The Trinity and It's Problems

Published: 2021-09-14 08:25:11
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The Trinity and It's Problems
Trinitarianism is not the teaching of Scripture, but is a theological construct developed from Scriptural references to help explain the Biblical doctrine of God. While there are Scriptures that seem to teach Trinitarian dogma, in reality, there is not a single verse that does so. At best it could be said that there are verses, or a combination of several verses, which seem to support the Trinitarian dogma, but even this affirmation does not mean Trinitarianism is the best way to understand these verses, let alone the only way. There could be other constructs that would better explain them, and indeed, there is.
While many Trinitarians would object to the idea that the Trinity is not taught in Scripture-claiming they find the Trinity on virtually every page of the New Testament-upon further examination any honest Trinitarian must agree that, indeed, the Trinitarian doctrine is not taught/found in Scripture. Few Trinitarian scholars would argue this point (Erickson, 2001, Grudem, 1994). Most recognize that the doctrine developed over time as the church refined its understanding of God's nature, and the relationship of Jesus and the Spirit to the Father. This development involved the coining and specialization of key terms such as Trinity, ousia, and hypostasis which in turn further defined the church fathers' conception of God into a certain construct.
While Trinitarians freely admit that the dogma is not taught in Scripture, they will contend that it is found in Scripture, although not expressed in the same categories. Rather than being an explicit teaching of Scripture, the doctrine of the Trinity is seen to be an implicit teaching, formulated from the inferences and exegesis of the Biblical data, although not directly stated by the same. It is viewed as the only viable explanation of all the Biblical data concerning God's identity; all the while the formulation itself is only a Bible-based, Biblically-informed construct through which we understand the raw Biblical data.
The problem facing both Trinitarians and Oneness believers is how to reconcile three seemingly contradictory teachings of Scripture: 1. There is only one God; 2. The Father is referred to as (that one) God, the Son is referred to as (that one) God, and the Holy Spirit is referred to as (that one) God; 3. distinctions are made between Father, Son, and Spirit. The task of all Christians is to develop a doctrine of God that can incorporate all three of these truths without contradiction. Trinitarianism as well as Oneness theology are theological constructs that attempt to do just that. They do so, however, from different starting points, and thus end up with two different conclusions. Oneness theology starts with the Old Testament teaching that God is one, and then proceeds to incorporate the New Testament distinctions in light of this foundation. Trinitarians start with the New Testament distinctions, and then proceed to fit such diversity within the Old Testament teaching of monotheism. What is the outcome? Oneness theologians understand the New Testament distinctions as temporal and incarnational in nature, while Trinitarians understand the distinctions as eternal and personal in nature.
Understanding the different starting points of each theological system is important because one's starting point for theological understanding often determines how they will interpret the Biblical data; i.e. the paradigm through which they filter it to create their theological construct. Because Trinitarians start with diversity, or a plurality of the Godhead, when they try to fit monotheism into the equation they necessarily end up understanding God's oneness to be a mere unity, not a numerical oneness as is most often meant by the term, and as indicated in the Old Testament.

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