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What follows is a selection of articles which are available on the website www.protheist.com. Do understand that these articles are for the most part works in progress. They will be updated, and will have information added to, and taken from them as my studies progress. Please use and share them as you see ﬁt. These articles cover basic Christian doctrine. They do not seek to prove or argue a particular point, but only provide a simple systematic instruction of what the Bible as a whole teaches on a particular subject.
The Gospel The Atonement The Deity of Christ The Humanity of Christ The Virgin Birth
2 4 6 8 9
Innerrancy of Scripture The Inspiration of Scripture The Bible is Complete The Word of God The New Testament The Old Testament The Apocrypha
10 12 13 14 16 18 19
Overview of the Trinity
Jesus is by far the most controversial, most loved and most hated man who ever lived. The name from the Old Testament that means 'Yahweh God is salvation' is also the most popular cuss word in all of Western society. He never traveled more than a few hundred miles from home, never held a political ofﬁce, never wrote a book, never married, never had sex, never attended college, and never visited a big city.1 Yet this man from Galilee fulﬁlled hundreds of prophecies and performed countless miracles in order to show that he is exactly who he said he is. Which is, God in a human body (John 1:1, 14) who came to save the sinners (Romans 5:8) by living a sinless life (1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5) and dying on the cross (Luke 23:33) only to rise three days later (Luke 24:6-7) to show that death cannot stop him. His death served as the sacriﬁce that was needed in order to turn away the wrath of God from us (1 John 2:2; 1 Peter 2:24). It is only by believing in him and receiving his gift, that our sins will be forgiven so that we may come to the Father (John 1:12-13; 3:16; 14:6) and inherit eternal life (John 3:36). We are Sinners... The Bible tells us that everyone has sinned (Romans 3:23), but is that really true? To ﬁnd out, just ask yourself the following questions. Have you ever: • • • • • • • • • • Lied? Even the white ones count. Stolen? Taking the good pens from work is considered stealing. Disobeyed your parents? You knew the curfew was 11:00 PM. Used God's name in vain? God's last name is not dammit. Worshipped any other Gods? How man hours a day do you play video games? Lusted after someone? It's still wrong even if she's a 10. Had sex outside of marriage? Yes, I know everyone else is doing it, you shouldn't be. Hated someone? How bout that driver you gave the ﬁnger to today? Broken the law? How fast were you driving? Cheated? That test wasn't meant to examine your stealth skills.
If you answered 'yes' to any of these questions, then you have broken laws that were set in place by God himself; and just like when we break the laws set in place by our government, there is a penalty we must pay. With our judicial system, if we are found guilty, the consequences may include a ﬁne, time in jail, or in extreme cases being put to death. With our God, we will be found guilty and the sentence is much more severe and results in us spending eternity in hell. The Gospel Offer The Gospel is not a collection of books, or even a type of choir which includes a bunch of excited people in long robes swaying back and forth while clapping their hands in unison. It is the message which tells the story of God who came to us as the man Jesus. More to the point, it is the story of his life, death, and resurrection which alone can save us from what we deserve, by offering us what we can never earn.
Jesus alone is the only person in all of history who is not guilty of breaking the laws of God. As a result, he is the only one who can intervene in our guilt, and this is exactly what he did when he died on the cross and rose three days later. To put it into an analogy, imagine you are guilty of treason and on the day you are to be sentenced to execution, Jesus walks into the courtroom and offers to take the punishment in your place. After a brief of exchange of words, the judge turns to you and says, "I am willing to allow this if you are willing to accept it, otherwise it's life in the cell for you." You look over to Jesus and ask, "how can I ever repay you for this?" He simply replies, "there is nothing you can give, so what I offer, I offer for free. You only have to ask." If you would like to receive the gift of salvation that only Christ has to offer, you may pray the following prayer: Lord Jesus, I acknowledge that I have sinned against you. I am in no way perfect and therefore cannot please you as a result of my own efforts. What I deserve is judgement for my sins and not rewards for my attempts to be good. Jesus, I ask you to forgive me of my sins. Cleanse me and make me right before your eyes. I accept and trust in what you have done for me on the cross. I receive you as Lord of my life and the savior of my soul. Save me Jesus. Amen. If you just prayed the above prayer, welcome to the family! Please contact us to let us know about your decision to follow Christ and to answer any questions you may have. There Is No Other Way Faith is only as good as who you put it in. The false deﬁnitions of Jesus by groups such as the Mormons (Jesus is the half-brother of the devil), Jehovah's Witnesses (Jesus is an angel who was made into a man), Muslims (Jesus was just a prophet), and New Agers (Jesus was a man who was in tune with the divine consciousness) cannot save you from your sins. Only faith in Jesus as he is described in the Bible - the original record - can save you from the consequence of your sins (John 14:6). Resources 1. Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears, Vintage Jesus: Timeless Answers to Timeley Questions (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2007), 15
Why did Jesus need to die in order for us to go to Heaven? At ﬁrst glance, it doesn't seem to make any sense. What is the chemistry between a nearly naked man hanging on two pieces of wood and the forgiveness of every sin I currently am or ever will be guilty of? I mean, if God really wanted to, couldn't he just snap his ﬁngers and then magically make all record of our sins disappear? The question at hand refers to what is known as the Atonement, which is the work that Christ did in his life and death to earn our salvation. But before we answer why he had to die and how that removes our sin and grants us righteousness, we should look at the cause that led to Christ's coming to Earth. The Reason the Atonement The Bible tells us that Jesus came to Earth as the result of two things: his love and his justice. Love, being the ﬁrst of the two, can be seen most easily by reading what is likely the most popular passage in the entire bible, John 3:16. Here we read that "God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." Herein lies a problem, because since God is also just (Ezra 9:15), no amount of love can pay the penalty for our failure to obey the rules he has set in place. So when someone breaks his law, someone has to take the punishment for that crime in order for it to be forgiven; this sounds similar to the rules in our homes as children, in our schools as teenagers, and in our courtrooms as adults. If we were to examine ourselves honestly and openly, we will ﬁnd that we have all sinned and fallen away from a position of honor with God; and we deserve to be punished as a result of our actions. But we have been given this offer, that we can be made right in God's eyes again by accepting the gift that Jesus Christ paid for with his life, on the cross. His execution served as the payment and punishment for the sins we have committed; and it is because of this that we can come back into God's favor. By allowing us to do so, God displayed his virtue, honor, and love for us. (Romans 3:23) The Need for the Atonement Why did Jesus need to die on the cross? Well, to put it simply, he didn't. He didn't have to come to Earth at all, but he chose to; and knowing that should strike us deep within our hearts, especially when we consider that God didn't even spare the angels when they sinned against him, but instead cast them into Hell and committed them to chains (2 Peter 2:4). It's important to understand, yet often overlooked that God could have chosen to leave us in our guilt, like criminals awaiting our sentence from the judge, and we would have no right to complain because God would only be giving us what we deserve. But God loves us - like a father loves his children, or a groom loves his bride - and it is because of his love that he decided to save some of us; and as a result, someone else had to take the punishment for the laws we have failed to keep. This is what Jesus accomplished by living a perfect life, free of sin, and dying on the cross as an innocent man. The Chemistry of the Atonement You may be asking yourself now, 'Why did Jesus have to live a perfect life and die on the cross in order to pay for our ability to enter Heaven when this life is over?' This requires us to look at two features of Christ's life: his obedience and his suffering. Jesus lived a life that was free from any sin (1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5). As a result of this, he earned the forgiveness for the sins we have committed as well as our righteousness (Romans 5:19).
