Hard Questions

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My difficulties with the trinity concept

with 35 comments


Dear Don,

I have been thinking on how best to carry this conversation forward. Bill was right about the futility of arguing over the validity and authority of different Scriptures. I accept that we do not regard each other’s scripture’ as wholly authoritative. So we have to find a way to discuss Scriptures and doctrine, whilst taking into account our disagreements.

I always try not to judge the authenticity and reliability of Bible passages on the basis of my own convictions, however, I think it is reasonable to draw on the opinion of learned, non-Muslim, prominent Biblical scholars. So, If I say a passage is probably not authentic, this would not be based on my perspective as a Muslim, but rather, on the judgement of some prominent Biblical scholars.

Let me start by defining some areas where I think there are fundamental differences, and allow each other to explain, robustly, why we think one position is more valid than the other.

The first such point is our knowledge about GOD. Leaving aside arguments about His name, Muslims understand GOD to be The One, Eternal, Living, indivisible Creator of everything. We do not accept the idea of a triune Godhead, whether it being as defined by the Nicaean Creed or your definition of distinct Persons in the Trinity.

The concept of the trinity, is an interpretation, and was developed/articulated -depending on you theological stance- a long time after Christ ministry. One of the problems I am finding with the concept, is that I think it raises so many questions and possibilities, that can not be answed except by applying a certain amount of “guesswork“.

The concept of The Father and The Son, somehow imply a chronological order, for its inconceivable for a father not to have existed Before his a son. If this is the case, then they can not be equal. If, as you say, the Son is subordinate to the Father, than that will will also negate his status as god, for a god is Omnipotent and can not be a subordinate. Frankly, I find the believe in a hierarchy of distinct persons that form a Godhead, closer to the beliefs of polytheists than what we know of the faith of Abraham and the prophets of the Hebrew Bible.

To illustrate my point about the need of “guesswork” to explain the Trinity, I list of some of various understandings of the Trinity. All these thoughts were advocated by learned Christians in the first 7 centuries AD:

from : Synopsis of Ancient Heretics

  • Monarchianism were people who overly stressed the unity of God in opposition to the teaching that the One God had three distinct personalities.
  • Paul of Samosata. He taught Christ was not divine, but a good man, who achieved divinity at his baptism along with saviorhood.
  • Sabellianism came to us from a man named Sabellius. He taught what is called Modal Monarchianism. To him the One God manifested Himself as Father, Son, and Spirit, but were in reality just One God. God assumed various modes but was not really three-in-one
  • Arianism Arius denied the full deity of the preexistent Son of God who became incarnate in Jesus Christ. He held that the Son, while divine and like God (“of like substance”), was created by God as the agent through whom he created the universe
  • Nestorianism A 5th-century Christological heresy, Nestorianism takes its name from Nestorius, bishop of Constantinople (428-31), who argued against the Alexandrian use of the title Theotokos, meaning “God bearer,” or “Mother of God,” for the Virgin Mary. Nestorius believed Mary was the mother of Christ only in his humanity. Nestorius taught that Christ had two natures adivine and human nature. Nestorius was condemned by the Council of Ephesus (431; see EPHESUS, COUNCIL OF), which was convened specifically to settle the dispute.
  • Monothelitism was a 7th-century Byzantine doctrine that accepted the teaching of two natures in JESUS CHRIST, as defined (451) at the Council of CHALCEDON, but declared that he had only one will or mode of activity (energeia). The Monothelitic formula was adopted (624) by Byzantine Emperor HERACLIUS as a compromise that might be acceptable to the Monophysites (see MONOPHYSITISM) of Egypt and Syria
  • Adoptionism, was a theological doctrine propounded in the 8th century by a Spanish bishop, Elipandus of Toledo. Concerned to distinguish between the divine and human natures of Christ, Elipandus held that in his divinity Christ was the son of God by nature

This state of affairs is eloquently described in the Quran, where Allah says in Chapter 19 “Mary”:

[19:34] Such was Jesus, son of Mary: (this is) a statement of the truth concerning which they doubt.
[19:35] It befitteth not (the Majesty of) Allah that He should take unto Himself a son. Glory be to Him! When He decreeth a thing, He saith unto it only: Be! and it is.
[19:36] And lo! Allah is my Lord and your Lord. So serve Him. That is the right path.
[19:37] The sects among them differ: but woe unto the disbelievers from the meeting of an awful Day.

