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William

The Trinity: Is It Possible That God Be Both One and Three?

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by Douglas K. Blount

 

Like Jews and Muslims, Christians are monotheists. In other words, they believe in the existence of precisely one God. Unlike other monotheists, however Christians also believe that, while there exists just one God. He is three persons-- Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The belief that the one and only God exists eternally as three persons is known as the doctrine of the Trinity. And this doctrine plays an important role in Christian faith. In fact, the doctrine of the incarnation-- which says that Jesus as God became a man and that He is thus both fully divine and fully human-- assumes it. This latter doctrine lies at the heart of Christian faith.

 

On its face, however, the doctrine of the Trinity might look like a contradiction. It might seem impossible that God be both one and three. Indeed, the apparent absurdity of this doctrine has led to at least two major errors, each of which elevates one of the doctrine’s claims at the other’s expense. On one hand, some stress the oneness of God at the expense of His threeness, claiming there is only one divine person. Those who describe God in this way usually say that the one divine person appears in different guises or masks, sometimes as Father, other times as Son, and still other times as Spirit. Since this view says the one divine person changes His mode of appearance, it is called modalism. On the other hand, some stress God’s threeness at the expense of His oneness, claiming each of the three divine persons is a distinct god. This view, which says that there are three gods, is called tritheism.

 

But modalism and tritheism are at odds with the Bible, which presents God as both one and three. There is just one God (Dt 6:4), yet this God is three persons-- Father, Son, and Spirit (Mt 3:16; Mk 1:9-11; Lk 3:21-22). No doubt it is difficult (or perhaps even impossible) for us to understand how God is both one and three. But something’s being difficult (or even impossible) for humans to understand doesn’t make it a contradiction.

 

A contradiction involves saying that something is both true and false at the same time and in the same way. So, for instance, one who says both that Napoleon lost the Battle of Waterloo and that Napoleon did not lost the Battle of Waterloo contradicts himself. It is logically impossible for Napoleon to have both lost that battle and not to have lost it. His claim is contradictory.

 

Now if Christians said both that (1a) there exists precisely one God, and that (1b) it is not the case that there exists precisely one God, they would contradict themselves. So also if they said both that (2a) there are three divine persons, and that (2b) it is not the case that there are divine persons, they also would contradict themselves. But Christians do not affirm both 1a and 1b. Neither do they affirm both 2a and 2b. Rather, they affirm 1a and 2a entails 1b.

 

To put the point differently, when Christians say that God is both one and three, they do not say that He is one in the same way in which He is three. So, for instance, they do not say both that (1a) there exists precisely one God, and that (1c) there exist three gods. Nor do they say both that (2a) there exist three divine persons, and that (2c) there exists only one divine person.

 

Since 1c entails 1b, affirming both it and 1a would be contradictory. And since 2c entails 2b, affirming both it and 2a also would be contradictory. But, as a matter of fact, Christians deny both 1c and 2c. In affirming 1a and 2a, then, Christians affirm that in one way God is one and in another way He is three. And in so doing they do not contradict themselves.

 

So, then, those who think the doctrine of the Trinity is contradictory misunderstand either the nature of a contradiction or the doctrine itself. Perhaps they confuse contradiction with mere paradox, taking our inability to understand how the doctrine is true to entail that it is false. But our inability to understand how God is both one and three tells us far more about ourselves than it does about God. The Bible presents God as both one and three; that suffices for us to know that He is so, regardless of whether we understand the how of it.

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What I am about to say, I have scriptural proof for. Sorry if I burst bubbles but just as the first Adam was created so was the second Adam (Jesus). John 1:1 Read it for your self. If there are any questions which I’m sure there will be I’ll do my best to answer them.

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What I am about to say, I have scriptural proof for. Sorry if I burst bubbles but just as the first Adam was created so was the second Adam (Jesus). John 1:1 Read it for your self. If there are any questions which I’m sure there will be I’ll do my best to answer them.
Okay I will read it.

 

Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος.

 

Nothing there about Jesus being created in that verse.

 

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Okay I will read it.

 

Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος.

 

Nothing there about Jesus being created in that verse.

 

And exactly what did you read?

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To_the_point,

 

I think you just stepped in it. Are you Trinitarian? A simple yes or no will be most appropriate and TO THE POINT.

 

God bless,

William

 

No, I am not. I believe in only one God and the Lord Jesus is his son.

