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Do Evangelicals Believe In the Trinity

Do Evangelicals Believe In the Trinity

Christianity is monotheistic, which gives some people pause when discussing the Trinity. The Trinity is the belief that there is One God, who is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. When discussing the three, some become confused- asking how one God can be three separate entities.

Do Evangelicals believe in the Trinity? Evangelicals have stated that God is one being, merely comprised of three aspects that are co-equal and co-eternal. Simply put, Evangelicals do believe in the Trinity.

As stated, there have been discussions and controversies based over the Evangelical belief that God is actually the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

An Evangelical Statement on the Trinity

A group of evangelicals have come together to create and publish a document based on the confusion behind the existence of the Trinity. They state that this was necessary due to the continued debate over the Trinity doctrine within the Christian community.

Because Christianity is a Monotheistic religion, meaning that there is only one God or central figure, it is imperative that some understanding be brought to the fact that there are three entities that appear in the Bible. The question becomes how to explain this and help others understand it.

For the creators of the document, this requires them to bring forth the Biblical ideology that there is only one God, but that God has three manifestations. This is a difficult concept, but it is a vital understanding for the entirety of the Christian faith-based community.

The authors go on to state that it is imperative that there is a distinction between God and the Trinity, and the misconception of three separate gods or beings. This distinction is important as people have had the question as to who is, “first”- what is the order of importance? The Father? The Holy Spirit? This misunderstanding creates questions that are not valid in this circumstance.

Ordering the Trinity weakens who God is to Christians. Though there are differences between the three manifestations, there is no hierarchy, with each having equality within the being of God. Confusion over the Trinity has created explanations that loses sight of one God. Creating three separate Gods would mean that one is less important, or less powerful, than the others. 

Taking, for example, the relationship between God the Father and God the Son. Looking at Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, for example. If Jesus were not truly God, His sacrifice would not have been as monumental. By keeping God as three persons in one God, this gives Christians a better understanding of the savior and the supernatural existence that He lived. It is important to keep in mind how His life goes beyond earthly understanding.

Another thought is if there is ranking within the Trinity, that would lead to ranking of the human race as well. We understand that man is created in God’s image- but if there are 3 separate Gods, which one were you created after? Does that make you less than me? This is why it is important to remember that the Trinity is one being, with one purpose and one will. The three entities within God share equal power, authority and glory.

The Continued Debates

Even with the documents being created, the debates have continued. In a meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in 2016, various parties stood fast in their debates on the Trinity, opening some significant dialogues among Christians. There seems to be discord between evangelical egalitarians and complementarians, and creedal, non-creedal and confessional evangelicals.

In some of these discussions, separate groups look at the Trinity as a Father, Son, and Mother. Debunkers state that this is more reminiscent of Greek Mythology and not of the Christian Trinity. This also gives God more of a human existence than how scripture depicts Him. The Bible also talks of each entity using male pronouns and, at no juncture, is there discussion within the Bible of a female part. Mary was the mother of Jesus, but she was merely a Vessel and not a part of the Trinity. She was not God in human form, as was Jesus.

One argument comes from 1 Corinthians 11:3 which states:

3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.

Some argue that this scripture shows that a woman is part of the Trinity. However, when researchers delve deeper into the meaning of this scripture, we find that the term “head” means “source”- meaning that man comes from Christ, woman came from man, or Adam, and Christ comes from God.

The Nicene Creed

It is stated that the Nicene Creed is the definitive account of the doctrine of the Trinity, thusly binding those of the Catholic and Christian faiths. It can be argued that the creed is the most authoritative interpretation of what the Bible teaches of the Father-Son relationship of God.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten not made, of one being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and our salvation he came down from heaven, by the power of the Spirit he was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.

Breaking down this creed helps to further understand the relationship. “We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ”… This tells us that there is one God, and He is the Father and the Son. Jesus is said to be Lord throughout the Bible, which eliminates the thought that He is somehow subordinate to God.

Secondly, “We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God”. Opposers will state that because Jesus is the Son of God, He is subordinate. Since he was the “only Begotten Son” this lends itself to his humanity- His human form. However, His being the Son of God is not like a human being a son to a father. You can not define God and His relationships with human standards as our standards are inadequate. Human expressions cannot be used or taken literally when referring to God.

Using human language to define God leads to idolatry- basically making God in our own image. We must remember, we are made in HIS image- there is no similarity between His familial relationships and ours.

Dissenters will state that in the New Testament, Jesus is referred to as the Son, or Son of God in conjunction with being called Lord. However, this sentiment is not meant to show his subordination, but to remind the believer of his kingly status. This does not call into question His authority or position.

“We believe… the unique Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father”. This shows the importance of the generational information included as it is shown twice, rather than once, in this creed. The way these words bookend the creed would leave it with no meaning or support of those words were removed. The writers of the Creed only utilize the distinguishing remarks to remind the reader that the Father begets the Son and the Son is begotten of the Father. This is essential to the Trinity.

Apart from the begetting, the Creed goes on the say the Son is, “God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God”. These words remind us that while the Son is begotten from the Father, He is in no way subordinate. He is God from God- Light from Light. This reflects the co-equality of God the Father and God the Son.

The Belief that the Son and the Father are one in being. They are both God in all of His glory. This means that the three- the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, cannot have three separate wills. If these were three separate individuals, then there would be three separate opinions- three separate authorities. And, if they were separate- would there not be dissention? Could there not be some variance on their own beliefs or opinions? If this were a relationship like a human father son relationship- would their not be disagreements on the path that the Lord wanted us to take?

