Thursday, April 29, 2010

Father, Son and Holy Spirit

God preoccupies the minds of men and women in everyday life. Whether they cry out to him in time of need, to thank him, to praise him or to utter curses and blasphemies seemingly in his name, He is on their minds.

Christians who seek, know and serve God sometimes become similarly preoccupied in a maze to explain God in understandable terms. The New Testament (NT) references to Father, Son and Holy Spirit may seem insufficient for them to explain in numeric (singularity versus plurality) terms. However, resorting to the popular use of the term Trinity is itself a problem too. It is a problem for many primarily because it does not appear in the scriptures. The term is an invitation for erroneous charges of polytheism against Christians. My own reference to the term here is only to show my awareness of it. I do not to rely on it. I have no use for it as my explanation to a seeker of God. The scriptures, written by the apostles and men inspired by the Holy Spirit, remain the first and last resort, without substitute, for understanding God and his will as far as concerns written sources.

oversimplification and unity

In addition to the use of the Trinity term there are two common, but seriously mistaken attempts to explain what are clearly three different. terms and entities, or a plurality, in reference to God. These explanations are embraced by some Christians also. The explanations are: 1) Jesus is the Father and Holy Spirit, and 2) God is One.

The first explanation is an oversimplification of the subject in the extreme. It fails immediately. The first reason it fails is because the Father testifies of Jesus at the time of Son's baptism (Matt 3:17). Secondly, the Son speaks of the Holy Spirit as the One whom the Father would send (John 14:15,16) after Jesus ascended back to the Father. Peter declares to Ananias the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:1-9) is God and in so doing he ascribes the masculine gender to the Holy Spirit also. The Holy Spirit is He, not it. Clearly, three entities, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are referred to as separate beings.

The second explanation seems to be a lack of confidence and understanding. It seems more of a cheer or a chant. The explanation is to refer to God in quantitative terms of one as opposed to three. This explanation comes from verses such as The LORD our God is one LORD (Deuteronomy 6:4). This conclusion as to quantity is at best an oversight and at worse a error of interpretation of the scriptures.

The Deuteronomy verse (Jews know as the Shema) seems more a point regarding the unity between anything and everything God said and what was said in his name. It is about the harmony and unit of 1) what God spoke directly to Moses, 2) what Moses spoke to the children of Israel as being from God, and later after Moses 3) what God's servants, the prophets, spoke as the message of God all throughout Israel's history.
This same unity between Moses, the prophets and the Father were common claims of Jesus.

an illustration of one

The problem with illustrations is they can and will break down when pressed beyond the original intent of those illustrations to teach or clarify a point. Furthermore, they can be just as misunderstood as the scriptures themselves. Even worse is that someone will run with his/her misunderstanding of the illustration only to create even further misunderstanding. Still, here's my illustration. I commend all readers to search and understand the scriptures.

Ken, his wife, Patti and their son, Alex are a family well-known in their home congregation. Ken is a husband to Patti. Ken is a father to Alex. Ken is a friend to Robert. This represents one person, Ken, in three different relationships (husband, father and friend) with three different persons. The people in their respective relationships with Ken do not misunderstand or freely shuffle their relationship with Ken as they please. Attempts to shuffle the respective roles in these relationships can range from inappropriate to disrespectful or worse.

the apostle Paul in Ephesians 1

A similar point on relationships is made about God by the apostle Paul in Ephesians 1. The Father is presented much like a master planner who conceived his plan to choose (a topic for another RRM study) a people for his own possession before the foundation of the world. The Son is presented as the one who redeems the chosen. The Holy Spirit is he who seals the chosen redeemed. Paul not only presents the three, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but he explains their separate relationships towards man. There's a significant difference between the illustration involving Ken (1) in relationships (3) as husband, father and friend and the three beings, Father, Son and Holy Spirit described by Paul as God. Paul describes a transcendent, divine entity of three beings, not just three relationships of the one God.

This may not be as difficult to understand as it is to accept it. What is truly astonishing to man is not the question of three beings or three relationships. No, the greater difficulty for man is comprehending and grasping such total, absolute unity between any multiple of entities. We, from a human standpoint, know how difficult it can be to achieve a significant measure of unity with one other let alone two others. We might unite with others in a common cause, but to face the certain approaching footsteps of death as did Jesus in his cause as Savior is a bit more than most of us are willing to do for the unity of our cause or idea.

acceptance of one is acceptance of all

There are believers who profess to believe and honor Jesus, but deny and reject the claims which He himself made concerning his death, burial and resurrection. This is apostasy, that is, they have fallen away from the faith. There are some who deny and reject what Paul and other apostles wrote because, as they see it, Jesus never said something about which the apostles wrote. This has a reverse application on Jesus. Again, it is pointed out Jesus never said anything for or against homosexuality. This is taken as license for the silent approval or active embrace of homosexuality. However, what this reveals is an ignorance of the work of the Holy Spirit as Jesus told his disciples. They have, by rejecting the apostles' writings, rejected and denied the Holy Spirit. Jesus told the apostles the Holy Spirit, will bring to your remembrance all things and will guide you into all truth. (John 16:13)

Similarly, the denial and rejection of the Father who sent the Holy Spirit reveals a lack of unity between what some believe and what they do. They can not grasp or accept the unity of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit and resort to an oversimplification or rejection of scripture. Rejection of any part of scripture is a rejection of all. Rejection of the Father, Son or Holy Spirit as divine beings or their respective roles towards man is to reject all. Conversely, acceptance of any part of scripture is to accept all of it just as acceptance of the Father is acceptance of Son and Holy Spirit. This is much more than simplification. It is unity.

A rejection of what Father or Son or Holy Spirit said or did is rejection of all. The corollary to that statement is that acceptance of what any one of them said or did is to accept all of which the others said and it. The same acceptance/rejection carries over to the apostles, the carriers of the message of the Father as revealed by Jesus, of Jesus as revealed by the Holy Spirit and of the Holy Spirit as Jesus gave him utterance for the apostles.

the unity of God in marriage

The intimacy of marriage as a relationship of mutual submission. It is where a man and a woman as husband and wife reflect this unity, this one-ness. Submission did not make Jesus less divine than the Father or the Holy Spirit. It does not make a man less than a man or a woman less than a woman by fulfilling their relationships in their roles as husband and wife. As you draw closer to understanding God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit seek His unity to in your heart and in your relationships and marriage with all glory, honor and thanksgiving to God.


  1. Greetings Gil

    On the subject of the Trinity,
    I recommend this video:
    The Human Jesus

    Take a couple of hours to watch it; and prayerfully it will aid you to reconsider "The Trinity"

    Yours In Messiah
    Adam Pastor

  2. I appreciate the link, Adam, though I much prefer visitors post their own thoughts. I have reviewed the video two times and I will comment more specifically on some of its points soon. I will say this much; there is nothing it contains which I have not already heard and discussed repeatedly and extensively with Muslims on Orkut communities over the last few years.