I acknowledge the fact that religious factions exist within Islam and Judaism too, but in both of these religions, there is near unanimity on their understanding of GOD, I do not know of any noticeable Muslim sect that disagreed on their understanding of Unity of God or his attributes. The major differences were between those who understood God’s attributes as literal and those who insisted they are figurative. Other disputes arose between sects who believed The Quran was created by God (Mu’tazilah) and others who insisted it was His Words.

Written by Rasheed Gadir

May 15, 2008 at 9:43 pm

35 Responses

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  1. hi rasheed

    you are right when you say:
    “We do not accept the idea of a triune Godhead.” There are not 3 gods. there is only one god.

    there is a difference between what jesus revealed and what the catholic church said, and the protestants went along with. This is because no one carefully studied what jesus said.

    The Father in heaven is God. he is the only person who is “officially God.”

    Jesus is the son of God, in the sense that he is a spirit son, not a son of a physical union with anyone. He never said he was God, and said the Father was greater than he was.

    if one studies the scriptures, one will see many different kinds of heavenly beings in heaven.

    Jesus pre-existed in heaven as someone above the angels in authority, and the Father shared his divine nature with Him. it was this divine nature that enabled Jesus to do the miraculous works, and live a pure life.

    The Father also has shared his divine nature with the holy spirit, who acts on behalf of the Father.

    Both Jesus and the holy spirit do the will of the Father God. They are special beings in heaven, and above the angels because they do share the divine nature.

    However, just because the Father God shares his divine nature with Jesus and the holy spirit, this does NOT mean they are equal to Him. They actually submit to the Father. Everything is the Father’s decision.

    When the followers of Jesus asked him when he would return, he replied that only the Father would know that. This is because what Jesus does is the decision of the Father God in heaven.

    An analogy is a king, and his son, a prince shares in the royal status of the king. The prince is NOT the king, but he is still royalty. The prince has authority over others in the castle because of his royal status.

    What the muslims relate to as Allah, is the Father God. Since the christians have never really explained well the Father, Son, and holy spirit concept, tried to make them all equal, this has just caused confusion.

    marianne
    http://heavenawaits.wordpress.com/jesus-as-the-son-of-god/

    Marianne

    May 16, 2008 at 1:06 am

  2. Hello, I haven’t had a chance to read your post because I’m in a hurry. So I’m sorry if I’ve misunderstood something or repeated something that you’ve said.

    A Christian told me a good way to explain the trinity to Muslims.

    In Islam Allah has 99 names. In Christianity God has 3 names. It’s as simple as that apparently.

    Lucy Nom de Plume

    May 18, 2008 at 8:36 am

  3. That is a bizarre explanation for either religion….the number of names. Following the logic, Islam has 99 gods.

    marianne
    http://heavenawaits.wordpress.com/

    Marianne

    May 18, 2008 at 3:49 pm

  4. Thanks Lucy and Marianne for your contributions.

    Lucy, Your friend’s explanation might be simple, but is it truthful ? Is this how he, and other Christians understand the trinity , i.e. merely three ‘names’ of the same god ?

    Rasheed

    Rasheed

    May 19, 2008 at 2:46 pm

  5. Marianne,

    What you say is true and very well explained. I might further add that the mormon doctrine of the trinity is based on an eyewitness report from a prophet, seer, and revelator: Joseph Smith. If one believes that Joseph Smith had this vision of the Father and the Son, it is easy to understand the Godhead.

    As I understand the founding of Islam, Muhammad preached against the concept of polytheism, particularly the pagan concept of idolatry which had infiltrated the Jewish and Christian religions and which was also practiced by the tribes of Mecca and Medina. According to Mormon doctrine, the time of Muhammad occurs during the Great Apostacy. The Great Apostacy is an epoch in the world’s history where there was no man to be found on the earth who possessed the authority from Jesus Christ Himself to be the prophet, seer, and revelator for the world. (This is where we disagree with the Catholic Church). This priesthood authority was lost when the apostles were killed or exhiled. It is no wonder that so many different theories of the nature of God developed during this period, as there was no longer one in authority who could teach and clarify the doctrine. It eventually became a mystery hidden from view until the truth was restored in 1820 to another prophet, seer and revelator.

    Rasheed,

    I understand the focus on a monotheistic God, since this was a founding concept in Islam. However, is there any room (in your mind) for the concept of polytheism within a hierarchy? We mormons pray to the Father in the name of Jesus. We worship both, but recognize the supremacy of the Father (as Christ has taught us). We view the Father as the father of our spirits, and Christ as the father of our “spiritual rebirth”, for it was by Him and through Him that we are saved from spiritual and temporal death and are “alive again”.

