The “Blessed Trinity”—Is It in the Bible?
SHE was burned to death in England in 1550. Her name? Joan Bocher. Her crime? The Encyclopædia Britannica (1964) says: “She was condemned for open blasphemy in denying the Trinity, the one offense which all the church had regarded as unforgivable ever since the struggle with Arianism.”
The Trinity is a fundamental doctrine of the vast majority of churches. But what exactly is the Trinity? The Waverley Encyclopedia defines it as “the mystery of one God in three persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, co-equal and co-eternal in all things.” Yet The New Encyclopædia Britannica (1981) says: “Neither the word Trinity, nor the explicit doctrine as such, appears in the New Testament.” This immediately raises questions about the doctrine.
Compounding the matter is a frank admission that the New Catholic Encyclopedia presents in terms of a question that seminary students often ask, “But how does one preach the Trinity?” This Catholic work continues: “If the question is symptomatic of confusion on the part of the students, perhaps it is no less symptomatic of similar confusion on the part of their professors. If ‘the Trinity’ here means Trinitarian theology, the best answer would be that one does not preach it at all . . . because the sermon, and especially the Biblical homily, is the place for the word of God, not its theological elaboration.”
When did this “theological elaboration” begin? Answers The New Encyclopædia Britannica (1981): “The doctrine developed gradually over several centuries and through many controversies.” Does that sound to you like a direct, clear revelation from God? So how can it be a revelation of Holy Scripture, as is claimed?
A Biblical statement that church teachers often use to support the Trinity is Jesus’ command that his followers make disciples, “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit.” (Matthew 28:19) This passage certainly mentions three entities, but it does not say that they are three persons or that they are all one. Furthermore, we know the name of the Father (Jehovah) and of the Son (Jesus), but what is the name of the holy spirit? This leads to the question . . .
Is the Holy Spirit a Person?
The fact that the Bible gives no indication of the holy spirit’s having a personal name at least suggests that it may not be a person. You might ask also, ‘Has the holy spirit ever been seen?’ Well, at Jesus’ baptism it was manifested as a dove and at Pentecost as tongues as if of fire. (Matthew 3:16; Acts 2:3, 4) If it is a person, why did it not appear as a person? And if the holy spirit is not a person, what is it? Undoubtedly, it is the active force from God that at Pentecost was ‘poured out’ on the disciples. (Acts 2:17, 18) By this active force, Jehovah performed his acts of creation—“God’s active force was moving to and fro over the surface of the waters.” (Genesis 1:2) The same active force inspired the writers of the Bible.—2 Timothy 3:16.
One of those inspired writers was the prophet Daniel. In Daniel chapter 7 he describes a wonderful vision Jehovah gave to him: “the Ancient of Days” on his heavenly throne, with a multitude of angels ministering to him. Daniel saw also “someone like a son of man [Jesus],” who was given “rulership and dignity and kingdom, that the peoples, national groups and languages should all serve even him.” (Daniel 7:9, 10, 13, 14) What, though, about the holy spirit? It is not mentioned as a person in this celestial scene.
The final book of the Bible—Revelation—describes other remarkable heavenly visions. The Supreme Being, Jehovah, is depicted there on his throne, and the Lamb, Jesus Christ, is with him. But, again, the holy spirit is not mentioned as a distinct person. (Revelation, chapters 4–6) So even the final Bible book does not reveal that there are three persons in one god. This raises . . .
Another Important Question
The Trinity dogma has been described as “the central doctrine of the Christian religion.” If this were true, why did Jesus not reveal it when he was on earth? His disciples, being Israelites, believed that Jehovah is unique. To this day, Jews continue to recite Deuteronomy 6:4: “Listen, O Israel: Jehovah our God is one Jehovah.” There is no suggestion in the Hebrew Scriptures that the Supreme Being is in three persons. You may well wonder, ‘If this were true, why did this “central doctrine” not become dogma until the fourth century—amid bitter controversy that caused widespread confusion?’
Some might argue: ‘But Jesus did say, “I and the Father are one.”’ (John 10:30) True. In what sense, though, are they one? Jesus himself clarified this later by saying in prayer: “Holy Father, watch over them [his disciples] . . . in order that they may be one just as we are one.” (John 17:11, 22) Hence, the unity of Father and Son is the same as the unity that exists among Christ’s true followers—a harmony of purpose and cooperation.
