What is the source of the Christian concept of the Trinity?
The three monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity,
and Islam – all purport to share one fundamental concept: belief in God as the
Supreme Being, the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe. Known as “tawhid” in
Islam, this concept of the Oneness of God was stressed by Moses in a Biblical
passage known as the “Shema”, or the Jewish creed of faith:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.”
It was repeated word-for-word approximately 1500 years
later by Jesus, when he said:
“...The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord.” (Mark 12:29)
Muhammad came along approximately 600 years later,
bringing the same message again:
“And your God is One God: there is no God but He...” (Quran
Christianity has digressed from the concept of the
Oneness of God, however, into a vague and mysterious doctrine that was
formulated during the fourth century. This doctrine, which continues to be a
source of controversy both within and outside the Christian religion, is known
as the Doctrine of the Trinity. Simply put, the Christian doctrine of the
Trinity states that God is the union of three divine persons – the Father, the
Son and the Holy Spirit – in one divine being.
If that concept, put in basic terms, sounds confusing,
the flowery language in the actual text of the doctrine lends even more mystery
to the matter:
“...we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in
Unity... for there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, another of
the Holy Ghost is all one... they are not three gods, but one God... the whole
three persons are co-eternal and co-equal... he therefore that will be saved
must thus think of the Trinity...” (excerpts from the Athanasian Creed)
Let’s put this together in a different form: one person,
God the Father, plus one person, God the Son, plus one person, God the Holy
Ghost, equals one person, God the What? Is this English or is this gibberish?
It is said that Athanasius, the bishop who formulated
this doctrine, confessed that the more he wrote on the matter, the less capable
he was of clearly expressing his thoughts regarding it.
How did such a confusing doctrine get its start?
Trinity in the Bible
References in the Bible to a Trinity of divine beings
are vague, at best.
In Matthew 28:19, we find Jesus telling his disciples to
go out and preach to all nations. While this “Great Commission” does make
mention of the three persons who later become components of the Trinity, the
phrase “...baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the
Holy Ghost” is quite clearly an addition to Biblical text – that is, not the
actual words of Jesus – as can be seen by two factors:
1) baptism in the early Church, as discussed by
Paul in his letters, was done only in the name of Jesus; and
2) the “Great Commission” was found in the first
gospel written, that of Mark, bears no mention of Father, Son and/or Holy Ghost
– see Mark 16:15.
The only other reference in the Bible to a Trinity can
be found in the Epistle of 1 John 5:7. Biblical scholars of today, however,
have admitted that the phrase:
“...there are three that bear record in heaven, the
Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one”
…is definitely a “later addition” to Biblical text, and
it is not found in any of today’s versions of the Bible.
It can, therefore, be seen that the concept of a Trinity
of divine beings was not an idea put forth by Jesus or any other prophet of God.
This doctrine, now subscribed to by Christians all over the world, is entirely
man-made in origin.
The Doctrine Takes Shape
While Paul of Tarsus, the man who could rightfully be
considered the true founder of Christianity, did formulate many of its
doctrines, that of the Trinity was not among them. He did, however, lay the
groundwork for such when he put forth the idea of Jesus being a “divine Son”. After
all, a Son does need a Father, and what about a vehicle for God’s revelations
to man? In essence, Paul named the principal players, but it was the later
Church people who put the matter together.
Tertullian, a lawyer and presbyter of the third-century
Church in Carthage, was the first to use the word “Trinity” when he put forth
the theory that the Son and the Spirit participate in the being of God, but all
are of one being of substance with the Father.