Is God A Trinity?
What about 1 John 5:7?
The only Scripture in the Bible that seems to support the trinity doctrine is found in 1 John 5:7. It reads in the King James Version: “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.” The words in italics are simply not a part of the generally accepted New Testament manuscripts. Some other versions read essentially the same.
Most Bible commentaries that mention this addition tell us that it is a spurious comment added to the biblical text. Consider the words of The New Bible Commentary: Revised: “Notice that AV [the Authorized Version] includes additional material at this point. But the words are clearly a gloss [an added note] and are rightly excluded by RSV [the Revised Standard Version] even from its margins” (1970, p. 1269).
In the New Revised Standard Version, 1 John 5:7-8 correctly and more concisely reads, “There are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood, and these three agree.” John personifies the three elements here as providing testimony, just as Solomon personified wisdom in the book of Proverbs..
Many other more recent Bible versions likewise recognize the spurious added text and omit it, including the New International Version, American Standard Version and New American Standard Bible, English Standard Version, New English Bible and Revised English Bible, New American Bible, Jerusalem Bible and New Jerusalem Bible, Good News Bible, New Living Translation, Holman Christian Standard Bible, Bible in Basic English and the Twentieth Century New Testament.
“The textual evidence is against 1 John 5:7,” explains Dr. Neil Lightfoot, a New Testament professor. “Of all the Greek manuscripts, only two contain it. These two manuscripts are of very late dates, one from the fourteenth or fifteenth century and the other from the sixteenth century. Two other manuscripts have this verse written in the margin. All four manuscripts show that this verse was apparently translated from a late form of the Latin Vulgate” ( How We Got the Bible, 2003, pp. 100-101).
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary also dismisses the King James and New King James Versions’ additions in 1 John 5:7-8 as “obviously a late gloss with no merit” (Glenn Barker, Vol. 12, 1981, p. 353).
Peake’s Commentary on the Bible is very incisive in its comments as well: “The famous interpolation after ‘three witnesses’ is not printed in RSV and rightly [so] . . . No respectable Greek [manuscript] contains it. Appearing first in a late 4th century Latin text, it entered the Vulgate [the 5th-century Latin version, which became the common medieval translation] and finally NT [New Testament] of Erasmus [who produced newly collated Greek texts and a new Latin version in the 16th century]” (p. 1038).
The Big Book of Bible Difficulties tells us: “This verse has virtually no support among the early Greek manuscripts . . . Its appearance in late Greek manuscripts is based on the fact that Erasmus was placed under ecclesiastical pressure to include it in his Greek NT of 1522, having omitted it in his two earlier editions of 1516 and 1519 because he could not find any Greek manuscripts which contained it” (Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe, 2008, pp. 540-541).
Theology professors Anthony and Richard Hanson, in their book Reasonable Belief: A Survey of the Christian Faith, explain the unwarranted addition to the text this way: “It was added by some enterprising person or persons in the ancient Church who felt that the New Testament was sadly deficient in direct witness to the kind of doctrine of the Trinity which he favoured and who determined to remedy that defect … It is a waste of time to attempt to read Trinitarian doctrine directly off the pages of the New Testament” (1980, p. 171).
The word Trinity did not come into common use as a religious term until after the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325, several centuries after the last books of the New Testament were complete. It is not a biblical concept.
Is the Holy Spirit a Person?
The word “spirit” is translated from the Hebrew ruach and the Greek pneuma, both words also denoting breath or wind, an invisible FORCE. (The English “ghost” at one time had this meaning, which is why it’s used in older Bible translations.) Scripture says that “God is Spirit” (John 4:24). Yet we are also told that God has a Spirit—the Spirit of God or the Holy Spirit.
What is the Holy Spirit? It is the POWER of God. Rather than describing the Holy Spirit as a distinct person or entity, the Bible most often refers to it as God’s divine POWER (Zechariah 4:6; Micah 3:8). Jewish scholars, examining the references to it in the Old Testament, have always defined the Holy Spirit as the POWER of God.
In the New Testament, Paul referred to it as the spirit of POWER, love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Informing Mary that Jesus would be supernaturally conceived in her womb, an angel told her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you,” and the divine messenger described this Spirit to her as “the POWER of the Highest [which] will overshadow you” (Luke 1:35).
Jesus began His ministry “in the POWER of the Spirit” (Luke 4:14). He told His followers, “You shall receive POWER when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8).
