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Is God a Trinity?
Is God really three Divine Persons who are each God while God is still one? Is God really a Trinity? Sure, Jesus is God (John 1:1-3, 14). But let's examine now the issue of who or what the Holy Spirit is . . . according to the Bible. We’ll find that God is really two Persons at this time.
Let’s warm up by examining the nature of the Holy Spirit first. The Holy Spirit doesn’t have a separate center of consciousness from the Father and the Son, but these two members of the Godhead act through the Holy Spirit and are present through the universe through the Holy Spirit. That’s one reason why at times the Spirit may appear to be a person. Consider this interesting text that effectively equates the Holy Spirit with Jesus (II Cor. 3:17-18): “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. . . . just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” Furthermore, when the Holy Spirit is in a Christian, the Spirit is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27; cf. Romans 8:10). This is how someone could lie to the Holy Spirit, since they were lying to Jesus, who was in the Apostle Peter. (See Acts 5:3-4). The same goes for how the Holy Spirit can be blasphemed. The Holy Spirit is the agency through which God, the Father and the Son, act, much like the human mind acts through its hands and feet. The burden of proof is on the Trinitarians to show that the Son and the Holy Spirit are separate divine persons since various texts can be cited that equate the two.
The personhood of the Holy Spirit isn’t a biblical teaching. For example, many texts refer to the Holy Spirit impersonally. In Acts 10:45 and I Timothy 4:14, the Holy Spirit is a “gift.” The Spirit can be “quenched,” meaning, “put out” (I Thess. 5:19). It can be poured out like water (Acts 2:17, 33). People are baptized in it (Matt. 3:11). People can drink of the Spirit (John 7:37-39). They can partake of it (Hebrews 6:4) and be filled with it (Eph. 5:18; Acts 2:4). It also renews us (Titus 3:5). If it is a person and active, why would it need to be stirred up? (II Timothy 1:6). It also has designations applied to it, such as (in Ephesians 1:13-14, 17) its being “the guarantee of our inheritance,” “the Holy Spirit of promise,” and “the spirit of wisdom and revelation,” which show that it isn’t a person. Unlike the Father and Son, who are represented in forms and shapes like that of men, the Holy Spirit is frequently represented symbolically. The Spirit is compared to breath (John 10:22), oil (Psalm 45:7; cf. Acts 10:38; Matt. 25:1-10), a dove (Matt. 3:16), wind (Acts 2:2), fire (Acts 2:3), and a down payment on eternal life (Ephesians 1:13-14; 2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5). So if the Holy Spirit is a person, why does Scripture so often refer to it impersonally, unlike the case for the Father and the Son?
The various cases in which the Holy Spirit is said to do this or that personal activity are examples of personification. After all, we wouldn’t say that Abel’s blood literally called out from the ground (Genesis 4:10), right? We certainly don’t believe that wisdom literally cries out with an audible voice (Proverbs 1:20-21). The valleys shout for joy and sing in Psalm 65:13. According to Isaiah 14:8, the cedar trees talk and the cypress trees rejoice. In Hababkkuk 2:11, the timbers and stones are said to speak to each other. In Matt. 11:19, wisdom is said to have children. Righteousness speaks in Romans 10:6. Obviously we have figurative language used in these texts. The same principle applies to the cases in which the Holy Spirit is described in a personal manner, including in John 14-16.
The Holy Spirit has no separate consciousness separate from the Father and the Son. Rather, the Holy Spirit is the power or force of God (Luke 1:35; I Cor. 2:4; Acts 1:8; compare Romans 15:13, 19, and Acts 6:5 with verse 8). Paul in Eph. 3:16 desires that Christians “be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.” The Holy Spirit gave spiritual power to Jesus and the disciples (Luke 4:14; Acts 1:8). Power and the Spirit are equated in Acts 10:38: “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power.” Furthermore, rarely is the Holy Spirit referred to in the introductions and conclusions to the letters where the writers mention the Father and the Son. No songs, prayers or exclamations directed to the Spirit in the Bible, unlike the case for the Father and the Son. Furthermore, since the Holy Spirit was the means by which the Virgin Mary was impregnated, “He” would be the “Father” of Jesus instead of the Father, if “He” were a separate divine person (Matt. 1:18, 20; Luke 1:34-35). So then, the Spirit was the agency or power through which the Father sired Jesus as His Son. It isn’t a separate person or being from them.