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And exactly what did you read?
Since the text of John 1:1 says nothing about Jesus being created, it is incumbent upon you to make your case on the matter from John 1:1 if you can. Therefore I am not going to play twentys question with you. Make your case!

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Put this with John 1:1. Revelation 3:14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God. Now there is two witnesses to prove what I am saying.

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To_the_point,

 

Do you even know what a Trinitarian is? Do you realize that the biblical doctrine of the Trinity is essential to Christianity? Did you bother reading the article before posting, or are you simply reading titles and responding to them?

 

God is One in essence, three in Persons. Do you agree?

 

If not, are you a Oneness Pentecostal?

 

God bless,

William

 

Yes, I do a trinitarian is one who believes in three persons in the godhead but God nor the Holy Ghost are persons.

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Since the text of John 1:1 says nothing about Jesus being created, it is incumbent upon you to make your case on the matter from John 1:1 if you can. Therefore I am not going to play twentys question with you. Make your case!

 

What about Revelation 3:14?

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What about Revelation 3:14?
What about it? Notice how you first pointed to John 1:1 but could not defend your view using that verse nor did you even try. Now you have jumped to Rev. 3:14. The Word\Christ is "the beginning of God's creation" but that does not mean he was created. No verb meaning "created" is used. It means he is the ruler of God’s creation because he is the creator. He started creation. He is the originator of creation. The N.T. goes out of its way to show that Christ created the universe. That is, at least in part, the purpose of John's prologue. That is what the Greek word ἀρχὴ means in this context. The same word can have different connotations depending on context and syntax. In John 1:1 the word is used in a temporal sense referring to the beginning of the universe but in Rev 3:14 the same word is not being used in a temporal sense but point to supremacy which is in keeping with the other titles used in the same verse. That is just like the title "firstborn" which no doubt you would bring up next. While the term can refer to birth order it is also used as a term for preeminence, supremacy, rank. Edited by Origen
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Another take on what the "beginning of the creation of God" means in reference to the Lord Jesus (the underlined below is mine):

 

Revelation 1:5

and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood. (NASB)

 

Revelation 3:14

And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God. (KJV)

 

Notice that title "faithful witness" is used to describe Christ in Revelation 1:5 where it speaks of Him being "the firstborn of the dead." Thus, He is the beginning of the "new creation" of God in that He was the first to receive a supernatural physical body (cf. Acts 26:23; 1 Corinthians 15:20, 44).

1. G.K. Beale: Despite what most commentators think, the titles in 3:14 do not link Jesus to the original creation, but are an interpretation of Jesus' resurrection drawn from 1:5. His resurrection is viewed as the beginning of the new creation, which is parallel with Col. 1:15b, 18b; cf. "first-born of all creation" (πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως) in Col. 1:15b, which may refer to the original creation in Genesis, and "the beginning, the firstborn from the dead" in v 18b (ἀρχή πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν). The latter phrase refers to the resurrection as a new cosmic beginning (as evident from the link not only with Col. 1:15-17 but also with 1:19-20, 23). This is parallel with 2 Cor. 5:15, 17, where Paul understands Jesus' resurrection as bringing about a "new creation" (cf. the linking ὥστε ["so that"]; so also Eph. 1:20-23; 2:5-6, 10).

The conclusion that the title "beginning of the creation of God" in 3:14 is an interpretive development of "firstborn of the dead" from 1:5 is confirmed by the observation that ἀρχή ("beginning") and πρωτότοκος ("firstborn") are generally related in meaning and especially are used together almost synonymously in Col. 1:18b (ἀρχή πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν) of Christ's sovereign position in the new age, as a result of the resurrection. In addition, the titles of Christ in Rev. 22:13 use ἀρχή ("beginning") synonymously with πρῶτος ("first"). It is not inconceivable that ὁ ἀρχή ("the beginning") could be an interpretive development not only of ὁ πρωτότοκος ("the firstborn") in 1:5 but also of the immediately following phrase ὁ ἄρχων ("the ruler"). If so, it might be an interpretive pun: Hebrew resit ("beginning") and ros in the LXX (about 75 and 90 times respectively).

That is, Christ as "firstborn from the dead and ruler of the kings of the earth" in 1:5 is interpreted in 3:14 as designating Christ as the sovereign inaugurator of the new creation. Consequently, the title "beginning of the creation of God" refers not to Jesus' sovereignty over the original creation but to his resurrection as demonstrating that he is the inauguration of and sovereign over the new creation (The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, page 298).

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