    Perhaps what hangs us up is our definition of God. I believe that a god is one who has been exhalted and has received all that the Father has and is like unto Him. Based on this definition, anyone who follows the course that Jesus set, can receive all that the Father has and become Gods themselves (I would argue that this is what was promised to Abraham). However, this does not mean they supersede or even equal God the Father or Jesus nor stop worshiping them. The best way for me to understand this concept is to examine the definition of a Father. I am a father of four children, and have become much of what my own father is. However, he is still my father to whom I give honor, praise, and gratitude for what he taught me, his provision of sustenance and protection, and the gift of life. I receive the same honor from my children. We are both recognized and revered as father, but there still is a hierarchy.

    Furthermore, the commandment to “have no other gods before me” is perfectly obeyed in this concept. It is critical that we are obedient to the commandments of the Father as given to us by His Son, for they show us the way to become like Him and partake of His Kingdom with Him.

    Jesus is a god and was a god before he came to earth, but had not obtained a perfect likeness to the Father until after His resurrection. Men were saved simply by being obedient to His commandments and having faith that He would one day come and accomplish His earthly mission. Before He came to this earth, He created the heavens and the earth, under the Father’s direction and authority. He also possessed the power over death (both temporal and spiritual) that made it possible for us to return to the Father and possess glorified, immortal, and perfect bodies. This is a divine power bestowed upon Him by the Father, by virtue of being the Father’s only begotten in the flesh. He possessed the power to die from his physical mother, Mary, and the power to live from his physical father, Elohim (who we call the Father). He was the only of Father’s children who could bring to pass the Atonement. He paid the price for our sin, and so we owe our lives to him and his followers are given to Him by the Father to be his children.

    I hope that this explanation shows how the criticism of Mormon Polytheism is not even remotely close to the polytheism condemned by Jehova and Jesus (by the way, these are one and the same). Nor does it approach the same polytheism condemned by Muhammad. In this case, polytheism is not the same as idolatry. We do not worship dumb idols who draw us away from the true and living god, nor do we worship prophets or saints. We recognize that we owe our very lives and the promise blessings of eternity to our Savior Jesus Christ and to our Father in Heaven, who created us.

    Don

    May 19, 2008 at 9:05 pm

  6. Yes, it’s how they explain it in my church. Jesus is God, God is God, the Holy Spirit is God. All one God.

    Lucy Nom de Plume

    May 19, 2008 at 9:41 pm

  7. I think many people believe, like I do, that jesus will return soon. I think many questions will be answered at that time, that seem like mysteries now.

    Marianne

    May 20, 2008 at 2:18 am

  8. Lucy,

    I think, this is still different to the names analogy.

    Does your church for example say that Jesus is the Holy Spirit ? How can it be said then, that he was filled with the Holy Spirit. Is Jesus the Father? can someone be his own son ? I think trininty implies some differences exist between the three persons, which is clearly not the case with the names of God in Islamic theology.

    If Jesus is God, how can you explain the following passages from Mark:

    MARK 17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
    18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.'”

    I think most people would understand this as Jesus clearly distinguishing between himself and GOD.

    Best regards,

    Rasheed

    Rasheed

    May 20, 2008 at 9:25 pm

  9. Marianne,

    It is true that many questions will be answered when Jesus returns. Can we afford to wait? I think not. My opinion is, we have to try an establish the truth as best as we can, based on what we know now.

    Then as now as in the past, some people would still refuse to accept the truth.

    Best regards,

    Rasheed

    Rasheed

    May 20, 2008 at 9:26 pm

  10. It’s hard to put into words, but I think Jesus can be God and talk about God the father at the same time.

    I admit I haven’t studied theology, and most church goers haven’t either.

    I just instinctively feel God is like a giant jelly and Jesus could split off from Him/come out of Him yet still be part of Him at the same time.

    And the Holy Spirit is just another way of describing God’s energy in the world. A bit like giving His breath or His movements a name.

    God and the Holy Spirit aren’t persons at all. God is everywhere. So He could quite conceivably be Jesus and not Jesus at the same time.

    Plus, you do need to keep in mind that the Gospels were written by human beings trying to make sense of very mysterious events. So it’s hardly surprising if some ideas are a bit weird.

    I don’t take the Bible literally and I don’t think (as some Christians like to claim) having a deep and accurate knowledge of the nature of the trinity is necessary for being Christian.

    As long as people follow the universal truths of love, compassion and caring for the less fortunate, then that’s enough.

    Lucy Nom de Plume

    May 20, 2008 at 10:06 pm

  11. Rasheed,

    I said what I did, because some people will never understand what is said, unless they see it for themselves, when Jesus returns.

    If one evaluates the scriptures, one can find what Jesus said.

