Blinded by the Light
Vol: 26 Issue: 2 Wednesday, August 2, 2017
To the average Muslim or the average Jew, Christianity is a polytheistic religion. Christians can explain that we worship only one God, but in three Persons, but that makes it about as clear as mud. Jews worship YHWH, the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
If there is one verse of Scripture that defines Judaism, it would be the “shema”.
Shema Yisra’el YHWH Eloheinu YHWH Eḥad – “Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.” (Deuteronomy 6:4)
Muslims find the doctrine of the Trinity to be even more confusing than do the Jews. The Old Testament makes reference to the Son of God on any number of occasions, whereas the Koran’s references are all negative.
“Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him.” (Psalms 2:12)
“The Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary, was no more than God’s apostle . . .God is but one God. GOD FORBID THAT HE SHOULD HAVE A SON!” (The Koran: 4:171)
“Those who say: “The Lord of Mercy has begotten a son, preach a monstrous falsehood, at which the very heavens might crack . . .” (The Koran: 19:88)
”God forbid that He Himself should beget a son!” (The Koran 19:29)
Although the New Testament is all about Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Redeemer of the World, King of King and Lord of Lords, there is but one verse in the New Testament that clearly outlines the doctrine of the Trinity — and it is suspect.
John Calvin wrote of the Trinity doctrine, “I would insist only on the direct words, unexplained, just as they lie in the text:
“There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: And these three are one.” (1 John 5:7 KJV)
“As they lie in the text. . . “ Calvin’s wording here raises another question: Is the text itself genuine?
There are those that argue that 1st John 5:7 was added by some scribe or copyist later and that it was not among the earliest doctrines of the Church.
I’ve seen this debated many times over the years – the argument over the authenticity of the text baffles me. If the text is not authentic, then what is it doing in the Bible?
If the answer is that it shouldn’t be in the Bible, then the next question should be, “who says and how do they know?”
The New International Version is translated from the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus manuscripts. The NIV version waters down the Trinity proof text this way:
“For there are three that testify: 8 the[a] Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.”
The verse in the NIV is footnoted. The footnote reads;
“Late manuscripts of the Vulgate testify in heaven: the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one. And there are three that testify on earth: the (not found in any Greek manuscript before the fourteenth century)”
That’s where one moves from the realm of doctrine into that of opinion. Nobody can say for certain if the text was a later insert. If it was certain, then it wouldn’t be part of the Bible. But there it is.
So for many scholars, it is a matter of opinion if it is supposed to be there.
The word translated as “mystery” is musterion which means, “a Divine secret, not previously revealed.”
The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is a mystery. So let me throw this out for your consideration. The Bible does not require you to believe a ‘mystery’ as a condition of salvation.
The Bible requires that we believe the facts as they are, not necessarily the Divine mechanics behind those facts as they may be revealed later.
Genesis records that God said, “Let there be light, and there was light.” That is a fact and I believe it.
There is no mystery in the existence of light. Only in how it sprang from nothing. But I don’t need to know that in order to believe that God created light.
“And the Word was made flesh.” I believe this as a fact – my belief is not based in my understanding of the details of how, but in my faith in the factualness of that statement.
I believe the Bible’s statement that God is both Three and One. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Second Person in the Godhead, and I also believe that God is One.
HOW this can be is a matter of faith and not one of understanding. That’s why it is a mystery.
But it is absolute absurdity to reject the facts which God has revealed because we don’t fully understand the mechanics of how it all works.
The ‘mystery’ does not lie in the fact itself, but rather in how that fact comes to be a fact. Paul wrote,
“Behold, I shew you a mystery, we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.” (1st Corinthians 15:51)
There are many Christians that don’t believe in the Rapture. They have a different opinion about what that verse means. But their eternal destiny is not in jeopardy.
Nobody is saved by faith in the Rapture. We are saved by our faith in the Promise of salvation by grace.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God . . . “ (Ephesians 2:8)
The mystery is not relevant to the facts. As a Christian, you are not required to believe the mystery or even to understand it. But you are required to believe the Scriptures.
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” (2nd Timothy 3:16)
The objection that the text describing the Trinity was inserted into Scripture later by a copyist means, by definition, that 2nd Timothy 3:16 is ALSO unreliable. Doesn’t it?
