I have finally arrived at the real reason for writing this thesis. The concept of the trinity has been troubling all my life. I have wrestled with this subject for many years. The supposition that God is God, Yeshua (Jesus) Is God and the Holy Spirit is God, three persons, yet one God is baffling and we are told to accept the concept by faith. I have been given the example that I am a husband, a son and a father, to illustrate the idea of the trinity. Yet I am only one person, not three. I have the attributes of a husband, a son and a father, but I am still just one person. The following are my conclusions as best as I can express them.
The Bible is replete with the phrase “son of man.” The phrase appears in the Tanach over 100 times. Each time it is referring to a human being. Theologians try to make one exception to claim that all references are to human beings. This reference is Daniel 7:13-14, “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” (KJV)
In his book, The Case for Christ, Lee Strobel cites a couple of theologians’ positions that the above reference is suggestive of Yeshua (Jesus) and that his dominion is such that he had to be God. The words, “And there was given him dominion,” implies that someone gave him this dominion. If someone gave it to him, then this “son of man” was not God. Now the one who gave it to him is God. The dozens of times Yeshua (Jesus) referred to himself as the “son of man” signifies his humanity, as does all the other references in the Tanach.
What do the scriptures say about the nature of God? Even Yeshua (Jesus) said in John 4:24, “God is a spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (KJV) In Numbers 23:19, it states, “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (KJV) Further, in Hosea 11:9, it declares, “I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee; and I will not enter into the city.” (KJV)
The late Dr. Walter Martin sites an example of the trinity as relating to the triple point of water. This triple point is the condition where water as a liquid, gas and ice all exist simultaneously. This example works nicely in the realm of matter. If God is matter or “substance,” then maybe this sounds reasonable. But what does the scripture say? As stated before, God is spirit, not matter or “substance.” Let us now delve into the subject of “substance.”
Some of the so called “Church Fathers” espoused the idea that the three persons of the trinity was made of the same “substance.” Many of the “Church Fathers” were converts to Christianity from a background of Greek and Roman idolatry which was replete with “gods” coming to earth and intermingling with humans. The transition from this mind-set to making Yeshua (Jesus) conform to this belief system was not a giant leap. Notably among these are Tertullian and Augustine who propagated the concept that members of the trinity were “of one and the same substance.”
In his book, On the Trinity, Augustine states “. . . that the Trinity is the one and only and true God, and also how the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are rightly said, believed, understood, to be of one and the same substance . . .” Further in his book he states:
“. . . that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit intimate a divine unity of one and the same substance in an indivisible equality; and therefore that they are not three Gods, but one God: although the Father hath begotten the Son, and so He who is the Father is not the Son; and the Son is begotten by the Father, and so He who is the Son is not the Father; and the Holy Spirit is neither the father not the Son, but only the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, Himself also co-equal with the Father and the Son, and pertaining to the unity of the Trinity. Yet not that this Trinity was born of the Virgin Mary, and crucified under Pontius Pilate, buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven, but only the Son. Nor, again, that this Trinity descended in the form of a dove upon Jesus when He was baptized; nor that, on the day of Pentecost, after the ascension of the Lord, when “there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind,” the same Trinity “sat upon each of them with cloven tongues like as of fire,” but only the Holy Spirit. Nor yet that this Trinity said from heaven, “Thou art my Son,” whether when He was baptized by John, or when the three disciples were with Him in the mount, or when the voice sounded, saying, “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again;” but that it was a word of the Father only, spoken to the Son; although the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as they are indivisible, so work indivisibly. This is also my faith, since it is the Catholic faith.”
Wow! Talk about having to accept something on faith. Were you able to comprehend the meaning of this quote? Maybe if you reread it a dozen times. Maybe not!
When did the trinity concept become the accepted doctrine of the Church? The concept had been debated for the first three centuries from the time of Christ. It was not until the Council of Nicea in 325 c.e. that it came to a head. A majority vote at the Council made the concept of the trinity the accepted doctrine of the Church. Understand, many, but not the majority, did not espouse the doctrine now dogmatically accepted by the overwhelmingly majority of the Christian churches today. There are many of us that do not hold to this doctrine!
It was at this time that Christians divorced themselves from the Jewish faith and community. They began the dark course of discriminating against the Jews and demanding the conversion of the Jew to Christianity. This led to the Inquisition, pogroms and eventually the Holocaust. What a shameful blot on the history of Christianity!
But why didn’t the New Testament writers address the controversial subject of the trinity? Some might say they did. For instance, one might say that when Yeshua (Jesus) said in John 10:30, “I and my Father are one.” (KJV) To illustrate the meaning of “one” in this verse, let us look at John 17:11 where it says, “. . . keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.” (KJV) This certainly does not make the disciples to be God! The word “one” in both passages means, in the Greek, “one in purpose.” I’ve heard many people use this passage to mean “one in number.” You are being remiss if you ever try to use this passage in that light ever again!
Also, when Yeshua (Jesus) was asked by Philip to “shew us the Father,” he said in John 14: 9, “. . . he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” (KJV) How many times have you witnessed the actions, mannerisms or speech of someone being just like the person’s father? My own daughter-in-law has stated on numerous occasions that my son’s actions were just like mine. Yeshua (Jesus) is God’s son, why can we not see God through him? Again, there were many opportunities for the New Testament writers to address the issue of the trinity, but they did not!
Another passage in which many Christians place a significant amount of confidence to justify their trinitarian belief is John 1:1. It states, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (KJV) In order to accurately translate this passage, we need to look at some concepts relating to the word “God.” The one true God has many attributes for which different words are used to describe the attribute. For instance, HASHEM is often used for the attribute of mercy, while ELOHIM is often used for the attribute of justice. Both can also be used for other attributes. EN SOF is used to describe the incomprehensible God before the physical creation. There are numerous other attributes associated with God.
Now, let us consider the translation of John 1:1. As discussed earlier, the term “Word” is Torah. The Greek for God is θεόν. Which attribute of God does this Greek term refer? I believe this is the same term which is used in Genesis 1:1, the God of Creation. So far, so good.
A problem now arises in that a Greek word in the verse was not placed in the English translation. The Greek term is πρός or using English letters, pros. This Greek term has the usual meaning of “before.” My conclusion to the translation of John 1:1 is as follows: “In the beginning was the Torah, and the Torah was with the God of Creation, and the Torah was before the God of Creation.” This is to say that EN SOF created the Torah and used it as He transformed Himself into the God of Creation to carry out the creation of the universe.
In John 1:14, it states “the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, . . .” (KJV) I have no problem accepting that Yeshua (Jesus) lived out, in his three and a half years, the elements of the Torah (Word). All we need is a good Jewish Rabbi to teach us what that means.
If we look in the Genesis portion of the Torah, in chapter 1, verse 26, it states: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness . . .” (KJV) Most Christians try to make this passage say that this is a reference to the trinity. In the preceding verses, the created beings were brought forth from the earth. Because man is a special creation, God took counsel with the ministering angels, such as Michael, Gabriel, etc., who were created on the second day. The Jewish Sages refer to them as “the heavenly household.” Man was thus brought forth through this consultation, not evolving from the earth.
This I believe!