Does the Trinity really teach that there are three gods?

by Matt Slick

By definition, the Trinity doctrine teaches that there is only one God.  Nevertheless, there are those who assert that the Trinity is really teaching three separate gods.  They claim it is either impossible for God to exist in three persons, and/or that the Trinity is really borrowed from pagan three-god figures.  Many add that a person is by necessity an individual being. Therefore, they conclude, that the Trinity really teaches three gods.  The problem with this criticism is that it denies the very nature of the doctrine.

First of all, Trinitarianism by definition denies that there is more than one God.  It is clearly monotheistic in spite of what the critics want to claim.

Second, there is a word used to describe a unity of three separate gods.  It is the word "triad."  A triad is not a trinity.  A triad is three separate gods--as in Mormonism.  A Trinity is one God in three persons.  A triad is polytheistic.  A trinity is monotheistic.

Third, there is no logical reason to deny the possibility that three persons can exist in one God.  Critics may not like it, but it is not a logical impossibility.  God is infinitely complex, and we cannot understand His vastness nor simply claim He can't exist in three persons.  Instead, we should look at the Bible to see what it says about God and see if the Trinity is taught.  But, that is another subject.

Theologians admit that the word "person" is not the perfect word to use because it carries with it the idea of individuals who are different beings.  This is what we are familiar with; and this is one of the problems with using the term "person" when describing the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  But this is what we must use when we see that when the Bible speaks of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, each is called God, each speaks, and each has a will.  They exhibit attributes of personhood.  In describing what we observe, we are forced to use words that we are familiar with.  "Person" is just such a word.  But it does not necessitate here that each person is an individual being.

And fourth, trinities are known and accepted by people as observed in nature.  By analogy, we see that creation itself is Trinitarian.  Time is past, present, and future.  There are not three times.  Each part of the whole of time is by nature time, yet there are not three times but one.  Likewise, space is height, width, and depth.  Matter is solid, liquid, and gas.  The Bible says that God's invisible attributes are made known in creation:

Rom. 1:20, "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse."

When the critics of Trinitarianism say it really teaches three gods, they demonstrate their lack of understanding of the doctrine, and they either purposefully or mistakenly confuse it with something it is not.  Trinitarianism denies and opposes the idea that there is more than one God.  It is by definition--monotheistic.

 

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The Incarnation in the Bible

What Jesus said:
John 6:38, "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me."

What Paul Said:
Philippians 2:6–7, "who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men."

What the Old Testament Says:
Isaiah 7:14, "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel."

What the New Testament Says:
John 1:14, "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."

Easton’s Bible Dictionary says: “that act of grace whereby Christ took our human nature into union with his Divine Person, became man. Christ is both God and man. Human attributes and actions are predicated of him, and he of whom they are predicated is God. A Divine Person was united to a human nature (Acts 20:28; Rom. 8:32; 1 Cor. 2:8; Heb. 2:11-14; 1 Tim. 3:16; Gal. 4:4, etc.). The union is hypostatical, i.e., is personal; the two natures are not mixed or confounded, and it is perpetual.” (Easton, M. G. Easton’s Bible Dictionary. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1893.)

 
 

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.