Church of Christ
- Clay, Alabama
Are the Father, Son and Holy Spirit
One and the Same Person?
Recently I began a discussion with a fellow from a nearby town about the Bible. I was excited about the idea of studying with him because he had sought me out asking if we could study the Bible together. However, before meeting face to face (our initial contact was through electronic mail) he wanted to share an article with me he had written on the subject of salvation.
Among the statements in his paper I believe to be in error was one denying the Trinity, and he said he could prove it by the Bible. I requested that proof. What I received in return was a 12 page, 6,700+ word reply, all in ONE paragraph! The bottom line of all he wrote is that he believes the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are all one and the same person. Thus, when we read in scripture about Jesus Christ, we are also reading about the Father or the Holy Spirit, since they are all the same person. To my friend, these are just different ways of referring to the same person.
In answering these arguments let's first consider that the scriptures teach the Father is God (1 Cor.1:3), the Son (Jesus Christ) is God (Jn.1:1-14), and the Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3,4). All three are God (divine, deity). However, this is NOT to say there are three God's, for there is only one God (Eph.4:6). We, admittedly, have a hard time visualizing the concept of one God being made up of three separate persons. Nevertheless, I believe this is what the scriptures teach.
I do not believe that "Father", "Son" and "Holy Spirit" are just different attributes of the same person for a number of reasons. The different occasions where all three are found in the same scene seems to contradict the Anti-Trinitarian position. We see all three in the beginning at creation (Gen.1:1,2 [God, Spirit of God]; Jn.1:1-3 [the Word]; Col.1:16,17; Gen.1:26,27). They were also all present at the baptism of Jesus (Matt.3:16,17). There you have Jesus coming up out of the water, the Spirit descending as a dove upon Jesus and the Father speaking about the Son from heaven.
To these passages we can add Matt.28:19, where Jesus commanded baptism in the name of the three. Was He commanding them to baptize in the name of "Me, Myself and I"? I don't think so. We also note Rom.15:30 and 2 Cor.13:14, where Paul speaks of all three in the same verse. These passages make no sense at all if the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all one and the same person.
Statements of Jesus Himself shows they are not one and the same person. In John 6:38 He said, "For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me." If the Father and Son are the same person, wouldn't Jesus be doing His own will when He did the will of the Father? If they are the same, isn't Jesus then a liar? Clearly He distinguishes Himself from His Father.
In John 8:17,18 Jesus said, "17 It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. 18 I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me." If Jesus and the Father are the same person, isn't Jesus saying He bears witness of Himself twice? If they are one and the same person, then the argument Jesus is making is false, since there would only be one to bear witness of Him.
In John 14:16,17 Jesus said, "16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 [Even] the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." If they are all the same person, then you have Jesus telling His apostles He is going to ask Himself (the Father) to send Himself (the Holy Spirit) to them when He Himself (Jesus) leaves them. He Himself (Jesus) would be leaving them, but He Himself (the Holy Spirit) would remain with them as a comforter. I'm confused! Is He leaving them or not? If the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one and the same person, these words of Jesus make no sense at all. Surely we can see they are three separate persons, not three different ways of referring to the same person.
At the baptism of Jesus the Father spoke from heaven and said, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased"--Matt.3:17. The Father also spoke from Heaven at the transfiguration saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him"--Matt.17:5. Speaking of these events Peter wrote, "For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased"--2 Pet.1:17. Was Jesus bestowing honor and glory on Himself? He was if the Father and Son are one and the same person. The Anti-trinitarian position forces us to form a distorted view of God.
In Mark 13:32 Jesus said, "But of that day and [that] hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." Notice Jesus says He, the Son, does not know the day or hour while the Father does. If they are one and the same person, why would Jesus not know? If they are not two separate persons, isn't Jesus again guilty of lying?
Also consider John 5:22 where Jesus said, "For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son." The idea of Jesus being the final judge is taught in a number of passages (Matt.16:27; 25:31-46; Acts 17:31; Rom.2:16; 2 Cor.5:10; 2 Tim.4:1). If the Father and Son are the same person, wouldn't the Father also be judging men?
To accept the Anti-trinitarian position one must be willing to accept a distorted view of God and also that Jesus was a constant liar.
The word of God is clear. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three separate persons yet one God.