Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Is the Trinity Defensible Philosophically?

Here is the latest episode of the One Minute Apologist, which was released today, in which I am asked about whether the doctrine of the Trinity is philosophically defensible. For more of my interviews on the One Minute Apologist and other programs, check out my YouTube channel here.


Unknown said...

I beg to differ. I don't wish to be a spoiler on this site - as I greatly appreciate the work being done here and the last thing I want to do is alienate myself from such great people. I feel especially that David Wood is totally my style. But the trinity to me, especially expressed here is clear as mud and leaves me shaking my head. I also think what a ploy of the devil it has been over the centuries to Jews and Moslems alike to have to deal with this stumbling block of a three headed monster called the trinity in order to access the treasure of Christian truth. So I humbly ask you to:
(Job 13:6) Hear now my reasoning and hearken to the pleadings of my lips:

David said...

@ amessageforallnations

1Co_1:23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness.

The apostles had no issue preaching that which was a stumbling block - mainly because it was part of the Gospel. The trinity is a core belief, YHWH reveals himself as such, salvation is obtained and achieved through the Three Persons of the Godhead.

David Kemball-Cook said...

If the Trinity is a core belief, why is it not mentioned in the preaching in Acts, not taught on the epistles?

David Kemball-Cook said...

A good presentation, but what has it got to do with Christianity?
He makes no reference to the Bible anywhere, as far as I could see.
Does the Bible ever say the God is three persons (or three anythings)?
On the contrary, the OT is full of God acting, speaking, behaving as one person, with one will and one mind.
And the NT never reaches that God is three (anythings). Such a controversial doctrine would need several chapters in Romans, but there is nothing except this ambiguous side-mention in Rom 9:5, in a passage about the fate of the Jews.

Anthony Rogers said...


We've been over all of this with you before.

Unless you have learned Hebrew since we last talked, I am not sure why you are still pretending to know that "the OT is full of God acting, speaking, behaving as one person," as if the OT does not repeatedly use plural nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives for God just because your philosophical pre-committment to unitarianism requires that to be the case. The pagan philosophical concept of a solitary monad is completely foreign to Old Covenant religion and has more in common with rationalistic philosophers like Plotinus.

As for your idea that the doctrine of the Trinity would need to be inculcated at length in the New Testament in order for people to believe such an (allegedly) new and controversial teaching, all of this is just your presuppositions talking. Because you reject the OT revelation of the Trinity, you expect to find that doctrine explained to you at length in the NT. But if God already revealed from the get-go that His unity is not a barren, abstract, colorless unity, and that He exists in three persons and has a rich diversity of attributes, then what we should expect to find in the NT is the very thing you virtually admit we do find. That is to say, if God already revealed something of His trinal nature, then much of what we would find in the NT is the doctrine of the Trinity already assumed rather than inculcated. And this is what you came close to seeing when you mentioned how casually Paul makes reference to Christ as God in Romans 9:5. Of course you said that text is ambiguous, but, again, that is just your presuppositions talking.

Unknown said...

I don't expect that my little tidbit is going to make anyone change their belief. But this how I see it:

The core belief is not "Hear O Israel; The Lord our God is a Trinity". But the core belief is: "Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord".

The stumbling block to the Jews was not a trinity, it was because Jesus made statements and claims that only God could make, therefore, making himself God:

John 10:33 The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.

Jesus said:
"I am the bread of life; the light of the world; the door; the good shepherd; the resurrection and the life; the way, the truth, and the life; the true vine" -

...and most significantly, John 8:58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. (I am that I am Exodus 3:14) - wow!

The core belief is - there is one Lord. Jesus is that Lord.

Anthony Rogers said...

Yes, the core belief of Christianity is Jesus is Lord, but not that He is Lord apart from the Father and Holy Spirit. After all, right after citing the Shema ("The Lord our God is one") in answer to the Pharisees, Jesus then stumped them by asking the following question:

Then Jesus answered and said, while He taught in the temple, “How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the Son of David? For David himself said by the Holy Spirit:

The Lord said TO my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”’

Therefore David himself calls Him ‘Lord’; how is He then his Son?” (Mark 12)

So the stumbling block to the Jews was that Israel's one Lord is not mono-personal but tri-personal and one of those persons became a descendant of David.

Unknown said...

Revelation 22:16 I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David , and the bright and morning star.

I do not see 'persons' - just one.

Unknown said...

Jesus saying he is the root AND the offspring of David proves he is one and the same!

