An example of the Trinity

Bible Doctrine About the Trinity
(orthodox Christianity view)
shared with you by
Kraig J. Rice

(clicking on one of these links will move you down the page)

The Trinity by Rev. Ken Horn
John F. Walvoord Discusses the Trinity
Unity And Trinity Of God by L. Thomas Holdcroft

Questions Muslims Ask by Del Kingsriter:
          Chapter 2: Why Do Christians Worship Three Gods?
          Chapter 5: Is There Really a Triune God?

If you can accept the truth of how two humans can become one flesh then
you can accept the truth of how three Persons can be one God


It is hard for a mind of the flesh to understand truths of the spirit, or in other words, it is hard for a finite mind to understand the infinite. That is why our Lord Jesus Christ had to use parables in His teachings. He took spiritual concepts and communicated His truth to humans via stories they could relate to on their level.

Two heterosexual humans joined in holy matrimony become one flesh. Why do we believe this? Because we understand it? No. We believe it because the inspired Word of God teaches it to be true. It is the same thing with God's holy trinity. We don't understand it and God never said that we had to. All we have to do is accept it- it's that simple. But, like always, Satan and sin-tainted humans want to argue with God and His word. They want to introduce leaven and spoil everything. They want their own way and cause confusion by doing so. Well, let's not let them. Let's hold to what God says and to what His Word says. Let's take a good hard look at this most important Bible doctrine.

The last section of this web page deals with answers to Muslims about this Christian doctrine. I think it is relevant in dealing with this subject. I give you an opportunity to read this in it's entirety if you want to. Just click on the "Witness to Muslims" link toward the bottom of this web page.

To keep the reader from getting confused from section to section in this web page I have used different colored print (font) in order to help. However, I have used the color purple, symbolizing God's royalty, to highlight scriptures. Most of the scriptures quoted are from the Old King James translation.

God uses setbacks
to move us forward

The Trinity

"The Trinity is a first-rate mystery. Augustine said that anyone who denies the Trinity is in danger of losing his salvation, and anyone who tries to understand it is in danger of losing his mind. It is not fully explained in Scripture.

It is true that the word Trinity is not found in the Bible. But by the late second century the church was using it to describe a biblical concept— literally, tri-unity, or "three in one."

This does not mean three Gods … though Christians have been accused of being polytheists by other world religions. Instead Christians have a unique view of God, one that comes about because they believe both the Old and New Testaments.

There are six basic biblical steps to understanding the Trinity:

1. There is one God (Deuteronomy 6:4).

2. The Father is God (2 Peter 1:17).

3. The Son is God (John 8:58).

4. The Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3,4).

5. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are distinct individuals (John 14:26).

6. Therefore, there are three Persons in the one Godhead.

Assemblies of God fundamental truth no. 2 says it well: "WE BELIEVE...There is only one God— revealed in three persons ... Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (commonly known as the Trinity)."

Since the Trinity is completely unique, no analogy really fits. The Trinity is not really "like" anything.

But attempts have been made. An analogy that looks at the Trinity as three parts that make up a whole (for example, eggshell, egg white and yolk) really falls short. A better example is the three phases of H2O— liquid water, ice, vapor— but this also falls short since any given molecule of H2O exists as only one of these at a time. That picture leads to a heresy (modalism) that says the Trinity is really only one Person who takes on one of three modes at any given time. This belief is problematic for those who hold it: Just what was going on in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus was praying to the Father? Was He talking to himself?

The best illustration I have seen is C.S. Lewis’s: The three dimensions of space— length, width and height. All coincide in the same place, yet are distinct.

The New Testament concept of the Trinity enlarges the concept of God found in the Old Testament, and makes certain Old Testament passages more understandable. For example, some 2,500 times, the word for God is Elohim, plural, instead of El, singular. There are plural pronouns used to describe the one God:
"Let us make man" (Genesis 1:26);
"Man is become as one of us" (Genesis 3:22);
"Remember thy Creator[s]" (Ecclesiastes 12:1);
"Rejoice in his Maker[s]" (Psalm 149:2).

And, in Matthew 28:19,
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (NKJV),
the word for "name" is singular, yet representing three Persons."

Love increases
as we give it away

John F. Walvoord Discusses the Trinity

"In the history of theological thought concerning Christ until modern times there was always a solid core of doctrine which can be equated with biblical orthodoxy. The early church Fathers, struggling with the obvious problem of the doctrine of the Trinity and how could God be Three and yet One, stated in enduring terms that while God is One numerically, He subsists in three Persons, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, who are equal in eternity, power and glory. Each possessing all the divine attributes and yet having properties which distinguish Them within the unity of the Trinity. A milestone in the statement of this important doctrine of the Trinity was reached in the Nicene Council in 325 A.D. and was matured and restated by the Protestant Reformers."
John F. Walvoord, Jesus Christ Our Lord, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, 1969, page 11

"The evidence which has already been considered testifying to the deity and eternity of Christ also contributes to the concept of God existing in three Persons. Historically, the trinitarian doctrine turns largely on the question of whether the Son of God is eternal, whether He has the attribute of personality and the very nature of God. The problems of the doctrine of the Trinity largely arise in the studies of Christ in His incarnate state. The Old Testament, while it assumes the doctrine of the Trinity, does not actually define the relationships of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit except to indicate subordination of the Son to the Father and of the Holy Spirit to the Son as brought out more clearly in the New Testament.

