The Absurdity of the Trinity
The central doctrine of mainline Christianity since the 4th century is what theologians call the Trinity. It is a firm belief that three separate personalities are linked together inseparably to make them appear as one God as far as humans are concerned. To western theologians it is usually believed that only these three personages can ever be members of the Divine Family of God. It is common to reckon that the Father, Christ, and the Holy Spirit are the only ones who are now “God,” or who ever will be “God.” This, of course, is contrary to the basic teachings of the Holy Scriptures because they inform us in the clearest of terms that mankind will also become members of that Divine Family through the grace and works of Jesus Christ on behalf of mankind. If this is true, how is it that so many western theologians (Roman Catholics and Protestants) seal up the Godhead into these three personalities so that mankind cannot enter into their ordained headquarters role?
Interestingly, in the 4th century when the Trinity doctrine first began to be taken seriously, it was known by the leading theologians that the salvation of mankind centered on the fact that each human was destined to be deified. Not only was the Godhead made up of the Father and Christ (and some were erroneously beginning to think of the Holy Spirit as occupying the third spot), it was common knowledge that the third category was to be filled with human beings. The meaning of salvation in the New Testament focused squarely on the fact that man was planned by God before the foundation of the world to be made members of God’s divine Family in heaven. In a word, mankind (both males and females) is destined to become deified. Let us notice some of the early authorities who make this claim in the plainest of ways. That is what salvation really is. It is mankind becoming “God.”
The early Christians understood this principle precisely; they knew salvation represented deification. Here are a few quotes from some top theologians of the 3rd and 4th centuries who were well aware of what it meant to be saved and what salvation in Christ was all about.
“thy body shall be immortal and incorruptible as well as thy soul. For thou hast become God. All the things that follow upon the divine nature God has promised to supply to thee, for thou wast deified in being born to immortality.” 3
The early Christian scholars just mentioned knew that a salvation in Christ meant to become ultimately a member of the Deity. See the book by Professor Constantine N. Tsirpanilis, Introduction to Eastern Patristic Thought and Orthodox Theology for more evidence of this. 8 The word “God” to Athanasius, and to most Christians at that time in history, meant a “Group of Divine Persons” into which humans could be born by their resurrections from the dead. This was the teaching of most of the theologians of the early 4th century, and the Greek Orthodox Church even today retains this doctrine as one of its cardinal tenets of basic Christianity. And so they should, because it is the truth of the Holy Scriptures. The biblical doctrine of Deification was given a full treatment by the famous theologian Gregory Palamas from Mount Athos (1296–1359). Greek Orthodoxy has ever since accepted it.
This true and proper doctrine was held in supreme confidence by early Christian fathers and sustained by many Christian theologians from Irenaeus of the 2nd century until modern times. No amount of watering down the teaching by modern theologians, including a few in the present Greek Orthodox Church, will cause this essential truth to be jettisoned from the thinking of rational and biblical people. We humans are destined to become “God” by the resurrection from the dead. This is not so-called “New Age” teaching. It is REAL practical Christianity!
Sadly, some of those very theologians of the 4th century who taught that salvation was the Deification of Man also began to believe that the Godhead was restricted to three entities (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, called the Trinity). Or, they limited it to a “Trinity” until mankind would be deified into the “Godhead” at their resurrections. This restriction to three individuals in the Godhead (as the Trinity doctrine teaches) was at first devised to describe the Godhead during this present age (and not in the age to come). But even this concept was wrong because the apostle John stated that we humans who have now accepted Christ are already reckoned as being deified and acknowledged as the children of God (1 John 3:1–2). Even Paul, citing Psalm 45, showed there were “fellows” on an equal par with Christ in the Godhead and this was more than a “Trinity”. The Godhead also includes us humans.
What is even more damaging to truth is the belief of most western theologians (who abandoned the early biblical and patristic teaching of the Deification of Man) that the Godhead will ALWAYS REMAIN IN the three personages of the Trinity and that no human can ever enter that closed hierarchy. This would be the outcome. But both the early and elementary doctrine of a temporary Trinity (until the resurrection) and the later permanent type of Trinity of Catholics and Protestants are totally devoid of scriptural teaching.
The error of the Trinity was introduced in the 4th century to satisfy Platonic appraisals regarding the nature of men as distinct from the Godhead. The concepts advocated by those who attempt to defend the Trinity are philosophies derived from Hellenistic theological thoughts (sophisticated paganism), not those which dominate the central and plain teachings of the Holy Scriptures. If a person wants Greek philosophical principles to prevail in what they call the truth, then the Trinity may be used in an absurd way. But if one wants the teachings of the Holy Scriptures (written mainly by Jews) to prevail, then we should jettison the so-called “Trinity doctrine” and send it into oblivion where it belongs.