But this is only half of the necessary work, because being forgiven only places us back on neutral ground. Simply put, if this was all that Jesus had done, we would only be in the same position that Adam and Eve were in before the fall which is recorded in Genesis 3. In order to be granted fellowship with God forever, we - like Adam and Eve - would have to obey God ﬂawlessly. We now come to the topic of Christ's suffering. Though Christ endured different kinds of afﬂiction and sorrow, the primary aspect that we will focus on here, is his suffering for our sin. As was stated above, Christ took on himself the punishment for our sins, so that we did not have to take it on ourselves (Romans 5:8). To understand the chemistry of the atonement a little better, allow me to provide the following analogy: Again, imagine you are a criminal (which you are) awaiting your sentencing in the courtroom. As the judge prepares to start, a man bursts into the room and says that he is offering to switch places with you and serve this and any future sentence in your place. After further investigation and discussion with the judge, he is convinced that the man is guilty of no crimes and agrees to go through with the offer, so long as you are willing to let him do so. Since the man - who of course is Jesus - has lived a life in perfect obedience to the law, he is in a position where he can stand in your place in order to take the punishment for your crimes and not be punished for any he has committed - which is the ﬁrst part. The second part, is the act of him actually going through the sentence or punishment for your crimes and taking the burden onto his shoulders and letting you go free. Why? Because he loves you, and he is just. Resources 1. Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 568-573
The Deity of Christ
Jesus always was and always will be God the Son (The second person of the Trinity). When he was born from a human mother he was God (incarnation), when he died on the cross he was God and - most importantly - after he resurrected from the dead he was God. John 1:1 tells us that 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. Then in verse 14 we read that 'the word became ﬂesh and dwelt among us'. What follows are several examples from scripture that which lead us to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. For starters, the Greek word theos (God) in the New Testament usually refers to God the Father. However, there are a few places where the oldest and better manuscripts use the word theos in reference to God the Son (Jesus). These include John 1:1; 1:18; 20:28; Romans 9:5; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 1:8; and 2 Peter 1:1. The Greek word kyrios (Lord) is used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament (Septuagint) as a translation of the word yhwh (Also seen as 'Yahweh', 'The Lord', and 'Jehovah'). It does this 6,814 times in total. So it is safe to say that any Greek speaking Jew during the time of the New Testament would recognize in context, that the word kyrios was referring to the creator of heaven and earth (Genesis 1:1); the one who had brought them up out of Egypt (Leviticus 11:45). In addition to these Old Testament scriptures, many places in the New Testament use the word 'Lord' (kyrios) to refer to Christ in contexts which can only be understood if we call him Yahweh or God himself. Some of these include Matthew 3:3; 22:44; Luke 1:43; 2:11; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Hebrews 1:10-12; Revelation 19:16. Claims to Christ's Deity • Jesus told his Jewish opponents that before Abraham existed, he existed (John 8:58) • • Jesus said that he is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end (Revelation 22:13 [Also said of God the Father in Revelation 1:8]) John calls Jesus 'God' and 'the Word' (John 1:1; 1:14), which from the Greek word logos, readers would've understood the reference to the powerful and creative Word of God by which the heavens and earth were made (Psalms 33:6). Jesus refers to himself as 'the Son of man' eighty-four times in the four gospels (e.g., Matthew 16:13; Luke 19:10). This unique term has its origin in Daniel 7:13-14, which speaks clearly of someone who has heavenly origin and rule over the entire world. Jesus reafﬁrms this with his statement to Caiaphas the high priest and the council at his trial (Matthew 26:64). Jesus is referred to as the 'Son of God' (Matthew 17:5; John 1:14, 18, 34, 49; 1 Corinthians 15:28; Hebrews 1:1-3).
Evidence of Christ's Deity • He stilled the storm while at sea with a word (Matthew 8:26-27). • • • • • • • He multiplied the loaves and ﬁsh to feed thousands (Matthew 14:9). He changed water into wine (John 2:1-11). He knows people's thoughts (Mark 2:8). He knew who would betray him (John 6:64). He knows everything (John 2:24-25; 16:30; 21:17). He can forgive sins (Mark 2:5-7). He has the power to lay down his life and take it up again (John 10:17-18).