If Christ is God and as such is distinguished from the Father and the Spirit, preliminary evidence is provided to support the doctrine of the Trinity as normally stated in orthodoxy. It is safe to say that no attack on the doctrine of the Trinity can be made without attacking the person of Christ. It is also true that no attack on the person of Christ can be made without attacking the doctrine of the Trinity, as they stand and fall together. It is for this reason that current liberalism is usually Unitarian, that is, denies the three Persons of the Godhead, or is modalistic, that is, affirming simply that the Persons are modes of existence of the one Person and not actual entities. From our preliminary study it is fair to conclude that the doctrine of the eternity of Christ tends to support the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity, and the subsequent study of the person and work of Christ in the Old and New Testaments will amplify and support this preliminary conclusion."
John F. Walvoord, Jesus Christ Our Lord, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, 1969, page 32

"Without God, we can not
Without us, God will not"

--by Saint Augustine



"The claim of the unity of God is a claim that the divine nature is undivided and indivisible. Christian scholars consider that their concept of monotheism does not differ from traditional Judaistic monotheism out of which Christianity is derived. Thus the Old Testament texts that are the thrust of Judaism are likewise pointedly emphasized by the Christian theologian. "Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord"
(Deuteronomy 6:4). "That all the people of the earth may know that the Lord is God, and that there is none else"
(I Kings 8:60). "I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God"
(Isaac 44:6). "And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one"
(Zechariah 14:9).

The New Testament simply endorses and reaffirms the Old Testment statement of the unity of God, "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent"
(John 17:3). "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus"
(1 Timothy 2:5). "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well; the devils also believe and tremble"

(James 2:19). Trinitarian doctrine specifically maintains that there is only one eternal supreme divine being and that in Him all of the divine attributes and perfections inhere.

To assert the unity of God is not necessarily to assert that God is a unit. While God is neither composite nor suseptible to division, He is capable of relations and personalities within His essence, and this concept does no violence to the person of deity. God's unity comprises not a mere attribute of God but an essential condition of His whole existence. Monotheism stands as both a necessary and a natural consequence of any genuine theism, and it is basic and fundamental to any legitimate approach to the Christian God.

An understanding of the fact of the unity of God serves to preserve the believer both from unitarianism and from polytheism. The unitarians confound the unity of God with the claim of His existence as a unit. Polytheism seeks to assign a separate personality of God to each of His attributes, and thereby it sets forth a plurality of gods. In practice, polytheism is almost universally coupled with low moral standards. To neglect the unity of God is to deprive man of an understanding of that absolute perfection that challenges man to a higher and better life. Polytheism gives scope to secondary gods and goddesses and the result is rightly described by Saint Paul, "They changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image like to corruptible man, and to birds and four-footed beasts and creeping things"
(Romans 1:23).

(end of page 32)


Although there is no passage of Scripture which sets forth a formal, credal type of statement concerning the trinity, the orthodox view insists that triunity of God is no mere afterthought. There is nothing in the doctrine of the trinity that contradicts the claim of the unity of God, and in fact the triune existence of God extends throughout all that has been revealed concerning Him throughout the entire Bible. It is to be noted that the doctrine of the trinity is a truth only of revelation and not of natural theology. Although reason shows the unity of God, only revelation reveals the trinity. The word "trinity" does not occur in the Bible, but was first used either by Tertullian (190-211), or by Theophilus of Antioch (2nd century A.D.).

It may be said that the trinity enlarges the concept of God. It is the outcome of the admission into the realm of deity of the persons of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Scripture very clearly and emphatically defends the deity of each of these divine persons. Thus, the concept of a divine triunity particularly harmonizes with the revelation of God in the incarnation. God declares His threefold name in the events of the incarnation. The Father sent the Son to atone for sin, and the Son upon completing His redemption sent the Holy Spirit to apply redemption to mankind. A true interpretation of the plan of redemption is dependent upon a trinitarian concept of deity. Trinitarianism is not meant to be a burden upon man's intellect, but it stands as a practical necessity to a true view of the world and the plan of God.