    In the scripture from Mark, Jesus is trying to point out that only the Father is God. There are other scriptures that identify the divine nature of Jesus, but as I said, to share in the divine nature does not make one God Himself, but specially called and anointed of God to do God’s will. Jesus was very clear in saying that he was God’s (spirit) son, not God Himself.

    marianne

    Marianne

    May 21, 2008 at 6:22 pm

  12. An analogy might be helpful to dispel some of the error and misunderstanding about the Trinity. Think of the compound H2O. It has three forms which we see it in: water, ice, and evaporated as a gas. The three are separate in their form, but all related. They are all of the same substance and composition.

    This is similar to how the Trinity functions. The three are God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They appear differently in their form, but are all of the same substance.

    We must keep in mind that the Son is not created. He is eternally existent with the Father and Spirit. John 1:1-14 tells us this: “The Word (Jesus) was with God and the Word (Jesus) was God… the Word (Jesus) became flesh and dwelt among us.”

    The word Son is only a word used to describe the relationship between Jesus and the Father. He is not a Son in the sense that God had a wife and child. The Son does willingly subordinate to the Father, but this is not quite what some would make of it. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have independent wills, but work toward one goal.

    We also find God speaking as “Us” as He creates the earth in Genesis. So it is from the beginning that the Trinity exists.

    There is a mystery surrounding this doctrine, some of which is due to error in the church, but some is due to the mystery of God. We don’t fully comprehend God in our finite human minds. There are basics of this doctrine that Christians have been called by the church to affirm for 2000 years, and not affirming the Trinity opens the door to all sorts of error and heresy.

    The key to this is understanding God on His terms and not our own. It is an act of submitting our will to His and not vice versa.

    Andrew

    http://seekingtheface.wordpress.com

    As an extra note in response to Marianne’s last comment: Jesus once told the Pharisees that he was “I AM” (the name of God given to Moses in Exodus). This statement sparked their hatred of him to a new level. This is not the statement to make if you are a Jew and don’t truly believe that you are God. Jesus wasn’t simply “sharing the divine nature”. He was God and claimed to be. To believe otherwise, is not Christianity.

    Andrew

    June 4, 2008 at 5:57 am

  13. RE Andrew Statement:

    What Jesus said, was: “Before Abraham was, I am.” He was indicating that he existed long before Abraham lived. Jesus lived in heaven with His Father, before he came to earth, and was present at the creation of the world, and participated in that creation process. This is something no other human can say.

    When Yahweh appeared to Moses in the burning bush, according to the Hebrew text, Yahweh identified Himself as ” I shall be what I shall be,” or “I will be what I will be.” God was identifying Himself by emphasizing His absolute will that predominates over any man’s will. He was indicating that His will WOULD be done, and no human could change something that God initiated. In this case, it was the exodus from Egypt.

    The translation “I am” is not correct. It is present tense, and God was speaking in future tense.

    So when Jesus was speaking, he was saying “I am” because He wanted to emphasize his present role, as well as His past role, in heaven before Abraham was born.

    Marianne

    June 4, 2008 at 11:15 am

  14. Regardless of how you translate it into English I AM was the name of God given to Moses in a culture where names were extremely important. Jesus was identifying himself with the Name of God and also with the person of God. He says elsewhere “I and the Father are one.” This is much more than sharing in a divine nature.

    Andrew

    http://seekingtheface.wordpress.com

    Andrew

    June 4, 2008 at 6:12 pm

  15. Jesus was one in spirit with the Father, but he was a separate heavenly person.

    Marianne

    June 6, 2008 at 1:45 am

  16. Marianne,

    We are in agreement on that point, except perhaps to the extent of separation. Unfortunately this is an issue where ambiguity has lead to serious error. To say Jesus and the Father are separate is correct, but they are also unified as one God. To say otherwise would be tritheism, which is why Muslims such as Rasheed see Christians as polytheists and not monotheists.

    Andrew

    http://seekingtheface.wordpress.com

    Andrew

    June 6, 2008 at 5:21 am

  17. Andrew,

    yes I know. That is why I said Jesus was divine. Anyone who has the divine nature has the nature of God. Other heavenly beings do not have this.

    marianne

    Marianne

    June 6, 2008 at 11:10 am

  18. PS.

    Andrew,

    Muslims have problems dealing with the Trinity concept. The way it is traditionally explained by Christians, I can see why. Christians do not put enough thought into what they say, and end up confusing people, instead of offering information.

    There is only one God. But the way Christians explain it, it sounds like there are 3 gods. It is inconsistent to say there is one of something, then say there are 3 of something.