The Holy Scriptures offer us something far better. We find in Scripture the simple doctrine of the Deification of Man (as profound as it is), which represents the bedrock teaching of mankind’s salvation that Christ came to give to humanity. 9 There can be no doubt that the deification of mankind by the resurrection from the dead and the truth of universal salvation for all mankind are accurate teachings of the New Testament. The simple truth is, we are all destined to become Elohim through the grace and merits of our Lord Jesus Christ. This IS the teaching of true Christianity. It is Christ substituting His life and death for us.
The 4th century Christians gave us the Trinity. If the Trinity doctrine is true and those three personalities are the only ones able to be members of the Divine Family, then all the Scriptures as shown above that mankind is destined to become members of the Godhead must be jettisoned. Placing the Holy Spirit in the third position of the Godhead (rather than mankind, as it should be) necessitates that the Godhead was reckoned as complete and mankind could never enter to sit on the right hand of the Father in Christ as the Bible says we can. The big problem is the false invention of an intrusion into the Godhead for the Holy Spirit, at the expense of humanity for which the third position was originally intended. So, let us look at the question of the Holy Spirit being the so-called third member of the Godhead.
What is the relationship of the Holy Spirit with the Father and the Son? Is the Spirit another Son? Is the Spirit an Uncle of Christ? Is the Spirit even above the Father in power and authority? Just who and what is the Holy Spirit? It is important this subject be understood thoroughly because the biblical teaching about the deification of mankind means nothing if only three personalities can be members of the Godhead. Indeed, is the Holy Spirit even a personality in the first place? Let us look at this matter with a series of fifteen questions that can make the subject clear to all of us.
What are the biblical proofs that could support the Holy Spirit as being a distinct person within the Godhead?
Answer: Though the word “Spirit” in John 14:26 is neuter in gender, expressing no personality of itself, the pronoun describing the Spirit is masculine. This would lend weight that the Spirit is a personality and that he appears as being of masculine gender. Thus, it seems proper to call Him “He.” This is emphasized by the repeated statements that,
“he shall teach you” (John 14:26),
“he shall bear witness” (John 15:26),
“he, when he is come will convict” (John 16:8),
“he shall guide you” (John 16:13),
“he shall glorify me” (John 16:14).
These verses imply, many scholars urge, that the Spirit is a personality because of the use of masculine pronouns. Besides this, the Spirit is said to be able to speak, “The Spirit speaks expressly” (1 Timothy 4:1). It is argued that the Spirit could hardly utter words unless it was a personality itself with an actual “mouth.” This would mean the Spirit has body parts!
Comments: While it is true the above verses seem to show the Holy Spirit as being a masculine person, it could also be demonstrated from hundreds of biblical verses (both Old and New Testaments) that many things animate and inanimate are given genders though they are not personalities at all. Such things are even given “mouths” to speak. “If the foot shall say, because I am not the hand, I am not of the body. ... And if the ear shall say, because I am not of the body” (1 Corinthians 12:15–16). Of course, feet and ears do not have mouths to speak. They are simply personified in order to make a point and no one seriously considers them to be personalities because of Paul’s statements. “Let the heaven rejoice, and let the earth be glad ... let the field be joyful. ... then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice” (Psalm 96:11–12). But the heavens have no actual mouth with which to express joy; the earth has no faculty of its own to be glad; the fields of grass cannot show joyfulness; nor can trees of the forest demonstrate happiness as a human can. The Bible says that “The mountains and hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees shall clap their hands” (Isaiah 55:12). Is there anyone so bold as to suggest that mountains and hills can actually sing or that trees really clap hands; indeed, no one has yet seen a tree that has hands in the first place. But does the Spirit have a “mouth” that speaks?
Simply because the Holy Spirit is given the attributes of speaking and a masculine gender in a few scriptures, no one could legitimately insist that these indications prove the personality and body-form of the Spirit. True, they provide evidence in favor of the proposition, but with hosts of other scriptures giving the same “personalities” to hands, ears, trees, hills, mountains, the earth, heaven, and many other inanimate things, it is risky to demand the personality of the Spirit from these verses. Even today, it is common for us to refer to ships of the sea in the feminine gender, but no one really thinks of them as real women. Theologians know it is precarious to insist that the Holy Spirit is a person, because in an allegorical sense it is easy to make the Spirit “speak” when all know such statements are not supposed to be understood literally. Yet, you find theologians vigorously defending the literalness of the statements because they know that retaining their jobs in their churches (or universities or seminaries) demands their adherence to the Trinity doctrine. If their jobs did not depend on it, many would readily admit to the inexplicable nonsense that the doctrine teaches.
It is acknowledged by all that the Bible gives personality to many inanimate things as figures of speech, yet the Holy Spirit is so intimately connected with God and Christ who are themselves personalities, should not the Spirit be accorded the rank of being a real personality on account of this?
Answer: But what kind of personality would one give the Holy Spirit? The Bible gives the following description:
“And John [the Baptist] bare record, saying, ‘I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode on him [Christ].’”