In apostolic times the trinity seems to have been simply a spiritual and practical portrayal of deity. There was no profound speculation into the mystery of the three in one. However, the doctrine of the trinity was necessarily demanded by the trinity of divine manifestation. The doctrine of the trinity, or as it may be called the doctrine of triunity, is not in itself a matter of direct revelation but it must be reached by a process of thought. An understanding must be developed that accounts for the threefold manifestation of God and at the same time does not conflict with the Bible revelation of God's essential existence. Trinitarianism, or the doctrine of the triunity of God, is neither tri-theism nor is it some kind of a unitarianism. Among Bible believers, unitarianism has usually taken the form of ancient Sabellianism. Thus, the trinity is considered to be only a matter of the manner in which the one God manifests Himself; no essential distinctions in His being are seen.
(end of page 33)

Scriptural Intimations of the Triune Godhead

Jehovah is an awesome individual: "Then Jehovah rained down fire and burning sulfur from the heavens on Sodom and Gomorrah"
(Genesis 19:24).

Jehovah is depicted as having a son. "Thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee"
(Psalm 2:7).

The oft mentioned angel of Jehovah (Lord) in the Old Testament seems to designate the pre-incarnate Logos
(Genesis 16:7-13, Exodus 3:2, Exodus 23:20). He appeared to Hagar, to Moses at the burning bush, and He promised Moses to accompany him throughout the wilderness wanderings. The Angel presents Himself as one in essence with Jehovah, and yet distinct from Him. Says Boettner:

"As the revelation is unfolded by the procession of the prophets we find that divine titles and divine worship are given to this Angel and accepted by Him, that He is revealed as an eternal Being, the Mighty God, the Prince of Peace, the Adonai, the Lord of David, that He is born of a virgin, that He will be despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, that He will bear the sin of many, and that He will, above all, set up the kingdom of righteousness which is to increase until it fills the whole earth."
Loraine Boettner, Studies in Theology, William B. Eerdsmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1947, page 99.
These prophecies were, of course, fulfilled in Christ.

A plurality of the Trinity is indicated. Some 2,500 times the plural noun Elohim is found in the Old Testament. Likewise, the Trinity is depicted as having consultations within Himself: "Let us make man..."
(Genesis 3:22). "Let us go down and confound..."
(Genesis 11:7). "Who will go for us..."

(Isaiah 6:6). The literal rendering of various passages indicates a plurality: "Remember thy Creators..."
(Ecclesiastes 12:1); "Rejoice in His makers..."
(Psalm 149:2).

Various combinations of three in Scripture definitely speak of the Trinity. The priestly benediction of
Numbers 6:24-27 is threefold. The word "holy" is repeated three times in
Isaiah 6:3 and Revelation 4:8. The Hebrew assigns three names to God: Elohim, Jehovah, and Adonai.

Both Old and New Testament Scriptures depict the entire trinity in operation.

a. Old Testament

"Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, I am the Lord..."
(Isaiah 48:17). "In all their affliction he (God) was afflicted, and the angel of his presence"
(Isaiah 63:9-10).

(end of page 34).

b. New Testament

The announcement of Jesus' birth involved all three persons. "And the angel answered and said unto her, the Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee"
(Luke 1:35). At Jesus' baptism, the Son emerged from the water, the Spirit descended upon Him and the Father spoke from heaven. "Jesus also being baptizd, and praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended...and a voice came from heaven"
(Luke 3:21-22). Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to believers: "I will pray the father, and he will give you another comforter"
(John 14:16). On the day of Pentecost, the comforter clearly was the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is thus distinguished from the Saviour who mediated and the Father who decreed the gift.

The functions of deity are, on occasion, related to more than one Person of the Godhead and often to all three. "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ"
(I Peter 1:2). "And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high"
(Luke 24:49). "How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost..."
(Acts 10:38).

The trinity is contained in familiar forms and formulas of the New Testament.

a. The baptismal formula. Jesus instructed his disciples "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost"
(Matthew 28:19). It is significant that in this initiatory rite of the Christian religion, the doctrine of the trinity is pointedly set forth. The three terms, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are each names in the Godhead. Although in themselves, these words are common names, they are made proper names because of the form they take and the usage that is employed. It is to be noted that they are names and not titles. Since
Matthew 28:19 is a formula, obedience to our Lord's command to use it, calls for the repetition of the formula, for this is the way in which formulas are used. There is no reason to seek to interpret the formula.

b. Apostolic salutations and benedictions. Fifteen New Testament books begin with salutations that include both the Father and the Son (for instance: "Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ"
(Romans 1:7). Salutations mentioning all three persons are found in
I Peter 1:2 and Revelation 1:4-5. A typical benediction that mentions all three persons:
"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all"
(II Corinthians 13:14).

(end of page 35)

The Persons of the Trinity maintain specific relationships toward one another. They use pronouns: I, thou, he and him, when speaking to or of each other: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him"
(Matthew 17:5). There is mutual love and desire between the Persons to see the other glorified: "The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand"
(John 3:35); "And now, Father, glorify thou me..."
(John 17:5). "He (the Holy Spirit) shall glorify me (Christ)"

(John 16:14). The Son prays to the Father, and Father and Son send the Holy Spirit to be their Agent on earth. "But the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name..."
(John 14:26). Concludes Boettner:
"Thus we see that the Persons within the Godhead are so distinct that each can address the others, each can love the others, the Father sends the Son, the Father and Son send the Spirit, the Son prays to the Father, and we can pray to each of them."

