Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Biblical arguments for the Trinity, part 1

Yesterday, I said the Trinity is deduced from three points. If all three points are Biblical, then the Trinity is Biblical, so now I want to show that they are all Biblical. I'm not going to go into any kind of detail. After all, this is a blog, not a book.

First, I want to break the three points down into seven to make this easier:

1. There is one and only one God.
2. The Father is God.
3. The Holy Spirit is God.
4. The Son is God.
5. The Father is not the Son.
6. The Son is not the Holy Spirit.
7. The Holy Spirit is not the Father.

1. There is one and only one God.

That's not a controversial claim, so no need to spend much time on it. Isaiah 44:6 and John 17:3 will suffice.

2. The Father is God.

That's another non-controversial claim, so again, no need to spend much time. 1 Corinthians 1:3 and Revelation 1:6 will do.

3. The Holy Spirit is God.

This one is a little tricky, because there are some people who deny the Holy Spirit is even a person. They say the Holy Spirit is God's active force or something like that. Usually, if you can establish that the Holy Spirit is a person, that's enough to say he's also God. I'll do both.

To show the Holy Spirit is God, there's Acts 5:3-4, which equates lying to the Holy Spirit with lying to God. Also, there are a couple of passages in the Old Testament that are quoted in the New Testament. In the Old Testament, they are attributed to YHWH, but they are attributed to the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. First, there's Isaiah 6:9, which is quoted in Acts 28:25. Second, there's Jeremiah 31:31-34 which is quoted in Hebrews 10:15-17. These are enough to establish that the Holy Spirit is God.

To show the Holy Spirit is a person, you have to show that he has attributes of personhood. The most clear passages show the Holy Spirit has a mind (Romans 8:26-27) and a will (1 Corinthians 12:11). Besides that, he can be lied to (Acts 5:3-4), he can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30), he can be blasphemed (Matthew 12:31-32), and he can speak (Acts 13:2). That seems to be enough to show the Holy Spirit is a person. The usually response to these passages is to say they are personifications, and they don't indicate actual personhood. The problem with that theory is that impersonal forces can't be blasphemed. Only persons can be blasphemed. The personification theory doesn't seem to work for that one.

4. The Son is God.

I'm going to spend a little more time on this one, so I'll save it for another blog.

For the Trinity, part 2


At 2/23/2005 2:48 PM , Blogger Kelly said...

This is a great series and I'm looking forward to the next part. One question, why can only persons be blasphemed? I searched for the definition on, and this is the main definition among others:

To speak of (God or a sacred entity) in an irreverent, impious manner

Couldn't "being", the term you use in your previous post, be the same as "entity"? I also looked up entity, and the first definition refers to a person, but the second and third refer to just the fact of existence or being.

I'd like to put you in my blogroll if you don't mind ... ?

At 2/23/2005 4:52 PM , Blogger ephphatha said...

Kelly, blasphemy is an insult, and only persons can be insulted or offended. A rock can't be insulted or offended because it's not a person.

I'm not sure that "being" and "entity" mean the same thing, especially in philosophical circles. Philosophers often make a distinction between substances and properties. Both are entities, but substances are particulars and properties are universals. Take, for example, a red ball. Two entities are at play here--a ball, and the property of redness. Yet there's only one being. There's only one thing that exists. With properties, like redness, it's possible for redness to exist as an entity, but not to be actually instantiated in anything. In other words, it's possible for there to be a world in which nothing is actually red, and yet there's still such a thing as redness. Is all of that clear as mud? LOL J.P. Moreland writes about some of this stuff in chapter three of [i]Scaling the Secular City[/i] and he's got another book called [i]Universals[/i], but I haven't read it yet.

I don't know what a blogroll is, but I'm sure it can't hurt, can it? If it can't hurt, then I don't mind. :-)

At 2/23/2005 6:30 PM , Blogger Kelly said...

Actually, that does make sense (I guess I should've looked up Anyway, it wasn't taking away from the other facts, which illustrate that the Holy Spirit is a person. I was just curious.

Well, the blogroll will sting a little. Just look away for a second ... there, all done. You were so brave! :) It just means that I'll add a link to your blog on my blog. Several people have asked me for good theological blogs, and I've pointed them to yours among others. It'll be lots easier for me just to point them to the link on my blog.

At 2/23/2005 6:42 PM , Blogger ephphatha said...

One of the most difficult things in philosophy is defining your terms. Two people can use the same word with two different meanings and have no idea they're talking past each other. Ordinary every day language can be ambiguous, but philosophers (with the exception of post-modernists and other irrational "philosophers") try to be precise in defining their terms so as to be understood. I think a lot of misunderstandings happen just because people aren't careful to define their terms. This seems to be especially true with religion since religion tends to be cliquish.

Well, that didn't hurt too bad. Whew!


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