Peter relates that “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with POWER” (Acts 10:38). This was the same POWER that enabled Christ to perform many mighty miracles during His ministry. Likewise, Jesus worked through the apostle Paul “in mighty signs and wonders, by the POWER of the Spirit of God” (Romans 15:19).
Confronted with such scriptures, even the New Catholic Encyclopedia admits: “The OT [Old Testament] clearly does not envisage God’s spirit as a person . . . God’s spirit is simply God’s POWER. If it is sometimes represented as being distinct from God, it is because the breath of Yahweh acts exteriorly . . . The majority of NT [New Testament] texts reveal God’s spirit as some thing , not some one ; this is especially seen in the parallelism between the spirit and the POWER of God” (1965, Vol. 13, “Spirit of God,” pp. 574-576).
The reference work A Catholic Dictionary similarly acknowledges, “On the whole the New Testament, like the Old, speaks of the spirit as a divine energy or POWER ” (William Addis and Thomas Arnold, 2004, “Trinity, Holy,” p. 827).
God’s Word shows that the Holy Spirit is the very nature, presence and expression of God’s POWER actively working in His servants (2 Peter 1:4; Galatians 2:20). Indeed, it is through His Spirit that God is present everywhere at once throughout the universe and affects it at will (Psalms 139:7-10).
Again and again the Scriptures depict the Holy Spirit as the POWER of God. Furthermore, it is also shown to be the mind of God and the very essence and life force through which the Father begets human beings as His spiritual children. The Holy Spirit is not God, but is rather a vital aspect of God—the agency through which the Father and Christ both work.
Can a Person Be "Poured Out" or "Quenched"?
It is not a divine person. For example, it is referred to as a GIFT (Acts 10:45; 1 Timothy 4:14) that God gives without limit (John 3:34, NIV). We are told that the Holy Spirit can be QUENCHED (1 Thessalonians 5:19), that it can be POURED OUT on people (Acts 2:17-33), and that we are BAPTIZED with it (Matthew 3:11).
People can DRINK of it (John 7:37-39), PARTAKE of it (Hebrews 6:4) and be FILLED with it (Acts 2:4; Ephesians 5:18). The Holy Spirit also RENEWS us (Titus 3:5) and must be STIRRED UP within us (2 Timothy 1:6). These impersonal characteristics are certainly not attributes of a person or personal being! The Spirit is “the GUARANTEE of our inheritance” (Ephesians 1:13-17)—that shows it is not a person.
In contrast to God the Father and Jesus Christ, who are consistently compared to human beings in Their form and shape, the Holy Spirit is consistently represented, by various symbols and manifestations, in a completely different manner—such as BREATH (John 20:22), WIND (Acts 2:2), FIRE (Acts 2:3), WATER (John 4:14; John 7:37-39), OIL (Psalms 45:7; compare Acts 10:38; Matthew 25:1-10), a DOVE (Matthew 3:16) and an “EARNEST,” or down payment, on eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; 2 Corinthians 5:5; Ephesians 1:13-14, KJV). To say the least, these depictions are difficult to understand if the Holy Spirit is a person!
In Matthew 1:20 we find further proof that the Holy Spirit is not a distinct entity, but God’s divine power. Here we read that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. However, Jesus continually prayed to and addressed God the Father as His Father and not the Holy Spirit (Matthew 10:32-33; Matthew 11:25-27; Matthew 12:50). He never represented the Holy Spirit as His Father! Clearly, the Holy Spirit was the agency or power through which the Father begot Jesus as His Son—not a separate person or being altogether.
Paul’s example and teaching were in line with Christ’s.
Moreover, Paul’s standard greeting in his letter to the churches, as well as individuals to whom he wrote, consistently mentions “God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Yet in each of his greetings he never mentions the Holy Spirit! (The same can also be said of Peter in the salutations of both his epistles.)
The same greeting, with only minor variations, appears in every epistle that bears Paul’s name.
The Holy Spirit is always left out of these greetings—an unbelievable and inexplicable oversight if the Spirit were indeed a person or entity coequal with God the Father and Christ!
In the languages of Bible times, nonpersonal things were sometimes described in personal ways and as having personlike activities.
For example, in Genesis 4:10 God says to Cain: “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground.” Here Abel’s shed blood is described as having a “voice” that “cries out” from the ground. Yet clearly this is figurative language, as blood has no voice and cannot speak.