The Holy Spirit is never described as a personage in any of the heavenly scenes found in the Book of Revelation. The seven spirits shouldn’t be seen as the third member of the Godhead of the Trinity teaching. “The Holy Spirit” is never personified in any of the throne room scenes described in the Book of Revelation, which is one of the best arguments against its being a separate member of the Godhead. Even if someone believes in that teaching, wouldn’t it be peculiar to imagine one member of the Godhead being seven separate “Spirits” (Revelation 4:6), right? That’s a poor way to claim that the Holy Spirit has a presence in heaven as a consciously separate Divine entity from the Father and Son.
In order to show that the seven spirits of Revelation aren’t references to a purported third member of the Godhead, let’s begin by looking at Revelation 4:6 more closely: "Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God." Likewise, consider Rev. 15:1: "Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete." Now, these seven spirits stand before God's throne, according to Rev. 1:4. Also notice how the seven stars are the seven angels in Rev. 1:20: "As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.” In Revelation 3:1, Jesus equates the seven spirits with the seven angels when we compared Rev. 1:20 with this statement: "And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: 'The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. "'I know your works; you have the name of being alive, and you are dead.’” In the next two chapters of Revelation, one angel corresponds with each church Jesus specifically wrote a letter to.
Angels are messengers for God, for the very word translated “angel” means “messenger” in Greek and also Hebrew. The seven spirits shouldn’t be seen as the third member of the Godhead of the Trinity teaching. “The Holy Spirit” is never personified in any of the throne room scenes described in the Book of Revelation, which is one of the best arguments against its being a separate member of the Godhead, unlike the case for the Father and the Son.
The texts describing the Holy Spirit in John 14-16 are commonly cited to prove that it is a “he.” However, Greek is a language that uses nouns with assigned genders, much like Spanish, French, and German. The word translated “Comforter” or “Helper” happens to be masculine. But grammatical agreement between a noun and pronouns doesn’t prove the Holy Spirit is any more a person than a feminine pronoun referring to a “silla” in Spanish proves that a chair is a real woman. In addition, Jesus told the disciples, and they responded back, that figurative language had been used during the conversation between them on the night before His crucifixion (John 16:25, 29). Interestingly enough, the word in Greek translated “Spirit” is a neuter word, which may have contributed to why even the Trinitarian translators of the King James Version used the word “itself” to refer to the Holy Spirit in Romans 8:16, 26.
Interestingly enough, the original Nicene declaration of 325 A.D. merely asserted they believed "in the Holy Spirit," saying nothing about its nature. Only later on that creed was rewritten, and the detailed description of the Holy Spirit’s being a person was added.
Furthermore, the Trinity is wrong because the Bible teaches that
God is a Family composed of the Father and Son at present. God is in the
process of reproducing Himself, since He made mankind after the “God kind” in
Genesis 1:26-27. In
order to interpret this text, it's helpful to read its immediate context and
refer to other texts elsewhere in Genesis and the Bible. Let's look at
its words, including the following two verses (Genesis 1:26-28), which arguably
is the “theme statement” of the Bible:
"Then 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 birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.' So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.'"
But on the other hand, notice that the texts in Genesis never says exactly how many members of the Godhead there are. John 1:1-3 only mentions two members of the Godhead, the Father and the Son. Godhead has only two members at present (John 17:5, 20-24; Hebrews 2:6-11).