    So, I am trying to offer a different way of explaining things that make more sense.

    The Father in heaven is God. Jesus is his (spirit) son, who pre-existed in heaven before he came to earth through the miracle birth in Mary. Jesus honored his Father as greater than He was, so we must respect what he said. Jesus did not make himself equal to his father, but was submissive to Him. Even though later, as the Father honors the son by giving him power and authority, it still does not cancel, or make less, the all – powerful nature of the Father.

    Marianne

    June 6, 2008 at 6:04 pm

  19. Andrew

    June 6, 2008 at 8:56 pm

  20. Andrew and Marianne,

    The current Christian concept of the Trinity is a product of The Council of Nice and the philosophical/political differences espoused by competing Church factions. The resulting declaration represented a change from how the Trinity was understood and taught in the primitive church prior to the the 4th Century. It became widespread due to Constantine’s “conversion” and subsequent adoption of Christianity as the official state religion of Rome. It is considered confusing by Muslims, because it is a confusing statement and not based in truth.

    Don

    Don

    June 7, 2008 at 7:04 pm

  21. Don,

    The Council of Nicaea was not the beginning of the Trinity. It only served to establish as official church doctrine what had been taught all along. The apologists of the early church had been writing about the Trinity and correcting error since the beginning. Do some research into the early church Don, because you’ve got your facts all wrong.

    Andrew

    http://seekingtheface.wordpress.com

    Andrew

    June 7, 2008 at 11:01 pm

  22. Hello all

    Just to tell you I am a muslim from the land of jesus christ who never understood the concept of trinity though I have read so many books on it. From all of your posts it is still confusing as hell, and I don’t think you guys understand it as well but just speculating. Isn’t it just easier to believe in one god like us and the jews? If you guys just try to explain all of this to a 10 year old child he would be laughing at you for all this nonesense. For god’s sake can’t you just read the quran? if you don’t want to believe in it that’s fine its your choice but please please you need to agree among yourselves on basic concepts of christianity and the trinity before posting and trying to save us heathens :>

    By the way i live very close to Fa7il(Ebla) the home place of the ebionites in jordan so who knows my great grand fathers might have been christians and wrote the dead sea scrolls who converted to islam cause they didn’t believe in the trinity like those romans did.

    alaa

    August 1, 2008 at 9:12 pm

  23. alaa,

    The confusion and mixed ideas on the Trinity come from the fact that you are getting the perspective of a Mormon and the perspective of Orthodox Christianity together. The two perspectives don’t agree in the least and are a fundamental difference between the two.

    Orthodox Christianity has always held that there is one God. God has one substance in three persons. This does not mean He is three Gods. All three are equally God and make up one God; the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is why Jesus in Matthew 28:19 could command his followers to baptize in the name (singular) of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and not the names (plural).

    Just because the oneness of Allah is easier for a finite mind to grasp doesn’t mean it is true. There is a mystery in who God is that is a part of the beauty of Almighty God. Man’s reason has often been shown to fall far short of coming to a right knowledge of God. This is the purpose of revelation.

    Finally, the Ebionites of which you speak were not Christians. They were considered heretics by the early church, and it was not just the Romans who established Christian doctrines and excommunicated the Ebionites. The early church councils included leaders from Antioch, Constantinople, Jerusalem, and all over the known world. The bishop of Rome (now known as the pope) actually did not have power over the church as a whole until around the 6th century.

    Andrew

    http://seekingtheface.wordpress.com

    Andrew

    August 7, 2008 at 3:38 am

  24. Andrew

    Thank you for your reply. I really want to understand the concept of trinity and since the oneness of God is as you said is alot easier to understand and follow that does not mean its correct since we all have finite minds we can not understand the topic , so I need guidance on this so which denomination has the correct understanding of this complex issue? Is it the Christian orthodox, the Catholics, the evangelists, the Mormons, the Jesuits,…? Can you guys list each understanding of Jesus and trinity so I can choose which one makes the most sense and choose? Has all the christians in the world agreed on one concept ONLY? What is it?

    alaa

    August 8, 2008 at 9:43 am

  25. alaa,

    Christian Orthodox doctrine on the Trinity is not from any one denomination. It’s actually something that there is a broad agreement among Christian denominations on. Those whose doctrines are outside the orthodox views are not considered Christians (ie Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses). Catholics, Orthodox, Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, Baptists, etc. all understand the Trinity by the early church creeds.

    The Creeds of Nicaea and Chalcedon are a good starting point to understanding the orthodox view. These creeds synthesize the scriptures into succinct statements that clarify the Biblical teachings against those who would teach otherwise. You can find the creeds at the following website: http://www.creeds.net/.

