Christians have for centuries maintained that the doctrine of the Trinity is crucial to the faith. Yet many Christians seem at a loss to understand or explain the Trinity. Why then is the truth surrounding the Trinity so important? Whether Christians are willing to verbalize the question or not, it is a query lurking in the back of many minds. And so it is good to consider the answer. The importance of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity ultimately arises out of the urgency of affirming unequivocally, and yet harmonizing, such Bible passages as these:
- Exodus 20:3, “You shall have no other gods before me” (if the Trinity is not true, we are in consistent violation of first commandment when we call ourselves Christians);
- Exodus 34:14, “You shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (if the Trinity is true, then we are not worshiping any “other” God when we worship Jesus or pray for the Spirit’s power and blessing; if the Trinity not true, we are);
- Isaiah 42:8, “I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other” (if the Trinity is true, we are not giving the glory due God to “another”; and yet we are giving him the glory he is due! If the Trinity is not true, we are in trouble for worshiping Jesus);
- John 5:22, 23, “The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him” (if the Trinity is true, this makes sense; if not, this is in direct contradiction with the first commandment);
- Matthew 12:32, “Whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come” (if the Trinity is true, this is understandable; if not, what’s the big deal?).
As we examine Scripture, we see over and again that the Trinitarian dogma arises out of the clear teaching — often in the very same contexts that affirm the jealousy of God for his glory — that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one. Put another way, the Bible makes it impossible not to affirm the Trinity, while this truth simultaneously transcends anything else in our understanding or experience.
We approach the Father through the Son (John 14:6); hating the Son is hating the Father (John 15:23); whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father (1 John 2:23); he that abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son (2 John 1:9). And, finally, it is impossible to love the Father without loving the Son (John 8:42). Why? “For I [Jesus] came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.”
The Bible makes it impossible not to affirm the Trinity, while this truth simultaneously transcends anything else in our understanding or experience.
The Son came to do the Father’s will and will bring all into captivity to Him (1 Corinthians 15:28; 1 Peter 4:11); the Spirit is sent by the Father and the Son to testify of the Son: “the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name … when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me” (John 14:16, 26; 15:26). Jesus says he’s going back to the Father, but then says he is always with his disciples through the Spirit he will send.
As the doctrine of the Trinity was carefully honed and articulated by early Christians, Francis Schaeffer observes, the realization dawned on successive generations that: “The Christians realized that in the Trinity, as it had been taught in the Bible, they had an answer that no one else had. They did not invent the Trinity to meet the need; the Trinity was already there and it met the needs.”
Not only does the Trinity meet the need of maintaining Scriptural integrity and harmony, but the related and dependent need for a solution to human philosophical problems, communication issues, and every interpersonal challenge among humans who are themselves created in the image of this God.