Editor’s Note: This article orignially appeared here and is used by permission.
The doctrine of the Trinity is one of the most important beliefs of Christianity. It is central to the Christian understanding of God. This doctrine is held by the large majority of Christianity.
An Explanation of the Trinity
“The doctrine of the Trinity is the belief that there is only one living and true God. Yet, the one God is three distinct Persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. These three have distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being. They enjoy eternal communion and are coeternal and coequal.” –Dr. Bill Gordon, NAMB
“This word [Trinity] does not appear in the Bible. But it is clear that the one God reveals himself as Father, Son, and Spirit (Matthew 28:19). It is a revealed doctrine, not one arrived at by human reasoning. Yet it submits itself to reason.”
–Dr. Herschel H. Hobbs, A Layman’s Handbook of Christian Doctrine, Broadman Press, Nashville; 1974.
Some misunderstand and say Christians believe in three Gods; they do not. The Bible makes it plain that God is one (Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:29; 1 Timothy 2:5), yet He is revealed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. No one can fully understand the details of the Trinity, but it is taught and revealed in Scripture. Besides, if a lowly human could understand all about God, He would not be God after all. God’s being and understanding are far beyond our understanding.
Scriptural Evidence for the Trinity (there is much more than what is listed here)
While the Bible does not use the term Trinity, it teaches the concept of the Trinity. (Neither does the Bible use other oft used Christian terms: missionary, evangelism, etc.)
1. Obviously, God the Father is God. Psalm 89:26; 1 Peter 1:2, 17; Romans 8:15.
2. Jesus, God the Son, is God. Isaiah 9:6; John 1:1; 20:28; Romans 9:5; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 1:8 (Psalm 45:6-7); 2 Peter 1:1.
3. The Holy Spirit is God. Acts 5:3-4. The Bible gives characteristics to the Holy Spirit that only apply to God. Psalm 139:7-13; Luke 1:35; Romans 15:19; 1 Corinthians 2:10; Hebrews 9:14.
The Bible describes the Father, Son, and Holy Sprit as distinct Persons.
Several passages speak of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the same context. Matthew 3:16-17; 28:19; 1 Corinthians 12:4- 6; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Ephesians 4:4-6; Titus 3:4-6.
Illustrations have been used to partially explain or represent the triune nature of God. While none are perfect, perhaps they can give you a hint of the Trinity:
A three leaf clover – it is one, yet three.
A man – he can be a son, a husband, a father.
Water – can be solid (ice), liquid (water), steam (vapor).
“There is one and only one living and true God. He is an intelligent, spiritual, and personal Being, the Creator, Redeemer, Preserver, and Ruler of the universe. God is infinite in holiness and all other perfections. God is all powerful and all knowing; and His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future, including the future decisions of His free creatures. To Him we owe the highest love, reverence, and obedience. The eternal triune God reveals Himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being.”
-Baptist Faith and Message, 2000, the doctrinal statement of the Southern Baptist Convention; full statement can be found at sbc.net.
“God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!”
-Christian hymn Holy, Holy, Holy by Reginald Heber, Baptist Hymnal, 2008, LifeWay, Nashville, TN. Also in many other hymnals.
“Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” –Matthew 28:19
***Editor’s Note: Doug is the author of “Chosen or Not?” which is available for purchase HERE.
Historic Christianity has always insisted on a Final Judgment Day. It is a biblical no-brainer. Many of Jesus’ lessons and parables ended with a final separation of those who are rescued and those who perish. There will be a “settling of accounts” based on God’s eyewitness record of every private (and public) thought, word, and action. I can bear witness to the biblical claim that this truth was written on my young heart, even as one who was not raised in a Christian home. I knew that God saw everything… and some nights it was hard to fall asleep. (Rom 1, 2) The very thought of being subject to this kind of perfect scrutiny is enough to make you want to put on some fig leaves, run, and hide. It may even lead to a feeble and truth suppressing denial that there is such a God and day of reckoning. But, alas, there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. (Heb 4:13) Continue reading
