Is the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity Obsolete?

 

Is Jesus God?

Yes. "And Thomas answered and said unto him [the risen Christ], My Lord and my God." (John

20:28)

 

Is Jesus separate from the God, the Father?

Yes. Jesus cried out from the Cross, when he became sin, "My God, my God, why hast thou

forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46)

 

Is the Holy Spirit a person (in the modern sense)?

No. "Now the birth of Jesus Christ ... she was found with child of the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 1:18) -

if the Holy Spirit is a person, then the Holy Spirit is the father of Jesus!

 

How does the New Testament define the Holy Spirit?

2 Timothy 1:7 "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a

sound mind."
 

The Holy Spirit is the presence and power of God, the mind of God, the essence of God. See

Knowing God: Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

 

Is the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity obsolete?

Yes. "God in three persons, Blessed Trinity" is an outdated and inaccurate statement of the

nature of God.

(a) The meaning of the word "person" has changed.

(b) Our understanding of relationships has changed.

(c) Our understanding of the "substance" of which God is composed has changed.

(d) The divine self-revelation has continued.

(e) The theological problems the Doctrine was intended to solve are no longer of prime concern.

 

All this is well-understood by theologians, but has not yet permeated down to the broad mass of

Christians. Many still feel that "belief in the Trinity" is required - but, when pressed, no one is able

to explain the Doctrine! It has been called a "strict mystery" - a hidden truth that is still hidden

even after it has been revealed!

 

The Doctrine of the Trinity is not stated in the Bible, but was composed much later. It has been

claimed that "The formal statement, however, is legitimately and necessarily deduced from the

Scriptures of the New Testament" (Unger's Bible Dictionary, art. Trinity. Chicago: Moody Press,

1966). The nearest there is to a "formal statement" is the Athanasian Creed (which is neither a

creed, nor composed by St. Athanasius!). In the midst of a long and obscure argument about the

divine nature, this states that the Trinity is "incomprehensible".

 

The early Christians came out of the strictly monotheistic world of Judaism into the rampantly

polytheistic Roman Empire. The Doctrine of the Trinity, "God in one substance, but in three

persona, Gk. hypostaseis" was an attempt to position themselves theologically between these

extremes.

 

Starting from the "Baptismal Formula" of Matt. 28:19, "baptizing them into the name of the

Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit:", Theophilus of Antioch utilized the Greek term trias

for three-in-one-ness. This was translated by Tertullian (ca. 200 A.D.) as trinitas, explained as

"three persons in one substance". This was adopted as the viewpoint of main-line Christianity at

the Council of Nicea (325 A.D.). It was then further developed by the Cappadocian monks, and

formally proclaimed at the Council of Constantinople (381 A.D.). Augustine of Hippo's De Trinitate

became its authoritative explanation.

 

In the past 1800 years, the Doctrine has been both elaborated and criticized. Many early

protestants rejected it as part of Catholic hocus pocus, but they were unable to formulate a

satisfactory alternative.

 

In recent centuries, the concepts of personhood, self-expression and the rights of individuals have

become ever more pronounced in our society. Consequently, the conventional formulation of the

Trinity is ever more misleading as an expression of the nature of God, whatever one's theological

position on the subject.

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