Similarly, in the book of Proverbs, wisdom is personified as calling aloud and crying out (Proverbs 1:20-21). Proverbs 8 describes wisdom as crying out, standing on a high hill, calling to men, speaking, having lips and a mouth, loving and being loved, having children and having accompanied and rejoiced with God. Yet obviously wisdom is not a person and does none of these things in a literal sense!
Likewise, Psalms 65:13 describes valleys shouting for joy and singing. Psalms 96:11-12 attributes emotions to the heavens, earth and fields. Psalms 98:8 says the rivers clap their hands. Psalms 148:4-5 describes the skies and rain praising God.
Isaiah 3:26 says the gates of the city of Jerusalem will lament and mourn. Isaiah 14:8 speaks of cypress trees rejoicing and cedar trees talking. Isaiah 35:1 ascribes emotions to the wilderness and says the desert will rejoice. Isaiah 44:23 and Isaiah 49:13 describe mountains, forests, trees and the heavens singing.
Isaiah 55:12 says that hills will break into singing and trees will clap their hands. In Habakkuk 2:11 stones and timbers are described as talking to each other.
We find similar personifications of nonpersonal things in the New Testament as well. Matthew 11:19 speaks of wisdom having children. Romans 6 says that sin enslaves and reigns over human beings (Romans 6:6; Romans 6:12; Romans 6:16). In Romans 10:6 righteousness is described as speaking. In 1 John 5:8 water and blood are said to testify and agree.
Yet clearly none of these things happen literally. At times the Bible similarly applies such figurative language to the Holy Spirit, ascribing activity to it as though it were a person. Yet, as noted earlier in this chapter, the Bible also describes the Holy Spirit in ways that clearly show it is not a person.
As even the New Catholic Encyclopedia, quoted from earlier,acknowledges: “The majority of New Testament texts reveal God’s spirit as something, not someone; this is especially seen in the parallelism between the spirit and the power of God. When a quasi-personal activity is ascribed to God’s spirit, e.g., speaking, hindering, desiring, dwelling (Acts 8:29; Acts 16:7; Romans 8:9), one is not justified in concluding immediately that in these passages God’s spirit is regarded as a Person; the same expressions are used also in regard to rhetorically personified things or abstract ideas . . .
“In Acts, the use of the words ‘Holy Spirit,’ with or without an article, is rich and abundant. However, again, it is difficult to demonstrate personality from the texts” (2003, Vol. 13, “Spirit, Holy,” p. 428).
Thus we see that in some cases where the Holy Spirit is described in a personal activity, we should understand this as God using the Holy Spirit as the power or agency through which He acts.
Consider, for example, that if a man’s hand takes hold of a book and lifts it, we can say the man lifted the book. This does not make the hand a separate person. Nor does it mean that the hand is the man. The hand is merely part of, or an extension of, the man. And it is the agency through which the man is acting. Similarly, the Holy Spirit is the agency through which God—Father or Son or both—acts.
Of course, the Holy Spirit is far more than a hand. It is the very power, mind and life essence of God—pervading infinity so that by it God, as Psalms 139:7-10 and Jeremiah 23:23-24 show us, is omnipresent.
This is why Peter in Acts 5:1-10 said that Ananias and Sapphira “lie[d] to the Holy Spirit” and also that they “lied . . . to God.” This passage doesn’t indicate that the Holy Spirit is God or one of the supposed three persons of God, as some read into this passage, but rather that the Holy Spirit, being the omnipresent agency through which God acts, is how God heard the lie.
Jesus Christ’s reference in John 16:7 to the Holy Spirit as a “Helper” (or “Counselor,” “Comforter” or “Advocate” as some versions translate it) is a personification that provides a good analogy of part of the Spirit’s function in the lives of true Christians. And as noted before, many passages show the Spirit as the power of God to help and assist us, not a distinct person as Trinitarians maintain.
Why is the Holy Spirit Called "He" and "Him"?
Greek, like the Romance languages deriving from Latin (Spanish, French, Italian, etc.), assigns a specific gender for every noun. Every object, animate or inanimate, is designated as either masculine, feminine or neuter. The gender is often unrelated to whether the item is indeed masculine or feminine.