    Let me know if you have any further questions.

    Andrew

    http://seekingtheface.wordpress.com

    Andrew

    August 8, 2008 at 11:28 pm

  26. I believe in God, but not religions. God can’t be put in to small books such as holly books. Religions limit God, religions divide nations. So please be wise not to limit God the almighty just into very small world called religion. Please read John lenon song titled Imagine.
    Regards,
    Paul.

    Paul

    January 13, 2009 at 6:26 am

  27. After Jesus is baptised, the narrative describes the heavens as opening, the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and a voice from heaven announcing that Jesus is God’s beloved Son and that God is well pleased with him.

    This is a scene where all three converge on Earth…Not an expert on religion. But there seems to be a lot of information that is not documented and would remain a mystery.

    Anyway there is enough reason to believe that there exists an hierarchy in heaven (archangels and all).. (remmeber he fallen angel is also somewhere in what we call hell) So its not all about knowing the alphabets but rather reading the word and understanding the meaning.

    Another thought.. Even if you somehow manage to logically simplify and make a meaning. I could ask you questions that you would not find answers to.
    Just an example: Where exactly is heaven and hell? Is it the bright spot 3 trillion light years north west of where exactly?!!?

    Human minds cannot comprehend the vastness of the subject is what I have come to believe. We only know what we have been told.

    Abe

    April 22, 2009 at 4:37 pm

  28. Thank you all for an interesting discussion. I am Catholic, and have a reasonable understanding of church history. When I consider the reasons for the Trinitarian debates of the early church one event seems to elude the church fathers and all who follow Christ.

    It is this: A man, Jesus, claimed to be the Son of God, and later said that he and the Father are One. To create a spiritual space for this Jesus, and to have belief in his teachings the church needed to make him divine. Further, if Jesus is the Savior, as he and the church contend, his prefect sacrifice to atone for the sins of man can not be made by a man, but by God Himself. God “perfects” sin through Himself. Man, who has fallen, can not “perfect” sin.

    This “spiritual space” created by the birth of Christ has no equal in other theologies. Where other deities make themselves manifest in human form, Christ becomes and is completely human. How his two natures exist in one person is the mystery. I can not, nor can anyone, hope to explain that mystery.

    While there are references to the Spirit in the Old Testament, and the actions of the Spirit are found in Prophets the importance of a Spirit to continue Christ’s work after His Resurrection becomes obvious. The physical Christ has ascended to the Father but the Spirit remains. Without the Spirit we are orphans of Christ. With the Spirit Christ continues to fill us with God’s hope.

    Whenever I am confronted with religious rancor I take comfort in Paul’s admonition: God is Love. One, three, pre-existing, descended from, or always there, God is Love. Salaam, Shalom, Peace.

    Pax Christi

    Jim

    August 20, 2009 at 8:31 pm

  29. My name is adil and i am christian from pakistan. usually we encounterd the same questions asked by our muslims brothers. it is really hard to explain the concept of trinity . but i am very much convinced by andrew who has very deep knowledge about the history of christianity. i think he has answerd these questions very beautifully. thank you very much Andrew

    Adil

    November 13, 2009 at 12:25 pm

  30. Adil,

    Thanks for the generous compliment. E-mail me if you could. I’d love to hear your story as a Christian in Pakistan.

    Andrew
    aj633@netscape.net

    Andrew

    November 16, 2009 at 3:12 am

    • For all,

      Thanks for the discussion.
      Me and one of my friend are in a discussion about the same.

      To Rasheed and Alaa,

      Please explain me the concept of the Heaven and the Hell.
      Then I will clearly explain about trinity.

      or you please show a worm, which can understand everything about human being.
      Then I will make a clear explanation for you guys.

      I am from India.
      Thanks
      Sajan P Philip.

      Sajan P Philip

      November 1, 2011 at 1:30 pm

  31. The Bible clearly teaches that there is but ONE God.
    • Scripture: 1 Tim 3:16
    • “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
    • Who was (above)? God was! This is the mystery of godliness
    • Scripture: Romans 1:19-20
    • “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, EVEN HIS ETERNAL POWER AND GODHEAD;
    • Jesus makes it plain enough so that the truth seekers can understand, but also veils it enough so that the excuse seekers will have their excuse (Note Matt 13 below). Jesus Christ is looking for those that love the Truth. This is why Jesus taught in parables all the time
    • Scripture Matthew 13:13-15
    “13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith , By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: 15 For this people’s heart is waxed gross. And their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.”

