The Trinity - A Doctrine Overdue for Extinction; Part 1
"Jesus Christ and God - Some Basic Considerations"
According to the doctrine of the Trinity, a belief upheld by almost virtually every major Christian denomination in the world today, the God of the Bible exists in three persons: The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. Each have existed from eternity, and are co-equal, yet these three make up one God. But is this idea really to be found in the pages of the Bible? Was it believed and taught by the writer's of scripture?
In this 3-part look at the Trinity I believe we'll see that this idea is quite far from being the clear indisputable teaching of scripture which its proponents frequently make it out to be. God's Word does tell us the story of His son, who was born, lived and died to redeem mankind from the curse of sin brought on by the first man, Adam. But this son, Jesus Christ was not God himself, but fully 100% man, the perfect agent and representative of God, one who always did his father's will, and could therefore rightfully say "He who hath seen me hath seen the father" (John 14:9).
Here in part 1, I will present what I believe are some of the basic considerations of this issue, specifically regarding Jesus Christ and God. I'll talk about some of the obvious differences between God and His son, and places where scripture is in clear contradiction with the idea that Jesus is the eternal God. Part 2 will address the somewhat controversial "Imperfections" (forgeries or translation errors) in the King James Version (the version I am using throughout, incidentally) which I believe have served to influence generations of people, representing a false foundation for the Trinity in scripture. And part 3 will wrap things up with a look at most of the verses of scripture which I believe people have, over the years, and still today however unintentionally, taken out of context or simply misunderstood in attempt to find support for the Trinity doctrine.
Before I go any further, I feel the need to explain and to emphasize, that I am not trying to take away from Jesus Christ any of the glory and position that God has surely given to him, or belittle in any way what he has done and continues to do for us, His church. Christ made the ultimate sacrifice for all of us, and showed a greater love than any man ever has or could. He gave his life, so that we could have life eternal, and a clean slate with which to stand before God, free of sin. He is my saviour and my friend, and I realize that as I walk and talk with him today he continues to make intercession for me with God, and fight on my behalf in life's struggle.
The reason I am making this effort to set the record straight about this issue, is that I believe the very question of our salvation depends upon Christ having been as human as you or I. Certainly you musn't be afraid of being unsaved for believing that Christ is God, of course (Though many have claimed it necessary to believe he is God!). It's just that anything found to be in conflict with the teaching of salvation is an important issue, and one to be resolved indeed.
Also, while I don't believe prayer to Jesus Christ is wrong, and in fact building an intimate relationship with him is to be heartily encouraged, it is also important to know his role in your life, and not give him alone your time and love, at God's expense. Seeing that the teaching of Jesus as God is so widespread, I like to believe that God is forgiving in this area, and hopefully does not regard it as idolatry when men worship his Son as God. Nonetheless, the final judgment will be His in the end, and the fact remains that the 1'st commandment is still "Thou shalt have no other gods before me."
Have you ever given much thought to what acceptance of the teaching of the Trinity really requires of a person? It asks us to accept some things that to me, seem to test the limits of my human reason and the boundaries of my logic. For example, we all know that Jesus is the son of God. If I'm correct, the Bible tells us this in 68 places. He called God his father, and this was literally correct. God made the world, man and all living things, but Jesus was God's "only begotten son" (John 1:18) because God had fathered Jesus by a divine creative act of insemination in the womb of Mary (Luke 1:30-35). Yet we are asked to accept that Jesus is God, just as his father is God. Well, that either means that Jesus is his own father (Hmmmm), or that God didn't really have a son, but just sent 1/3 of his eternal self to Earth to pretend he was the begotten son of God. In other words, if such is the case, he lied to us.
Let's think about this for a moment. To "beget" something means to "give rise to" it, to "generate" some new thing out of nothing. If God begat Jesus, then God was the source of Jesus' "beginning", who could not have been around until he was "begotten". Also along these same lines, contrary to the statement that Jesus was part of the Trinity as "God the Son" through all eternity, Luke said that the very reason he "shall be (future tense) called the son of God" would be his divine conception and his birth from Mary (Luke 1:35). So if this was to be the reason he would thereafter be called the Son of God, then he was not the Son of God before his birth. We might also consider the implications of the word "birth" in places such as Matthew 1:18. It is the greek word "gennesis", which means "beginning".
O.K. So what else does belief in the Trinity require? Well, as many before me have pointed out, one has to accept that normal mathematics does not apply when trying to count the number of "Gods" in the Godhead. Numerous scriptures emphatically declare that there is only one God:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.
See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no
god with me:
I, even I, am the Lord: and beside me there is
Yet we are told that The Father is God, His son Jesus is God, and still another individual, The Holy Spirit is also God. Sounds like three Gods doesn't it? I remember learning (though it was, admittedly a long time ago) that 1 + 1 + 1 = 3. But it seems that in this case we must accept that 1 + 1 + 1 = 1! In response to this, I once heard someone remark that "the Trinity is not 1 + 1 + 1 = 1, but rather 1 x 1 x 1 = 1". Well, but isn't that just a creative way of dodging the point?