This verse gives a description of the Holy Spirit and it agrees with what the first chapter of Genesis says of the Spirit, “And the Spirit of God moved [Hebrew: was fluttering] upon the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2). If taken literally, you can be certain of one thing: the Spirit is adorned with wings on his body. In order “to flutter” one must have wings. We are told that heavenly creatures such as Cherubim (Ezekiel 1:4–28) and Seraphim (Isaiah 6:1–2) are also described as having wings, but in other contexts angelic creatures are shown to have the overall appearance of men. Yet the wings of the Holy Spirit must be like those of doves. John said the Spirit had a body-form, just like a dove (Luke 3:22). So, if taken literally (like theologians insist), the Holy Spirit looks like a bird and must be a “bird god.” It must be the size of a dove. Since the Catholics and Protestants accept the Spirit as a real personality like the Father and Christ, this means they have adopted into their pantheon a real live “bird god” just like the Egyptians did in their pagan pantheon. This is what their literalness demands.
Comments: But really, John the Baptist saw the Spirit appearing bodily as a bird, but does the Spirit actually have such a body? If it does, then how can a dove dwell in each Christian as the Spirit does (John 14:17; Romans 8:9)? A dove occupies a space about 12 inches long and 3 inches wide. How could the Spirit being a single “dove” dwell in millions of Christians around the world at the same time and in such a single form? — or is he millions of “doves”? Theologians have a problem with this concept, but they dismiss the matter by saying it is “a great mystery” that humans cannot understand. A mystery? Their Trinity is not a mystery, it is an absurdity!
Really, the whole theory of the Catholic and Protestant Trinity is nonsense if accepted literally. When the Scripture says John saw the Spirit descend like [as] a dove, in no way did he mean that the Spirit has the form of a dove — or, that the Spirit has any form at all. At the baptism of Christ, the Father simply allowed John to witness the power of the Spirit coming upon Christ in the symbol of peace, kindness, and gentleness. But if the Spirit is a literal personality, as Catholics and Protestants demand, then they must worship a “bird god” with wings, just like the ancient Egyptians.
Christ in His description of the Holy Spirit gave a much more common sense interpretation that can be understood. He described the Holy Spirit as like the wind, having no body form. The basic meaning of the word “spirit” is wind or air.
“The wind blows where it lists, and You hear the sound thereof, but cannot tell whence it comes, and whither it goes: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”
From a physical point of view, the wind is the best representation of the Spirit and its actions.
Only by using figures of speech is the Holy Spirit able to be seen, and even then its symbolic appearance is like that of a dove, not a person. Those who say that they have seen the Holy Spirit in the form of a human are out of harmony with all biblical revelation. They are all either imagining things or are in contact with a spirit who lies, saying it is the Holy Spirit but is not. The spirit they are in contact with is not the biblical Holy Spirit.
There is another identification in the Bible about the true Holy Spirit. The Scripture tells us the Holy Spirit can be “poured out” on people. See Acts 10:45. This makes perfectly good sense to me. My profession before I went into biblical and historical studies was that of a meteorologist dealing with the weather sciences. Let me tell you a scientific fact. We have an atmosphere that envelops this earth. When that atmosphere moves it is called wind. Though very much lighter in weight than water, the wind acts much like water in its physical actions. Cold air can be “poured out” of a container into warmer air, and the cold air will act just like water being “poured out” of a similar container. And note this, Christ said that the Spirit is like the wind. Indeed, the word “spirit” in Greek means wind. Colder or heavier air can be “poured out” like water from a container. And what does Acts 10:45 say? It says that “on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit.” This verse is not talking about a multitude of literal “doves” being somehow “poured out” on those humans, or if the Holy Spirit is a literal person (as is Christ Jesus), is it to be “poured out” on those people? It is complete absurdity to think such a thing.
The Spirit is really like the wind and it can be poured out like water on people. But someone in the form of a dove (like the Egyptian “bird god”) or someone in the form of a human being cannot in any way be “poured out.” And in fact, Christ Himself referred to the Spirit as being just like water. Christ said,
“He that believes on me, as the scripture has said, ‘out of his belly shall flow rivers of LIVING WATERS.’ But this spoke He of the Spirit.”
Yes, the Spirit can also be “poured out” like water.
In spite of the fact that figures of speech describe the Holy Spirit in symbolic terms, some feel the Holy Spirit surely must be a personality because in 1 John 5:7 it is shown as one of the three witnesses
“in heaven, the Father, the Word [Son], and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.”
Answer: The truth is, all the italicized words in the above text are not part of the original writings of John. Those words are not found in any of the several thousand Greek manuscripts except four, and those four are Greek translations from a late rendition of the Latin Vulgate. Even those four Greek manuscripts are late in origin. One was written in the 16th century. Another was written in the 12th century which had the italicized words inserted in the margin by a later hand. Another was written in the 14th or 15th centuries. The fourth was an 11th century manuscript which had the extra words in the margin placed there by someone living in the 17th century. The extra words are not found in any ancient version (Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, Ethiopic, Arabic, Slavonic) except the Latin. Even then they are not found in the Old Latin or the early Latin Vulgate translated by Jerome. The erroneous words were introduced into the Vulgate at a later time, probably in the 5th or 6th centuries.
