The Most Misunderstood Christian Doctrine: The Trinity

The Trinity is perhaps the most misunderstood doctrine in the Christian faith, possibly because it is such a uniquely Christian teaching. Therefore many cults and false religions enjoy using the trinity to attack a weak point in most Christian’s understanding. So we ask; is the idea of a trinity a contradiction while at the same time holding that there is one God? Did Jesus pray to Himself in the garden of Gethsemane, or even stranger, did Jesus descend on Himself in the form of a dove (Luke 3:22)?

So what exactly is the doctrine of the trinity? The doctrine of the Trinity is simply that there is one eternal being of God – indivisible, infinite. This one being of God is shared by three co-equal, co-eternal persons, the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.

It is easy to go wrong in grasping this if we do not distinguish between the terms ‘being’ (essence) and ‘person’ (individual). Most people think that the trinity means that there are three beings within one being, or three persons within one person. These ideas are obviously illogical and if they do make a metaphysical puzzle, it is a rather bad one. Realize though, that it is a normal thing for us to regularly make distinctions between ‘being’ and ‘person’. We noticed in life that answers to what something is, and who someone is. A computer has a ‘being’ – the being of a computer, so does a CD, desk, rock, etc. However, we also recognize that there are personal attributes also. When we think about another person, we recognize both ‘what’ and ‘who’.

According to the Holy Scriptures, there are three classes of personal beings, namely; God, man and angels. James White in a similar article points out that personality is the ability to have emotion, will and to express oneself. Rocks cannot speak, cats are unable to think about themselves over against other and so work for the betterment of ‘cat kind’. With this in mind, grasp the doctrine that the trinity is one eternal, infinite being of God, shared fully and completely by three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. One what, three who’s.

This doctrine does not teach that the Father is the Son, or the Son is the Spirit etc. This is a common misunderstanding. The three Biblical doctrines that grow into the tree that is the Trinity, may be put as

1) There is one and only one God, eternal, immutable.

2) There are three eternal Persons described in Scripture – the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. These Persons are never identified with one another – that is, they are carefully differentiated as Persons.

3) The Father, the Son, and the Spirit, are identified as being fully deity—that is, the Bible teaches the Deity of Christ and the Deity of the Holy Spirit.

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