It seems that to me that to believe in the Trinity I must lay aside the fundamental rules of logic to which I have become accustomed. This I am unwilling to do. Would it not seem rather out of character for God to expect his children to do this? Let me be clear here. I'm certainly not saying that nothing spiritual is beyond human understanding. Obviously that would be naive, for "that which is born of the flesh is flesh: and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3:6). But I say, when someone tells you we need to "accept the Trinity (or anything else) on faith", your response should be "accept it FROM WHO on faith?" For unless God has asked us in His Word to believe something, there's no sense wasting mental energy trying to conceive of the inconceivable. And as I believe you'll see, unless words are meaningless in communicating ideas, God has not asked us to believe that he is three.
Let's consider some of the differences the Bible shows us between Jesus Christ and God. Do they really have the same infinite knowledge, as would have to be true if they were both God? Jesus said, regarding the day he would again appear in power and glory:
But of that day, and that hour knoweth no
man, no, not the angels which are in heaven,
neither the Son, but the Father.
Jesus showed that unlike his Father, he did not know specifically when that day of glory would come. Jesus has finite knowledge, in contrast to God's infinite knowledge. In fact, Jesus claimed that the truth he spoke, the doctrine, was not his own:
For I have given unto them the words
which thou [God] gavest me;. . .
Jesus answered unto them, and said, My
doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.
But if Jesus were God, then it would certainly have been "his" doctrine after all, not a doctrine which someone else gave him. It's clear that Jesus did not "originate" the doctrine he taught. It came from someone else, someone that he was not - God.
We know that Jesus always "did his Father's will", even unto his death.
I can of mine own self do nothing:
[NOTE: Does that sound like God talking?]
as I hear, I judge: and my judgement is just;
because I seek not mine own will, but the
will of the Father who hath sent me.
And he went a little farther, and fell on
his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father,
if it be possible [NOTE: Does God need to ask
another for anything?] let this cup pass
from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as
Jesus was obedient unto God. He was a loving servant, in submission to God and always sought to do God's will. But this simple statement of truth requires that Jesus must also have had his own will, which he could have followed if he had so chosen. So how many wills do we see here then? I count two. Two wills requires to distinct individuals. Jesus and God are two individuals with two separate wills and the ability to follow them. If not, then Jesus was just a robot, programmed to obey. And if he was God, then he was doing his OWN will, or pretending to have another will, but doing God's will (another lie?).
Look again at the verse quoted above, Matthew 26:39. There's another interesting thing I want to point out. He was "praying" wasn't he? Trinitarians have claimed that Jesus only prayed to his Father as an example to us. But here he was in private, not in full view, as if to complete some "act", and he was literally begging God to find another way. He had read Pslam 22 and he knew the humiliation and physical torture that lay ahead for him. Would God fear pain? As you read the account you see that he prayed this same prayer three times that night. Luke 22:43,44 adds that he was in such agony over this that an angel came unto him from heaven to strengthen him, and it describes his sweat as "great drops of blood falling down to the ground". Think about this: If he was the almighty God, who was he praying to? Why?
And it came to pass in those days, that he
went out into a mountain to pray, and
continued all night in prayer to God.
Jesus often prayed to his Father - his God. He wasn't talking to himself. He was talking - praying, to your God and mine. Prayer indicates humbleness, inferiority, admission of your need, respect and submission. If one is talking to himself you couldn't call it prayer, unless maybe the person is an egomaniac, or a lunatic.
What about their supposed "equality"? We've seen already that Jesus and God have separate wills and ideas, and that Jesus did not know everything that God knew. But if we stretch, and try to say that when Jesus "prayed" to God maybe he was really just talking to himself, can't we at least claim that Jesus had all the ability and power that God had? Far from it.
Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go
away, and come again unto you. If ye loved
me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go
unto the Father: FOR MY FATHER IS
GREATER THAN I. (Emphasis mine)
My Father, which gave them me, is greater
than all;. . .
I Corinthians 11:3
But I would have you know, that the head
of every man is Christ; and the head of the
woman is the man; and the head of Christ
I Corinthians 15:28
And when all things shall be subdued unto
him, then shall the Son also be subject unto
him that put all things under him, that God
may be all in all.
Jesus is clearly, even by his own words, inferior in ability to God.
Also, God as we know, is "omnipresent". That is, he is present everywhere at once:
Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not
a God afar off?
Can any hide himself in secret places that
I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not
I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord.
But again, Jesus does not share the like quality. Being a man, Jesus could only be in one place at one time:
Then when Mary was come where Jesus
was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet,
saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been
here, my brother had not died.
Here is another distinction between Jesus and the Holy Spirit - To speak against one is forgivable, yet to speak against the other is not:
And whosoever speaketh a word against
the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him:
but whosoever speaketh against the Holy
Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither
in this world, neither in the world to come.
Also, the Bible tells us that God "cannot be tempted" (James 1:13b "...for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man") and yet, Christ is said to have been tempted by the Devil:
And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost
returned from Jordan, and was led by the
Spirit into the wilderness, Being forty
days tempted of the devil.