Jesus also claimed that HE is the Holy Ghost. (John 14:18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.)

I don't see three PERSONS - separate beings - in any of this.

Anthony Rogers said...

I only see one person in Revelation 22:16 as well. Jesus is both "the root...of David" (i.e. David's Lord), and "...the offspring of David" (i.e. David's Son). He can be both because He is both God and man.

However, the problem for your attempt to take this and conflate the Father and the Spirit with Jesus is that Mark 12 shows the Father speaking TO "the root and offspring of David." It also tells us that David spoke of this discussion between the Father and the Son by means of the Holy Spirit. Surely in Mark 12 all three persons are in view.

As for the attempt to make John 14:18 mean that Jesus is the Holy Spirit, that will hardly do when viewed in context. Obviously Jesus is saying that He will come to them in the Holy Spirit, not as the Holy Spirit:

“If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and HE will give you ANOTHER Helper, that HE may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees HIM nor knows HIM; but you know HIM, for HE dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you."

Throughout these passages Jesus speaks of the Father and the Spirit in the third person, and He also speaks of the Spirit as another. At not point does He say He is either the Father or the Spirit.

Moreover, a little further along in the same context Jesus says:

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and WE will come to him and make OUR home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.

Speaking of the Father and the Spirit in the third person, speaking of the Spirit as another, and speaking of Himself, the Father, and the Spirit as "we" and "our" completely annihilates any attempt to deny that three persons are in view rather than one.

There is one God, but He is not one person.

Unknown said...

I don't see the argument against 'persons' has been annialated.

The Bible speaks of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost as different manifestations, roles, modes, titles, attributes, relationships to man, or functions of the one God, but it does not refer to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost as three persons, personalities, wills, minds, or Gods. God is the Father of us all and in a unique way the Father of the man Jesus Christ. God manifested Himself in flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, called the Son of God. God is also called the Holy Spirit, which emphasizes His activity in the lives and affairs of mankind. God is not limited to these three manifestations; however, in the glorious revelation of the one God, the New Testament does not deviate from the strict monotheism of the Old Testament. Rather, the Bible presents Jesus as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Jesus is not just the manifestation of one of three persons in the Godhead, but He is the incarnation of the Father, the Jehovah of the Old Testament. Truly, in Jesus dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. It 'pleased the Father' that in him should all the fulness dwell.

(Quoted in part from

1 Corinthians 12:4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.

Unknown said...

Oops - sorry, I "annihilated" the spelling of annihilated.... :)

Anthony Rogers said...

Quoting the doctrinal statement of a heretical group does not address, and it certainly does not trump, Scripture. The Bible alone is the Word of God.

Unknown said...

Well Anthony, I'm sticking with manifestations. Call me a heretic if you wish, that's nothing new:

Acts 24:14 But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which [you] call heresy, so worship I the God of [Israel], believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets: 15 And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.
16 And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.

No where do I see coequal, coexistent, coeternal separate beings.

Note that in Matthew 28:19, Jesus gave the command to baptize 'in the 'name' (singular) of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost", (which are titles and not names) and all references I can find declare just one singular name for these three titles, and that is, Jesus! Please provide for me references (scripture only!) of baptism other than in the name of Jesus, and could you provide me with the name of the Father and the Holy Ghost, if the name is not 'Jesus'?

Scripture is clear that there is only one Father (Mal 2:10; Eph 4:6) and that Jesus is the one Father (Isa 9:6; John 10:30). The Spirit that dwelt in the Son of God was none other than the Father.

The name of the Father is Jesus, as Jesus said in John 5:43 “I am come in my Father's name.” According to Hebrews 1:4, the Son “by inheritance obtained a more excellent name.” In other words, the Son inherited His Father's name. We therefore understand why Jesus said that He manifested and declared the Father's name (John 17:6, 26). He fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy that stated the Messiah would declare the name of the LORD (Ps 22:22; Heb 2:12).

In what name did the Son come? What name did He obtain from His Father by inheritance? What name did the Son manifest? The answer is apparent. The only name He used was the name of Jesus, His Father's name.

And what do you think the the Holy Ghost is? A separate spirit? TWO Spirits? I've always been told that a 'Ghost' is the spirit of a departed one. The Holy Ghost is the spirit of Jesus, NOT a separate being! This is why he had to be glorified, so that he could pour out HIS spirit!