Without doubt, the italicized words mentioned above in l John 5:7 are not original with the apostle John and are thus not a part of the genuine text of the New Testament. 10
Comments: The fact that these added words were placed inside the text of the New Testament by later people was to give credence to the doctrine of the Trinity; that is, to show that the Holy Spirit is a personality coequal with the Father and Son in the Godhead. But look! Had the teaching of the Trinity been clear in the original words of the apostles, there would have been no need to invent spurious words like these and insert them among the apostolic writings. Really, these additions speak against what the authors of those manufactured words intended them to convey. This erroneous insertion of words into the biblical text clearly shows that the doctrine these men were trying to promote was not taught in the Scriptures.
Even though the italicized words in 1 John 5:7 do not belong in the original apostolic writings, some defenders of the Catholic and Protestant faiths state that biblical writings still show the personality of the Spirit.
Answer: There is nothing to support such a claim. One can see this when he or she compares references made by the apostles to the Godhead. In cardinal texts dealing with Deity, the personalities of the Father and Christ are constantly mentioned in association with one another, but mention of the Holy Spirit is most surprisingly absent. Note how Paul and the other apostles consistently referred to the authority of the Godhead whom they represented as the Father and Jesus Christ. The superscriptions to their epistles are a perfect example of this, “Grace unto you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 11 In all 14 superscriptions of the apostles in their letters throughout the Bible, there is consistently no mention of the Holy Spirit in these introductions.
There is more evidence. Look at James. He was “a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (James 1:1). In this reference made by James, he said nothing about being a servant of the Holy Spirit. But why should James fail to mention the Holy Spirit if the Spirit is a full member of the Godhead along with the Father and Christ? The apostle John also said, “And truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son, Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). Neither does John give the slightest attention to the Holy Spirit as an equal member of the Godhead along with the Father and Christ.
In all these introductions to letters to Christian communities, the apostles gave not one mention to the Holy Spirit as being part of the Godhead like the Father and Christ. If the Spirit were an individual co-equal with the Father and the Son, this persistent omission by the early apostles would be an insult to truth! In fact, it would have been sheer effrontery and insubordination for the apostles not to mention the Holy Spirit as a personality of the Godhead like the Father and Christ Jesus.
In modern terms, this would be like recognizing three people who own and run a business, but their representatives in the field only refer to two of them! Such a thing is unthinkable. But if there were two “presidents” of a business and the presidents used a powerful energy to accomplish their purposes, it could well be understood that the field personnel would always refer to the two “presidents” without reference to the “power” that energized the business. This is the way it is in Scripture in regard to the Godhead. There is no “Trinity” defined as the Godhead.
The introductions of the apostles in all their letters to Christian congregations consistently left out the Holy Spirit. And so they should, because the Holy Spirit is not a personality of itself. It is not the third member of the Godhead. It is simply the power that the Godhead uses to control the universe. 12
Comments: There are many other sections of the writings of the apostles that show the Holy Spirit is not a personality alongside the Father and the Son.
All these scriptures (and there are more) speak against the teaching that the Holy Spirit is a person in the Godhead as is the Father and Christ. But ranking above them all in clearness is 1 Timothy 2:5: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” Note that the one mediator is Christ Jesus. There is no scripture more plain in showing the deities that man has above him in authority. The only mediator between you as a human being and God the Father is Jesus Christ. There is none other! This means that not even the Holy Spirit (sent here on earth to be a spiritual comforter to man) is a mediator. However, if the Holy Spirit were a similar deity co-equal with the Father and Son, it would be an affront of the highest order to exclude him from some intermediary role between mankind and the Father. But really, the Spirit is simply the power of God to exercise the purpose of His will on earth and in the universe. Knowing this truth, Paul’s statement in 1 Timothy 2:5 and in all other sections of his epistles makes perfect sense.
Let us note what the Spirit really is. God is described as being everywhere in the universe.
“If I ascend up into heaven, you are there: if I make my bed in hell [sheol], behold, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall your hand lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.”
How is it possible for God to be in all these places at the same time as the psalmist states and still be in all other places with everyone else of His children? The answer is simple. The psalmist also said, “Whither shall I go from your Spirit” (Psalm 139:7). It is God’s Spirit, not God himself, which pervades the complete universe. God, as a personality and as an individual in heaven, cannot be everywhere at the same time. But His Spirit can. That is why the Spirit itself cannot be an individual (a personality on its own) or else it too would not be able to be everywhere at the same time. But if the Spirit is the power of God to accomplish His purposes throughout the universe, then all makes sense.
While the above information abides with the scriptural revelation, we find Paul in 2 Corinthians 13:14 mentioning the Spirit as being in communion with us alongside the Father and the Son. Does this not show his personality after all?