**This article was previously posted by Dr. Hunter on his website www.braxtonhunter.com and is used by permission.
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Pimples. Everyone has had them. If you are one of the fortunate souls who was not afflicted by the blemishes during adolescence . . . well, I wish at least one on you today. Even now a pimple will occasionally appear on my own face, and though I try to ignore it, each time I gaze into a mirror it draws my attention. I can’t really judge my overall appearance because my eyes keep drifting slowly back to the imperfection. Occasionally I’ll discover that some professor, preacher, or Bible teacher I greatly admire holds to at least one seemingly weird view. That one view will then capture my attention and hang in the back of my mind as I listen to them discuss other unrelated issues. The weird affirmation is like a pimple on the face of their systematic theology. Since I listen to a wide range of thinkers I’ve gotten good at “eating the meat and spitting out the bones,” so to speak, but I’ve noticed that a lot of believers still have trouble with this. They’ll say things like, “Yeah, well, I used to listen to that guy, but then I found out he holds to X (where X is not a position over which to break fellowship).” This is ridiculous. In the end we’ll all discover we had a few pimples.
Having said that, one great example of a clearheaded evangelical academic with one view around which I cannot get my mind is, Jerry Walls. First let me say how much I appreciate this man’s ministry. His work on the problem of evil and moral foundations is beyond laudable. Just check out his book Good God. Further, I know this will not earn me points with those finding their theological roots in Geneva, but his philosophical critiques of Calvinism are the first place I would turn if I were a theological Genevan looking to prepare myself for defense. If you’re interested, check out the video below.
Now, there are naturally minor differences I would have with Dr. Walls, but they are the same differences I would have with many of our students at Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary. That is, they are common enough among evangelicals. Yet, the view I think many consider to be what we might call pustule, is his position on purgatory. Obviously, many Catholics affirm purgatory, but it’s unusual, to say the least, to find a card carrying protestant who thinks it all works. It should be noted, however, that Walls does reject Catholic renderings of purgatory including the idea that one might “indulge” an expedited exit. So what gives?
As I understand him, Jerry Walls sees purgatory made reasonable by the need for the process of sanctification to reach completion. Once a man is regenerated, he begins the process of cooperating with the Holy Spirit to become more and more like Christ throughout the rest of his life. Now, imagine a girl becoming a Christian, and thus beginning this sanctifying journey, at the age of eleven. Say she lives to the ripe old age of eighty-five. This means she is likely much further along in becoming like Christ than, for example, a twenty-one year old young man who becomes a Christian and then dies in a car accident a week later. The question is not whether they are equally regenerate, but whether they are equally sanctified. One would imagine that if the process of sanctification is, in any sense, important that this sanctification would need to continue before a less than sanctified individual is to enter heaven. Remember, the question is not whether they have been saved, become a new creation, or their sins entirely paid for. The question is whether they have become sufficiently Christ-like. Most evangelicals, myself included, would merely say that whatever the case may be they will be glorified, and the sanctification process instantly completed. Walls, sees it in a way that I think he would consider to be more earthy and realistic.
I have not allowed Walls to speak for himself, and that is a great problem, indeed. Thus, I encourage you to read his book, Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory, for yourself. Or if you don’t have time, you might just watch the following video to get a feel for his case.
The point I wish to convey, however, has little to do with Jerry Walls. It has to do with the fact that many Christians would write the guy off immediately for this one “blemish.” In reality, when we encounter thinkers with a seemingly out-of-nowhere perspective, we ought to consider what they’re saying . . . fairly. They might be right. I don’t think Jerry Walls is right about purgatory. So what? I think he’s right on a lot of other things. In fact I think the way he’s right is a lot righter than a lot of the other “right guys.” Worse than dismissing someone because of an unusual view, some believers commit a far greater sin. They assume that because someone has one weird view, they must not be saved to begin with.
I was recently told in a private online conversation with an Arminian, that he thinks all Calvinists are “going to hell,” because he feels they get the gospel wrong. At the same time, I read an article from a Calvinist who thinks that anyone who isn’t a Calvinist is going to hell. Shocking? Click the link HERE. Cries of heresy are so frequent that the term has all but lost meaning, especially in lay-level discourse. It’s like the term fascist. “Trump is a fascist, Hillary is a fascist, restaurants are fascist if they don’t serve baskets of free bread.” The morphological meanings of these terms are hard to find.
Whether Jerry Walls’ view amounts to a pimple is a question you will have to decide for yourself, but even if you find a few pimples on the faces of your favorite thinkers, don’t abandon the otherwise great resources they provide. Pimples happen. Everyone gets them.
 Baggett, David, and Jerry L. Walls. Good God: The Theistic Foundations of Morality. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.
 Jerry L. Walls. Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory: Rethinking the things that matter most. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2015.