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What We Believe About The Holy Trinity: God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Dr. Elmer Towns

Perhaps the most difficult-to-understand aspect of Christianity is the doctrine of the Trinity. Yet the Trinity is at the very heart of Christian doctrine.

When Christians describe God as a Trinity, they mean that He exists in unity in three eternal persons. Each member of the Trinity is equal in nature, yet distinct in person and submissive in duties. While each person of the Trinity is equally God, each has voluntarily adopted subservient roles.

God the Son is eternally begotten by God the Father (Psalm 2:7). God the Holy Spirit is described as proceeding from God the Father and God the Son (John 15:26).

Sometimes it is easier to understand what is not meant by the expression Trinity. The Trinity is not equivalent to three Gods (tritheism). Also, the Trinity is not three manifestations of God (the Father who becomes the Son who becomes the Holy Spirit). Nor does this doctrine teach that the Father created either the Son or the Holy Spirit. Further, the Trinity does not describe the Son or the Holy Spirit as mere attributes of the Father.

Some who oppose this doctrine claim it is not supported in the Old Testament. Actually, the Old Testament implies this doctrine by using a plural name for God (Elohim), using a Trinitarian formula in the worship of God (Isaiah 6:3; Numbers 6:24-26), and describing three distinct persons as God (Genesis 18:1-2; Isaiah 9:6; Genesis 1:2). But the Old Testament goes farther than merely implying this doctrine. On at least one occasion, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are referred to in the context of deity in a single verse (Isaiah 48:16).

This doctrine is more fully described in the New Testament. The Trinity was apparent at the baptism of Jesus when the Spirit descended like a dove and the Father spoke (Matthew 3:16- 17). Jesus taught the Trinity when He spoke of sending the Holy Spirit from the Father (John 15:26). In the early church, each member of the Trinity was named in the apostolic benediction (2 Corinthians 13:14) and the baptismal formula (Matthew 28:19). Also, the atoning death of Christ was understood by the early church in the context of each member of the Trinity being involved in offering the ultimate sacrifice for sin.

God is also described as being “one Lord” (Deuteronomy 6:4) – a reflection of His unity. There can only be one God (Isaiah 44:6). Our faith in the Trinity is not inconsistent with this aspect of God’s nature because we believe in one God in three personalities, not three separate gods.

Saint Patrick of Ireland was believed to have used a shamrock clover to explain the Trinity. To read our article Saint Patrick, Evangelist and Missionary to Ireland, CLICK HERE

 


Dr. Elmer Towns is Vice President of Liberty University, which he co-founded in 1971 with Dr. Jerry Falwell. Dr. Towns has been a popular Sunday school teacher and college and seminary professor for decades.

This article is excerpted and condensed from Dr. Towns’ 60-page eBook Foundational Doctrines of the Faith. Read it NOW, eBook instant PDF Download, $11 value only $4.99, More…

Here is a summary article of the 8 Foundational Doctrines of the Christian Faith

RELATED ARTICLES: WHAT WE BELIEVE ABOUT…

  1. THE BIBLE
  2. GOD
  3. CHRIST
  4. THE HOLY SPIRIT
  5. THE TRINITY
  6. PEOPLE
  7. SALVATION
  8. THE CHURCH
  9. ESCHATOLOGY (END TIMES)

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