Should You Believe It?
DO YOU believe in the Trinity? Most people in Christendom do. After all, it has been the central doctrine of the churches for centuries.
In view of this, you would think that there could be no question about it. But there is, and lately even some of its supporters have added fuel to the controversy.
Why should a subject like this be of any more than passing interest? Because Jesus himself said: “Eternal life is this: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” So our entire future hinges on our knowing the true nature of God, and that means getting to the root of the Trinity controversy. Therefore, why not examine it for yourself?—John 17:3, Catholic Jerusalem Bible (JB).
Various Trinitarian concepts exist. But generally the Trinity teaching is that in the Godhead there are three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; yet, together they are but one God. The doctrine says that the three are coequal, almighty, and uncreated, having existed eternally in the Godhead.
Others, however, say that the Trinity doctrine is false, that Almighty God stands alone as a separate, eternal, and all-powerful being. They say that Jesus in his prehuman existence was, like the angels, a separate spirit person created by God, and for this reason he must have had a beginning. They teach that Jesus has never been Almighty God’s equal in any sense; he has always been subject to God and still is. They also believe that the holy ghost is not a person but God’s spirit, his active force.
Supporters of the Trinity say that it is founded not only on religious tradition but also on the Bible. Critics of the doctrine say that it is not a Bible teaching, one history source even declaring: “The origin of the [Trinity] is entirely pagan.”—The Paganism in Our Christianity.
If the Trinity is true, it is degrading to Jesus to say that he was never equal to God as part of a Godhead. But if the Trinity is false, it is degrading to Almighty God to call anyone his equal, and even worse to call Mary the “Mother of God.” If the Trinity is false, it dishonors God to say, as noted in the book Catholicism: “Unless [people] keep this Faith whole and undefiled, without doubt [they] shall perish everlastingly. And the Catholic Faith is this: we worship one God in Trinity.”
There are good reasons, then, why you should want to know the truth about the Trinity. But before examining its origin and its claim of truthfulness, it would be helpful to define this doctrine more specifically. What, exactly, is the Trinity? How do supporters of it explain it?
[Pictures on page 2]
Left: Egyptian sculpture of the second millennium (B.C.E.) Triad of Amon-Ra, Ramses II, and Mut. Right: Fourteenth century (C.E.) Trinity sculpture of Jesus Christ, the Father, and the holy spirit. Note, three persons but only four legs.