The Nature of the Trinity

The Christian is called upon to hold equally the fact of the unity of God and the fact of His tri-personality. Together with the claim that God is one, is the accompanying recognition that in practical operation, the one supreme God manifests Himself in three persons. The trinity is a mystery, but not a contradiction. It is above reason, but it cannot be proved contrary to reason nor inconsistent with all of the truths known concerning God. The arithmetic of God is the concept: 1 + 1 + 1 = 1 which is true, even if not now understandable. Brumbach comments: "The term Trinity is a symbol...It is an algebraic sign for an unknown, mysterious relation." Chafer once wrote: "No argument has been advanced against the trinitarian conception other than that it does not conform to the limitations of the mind of man." Commented Robert Smith: "As he that denies it may lose his soul, so he that too much strives to understand it may lose his wits."
(end of page 36)

Trinitarianism, or the doctrine of the triunity of God, does not declare that there are three Gods nor does it declare that one person is three Persons, nor that three gods are one God. One of the best statements of trinitarianism is the traditional Athanasian Creed or the Quicunique which declares in part as follows:

"And the Catholic Faith is this: That 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 co-eternal. 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 afore, or after the other, none is greater, or less than another. But the whole three Persons are co-eternal together and co-equal. So that in all things as is aforesaid: the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped."

An effort in understanding the trinity sometimes is directed toward the definition of the word "person." It is suggested that in the historical theological sense, a person does not need to be a detached independent entity. Although the human experience with persons is limited to experience with other humans, it is conceivable that there might be a non-human person with attributes varying somewhat from those of a human individual. The traditional formulations of the trinity tended to use the word person somewhat in the same way that the modern word "character" is used. The properties of self-existence and independence are properties of the triune God, and not of the individual persons of the Godhead. Even though the persons relate to one another in a variety of personal ways, orthodoxy does not want to claim that there are three Persons in the Godhead in the same sense that there might be three persons in a family. Ultimately, the theologian is impressed to retreat into the claim that the trinity is inscrutible and incomprehensible because in relation to the Scriptures, it stands unexplained.


The early Christians, with their background of monotheistic Judaism, were convinced that there was but one God and that any other claim was in error. Nevertheless, the problem of the place to which to assign Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, who were as it were newly discovered persons of the Godhead, was deeply perplexing. The process of working out a consistent comprehensive doctrine led to prolonged controversy and debate within the Church, and in the process many false doctrines were developed and discarded. The doctrine of trinitarianism was by no means an immediate development in the Christian Church, nevertheless by the time of the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. a great deal of light and truth emerged, and the pattern was set for the orthodox Christian concept of the trinity.
(end of page 37)

In the era of the early Church, those who rejected trinitarianism were likely to identify with the monarchians. It was their position that the persons of the trinity were merely names for the various shifting phases of divine activity. The monarchians arose about 200 A.D. and they have maintained representatives throughout history. One of the first monarchians was Noetus of Smyrna (late 2nd and early 3rd century). Noetus' claim was that the Father became the Son when He was born, so that Christ was Himself the Father and therefore it was the Father who suffered and died in order that He might serve mankind. One of the best known students of Noetus was Praxaes. He likewise denied the distinction of Persons in the Godhead and held that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are identical. He maintained the deity of Jesus Christ on the grounds that Jesus was the Father and that when Jesus died on the cross the Father died also. To be incarnate, the Father came down from heaven and was conceivd in Mary by His own power. The glorified Lord Jesus is now seated in heaven at His own right hand. Praxaes also objected to the role of the Holy Spirit in the Church as it was practised in his day, so that his opponents declared of him: "He put to flight the Paraclete and he crucified the Father."

Sabellius, a presbyter of a church in Africa, came into prominence in the monarchian movement a few decades after Praxaes. History records that in 215 A.D. Sabellius was in Rome and there he was teaching his doctrine. Sabellius and his collegues particularly emphasized that the phenomena involving the trinity represented mere modes of expression of deity, and not the basic essence of the divine being. Hence, this interpretation is usually called Modalism. In the view of Sabellius, God is a divine unity revealing Himself successively in three different modes or forms. As Father, God reveals Himself as creator; as Jesus, He reveals Himself as Redeemer; as Holy Spirit, He reveals Himself as sanctifier. Since Jesus Christ was the supreme God Himself, God was His own Son. The Holy Spirit was simply that aspect of Christ discernable when He operated in the realms of man, or when virtue flowed forth from Him. In their classic illustration, the Sabellianists likened the Father to the globe of the sun, the Son to its illuminating effects, and the Spirit to its warming effects; while the whole solar phenomenon represented the divine substance. It was insisted that deity was an absolute unity and that the terms Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not real and personal, but nominal and official.
(end of page 38)

