Few doctrines of the Christian faith are as awkward as the Trinity, yet few are as important to understand and affirm. Get the basic nature of God wrong and much of what follows theologically will falter, being built on the wrong foundation. For that reason, I have devoted two issues of Solid Ground to the topic. My broad goal is to make a clear case for God’s Triune nature with a particular focus on the deity of Christ.
In the first installment, [i] I emphasized four things: the significance of the Trinity, the problem of the Trinity, the definition of the Trinity, and the alleged contradiction of the Trinity. My basic thesis: The Trinity is not a problem, but a solution. It’s the only way of understanding God that is consistent with His own self-revelation in both Testaments. Without it, the biblical record deteriorates into contradiction.
In this second installment, I want to center on the biblical fact of the Trinity [ii] by making a scriptural case for the unique deity of Christ. I won’t deal here with the deity of the Spirit, not because the third person of the Trinity has second-class status, but rather as a practical concern.
That the Father is God is not controversial, biblically. The deity of Christ is the issue most fiercely challenged and has historically been the center of the theological controversy. Once we’ve established the second person of the Godhead, adding another is easy if the Scripture warrants it for the same reasons it warrants belief in the deity of Christ.
My method is simple: provide clear scriptural support for each element that is essential to the definition of the Trinity as it applies to the person of Christ. [iii] There are three components. One, there is only one God. Two, Jesus is a distinct person from the Father. Three, Jesus is fully God. We know this because Jesus is called God, He possesses divine attributes, and He exercises divine privileges.
One thing I will not do is invite you to “picture” the Trinity by reducing it to an illustration. There are built-in problems with any attempts to visualize the Godhead in this way.
One, illustrations appeal to faculties that simply are not capable of helping us. God’s nature cannot be captured in an image (indeed, the 2nd commandment forbids it). Second, most illustrations depict a heretical notion of the Trinity (modalism, for example). [iv] Third, illustrations risk making the Trinity credible because it’s visual, not because it’s…