Christians are accused of being polytheists (or at least tri-theists) and not monotheists. This accusation comes from Jehovah Witness, Muslims, etc. They ask, how can one be three and three be one? This is a contradiction. How can 1+1+1 be equal to 1? We as Christians are challenged to explain about our God who is Triune. George A Paul attempts to introduce Trinity as revealed in the Holy Bible.
Though the Trinity is the supremely resonant doctrine — but for centuries various small groups have rejected it. Today we may identify these groups as Jehovah's Witnesses who are the modern heirs of the heretic Arius having over 3 million people actively engaged in their work; the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) are heirs of ancient polytheism and mystery religions, and nearly 10 million adhere to their teachings. A smaller number of people, however, cling to the third-century position of modalism – the teachings of men such as Sabellius or Praxeas or Noetus. Though fewer in number, this position, popularly called the "Oneness" teaching, is followed by Jesus only groups and Oneness Pentecostal’s.
It is sad to see the conduction of the Church where pastors, preachers and teachers are unable to explain the Doctrine of Trinity scripturally.
The Father is God yet distinguishes Himself from the Son and the Spirit. (Deu 14:1; 2Sam 7:14; 1Ch 28:6; 1Ch 29:10; Psa 68:5; Psa 89:26; Isa 63:16; Isa 64:8; Hos 1:10; Hos 11:1; Mat 3:17; Mat 5:45; Mat 6:4; Mat 6:6;)
The Son is God yet distinguishes Himself from the Father and the Spirit. (John 1:1; Phil 2:6; Titus 2:13; Matt 2:43-45; cf. Rom 10:9, 13 and Joel 2:32; Rev 19:16; John 1:3; Col. 1:15-20; Heb 1:3-4; Matt 1:23; John 5:25; John 5:27; John 14:26; 15:26; Matt 16:18; Matt 14:33; Heb 1:6; Phil 2:10, Isa 45:23).
The Spirit is God (Matt 28:19-20; Acts 5:3-5) and yet distinguishes from the Father and the Son. (2 Cor 13:14; 2 Peter 1:20-21; Matt 19:4-5; Titus 3:5; Gen 1:2; Job 26:13; 34:14-15; Psalm 104:29-30; Heb 9:14; 1 Cor 2:10-11; 1 Cor 3:16; 6:19-20).
God is one: Deut. 6: 4; Isa. 43: 10-11; 44: 6; 45: 5, 21-22
Thus there is no room in the Biblical portrait for three gods (tritheism) or one God who manifests himself in three different modes (modalism). The Biblical portrait of God is that He is Tri-unity.
These are just a few references from the Bible. However, we can quote and fill pages with similar references. Though, brevity would not allow us to do that.
It is interesting to observe, the ridiculous way of those who erroneously go about opposing this sacred truth. They always begin their opposition, not with the revelation as given in the Holy Scripture, but with the explanation of it; Hence in this write-up we will look at the explanation of the doctrine of Trinity.
The Trinity may be stated as: God is a Being – one in essence and three in persons. If we study this statement we will understand “God” who reveals Himself in The Bible.
The first affirmation of ours is, “God is a Being”. But what do we mean by this affirmation? By asserting, “God is a Being” we include God in the category of beings. When we say, “God is” we are asserting that God is alive, living, and existing. Hence we may say, the quality which makes something or someone to exist is called “Being” or the quality of “is”ness. Hence, the word “Being” should not be understood in the sense of "a" being, but simply being – i.e., that quality of "is"ness, or perhaps, that which "is".
When we meditate about God we may affirm, God possesses the quality of existence or “is”ness in Himself and not outside of Himself. All the other beings have their reason for existence outside themselves but God alone has the reason for His existence within Himself.
The same may be stated in the form of a question: what is it that makes God alive and living? We may answer, possessing or having “is”ness or the quality of existence makes God living. Since, God possesses this quality in himself; He exists with life in himself. No one has to give God life because He himself is life. Hence He is called the living God. This is confirmed by the following scriptures. Jos_3:10; Psa_42:2, Psa_84:2; Jer_10:10; Dan_6:26; Mat_26:63; Act_14:15; 2Co_6:16; 1Th_1:9;
The next affirmation in the statement “God is a being who
is one in essence” is about the essence of God. Essence concerns with the questions of ‘What’ or ‘Whatness’ or what is it that exists? Concerning God’s essence we may state it as, what is it that makes God; God?