Modern Non-Trinitarians

In 1960 there were reported to be in the United States approximately 750,000 Christian believers who were committed to the denial of the trinity, and who thereby accepted some form of traditional Sabellianism. This group is almost wholly pentecostal and generally traces its roots to the mystical experiences of a small group of believers at a camp meeting in Southern California in 1913. It is to be noted that these modern Sabellianists are likely to acknowledge little or no connection with ancient monarchial views; they consider that their doctrine is a latter day revelation and no mere revival of traditionalism. Modern Sabellianism often is identified as "Jesus Only" or "Oneness," and currently the movement is usually considered an unorthodox cult. Hence, its adherents are likely to be denied fellowship not only by non-pentecostal evangelicals, but also by trinitarian pentecostals.

At some level, the modern Sabellianistic controversy involves little more than the baptismal formula and the dispute concerning the use of
Matthew 28:19 as contrasted by the recorded practices of the book of Acts. However, the theological inferences of a monarchian doctrine inevitably become the focus of interest. Thus, modern Sabellianists are likely to be militant and hostile to traditional trinitarianism and to refer to such believers as "three gods people." Some modern Sabellianistic writers have made a great deal of the tetragrammaton and have derived many of their conclusions from the fact that the name is mysterious and unknown.

Sabellianism holds that the three persons set forth in the Bible are only manifestations of Jesus, the one true God. They hold that the one name of deity is "Jesus" and they use proof texts such as "For unto us a child is born...and his name shall be called...The everlasting Father"
(Isaiah 9:6); "And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one"

(Zechariah 14:9). Another Sabellianistic approach is to hold that the trinity represents not three persons but three personalities of the one God who is named Jesus. In religious practice, not only do Sabellianists baptize in the name of Jesus but they tend to emphasize prayer to Jesus and to ascribe special, almost magical, power to the name of Jesus.

The trinitarian view would hold that a modalistic concept of the holy trinity or mere manifestations is not Scriptural, for only the Father is described as having been manifest. "God was manifest in the flesh"
(I Timothy 3:16). The reference to Jesus as "The everlasting father" is interpreted to mean that Jesus Christ is Father in the sense that He is the co-author of creation, the head of the saints, and the founder of the Church. To say that God's name shall be one is not considered as teaching monarchianism but rather as teaching simply that at the end time, paganism and the worship of false gods will no longer prevail. Trinitarians deny that God could exist as a personality in contrast with existing as a person, for the former is necessarily dependent upon the latter."
(end of page 39)
L. Thomas Holdcroft, Theology Proper, loose leaf booklet purchased at the Bethany Bible College book store in 1970

by Del Kingsriter

"The author responds to the questions of Muslims concerning their misunderstanding about the trinity...

Chapter 2
Why Do Christians Worship Three Gods

To better understand why this question is asked repeatedly, Christians should understand some history of the beginnings of Islam. By the seventh century the Christian Church, especially in Arabia, had drifted far from doctrinal purity and spiritual vitality. Among pagans, there was a great deal of polytheism (worship of more than one god) and this incensed Muhammad. The strongest thrust of his message was that man must worship one true God. To a Muslim, even suggesting that God can be divided or to say someone can be equal with God is to commit "shirk," which is the worst possible sin- blasphemy.

Some of the so-called "Christians" Muhammad knew practiced Maryolatry. This may have led to the mistaken belief that Christians believed Mary to be a part of the Trinity. The Qur'an always speaks of Jesus as the son of Mary. In Sura 4:171 we read, "Oh people of the book... Christ Jesus the son of Mary was an apostle of God and His word...." Muslims, Christians, and Jews state in their creed that they worship the one true God- the Creator, Ruler, and Judge of the universe, who revealed himself to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and other prophets. The unity of God is fundamental, yet Muslims and Jews feel that Christians have compromised this belief through the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.

Christians need to understand the sincerity and force of the feeling Muslims have concerning this. There are many differences in belief systems among Muslims around the world, but the belief and practice of the declaration that "God is One" is a daily ritual worldwide. For 13 centuries, this emphasis has not lessened.

In answering Muslims, one must understand that Islam is a very practical and reasoned religion. This is part of the problem. To understand the Trinity through human reasoning is a futile exercise. An infinite God cannot be understood by finite people. Muslims freely admit that God is beyond human reasoning; God is transcendent and unfathomable. As one Muslim stated, "Allah cannot be comprehended. He comprehends us. We are His slaves who only have the privilege to worship Him in fear."

When once discussing the question of the Trinity with a Muslim scholar, I said, "Do you agree that God is all powerful and is so great that if He wished, He could reveal himself to man in a hundred different ways?" My friend answered in the affirmative. I then said, "Please, my friend, though it is a mystery, let us accept by faith that God who is one is also 'three in one'." Faith in His word is the key.