Still, some may suggest that although Jesus did not spell out the Trinity doctrine, the apostle John did at 1 John 5:7, which, according to the King James Version, says: “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” However, more modern versions omit this passage. Why? The Catholic Jerusalem Bible explains in a footnote that this text is not found in any of the early Greek or the best Latin manuscripts of the Bible. It is spurious. It was added, no doubt, to try to support the Trinity.
As you can check in your own Bible, the apostle Paul in the opening of his letters often used expressions like this: “May you have undeserved kindness and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 1:7) Why did he not mention the holy spirit as a person? Because Paul knew nothing of the “Holy Trinity.” James, Peter, and John used similar phrases in their letters where they likewise do not mention the holy spirit. Why? Because they were not Trinitarians either. The holy spirit is not a person as are God and his Son. But since the Son is a person, the question arises . . .
Is Jesus the Supreme Being?
Believers in the Trinity say yes. Yet you should be more interested in what Jesus said: “The Father is greater than I am.” (John 14:28) “The Son cannot do a single thing of his own initiative, but only what he beholds the Father doing.” (John 5:19) Paul added: “The head of the Christ is God.”—1 Corinthians 11:3.
Consider carefully, too, these questions: Does Jehovah have a God? Obviously not, he is supreme, the Almighty. Does Jesus have a God? After his resurrection Jesus said to Mary Magdalene: “I am ascending to my Father and your Father and to my God and your God.” The apostle Peter wrote: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”—John 20:17; 1 Peter 1:3.
Has God ever died? ‘Of course not,’ might be your correct response. God is immortal. The prophet Habakkuk said of Jehovah: “My Holy One, you do not die.” (Habakkuk 1:12) In contrast, Jesus did die. Then who raised him from the dead? Said Peter: “God raised [Christ] up from the dead.” It becomes evident, then, that Jesus is not the Supreme Being.—Acts 3:15; Romans 5:8.
You can go further. Has God ever been seen? “No man has seen God at any time.” (John 1:18) Yet thousands saw Jesus on earth. Has God ever prayed to anyone? To whom could he pray? He is the great “Hearer of prayer.” (Psalm 65:2) And Jesus? He frequently prayed to his Father, even spending a whole night in prayer. Is God a priest? Obviously not. Is Jesus? We read: “Consider the apostle and high priest whom we confess—Jesus.”—Hebrews 3:1.
Is it not abundantly clear that Jesus is not the Supreme Being?
Is the Trinity Dogma Harmful?
Yes. This widespread dogma distorts the simple Bible truths that Jehovah alone is the Supreme Being, that Jesus is his Son, and that the holy spirit is God’s active force. The doctrine causes confusion by presenting God in a haze of mystery, leading to spiritual darkness.
You, however, need not be in that darkness. You can fix clearly in mind some facts:
The Trinity dogma is not mentioned in the Bible. It is a “theological elaboration” that developed centuries after Jesus’ day, and it was imposed under threat of death at the stake. It has downgraded the worship of the Supreme Being, teaching belief in a mystery.
If you have always believed the Trinity, what should you now do? We urge you to study God’s Word and publications like this one that will help you to understand the Bible. Doing so is vital. Jesus said that everlasting life depends on taking in knowledge of him and of Jehovah—“the only true God.”—John 17:3.
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“It is the finger of God!” the magic-practicing priests of Egypt admitted when they failed to turn dust into gnats, as Moses had done. (Exodus 8:18, 19) On Mount Sinai, Jehovah gave Moses “tablets of stone written on by God’s finger.” (Exodus 31:18) Was this a literal finger? No. Jehovah obviously does not have literal fingers. What, then? Bible writers Luke and Matthew give us the key. One recorded that “by means of God’s finger,” Jesus expelled demons. The other explained that Jesus did this “by means of God’s spirit.” (Luke 11:20; Matthew 12:28) So the holy spirit is “God’s finger,” his instrument for accomplishing his will. It is not a person, but God’s dynamic active force.
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The holy spirit appeared as a dove and as tongues of fire—never as a person
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Representation of the Trinity in 14th-century Catholic Church in Tagnon, France