Answer: Paul asked the Corinthians to remain in the grace of Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and in the communion of the Holy Spirit. The word “communion” simply means that the Corinthians should be in a “sharing” attitude in the Holy Spirit.
Comments: There is nothing here to suggest that the Holy Spirit is a personality. Paul was hoping that the Corinthians will have “a communion” [or a sharing] with the Holy Spirit. If one looks on the Spirit as that faculty of power that allows the saints of God to be in association [communion] with God and Christ, the statement makes good sense. The Spirit, in this case, is like the telephone line, or the radio beam (called by Solomon “the silver cord” in Ecclesiastes 12:6) which is actively energized with electrical power to allow one to be in communication [or communion] with someone else while the parties are at a distance from one another. The Spirit is simply the power (the communication) which keeps the Father and Christ in a present contact with people on earth,
“I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter [the Holy Spirit] will not come unto you.”
All Christians can be in communion (or communication) with the Father and the Son through the agency of the Holy Spirit. It is the “radio beam” which gives us life and comfort at the present time while the Father and Christ are in heaven and away from people on earth. The Holy Spirit is not a separate personality of the Godhead in any manner.
Yet did not Christ ask people to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19)? Surely, some say, this shows the personality of the Spirit since Christ said the Spirit had a name. But trees, oceans, and mountains also have names.
Answer: To speak in “the name” of something does not necessarily mean that the subject is a personality. Even today a law officer may call to an escaping criminal: “Stop, in the name of the law.” This phrase simply means “by the authority” of something. If one wanted to show in plain language what Christ meant in the baptism formula of Matthew 28:19, it could go like this: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them by the authority of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” And since the Spirit as the Power of God is the means by which man is convicted of sin (John 16:8), a baptism on this earth would not be effective unless the authority of the Power which reproved the person of sin and activated his mind towards righteousness would be involved. After all, it was to be the Holy Spirit which, from the time of Christ onwards, would guide Christians into all truth (John 16:13). There is, however, not the slightest hint in the text of Matthew to suggest that the Holy Spirit was a personality.
Indeed, according to the word of God, are there not “seven spirits” of God within the Godhead itself rather than just one Holy Spirit? The mention of “seven spirits” baffles some.
Answer: Though seven spirits are mentioned in Revelation 1:4 alongside the Father and Christ, the identification of these particular spirits is given elsewhere. Let us note the scripture in question,
“Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before the throne; and from Jesus Christ.”
The phrase “is, was, and is to come” is a translation of the Old Testament name for the Lord (YHVH). In this case it refers to the Father because Christ is mentioned in the latter part of the verse and is in distinction to Him. Yet, in the midst of this superscription in the Book of Revelation is the mention of “seven spirits before the throne.” So, here we have the Father, the Seven Spirits and the Son. Are those Seven Spirits personalities? In this case they are. But are they the Holy Spirit itself? No they are not. This is made clear in Revelation 8:2. These spirits are identified with the seven angels who stand before the throne of God. These seven spirits are the seven lamps, or spirits, mentioned in Revelation 4:5 and are equated with the seven angelic beings who preside over the seven Ekklesias of Revelation 1:20. Angels are also spirits, “He makes his angels spirits” (Hebrews 1:7).
Since these Seven Spirits of Revelation 1:4 are angels, they cannot be a part of the Godhead. Angels are not to be worshipped.
“I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which showed me those things. Then says he unto me, ‘see you do it not: for I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of God: worship God.’”
Only God (the Father and Christ) can be legitimately worshipped. Since the Seven Spirits of Revelation 1:4 are angels, they do not represent deity and they are not to be worshipped.
But again note an important point. In this introduction to the Book of Revelation, the apostle John refers to the Father, the seven angels and Christ, but conspicuously he leaves out the Holy Spirit as a personality to be worshipped in a coequal sense with the Father and Christ. Catholics and Protestants today would no doubt consider the apostle John a heretic for not mentioning the Holy Spirit as a co-equal with the Father and Christ; but the apostle John himself would think Catholics and Protestants to be the heretics for what they erroneously concocted.
Since Scripture says the Holy Spirit caused Christ to be conceived in the womb of Mary (Matthew 1:18), do we not have a problem if one considers the Holy Spirit as a separate individual co-equal with the Father and Christ? Would this not make the Holy Spirit the father of Christ and not the Father Himself?
Answer: This would be true if one accepts present Catholic and Protestant doctrine. If the Holy Spirit is a person in its own right yet equal with the Father and Christ in deity as Catholics and Protestants demand, then the Spirit would be the father of Christ, not the Father. But this cannot be. Throughout the Bible Christ recognized only one Father and He was the supreme head of all. Christ did not say the Holy Spirit was his Father. However, through God’s spirit (God’s divine power), Christ was indeed conceived in Mary (Luke 1:35). When the Spirit is understood not to be a personality, the problem is averted — and fully comprehensible. But can the Spirit represent the Father or Christ?