He is worthy to be worshipped (Philippians 2:9-11; Hebrews 1:6). He rose from the dead (Luke 24:6-7)
With this information we can see clearly that Jesus was no ordinary man who walked the earth. He is God in ﬂesh, who in his authority said in John 3:36, "everyone that believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him." What is it that we are to obey? The call to believe (John 3:16), worship (Philippians 2:9-11), and follow him (John 10:27; 12:26). Resources 1. Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 543-549
The Humanity of Christ
Jesus has a human body of ﬂesh and bones. Contrary to the beliefs of some other cults, Jesus was born of a woman in a human body, died in a human body and - most importantly - was resurrected in a human body. There are numerous passages in the Bible which conﬁrm this statement. During his life and ministry, Jesus • Was born of a woman (Luke 2:7) • • • • • • • • • • Grew up to become strong and wise (Luke 2:40, 52) Marvelled at people's faith (Matthew 8:10) Wept for his friends (John 11:35) Became tired (John 4:6) Became thirsty (John 19:28) Became hungry (Matthew 4:2) Became weak (Luke 23:26) Became troubled (John 12:27, 13:21) Became sorrowful (Matthew 26:38) Died on the cross (Luke 23:46)
After his death, Jesus displayed his physically resurrected body by • Showing his disciples the wounds in his hands and feet and even inviting them to touch him (Luke 24:39; John 20:20, 27, 21:13) • • Consuming food (Luke 24:41-43) Telling a woman to stop clinging to his body (John 20:17)
After he did all these things, he ascended into Heaven (Luke 24:50-51; Acts 1:9) to return to the right hand of God the Father (Mark 16:19; Acts 2:33). Resources 1. Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 532-535
The Virgin Birth
Contrary to what some may say, the virgin birth of Jesus is a very important piece of the entire Gospel message. If we deny its occurrence, then we are also saying that the Bible is untrustworthy because in the Old Testament it clearly prophecies that the Messiah was to be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14) and in the New Testament we read that this was fulﬁlled in the birth of Jesus (Matthew 1:18; Luke 1:31-35). So if Christ was not born of a virgin, the Bible contains false information. While it is not within the scope of this article to prove or justify the virgin birth of Jesus, there are however doctrinal importances that we can derive from it in the following three ways. The virgin birth shows that salvation must come from the Lord. In Genesis 3:15, God promised that the seed of the woman would ultimately destroy the serpent (Satan). Since Jesus was born from the seed of a virgin woman, his birth serves as an unmistakable reminder that salvation must be the work of God himself. It can never be the result of any human effort. Our salvation can only come through the supernatural work of God, which was evident at the very beginning of Jesus' ministry when "God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons." The virgin birth made it possible to unite the full deity and full humanity in one person. This is in regards to the means which God used to send his son to us (John 3:16; Galatians 4:4). Despite other methods through which Christ could have come to earth, compared to the gospel account, none of them come close to clearly uniting the deity and humanity in one person. For example, it would have been possible for God to send a fully grown human man to earth, without the beneﬁt of any human parent, but then people would be likely to doubt and misunderstand his full humanity. Or, it would've been possible for the Messiah to come to the earth as the result of a sexual relationship between a man and woman, but then people would be likely to doubt and misunderstand his full deity. With these two examples in mind, we can see how God ordained a mixture of both human and divine interaction in the birth of Jesus, so that his full humanity could be evident from his ordinary human birth from Mary, and his full deity would be evident from his conception i the womb by the powerful work of the Holy Spirit. The virgin birth made it possible for Christ to have true humanity without inherited sin. All human beings have inherited legal guilt and a corrupt moral nature from our ﬁrst father, Adam. This is sometimes referred to as 'inherited sin' or 'original sin'. But since Christ was not born of a human father, he was not fully descended from Adam, as you and I are. This break in the line of descent was the method that God used to bring it about that Jesus was fully human yet did not share inherited sin from Adam. This appears to be implied in Luke 1:35 where the angel tells Mary, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy-the Son of God." As a result of Jesus being conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, he was able to be called holy and live without sin. From these three points we can see the signiﬁcance and message of the virgin birth of Christ. It tells us that salvation comes only from God and explains how Jesus is able to have full deity and full humanity in one body which is sinless. Resources 1. Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 529-532
Innerrancy of Scripture
All the words of the Bible have been given to us from God (2 Timothy 3:16-17), so it follows that to disobey or disbelieve any its contents would be the same thing as disobeying or disbelieving God himself. But the Bible clearly states that God cannot lie (Numbers 23:19; 2 Samuel 7:28; Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18), and since the Bible contains the words of God, we can know that whatever the Bible says is true. In fact John 17:17 says that God's words are the ultimate standard for truth. When we speak of the inerrancy of scripture, what we mean is that the scriptures, in their original manuscripts do not contain anything that is contrary to fact. To simplify even more, the Bible always tells the truth concerning everything it talks about. Even though the Bible was physically written by the hands of men, whom are completely capable of producing errors and falsehoods, it is by the inerrant and true characteristic of God's speech that even though it's spoken through men, is never false and never afﬁrms error. This all being said, we should look a little closer into the claim and explain the statements that follow: The Bible can be inerrant and still speak in the ordinary language of everyday speech This statement is primarily for the scientiﬁc or historical minded individuals who like to scrutinize and criticize every statement in the Bible. For instance, some take issue when the Bible uses approximations like in Numbers 25:9 where it says that "those who died by the plague were 24,000." Now what if somehow we were able to discover the actual number of people who died from the plague was really 23,993? Would that mean that the Bible contains errors? No, it wouldn't. Surely if 24,000 people died and the actual number of cited was 50,000, we would have a problem; but in most contexts it would not be wrong for a reporter to say for example that 3,000 people died during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, even though the more precise number is 2,976. The truthfulness of the statement would depend on the dregree of precision implied by the speaker and expected by his original hearers. We can also say the same thing about measurements, vague statements, and comments that are relative to the speaker throughout the Bible. The Bible can be inerrant and still include loose or free quotations In our American and British culture we are quite used to quoting a person's exact words by placing their statement within quotation marks. This is called a direct quotation. But with indirect quotation, we only expect to receive an accurate report of a substance or statement. Written Greek at the time of the New Testament had no quotation marks, so any citation of another person only needed to include an accurate and correct representation of the cited person's statement. They were not expected to give a word for word record of what they had said. Thus, the loose or free quotations within the Bible do not affect the inerrancy of the Bible so long as the content is not false to what was originally stated. It is consistent with inerrancy to have unusual or uncommon grammatical constructions in the Bible The Bible contains the writings of people from various backgrounds and upbringings. From shepherds and ﬁshermen to doctors and intellects. What this results in is an assortment of writing styles throughout the scriptures. In places like Ecclesiastes we see elegant and stylish writing while in books like Revelations we see rough and poorly written language. There are even times when the authors fail to abide by commonly held grammatical 'rules' of expression of their time. But it is