In her book entitled In the Family of Abraham, Anne Cooper wrote, "The ability of human beings to reason logically is a very precious gift. It is one of the major factors which distinguishes us from animals. At the same time the ability has parameters and this must be recognized. Man cannot fully explain himself; he cannot explain the mystery of his own tripartite nature, how his body, mind, and spirit react together to make an integrated whole. How then can he dare to presume to dissect the nature of the great power so infinitely above and beyond him? We must reject any attempt to prove religious mysteries by reason" (page 86).

The Holy Bible says, "Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?"
(Romans 11:33,34).

"Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory"
(1 Timothy 3:16).

In the first chapter, we established that the Bible is the unchangeable Word of God. Therefore, we need to look very carefully at what it says in order to answer this very important question.

Jesus Christ himself said that the first commandment is: "The Lord our God, the Lord is one"
(Mark 12:29). To be a follower of Jesus Christ is to believe in the unity of God.

God, speaking through His prophet Isaiah, said, "I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God"
(Isaiah 45:5). Every follower of Jesus Christ must believe in the unity of God or he is not a true follower. The very thought that God had a physical relationship with Mary and produced a son is absolutely repugnant to Christians.

On the other hand, followers of Jesus Christ have come to know God:
1) as a loving heavenly Father who loves mankind;
2) as a redeeming Savior who shows the way to God; and
3) as a quickening Spirit who gives comfort, guidance, and power in this life.

To better answer the question "Why do Christians worship three gods?," we should try to understand who God is. Both Muslims and Christians agree that no man has seen God. It would be amusing, if it were not so tragic, to listen to people who cannot put God in a test tube and analyze Him declare there is no God, or that "God is dead." What foolishness! The Bible says, "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God'"
(Psalm 53:1). But the real quest of life is to come to know and understand God's nature- what God is really like- and then find the way to know Him personally and intimately.

The prophet Isaiah was one of many prophets who spoke of the coming of Jesus and what this would mean in helping mankind understand who God is. The prophet Isaiah said, "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel"
(Isaiah 7:14). The meaning of that name, Immanuel, is "God with us," or "God revealed to us."

So we ask, "Who is God?" We would have to say He is unknowable, unreachable, incomprehensible apart from Jesus Christ who was sent to man as Immanuel, God revealed to man. This explains Jesus' answer to His disciples when they asked Him how to find the way to God (remember, that is the ultimate question of mankind): "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me"
(John 14:6). The follower of Jesus would answer the question "What is God really like?" by saying that a person cannot really know God except he first knows Immanuel. It is Immanuel who introduces mankind to a heavenly Father whose greatest attribute is LOVE. It is Immanuel who demonstrates this unfathomable love. Only Immanuel is without sin. No other man ever lived who did not sin; all have sinned. This Immanuel has power over all sickness, even over death. No man in the history of the world had this power. This Immanuel has power to forgive sins. No man has ever dared to even say he had power to forgive sins. So through Immanuel we have a trustworthy testimony of who God is.

This then brings us to another question.

Don't let the things you can't do
stop you from doing
the things that you can do

Chapter 5
Is There Really a Triune God

God is one and only one, but He eternally exists in Tri-unity. This is a mystery. But to those who will, by faith, accept God in His great revelation to man, the Holy Bible declares that the mystery becomes a reality. In concluding this weighty matter of the Godhead, I want to quote from the writings of two theologians, Richard Starch and Christopher Gornold-Smith.

According to Richard Starch:

"There is and can be only one God— of this, all Christians are absolutely certain, just as much as Muslims. Nor can any other being be in any way compared to Him, for He is infinite and eternal while all else is finite and created. Least of all can human beings be compared to Him, as He is utterly just, loving, merciful, and good, while men, even the saints and prophets, are sinners. Why then have Christians maintained that Jesus Christ is divine, and so also the Holy Spirit of God? There must have been very strong reasons for them to do something so strange.

Let us begin with the Holy Spirit, as it may be easier to understand Christian beliefs about Him. The Bible speaks of the Spirit as a personal reality and a power (as indeed does the Qur'an); what is more, a personal reality and a power which God can and does send to inspire His prophets and His people. But He is the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of God cannot be a distinct being created by God, like a human spirit or an angel. The spirit of a man is not something separate from the man, which he might make or unmake; it is part of that man's very being, yet not the whole of it. So also with the Spirit of God. He must be truly divine, and not a created being. Nor can He be a second God, for there cannot be any such thing. He must be in some way a part or aspect or attribute of the one God- truly God, yet not exhausting the whole meaning of the name "God."

