YES, YOU SHOULD BELIEVE IN THE TRINITY!
CHAPTER 1: DEFINING THE TRINITY
WHAT IS THE TRINITY?
The Trinity is the view that the 3 Persons mentioned in the Bible: Father, Son (Jesus) and Holy Spirit are one God, equal in nature and eternal and uncreated in substance. They co-exist, co-create and co-rule this present world and are distinct in their personhoods, yet they share their eternal nature as the one and only True God. Jehovah's Witnesses deny the Trinity doctrine and argue against the Deity of Jesus Christ based on a misconception of what the Trinity Doctrine is and what it stands for. Below we will examine their arguments in-depth as we discuss their 1989 publication, Should You Believe in the Trinity?
“...we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all one: the glory equal, the majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate, and the Holy Ghost uncreate. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three Eternals, but one Eternal. As there are not three Uncreated nor three Incomprehensibles, but one Uncreated and one Incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Ghost almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties, but one Almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God….And in this Trinity none is before or after other; none is greater or less than another; But the whole three Persons are coeternal together, and coequal: so that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshiped. He, therefore, that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity. Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe faithfully the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right faith is, that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man. God of the Substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and Man of the substance of His mother, born in the world; Perfect God and perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood; Who, although He be God and Man, yet He is not two, but one Christ: One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking the manhood into God; One altogether; not by confusion of Substance, but by unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and Man is one Christ; Who suffered for our salvation; descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead….”—The Creed of Athanasius, Written Against the Arians1.
3 DEFINING PRINCIPLES OF THE DOCTINE OF THE TRINITY:
1. THE TRINITY IS NOT MODALISM: THE VIEW THAT THE FATHER, SON, AND THE HOLY SPIRIT ARE ONE PERSON.
“Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance….”
Since Trinitarians do not believe that the Father and the Son are the same person, the Watchtower argument that the Trinity is unreasonable because Jesus wasn’t praying to “a part of himself” has no basis in reality. This Watchtower argument serves to confuse the issue by misstating what Trinitarians believe. Such is also the case with the Society’s frequent statement of “not a part of a Trinity” in reference to the Holy Spirit.2. Trinitarians maintain that while each person of the Trinity is “distinct” in His personhood, each person is undiminished Deity, and thus each is considered individually in His person full God—not 1/3 God. Rather than being divided into three parts, God is revealed as a composite being who is “one,”3. and who refers to Himself in singular terms such as “I” and “Myself.” Walter Martin founder of the Christian Research Institute described the mathematics of the Trinity as not being 1+1+1=3, but rather, 1X1X1=1.4.
2. THE TRINITY IS NOT TRITHEISM: THE VIEW THAT THE FATHER, SON, AND THE HOLY SPIRIT ARE THREE “GODS.”
“So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are
The phrase “persons of the Trinity” is not used to refer to separate existence as individuals—as is the case when one refers to a father, son, and grandson. On the contrary, when speaking of the Trinity, the term “person” is used to designate the relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each has a mind, will, and emotions and each are keenly aware of the others, speak of the others, and honor the others. Hence, it is in this sense that the Triune God is described as being three distinct “persons.”
3. IN THE TRINITY “NONE IS BEFORE OR AFTER OTHER; NONE IS GREATER OR LESS THAN ANOTHER.”
“Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood; Who, although He be God and Man, yet He is not two, but one Christ.…One altogether; not by confusion of Substance, but by unity of Person.”
Prior to the incarnation, Jesus was one in person and one in nature. Although retaining His full Deity as God, at the incarnation, Jesus took on an additional nature—the nature of man—and henceforth became two in nature while yet remaining one in person.5. Even though attributes of His Divine and human natures are attributed to His one person, His natures are not mixed; neither is He half man and half God, but is “one altogether; not by confusion of Substance, but by unity of Person.” In His Divine nature, Jesus is “equal” to the Father, but in His humanity, He is “inferior to the Father” and is therefore in complete subjection to the will of the Father. Operating under the limitations of His humanity, Jesus was able to experience the trials and temptations common to man, live a perfect, sinless life, and offer His life as an atoning sacrifice for sin.6. As the God-man, He offers His free gift of eternal life7. to all who receive Him on the basis of faith alone.8.
