Does the Idea of the Trinity Hold up?
Early one morning, the birds were chirping outside the widow. As always, I got up and began to practice spiritual devotion. As I read the Lord’s words, “The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength: this is the first commandment” (Mark 12: 29–30), I could not help remembering that during meetings, the pastors and elders often told us that God is triune. And they also quoted the Lord Jesus’ words, “Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19), saying that Jehovah God is the Holy Father, Jesus is the Holy Son, and that there is still the Holy Spirit, and that when the three persons are combined into one, They become the one true God. Then I thought: The Lord Jesus said God is the one and only God. Since there is only one God, how could He have three persons? In the verse, the Lord Jesus only said “ baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost;” He did not say God is a Trinity. So what is the idea of the Trinity all about? I was really puzzled about it.
Later, Sister Li came to mind. I thought: She has just come back from attending a training program in another place, and moreover, she has been a preacher for years. Maybe she can solve my puzzle. Thereupon, I went to Sister Li’s house. There, I happened to meet her friend, Zhang Mo, who was also a preacher. Then I told them my confusion about the idea of the Trinity, and they patiently fellowshiped with me.
Zhang Mo said to me in a gentle voice: “Sister Zhong, the question you’ve brought up had also puzzled me for many years. It was not until recently that I got the answer from a book. Let’s read some words in this book together, and then you will know the answer to this question. Sister Li, would you like to read?”
Sister Li said: “OK. These days I also read some words in this book. I found these words are very practical and full of authority and power, and are all the truth! They have answered this question very clearly. Let me read several passages of the words in this book: ‘Since all people say that God is the only one true God, then there is a single God, divisible at will by none! God is only one Spirit, and only one person; and that is the Spirit of God. If it is as you say, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, then are They not three Gods? The Holy Spirit is one matter, the Son another, and the Father yet another. Their persons are different and Their essences are different, so how then can They each be part of a single God? The Holy Spirit is a Spirit; this is easy for man to understand. If this be so, then the Father is even more so a Spirit. He has never descended onto earth and has never become flesh; He is Jehovah God in the heart of man, and He is certainly a Spirit as well. Then what is the relationship between Him and the Holy Spirit? Is it the relationship between Father and Son? Or is it the relationship between the Holy Spirit and the Spirit of the Father? Is the essence of each Spirit the same? Or is the Holy Spirit an instrument of the Father? How can this be explained? And then what is the relationship between the Son and the Holy Spirit? Is it a relationship between two Spirits or the relationship between a man and a Spirit? These are all matters that can have no explanation! If They are all one Spirit, then there can be no talk of three persons, for They are possessed of a single Spirit. If They were distinct persons, then Their Spirits would vary in strength, and They simply could not be one single Spirit. This concept of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is most absurd!’
‘What is the Holy Father? What is the Son? What is the Holy Spirit? Is Jehovah the Holy Father? Is Jesus the Son? Then what of the Holy Spirit? Is not the Father a Spirit? Is not the essence of the Son also a Spirit? Was not the work of Jesus the work of the Holy Spirit? Was not the work of Jehovah at the time carried out by a Spirit the same as Jesus’? How many Spirits can God have? According to your explanation, the three persons of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are one; if this be so, then there are three Spirits, but to have three Spirits means there are three Gods. This means that there is no one true God; how can this kind of God still have the inherent essence of God? If you accept that there is only one God, then how can He have a son and be a father? Are these not all simply your notions?’” (“Does the Trinity Exist?”).
After Sister Li finished reading these words, Zhang Mo fellowshiped: “These words tell us that the idea of the Trinity of Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, is splitting God, it is a fallacy. There is only one God. And God is only one person, and His substance is the Spirit. So, the idea of the Trinity doesn’t exist at all. In the Age of Law, never did Jehovah God tell the Israelites that God is a Trinity. Also, Moses, the man used by God at that time, and prophets like Isaiah and Daniel, didn’t say that God consists of the Holy Father, the Holy Son, and the Holy Spirit. In the Age of Grace, the Lord Jesus never said God is triune. When the disciples and apostles of the Lord traveled everywhere to preach and work, they didn’t bear witness that God is a Trinity. The Bible says: ‘And Jehovah shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Jehovah, and his name one’ (Zechariah 14:9). The Lord Jesus said: ‘The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord’ (Mark 12:29). God is unique. Jehovah God is Spirit; the Lord Jesus is the incarnate flesh of God’s Spirit, is God Himself, and His essence is also Spirit; the Holy Spirit is still Spirit. Therefore, God is the one true God, and He absolutely cannot be divided into separate persons. Therefore, the Trinity has no basis in the Bible, nor does it accord with God’s words. It is erroneous and completely the product of man’s notions and imaginations.”