We are made in His image, which is ultimately supposed to become a reality in character, if we live righteously as Jesus said so that we would be as the Father is (Matt. 5:48). We are to become just as Jesus is, who is God (Eph. 4:13). Christians are to become as one with Jesus and the Father (John 14:20-24) as Jesus is with the Father (John 10:30-34), which was a divine claim by Jesus. The glory that Jesus had before the world was (John 17:5) is a characteristics that the glorified, resurrected saints will have as well (John 17:22; Romans 8:18; 9:23; Col. 1:27; II Cor. 3:18). For a little while mankind is lower than God (compare Hebrews 2:7 with Psalm 8:5), but Jesus is bringing many sons to glory, which means that they will gain a divine characteristic (Hebrews 2:9-11). For although Christians now bear the image of the earthly man, Adam, they will bear the image of the Lord from heaven, who is God (I Cor. 15:47-49). Clearly “image” doesn’t mean merely a superficial physical resemblance in this context (after all, we’re literal men just as much as Adam was), but the actual substance or essence, especially when the meaning of the Greek is examined (cf. Hebrews 1:3). This teaching isn’t unique to my church, the United Church of God. You may wish to download the booklet "Is God a Trinity?" from ucg.org, which I found helpful in preparing some of this email. Although the Greek Orthodox Church teaches “theosis,” its concept of the deification of man by God to become God doesn’t go far enough.
The reference to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in Matthew 28:19-20 doesn’t prove the doctrine of the Trinity because this text doesn’t say each one is God or (technically) even a person with a separate center of consciousness from the others. Merely mentioning the three together doesn’t prove much, especially when many more texts (such as in the greetings and salutations of the letters) exist that mention just the Father and the Son, such as John 1:1. When Stephen saw Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father (Acts 7:55; cf. Col. 3:1), why didn’t he see the Holy Spirit at the Father’s left hand? In point of fact, although God is one (Deuteronomy 6:4), it’s easy to cite texts that show that the Father and Son are separate Beings, if that word “being” has a normal meaning. For example, if Jesus was begotten by the Father (Hebrews 1:5), yet the Father and Son are one being, how did Jesus beget Himself? In Matt. 22:44, how could Jesus sit at the right hand of the Father if the two are one and the same Being? How did Jesus ascend to the Father (John 20:17) if He and the Father were one Being, and He was already in heaven? How could the Lamb, Jesus, walk up to the Father in heaven, if the two are fully one Being? (See Revelation 5:1-2, 6-7). It’s a mistake to say God is “one Being” in this manner when the text of Scripture, when interpreted in a straightforward manner, show the Father and the Son aren’t a solitary, single Being.
We should avoid thinking anything much is proven by analogies between the physical world and the doctrine of the Trinity. For example, some have reasoned that the three major physical dimensions of height, width, and depth correspond to the three Divine Members of the Trinity. However, this analogy isn’t much good, especially in an era in which quantum mechanics and the theory of relativity rule the world of physics. Long ago Einstein propounded time as a four dimension, and the odd world of quantum mechanics has still more dimensions than that. So this whole analogy between the Trinity and the three main physical dimensions appears to be a nineteenth-century construct devised when Newtonian physics was still the dominant paradigm. It is now scientifically obsolete. That shows the hazards of making such analogies between the spiritual and physical worlds. It pushes natural theology too far into speculative areas. Furthermore, there can't be any correspondence between the members of the Trinity and the three physical dimensions of the universe if God isn’t a Trinity to begin with.
According to the Bible, neither is the Holy Spirit a person nor is God a Trinity. Jesus is indeed God, but the Holy Spirit doesn’t have a separate center of consciousness from the Father and the Son. The Godhead is composed of two Persons at present.
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Why does God Allow Evil? Click here: /Apologeticshtml/Why Does God Allow Evil 0908.htm
May Christians work on Saturdays? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Protestant Rhetoric vs Sabbath Refuted.htm
Should Christians obey the Old Testament law? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Does the New Covenant Abolish the OT Law.htm
Do you have an immortal soul? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Here and Hereafter.htm
Does the ministry have authority? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Is There an Ordained Ministry vs Edwards.html
Is the United States the Beast? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Are We the Beast vs Collins.htm
Should you give 10% of your income to your church? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Does the Argument from Silence Abolish the Old Testament Law of Tithing 0205 Mokarow rebuttal.htm
Is Jesus God? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Is Jesus God.htm
Will there be a third resurrection? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Will There Be a Third Resurrection.htm