For example, in French the word livre, meaning “book,” is of the masculine gender and is referred to by a pronoun equivalent to the English “he” or “him.” And in Spanish, mesa, or “table,” is in the feminine. Clearly, although these nouns have gender, their gender does not refer to actually being male or female. In the English language, in contrast, most nouns that do not refer to objects that are male or female are referred to in the neuter sense, with the pronoun “it.”
We might note that in the Hebrew language, in which the Old Testament was written, the word translated “spirit,” ruach, is referred to with feminine pronouns. But the Holy Spirit clearly is not female or a woman.
In Greek, both masculine and neuter words are used to refer to the Holy Spirit. The Greek word translated “Counselor,” “Helper,” “Comforter” and “Advocate” in John chapters 14 to 16 is parakletos , a masculine word in Greek and thus referred to in these chapters by Greek pronouns equivalent to the English “he,” “him,” “his,” “himself,” “who” and “whom.”
Because of the masculine gender of parakletos, these pronouns are grammatically correct in Greek. But to translate these into English as “he,” “him,” etc., is grammatically incorrect.
For example, you would never translate a particular French sentence into English as “I’m looking for my book so I can read him.” While this grammatical construction makes sense in the French language, it is wrong in English. In the same way, to suppose on this basis that the Holy Spirit is a person to be referred to as “he” or “him” is incorrect.
Only if the parakletos or helper were known to be a person could the use of a gender-inflected pronoun justifiably be used in English. And the term parakletos certainly can refer to a person—as it refers to Jesus Christ in 1 John 2:1. Yet the Holy Spirit is nowhere designated with personhood. So personal pronouns should not be substituted for it.
Furthermore, there is absolutely no theological or biblical justification for referring to the term “Holy Spirit” with masculine pronouns, even in Greek. The Greek word pneuma, translated “spirit” (but also translated “wind” and “breath” in the New Testament) is a grammatically neuter word. So, in the Greek language, pronouns equivalent to the English “it,” “its,” “itself,” “which” or “that” are properly used in referring to this word translated into English as “spirit.”
Yet when the King James or Authorized Version was produced (early in the 1600s), the doctrine of the Trinity had already been accepted for more than 1,000 years. So naturally the translators of that version, influenced by that belief, usually chose personal rather than neutral pronouns when referring to the Holy Spirit in English (see, for example, John 16:13-14; Romans 8:26).
However, this wasn’t always the case. Notice that in some passages in the King James Version the translators did use the proper neuter pronouns. For example, Romans 8:16 says, “The Spirit itself [not himself ] beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” Similarly, Romans 8:26 says “the Spirit itself [again, not himself ] maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” In these cases the translators correctly used neuter pronouns because the Greek word pneuma, translated “Spirit,” is neuter in gender.
Another example is Matthew 10:20, where Jesus says: “For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which [not who ] speaketh in you.” Another is 1 Peter 1:11, which refers to “the Spirit of Christ which [again, not who ] was in them.” The King James Version translators did use the proper neuter pronouns in these verses.
Regrettably, later English translators of the Bible have gone further than the King James translators in referring to the Holy Spirit with masculine rather than neuter pronouns. Thus the Holy Spirit is almost always referred to as “he” or “him” in the more modern versions. This reflects not linguistic accuracy, but the doctrinal bias or incorrect assumptions of Bible translators who wrongly believe the Holy Spirit is a person.
The Father and the Son -- No "Holy Ghost"
The Hebrew word for "God" used in Genesis 1:1 and 26 is Elohim. The word Eloah means “Mighty One” and is singular. Elohim, meaning “Mighty Ones,” is plural. There are two Mighty Ones, the Most High and the Word (John 1:1-3). But, collectively, as Elohim, the two are seen as one God. Elohim said, “Let US make man in OUR image, according to OUR likeness” (Genesis 1:26). "No man hath seen God at any time" (John 1:18; 1 John 4:12). Yet we know "The Lord appeared to him" (Acts 7:2; Gen. 35:1; 1 Ki. 3:5). This indicates two separate individuals.
We should note that since Elohim is used of the God family, each family member can be referred to by this word. (Some Bible writers also use the word elohim as a plural noun with plural usage to describe false gods. So one crucial factor in comprehending the meaning of this Hebrew word is determining what is intended by the context.)
When Adam and Eve made the momentous decision to disobey their Creator by eating of the fruit God had forbidden them to eat, the divine reaction was, “Behold, the man has become like one of US, to know good and evil” (Genesis 3:22). And God cut them off from the tree of life (Genesis 3:22-24).