If 1st John 5:7 was a later insert, meaning that 2nd Timothy 3:16 must be unreliable, what does that say about Ephesians 2:8?
How does one know which verses to trust? There is a Latin phrase that deals with these kinds of Bible objections.
“Si erro, libenter erro; et me redargui valde recusem.”
It means, “If I err, I err willingly; and I vehemently refuse to be convinced of it.”
There is much that we know but can’t explain. You are NOT your body. You are a soul whohas a body. You don’t need to be a religious scholar – or even a Christian – to know that. Consider a few examples:
- Aircraft routinely carry the bodies of deceased persons as cargo. Airlines therefore report the number of ‘souls’ on board an aircraft to differentiate with the number of bodies.
- An injury to the body is felt by the soul. An animal will flee from an injury and be done with it. It takes an injured soul to plot revenge for an injury to the body.
- On the other side of the equation, when the soul feels shame, the body blushes. When the soul feels anger or fear, it is the body that trembles.
You know it as fact. The Bible only confirms that it is true, it doesn’t explain how it works. Neither can you. Nor should you necessarily have to know how it all works in order for it to be true.
It will be true whether you understand it or not. That doesn’t mean that nobody should study. Everybody should. But it is a command with a purpose:
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2nd Timothy 2:15)
These are marching orders for those called to serve — not everybody who gets saved is called to lead others to Christ. Some are called to the work of evangelism, others are not.
But all need to be saved. Salvation does not come by scholarship. Salvation does not come by understanding the mysteries of God as revealed. One doesn’t need to have ever cracked a Bible in order to be saved.
The Bible says that “faith cometh by hearing . . . the Word of God.” (I believe it safe to say that Heaven is full of people that never learned to read on earth.)
John tells us that these Three are One in unity and testimony and also in essence. 1st Timothy tells us that ALL Scripture is Divinely inspired and useful for doctrine.
Jesus Christ said that every hair on your head is numbered and that not a sparrow falls from the sky without God’s knowledge and permission.
It then follows that God is equally capable of preserving His Word as He wants each of us to have it, according to His purpose. That’s another no-brainer that is often overlooked in the quest for scholarship.
The Bible says that God has revealed Himself as one God in Three distinct Persons; the Pater, the Logos and the Hagios Pneuma. But the Divine mechanics — exactly how God can be one God in three Persons — is not revealed by Scripture.
Where is the wisdom in rejecting what is revealed, based on that part which has not been revealed?
The doctrine of the Trinity is not nearly as difficult as it is made out to be. Try this for an illustration. Take three candles into a dark room and put one in each corner. Light them and go stand facing the other corner.
From that perspective, facing into the corner, you can only see one light. But you know that there are three candles. You can’t see the three candles, but you know that they are there.
Do you know how the light from each candle behind you was diffused in order to create the single light illuminating your corner?
Now for the next question. This is the big one. Do you NEED to know how in order to be able to use the light to see?
What if you were already standing in the corner in the dark when somebody else comes in and lights the candles? Would it change anything about the light if he said there were three different candles in different corners and all different colors?
Would you have to inspect the three candles before you could use the light to see with? Or is it enough to simply know how many candlepower the light is? Do you see it? The Light illuminates the doctrine.
Trying to create a doctrine away from the Light gets the equation exactly backwards. Turn around from your imaginary corner and stare directly at one of the candles for a minute.
Now turn back around and see if you can still see as well into the darkness of your corner as you could — before you blinded yourself by staring too hard into the Light.
It is incumbent upon us to learn all we can from the Word of God because the more we learn, the more we understand how little we know. That is where wisdom begins.
In knowing that God is God. And that we are not.
The Scriptures tell us; “him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.”
It is easy for God to be a Trinity and still be One God because He is God. Everything is easy for God.
But it is impossible for us to fully understand it because we are not God. God says it takes three Divine Candles to produce the Light that illuminates my dark corner.
Now that He’s defined that Light for me, I need only worry about using it to see what He is illuminating.
There will be lots of time to learn about the Candles in detail when I get to Heaven.
Featured Commentary: Peter and a Precious, Precious Prophecy ~Wendy Wippel