Another Heresy: God Is Not A Trinity

Trinity—three persons in one essence. This simple definition of the nature of a Triune God has been part of the Christian faith since the beginning.

As early as Genesis 1, God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.”

And who was this “Us”? John spells that out in the first chapter of his gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Then in verse 14, he clarifies the issue: “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father.”

Jesus Himself stated clearly, “I and the Father are one,” which is why the Jewish leaders wanted to kill him. His claim, as they clearly understood, was that He was God. In their view this was blasphemy.

Christianity has affirmed this belief in a triune God—a personal God, at that—indivisible, yet individual. The Father is not God made flesh, but He and the Son are one.

Some people claim this concept was invented by someone like Paul or another of the early Church leaders. But who would conceive of the inconceivable? Who could conceive of the inconceivable? Only those to whom the inconceivable has been revealed. Good Jews like Paul would never have come up with such heretical ideas on their own.

If I were going to imagine a god, I’d certainly conjure up one that didn’t come with confusing claims like three-in-oneness.

Some years ago, I read Melody Green’s No Compromise: The Life Story of Keith Green. Melody, you might know, is the widow of musician Keith Green, a song writer in her own right, and the President and CEO of Last Days Ministries.

In telling Keith’s story, Melody of course weaves her own with his. When she details the spiritual journey they took exploring Christianity, she explains they both had problems with Jesus. Melody has a Jewish background on her mother’s side of the family, and Keith came out of the Christian Science religion.

When they first started investigating Jesus, they were drawn to His teachings. Keith first decided he wanted to follow what Jesus said. But friends told him he still wasn’t a Christian.

Later both he and Melody became convinced that Jesus was God’s Son. But how could He then be God?

So is He?

I used to teach a short unit on the Doctrine of God, including the trinity. Because of this, I began looking at the gospels with that question in mind.

Well, to be honest, I already believed He is God from other passages of Scripture. Colossians 2:9 for example, says, “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form.”

Then there are the John 1 verses I quoted above.

But I began to look for more.

I started with some of the names ascribed to Jesus—they were the same as those given to God: Creator, Savior, Shepherd, King, even I AM.

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.”

The verb Jesus used for I AM, was the same construction God used when He identified Himself to Moses in Exodus.

But I also began to note the attributes of God which Jesus demonstrated.

For example, He was omniscient. Toward the end of His ministry He told his disciples that He would be crucified. He knew Judas was the one who would betray Him. He told Peter he would deny Him—three times, and before the rooster crowed—but also that he would “bounce back.” He knew what Phillip was doing before He came to see Jesus. He knew at various times what the Pharisees were thinking when they were trying to trap Him with their questions. He knew Peter would find a gold coin in the mouth of a fish. There are others.

Jesus also demonstrated omnipotence. He calmed stormy seas, walked on water, healed the blind and lame and leprous, raised the dead, multiplied bread and fish, cast out demons, and forgave sins.

And of course Jesus declared Himself to be one with the Father:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.”

Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”

Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
– John 14:6-9

There’s more, and happily Keith and Melody Green learned the truth in their own study of Scriptures. It’s an important truth, a dividing point, really, separating those who know about Jesus, and may even admire Him, from those who know Him and recognize Him as God Incarnate. It divides Christians from people who say they believe in Jesus but then deny the most fundamental thing He reveals about Himself.

This post is a revised and edited version of two other articles that appeared here in 2008 and 2010.

For more information about the trinity, you might like this short video.

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Published in: on June 28, 2019 at 5:36 pm  Comments (4)  
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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thanks for sharing the story of Keith and Melody. I did not know their story! Blessings, my Sister!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. One needs so much grace to be able to understand scriptures . God help us.

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  3. Well done again, Becky! Thanks, as well!

    On Fri, Jun 28, 2019 at 7:37 PM A Christian Worldview of Fiction wrote:

    > Rebecca LuElla Miller posted: ” Trinity—three persons in one essence. > This simple definition of the nature of a Triune God has been part of the > Christian faith since the beginning. As early as Genesis 1, God said, “Let > Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” An” >

    Like

  4. Hello! My apologies in advance, but your column and the other column you linked to do not make a lot of sense to me.

    First, you allege that a denial of the Trinity is heresy. Traditionally speaking, a heresy is a major doctrinal error that is essentially damnable without repentance. In fact, your linked column states, “If you try to explain the Trinity, you will lose your mind. But if you deny it, you will lose your soul.”

    Second, you define the Trinity as “three persons in one essence.” Indeed, your linked piece says:

    We believe that the one God eternally exists in three Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and that these three are one God, co-equal and co-eternal, having precisely the same nature and attributes, and worthy of precisely the same worship, confidence, and obedience.

    . And to further clarify, the linked column says:

    A. What we don’t mean
    First of all, Christians don’t believe in three Gods. That’s a heresy called Tritheism. Second, we don’t believe that the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit are three “forms” of God—like, steam, water and ice. That’s the heresy called Modalism. Third, we don’t believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are “parts” or “pieces” or God. That would imply that Jesus is 1/3rd God, the Father is 1/3rd God, and the Holy Spirit is 1/3rd God.

    So, trinitarians don’t believe in three Gods, but they insist that God is three persons in one essence. However, “essence” is a taxonomic term of classification which groups things with a common nature (essence). Thus, you can have many kinds of cats, dogs, trees because these things participate in a common essence. But multiples of the cat essence (e.g. three) yield three cats. Multiples of the apple essence yield multiple apples. So, if you have three instantiations of the God essence, you have three Gods by definition. Moreover, the Greeks & Romans worshipped gods who had the same immortal human essence. Were they monotheists too? Of course not. So, the appeal to “one in essence, three in person” entails a logical contradiction: There is only one God, but there are three Gods.

    Next, the linked column denies that the persons are “forms of God—like steam, water and ice—because that’s what modalism affirms.” Yet, the same column states:

    C. How can we illustrate the Trinity?
    A number of illustrations have been suggested. They all are useful as long as you remember they are only illustrations. For water can exist as solid, liquid, or steam. That’s okay, but usually water only exists in one state at a time. However, there is a physical condition in which water can exist as solid, liquid and steam at the same time—which would be a much better illustration of the Trinity.

    What?? The author denies the “steam, water and ice” analogy because it’s modalistic, but it’s perfectly fine to use the same analogy to explain the Trinity!

    He goes on to deny that each person is fractionally God but then states:

    There are others we could mention. An egg is made up of a shell, the eggwhite, and the yolk. All three are needed for an egg to be complete. One of the more interesting illustrations note the different roles a person can play. I am a father, a son and a husband at one and the same time. Yet I am only one person.

    Again, no person is fractionally God, but a fractional unity is perfectly acceptable to illustrate God?? The shell, white and yolk are each a fraction of an egg, and yet this is precisely what the author earlier claims God is not. Moreover, he again uses an analogy from modalism that a man can be a father, son and husband yet one person.

    The column states that “no other explanation makes sense.” But as the above quotations show, this explanation of the Trinity makes no sense whatsoever. How in the world can you label a denial of such nonsense “heresy”? How in the world can a person truly affirm something that’s unintelligible? I’m not talking about something mysterious; I’m talking about flat logical contradictions. I have to know what I’m affirming before I affirm it, and it is impossible to understand something that entails logical inversions.

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