The Hebrew word here translated “know” often means to learn or become aware of something through one’s personal experience. For Adam and Eve it was not enough to simply accept God’s command to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They instead chose to step into God’s place and determine for themselves what was good and what was evil. The psalmist notes that the ungodly question God’s knowledge: “And they say, ‘How does God know? And is there knowledge in the Most High?’” (Psalms 73:11).
The phrase “one of US,” we should note, provides clear evidence that more than one constituted the “US.” Moreover, to “become like one of US” was actually our Creator’s original intention for all humanity, but it must be done God’s way and in His own time frame. That way is to submit ourselves to every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).
Only our Creator has the right and wisdom to determine what is good and evil for us. He knows what’s best for us and never wanted us to learn what is evil through experimentation. He tells us, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes” (Psalms 19:7-8). He wants us to trust Him and His judgment.
Then He will follow through on His intention to make us like Him as part of the divine family in the way He has determined "For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings" (Heb. 2:10).
Hear O Israel: The Lord our God is ONE Lord
Deuteronomy 6:4 says, "Hear O Israel: The Lord our God is ONE Lord." Paul tells us that “there is no other God but ONE ” (1 Corinthians 8:4) and that “there is ONE God” (1 Timothy 2:5). A single Hebrew word can and often does have multiple meanings, making precise translation difficult.
A good example of this is the Hebrew word echad, translated “one” in Deuteronomy 6:4. Its meanings include the number one, but also such associated meanings as “one and the same,” “as one man, together [unified],” “each, every,” “one after another” and “first [in sequence or importance]” (Brown, Driver and Briggs, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, 1951, p. 25). It can also be rendered “alone,” as the New Revised Standard Version translates it here (William Holladay, A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, 1972, p. 9). As with many other Hebrew words, the exact meaning is best determined by context.
In this case, several interpretations could be both grammatically correct and consistent with other biblical statements.
In the Shema, Moses may have simply been telling the Israelites that the true God, their God, was to be FIRST —the highest priority—in their hearts and minds. The young nation had risen from slavery in a culture in which the Egyptians believed in many gods, and they were poised to enter a land whose inhabitants were steeped in the worship of many supposed gods and goddesses of fertility, rain, war, journeys, etc. Through Moses, God sternly warned the Israelites of the dangers of abandoning Him to follow other gods.
This interpretation—that God is to be the Israelites’ FIRST priority—has strong support in the context. In the very next verse Moses continues, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”
This passage is at the heart of a several-chapters-long discussion of the benefits and blessings of wholeheartedly following God and avoiding the idolatrous practices of the people who were to be driven out of the Promised Land. Jesus Himself quoted Deuteronomy 6:4-5 as the “FIRST and great commandment” in the law (Matthew 22:36-38; Mark 12:28-30).
Another meaning of the Hebrew word echad, “ALONE,” fits this context as well. That is, the true God ALONE was to be Israel’s God; the Israelites were to have no other.
This may be how a scribe who heard Jesus quote the verse in Mark 12:29-30 understood it. The scribe responded in Mark 12:32 (NRSV): “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is ONE [Greek heis, which corresponds to echad in its multiple meanings], and besides him there is no other’ ” —which seems to indicate that this is what the scribe understood the word rendered “ONE” to mean in the expression (in essence, “ALONE”).
This would not rule out Jesus Christ from being God along with the Father. Rather, there is no other God apart from the true God—that is, outside the God family or God “kind” now consisting of two divine Beings, the Father and the Son. In short, the God family ALONE is God.
Another view of the Shema is based on the root word from which echad is derived— achad. This word means “to UNIFY ” or “go one way or other” ( Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible ). In other words, echad can also mean in UNITY or a GROUP UNITED as one.
In Genesis 11:6 God says of those building the tower of Babel, “Indeed the PEOPLE are ONE[ echad ] …” In Genesis 2:24 He says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and THEY shall become ONE [ echad ] flesh.”
“So ALL the children of Israel came out, from Dan to Beersheba, as well as from the land of Gilead, and the congregation gathered together as ONE man before the Lord at Mizpah” (Judges 20:1). Judges 20:8-11 emphasize the point: “So ALL the people arose as ONE man . . . So ALL the men of Israel were gathered against the city, united together as ONE man.”