important to note that though a statement is ungrammatical, it is not therefore untrue. A child can tell me, "house cold!" or "evil are mondays!", and even though poor grammar was used, the statements can still be inerrant. Some people make the claim that there are a number of errors or contradictions in the Bible which render it false. Many of these critics fail to understand that scholars have been reading and studying the Bible for over 1900 years, and though there are some passages that are hard to grasp or make sense of, they have concluded that there is no reason to deny the inerrancy of scripture. Personally I have seen a lot of questions from people of opposing faiths regarding the Bible, and can honestly say that I've had very little struggle in responding to their inquiries. The Bible - unlike the books of other religions - welcomes questions and investigation, because it can and does stand up for itself. Resources Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 90-100
The Inspiration of Scripture
It is often spoken by Christians that the Bible is inspired by God. In my honest opinion, I believe that many Christians say this primarily because their pastor often repeats it and in all honesty could not give an accurate deﬁnition of what it really means as a result of the term passing far into the world of 'Christianeeze' and 'Bible Jargon'. This article is written to help remedy what may be a difﬁcult doctrine to understand - as it once was for me. This doctrine of the Bible being inspired by God is taken from verses including 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and 2 Peter 1:21. As Christians we believe that the message of the Bible was given to us by God himself, and the authors wrote that message in their own words. To help us further understand this, we can use the following analogy: Imagine you're a kid, and your dad comes to you and asks you to write this year's Christmas card letter. So you sit down at the computer and while writing your dad comes in and tells you, "hey, don’t forget to talk about your grades this last year, and tell them about what we did for Thanksgiving. Oh, and don’t forget to mention how you miraculously scored that game winning touchdown last June. That was awesome!" So you do as you were told and write about all these things, which are of course in your own words. Then after you are ﬁnished with the letter, to make sure you got everything right, you go and verify with your mom, brothers, sisters, friends, and team mates that everything you wrote is valid and true. As long as it meets their criteria, your letter will be considered as an authentic, ﬂawless record which was inspired all along by your father's request. This is what is meant by the Bible being inspired by God and this is how we know that it does not contain any signiﬁcant mistakes. For instance, one of the methods that was used to test the inspiration of scripture were the ﬁrst-hand eyewitnesses of Jesus' ministry themselves! Since many of them were still alive during the time that the New Testament was written, if there was any false records or claims in the document, it was one way they knew the letter was or was not to be believed as being given by God and therefore was not worthy to be considered part of the Bible.
The Bible is Complete
Presently there are no strong objections to any of the books that are currently in the canon of scripture. In addition there exists no strong candidates which people feel should be added to it. As Christians we believe that the Bible is complete, without any need for revision, removal, or reconsideration of its contents. We see in Hebrews 1:1-2 that during the time period of the Old Testament God spoke to the people through prophets, but then it changes up the system by saying that "in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son". What this appears to mean is that the New Testament was given to man under somewhat different circumstances than the Old Testament, though both are inspired by God. A quick example of how to understand this is to imagine yourself as the manager of a company and you need two letters written. So you call one employee on the phone and tell him to write the ﬁrst letter but then personally go to another employee to tell him to write the second. While the method of communication is different in both cases (Phone call and personal appearance), the originator of the message is the same. Likewise in the Old Testament God spoke directly to the prophets, but in the New Testament he spoke to people in person through Jesus Christ. It is believed that the entire New Testament was written by either Jesus' disciples, or their close ministerial partners whose writings they could authenticate. Since all those individuals have passed on, it is safe to say in light of Hebrews 1:1-2, that we should not expect to receive any additional personal revelations from God which should be regarded as scripture. Moving on, we also see the following statement in Revelations 22:18-19: I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. Before we dive into these verses it is important to note that most theologians agree that this promise is referring to the contents of the book of Revelation. But at the same time we should not consider it purely accidental that this statement is the very last thing said in the entire New Testament (and thus the whole Bible) before closing of the book. While Revelation is not believed to be the last book of the Bible written, its placement in the canon must be at the end. The reason being, while the placement, order, and grouping of most of the books of the Bible are mostly unimportant, two books differ from that pattern. The book of Genesis needs to be ﬁrst because it tells the story of creation and our beginning. Likewise and for similar reason, Revelations must be placed last since it tells us how everything will end and the coming of God's new creation. With all this in mind, it should not be considered improper to apply the warning in Revelations 22, which gives us an appropriate ending to the whole canon of scripture. This understanding gives us additional good reasons to believe that later writings which claim to be scripture, indeed are nothing more than the conjurings of man which are at best inspired by Satan. This includes the Quran, the Hadith, the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, Doctrine&Covenants, and any other writings that declare divine authorship from God. Resources 1. Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 64-66
The Word of God