The Watchtower Society argues that God cannot be the author of the doctrine of the Trinity because it is confusing and 1 Corinthians 14:33 states that “God is not a God of confusion.” Is this a valid argument? A look at the context of 1 Corinthians 14 reveals that this passage is dealing with unity among the believers in the church at Corinth. The fact that finite human beings cannot fully comprehend the infinite God and may experience confusion when endeavoring to understand Him does not change the fact that “God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.” While many Catholic and even some Protestant Trinitarians admit that the doctrine of the Trinity can be confusing and hard to comprehend, is this a valid reason for rejecting it? The Society’s book Reasoning from the Scriptures states:
How can the finite fully comprehend the infinite? Just as the Watchtower Society admits, there are aspects of God that we cannot fully comprehend. Therefore, one should not reject a quality of God simply on the basis that the concept may be “beyond the grasp of human reason.”
Although the Trinity cannot be totally comprehended by the human mind, it can be apprehended and seen illustrated in the world of nature. Take, for example, an illustration involving three candles. Even after each candle is lit, the flames are separate and distinct. However, when one combines each of the three flames together, they become one flame. Since we know from Scripture that God is spirit (John 4:24), is it inconceivable to fathom the three persons of the Trinity (who are of Divine essence) being united as one composite Being who is Jehovah God? Just as three separate flames can unite into one flame, it is in this way that one can apprehend how each member of the Trinity is separate and distinct—yet one God. The Encyclopedia Americana made the following statement regarding this principle:
Concerning the practical significance of the Trinity, Robert M. Bowman comments:
The doctrine of the Trinity bears even more significance when one recognizes that Jesus claimed that one must go directly to Him in order to obtain the free gift of eternal life.
Since Jehovah is the only true God, He is the only one we should worship. Since prayer is a form of worship, the only way prayer can rightfully be rendered to Christ is if He is indeed Jehovah God.
Endeavoring to appeal to the scholarly community for credibility, the Watchtower Society quotes statements from Catholic, Protestant, and secular authorities throughout their brochure. While they frequently state the title of the books being quoted, one will search this brochure in vain to find the volumes and page numbers from which these quotes are derived. Furthermore, upon examination of the original sources of these quotes, it is evident that the Society has misrepresented these scholars in an attempt to solicit scholarly support for their position. Let’s take a moment and examine some of the Society’s quotes in context. Note that throughout this book, the underlined sections of quoted text highlight the portions of text that the Watchtower Society quoted out of context.
The key words in these quotations are “formulation,” “implicit,” and “explicit.” What these and many other scholars are saying is that while one cannot find a formula for the doctrine of the Trinity explicitly stated in the Bible, the concepts which provide the basis for the doctrine are clearly manifest. Thus, “the triadic mystery is at least implicitly the word of God.”
While it is true that the word “Trinity” is not in the Bible, this does not mean that it is not a Biblical concept. The word “omniscient” is not in the Bible; yet, one would not deny the fact that God is omniscient (all-knowing) simply because the word is not in the Bible. Indeed, the concept of God’s omniscience can be found throughout the Old and New Testaments, and the same can be said about the doctrine of the Trinity.
At this point, the Society continues to misrepresent scholars endeavoring to make it appear that the scholarly community supports their assertion that the doctrine of the Trinity is not found in either the Old or New Testaments. We will now examine these quotes in their proper contexts:
While the New Catholic Encyclopedia claims that “The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is not taught in the OT,” it goes on to state:
Although Fortman states that “the Old Testament…tells us nothing explicitly or by necessary implication of a Triune God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.…There is no evidence that any sacred writer even suspected the existence of a divine paternity and filiation within the Godhead.…Even to see in them suggestions or foreshadowings or ‘veiled signs’ of the trinity of persons, is to go beyond the words and intent of the sacred writers,”9. he qualifies his statements with:
Concerning the New Testament, the Society quoted part of Jesuit Fortman’s statements, but notice the following section which they left out of their quote:
Is it any wonder that in the Watchtower Society’s brochure, they do not list any of the page numbers from which their quotes are derived? As is readily seen, when one examines these quotes in their original context, these scholars are not saying that the Trinity doctrine is foreign to Scripture, but rather, that Scripture provides the “basis” from which the Trinity doctrine is “formulated.” Although the doctrine of the Trinity is not explicitly stated, it is most certainly implied within the pages of Scripture.
1. The Encyclopedia of American Religions: Religious Creeds, First Edition, vol. 1, J. Gordon Melton, Editor (Gale Research Company, 1988), pp. 2-3
** Note that throughout this book, the underlined sections of quoted text highlight the portions of text that the Watchtower Society quoted out of context.
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