Arminian Today

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The Most Difficult Christian Doctrine

I have spent some time pondering what is the most difficult Christian doctrine.  For some it would be hell.  For others it would be end times.  Others would debate perhaps election and predestination or God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility.  Others would say that it is the hypostatic union in the Person of the Lord Jesus.

For me, the most difficult doctrine is the Trinity.  It’s not that I am going to confess here that I am abandoning this doctrine.  I am not.  I affirm along with 2000 years of Christian history that the Bible teaches the Trinity.  I affirm this truth but that doesn’t mean that I don’t struggle with it.

Theopedia defines the Trinity as follows:

The Trinity is the Christian doctrine that deals with and describes the nature of God. The doctrine asserts the following:

There is one and only one God.
God eternally exists in three distinct persons.
The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God.
The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Father, the Father is not the Spirit, etc.

I affirm that there is but one God (Deut. 4:39; 6:4; 32:39; 2 Samuel 7:22; 1 Chronicles 17:20; Psalm 83:18; 86:10; Isaiah 43:10; 44:6; 45:18; Mark 12:29; 1 Corinthians 8:4; Ephesians 4:6; 1 Timothy 2:5) yet I affirm that the Father is God (Psalm 68:5; Isaiah 63:16; 64:8; Matthew 6:9; 7:11; Romans 8:15; 1 Peter 1:17).  I affirm that the Son is God (John 1:1, 14, 18; 10:30; 12:45; 16:15; Romans 9:5; Colossians 2:9; 1 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 1:3; Revelation 19:16).  Even the Father bore witness to the divinity of the Son (Matthew 3:17; 17:5; John 8:18; 1 John 5:9).  I also affirm the divinity of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19-20; John 14:26; Acts 5:3-4; 7:51; Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19).  The Holy Spirit can be sinned against (Isaiah 63:10; Matthew 12:31; Mark 3:29) and He can depart from people (Genesis 6:3; 1 Samuel 16:14; Psalm 51:11).  This does not happen to a mist or a force but to a Person.  Further, the Spirit speaks (Acts 13:2) and He forbids to speak (Acts 16:6).

I could go on and on giving you Scripture after Scripture that affirms the full deity of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.  I affirm the Trinity.

But my mind still can’t grasp this God.  I love that.  You see the cults bring God down to their level.  The Jehovah’s Witnesses can explain their god to me.  They can give me verse after verse to prove their belief in their god, their belief in Jesus as Michael the archangel, their belief that the “faithful” will inherit the earth and only 144,000 will be sealed in eternity (and those alone are “born again”) and so forth.  They have no mystery to their god.  Their god can be understood and explained.

Not so with Yahweh.  I can’t explain how the Trinity can be understood.  I have heard all the analogies to try to explain Him.  I have heard the egg analogy.  I have heard the water analogy.  I have heard the trichotomy analogy from humanity.  I have seen the Trinity involved in the work of redemption.  I have read how our own salvation experience demonstrates the Trinity (and it does!).

Yet I still don’t fully grasp the Trinity.  There are passages that make me ponder this such as the baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3:13-17) where all three persons of the Trinity are present but separate.  There are the passages of Jesus such as John 17:3 or passages that speak of His role as our redeemer and subjection before the Father which will end (1 Corinthians 15:26-28).  I read in Revelation 4:2 that there is one on the throne.  And yet in the book of Revelation we read that the Lamb is there (Revelation 7:10; 21:22-23).  We also read that the Holy Spirit is there (Revelation 22:17).

I am not doubting the Word of God here at all.  I am affirming what I read.  I love God.  I love that He is a mystery to me.  I love that I can’t put my finite mind around His infiniteness.  I love that He is bigger than I am.  I suppose that even in eternity I will always wonder about this God, about His rule and reign.  I will though fall down and worship Him and declare that He alone is God and that there is no other god (or gods).  All of humanity will declare this same truth (Philippians 2:5-11).  We must all stand before the judgment seat of God Almighty (Hebrews 9:27-28).  I praise the Lord that He has saved me by His grace and that I stand before Him even now forgiven and bound for glory.

I do know that when we reject the doctrine of the Trinity, this leads to many unanswered questions and to troubling ends.  Typically the Lord Jesus takes the biggest hit.  He is rejected as God and this leads to people not praising Him nor worshiping Him nor declaring how we can read about His preexistence, His miracles, His virgin birth, His authority, His sinlessness, His vicarious atonement, His resurrection, His ascension and His role as our high priest and yet deny His full deity.  The Holy Spirit likewise is reduced to a force (in JW theology) or a strange mist.  Passage after passage must be explained away in the New Testament regarding the Trinity such as the baptism of Jesus, Jesus speaking about the Father and also His affirmation of His equality with the Father, the role Jesus plays now in heaven or even in our salvation.

Simply put, I affirm the Trinity though I do not fully understand it and yet to reject it would lead to more problems than affirming it.  I am fully monotheistic while rejecting strict monotheism (like Islam for example).  However, to reject the Trinity would only lead to modalism (oneness Pentecostals) or Arianism (Jehovah’s Witness again).  Therefore, I praise this God whom I cannot grasp and I trust the Word of God that affirms that there is one God and three persons in the one Godhead or as I say to my sons, “One What and three Who’s.”


Written by The Seeking Disciple

02/26/2014 at 12:31 PM

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