The phrase 'Word of God' can really be referring to a number of different things. So let's take a look at the different meanings of the term. The Word of God as the Person Jesus Christ Jesus Christ is referred to as the 'Word of God' in the Bible. Most well known of all examples is probably John 1:1, where it says that "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Then later in verse 14, we see that it is talking directly of Christ when it says that "the Word became ﬂesh and dwelt among us." These verses are quite often used to defend the deity of Christ and his position within the Trinity. In addition we read in Revelation 19:13 that "the name by which he is called is The Word of God" when it is speaking of Christ's second coming, which in orthodox Christianity is known as the Rapture. While this usage is quite uncommon in the Bible, it does show us that it is in fact God the Son (Jesus Christ) who has the role of communicating the character and will of God to us. The Word of God as Speech by God Decrees: There are times where God's words are in the form of decrees which cause events to occur and objects to come into being. For example we can look at the Biblical account of creation in Genesis 1 where God spoke the entirety of our universe into being from the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1) to the formation of man (Genesis 1:26). Therefore we can see that the psalmist is justiﬁed when he says "By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host" (Psalms 33:6). Events such as these are known as God's decrees, which are a word of God that causes something to happen. It is also important to point out that creation is not the only event where decrees were issued, but according to Hebrews 1:3, Christ "upholds the universe by the word of his power." Personal Communication: There are numerous examples throughout scripture which tell us of times when God spoke directly to people. For starters there is the account where God warns the man not to eat the fruit from tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16-17). After their sin, God comes and speaks the curse of mankind directly to them (Genesis 3:16-19). Another popular time when God spoke personally is in the giving of the Ten Commandments where he said "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me..." (Exodus 20:2-3). But probably most importantly is directly after the baptism of Jesus where he says "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17). These were times when the Bible makes it clear that the people actually heard the voice of God himself. The voice of ultimate authority and trustworthiness! Imagine being among the estimated two to three million who heard his voice during the Exodus of Egypt! God's Words as Speech Through Human Lips: We see all over the Bible where God raised up prophets whom he spoke through in times of need. In Jeremiah 1:9 we read that "the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me, 'Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.'" Besides Jeremiah we have the Lord's calling of Moses (Exodus 4:12), Balaam's reply to Balak (Numbers 22:28), God's command to Saul which he disobeyed (1 Samuel 15:3), God's anger with Amaziah's idolatry (2 Chronicles 25:15-16) and many other instances where God spoke through his people. It should also be noted that to say that you spoke for the Lord was not something that was typically taken lightly. Reason being, the punishment if you were wrong was pretty severe.
Deuteronomy 18:20-22 says that "the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.ʼ And if you say in your heart, ʻHow may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?ʼ - when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him." So if ever you were wrong even once, you were to be put to death. If we would've continued to follow these rules many false prophets like Muhammad, Joseph Smith and even Nostradamus who was often right would've been put to death. Just for being wrong once. God's Words in Written Form: Lastly, we will cover what most people think of when they hear the phrase 'the Word of God.' The very ﬁrst time this occurred was on Mount Sinai where it says "he gave to Moses, when he had ﬁnished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written with the ﬁnger of God" (Exodus 31:18). From there, writing was done by Moses (Deuteronomy 31:24-26) and Joshua (Joshua 24:26). God also told Isaiah "now, go, write it before them on a tablet and inscribe it in a book, that it may be for the time to come as a witness forever" (Isaiah 30:8). He spoke something similar to Jeremiah when he said "Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Write in a book all the words that I have spoken to you" (Jeremiah 30:2). In the New Testament things happen a little bit differently when Jesus tells his disciples that the Holy Spirit would bring to them the remembrance of the words he said (John 14:26). In addition, Paul said that the words he wrote to the Corinthians were a direct command from the Lord himself (1 Corinthians 14:37). Primarily, whenever someone is speaking of the Word of God, they are speaking of the Bible itself. This is the form of God's Word that is accessible for study, inspection, examination, and discussion. While the words of God as spoken through human lips has ceased since the completion of the New Testament, God still uses the Bible to speak to us today. Paul told us in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that "All Scripture is breathed out by God and proﬁtable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work." Resources 1. Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 47-51
The New Testament
The New Testament contains all the books of scripture that were written after the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ which occurred around 33 AD. Since the writing of scripture primarily occurs in connection with God's great acts in redemptive history, it is understandable then, that after the coming of the Messiah whose arrival was highly anticipated in the last book of the Old Testament (Micah 3:1-4, 4:1-6), we also see the writing of more scripture. These books were written primarily by the apostles, to whom Jesus had promised the ability to accurately recall his words and deeds (John 14:26). Along with these recollections, the apostles were given the authority to write God's own words, equal in truth and authority to the words of the Old Testament scriptures. This was done to record, interpret, and apply the great truths about the life, death, and resurrection of Christ to the lives of the believers. Within the writings themselves we do see instances where other New Testament writings are referred to as scripture. For example in 2 Peter 3:15-16, it is written that "our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures." The word translated "scripture" here is the Greek word graphē (γραφή), which appears a total of 51 times throughout the New Testament, and in every one of those appearances, it is referring to the Old Testament scriptures. Thus, it is safe to say that the word was only used to describe those writings that were thought to be God's words and therefore part of the canon of scripture. But interestingly, in this passage, Peter also includes Paul's letters along with the "scriptures" (The Old Testament). Paul's writings are considered by Peter to also be worthy of the title "scripture" and are therefore worthy to be included in the canon. Another example is from 1 Timothy 5:17-18 where Paul says "Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, 'You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain," and, "The laborer deserves his wages.'" The ﬁrst quote from scripture is from Deuteronomy 