Do Christians Believe in Three Gods?

On September 1, 2012, in Apologetics, Doctrines, by july

Historically, Christians are predispositioned to believe in a Three-Person God—a word more commonly known as the Trinity.  But are Christians warranted to believe in such? Can God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit all be Gods and still be ONE? An average lay person will often have his back on the wall when such issue is raised.

But such a question is a legitimate question that has to be answered.  For instance, the Qur’an has this to say:

O People of the Book! commit no excesses in your religion: nor say of Allah aught but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) A Messenger of Allah, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a Spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His Messengers. Say not “Trinity”: desist: it will be better for you: for Allah is One God: glory be to Him:

(far Exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth. And enough is Allah as a Disposer of affairs.

Surah 4:171

What does the Christian have to say then? Do we simply believe it by faith alone? Or are there good enough reasons to believe that there can be three persons that make up Godhead?

It is interesting to know that the Jewish community during the time of Jesus are strict monotheists.  They do not welcome the thought of having another entity to be placed on equal footing with God, and rightly so.  Their history shows time and again how God punished them for considering other manmade deities to be His equal.  Further, the Scriptures have been very clear.  It says

 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. – Deuteronomy 9:4

Jesus was crucified for claiming divinity, and the Bible does not shy away from such evidences.  For instance, Mark 2 details an account where Jesus claimed that he had the authority to forgive sins, an act only reserved for God (Mark 2:7).  He also accepted worship (Matthew 14:33).  In John 10:33, the people who listened to Jesus wanted to stone him for blasphemy because He, they said, is “a mere man, claiming to be God.”  There are also instances where He even directly equated Himself to God.  For instance, in John 10:30, Jesus proclaimed that He and the Father are one.  In John 14:9, He said that whoever has seen Him has seen the Father.

This would’ve been good enough for a monotheist.  That is until Jesus would also, on other occasions, appear to be a different person from the Father.  For instance, John 17 details an event where He himself prayed to ‘God’.  Matthew 3:17 is also profound.  It distinguished between God the Father and Jesus.  John 12:28 even detailed an account where a huge crowd could differentiate God the Father and Jesus as two distinct persons.

But how can two distinct persons be one God? How can TWO be ONE?

Here’s how I think a Christian can explain the Trinity in an easy to understand manner

  • Suppose that you are the first book of the Lord of the Rings. You are composed of letters, punctuations, and spaces.
  • Then one day somebody compiled you and the other two books into a trilogy enclosed within a single book.
  • Notice that when people look at you, they would identify you as a book. When people look at the other books they would identify them as the same. When people look at the entire compilation, they would STILL call it a book.
  • Now as book 1, it would be very difficult for you to grasp how can three books be one book. But as an outside observer, it is self-evident.
  • Same is true with the Trinity.
  • The Trinity is three persons in one being. Such as the aforementioned trilogy is three books in a compilation. When you look at each you would identify them as a book. Just as looking at each person in the Trinity and identify them as God. Now there is just one book, composed of the three books in the series. In the same way there is just one God, composed of the three persons.

The Trinity is a very important concept to grasp and in my thinking, the only legitimate view of God.  For God to be all good and all powerful at the same time, he has to be able to do all First-Level Degree of Goodness (acts of goodness that does not require evil to exist).  Examples of these are Relational Love, Respect and Worship.

If God is composed only of one person, He can only be relationally loving if other entities exist.  Thus, He needed His creation to  do ‘some’ of the First-Level Degree of Goodness.  But if God is a Trinity, He can Love without the creation.  Same is true with respect and worship.  God, by definition, is a Maximally Great Being.  It is safe to say that the latter, that is, the Trinity is a greater concept of God than a one-person God.  Therefore, it seems reasonable to believe that the Trinity is a more viable option.

Christians believe in ONE God composed of THREE persons.  I think, based on the aforementioned explanation, and the entailments of believing in the Trinity… it is safe to say that the Christian God is the only game in town.  If this be true, then it follows that every other concept of God is inferior and therefore, unworthy to be called God.

 

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