This creed exclujdes the possibility that the Son can be subordinated to the Father and therefore the Father is above Him in majesty, dominion, authority and glory. This removes the possibility that there are two separate wills in God, reiterating the fact that the Father and the Son are one being, rather than two separate ones.

The Creed goes on the say of the Son that, “Through Him all things were made.” This leans emphatically to the idea that the Son is an omnipotent co-creator of all things. Some will argue this basically means that the Son creates with the authority of the Father. However, the Creed states through HIM all things were made. ALL things. This means that ALL of creation happened based on one being. That being is God- The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Within the New Testament, the Trinity is broken down and mentioned 70 times – sometimes referencing the Father first, sometimes the Son, and sometimes the Holy Spirit. There is no set position- with the order being changed continually because they are all the same being.

“For us and our salvation He came down from heaven by the power of the Spirit, He was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became Man.” This tells us that God Himself came down from heaven, taking the form of man, humbling Himself to show His obedience to the point of the death of His human form. HE came down, HE took the form of man… this solidifies the understanding that all are the same.

The Holy Spirit

While the Creed specifically focuses on the Father and the Son being one- where does that leave the Holy Spirit? What does scripture say, and how does that tie in?

The Holy Spirit is the 3rd person within the Trinity and the most confusing to explain and understand. We all know that God is the Father, Jesus is the Son- and, as described in detail through the Bible and the Creeds, they are the same. However, this does not fully explain the Holy Spirit. This entity seems distant- having no body, no name, but yet is said to live inside of every believer. The spirit is with us as we walk the path that God has set forth for us.

Previously, the term was Holy Ghost as listed in the King James Version of the Bible. In modern translations, even in the KJV, the terminology is now the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit has existed throughout eternity. He is referred to in the Bible as the Spirit, the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of the Lord. He is sometimes referred to in the New Testament as the Spirit of Christ- further strengthening the idea that God and Jesus are one.

Looking into scripture, the Holy Spirit appears in the second verse of the Bible when discussing creation:  

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. (Genesis 1:2, NIV).

Within the Bible, The Holy Spirit came to the Virgin Mary causing her to conceive (Matthew 1:20) and when Jesus was baptized, he descended on him like a dove. On the Day of Pentecost, he rested like tongues of fire on the apostles. In many religious paintings, he is present as the symbol of the dove.

The Hebrew word for the Spirit in the Old Testament meant “breath” or “wind”. Jesus breathed on his apostles after his resurrection and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22). He then commanded his followers to baptize the people in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Both openly and in secret, the divine works of the Holy Spirit advance God’s plan of salvation. The Holy Spirit participated in the creation with the Father and Son. He filled the prophets with the Word of God and assisted Jesus and the apostles in their Godly missions. The Holy Spirit guides the church and inspired those who wrote the holy words of the Bible. Today, the Holy Spirit sanctifies believers in their walk with the Lord.

The Holy Spirit is the presence of the Lord on earth and acts to counsel Christians as they face the temptation of sin.

The name of the Holy Spirit is more descriptive than that of the Father and the Son. He shares the strength of God the Father and the Son, and is omnipotent. He is all loving, forgiving, merciful and just. Within the Bible, we see the Holy Spirit pouring power into the followers of God. The Holy Spirit has changed those who were seemingly not appropriate to be followers of Christ. However, through the Holy Spirit- they were changed and brought to the feet of the Lord.

The Holy Spirit has no beginning and no end. He existed before creation and dwells in heaven and on earth, but- more importantly- in the hearts of every believer. He is a teacher, counselor, comforter, strengthener, and an intercessor in prayer.

The name of the Holy Spirit appears in almost every book of the Bible. He is included in the Trinity- which is made up of three distinct persons- the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Scriptures give a picture of the Trinity:

Matthew 3:16-17

As soon as Jesus (the Son) was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God (the Holy Spirit) descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven (the Father) said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (NIV)

Other scriptures to look at in reference to the beauty of the spirit include: Matthew 28:19, John 14:16-17, 2 Corinthians 13:14 and Acts 2:32-33.

When digesting the fact that the Holy Spirit is a person, one of three in the Trinity, it is important to think of them with characteristics of a person. The following are scriptural examples:

Romans 8:27

And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. (NIV)

But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. (NASB)

Isaiah 63:10

Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them. (NIV)

Luke 10: 21

At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.” (NIV)

1 Thessalonians 1:6

You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.

John 14:26

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (NIV)

John 15:26

When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. (NIV)

John 16:8

When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt [Or will expose the guilt of the world] in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: (NIV)

Romans 8:14

Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (NIV)

John 16:13

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. (NIV)

Acts 9:31

Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord. (NIV)

John 14:16

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; (KJV)

Romans 8:26

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. (NIV)

Romans 8:26

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. (NIV)

1 Corinthians 2:11

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. (NIV)

Romans 15:16

To be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. (NIV)

Romans 8:16

The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:(KJV)

Acts 16:6-7

Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. (NIV)

Acts 5:3

Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? (NIV)

Acts 7:51

“You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!” (NIV)

Matthew 12:31-32

And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. (NIV)

1 Thessalonians 5:19

Quench not the Spirit. (NKJV)

In addition, evangelical churches can study John 16:7-15. This passage refers to the Holy Spirit with a person pronoun twelve times. It is important to state that the Bible never refers to the Holy Spirit as an impersonal force- but as part of the Trinity.

Though there have been confusion and continued conversations over the Trinity, Evangelicals have come to agree on the existence and oneness of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is understood that the three are merely aspects of God- taking various forms when needed, but all the same being that created everything and continues to accompany Christians on their Godly walks.

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