25:4, but the second is from the Gospel of Luke 10:7. So here we have Paul quoting a part of Luke's Gospel and calling it scripture, which is to be included as part of the canon. Since the apostles had the authority to write God's own words that were revealed to them by the Holy Spirit, their authentic written teachings were accepted by the early church as part of the canon of scripture. If we accept this traditional argument for the authorship of the New Testament canon, we have nearly all the books accounted for. This includes Matthew, John, Romans to Philemon (Pauline epistles), James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2, and 3 John, and Revelation. With the above list, we only have ﬁve books remaining which were not written by any of the apostles. These are Mark, Luke, Acts, Hebrews, and Jude. Of these ﬁve, Mark, Luke and Acts were widely acknowledged early on, probably because of the close relationship of Mark with the apostle Peter, and of Luke to the apostle Paul, both of whom could have personally testiﬁed to the divine authority of the writings. Along the same lines, Jude was apparently accepted due to the author's connection with James who was the brother of Jesus. Hebrews on the other hand is difﬁcult to ﬁgure out because its author is unknown. While many hold that it was written by Paul, the early Christian theologian Origen (185-254 AD) stated that "only God knows" who actually penned the words. Thus, the acceptance of the Hebrews into the New Testament canon cannot be due to a belief in Pauline authorship. However, it is believed that the natural qualities of the book itself must have convinced early readers, much as they do today, that
whoever its human author was, its ultimate author must have been God himself. This is what is known as self-attesting, where the church simply had to decide whether or not they heard the voice of God himself speaking in the words of the writing. Meaning that the words would have borne witness to their own divine authorship. But since Christ shines through so strongly from its pages, no believer who reads it seriously should ever want to question its place in the canon. In addition, it should not surprise us that the early church was able to recognize Hebrews and other writings which were not written by the apostles, as God's own words. Besides, it was Jesus who said, "My sheep hear my voice" (John 10:27). In 367 AD, the Thirty-ninth Paschal Letter of Athanasius was published which contained an exact list of the twenty-seven New Testament books we have today. This was the list of books accepted by the churches in the eastern part of the Mediterranean world. Thirty years later in 397 AD, the Council of Carthage, which represented the churches of the western part of the Mediterranean world, agreed in full with the eastern church on the same exact list. These are the earliest ﬁnal lists of our presentday canon. Given the combination of apostolic endorsement, consistency with the rest of scripture, and the perception of the writings being 'God-breathed' among an overwhelming majority of believers, we can rest assured that only the books currently contained in the New Testament canon belong right where they are, and everywhere else we look. Resources 1. Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 60-69
The Old Testament
What is referred to as the Old Testament canon of scripture is simply the list of all the books that belong in the Old Testament portion of the Bible, from Genesis to Malachi. These writings constitute the word's of God that were spoken before the birth of Christ. If we are to believe, trust, and obey God absolutely, we must ﬁrst be certain that the words we have are indeed the words he spoke. If, for example, there are books missing that should be in the canon, then that means that there are likely commands that we have not followed, histories that remain lost, prophecies we are not aware of, and guidance we have not had. Or on the other hand, if there are writings that should not be in the Old Testament canon, then that means there are likely commands we didn't need to follow, histories that might be false, false prophecies that have caused us to stray, and guidance that might not be godly. So how did we get the Old Testament canon of scripture? The canon of scripture began with the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) since they were the ﬁrst written words of God. In Exodus 31:18 we are told that the two stone tablets that were given to Moses were inscribed by the ﬁnger of God himself (Exodus 32:16; Deuteronomy 4:13, and 10:4 also conﬁrm this). These two tablets were placed inside the ark of the covenant and established the terms of the covenant between God and his people. Now while the law says in Deuteronomy 4:2 that "you shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you," we ﬁnd that Moses, Joshua, and many others added to the words. This however is not a contradiction, since it seems that the verse in Deuteronomy is speaking speciﬁcally of the law and not the entirety of scripture, especially since at that time, there was no such thing as the canon of scripture. What we do see is that additional writings were made and laid before the Lord, some of which directly mention their command from God (Jeremiah 30:2). It would seem that in addition to the law, God spoke to other individuals, instructing them to write the words he commanded them. Over time, this collection of writings has come to be known as the Tanakh by Jews and the Old Testament by Christians. The Old Testament ends with the prophetic book of Malachi which was written around 435 BC. If we take the familiar dating of Haggai to 520 BC and Zechariah to between 520 and 518 BC we have a rough idea of the dates of the last Old Testament prophets. We have in addition the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther which close off the writings of Old Testament history. Now Ezra went to Jerusalem in 458 BC, Nehemiah was there from 445-433 BC and the book of Esther was written sometime between 465 and 423 BC. This information would imply that after around 435 BC, there were no further additions to the Old Testament. Rabbinic literature even states that "when Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi died, the Holy Spirit departed from Israel; nevertheless they made use of the [voice from heaven]" (Babylonian Talmud, Sota 48b). We can trust that the words and books within today's Old Testament are the words spoken by God himself. We can partially see this from the New Testament where there is no recorded dispute between Jesus and the Jews over the contents of the canon. Within the pages of the New Testament, the Old Testament is quoted as divinely authoritative over 295 times without one reference to other outside sources such as the Apocrypha. This lack of reference to other literature, and the highly frequent reference to places in the Old Testament, provides strong conﬁrmation that the New Testament authors agreed that the Old Testament canon was to be taken as the words of God himself. Resources 1. Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 54-57
The Apocrypha is a collection of books that are typically included in the canon of Roman Catholic scripture, but are excluded from the canon of Protestants and Jews. The entirety of these books consists of the following: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Wisdom of Solomon - a didactic writing from 30 BC Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) - a didactic writing from 32 BC Tobit - a religious novel from around 200 BC I Esdras - a historic and legendary writing from around 150 BC I Maccabees - a historic writing from 110 BC II Maccabees - a historic and legendary writing from 100 BC Judith - a romantic novel from 150 AD Baruch - a prophetic writing from 100 AD Letter of Jeremiah - a prophetic writing from 200 BC II Esdras - a prophetic writing from 100 AD Additions to Esther - a legendary writing from 130 BC Prayer of Azariah - a legendary writing from 100 BC Suzanna (Daniel 13) - a legendary writing from 100 BC Bel & the Dragon (Daniel 14) - a legendary writing from 100 BC Prayer of Manasseh - a legendary writing from 150 BC