Just what is the Holy Spirit? Could it be the Father or Christ?
Answer: Let us first find out what God the Father is. The Bible says that the Father Himself is Spirit (John 4:24). And there can be no doubt that the Father, as a Spirit, is Holy. He, Himself, is a Holy Spirit. But this is not all. In the Holy Scriptures even Christ Jesus is called a Spirit too. Paul informs us that there is the Spirit which “makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26). Paul also said that the only person who could intercede with the Father was Christ (1 Timothy 2:5). Paul said,
“It is Christ who died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.”
Who, then, is the intercessor who makes intercession for us in Romans 8? Paul said that Spirit was Christ. Christ certainly is a Spirit and He is Holy. Paul said that the “last Adam [Christ] was made a quickening spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:45). This clearly shows that our Lord Jesus Christ is certainly a spirit — and the Father is a spirit too (John 4:24). Thus, when the Bible says that the Spirit does this or the Spirit does that, or that the Spirit speaks, groans, rejoices, etc., it often means that it is Christ, and in some contexts the Father, who is doing the actual speaking, groaning, rejoicing, etc. Of course, this is done through their divine power (“the Spirit”) which activates the forces that keep the universe in operation.
The fact that Christ is sometimes called the Spirit (and the Father is also mentioned as the Spirit) should not surprise us. Both the Father and Christ have bodies (form and shape) and their bodies are comprised of spiritual substance. The Holy Spirit itself does not have form and shape except in figures of speech, and then it takes the form of a dove. Christ and the Father are both “Holy” and they are both “Spirit.”
Does the Hebrew meaning of “God” support the proposition that the Holy Spirit is a distinct personality? — a third God in the Godhead?
Answer: The Old Testament does not condone this suggestion. This may be difficult for Catholics and Protestants to swallow, but it is true. Yet, a few scholars bring up a slender point that could promote their cause, or so they think.
Some theologians point to the Hebrew word Elohim (which means Gods, not “God” singular), and they state that it has a distinct plural meaning to it. This is a fact! We discussed this plural concept in earlier chapters.
The plural meaning of Elohim in the Old Testament may first appear to vindicate the doctrine of the Trinity; that there are three Gods — the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, yet they are one God. But this can hardly be the case. If it were so, why did not the Hebrews from the time of Moses to Christ speak about the Trinity in the Bible and in their other literature? In no way did they understand such a concept in the meaning of the Hebrew words. The fact is, the word Elohim is plural (not dual or triune of itself). Its plurality embraces a number of personalities, many more than three in its meaning. This makes excellent sense from other parts of the Old Testament. Even the Sons of God are called Elohim (Genesis 6:1–2; Job 1:6; 2:1), as well as angels. 13 The term Elohim has a very expansive meaning. It refers to a plurality of beings.
Though angels and humans are not a form of Deity to be worshipped (certainly not humans at the present), the word Elohim cannot be restricted to three Gods in one. It embraces many Sons and Daughters of God of which we humans are a part (1 John 3:1–2). That’s right. The New Testament says that spirit-filled humans are already divine. Christians now sit at God’s right hand.
Not understanding that even humans can be called Elohim, some still wonder why the word Elohim (God) is found in the plural if the Trinity is not the answer?
Answer: This is an important point because the foundational position of Judaism and Old Testament teaching is that God is one! Most people recognize that what theologians call monotheism today has its bedrock teaching within the pages of the Old Testament. And so it does! “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God [Elohim, plural] is one Lord” (Deuteronomy 6:4). I have already shown the use of this plurality (used singularly) in this book. Even “one” means “many.”
The answer is simple. The word Elohim is always plural in meaning, but it can act like what in English we call a collective noun. It is a word that always has a plural significance embodied within it, yet its plural members can perform their actions in unison — as a single unit. Such a word is “army.” No one thinks of an army as comprising only one or two men. The word “army” brings to mind hundreds even thousands of troops. A newspaper headline might say: “The Army Is on the Move.” This means all the members of the army were marching under a single command. It does not mean one, two or three people — it means a vast number.
Another word of similar construction is “family.” There may be ten members of one family, but to say, “The family is going on a picnic,” makes perfectly good sense. If all ten members go, it is the family as a unit that performs the action. 14
This usage exactly describes what the Godhead of the Bible is like. It is a single family unit made up of separate members. We are told of the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. But there are other members. There are other “Sons of God” (Genesis 6:1–2; Job 1:6; 2:1) and the apostle Paul said that each person redeemed by Christ is reckoned to be “in Christ” — to be divine (Ephesians 1:3–4, 10; 2:6). He further illustrates this by saying that each of us individually (as well as all collectively) make up the one body of Christ.
“For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are ONE body. SO IS CHRIST.”
1 Corinthians 12:12
The Godhead itself is one corporation (body) with many members.