God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son are clearly of one mind and purpose. Jesus said of His mission, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work” and “I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me” (John 4:34; John 5:30). Describing Their relationship, Jesus said, “I and My Father are ONE ” (John 10:30). Christ prayed that His followers, both then and in the future, would be unified in mind and purpose just as He and the Father were. “I do not pray for these [disciples] alone,” He said, “but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that THEY all may be ONE, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that THEY also may be ONE in US” (John 17:20-21).
No matter which translation we accept—whether “The Lord our God, the Lord is FIRST,” “The Lord is our God, the Lord ALONE,” or “The Lord our God, the Lord is ONE [in unity]”—none limits God to a singular being. And in light of these scriptures we’ve seen and others, it is clear that God is a plurality of beings—a plurality in unity. In other words, God the Father and Jesus the Son form a family perfectly UNITED as one.
He told His disciples, “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (John 15:10). Christ is forever obedient to the Father, and we are to likewise be obedient to the Father and Christ as an expression of our love for Them.
God wants us to learn to think as He thinks and do as He does.
In exercising this kind of love, we express the image of God (reflecting His character), even though we are still human. Paul encourages us to “let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5), who perfectly personified God’s love to the point of giving His own life for us.
One of the Bible’s best-known passages tells us that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). God not only wants to grant us the priceless gift of eternal life, but He also wants to share all things with us in His divine family (Hebrews 2:6-8; Romans 8:16-17). The traditional human family is a microcosm of that one great divine family (compare Romans 1:20).
Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods Before Me -- Polytheism is Idolatry
Exodus 20:3 says,"Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Exodus 34:14 says, "For thou shalt worship no other god." 1 Corinthians 8:6 says, "But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him." John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way the truth and the life: no man cometh to the Father, but by me. John 14:13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
The trinity originated with Babylon, and was passed on to most of the world's religions. This polytheistic (believing in more than one god) trinitarianism was intertwined with Greek religion and philosophy and slowly worked its way into Christian thought and creeds some 300 years after Christ. The idea of worshipping a "Holy Ghost" is idolatry, and idolatry is Biblically condemned; it breaks the first great commandment of God of not having any gods before him (Exodus 20:3). Three centuries after Christ the corrupt emperor Constantine forced the minority opinion of the trinity upon the Council of Nicea.
The Encyclopedia Americana 1956 says, "Christianity derived from Judaism and Judaism was strictly Unitarian (believing in one God). The road which led from Jerusalem to Nicea was scarcely a straight one. Fourth century trinitarianism did not reflect accurately early Christian teaching regarding the nature of God; it was, on the contrary, a deviation from this teaching."
The New Catholic Encyclopedia 1967 says, "The formulation 'one God in three persons' was not solidly established, certainly not fully assimilated into Christian life and its profession of faith, prior to the end of the 4th century."
The New Encyclopedia Britannica 1976 says, "Neither the word trinity, nor the explicit doctrine as such, appears in the New Testament, nor did Jesus and his followers intend to contradict the Shema in the Old Testament: 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord' (Deut. 6:4). The doctrine developed gradually over several centuries and through many controversies. . . . By the end of the 4th century . . . the doctrine of the trinity took substantially the form it has maintained ever since."
"Long before the founding of Christianity the idea of a triune god or a god-in-three persons was a common belief in ancient religions. Although many of these religions had many minor deities, they distinctly acknowledged that there was one supreme God who consisted of three persons or essences. The Babylonians used an equilateral triangle to represent this three-in-one god, now the symbol of the modern three-in-one believers."
"The Hindu trinity was made up of the gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The Greek triad was composed of Zeus, Athena and Apollo. These three were said by the pagans to 'agree in one.' One of the largest pagan temples built by the Romans was constructed at Ballbek (situated in present day Lebanon) to their trinity of Jupiter, Mercury and Venus. In Babylon the planet Venus was revered as special and was worshipped as a trinity consisting of Venus, the moon and the sun. This triad became the Babylonian holy trinity in the fourteenth century before Christ."
"Although other religions for thousands of years before Christ was born worshipped a triune god, the trinity was not a part of Christian dogma and formal documents of the first three centuries after Christ."
"That there was no formal, established doctrine of the trinity until the fourth century is a fully documented historical fact."