Throughout the history of the early church there was much discussion and division as to whether these writings should be considered scripture or not. The earliest Christian evidence is actually strongly against regarding the Apocrypha as scripture, but the use of it gradually increased in some parts of the church until the Reformation. In Jerome's Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible which was completed in 404 AD, he included the books of the Apocrypha but stated the he did not believe that they were books of the canon, but books of the church, which were helpful and useful for believers. However, due to their lack of Hebrew original, their exclusion from the Jewish Canon, and the lack of New Testament citation, many began to be suspicious of their authority. In their descriptions of the canonical books, Melito (?-180 AD), Origen (185-254 AD) and Eusebius (263-339 AD) all conﬁrm nearly all of our current Old Testament books, but do not include any of the Apocryphal writings. In fact Eusebius actually directly states that the books of Maccabees are outside the list of canonical books. Athanasius of Alexandria (293-373 AD) who wrote the Paschal Letter in 367 AD listed all the books of our present New Testament and all the books of the Old Testament except for Esther. He also listed some of the Apocryphal books including the Wisdom of Solomon the Wisdom of Sirach, Judith, and Tobit but said that they were not "included in the canon, but appointed by the fathers to be read by those who newly joined us, and who wish for instruction in the word of godliness."2 The theologian E.J. Young (1907-1968) in his study of Revelation and the Bible said of the Apocrypha: There are no marks in these books which would attest a divine origin.... both Judith and Tobit contain historical, chronological and geographical errors. The books justify falsehood and deception and make salvation depend upon works of merit. Almsgiving, for example, is said to deliver from death (Tobit 12:9, 4:10, 14:10-11).... Ecclesiasticus and the Wisdom of Solomon
inculcate a morality based upon expediency. Wisdom teaches the creation of the world out of preexistent matter (Wisdom 11:17). Ecclesiasticus teaches that the giving of alms makes atonement for sin (Ecclesiasticus 3:30). In Baruch it is said that God hears the prayers of the dead (Baruch 3:4), and in I Maccabees there are historical and geographical errors.3 In 1546, at the Council of Trent which was held by the Roman Catholic Church, it was declared that Apocrypha was to be included as part of the canon with the exception of 1 and 2 Esdras and the Prayer of Manesseh. These collections are also often referred to as the deuterocanonical books, which is to be understood as the writings that were later added to the canon (the preﬁx deutero means second). It should be noted that the Council of Trent was primarily the response of the Roman Catholic Church to the teachings of Martin Luther and the increasing Protestant Reformation. Including the books of the Apocrypha gave the Roman Catholic Church support for the teaching of prayers for the dead and salvation by faith plus works, which Luther and the Protestants strongly opposed. The writings of the Apocrypha should not and are not regarded as part of divinely inspired scripture for four primary reasons: • • • • They do not claim for themselves the same kind of authority as the Old Testament writings. They were not regarded as God's words by the Jewish people from whom they were originated. They were not considered to be Scripture by Jesus or the New Testament authors. They contain teachings that are inconsistent with the rest of the Bible
While they do have a number of beneﬁcial features that aid historical and linguistic researchers as well as show the courage and faith of many Jews, they have never been part of the Old Testament canon and should not be recognized as a part of the Bible. Even the greatest ﬁrst century Jewish historian Josephus (37-100 AD) knew and spoke of the Apocrypha when he said that "from Artaxerxes to our own times a complete history has been written, but has not been deemed worthy of equal credit with the earlier records, because of the failure of the exact succession of the prophets" (Against Apion 1.41) Resources 1. Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 57-60 2. Athanasius, Letter 39 in Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978), 551-52 3. Edward J. Young, "The Canon of the Old Testament," Revelation and the Bible (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1958 / London: The Tyndale Press, 1959), 167-68
Overview of the Trinity
The Trinity is the term which deﬁnes that the one God of the Bible exists as a unity of three distinct persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. At ﬁrst sight one might say that this is absurd, confusing, or ﬂat out impossible. Some may also make the claim that Trinitarianism is the same as polytheism (many gods), but this is simply not the case. The Trinity is monotheistic (one god) by deﬁnition, so those who claim otherwise demonstrate an obvious lack of understanding what the word really describes. I will be among the ﬁrst to say that the Trinity is deﬁnitely a difﬁcult topic to explain, but that does not warrant as evidence against its truth. The Bible is the self revelation of the inﬁnite God, therefore we are bound to come across ideas and concepts that will be hard to understand, explain and perhaps even accept. In addition, I will go out on a limb and say that many Christians when offering up analogies and examples to help others understand the Trinity actually end up committing heresy in one or more ways. So I will take some time to go through it step by step and show how it actually is possible and how we can observe good examples of it in nature. God is One The Bible clearly teaches in numerous places that God is one. That there is none like him, that he is the ﬁrst and the last, that there was none before him and will be none after Him. We can see this clearly and plainly laid out in the following verses: • Deuteronomy 4:35 "To you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord is God; there is no other besides him." • Deuteronomy 4:39 "The Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other." • Deuteronomy 6:4 "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one," which is verse Jesus Himself also quotes in Mark 12:29. • • • 1 Kings 8:60 "All the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no other." Isaiah 43:10 "Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me." Isaiah 44:6 "I am the ﬁrst and I am the last; besides me there is no god."
• Isaiah 44:8 "Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock (God see Isaiah 30:29); I know not any." • • Isaiah 45:5 "I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God." 1 Corinthians 8:4 "There is no God but one."
• 1 Timothy 2:5 "For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." Do note that these are only a handful of references from the Bible that give mention to the clear conclusion that God is singular. We see citations from both the Old and New Testaments which show that both the Jews as well as the early Christians believed that there is no plurality of Gods, but one and only one.
