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What is the Trinity?

Difficulty (Beginner)

The trinity is the biblical teaching that God exists as one being and three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is a version of monotheism called trinitarianism. To speak of God as a triunity is to speak of God as a unity of three persons. God is the sort of being who has three centers of consciousness which identify as three distinct persons which eternally existed and share all of the same attributes. The three persons that make up the trinity share in the same divine being. In common parlance, the trinity is sometimes described as one “what” and three “who’s.”

It is important to keep in mind that trinitarianism is monotheistic. Christians do not believe in three separate gods but one God who created and sustains all things. To affirm that the members of the trinity are three distinct gods is to commit oneself to polytheism or tritheism, both of which are false and unbiblical views. Christians affirm the oneness of God as well as the plurality of persons within the Godhead. This can be a bit confusing if we do not differentiate between the terms “being” and “person.” Typically, when we think of a human being, we also think of a single person. But there is a difference between the terms that should be kept in mind.

When we speak of the “being” of God we are speaking of “what” God is. When we speak of the “persons” of God we are speaking of “who” God is. Hence, the one God (Being) exists as three (Persons), Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The 3 Persons of the trinity are rightly called persons because each of them has a will, they can speak and communicate, they can love and relate, all of which are attributes of personhood.

Is the Trinity Biblical?

While the word “trinity” is not found in the bible, the doctrine is indeed biblical. It is biblical because the concept is taught in scripture when we take all of what scripture has to say about God. This point is important because those who argue against the trinity while using the bible to do so, often place great emphasis upon verses which speak of the oneness of God while ignoring the portions of scripture which clearly speak of plurality within the one God. So, when false groups argue against the trinity using the bible verses which speak of there being only one God, or emphasize the oneness of God, the trinitarian can say yes and amen to those biblical passages. Because trinitarians affirm the bible, it would be foolish to contest a bible verse which teaches the oneness of God. What trinitarians would be quick to point out however, is that we need to consider all of what scripture teaches with regards to God’s nature.

In demonstrating the biblical nature of the doctrine of the trinity, trinitarians do not simply seek “proof-texts” for their position. There is not one verse to which we appeal to that defines the entirety of the concept of God as a trinity. Rather, a biblical defense of the trinity will include a whole host of verses taken together so as to demonstrate that the concept of the trinity is taught in the bible.

Only One God: (Monotheism)

The monotheistic nature of biblical religion is clear and straight forward in scripture. “I am the Lord, and there is no other; besides me there is no God,” (Isaiah 45:5). The omniscient (all-knowing) God declares that there is none besides him. The bible also says, “Thus says the Lord, the king of Israel and his redeemer, the Lord of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God beside me,” (Isaiah 44:6). Verses clearly establishing the truth of monotheism are easily produced. The bible is monotheistic through and through and no trinitarian would deny this.

Plurality within God

While it is true that the bible teaches that there is but one God, it is also true that there are three persons in the bible that are called God. The Father is called God and there is typically no dispute here. “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:2). The Son is called God in multiple places. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God…and the Word became flesh” (John 1:1, 14). We are also told that “in him the whole fulness of deity dwells bodily…” (Colossians 2:9). In like fashion, the Holy Spirit is called God in Acts 5:3-4, “But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.”

The fact that the bible teaches that there is only one God, yet there are three persons called God, and each person is given attributes of personhood, in no uncertain terms supports and confirms the biblical teaching of the doctrine of the trinity.

Apologetic Significance

The importance of knowing how to define and defend this teaching cannot be overstated. Atheists often appeal to the trinity to demonstrate a logical inconsistency within the Christian conception of God. Cults who affirm the bible distort or flat out reject this doctrine and so a strong and biblically grounded defense is required. A significant portion of apologetic interaction will require the Christian to know and defend various biblically based theological truths, so the believer must be grounded and well versed in the details of their own belief system.

Check out the following link for a further explanation of the Trinity by Dr. James R. White:



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