    • “Hear of Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD” Deut 6:4
    • “Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightiest know that the LORD he is God; there is none else beside him” Deut 4:35
    • “See not that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.” Deut 32:39
    • “Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.” Isaiah 43:10
    • “Wherefore thou art great O LORD, GOD: for there is none like thee either is there any God beside thee.”II Sam 7:22
    • I, even I am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour.”Isaiah 43:11
    • The Lord Jehovah here says there is no saviour besides me.. we know that Jesus is the Saviour.
    • Consider Paul, who persecuted Christians because he was so rooted in the truth that there is one God. He saw Christians as a threat, possibly trying to bring another deity into the picture. God.. on Paul’s way to persecute Christians said.. why art thou persecuting me? Then Paul realized he didn’t know the one God that he served. If anyone should of known who God was.. it should have been Paul! He was schooled in the best.. he was the Hebrews of Hebrews. But God was able to blast through all that, because Paul was honest. His religion/etc. blinded him, but God broke through that.
    • Also consider Thomas.. Thomas said I will not believe until I see the wounds in Jesus’s side, in his hands. Then a week later Jesus appears to him, “And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and My God” John 20:28 Thomas did not know God was listening, or that He heard him when he said he would not believe until he saw Jesus’s wounds for himself. And this is a man who was a devout “hear o Israel the lord our God is one Lord” man.

    “To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” Jude 25

    “As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but ONE” I Cor 8:4
    • Many people think that when Jesus came it was the beginning of a new deity. But here we are again, after Christ was crucified and is back in heaven and the apostle Paul states there is none other God but one! There is one God, and none other but One. Period. There is not one Scripture anywhere that goes against this Truth!
    Is Jesus God? And God is God.. what does that mean to us?
    • This Scripture is a messianic prophecy
    o “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
    How can the son that was to be born.. be the everlasting father? How is he to be the mighty God?
    o “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, GOD WITH US.” Matt 1:23
    o “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” Rev 1:8 (The one speaking here is the Almighty… and who was to come? Jesus, Who came? Jesus, and who is coming back again… Jesus!)
    Verse goes on to say..
    o “10 I was in theSpirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, 11 saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last:…”Rev 1:10-11
    • “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” Rev 1:18 JESUS FURTHER DEFINES HIMSELF.
    o Up until Jesus rose from the dead, someone else had the keys of hell and death. Who? –Satan
    o “Foreasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;” Heb 2:14

    • More Scripture for consideration..
    • I, even I am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour.”Isaiah 43:11
    • The Lord Jehovah here says there is no saviour besides me.. we know that Jesus is the Saviour.
    • Consider Paul, who persecuted Christians because he was so rooted in the truth that there is one God. He saw Christians as a threat, possibly trying to bring another deity into the picture. God.. on Paul’s way to persecute Christians said.. why art thou persecuting me? Then Paul realized he didn’t know the one God that he served. If anyone should of known who God was.. it should have been Paul! He was schooled in the best.. he was the Hebrews of Hebrews. But God was able to blast through all that, because Paul was honest. His religion/etc. blinded him, but God broke through that.
    • Also consider Thomas.. Thomas said I will not believe until I see the wounds in Jesus’s side, in his hands. Then a week later Jesus appears to him, “And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and My God” John 20:28 Thomas did not know God was listening, or that He heard him when he said he would not believe until he saw Jesus’s wounds for himself. And this is a man who was a devout “hear o Israel the lord our God is one Lord” man.

    “To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” Jude 25

    • What about the Holy Ghost:
    35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. Luke 1:35

    18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together , she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Matt 1:18

    Now if you have the belief that there are 3 separate Gods.. the above scriptures become confusing.. because here then the Holy Ghost would have to be the Father? Because the Father.. is the Father of Jesus Christ.. but the Scripture says the Holy Ghost is the force behind Mary conceiving Jesus. Then there’s a problem.. because then the Father isn’t even the “Father in these verses”.

    • 16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 EVEN the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive , because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but YE know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. 18 I will not leave you comfortless: I WILL COME to you. John 14: 16-18 (This AGAIN IS THE MYSTERY OF GODLINESS) IT IS NOT another deity coming.. it IS GOD.

    • UNDERSTANDING THE GODHEAD
    • John 1:1

    Word=logos. Can be translated as Word or.. EXPRESSION.