Christ is a part of the Family of God (of Elohim). We are Sons and Daughters of the Father too — and this means we are all members of the one body of Christ. We help comprise the Family of God. In fact, we are the third section of the Godhead at present.
If the Holy Spirit, however, is a personality like the Father, like Christ, and like us, what is he? Is he our brother like Christ is to us? Is he the Father’s son as Christ is? If so, is he the second born son, since we know Christ is the firstborn? Or, is he the brother of the Father and thus our Uncle? Of course, the whole discussion is silly.
Elohim in Scripture, can mean the Father, the firstborn Son, other “Sons of God,” angels and human beings (John 10:34–36). The Spirit, however, is the power that Elohim uses to perform the purposes of the family. The word Elohim is not limited to three (a Trinity). Ultimately, it will include a vast number of the Sons and Daughters of God of which you and I are a part.
Didn’t the real creation of the Trinity doctrine have its “orthodox” origin in the 4th century after Christ? This was not a clear doctrine of the Bible. It is contrived through deductive reasoning.
Answer: There can be no doubt this is correct. The concept of the Trinity was arrived at by deduction, not by any clearly stated declarations in the Scriptures. In fact, great debates went on within Christendom of the 4th century about the Trinity. Many top scholars of that period refuted it as an untenable doctrine, not supported by the Holy Scriptures. These people became known as Arians and were represented in great numbers throughout the Empire and beyond its borders. The Arians were not always right in their concepts of the deity of Christ, but they had enough sense to know that the doctrine of the Trinity was absurd and not biblical.
How did “the Trinity” become a cardinal teaching of Catholic theologians? The Trinity became “orthodox” doctrine by the insistence of the Roman Empire and its legions, not by biblical teaching. This erroneous theory did not become part of “orthodox” Christianity until the Church married the Empire in the 4th century. The doctrine was enforced by the Roman military and state officials on the general population. The truth is, the doctrine of the Trinity was a false teaching concocted by human deduction and is found nowhere in the Old or New Testaments. This disqualifies it from serious consideration.
Isn’t it a fact that every theologian or scholar who has studied the doctrine of the Trinity (even those who strongly believe its “orthodoxy”) say that the teaching is inexplicable to human understanding? Indeed. It is downright contradictory and unexplainable!
Answer: This is true! It could well be said that no human on earth — in past or present times — has been able to comprehend this doctrine of the Catholics and Protestants in a way that makes it sensible. The fact is, the Trinity is impossible to understand by the human mind. It is not a “mystery,” but a monstrosity. This is one of its major weaknesses! No one can reasonably explain its features. It remains completely unfathomable to human understanding.
Let us apply some common sense. It is not a difficult proposition to conceive of the Father being in one place at one time with a shape and form. Nor is it difficult to conceive of the Son beside Him with His distinct bodily composition with shape and form. However, it is impossible to perceive the Holy Spirit as a separate personality with a body, having shape and form, and at the same time (as supposed by Catholics and Protestants), inhabiting ten or a hundred million people. This is silly. But, if we look at the Spirit as simply the power of the Father and the Son to accomplish their wishes throughout the universe, and not that the Spirit has shape and form, this concept makes sense. This is what the biblical revelation shows to be the case, if one stays solely with the Bible. But when some doctrine like the Trinity is saddled onto the world with its meaning so vague and impossible of human explanation (even in its fundamentals), it deserves to be looked on with reasonable suspicion. Indeed, the doctrine of the Trinity is an outright lie engendered by no less than Satan the Devil to deceive the world into denying our inheritance which is to be the very Sons and Daughters of God.
But wait a moment. Have not some people related experiences in which they claim to have seen the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in a body form? — whether all together, or each separately? Does this not prove the personality of the Holy Spirit after all? Could these few visionaries be wrong?
Answer: Many people in the world dream dreams and have visions of various kinds. The Bible warns about the unreliability of such experiences. The New Testament says in no uncertain terms to test spiritual perceptions of others because many false prophets have emerged as a consequence (1 John 4:1–2). It is not always possible to be certain if a person’s visionary experience is from God. This is especially true when that person says he or she has seen something that the teaching of the Bible does not sanction.
In the Bible, there is not one example of any righteous person in the Old or New Testament having “seen” the Holy Spirit as a personality like the Father and Christ. Indeed, at no time has a biblical person “seen” the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit together as personalities. If this has not occurred to any person of the Bible, why should God pick out certain modern people to have such extraordinary and special experiences?
Even with those who say they have “seen” the Holy Spirit as a person, how can they be sure the “person” is the Holy Spirit? It could very well be some other “spirit” counterfeiting the Spirit of God (2 Corinthians 11:14–15). This is especially so since there is no example in the Scripture of the Holy Spirit being in human form. When it is visualized, it is reckoned as like a dove, a bird with wings that “flutter” (Genesis 1:2). Most times, however, it is described as like the wind that cannot be seen! The Spirit is like the air and can be poured out [like water] on people. The biblical usages concerning the “Spirit” are plain. The Holy Spirit is NOT a person of the Godhead. It is a power — a force.