After hearing the words in this book and Sister Zhang’s fellowshiping, I felt they made sense. Yet there were still some doubts in my heart, so I asked: “Sister Zhang, just now you said the idea of the Trinity is not supported by God’s words. But I still don’t understand: When the pastors or elders explain the Trinity they also quote God’s words. They say how it is recorded in the Bible that after the Lord Jesus was baptized, a voice from the heavens said ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ They also say how the Lord Jesus often called God in heaven Father, and that He said ‘I am in the Father, and the Father in me’ and ‘I and my Father are one.’ In these verses there is the saying of the Father and the Son. So what is going on here?
With patience Zhang Mo answered, “In fact, only after the Lord Jesus became flesh and came to earth to work was there the saying of the Father and the Son. Sister Zhong, you just mentioned that after the Lord Jesus was baptized, a voice from above said, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ This was God giving testimony to Himself; He was testifying His incarnate flesh from the perspective of the Spirit, because people of that time didn’t know the Lord Jesus was Christ and thus they needed the testimony of the Holy Spirit. Next let’s look at the conversation recorded in the Gospel of John between Philip and the Lord Jesus: ‘Philip said to him, Lord, show us the Father, and it suffices us. Jesus said to him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet have you not known me, Philip? he that has seen me has seen the Father; and how say you then, Show us the Father? Believe you not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak to you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwells in me, he does the works’ (John 14: 8–10). Philip, who lacked knowledge of the Lord Jesus, thought the Lord Jesus was the Son and there was God the Father in heaven, so he said to the Lord, ‘show us the Father.’ Then the Lord corrected his mistake, saying ‘he that has seen me has seen the Father’ and ‘I am in the Father, and the Father in me.’ That is, the Father is the Son, the Son is the Father, and the Father and the Son are originally one and of one Spirit. The Lord Jesus said this to clearly tell us that He and the Father are one and are one God. Actually, it was only because of God’s incarnation that there was the idea of the Father and the Son. And this idea was only appropriate for the time during which the Lord Jesus worked on earth. After the Lord Jesus left, the idea of the Father and the Son no longer existed.”
The more I heard, the more I understood. I said excitedly, “Yeah! It is true that there was the idea of the Father and the Son only after the Lord Jesus came. It turns out that when God said ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,’ He was bearing witness to His incarnate flesh from the perspective of the Spirit. When the Lord Jesus said ‘I am in the Father, and the Father in me’ and ‘I and my Father are one,’ He was saying that He and Jehovah God are originally one and are one Spirit, and that God is the one true God. Thank the Lord! Now I am sure that the Trinity is indeed from people’s notions and imaginations, and it is not tenable!”
Hearing my words, Sister Li nodded excitedly.
At that time, another question popped into my mind. So I said, “Sister Zhang, Sister Li, you just said that when God called the Lord Jesus His beloved Son, He was testifying from the perspective of the Spirit that the Lord Jesus is the incarnation of God, and I understand this. But the Lord Jesus called God in heaven by the name of Father in His prayer in Gethsemane, so how should I understand this? Please fellowship with me.”
