The doctrine of the Trinity distinguishes orthodox Christianity from counterfeit forms of the faith, and sets Christianity apart from other monotheistic religions such as Judaism and Islam. Even so, many Christians struggle to understand and explain this non-negotiable doctrine.
What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity explores the biblical foundation of belief in one true and living God, who exists as three distinct, but inseparable, co-equal, co-eternal persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Written for pastors and laypersons alike, this new resource features twelve lessons that conclude with probing questions, making this an ideal resource for personal or group study.
Written by the Missouri Baptist Convention’s Rob Phillips, the book features a foreword from noted apologist Robert M. Bowman Jr.
Available in print from the MBC.
This is the second in a two-part series on the personhood and deity of the Holy Spirit.
In the previous column, we examined the biblical evidence for the personhood of the Holy Spirit; that is, the Spirit is a He, not an it. Once the Spirit’s personality is established, His deity is a biblically faithful next step.
For starters, the Spirit is active in creation (Gen. 1:2; Ps. 104:30), omniscient (1 Cor. 2:10-11), and omnipresent (Ps. 139:7) – qualities that establish Him as co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Son.
What’s more, the Spirit shares the divine name with the other members of the triune Godhead (Matt. 28:19).
Perhaps the most-cited passage that illustrates both the personality and deity of the Holy Spirit is found in Acts 5. After Ananias and Sapphira fraudulently claim to have given the full proceeds of a land sale to the church, Peter confronts Ananias.
“Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the proceeds of the land?” Peter asks. “Wasn’t it yours while you possessed it? And after it was sold, wasn’t it at your disposal? Why is it that you planned this thing in your heart? You have not lied to people but to God” (vv. 3-4).
To whom did Ananias lie: the Holy Spirit, or God? The answer, of course, is that he lied to both. To lie to the Holy Spirit is to lie to God since the Spirit occupies an equal position in the Trinity with the Father and Son.
This is the first in a two-part series on the Holy Spirit.
One way the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New World Translation (NWT) seeks to undermine the Trinity is by consistently rendering the name “Holy Spirit” as the inanimate “holy spirit.”
The unnamed translators of the NWT often omit the article “the,” which results in stilted verses such as:
“That one [Jesus] will baptize you with holy spirit …” (Matt. 3:11).
John the Baptist “will be filled with holy spirit even from before birth” (Luke 1:15).
Mary, the mother of Jesus, “was found to be pregnant by holy spirit …” (Matt. 1:18).
As James White notes in The Forgotten Trinity, “Their intention is clear: the Watchtower society denies that the Holy Spirit is a person, hence, they desire their ‘translation’ of the Bible to communicate the idea that the Holy Spirit is an ‘it,’ a force or power.”
The Watch Tower argues that the phrase “Holy Spirit” in Greek is in the neuter gender, and it is. But Greek genders do not necessarily indicate personality, according to White. Inanimate things can have masculine and feminine genders, and personal things can have the neuter gender.
A better way to determine whether the “Holy Spirit” is personal or inanimate is the same way we seek to understand whether the Father and Son are personal. That is, does the Holy Spirit offer evidence of personhood? Does He speak, use personal pronouns, have a will, and so on?
The answer, of course, is a resounding yes.
This is the last in a series of articles contrasting Allah and Yahweh.
Previously: The Islamic Inquisition
Muslims and Christians agree that there is one God but understand Him differently. While it is politically correct to say Christians and Muslims worship the same God, no Muslim or Christian who truly understands his faith would agree with that statement.
In fact, we can see that Christians and Muslims worship distinctly different Gods by asking three personal questions: (1) Does God know me? (2) Does God love me? (3) Did God die for me?
This is the third in a series of articles contrasting Allah and Yahweh.
Previously: The oneness of God
The doctrine of the Trinity sets Christians and Muslims apart. In fact, to suggest to a follower of Allah that God has a Son, or that God exists in tri-unity, is to commit the unpardonable sin of shirk, which damns a soul to hell.
Islam is unwavering in its belief in Allah as a singular being — monolithic, distant, and unknowable. He only relates to people in acts of the will, not out of an eternal nature that is loving, merciful, and gracious.
What’s more, when engaging Muslims in conversation, it’s challenging to explain how one God exists in three co-equal, co-eternal persons. Some simplify the doctrine by employing analogies. For example, just as water from a single bucket can exist in three states — solid, liquid, and gas — so the Godhead is one essence in three persons.
But all analogies applied to the Trinity break down at some point. They simply cannot do justice to the magnificence of our Creator. So, maybe a better start is to lay out three biblical truths that offer a framework for the tri-unity of God.