Questions about the Trinity

The Trinity: 1 + 1 + 1 - It just does not work!

The Father is God, and the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, but there is only one God. Wait a minute, some people say. "One plus one plus one makes one? That cant be true. It just does not work. "

Right, it does not work - and it should not. God is not a "thing" that could be added up. There can only be one who is omnipotent, omnipotent, omnipresent - so there can only be one God. In the spirit world, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are one, united in a way that material objects can not be. Our mathematics is based on material things; it does not always work in the limitless, spiritual dimension.

The Father is God and the Son is God, but there is only one God. This is not a family or committee of divine beings - a group can not say, "There is none like me" (Jes 43,10; 44,6; 45,5). God is only a divine being - more than one person, but only one God. The early Christians did not draw this idea from paganism or philosophy - they were virtually forced to do so by Holy Scripture.

Just as Scripture teaches that Christ is divine, so does she teach that the Holy Spirit is divine and personal. Whatever the Holy Spirit does, God does. The Holy Spirit is God, as the Son and the Father are - three persons who are perfectly united in one God: the Trinity.

The question of Christ's prayers

The question is often asked: Since God is one, why did Jesus have to pray to the Father? Behind this question is the assumption that the unity of God Jesus (who was God) did not allow to pray to the Father. God is one. So who did Jesus pray to? This picture ignores four important points which we need to clarify if we want to get a satisfactory answer to the question. The first point is that the statement "the Word was God" does not confirm that God was exclusively the Logos [the Word]. The word "God" in the expression "and God was the Word" (Joh 1,1) is not used as a proper name. The phrase means that the Logos was divine - that the Logos had the same nature as God - a being, a nature. It is a mistake to assume that the expression "the Logos was God" means that the Logos alone was God. From this point of view, this expression does not exclude that Christ prays to the Father. In other words, there is a Christ and there is a Father, and there is no incompatibility in Christ praying to the Father.

The second point to make clear is that the logo became flesh (Joh 1,14). This statement implies that the Logos of God actually became a human being - a literal, limited human, with all its characteristics and limitations that characterize humans. He had all the needs that go with human nature. He needed food to stay alive, he had spiritual and emotional needs, including the need to commune with God through prayer. This need will become clearer in the following.

The third point that needs clarification is his sinlessness. Prayer is not just for sinners; even a sinless person can and should praise God and seek His help. A human, limited being must pray to God, must have fellowship with God. Jesus Christ, a human being, had to pray to the unlimited God.

This raises the need to correct a fourth mistake made at the same point: the assumption that the need to pray is a proof that a person praying is no more than human. This assumption has crept in from a distorted view of prayer into the minds of many people - from the view that the imperfection of man is the only basis for prayer. This conception is not taken from the Bible or from anything else revealed by God. Adam should have prayed, even if he had not sinned. His sinlessness would not have made his prayers unnecessary. Christ prayed, even though he was perfect.

With the above clarifications in mind, the question can be answered. Christ was God, but he was not the Father (or the Holy Spirit); he could pray to his father. Christ was also a human being - a limited, literally limited human being; he had to pray to his father. Christ was also the new Adam - an example of the perfect man that Adam should have been; he was in constant fellowship with God. Christ was more than human - and prayer does not change that status; he prayed as the Son of God who had become man. The notion that prayer is inappropriate or unnecessary to one who is more than human is not derived from God's revelation.

by Michael Morrison

pdfQuestions about the Trinity