Sister Li said, “With regard to your question, the words in the book have made it very clear. Let’s read several passages of words: ‘When Jesus called God in heaven by the name of Father as He prayed, this was done only from the perspective of a created man, only because the Spirit of God had put on an ordinary and normal flesh and had the exterior cover of a created being. Even if within Him was the Spirit of God, His exterior appearance was still that of a normal man; in other words, He had become the “Son of man” of which all men, including Jesus Himself, spoke. Given that He is called the Son of man, He is a person (whether man or woman, in any case one with the exterior shell of a human being) born into a normal family of ordinary people. Therefore, Jesus calling God in heaven by the name of Father was the same as how you at first called Him Father; He did so from the perspective of a created man. Do you still remember the Lord’s Prayer that Jesus taught you to memorize? “Our Father in heaven….” He asked all men to call God in heaven by the name of Father. And since He too called Him Father, He did so from the perspective of one who stands on an equal footing with you all. Since you called God in heaven by the name of Father, this shows that Jesus saw Himself to be on equal footing with you, and as a man on earth chosen by God (that is, the Son of God). If you call God Father, is this not because you are a created being? However great the authority of Jesus on earth, prior to the crucifixion, He was merely a Son of man, governed by the Holy Spirit (that is, God), and one of the earth’s created beings, for He had yet to complete His work. Therefore, His calling God in heaven Father was solely His humility and obedience. His addressing God (that is, the Spirit in heaven) in such a manner, however, does not prove that He was the Son of the Spirit of God in heaven. Rather, it was simply that His perspective was different, not that He was a different person. The existence of distinct persons is a fallacy!’ ‘Jesus prayed from the perspective of the flesh. Since He had put on a flesh of such normal humanity, it is from the perspective of the flesh that He said: “My outer shell is that of a created being. Since I put on a flesh to come to this earth, I am now a long, long way from heaven.” For this reason, He could only pray to God the Father from the perspective of the flesh. This was His duty, and it was that which the incarnate Spirit of God should be furnished with. It cannot be said that He was not God simply because He prayed to the Father from the perspective of the flesh. Though He was called the beloved Son of God, He was still God Himself, for He was but the incarnation of the Spirit, and His essence was still the Spirit.’ ‘There is no time at which this idea of the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit can stand; it is a fallacy rarely seen through the ages and it does not exist!’” (“Does the Trinity Exist?”).
Then, Zhang Mo fellowshiped, “From these words, we can know that when the Lord Jesus called God in heaven Father as He prayed in Gethsemane, He was doing so from the perspective of the flesh, that is, from the perspective of a created being—this is the Lord Jesus’ humility and obedience. However, many people, as they don’t understand this truth, think that since the Lord Jesus prayed to God the Father, this proves the Lord was the Son of God the Father—that God in heaven is the Holy Father and Christ on earth is the Holy Son. All of this is the notion and imagination of people. God’s essence is Spirit and so how could He be a Father or Son? The Lord Jesus is the incarnated God and His essence is Spirit. His calling God in heaven Father from the perspective of a human being is Christ’s obedience to the heavenly Father. So, regardless of when, there is no such thing as the Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
After hearing their fellowshiping, I felt as if I was waking up from a dream. I also felt I was so ignorant as to blindly listen to the fallacies propagated by the pastors and elders. I thought: “These religious leaders really are too harmful.” Just as the Lord Jesus said: “they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” (Matthew 15:14).
Later, Sister Zhang asked me to read another passage of words in the book: “There is only one God, only one person in this God, and only one Spirit of God, much as it is written down in the Bible that ‘There is only one Holy Spirit and only one God.’ Regardless of whether the Father and the Son of which you speak exist, there is only one God after all, and the essence of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit you believe in is the essence of the Holy Spirit. In other words, God is a Spirit, but He is able to become flesh and live among men, as well as to be above all things. His Spirit is all-inclusive and omnipresent. He can simultaneously be in the flesh and in and above the universe. Since all people say that God is the only one true God, then there is a single God, divisible at will by none! God is only one Spirit, and only one person; and that is the Spirit of God” (“Does the Trinity Exist?”). Through these words I had a clearer understanding: God is Spirit, and there is only one Spirit, and He cannot be divided into separate persons. There is also no such thing as the idea of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit at all. God’s Spirit is all-encompassing and fills the entire cosmos. It is only for the sake of the needs of His work and for the sake of the salvation of mankind that God’s Spirit became clothed in flesh as a man, and came to earth to speak His words and do His work; this is the great love of God.
You may be interested in reading more:
• Exploring the Mystery of the Trinity, I Understood the Father and Son Relationship