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An Overview of the Trinity

In this second post reviewing the Free Grace Broadcaster from Chapel Library's issue on the "Triune God" we come to William S. Plummer's article entitled "Overview of the Trinity."

Whereas Boettner introduced us to the mystery and the centrality of the Trinity to the Christian religion William Plummer now covers the nuts and bolts of the doctrine of the Trinity taught within the Word of God.

Plummer begins with the explanation that trinity means the "unity of the three divine persons." He is careful to distigush that when we speak of God in this way we are not saying that God is three separate individuals but rather that the one essense of God is shared equally and fully by the three divine persons. He terms this description a "distinction in the divine Being that is real, but inexplicable."

While we cannot fully understand this description of God we can readily see when other false and heretical understandings of God are taught in the place of the Trinity. Arians teach that the Father and Son are completely separate and distinct, leading them to deny the Son's equality with the Father. Sabellians (modalists) teach there are not three persons but one God who acts in different ways to appear as three. Socinians and Unitarians teach that only the Father is divine. These teachings are all false and go contrary to the Trinitarian doctrine taught in scripture.

Moving beyond the basic assertion of the Trinity Plummer proceeds to demonstrate the way the three persons are clearly distiguished throughout scripture. Mat 28:19 and 2 Co 13:14 distinguish all three persons by listing them side-by-side. 1 Co 8:6 speaks of both the Father and the Son in their own roles in creation and providence. John 16:8 speaks of the Holy Spirit sent from God to be the Helper and the one who brings conviction of sin upon the world.

These three divine persons described in scripture are distinguished by there relationgships to one another. The Father is not begotten and does not proceed from anyone. The Son is the only-begotten of the Father while the Spirit proceeds from the Father and Son. Plummer warns that the word "begotten", just as the words "father" and "son" should not be pushed too far but understood to be the best word that God has chosen to describe himself. As always we need to be careful not to assume God is like us when we use human words to describe the creator God.

While the Father is distinguished in this way from the Son and Spirit all three are equally God. Jesus is directly called God (1 John 5:20; Rom 9:5) as well as being made equal with the Father (John 5:26). He shares in the divine activities of creation and judgment. His disciples worship him, as do the angels. Likewise, the Holy Spirit is called God (Acts 5:3-4) and is equated in his knowledge with God himself (1 Cor 2:10-11).

While all three persons are equally God they are not three Gods. Plummer points us back to the historic statement that God is "one in being, in nature, in essence; and three in personality or subsistence." Their being one in nature and essence is seen biblically in the unified way the three persons work together in creation and in redemption. They were seen together in Jesus' baptism. They are also described together in the work of redemption. The Father gave his Son. The Son laid down his life. The Spirit convicts the world of sin and guides believers into all truth.

This unity in creation and salvation guides us in how we are to worship. As Christians we must be about worshipping the Triune God. If we are worshipping any other god we are worshipping our own vain imaginations and not the true God.

Though it seems a little out of place Plummer finishes his article with a short look back to the Old Testament to see evidences of the Trinity even there. He points to the plural form of God in Genesis as well as the plural "maker" in Job and "creator" in Ecclesiates. He encourages us to find here the same Triune God revealed in the New Testament.