Finally, when our Lord bestowed the Holy Spirit upon the apostles and Christians in general, what was the method by which He gave it to them? Did a separate God other than the Father and Christ enter into them? How does each human receive the Spirit?
Answer: The New Testament shows the apostles received the Spirit when Christ “breathed” on them (John 20:22). Did some human form come out of His nostrils and enter every apostle? Did a “dove” come out of His mouth? This is hardly a suitable belief. But since the word “spirit” itself means wind or air, it becomes perfectly natural that a “breathing” out of Christ’s body could allow God’s power in the form of His breath to be dispensed to them.
This is even more sure because on the Day of Pentecost after Christ’s rising from the dead, the Bible says the Spirit came into all the disciples “as a rushing mighty wind” (Acts 2:2). It was not some literal dove (an actual bird) that entered them. It was not a personality of the Godhead apart from the Father and Christ with a shape and form of a human that entered them. It was simply the power of God that the Father and Christ use to motivate and control all factors of organization that keeps the universe functioning in a proper and harmonious way. On that Pentecost day in 30 C.E., the Spirit filled not only each of the persons in the house, but even the whole house itself!
How a single and separate God, distinct from the Father and the Son but being one with them, can fill the whole house as a personality is incomprehensible — especially if the Holy Spirit has form and shape as the Father and the Son have. If, however, we understand that the Holy Spirit as “the power of the Highest” (Luke 1:35) is like a rushing mighty wind, as Acts 2:2 tells us, one can understand how it filled the whole house. The wind or air can easily fill a house and in a sensible manner.
The New Testament knows of no third personality in a limited Godhead. The Holy Spirit has its role of providing the communion power that cements the relationship between God and man through Jesus Christ. Why should one accept a doctrine of the Catholics and Protestants, which everyone knows is inexplicable, and which only became a sign of “orthodoxy” when the Roman Empire used military forces and civil police to enforce it?
The doctrine of the Trinity is a plain and simple church doctrine manufactured in the 4th century, devised by men through the use of deduction — very bad deduction! The whole doctrine is antibiblical and completely erroneous. Any saint of God who loves the real teachings of the Holy Scriptures should not accept such a foreign doctrine as the “Trinity.” Actually, it is we Christians who are the Third Part of the Godhead.
There is one way to rescue the word itself and make the whole teaching scriptural. That is to say the real Trinity is: God the Father, God the Firstborn Son and God the Us — that is we humans who make up the third division of the Godhead, even at present. Of course, if one adopted this as the real meaning of the “Trinity,” which is proper, many people would still confuse it with the early and Platonic meaning that the Christian authorities accepted in the 4th and 5th centuries and this too would cause confusion. It is better to avoid the name Trinity altogether, because the “Trinity” of the churches is as wrong as a three-dollar bill.
1 Ad. Autol. ii. 27. ELM.
2 St. Romans, v. 10:63. ELM.
3 Phials. x.34. ELM.
4 De Incar. para. 54. ELM.
5 De Dec. para. 14. ELM.
6 Orat. I para. 39. ELM.
7 Orat. I para. 39. ELM.
8 Liturgical Press, 1991, p.n66. ELM.
9 For an excellent survey of this important Christian teaching of mankind’s destiny to be deified by God, see the book The Deification of Man: St. Gregory Palamas and the Orthodox Tradition by Professor Georgios I. Mantzaridis of the University of Thessalonike (New York: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1984/1987). And, Professor Tsirpanlis in the book mentioned earlier, Introduction to Eastern Patristic Thought and Orthodox Theology, besides an excellent section on Man’s Deification, has a discussion showing that early theologians held to the belief in the universal salvation for all mankind, as the Bible plainly teaches (pp. 68–72). ELM.
10 See Professor Bruce M. Metzger’s A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 2nd edition (Fortress Press, 1995), pp. 716–718 for certain proof of this. ELM.
11 This formula with variation appears in Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:3; Ephesians 1:2; Philippians 1:2; Colossians 1:2–3; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:2; 1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:4; Philemon 1:3 and 2 Peter 1:2. ELM.
12 This is exactly what the angel Gabriel said to Mary: “Holy Spirit shall come upon you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you” (Luke 1:35). ELM.
13 Compare Psalm 8:5 and Hebrews 2:7–9. In Psalms 8:5 (KJV) it says man is made “a little lower than the angels.” The Hebrew says “a little lower than Elohim” or “gods.” Hebrews 2:7–9 quotes and expands on the meaning of Psalm 8:5 by using the Greek root term aggelos, which is translated “angels.” Thus, angels are elohim. DWS
14 Other singular/collective words besides army and family are navy, military, company, assembly and corporation. ELM.
Order our Book: Essentials of New Testament Doctrine to read all the chapters.
© 1976-2021 Associates for Scriptural Knowledge - ASK is supported by freewill contributions