Let’s be open – we will not explain what “Trinity" is. Simply because it is too complex for humans. Instead we will introduce you to this concept as it is found in the Bible. “Come and see", as they say.
WHAT IS THIS - TRINITY?
The word “trinity" is not to be found in the Scriptures. (Don’t worry, neither is “universe", or “character", for example.) Trinity was coined to express a specific type of unity of three, as men came closer to understand the complex reality about God’s nature.
In two lines:
– there is one God (and we are to worship one God only)
– yet there are three distinct divine Persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) who act and are worshipped as God.
How can that be? Welcome to the beauty of complexity!
A Bible student would easily see from some texts below that God is presented by the Scriptures both as “one" and “a plural" of three persons. One God. And yet, a kind of Trio:
– one God the Father;
– one Son of God, worshipped and acting as fully God;
– one Holy Spirit of God, leading with the same divine authority.
We admit is not plain. For some is like a contradiction, or a paradox, for others is stretching the logic and stepping in the unknown. Hey, what about other challenges like talking about the nature of light – remember wave-particle duality, or trying to imagine a fourth dimensional object… (Probably it’s like a blind explaining to another blind what rainbow is.)
To illustrate in figures, trinity is 1+1+1=3, and even more, 1x1x1=1.
That’s why we see “Trinity" more like a mystery. And a mystery, for as long as it remains as such, may not be fully explained, only observed, examined or investigated more, confirmed, denied, believed, despised…
READ/WATCH "THE FLATLAND"
LET'S SEE A BIBLE EXAMPLE
When God speaks for the first time in the Scriptures in relation to humans, our Bible reads: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness’. […] So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." (Genesis 1:26-27)
– there is one speaking (God), yet he does it in the name of more than one (us);
– the making itself is done by more than one, yet it is God who does it (“God created…");
– the man (singular) will then carry the image of his maker(s) (plural);
– the man (both male and female) carry one image.
Who was there in the beginning as Creator?
The Bible clearly tells us that God the Father is the Creator of all things (Job 38:1-7; Matthew 19:4-6). He was there. John the apostle introduces us to the Son, saying that “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1). Even more, “all things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made" (v. 3). To complete the picture, Moses confirms there was a third person at Genesis moments, “the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters" (Genesis 1:2), and the same Spirit gave life to man, as we read: “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life" (Job 33:4, see also Genesis 2:7).
To review it, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them" (Genesis 1:27).
It’s not complicated. It’s just complex!
WHAT WE BELIEVE ABOUT THE TRINITY?
One. A Unity.
There is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a unity of three coeternal Persons.
Infinite. Yet Known.
God is immortal, all-powerful, all-knowing, above all, and ever present. He is infinite and beyond human comprehension, yet known through His self-revelation. We will see and know more of Him as we come closer to Him.
Worthy. As Creator.
God, who is love, is forever worthy of worship, adoration, and service by the whole creation. It is not bringing God down, under our lenses for investigation, it is us becoming aware that we look upward to Him through His microscope.
We believe God has revealed Himself as Trinity – three distinct divine Persons. And these persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – constitute the one divine Trinitarian being.
Please read again Jesus’ words above. Can you see His view into it? (yes, indirectly). To follow His perspective, we can take it as another illustration – trinity is like a name. That’s it: one name only, yet carried by more than one persons with the same authority of (any)one of them.
During the following lesson, a three-in-one (!) study of Essentials series, addressing the identity and attributes of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, you will have the opportunity to see more in-depth this one topic of Trinity.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT TRINITY?
Maybe it’s better that you see for yourself what the Bible has to say about this topic. You’ll check some more verses this time 😉 as you’ve progressed to the second lesson. We’ll take you basically from Genesis to Revelation as an overview for our topic.
Will you identify in the following texts the plural forms, the three Persons of Godhead, their divinity, the relationship between them?
We recommend to highlight these verses in your Bible, or write on the margins of their respective pages. It might be good idea to get a well kept journal where to jot down some thoughts found there and then add your reflection over them.
For this Bible Study Class (BSC) you will be required to read from the Bible. It’s our handbook! Of course, it’s up to you when you do it, how you do it, what version of the Bible will you use.
Remember how we started this lesson?
“Let’s be open – we will not explain what ‘Trinity’ is. Simply because it is too complex for humans. Instead we will introduce you to this concept as it is found in the Bible. ‘Come and see’, as they say.“
We invite you to read for Essentials #02 – The Trinity one Bible book and a fragment of another one. The pictures are linked to BibleHub where you can start your reading in a favourite version.
RECOMMENDED HELPS & TOOLS
We will recommend different helps and tools, resources in various formats, to facilitate your experience with the topic you’re focusing into. Some of the study resources will be free, some are paid – all are valuable. Of course, they are optional.
Note: all questions in the coming quiz have their answers in the lesson itself and in the Bible books required for reading (not in the helps, tools and resources).
RESOURCES FOR ADVANCED STUDENTS
Here are some resources for advanced students. That doesn’t mean for… theologians. Only for those who have asked themselves questions like “How is our God?" or “Does the Bible support the doctrine of Trinity?", or “Why the Trinity matters for us?".
OK. Then, it might be for you!
“Our God" – Ekkehardt Mueller
“The Trinity in Scripture" – Gerhard Pfandl
“God in Three Persons" – Jo Ann Davidson
“Reflections on the Doctrine of the Trinity" – Raoul Dederen
“God in 3 Persons in the NT" – Paul Petersen
“History of Seventh-day Adventist Views on the Trinity" – Merlin D. Burt
“The doctrine of Trinity among Adventists" – Gerhard Pfandl
“The Lord our God is One" – Ángel Manuel Rodríguez
“The Holy Spirit and the Godhead" – Ángel Manuel Rodríguez
Why a series on the Trinity? There are several good reasons.
In the last two decades, there has been a resurgence of Arianism and anti-Trinitarianism, not only in the Seventh-day Adventist Church but also in the wider Christian and Evangelical world.
While Adventists have been careful and deliberate in their study of many biblical doctrines—for example the doctrines of last day events, justification by faith, the sanctuary, and the atonement—other doctrines have been neglected. One of them, we believe, is the biblical doctrine of the Godhead. And perhaps we are now seeing the results of this neglect. In any case, this series of presentations seeks to address some of the issues that are being raised in regard to our understanding of God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.