An interesting note to make among these verses is that in Deuteronomy 6:4 where it is written that the Lord is one, the Hebrew word used for 'one' is 'echad' ( .)אחדThis is the same word we see in Genesis 2:24 which says, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one ﬂesh." This verse is obviously talking about marriage between a man and a woman, and how in the union the two become one. Now it is as obvious that a husband and wife do not somehow melt together to become one being, but they are in fact two separate persons who are to be viewed as one unit. God is Multiple In the word of God, besides seeing God as a singular entity, we also interestingly see a number of verses mention a certain plurality in his character. These characters are known as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, which make up what we call 'The Trinity.' For example, we see in Genesis 1:26 where "God said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.'" Notice where it says our image and our likeness. Who else was present to take part in the creation? Look also at Genesis 11:7-8, which says "'Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another's speech.' So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city." Notice it ﬁrst says 'Let us go down' but it then says that the Lord is the one who dispersed them. In the New Testament, the three persons of the Trinity are simultaneously present at Jesus' baptism in Luke 3:21-22, which says that "When Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, 'You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.'" We can also read the account of The Transﬁguration of Jesus in Matthew 17:1-14, Mark 9:2-13 and Luke 9:28-36. During this event both the Father and the Son are clearly and separately identiﬁed. The cloud that is mentioned in all three accounts could also be representing the presence of the Holy Spirit; which would bring the whole of the Trinity together, but even without the Holy Spirit's presence, we clearly see the Father and the Son. But one of the most unmistakable references to the Trinity comes from Jesus Christ Himself after his resurrection in Matthew 28:16-20, in which he says "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." We see at the Baptism and Transﬁguration that the Father called Jesus his son. But we even see Jesus Himself claiming to be God in John 8:57-59 where "the Jews said to him, 'you are not yet ﬁfty years old, and have you seen Abraham?' Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.' So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple." Why immediately after saying this statement did the Jews pick up stones to throw at Jesus? Because the Jews knew exactly what Jesus was saying when he used the words "I am." This is the same title for God that was given to Moses in Exodus 3:14 where the Lord said, "Say this to the people of Israel, 'I am has sent me to you.'" 'I am' is the name of God that Moses was to present to the Israelites back in Egypt. By quoting this reference, Jesus was explicitly saying that he was God in the ﬂesh. The Jews who had spent their lives taking the scriptures to memory knew this and therefore accused Jesus of blasphemy, for which he was eventually cruciﬁed.
Notice also that Jesus claimed to be God, not one God out of many. He isn't an additional deity to add to existing belief, but he is the one present at the creation of the universe (John 1:1-3). Simply put he is the incarnation - the ﬂesh and blood body - of the one God (Colossians 1:15). Jesus Himself preached that there is only one God in Mark 12:29 in which he quoted Deuteronomy 6:4 which says "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one." Jesus is that God. Examples of the Trinity Skeptics to Trinitarianism will assert that this doctrine is illogical or impossible. As stated earlier, many Christians fail in responding to these claims by using faulty examples and explanations to make their belief sound plausible. The chief examples that are used, while at face value sound good, tend to aim more towards the heresy of modalism, which is the belief that the Father can become the Son who can become the Holy Spirit who can become the Father. Some of these examples include: • • • Matter - which contains the trinity of liquid, solid and gas. Space - which contains the trinity of height, width and depth. Time - which contains the trinity of future, present, and past.
The problem with all three of these examples is that they lean towards modalism. The perspective of an object can be changed to where the height becomes the width or the depth. A liquid can become a solid or a gas. In regards to time, the future inevitably becomes the present, which inevitably becomes the past. Therefore we can easily see that these are examples which the Christian community should abandon in trying to defend Trinitarianism. However the entirety of these examples is not without some assistance since we can see that the universe is made up of a trinity of space, matter and time. Simply put, none can become or be mistaken for one of the others. While I believe the description of matter makes a decent example of a trinity, I think we can offer up a similarity that more accurately portrays what the Trinity can be compared to. Trinitarianism states that God is one in three distinct persons. The problem, is that the word 'persons' has a tendency to force people into the mode of imagining God like we would imagine three separate human beings, but that is just the thought process that we need to get out of when thinking of the Trinity. We use the word 'persons' because it denotes the individuality and self-awareness of each member of the Godhead. This means that the Father is aware of being the Father, the Son is aware of being the Son, and the Holy Spirit is aware of being the Holy Spirit; but each is distinct and separate from the other two. By describing the Trinity we can obviously see the uniqueness of God, which is partially why understanding the Trinity can indeed be very difﬁcult. But I think it is because there is none like Him that I don't believe it is possible to have an analogy that perfectly reﬂects his triune nature. However I do think we can describe an acceptable analogy.
The analogy I will describe relates to the real existence of multi-headed animals in nature. We can observe that on extremely rare occurrences reptiles such as turtles and snakes are born with not one, but two heads. Upon the ﬁnding of a two headed turtle for example, we should ﬁrst of all notice that we call it a ʻtwo headed turtle' automatically. We do not identify it as two separate turtles that are
simultaneously overlapping, but a singular living object with two self-conscious individuals inhabiting the same body. To put it in human terms, it is one being occupied by two persons. Continuing with this example in mind we can arrive at the plausibility of the Trinity; for just as we can observe a single reptile that is occupied by two characters, we can similarly conceive of a single spiritual entity (John 4:24) that is occupied by three persons. Each of these three is self aware of their own existence, cognizant of the other two, but contained in the same being. Conclusion Sometimes when trying to attack the Trinity, skeptics will appeal to mathematics. It will be said that the idea of a Trinitarian God results in polytheism because 1+1+1=3 (Father + Son + Holy Spirit = Gods). While the math in this analogy is true, the example however is false. A more accurate way of looking at it mathematically is to use the process of multiplication instead of addition, like 1x1x1=1 or 13 (Father x Son x Holy Spirit = God). We are not adding deities, but multiplying the persons therein. In an effort to add emphasis to what is necessary, I must point out that even these explanations may contain ﬂaws, but understand that they are just as they are titled... analogies. We do see multiples within one in nature as has been shown, so it is therefore illogical and unreasonable to say that it is impossible for God to be the same. Resources 1. William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (Downer's Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity, 2003), 575-96 2. Slick, Matt. “What is the Trinity.” CARM. May, 2009 http://www.carm.org/christianity/christian-doctrine/what-trinity
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