Some may object to the doctrine in question by saying the word “Trinity” is never mentioned in the Bible. This, however, doesn’t matter. The term was first used by the Christian apologist Tertullian in the early third century A.D. We simply use it now to designate that specific nature of God. Any word could be used as long as it properly designates the doctrine.Another objection to the Trinity is based on simple misconceptions and can be responded to simply by clarifying what the doctrine says. The doctrine isn’t making the contradictory claim that God is three persons, yet somehow one person; or that there’s one God, yet somehow three Gods. It says that there is one God, made up of three persons. God is one in essence, and three distinct Persons equally share that essence. There are many analogies that can be used to clarify this, but analogies only go so far. I think it is safe to simply say that just as in my finite being there is one person, or center of self-consciousness, which I call “I”, in God’s infinite being there are three persons, or three centers of self-consciousness, so there is an “I-you” relationship in the Godhead. Of course this is just baby talk. We can hardly understand this exhaustively, but the important thing is that there’s nothing contradictory about it.
Some object to it because there are no specific verses that describe God this way. However, we don’t get this doctrine from any one verse, since there aren’t any verses like this. The Trinity is too large of a concept to be confined to brief verses. Instead, the doctrine is, as William Lane Craig puts it, “a systematic summary of the Scriptural data concerning the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Early theologians took five different teachings the Bible espoused clearly and, in the end, found a way to state them in a coherent and noncontradictory way.
So does the Trinity complicate things? Does it still seem like a farfetched doctrine to espouse and defend? On my next blog I will show why the Trinity solves problems rather than creates them.
other posts in this series:
The Doctrine of the Trinity: Why it Matters