John 7:37 -- In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

The Holy Ghost is indeed a manifestation in which the spirit of God works in our lives - but it is not separate and apart from the Spirit of God.

I daresay you have fallen into the trap that Paul warned about:

Col 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. 9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. 10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:

I can indeed stay within scripture to annihilate your Catholic /Babylonian dogma of the Trinity. But you face a blatant contradiction in your insistence to use scripture only as you can't use or reference the words "trinity", "triune" or "persons", or worse yet, "God the Son" - and the like, since they're not in the bible, whereas the terms "manifestations", "operations" and "administrations" are indeed biblical terms.

Anthony Rogers said...

amessage, I am going to reply to you again even though you plagiarized much of your post from the following website: If you can’t do your own work in the future, just say, “I blindly follow this group or person,” and then provide the link to your extra-Biblical authority. Thanks.

amessage said: "No where do I see coequal, coexistent, coeternal separate beings."

I don't believe the persons of the Trinity are "separate beings," and neither does any other orthodox Trinitarian, so this is nothing more than a straw man. Your misunderstanding and misrepresentation of the Trinity renders you distinctly qualified to compete with Muhammad and his deity, neither of whom got the Trinity right.

amessage said: "Note that in Matthew 28:19, Jesus gave the command to baptize 'in the 'name' (singular) of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost", (which are titles and not names) and all references I can find declare just one singular name for these three titles, and that is, Jesus!

Matthew 28:19 does indeed speak of baptizing "in the 'name' (singular) of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," but each noun (i.e. Father, Son, Spirit) is preceded by the article (ho) and a conjunction is inserted between the nouns (kai), which means the three nouns can't have the same personal referent: “In the name of the [tou] Father, and the [kai tou] Son, and the [kai tou] Holy Spirit...” In other words, the one name belongs to three distinct persons. In order for the Greek to express what you believe it would have said: "In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." The distinction between the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit that is found in Matthew 28:19 is found all throughout Matthew’s gospel. For example, it is plain as day at Christ’s own baptism: “When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (Matt 3:16-17)”

amessage said: "Scripture is clear that there is only one Father (Mal 2:10; Eph 4:6) and that Jesus is the one Father (Isa 9:6; John 10:30). The Spirit that dwelt in the Son of God was none other than the Father."

There is only one Father in the sense referred to in Malachi 2:10 and Ephesians 4:6, but neither passage identifies Christ as the Father in the sense required by your anti-Christian philosophy. Neither passage says that Christ is His own God and Father. In fact, while neither passage says any thing of the sort, the latter passage that speaks of "one God and Father" is preceded by two verses that speak first of the one Spirit and then of the one Lord (Jesus Christ), which of course would be redundant and misleading on Paul's part if he actually thought that the Spirit and the Lord Jesus are actually God the Father. Moreover, from beginning to end in the book of Ephesians Paul distinguishes between God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: “Grace and peace to you from God our Father AND the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph 1:2)”; “Peace to the brethren and love with faith, from God the Father AND the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph 6:23).” This is why Paul, in speaking of true Christian prayer, can say: “For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father (Eph 2:18).”

Anthony Rogers said...

As for Isaiah 9:6, it does not say the coming Messiah is God the Father or His own Father, which is the sense of the term required by your philosophical view of oneness that collapses the persons of the Trinity into an undifferentiated unity. What it does say, according to the Hebrew idiom, is that the Messiah is the father of eternity, which is a way of saying that He is eternal. In Hebrew, when a person is said to be the father of something, particularly an abstract quality like eternity, strength, righteousness, etc., it means they are the possessor or bearer of that quality or attribute. For example, 2 Samuel 23:31 speaks of Abialbon, which literally rendered is “father of strength” and idiomatically means “strong one.”

John 10:30 does not identify the Father and Jesus as the same person. Jesus does not say, "I am the Father" or "I and the Father am one" or any equivalent expression. Instead, what he literally said is: "I and the Father WE ARE one [thing]." He used both the plural verb, esmen, which means "we are," and the neuter form of the word one, hen, which means one thing/essence. If Jesus was trying to say that He is the same person as the Father, he would have used the masculine word for one, i.e. heis.

When the New Testament speaks of Jesus coming in, inheriting, and receiving the name of His Father, it most certainly is not referring to the name “Jesus.” The name that Jesus received and all men will acknowledge is “Lord,” i.e. Yahweh.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should CONFESS that Jesus Christ IS LORD, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11)

The name of Jesus, the name that was acknowledged over Him by God the Father, the name that everyone will confess and acknowledge to be true about Him, is Lord. And that name is confessed of Him TO the glory of God the Father, which once again distinguishes Jesus from the Father.

