Challenges to our faith don’t come from unreligious people alone, but also from adherents of other religious faiths. One thing that distinguishes Christian theism from all the other monotheistic faiths is the doctrine of the Trinity. While other churches and faiths, like Jehovah’s Witnesses and Muslims, are unitarian: believing that God is one person, Christian doctrine holds that God is actually three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. But how is it that we Christians can say we believe in one God, but that three persons are that God? Adherents of these other faiths challenge the Trinity, saying it’s contradictory or unbiblical. Unfortunately, many Christians don’t have an adequate enough understanding of what the doctrine says. In a discussion, this can lead to either the Christian being badly defeated or explaining the doctrine in an erroneous way. I’ve talked to some Christians who were skeptical of the doctrine, thinking it’s too complicated or too farfetched, but I think it is a doctrine that we can have confidence in. Few people who read this are planning on becoming systematic theologians, so why should you care about learning this doctrine well? There’s several reasons.First, God reveals it to us. This is a pretty simple reason, but what could be a better one? If God wants us to know something about Himself, we should seek to understand it to the best of our ability.
Second, all three members of the Trinity play a part in our faith and salvation. The Father chooses us “before the foundation of the world,” (Eph. 1:4) and reveals to us the truth about Jesus (Matt. 16:17). Jesus came to earth to save sinners (1 Tim. 1:15) and mediates between us and God (1 Tim. 2:5). The Holy Spirit is the “Helper” that teaches us, convicts us of sin, intercedes for us in prayer (Rom. 8:26), and is the “guarantee of our inheritance,” (Eph. 1:14) or as John Frame puts more concisely in his book Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, “The Father knows all and reveals truth to us by the grace of His Son through the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.”
Third, the Trinity solves problems. Theologically, I think the Trinity explains things about God and man that the unitarian concept doesn’t explain. I will get into this in a future post.
Fourth, to know God. There is a difference between knowing only facts about God and knowing God as our Lord. An uneducated person who knows God as our Lord and Father is infinitely better off than a seminary graduate who merely knows facts about Him, but knowing God as our Lord still requires facts. While there is an incomprehensibility to the Trinitarian nature of God, having a better understanding of it can lead us to awe and wonder at just how glorious God is. The Trinity represents something that we humans strive and thirst for; He represents an ideal that we all insatiably long for. And, of course, knowing God is the most important thing we can do.
On my next blog post I will cover some objections and misunderstandings of the Trinity.