Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for June 23rd, 2015

 

trinity

While teaching Christology overseas a student asked me how does one handle the following objection: “I don’t believe in the Trinity because the Word Trinity is not in the Bible.”

Here’s my take on the objection.

First, more important than the term is whether or not the concept of the Trinity is found in the Bible.  We must be more concern about the concept more than a specific theological terminology that Christians later use as a handle for the various truth claims about God.  If the concept of the Trinity is found in the Bible, it is enough to establish the doctrine of the Trinity.

I know my first point often don’t satisfy cultists and heretics. Hence the following points:

Secondly, just because you use biblical terminology doesn’t mean the concept behind the term you are using is faithful to the Bible.  I bring this point to illustrate that it is a naively flawed methodology to assume that merely finding a word in the Bible establish the truth content that one might put into the terminology.  People twists the meaning of biblical terms all the time.  In the end, what’s important is the concept behind the terms which reinforce my first point.

Thirdly, depending on the specific cultists or heretic I would also point out how the kind of argumentation presented in this objection to the Trinity also undercut their specific belief systems.   That is, the argumentation is a self-defeater to their own religious beliefs.  For instance, with Jehovah’s Witnesses I apply back this same kind of bad reasoning back to them:  I don’t believe in the Watchtower Tract and Bible Society because Scripture itself doesn’t mention these words.  We shouldn’t attend any of their Kingdom Hall because the word “Kingdom Hall” doesn’t appear in the Bible.  If one uses this flawed logic that is the basis for objecting to the Trinity, the cultist or heretic must also admit that it undermine their very own beliefs and belief system as well.  But if they sidestep this rebuttal by saying the concept is taught in the Scripture, note here that they also admit that content is what matters and not merely the appearance of a terminology in Scripture.  Either way you go, the problem is with the interlocutor.

 

Fourthly there are also other theological terms that Christians use that is not found in Scripture but the concept is taught in Scripture.  Think of the word “Bible.”  Yet the concept is there within the Bible.  Again, content is what is more important than merely doing a superficial word search.

Fifthly, to be very technical even a lot of terms in our Bible translations are also not found in the original language of the Bible.  The English Bible talks a lot about “God.”  But the Hebrew and Greek words in the manuscripts are “El,” “Elohim,” “Yahweh,” and “Theos.” Nowhere do we find in the original language manuscripts the English term “God,” the German word “Gott” or the Japanese term for deity called “Kami,” etc.  We can multiple the same thing with the term “Jesus,” “faith,” and “Salvation.”  That doesn’t mean we reject “God” because it’s not a term that’s found in the Original language of the Bible.  We might have many terms that “translates” the content of what the Bible is saying.  Note the priority: It is the content of Scripture that shapes a term that signify its meaning.  In some sense the Trinity is a theological translation of the concept of the Oneness and Threeness of the True God as attested in the Scriptures.

 

This objection might sound like it has a lot of force when one first hears it, but there’s no wind behind its sail upon closer analysis.

Read Full Post »