I could go on, but the above fully vindicates my claim that you hold to an unbiblical heresy and decidedly are not following Scripture alone. (BTW, following Scripture alone doesn’t mean only using words that are found in the Bible. If it did, then you would not be able to have this discussion with me since you don’t know Hebrew or Greek. Following Scripture alone means that Scripture is the only infallible authority of Christian doctrine, and all the words of men must therefore be tried by the standard of Scripture. Your words have been tried and found wanting. The Bible clearly distinguishes between the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The words I use full affirm this Biblical distinction; the words you use do not.)

Unknown said...

I can tell you I've never visited that web site, however I make no claim that my effort to explain the oneness of the Godhead is original wording from me, why is that essential? My goal is not to express my eloquence or lack of it, but to use whatever tools are at my disposal to explain scripture as you yourself are doing. I did cite a resource earlier that can certainly cover the subject much more thoroughly than I can here, all based upon scripture. For that matter, since the bible says that we are saved through the foolishness of preaching, and faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God, I invite you to listen to a sermon of over 1600 titles of God through the bible. Your comments of his interpretation of scripture would be greatly appreciated.

By the way you never did cite any references where anyone was baptized any other way but in the name of Jesus - if it is error to claim that the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost is Jesus, then why the references of baptism in Jesus name in Acts 2:38, Acts 8:16, Acts 10:48, Acts 19:5? Were the apostles wrong? And if these three titles are three different persons, and it does not denote the singular name of Jesus, why did Jesus say in Luke 24:47 "And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."?

Also, your claim that the "Lord' is the name given to him by the Father is preposterous. The name is JESUS!  Which is actually, 'Jehovah has BECOME our salvation'!

Acts 4:10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.
11 This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.
12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

2 Timothy 2:19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

I do happen to know a bit of Greek and Hebrew - at least I can look it up as easily as you can, and the word 'nameth' is 'onomazo' which means 'one who has been named after another' or one who has been named. And, I know this opens up another issue that no doubt we disagree on, but there is only one way to be named after the Lord Jesus, and that is to be buried with him (not 'them') in baptism !

Another word is 'call' or 'called' in the Greek is 'epekaleo' which means, 'to be called, I shall be named, I shall be surnamed'! So when one 'calls upon the name of the Lord', that means they are submitting themselves to being surnamed after the Lord!

Acts 22:16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

When Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, he reminded them what the prophet Joel said:

Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

I might add, a direct prophecy about deliverance in Jerusalem! And perfectly summed up in the 36th verse, when the Jews asked:

36 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ
for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

I do not know how the name of the Father, Son & Holy Ghost could be more clear... That name, above every name, is Jesus!

Unknown said...

I do see it was error on my part that denote the trinity as separate beings - thank you, however, persons means separate wills or intellect. The only distinction of will in reference to God is easily explained through the duel nature of Christ - as humanity, he grew in wisdom and in stature, as deity he knew all things; as humanity he hungered, as deity he fed the 5,000; as humanity he prayed, (Psalms 65:2 O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come.) as deity he answered prayer. As humanity he suffered and died, as deity he raised himself from the dead!

(John 2:19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.)

Jesus is not a 2nd person of a triune godhead. He is not even IN the godhead - the godhead is in HIM!

The mighty God is Jesus
The Prince of Peace is He
The Everlasting Father
The King Eternally
The Wonderful in wisdom
By whom all things were made
The fullness of the Godhead
in Jesus is displayed

Emmanuel God with us
Jehovah Lord of hosts
The omnipresent Spirit
Who fills the universe
The Advocate The High Priest
The Lamb for sinners slain
The Author of redemption
Oh glory to His name

The Alpha and Omega
Beginning and the End
The Living Word incarnate
The helpless sinner's friend
Our wisdom and perfection
Our righteousness and power
Yea all we need in Jesus
We find this very hour

Our God for whom we've waited
Will be the glad refrain
Of Israel recreated
When Jesus comes again
Lo He will come and save us
Our King and Priest to be
For in Him dwells all fullness
And Lord of All is He

It's all in Him
It's all in Him
The fullness of the Godhead is all in Him
It's all in Him
It's all in Him
The Mighty God is Jesus and
It's all in Him