that is often used to prove that God is a trinity. We will not examine verses trinitarians use to establish that Jesus is God since we agree (see above). We will however examine verses that are used in an attempt to prove that Jesus is “the Most High God” or “the only true God.” He certainly could not be the Most High God while His Father is “The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory” (Ephesians 1:17). With this in mind, let us read the supposed “proof texts” for the trinity.

TitleAuthor▼ PostedHits
(Genesis 1:1, 26) Doesn’t the First Chapter of Genesis Use a Plural Hebrew Word (Elohim) and Use Plural Pronouns (“Us”; “Our”) to Describe God, Thus Showing God is a Trinity?Lynnford BeachyJul 01, 20211005
(Genesis 1:2) Doesn’t the Bible Say “The Spirit” was Present At the Time of Creation, Showing That There Were Three Individuals Involved in Creation?Lynnford BeachyJun 30, 2021971
(Genesis 18:1-3) Doesn’t the Three Men Who Appeared to Abraham Prove the Trinity?Lynnford BeachyJun 29, 20211654
(Deuteronomy 6:4) Doesn’t Scripture Use the Hebrew Word Echad to Refer to God as a Compound Unity?Lynnford BeachyJun 28, 20213675
(Isaiah 6:3) Doesn’t Isaiah Hear the Angels Praise Each of the Three Persons of the Trinity by Saying, “Holy, Holy, Holy”?Lynnford BeachyJun 27, 2021636
(Isaiah 9:6) Isn’t the Son of God also Referred to as “the Everlasting Father”?Lynnford BeachyJun 26, 2021555
(Isaiah 48:16) Don’t We See the Trinity in Isaiah 48:16?Lynnford BeachyJun 25, 2021825
(Micah 5:2) Doesn’t Micah Speak of Jesus as Having No Beginning?Lynnford BeachyJun 24, 2021635
(Matthew 1:23) Does the Word Emanuel Mean God is a Trinity?Lynnford BeachyJun 23, 2021599
(Matthew 3:16, 17) Don’t the Events that Surrounded Jesus’ Baptism Prove God is a Trinity?Lynnford BeachyJun 22, 2021610
(Matthew 12:31, 32) Didn’t Jesus Teach That the Holy Spirit is a Separate Being than He and His Father?Lynnford BeachyJun 21, 2021499
(Matthew 28:18-20) Didn’t Jesus Teach of a Trinity When He Spoke of Baptism?Lynnford BeachyJun 20, 2021487
(John 1:1-3, 14) Doesn’t the Fact that John Calls Jesus God Prove the Trinity?Lynnford BeachyJun 19, 2021667
(John 5:17, 18) Didn’t Jesus Claim He Was Equal to the Supreme God?Lynnford BeachyJun 18, 2021563
(John 8:58) Didn’t Jesus Claim to Be the Most High God By Using the Term “I AM”?Lynnford BeachyJun 17, 2021539
(John 10:17, 18) Doesn’t the Fact that Jesus Claimed He Could Raise Himself From the Dead Prove that He is the Almighty God?Lynnford BeachyJun 16, 2021546
(John 10:30) What Did Jesus Mean When He Said He and His Father “Are One”?Lynnford BeachyJun 15, 2021563
(John 14:9) Didn’t Jesus Claim to be the Father?Lynnford BeachyJun 14, 2021561
(John 14:15, 16) Didn’t Jesus Teach That the Holy Spirit is Another Being Separate from He and His Father?Lynnford BeachyJun 13, 2021574
(John 16:13-15) Doesn’t Jesus Speak of the Holy Spirit as Separate Person Who Can “Hear” and Speak”?Lynnford BeachyJun 12, 2021597
(Acts 5:3, 4) Didn’t Peter Speak of the Holy Spirit As a Third Separate Person Who Can Be Lied To?Lynnford BeachyJun 11, 2021553
(Acts 13:2) Didn’t a Separate Being From the Father and Son Speak to the Members of the Church?Lynnford BeachyJun 10, 2021467
(Romans 9:5) Doesn’t Paul Say Christ is the Most High Who is Over All?Lynnford BeachyJun 09, 2021532
(2 Corinthians 13:14) Doesn’t the “Apostle Benediction” Teach Us of the Trinity?Lynnford BeachyJun 08, 2021667
(Ephesians 4:30) Doesn’t the Fact That the Holy Spirit Can Be “grieved” Prove that it is a Separate person?Lynnford BeachyJun 07, 2021476
(Philippians 2:6) Isn’t Christ Absolutely Equal in Authority With God?Lynnford BeachyJun 06, 2021478
(Colossians 2:9) Isn’t Jesus the Most High God, Equal to His Father?Lynnford BeachyJun 05, 2021544
(Hebrews 7:1-3) Doesn’t the Author of Hebrews Suggest That Jesus Had No Beginning of Days?Lynnford BeachyJun 04, 2021482
(1 John 5:7) Doesn’t John Teach That God is a Trinity?Lynnford BeachyJun 03, 2021653
(1 John 5:20) Doesn’t John Call Jesus “the True God”?Lynnford BeachyJun 02, 2021513
(Revelation 1:4, 5) Didn’t the Prophet John See the Trinity in Heaven While in Vision?Lynnford BeachyJun 01, 2021625
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