"Clearly, historians of church dogma and systematic theologians agree that the idea of a Christian trinity was not a part of the first century church. The twelve apostles never subscribed to it or received revelation about it. So how then did a trinitarian doctrine come about? It gradually evolved and gained momentum in late first, second and third centuries as pagans, who had converted to Christianity, brought to Christianity some of their pagan beliefs and practices."
The Encyclopedia Britannica 1968 says, "The Council of Nicaea met on May 20, 325. Constantine himself presiding, actively guiding the discussion, and personally proposed the crucial formula expressing the relation of Christ to God in the creed issued by the council. 'of one substance with the father.' Over-awed by the emperor, the bishops, with two exceptions only, signed the creed, many of them against their inclination. Constantine regarded the decision of Nicaea as divinely inspired. As long as he lived no one dared openly to challenge the creed of Nicaea."
Is it Wrong to Have PICTURES of Christ?
Exodus 20:3-4 says, "You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any LIKENESS of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them" (Exodus 20:4-5). We believe this means we should not create any image of the true God to be worshipped. That includes pictures or images of Jesus.
It is important to carefully guard against even OWNING any images of Jesus. In fact, it is evident from the lack of description of Jesus' appearance in the Bible that what Jesus looked like should not be an issue of concern. We don't even know what he looked like. "He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had NO BEAUTY OR MAJESTY to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem." (Isaiah 53:2-3). Matthew 26:48,49 says Jesus had to be kissed in order for the soldiers to know which one He was. Jesus wore a beard (Isa. 50:6). He was not a Nazarite because He drank wine (Matt. 11:19) which was forbidden if under a Nazarite vow (Num. 6:3). Therefore He did not have long hair which is a "shame" (1 Cor. 11:14). Yet most images of him portray a man with long hair. They are FALSE IMAGES. "Though you have NOT SEEN Him, you love Him; and even though you DO NOT SEE Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy" (1 Peter 1:8). “To whom will ye liken God? or, what LIKENESS will ye compare unto him?” (Isa. 40:18). “Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven BY ART OR MAN’S DEVICE. And THE TIMES OF THIS IGNORANCE God winked at; BUT NOW COMMANDETH ALL MEN EVERY WHERE TO REPENT.” (Acts 17:29-30). You "thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee" (Psa. 50:21). The true Christ is God-man; “Immanuel, God with us” (1 Tim. 3:16; Matt. 1:23). The heathen “became vain in their imaginations, they presently changed the glory of the incorruptible God, into IMAGES made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things” (Rom. 1:21-23). John 4:24 says, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” 2 Corinthians 5:7 says, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” John 20:29 says, “Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: BLESSED ARE THEY THAT HAVE NOT SEEN, AND YET HAVE BELIEVED.”
Do Not Create an Image of the True God to Bow Down and Worship
"You saw NO FORM of any kind the day the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves very carefully, so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol (Hebrew "image" -- not idol), an image of any shape, whether formed like a man or a woman, or like any animal on earth or any bird that flies in the air, or like any creature that moves along the ground or any fish in the waters below. And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars—all the heavenly array—do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the Lord your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven. But as for you, the Lord took you and brought you out of the iron-smelting furnace, out of Egypt, to be the people of his inheritance, as you now are" (Deuteronomy 4:15-20).
Aren't the Constellations Images of God?
Even the biblical star charts, which often represent our Lord as one of the constellations in Scripture, are NOT TRUE IMAGES. Each constellation is an ARTIFICIAL grouping of stars that have been assigned a particular meaning and image that DOES NOT EXIST IN REALITY. There are no lines connecting the stars. A minimal outline is necessary to understand the Scriptures. Men did NOT CREATE these images. God Himself said, "let them be for signs" (Gen. 1:14) and revealed their form to his servants, including the apostle John on Patmos. We DIDN'T CREATE these images and we DON'T WORSHIP them. They are inspired images woven within inspired Scripture. In order to "measure the temple of God" (Rev. 11:1) accurately, we must have this inspired drawing known as the Zodiac.
Is it Lawful to Have Images or Pictures of Plants, Animals and Humans?
Yes, providing they are only ornamental, or educational, or preserve the memory of persons and their actions to posterity. Not objects of religious worship. In Numbers 21:9 God actually commanded the Israelites to make a brazen image of a serpent. Whosoever had been bitten by a serpent, upon beholding the brazen serpent, was healed. But when this brass serpent was later worshipped, and incense was burned to it, King Hezekiah "brake in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made" (2 Ki. 18:4). Images of the cherubim (half man, half animal) and flowers, almonds, and pomogranates (plant) were placed in the tabernacle and temple, by the command of God himself (Ex. 25-30; 2 Chr. 3). But they were not objects of worship. May we then place images of plants, animals and humans in churches for beauty, ornament or education? No, because we should avoid even the appearance of evil (1 Thess. 5:22). The proper ornament of churches is the sound preaching of the Bible.