    God created FINITE BEINGS He KNEW they/we would not be able to comprehend a God that filled ALL SPACE, God HAS NO BEGINNING. Everything inside us revolts against that idea. But if there is an eternity ahead of us.. there is also an eternity behind us. So when God FORMED MAN.. He as in John 1:1 “1 In the beginning was the Word(expression), and the Word(expression) was with God, and the Word(expression) was God.”
    God formed Himself in to an EXPRESSION WE COULD GRASP! In to a “person” that could appear to people. Now.. did God create another God.. NO. How amazing?! The Body was merely a limited of the UNLIMITED, the visible of the INVISIBLE, the finite of the INFINITE!

    Numerous times in the OT God uses this body (above) to show himself to people. Now here is a Scripture Judges 3:7-18 “Why asketh thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret?”

    29 And Jacob asked him, and said , Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said , Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there. Gen 32:29

    But this could not bridge the gap between man and God. God knew no pain, suffering, weariness. (below)

    16 And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor : therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him. Isaiah 59:16

    God says He is going to go beyond John 1:1! And that HIS ARM BROUGHT SALVATION.. see John 1:14!

    14 And the Word was made FLESH, and dwelt AMOUNG us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John 1:14

    John 1:1, God could appear in this body and disappear, it did not suffer, could not be tempted.. but in John 1:14 he became GOD WITH US, HE BECAME FLESH TO BRIDGE THE GAP!

    HIS NAME WAS ALWAYS JESUS BUT IT WAS KEPT A SECRET BECAUSE THAT WAS THE KEY TO SALVATION. IF SATAIN HAD KNOWN HE WOULD NEVER HAVE KILLED JESUS! AMEN. ALL GLORY TO GOD!

    The great commission. Matthew 28:19 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in thename of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

    What is that name? Jesus.

    sara

    July 20, 2012 at 10:28 am

  32. I will begin with my personal testimony that only Jesus can save you from your sins, not ANY religion. Every one of us falls short of the commands of our religions (and ultimately God’s commands), and Jesus came to show us that sin is far deeper – in thought and intent, not just outward acts. When Jesus said that lust is as adultery and hateful anger is as murder, He showed us that we need a sinless Savior who will not only fulfill God’s Law perfectly on our behalf, but also pay the penalty for sin on behalf of sinners – this was prophesied word-for-word by the Old Testament prophet Isaiah in chapter 53 (oldest scroll dated ~300BC) – if you sincerely seek the truth about Jesus, kindly read this and ask God to open your heart to its perfect fulfillment by the testimony of Jesus in the New Testament…

    Joe Titus

    November 25, 2012 at 1:35 am

  33. Regarding the “Trinity” (so-called by Christians) I will agree that it is a perplexing doctrine. The possibility of God’s Oneness not being violated by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit distinction can only be apprehended by the following revelations in the Bible:

    1. The Holy Spirit is not an angel but God’s localized invisible Presence coming upon people – the Old Testament documents over and over cases where Holy Spirit rested upon prophets as they prophesied. This was distinct from an angel of the Lord dictating to them what to say.

    2. The Holy Spirit could fill a place so that God could be fully Present in a place – in Exodus God had instructed details to Moses to build a tabernacle/tent with an inner chamber, which was an earthly representation of His heavenly throne. When the Tabernacle was completed, it had to be sprinkled/purified by the blood of a blemishless clean animal, and then God’s glory (by means of the Holy Spirit) filled the inner chamber, known as the “Holy of holies.” God then instituted Aaron and his descendants to become priests to conduct specific worship and daily sacrifices, and once-a-year atoning sacrifices (on Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement) for the sins of the nation of Israel. God’s Presence was literally approached by the priest entering the Holy of holies.

    3. As God’s fullness could dwell in the inner chamber of the Tabernacle He had instructed Moses to build, so God’s fullness could indwell a human body through Jesus’ virgin birth, by means of the Holy Spirit. John the Baptist while still in the womb was filled with the Holy Spirit (as a prophet), but Jesus WAS OF the Holy Spirit, and would become the Giver/Imparter of the Holy Spirit to those who receive Him. John the Baptist, sent as a forerunner to announce the Messiah, himself testified that for this reason Jesus had pre-existed and was called the Son of God (read John 1).

    Joe Titus

    November 25, 2012 at 1:55 am

  34. Your explanation of Jesus makes a lot more sense than the ‘new testament’ version, which is a select few books allowed into the canon by the Nicean council, which one could logically argue were selected to allow the pagan Romans to hold on to their various festivals like Mithras celebrations or Saturnalia and incorporate them into a poor excuse for God’s divine word in the Torah. The western Roman empire was sowing the seeds to its own collapse by allowing Pagan ideas like the trinity to be made canon law against the clear and specific teachings of God and Jesus.

    Luke

    October 19, 2013 at 3:30 am


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