Together with many Christians, 6/7/2020 is celebrated one way or another as Trinity Sunday. Like many, we watch Channel 7 in Chicago, the mass at Holy Name Cathedral, in the comfort of our home. This occurs yearly on the Sunday after Pentecost in recognition of the doctrine of Trinity. Cardinal Blasé Cupich is someone that all of us respect and place high regard for his pastoral demeanor, good grasp of the scriptures and love for his congregation. Nevertheless, what could be a better time than today to examine the teaching of Trinity.
Blast from the past
Nothing before and during Christ’s years on earth and in the early church, was there ever this teaching of Trinity. So, how did Christianity reach this conclusion of Trinity in “one God”?
This appears to be counter to a basic doctrine of how many is this God of the Old Testament. It never was understood to be “many” but “one”, numerically. Without doubt, ingrained in Judaism, is this “Shema doctrine” that is based on: Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.”
Notice, this Creator God in Genesis, the “Lord God” was identified specifically as translated from the Hebrew name of that particular YHVH ELOHIM, is “one”, not more than “one”. And in the Old Testament, while there are “many Elohim/gods” there should “no other gods to be worshipped” but the Lord God , aka, YHVH-ELOHIM. And this God is numerically “one”, not 2 or 3. Also, that this was the proximate Creator God the YHVH ELOHIM to be worshipped in the Old Testament, among and above “all other gods”.
And, YHVH ELOHIM was also called “WORD” in the beginning because all he had to do was “say the word and things get created”. This WORD incarnated into man-Jesus. But in the New Testament, the YHVH-ELOHIM, aka Jesus Christ, then directed as to the Father, the only God to be worshipped from then on as in John 4:23 “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.”
It was this YHVH ELOHIM who was the proximate Creator God in Genesis, the actual creator who executed the Father’s plan of creation. The Father created all as in Hebrews 1:2 “through him and for him”. He now shows us the truth in John 14:28 that “…the Father is greater than I.” And for that, Jesus is telling us now, those with “in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit of power and truth”, to worship the Father. And, in so doing he was glorifying the Father and vice-versa.
Origin of “Trinity Doctrine”
So, how did we come to get this teaching? At the outset, let us acknowledge that there was a dilemma in the 3rd-4th century about the “nature of Godhead”. It goes to show that, even then, the church leaders can have diverse understanding, to no fault of them. Remember, having different views is not unique as Paul admonished Peter and Barnabas split from Paul. Major historic religious figures like Athanasius and Arius were at odds that they even “excommunicated each other”.
The key determinant of this difference boils down to the question “What is God?”. Further in-depth reading of historical record on the development of “Trinity doctrine” has been posted before in “Trinity Deconstructed”
With due respect given to all those who adhere to this Trinity doctrine, it becomes clear that the numerical nature of God depends on who was referred to.
In the Old Testament, the Creator God was YHVH ELOHIM, also known as WORD in the beginning, the “God of all gods” and the only one at that time to be worshipped and differentiated from “false gods”. The Father was not introduced nor known at the time in Pentateuch. As the other verses show, the Father planned the creation and YHVH ELOHIM /Jesus actually did the creating. The Shema doctrine undoubtedly counted YHVH ELOHIM as “one”, numerically. The same one, incarnated to Jesus Christ , who is also “one”, not 2 or 3.
This “man-Jesus” then commanded us to worship, not him, but the Father, giving him glory and vice-versa. Jesus is the “Son of God” thus establishing this “father-son” relationship, never before revealed until the time of Christ on earth, his death and resurrection. By saying in Matthew 3:17, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased”, the Father/Son relationship was introduced and established. And, there will be more (not limited to 2 or 3) “spirit-composed” sons and daughters being created , as this is an “ongoing creation”
The hierarchy in the “kingdom of God” can be seen futuristically in Daniel 7:13 where the “son of man” (Jesus) coming towards the “Ancient of Days”(the Father). “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.” See also John 5:26-27 and Hebrews 1:2 And they will “all be one”. See also this post on “I and the Father are one”.
The Father planned and the Son of God Jesus concurred, from the beginning, that the kingdom of God will be expanded to many more “spirit-composed children” and never planned to be limited to 2 or 3. The Holy Spirit is the power, not a person, that was never revealed until Christ’s “spirit baptism” at River Jordan. We knew progressive revelation/discovery about gravity power, mechanical, electrical, nuclear, solar, etc. that took time for us to realize and understand. So, it this power called “Holy Spirit”. This Holy Spirit is a new, unique and creative power that is now being used to create members of the kingdom of God from a “marred clay”. It was never inherent with the “proximate Creator YHVH ELOHIM” until after incarnation into man-Jesus’ death and resurrection as “Son of God” declared so “from out of the dead”.
The “kingdom of God” was never limited to 2 or 3. In fact, fulfilling the promises to Abraham, it will be innumerable as in Genesis 26:4 and Paul said in Hebrew 2 “ … in bringing many sons/children to glory”,
Original post: June 15, 2020
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