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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Why Do You Believe in the Trinity?

FOR centuries millions of people have believed the doctrine of the trinity, which teaches that “in the unity of the Godhead there are Three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, these Three Persons being truly distinct one from another. Thus, in the words of the Athanasian Creed: ‘The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and yet there are not three Gods, but one God.’” (The Catholic Encyclopedia) Do you believe this doctrine? Why?

Many persons think the trinity is a Christian teaching based on God’s Word, the Bible. However, early Roman Catholic writers did not hesitate to admit that the trinity could not be proved by Scripture alone. Cardinal Hosius is quoted as having said: “We believe the doctrine of a triune God, because we have received it by tradition, though not mentioned at all in Scripture.” (Conf. Cathol. Fidei, Chap. XXVI) Other persons are just as frank about declaring the trinity to be of pagan origin. Arthur Weigall, in his book The Paganism in Our Christianity, states: “Jesus Christ never mentioned such a phenomenon, and nowhere in the New Testament does the word ‘Trinity’ appear.” He says the idea of a coequal trinity “was only adopted by the [Roman Catholic] Church three hundred years after the death of our Lord; and the origin of the conception is entirely pagan.”

On page 198 of his book Weigall gives a brief history of the trinity doctrine, saying: “In the Fourth Century B.C. Aristotle wrote: ‘All things are three, and thrice is all: and let us use this number in the worship of the gods; for, as the Pythagoreans say, everything and all things are bound by threes, for the end, the middle, and the beginning have this number in everything, and these compose the number of the Trinity.’ The ancient Egyptians, whose influence on early religious thought was profound, usually arranged their gods or goddesses in trinities: there was the trinity of Osiris, Isis, and Horus, the trinity of Amen, Mut, and Khonsu, the trinity of Khnum, Satis, and Anukis, and so forth. The Hindu trinity of Brahman, Siva, and Vishnu is another of the many and widespread instances of this theological conception. The early Christians, however, did not at first think of applying the idea to their own faith. They paid their devotions to God the Father and to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and they recognized the mysterious and undefined existence of the Holy Spirit; but there was no thought of these three being an actual Trinity, co-equal and united in One, and the Apostles’ Creed, which is the earliest of the formulated articles of Christian faith, does not mention it.” Still there are persons who insist that the doctrine of the trinity is a Christian doctrine based on the Holy Scriptures. Let us briefly examine and see.

First of all, the words “trinity,” “triune,” “God-man,” “first person,” “second person,” “third person,” “three persons,” do not appear anywhere in the inspired text of either Catholic or Protestant Bibles. Nowhere in the Bible do we find terms such as “God the Son,” or “God the Holy Spirit,” but rather we read “the Son of God,” “the spirit of God,” or just “holy spirit.” Nowhere in Scripture is God revealed as three persons, but always as one God. Now if the very words that are necessary to express the doctrine of the trinity do not appear in the Holy Scriptures, how can we suppose the doctrine to be found or taught therein? Impossible.

There are three texts (1 John 5:7, AV; Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14) that speak of the Father, Son and holy spirit in formal connection, but not one of these says anything about a trinity. If the trinity doctrine is the central doctrine of “Christian” religion, why, out of 31,173 verses in the Bible, should there be only three to use Father, Son and holy spirit in formal connection, and one of these, that is, 1 John 5:7 admittedly spurious? John wrote this letter in Greek in the first century, but 1 John 5:7 cannot be found in any Greek manuscript written earlier than the fifteenth century. Concerning the verse, Bishop Lowth says: “I believe there is no one among us, in the least degree conversant with sacred criticism, and having the use of his understanding, who would be willing to contend for the genuineness of the verse 1 John 5:7.” Dr. Adam Clarke, in his Commentary, closes a lengthy dissertation on this verse in these words: “In short, it stands on no authority sufficient to authenticate any part of a revelation professing to have come from God.” Therefore, 1 John 5:7 is rejected by all impartial scholars of God’s Word.

As for Matthew 28:19 and 2 Corinthians 13:14, they say nothing about there being three coequal persons in one God. They do not say that each of these mentioned is a God. They do not say that all three are equal in substance, power and eternity. They do not say all are to be worshiped. Since they do not say these things, then they do not teach the trinity, for all those claims are made concerning the trinity. Peabody, a highly reputable writer, in his Lectures on Christian Doctrine, page 41, says: “I am prepared to state, without fear of contradiction, that the doctrine of the equality of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit cannot be found in any genuine Christian work of the first three centuries, and that there cannot be found, with reference to the Divine nature, in any genuine Christian work of the first two centuries, any statement of doctrine equivalent or approaching to, or consistent with, the modern doctrine of the Trinity.” Why is this so? Because the trinity doctrine is of pagan origin, as historians point out. Early Christians of the first century did not believe in it. They did not worship a triune god. There is absolutely no Scriptural grounds for believing in the trinity. Tradition alone is not reason enough, because Jesus stated that the ‘word of God was made invalid because of tradition.’—Matt. 15:6.

Faithful servants of God believed in God as being one: “Jehovah our God is one Jehovah,” said Moses. (Deut. 6:4) Jesus Christ said the same thing at Mark 12:29. It is serious that we worship the true God Jehovah, because there is no salvation in any other: “Anyone that calls upon the name of Jehovah will be saved,” said Peter. Call upon him, worship Jehovah, take in knowledge of the true God and Jesus Christ, because this means everlasting life.—Acts 2:21; John 17:3.

- Published by the WTB&TS, in 1960


Many religious people say that Jesus is God. Some claim that God is a Trinity. According to this teaching, “the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and yet there are not three Gods but one God.” It is held that the three “are co-eternal and co-equal.” (The Catholic Encyclopedia) Are such views correct? Jehovah God is the Creator. (Revelation 4:11) He is without beginning or end, and he is almighty. (Psalm 90:2) Jesus, on the other hand, had a beginning. (Colossians 1:15, 16) Referring to God as his Father, Jesus said: “The Father is greater than I am.” (John 14:28) Jesus also explained that there were some things neither he nor the angels knew but that were known only by his Father.—Mark 13:32. Moreover, Jesus prayed to his Father: “Let, not my will, but yours take place.” (Luke 22:42) To whom was Jesus praying if not to a superior Personage? Furthermore, it was God who resurrected Jesus from the dead, not Jesus himself. (Acts 2:32) Obviously, the Father and the Son were not equal before Jesus came to the earth or during his earthly life. What about after Jesus’ resurrection to heaven? First Corinthians 11:3 states: “The head of the Christ is God.” In fact, the Son will always be in subjection to God. (1 Corinthians 15:28) The Scriptures therefore show that Jesus is not God Almighty. Instead, he is God’s Son. The so-called third person of the Trinity—the holy spirit—is not a person. Addressing God in prayer, the psalmist said: “If you send forth your spirit, they are created.” (Psalm 104:30) This spirit is not God himself; it is an active force that he sends forth or uses to accomplish whatever he wishes. By means of it, God created the physical heavens, the earth, and all living things. (Genesis 1:2; Psalm 33:6) God used his holy spirit to inspire the men who wrote the Bible. (2 Peter 1:20, 21) The Trinity, then, is not a Scriptural teaching.* “Jehovah our God is one Jehovah,” says the Bible.—Deuteronomy 6:4.

- Published by the WTB&TS, in 2005