Is It Lawful for an Encyclopedia or Dictionary to Illustrate False "Gods" With Pictures?
Yes, because such pictures are not intended to be worshipped. They are intended to educate. In that way we can all avoid idolatry. Otherwise we would not be able to illustrate the planets or stars, birds, cattle, frogs, elephants, fish, or women. Evergreen trees, church steeples (obelisks or "groves"). Etcetera. All have been worshipped as gods. "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15).
What Should You Do If You Currently Own Any Statues or Pictures of "God"?
Do we have pictures of Christ in our homes? --in our Bibles? God commanded the ancient Israelites in Numbers 13:52: “Destroy all their (the heathen’s) PICTURES, and destroy all their molten IMAGES, and quite pluck down all their high places.”“Then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, AND DESTROY all their PICTURES, and DESTROY all their molten IMAGES, and quite pluck down all their high places” (Num. 33:52). This includes statues of Mary, the saints, a crucifix, a Nativity scene, the baby "Jesus", or even statues of Buddha or totem poles. Incidentally, since pornography is the WORSHIP of the female body, we must DESTROY these pictures as well.
Why Do Catholics Worship Idols?
The seventh ecumenical council at Nicaea (year 787) justified the veneration of icons -- of Christ, but also of the "mother of god", the angels, and all the saints. By becoming incarnate, they believe the Son of God introduced a new "economy" of images (did away with the commandment against idolatry). Their reasons were that the Christian veneration of images is supposedly not contrary to the first commandment which proscribes idols. They argue that "the honor rendered to an image passes to its prototype," and "whoever venerates an image venerates the person portrayed in it." They believe the honor paid to sacred images is a "respectful veneration," not the adoration due to God alone. They are deceived into the false concept that religious worship of images is not directed to images in themselves, considered as mere things, but to God incarnate.
Early Christians Forbade Images and Pictures
Not only did Jesus teach the commandments of God (Matt. 19:16-22), but His apostles also did (1 John 2 :3,4). It is not any wonder that those individuals converted by Christ and the apostles kept the commandments --including the Second. Dr. Farrar in his monumental book “The Life of Christ as Represented in Art,” pages 5 and 6 says that early Christians of all ranks regarded the painting or representation of Christ as profanity and an act of irreverence. There is ample evidence to show that they took the same stand as the Jews as far as Art was concerned. They needed no images or pictures to remind them of Christ or the Father. Jesus had said that those who worship Him must do so “in Spirit and truth.” The only mediator between man and the Father is Christ -- there is no need of intermediate pictures or images. This early abhorrence for images and pictures of the Father or Christ was so indelibly planted upon the minds of early Christians that for over 300 years after the death of the apostles, there was no official representation of deity made.
Early Catholic Officials Denounce Imagery As Idolatrous
In the year 326 A.D., one of the great Catholic leaders, Eusebius of Caesarea, showed great distaste for the request for a picture of Christ from the sister of Emporer Constantine. She had requested a picture to see how Christ looked. Notice what Eusebius wrote back to her. “And since you have written about some supposed likeness or other of Christ, what and what kind of likeness of Christ is there? . . . Such images are forbidden by the second commandment. They are not to be found in churches, and are forbidden among Christians alone” (Farrar, p. 56). This is striking testimony that even the Catholic Church at this time understood the laws of God on this matter. Farrar also records that Irenaeus, Clement, Origen and Lactantius, all of whom were high ranking Catholic officials, sternly condemned their use in any fashion. And, Irenaeus and Clement distinctly appeal to the Second Commandment as authority (p. 60).
How Does Christ Actually Look Today?
Revelation 1:13-16 is the real Christ. It is a description that no artist could paint nor any sculpturor mold. His "countenance (face) was as the sun shineth in his strength" (1:16). This is the Christ who has a face that shines as the sun in its full strength. He was so bright that John fell at His feet as dead when he saw Him (Rev.1:17). And this is the way He will appear when He comes back to this earth with all His glory (Matt. 24:30).