Consider then what the Bible tells us about Jesus. In His own time many people recognized Him as a prophet, and He accepted the name. If that had been all, there would be no problem. But it was not all. He did not speak of revelations granted to Him, as other prophets did; He spoke as if He himself were the revealer- or even that which was revealed. He did not only warn of judgement to come, as other prophets did; He said that He himself would be the judge. Most important of all, He said that He had come to do something which was not the work of any prophet; He had come to give His life as a ransom for many, to be lifted up on the Cross to draw all men to himself. The apostle Peter described this in words taken from the prophecies of the Old Testament: Jesus, he said, was the bearer of our sins
(1 Peter 2:24).

But these are things which only God can do. A prophet can reveal what God says to him; he can speak in the name of God, as God's apostle and representative; but he cannot speak as if he himself had authority. Jesus did. A prophet can warn people of judgement to come; but only God can actually judge, for only He understands the inner hearts of people. And no created being could ransom sinful men for God, or bear their sins; God would never punish the innocent, nor would it do the guilty any good if He did. But if God himself took the weight of our rebellion, and bore the pain of our sinfulness- that really could make the difference.

There are (a Christian writer once said) three great barriers between God and the human race. One is
the barrier of nature: God alone is God, and we are mere humans. The second is
the barrier of sin: God is good, and we are not. The third is
the barrier of death: God is eternal, and we are mortals.
There is no way any of us could cross or break down any of those barriers. But God, who is Almighty, could and did. He broke down the first barrier by taking our human nature upon himself; He broke down the second by bearing our sin; and He broke down the third when Jesus rose from the dead.

Yet Jesus was not the whole of God; indeed. He spoke of and to God. Therefore, as with the Holy Spirit, we seem driven to speak in terms of a part or aspect or attribute of God; not as a lesser being, not as a second god, but truly part of the One God.

What sort of language should we use to refer to Him? Jesus himself habitually spoke of God as His Father, and hence it has been very common to use the phrase "God the Son" or "The Son of God." This had one serious disadvantage; it might suggest to pagans something like one of their legends, in which a 'god' comes to earth and has a child by a human woman. Such an idea seems equally blasphemous to Jews, Christians, and Muslims. There is in fact only one place in the Gospels where Jesus' "Sonship" is connected in any way with His birth,
Luke 1:35, which is simply indicating the truth that Jesus' birth was by the direct will of God, that He was born of a virgin, without any human father. Elsewhere it is made clear that He always had been "the Son," from all eternity, one aspect of the one eternal God.

The other key term that the New Testament uses is "The Word of God"- one especially used by the apostle John. (It is interesting that this expression is also used to describe Jesus in the Qur'an.) A human "word" is something distinct from the people who use it; for one thing, any number of people may use the same word. But God's Word is different; it is the expression of His will, and cannot be distinguished from Him except as an aspect or attribute of His; it is as truly divine as His Spirit. And since Jesus came not only to save us but to reveal the truth about God, to show God's loving will in His life as well as His words, 'The Word of God' seemed particularly appropriate as a way to refer to Him; for it is through words that we are able to tell one another the truth.

Christians have therefore felt obliged to recognize that within the eternal unity of God there are three different aspects, the Father, the Son or Word, and the Holy Spirit. Each is fully divine, but none is, by itself, exhausting of what is meant by the word "God." Although in English these Three have traditionally been called "persons," this is not meant to suggest three different people; the word was actually taken over from Latin, in which it can often mean something more like "character," or even 'mask,' a notion quite close to what was meant earlier by the use of the word "aspect." There is no question in any way of denying the Oneness of God; it is simply a matter of doing justice to what He himself has revealed about himself in the word of His prophets and apostles and in the work of His Word and His Spirit."

Christopher Gornold-Smith writes concerning the Trinity:

"Muslims need to know that the Christian belief in the Trinity has been misunderstood. Christians do not believe in three Gods. So what do they believe?

First of all, Christians recognize the greatness and essential mystery of the Divine Being of God.

Saint Basil, one of the great leaders of the Early Christian Church, said it is easier to measure the entire ocean in a little cup than to grasp the greatness of God in the human mind. We can say things about God which we know to be true, for God himself has revealed them. But if we could fully understand the Nature and Being of God, we would have to be as great as God himself or He would have to be as small as we are. And both of these notions would be at once impossible and blasphemous.

Second, Christians recognize the unique authority of Jesus Christ.

The Injil (John 1:1-14) describes Jesus as the living Word of God. It is interesting to note that Muslims too believe that Jesus is the 'Word from Him.' As I write, my thoughts, which are part of me, are expressed and embodied in words. As you read my words you understand the way I think. My words are part of me. Remember, God's Word is perfect. There is no imperfection in God. If Jesus is the living Word of God, which we agree He is, then He is the perfect expression of God. His teachings are perfect; His life is perfect; His character is perfect. This gives Him unique authority. We agree that God alone is perfect. Yet we have seen that Jesus is also perfect.

It goes one step further. I said my words are part of me. If Jesus is God's Living Word, then Jesus is, in some mysterious sense, part with God. In what sense we shall see later.

