Throughout the bible we see that it says God is One. (Deut. 6:4, 1 Cor. 4:7) We also find this God revealing Himself as existing in community of three persons namely, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, writes Pankaj J Parmar.
“ You believe in Three gods.”
“How can God be “Three” and “One”?”
Philosophers, Skeptics, Non-Christians specifically Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses and other Cult group people often raise such objections pertaining to Christian understanding of God as Trinity.
Often our answer is “ it is a mystery” or “ such questions comes from satan” and try to avoid the questions and objections. ?
Apologist L.T. Jeyachandran says “ We all believe in the Trinity but we pray to the Trinity than nobody would question us about the Trinity. Are there answers to this questions? Is it possible to respond to this objections and silence the critics ? My answer is yes. As we approach to understand the nature and being of God, Firstly, we have to remember God is Infinite and Man is Finite and the gap between Infinite and Finite is always infinite. That means we will never know God unless God reveals himself to us. We can know about God only as much as he reveals to us. In other words only God can tell us what He is like. No human being by virtue of his intellect or experience can know About God. Revelation precedes knowledge. Secondly, We can know about God TRULY but not EXHAUSTIVELY.
Because God is Infinite, finite human mind is incapable to fully comprehending God, so God reveals himself to us only to that extent, where we can grasp him. We have to expect mystery in relation to the knowledge of God. Now Mystery is not an absurdity. Mystery is not something which goes against reason but beyond reason. Now let us explore to the nature and being of God as revealed in the bible.
BIBLICAL BASIS OF TRINITY
Throughout the bible we see that it says God is One. (Deut. 6:4, 1 Cor. 4:7) Along with, we also find this God revealing himself as existing in community of three persons namely, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In Old Testament we find reference to plurality of persons implicitly present in verses like Gen. 1:26, 3:22, 19:24, Psalms 110 :1, 45: Isaiah 48: 12-15, Zechariah 2:8-11. 6: 12-15.
When we read New Testament, after the advent of Jesus, find explicitly further revelation and confirmation of God existing as Father, Son and Holy spirit in verses like Matthew 3:16, 28 :19, 2 corn 13:14, John 1: 1-3, 14 :16, 26, 15 :26
When Muslims or other people think of God as One, the understanding of “ONENESS” gets limited to one person unity, or singular unity. But in our casual language we use many words which are taken as one but refers to plural unity. Words like Group, Couple, Family, Army, community, Church, Nation etc. though taken in singular form refers to unity of comprising more than one person and nobody says to such unity or oneness as absurdity or contradiction. Similarly, when we Study Hebrew language we find there are two words for “ONE” or “ UNITY”
1) Yachid : refers to Singular unity,
2) Echad : refers to Plural unity
When God says to Abraham in Gen 22 : 2 “Take Your son, your ONLY son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah”. Here the word for one (ONLY) in Hebrew is Yachid, thus refers to singular unity.
While, in Gen 2 : 24 “ for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. Here the word for one is Echad, which refers to plural unity.
This same word Echad is used in Shema : Here O Israel: The Lord our God, The Lord is one. (Echad) .
CHARACTERISTIC OF TRINTY
1) God, according to Old testament, Jehovah, exists as three persons, namely Father, Son and Holy Spirit. These three persons are distinct from one another. Father is not Son, Son is not Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit is not Father, but Father is Jehovah, Son is Jehovah and Holy Spirit is Jehovah. These three persons are Co-equal and Co-eternal. God was always Trinity, is Trinity and will be Trinity forever.
2) God is One in one sense and three in another sense, not in same sense. The oneness pertains to ESSENCE and three ness pertains to PERSONS. In other words there is one What (essence) or Three “Who” (persons). The Essence unites the three persons; Person is that which distinguishes them. Thus the unity of the Trinity does not mean “aloneness”, nor does the distinction with the Trinity mean “dividedness”. If we say God is one essence and three essence or God is one person and three person, at the same time, it would be a contradiction. As three angles in a Triangle are inseparably united to form one Triangle, in the same way the three persons are united inseparably in essence to form one God.
3) God is Jesus & Jesus is God both statements had different meanings and are not identical in meaning. When “is” is used in “Jesus is God” it is used in predicate sense, means Jesus is divine who shares the same one divine nature (essence) which other two persons “father” and “Holy Spirit” shares. To say God is Jesus will be inappropriate because Jesus does not exhaust what it means to speak of God. Jesus and God are not identical, as other persons too share the same divine nature and therefore are divine.
4) God is a being in relationships. The three persons of trinity are deeply interrelated and mutually indwell one another (perichoresis) and thus have a necessary and unbreakable oneness. Even though three will exists, yet only one will is expressed. Whatever they do, they do together. Because the members of trinity share the same essence and mutually indwell one another, they also act as one rather than in isolation from one another. The acts of God are always the acts of each member of Trinity, one or more initiating the process and the others backing it. There is no conflict, competition, confusion between them due to self giving love which exits between them.
5) God the Son, takes incarnation and not God the Father or God the Holy Spirit. So, let’s not pray thank you father for dying on the cross. Father did not die on the cross, it was God the Son. . In incarnation there is no subtraction of deity but addition of humanity, therefore, God the son became man without ceasing to be God, and hence three persons remains united in essence. While crying from the cross “ my God, my God why have you forsaken me,” there is no separation or brokenness in Essence but only temporary brokenness of fellowship and relationship which existed between three persons of trinity. Even death of God the Son on cross does not mean cessation of God the Son. Death according to bible is separation of Body and Soul. God the Son, in his divine nature was united with human nature in person of Jesus Christ. During death the human spirit of Jesus remains unified with Divine nature of God the Son and is separated from the body, which again reunites with glorified body after resurrection and remains forever in that state forever in submission to God the Father.
DEFENCE OF TRINITY
1) When we look at the universe, we observe that it is made up of so many diverse things like plants, animals, humans, stars etc. Sunlight which appears white to naked eye, viewed through prism appears to be made of seven colors. We are made, physically and chemically, of the same elements yet we are so different from other human beings, things and animals. A word is made up of many Alphabets; A painting of many colors produces a harmonious mosaic. An orchestra of many musical instruments produces a symphony, instead of cacophony. If there is unity in diversity in the creation, is it not reasonable to expect unity and diversity in the creator.
2) Bible says God is love. If God is unipersonal, He will not be love. For God to be love there must be Subject-Object duality, without which loves will not be a possibility. In absence of plurality of persons within the being of God, love will remain as potential and not an actuality. So in one sense, we (creation) would have helped God find His perfection by being the object of His love! This of course is absolute nonsense. We have to reach the unavoidable conclusion that within God there has to be a plurality – a Subject (Father) Who loves, an Object (Son) Who is loved (John 1&:24) and a Medium (Holy Spirit) through Whom that love is communicated (Romans 5:5). This combined with the unity of the Essence of God is the Christian doctrine of the Trinity.