Confusion About the Trinity Teaching

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Confusion About the Trinity Teaching

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Many assume that the Holy Spirit, along with God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son, form what is commonly known as the Trinity. This traditional doctrine expresses a belief in one God who exists in three distinct but equal persons.

Did this doctrine originate in the Bible or in the early Church? The New Bible Dictionary answers: “The term 'Trinity' is not itself found in the Bible. It was first used by Tertullian at the close of the 2nd century, but received wide currency and formal elucidation only in the 4th and 5th centuries” (Inter-varsity Press, Downers Grove, Ill., 1996, p. 1209, emphasis added). The word Trinity didn't come into common use until several centuries after the last books of the Bible were completed.

But do people understand what the Trinity means or what it is? Obviously not.

A.W. Tozer, in his book The Knowledge of the Holy, writes that the Trinity is an “incomprehensible mystery” and that attempts to understand it “must remain forever futile.” He even states, “The fact that it [the Trinity] cannot be satisfactorily explained, instead of being against it, is in its favor” (Harper & Row, New York, 1961, pp. 17, 23).

Unger's Bible Dictionary, in its article on the Trinity, concedes that the Trinitarian concept is humanly inexplicable: “It is admitted by all who thoughtfully deal with this subject that the Scripture revelation here leads us into the presence of a deep mystery; and that all human attempts at expression are of necessity imperfect” (Moody Press, Chicago, 1966, p. 1118).

Charles Hodge, a Protestant thinker who trained thousands of ministers in the 1800s, described the Trinity as “mysterious” and “out of analogy with all other objects of human knowledge.” In other words, the doctrine of the Trinity is totally unlike anything else God created or unlike anything else we humans can understand. While promoting belief in the Trinity, Hodge admits that “no such doctrine as that of the Trinity can be adequately proved by any citation of Scriptural passages” ( Systematic Theology , abridged edition, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, 1988, pp. 166, 168).

Why is the concept of the Holy Spirit as a third person of a supposedly triune Godhead so difficult to grasp or explain? Because the Bible does not teach it! One cannot prove something from the Bible that is not biblical. GN