Yes, it is true that he did not give in to the temptation and sin, but the bible clearly says he was tempted nonetheless. And if Jesus had not truly been tempted, and were able to withstand only because he was really God all along, it would be a false comfort for us who try to relate to him as an example, as we are told we can:
Seeing then that we have a great high
priest, that is passed into the heavens,
Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our
For we have not an high priest which
cannot be touched with the feeling of our
infirmities; but was in all points tempted
like as we are, yet without sin.
Let us therefore come boldly unto the
throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy,
and find grace to help in time of need.
Another difference between God and Christ which could be pointed out, is that during Jesus Christ's earthly ministry, men and women walking around during that time could actually SEE HIM. No one has ever seen God.
No man hath seen God at any time; the
only begotten Son, which is in the bosom
of the father, he hath declared him.
Jesus came to declare, or to "make known" God. He was God's Word in the form of a man (John 1:14). He was God's communication to mankind in the form of someone we could relate to. He always did the will of his Father. That's why God's Word can say that Jesus was the "image of the invisible God" (Collossians 1:15), and the "brightness of his glory, and the express image ['stamp'] of his person" (Hebrews 1:3). Since God is a spirit (John 4:24), and we cannot see, hear, smell, taste or touch spirit, we humans have a rather tough time trying to relate to who God is and what he is like. But Jesus Christ, a man - now THAT'S something we can relate to.
Jesus Christ did many great miracles during his ministry here on Earth. He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, walked on water, even raised the dead. People have often sighted these as proof-positive that he must have been God. After all, no man could ever do these things, right? But Jesus made a fascinating statement to his disciples one day:
Verily, verily, I say unto you. He that
believeth on me, the works that I do shall
he do also; and greater works than these
shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
Could any man ever do greater works than God? It seems that the works Jesus did were not evidence that he was God, but rather that "God was in him" (2nd Corinthians 5:19) and that God was his Father. According to Christ, even you or I could raise the dead, if we should have enough faith, and if it were God's will.
Speaking of raising the dead, didn't Jesus die and get raised from the dead? Oh sure, that was how our salvation was accomplished, wasn't it? Some have put it like this: "God died for our sins". But wait a minute. If God died, who raised him from the dead?
This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof
we all are witnesses.
God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. If Jesus were God, he could not have really died. And if he didn't really die then you and I are still unsaved and doomed to perish in our sins. But he did really die, and God really did raise him up.
God raised him up and later took him to heaven and gave him a position of "high authority". You might say God rewared him for a job well-done, and "highly exalted him" to a position where he was given a seat at the "right hand of God".
Philippians 2: 8-11
And being found in fashion as a man, he
humbled himself, and became obedient
unto death, even the death of the cross.
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted
him, and given him a name which is above
That at the name of Jesus every knee
should bow, of things in heaven, and things
in earth, and things under the earth;
And that every tongue should confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the
So then after the Lord had spoken unto
them, he was recieved up into heaven, and
sat on the right hand of God.
But he, being full of the Holy Ghost,
looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw
the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the
right hand of God.
Who does the Bible say Jesus is standing next to? God of course. Surely it would sound silly to say "God is standing on his own right hand". Wouldn't you agree?
By now you may have noticed that the word "God" is continually applied to the Father in the verses we've been reading, and indeed this is the case throughout all of scripture. In the Bible you'll never see the phrase "God the Son", not even once. (Note: If you're thinking of a few places where you think Jesus is called God, your questions will be answered in parts 2 and 3) But the word "God" is often used of the Father alone, even when Jesus is mentioned in the same verse! The terms "God" and "the Father" are virtually interchangeable, and frequently set in contrast to Jesus, the Son.
I Corinthians 8:6
But to us there is but one God, the Father,
of whom are all things and we in him; and
one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all
things, and we by him.
I Timothy 2:5
For there is one God, and one mediator
between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.
My, my! I ask, could it be any plainer? Here we have it, all in one very clear verse! There is only "ONE God", "AND" in addition to that one God there is "one mediator between God and men", and that's "the MAN" Christ Jesus! Please take note of the fact that it says plainly that Christ is a man. From Numbers 23:19 we know that "God is not a man", and here we see that Jesus is a man. And should anyone say "God just became a man while he was on Earth", let's acknowledge that this verse says Jesus "IS" a man, present tense, and this was written after he had ascended to his seat at God's right hand.
Even Jesus Christ called his Father "God" - in fact "THE ONLY TRUE GOD" no less, and distinguished himself as one separate from that one true God!
And this is life eternal, that they might
know thee the only true God, and Jesus
Christ, whom thou hast sent.
And this was not the only place that Jesus tried to make it clear that he was not God. On at least one occassion he seems to have gotten real emphatic about it. It was apparently very important to him that people understand and make that distinction.
And when he was gone forth into the way,
there came one running, and kneeled to
him, and asked him, Good Master, what
shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?
And Jesus said unto him, Why callest
thou me good? There is none good but one,
that is, God.
If this distinction was important to Jesus Christ, I ask you now, shouldn't it be likewise to you and me?