In the New Testament there is an important statement about this: "In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his Being, sustaining all things by his powerful word"
(Hebrews 1:1-3).

These verses describe Jesus Christ in His relationship to God. Three expressions are used: Son, radiance, and representation.

When Christians describe Jesus as the Son of God they do NOT mean that God had any kind of sexual relationship with Mary and thus begat Jesus as His Son! That would be as blasphemous as it would be abhorrent. Jesus himself said, "God is a Spirit"
(John 4:24). In Hebrews 3:1-3 it is clear the word Son does not refer to a physical relationship, for these verses describe the Son as existing before the material Universe.

There is a clue to the meaning in the next key word: radiance. He is the "radiance of God's glory." What radiance is to a source of light, Jesus Christ is to God. It is through the radiance which enters your eye that you can see a source of light. You cannot see the source without the radiance, but without the source the radiance would not be. There is no source without radiance; no radiance without source.

The third word is representation. Keep in mind the language of the original is Greek. The Greek word here is charakter, which we translate as representation. It refers to the impression made by a seal on wax or clay. In ancient times, for any document to carry authority it had to be sealed. The charakter gave it the mark of authenticity, so it carried all the power of the one to whom the seal belonged. Reading such a document is the same as personally meeting with the author. Because the charakter was formed directly from the seal, the two were identical in form. To see the stamped impression, the charakter, was to see the seal itself. Of course, without the owner's seal there would be no stamp to reveal it.

The terms radiance, representation (charakter), and Word convey relationship, but they do not convey personal, conscious existence. The closest term we have in human language is Son. A son could not exist without a father; a son may be expected to look like his father; a son may know the mind of his father; a son can officially represent his father and communicate his wishes; and a son is also a living, conscious person. Is it surprising that Jesus Christ referred to God as Father? Jesus said, "He who has seen me has seen the Father"
(John 14:9), and "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me"
(John 14:6).

Third, Christians believe in the Holy Spirit.

In the Gospel (Injil) we read that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God himself. Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit not as an angel (not even the archangel Gabriel) nor as another prophet, but as One like himself in nature and as God.

Jesus said, "I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever- The Spirit of truth"
(John 14:16). The Greek word translated another is allos. The word means another of the same kind. Jesus was saying that just as He and the Father were One in Nature, so the Holy Spirit is also of the same Divine Nature.

What is the difference between a man and a man's spirit? What is the difference between God and the Spirit of God? In the Holy Scriptures the terms Holy Spirit and Spirit of God are used interchangeably. The Holy Spirit is God. In the first two verses of the Bible (the first two verses of the Taurat) we read, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth," and "the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters"
(Genesis 1:1-2).

Jesus was not describing another prophet. He said, "The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he (already) lives with you"
(John 14:17).

Jesus made it very clear that the Holy Spirit was not merely an influence or force from God; the Holy Spirit is God. The Holy Spirit
teaches us (John 14:26),
testifies about Jesus (John 15:26),
reminds us of what Jesus said (John 14:26),
guides us into truth (John 16:13), and
convicts the world of guilt in regard to sin, righteousness, and judgment
(John 16:8). The Holy Spirit has personal, conscious, and Divine existence.

How can all this be brought together?

It is beyond the capacity of man to fully comprehend God in His infinite greatness. Man himself, even within his small being, is complex and difficult to understand. Saint Augustine described man as a complex of body, soul, and spirit- three, yet one. Is my body, relating to the physical world, really me? Of course it is. Is my soul, relating to the mental world, really me? Yes. Is my spirit, which responds to God, really me? Yes. Then am I three men or one? One.

How much more is the complexity of God beyond man's reach! Yet God has revealed himself. In this profound complexity of God's Being there is three-ness. Why not two-ness or four-ness? Simply because it is so. What emerges from a close study of Scripture is that God is One, yet within that unity there is a three-ness of Being. Thus comes the expression Tri-unity, or Trinity. This also means there is within God- in His self-sufficient, eternal relationship- an eternal dynamic.

When Christians speak of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, they do not mean there are three gods. Neither do they mean that these are just three modes in which God has revealed himself. No, it goes beyond that. God eternally exists in Tri-unity. The Son, the living Word of God, came to us in human form when Jesus was born, but within the Godhead He had always been. God was not silent before Jesus (the Word of God) came into the world. And God's eternal Holy Spirit has always been moving. He is the Lord and giver of life.

Certainly there is mystery in this Tri-unity, mystery far greater than that of man's own being. But this is what we should expect of God. He remains above and beyond us in His essential Being, yet He has revealed himself to us in Jesus Christ, the Word of God."

Del Kingsriter, QUESTIONS MUSLIMS ASK, Published by Center For Ministry to Muslims (CMM), Minneapolis, 1991, pages 1-36.

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    As of January 27, 2007
  • This info comes from the web. Web address is
    Ken Horn, "God, the three in one"