About twelve years ago I had a brief struggle with the concept of God’s triunity. Since many of my previous beliefs had proven less certain (end times views, free will, predestination), when the subject of the Trinity came up, I began to wonder if this was a doctrine worth having. Was it merely something the church invented? Is it a useful doctrine at all?
By God’s grace, I came upon a (then) newly released book by James White, The Forgotten Trinity: Recovering the Heart of Christian Belief. What I learned was that, not only is the Trinity a biblical concept, it is absolutely essential to Christianity. White does a tremendous job of explaining how the Trinity became widely recognized, why it’s such an important doctrine, and why we neglect it at our own peril. The book was exactly what I needed and my faith was strengthened immeasurably by this rich truth. I memorized his definition of the Trinity and have never forgotten it:
“Within the one Being that is God, there exists eternally three coequal, coeternal persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
There has been something of a backlash in our culture against the whole church establishment. Many people are looking at new ways of doing things, along with new ways of viewing God and the Bible. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with this, so long as vital biblical truth is not neglected. One of those non-negotiables is the Trinity. Now some might balk at using such a word since it’s not found in Scripture; but the word itself is not what’s important, but rather the concept. So long as the following truths are accepted, whether or not one uses the term “Trinity” is irrelevant.
- the Father is fully and eternally God
- the Son is fully and eternally God
- the Holy Spirit is fully and eternally God
- the Father is not the Son
- the Son is not the Holy Spirit
- the Holy Spirit is not the Father
If we accept these truths, then we have, in essence, accepted the Trinity. There’s much more to discuss about this important doctrine, such as procession and order within the Trinity, but it’s important to get the basics down first. James White’s book is a great introduction to the Trinity and I highly recommend it. If you have doubts about the Trinity, if you want relevant information for use in your discussion with cults, or if you just love theology and want a refresher, read The Forgotten Trinity.