Essence may be defined as “the necessary defining characteristic of a thing, such that without that characteristic the thing would not be the thing it is”. Hence, we may answer the question what makes God; God? Saying, God possesses “Godness” as an essence, therefore God is God. The same is true with the creation of God, E.g. salt possesses salt-ness therefore salt is salt. Human beings possess humanness therefore they are humans. But if the salt becomes salt-less, it is good for nothing. Matt 5:13; Hence God is God because of his essence of Godness, just like salt is salt because of salt-ness. That which does not have Godness is not God and that which does not have saltness is not salt. In this sense, God is ONE. In the sense of Essence He is numerically one as a community, together, collectively. Hence, Deut 6:4; would be true about God’s oneness, the words used in Deut 6:4; testify to this fact clearly.
The last assertion in the statement God is a being who is one in essence and three in persons. Concerns the aspect of persons in God; but, what is Person? Person concerns with the characteristic of Who or Whoness. Hence, we may ask who is God? This brings up the unique properties that make-up the identity and self awareness of God, and we may answer the question, who is God? Saying, God is The Father and The Son and The Holy Spirit.
Just as my mom who is a woman in person possessing the essence of humanness fully and completely, the three persons of Godhead possesses one same essence of Godness fully and completely without division. However, my mom and I, who are two distinct persons, possess the essence of humanness separately and differently. But God possess one essence of Godness jointly and collectively in three persons. Hence, in the sense of persons God is three, existing as three persons possessing one essence.
Hence without confusion God is one in a particular sense. In the sense of essence God is one, and in the sense of persons He is three. Because of the two different senses in which God is one and three the doctrine of Trinity is not a contradiction.
Therefore we may affirm God exists as one essence and three self conscious persons.
Hence, by saying God is a being who is one in essence and three in person, it is meant that He “is” one “What” and three “Whos.” The three Whos (persons) each have the same What (essence). So, God is one in essence and three in person. Each person is different, yet they possess and have an indivisible common What (essence) not independently, separately or differently but in unity. Hence they do not share portions of the What (essence), but possess the whole of ‘The What’ (essence) as ‘3 Whos’ (persons).
Let’s understand God better by uniting all the three definitions. In order to do this we have to look at his Being or (“is”ness) first, then his essence (whatness), and then His person (whoness).
However, before we look at God let’s look at a “human being,” may be my mom as an example and let’s first apply all the three definitions to her and then move to God. In doing this hopefully we would have better understanding of God’s Being, essence, and person.
Why do I say my mom exists?
My mom exists because she possesses the quality of existence or because she possesses “is”ness. My mom’s “is”ness is dependent on food, air, and ultimately on God. Though my mom has “is”ness, her “is”ness or quality that makes her exist, will cease, if the things on which her existence or “is”ness depends is disconnected.
What is my mom?
My mom is a human being
Hence a Christian may emphatically say “I believe in one God who is the Father, and The Son and The Holy Spirit”.
We would do well to ourselves if we bear in mind, that the Church first accepted the scriptural revelation of God and then gave its definition of Trinity based on scripture. In my next write up we will look at the scriptures revelation of God and see if we should reject or accept this definition of Trinity.
This is an attempt to understand God as revealed in scripture and an attempt to explain the same to those who seek the truth, sincerely and truthfully.
Finally, to affirm that the idea or definition presented here as scriptural, I would ask you to look at Genesis 1:27; where you will see that God made both male and female in His image. In doing this, he made two persons (Male and Female) with one essence (Human’ness) in His image (unity of essence diversity of persons). This is just a prelude to my next write-up, where we will look and study God’s revelation of himself in scriptures.
The Trinity, the Definition of Chalcedon, and Oneness Theology by James White
A Brief Definition of the Trinity by James White
A Brief Declaration and Vindication of The Doctrine of the Trinity by John Owen
The Trinity— By Dr. Norman Geisler
Focusing on the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity by Rev. Sudhakar Mondithoka