The Trinity is one of Christianity’s most central and distinctive teachings. In fact, most Christians will probably tell you that a proper understanding of the Trinity is what separates authentic Christianity from pseudo-Christian cults. As such, it seems obvious that if we are to call ourselves Christians, we must also strive to grasp the doctrine of the Trinity.
Unfortunately, though—as anyone who has ever wrestled with the Trinity will tell you—trying to wrap your head around this doctrine is a daunting task. Because in spite of the fact that there are hundreds of sites which purportedly explain this enigmatic doctrine, it’s nearly impossible to actually make any sense of it. This isn’t too surprising, since our finite minds will never be able to truly and completely comprehend an infinite God; however, even apart from our inherent inability to wrap our minds around anything infinite, I would argue that the doctrine of the Trinity is itself so flawed and convoluted that de-mystifying it is simply not possible. In short, just because someone can articulate the concept of the Trinity to you, they will never help you to truly understand it.
That being the case, why should you keep reading? Indeed, if explaining the Trinity is an exercise in futility, then what makes Socratic Christianity different? Quite simply, there is a better answer!
If this assertion makes you nervous, it should! We should always be wary of any notion that contradicts the teaching of sacred Scripture; however, that’s exactly my point. The doctrine of the Trinity is not in the Bible! None other than Martin Luther recognized this fact almost 500 years ago:
“It is indeed true that the name ‘Trinity’ is nowhere to be found in the Holy Scriptures, but has been conceived and invented by man.”
Would you be surprised to discover that…
- Neither the word Trinity nor its central premise of “one God in three persons” can be found in the Bible?
- The doctrine of the Trinity was not fully articulated until more than 300 years after the close of the New Testament?
- It owes more to Greek philosophy and the writings of Aristotle in particular…than it does to the Apostles?
- The Trinity relies upon exceptions and disclaimers to keep from falling apart in the face of Scriptures that would threaten to refute it?
And yet the Trinity is regarded as the litmus test of orthodoxy…
To be fair, the doctrine of the Trinity has certainly been derived from Scripture, but one thing most Christians do not know is that the Trinity is first and foremost an extra-Biblical doctrine. Simply put, that means that while the Trinity has “one foot in the Bible”, it relies on sources outside of the Bible to “fill in the blanks” as it attempts to weave disconnected verses of Scripture into a cohesive, comprehensive doctrine that explains the meaning of “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”.
So unlike other web sites, which start with the premise that the Trinity is de facto truth and then try to help you sort it out, the goal of Socratic Christianity is to decouple Scripture from philosophy and subsequently rediscover what Scripture actually says about “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”...rather than what the Trinity says that Scripture says. This is admittedly dangerous ground, to be sure, but there is a simple reason that this doctrine continues to confuse and confound Christians after almost 2,000 years. Quite frankly, the early church succumbed to the “empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense” that Paul warned the church at Colosse to avoid. And so here we are today, still striving to make sense of a doctrine that is inherently…and I believe fatally…flawed.
Could you explain the Trinity to someone else?
- Would you compare it to ice, water, and steam? This is the heresy of Modalism!
- Would you liken it to a three-leaf clover? This is effectively polytheism since you can remove one of the leaves without destroying the other two!
- Do you think of the Trinity like an egg: three different parts that make up the whole? This actually denies the Trinity because the three are not equal!
- In reality, the Trinity is basically saying that “1 + 1 + 1 = 1”
And yet proponents of the Trinity assert that while it clearly “transcends reason,” it is not contrary to it…
So if you’ve ever struggled to comprehend the doctrine of the Trinity, or if the standard “answers” to your questions feel somewhat evasive or inconsistent, then you’ve come to the right place. You’ll find a variety of resources that will help you cut through the noise and dig deeper into the origins of the Trinity, including:
as well as the complete text of Testing the Trinity, a book which chronicles my own 25 year journey to try and get to the bottom of what “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” is really all about. It’s also available for purchase if you want to support this site financially, but either way you can still read the whole thing here.
Finally, you can always leave a comment and start a conversation. For although I can’t guarantee that Socratic Christianity will give you all of the answers, I can promise that like Socrates, we won’t shrink from the tough questions.
What if there is a better answer?
- Affirming the full deity of Christ…or not…is what differentiates Christianity from other religions and cults
- Contrary to what we have been told, when it comes to both affirming the full deity of Christ while staying true to Scripture, the Trinity is not our only option…
- Instead of turning to philosophy as the way to understand “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” we need look no further than Scripture itself to understand the importance of this phrase
And you won’t need a Doctor of Divinity degree to understand it!
Because if you are willing to approach the doctrine of the Trinity with the heart of a Berean, “searching the Scriptures to see if these things are true” (Acts 17:11) not only will Testing the Trinity give you deeper insights into how the doctrine of the Trinity came to be, but it just may convince you that there is indeed a better answer…
Check out the blog, which covers a wide range of topics / issues, including:
- What is the Godhead?
- Where does the Trinity really come from?
- What about Scriptures that don’t line up with the Trinity?
- Perspectives on other theological matters as well as cultural issues
Prefer to watch a short video? Check our our YouTube channel
And if you really want to get into the gory details, you can order my book, Testing the Trinity, at Booklocker.com, Amazon.com, or BarnesAndNoble.com, just to name a few. It is available in paperback, as well as Kindle, Nook, and Google Play e-books.
Before you decide to buy your own copy, though, I would recommend looking over the book through this site so that you can see if you want to support this website by purchasing the book. Here’s where you can get started…
And last but not least, please feel free to leave a comment / question!