Sabbath: The Triune God

Read for This Week’s Study: Deut. 6:4Phil. 2:6Matt. 28:19Gen. 1:26, 27John 14–16.

Memory Text:

“But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (Jude 20, 21, NKJV).

Key Thought: Scripture contains references and hints to the deity and unity of the divine Godhead.

Though the word Trinity itself doesn’t appear in the Bible, the teaching definitely does. The doctrine of the Trinity, that God is One and composed of three “Persons,” is crucial because it is dealing with who God is, what He is like, how He works, and how He relates to the world. Most important, the deity of Christ is essential to the plan of salvation.In Scripture, there are three separate but interrelated types of evidence for the Trinity, or tri-unity of God: (1) evidence for the unity of God, that God is one; (2) evidence that there are three Persons who are God; (3) subtle textual hints of God’s three-in-oneness.

The distinctions among God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit found in the Bible must be understood as being the way God is in Himself, however difficult for our fallen minds to grasp. The “eternal heavenly dignitaries—God, and Christ, and the Holy Spirit,” as Ellen G. White calls them (Evangelism, p. 616), are equal but not identical or interchangeable.

Though some early Adventists struggled with the doctrine, our church today has taken a firm and unrelenting stand on this teaching. As Fundamental Belief number 2 says, “There is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a unity of three co-eternal Persons.”

Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, January 7.

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Sabbath: The Triune God — 56 Comments

  1. As an Adventist, I fail to reconcile with this concept of Trinity because personally I do not find biblical verses that support this. All we hear are inferences. But there are some verses that somehow clearly reject the Trinity. For example, 1 Corinthians 8:6 states "But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him" (KJV) - one God, the FATHER and one Lord, Jesus Christ. Sometimes, I think that our adventist pioneers had correctly rejected this doctrine which was 'created' in 325AD in the Nicene Council. How do we reconcile these facts with the trinity?

    • Bennet, I figure that with our finite minds, we should not expect to be able to understand all the mysteries of the infinite Creator God, but I think you can find some help on our page about the Trinity – Fundamental Belief 2

      I recommend checking out all the Bible references provided in the Fundamental Belief statement and reading all the comments that follow.

      • Personally I have a problem with the term "Trinity." Knowing its origins and the controversy surrounding it in the early church. I also have some concerns about how we define the "Godhead/Trinity." It sounds TO ROMAN Catholic for me. When one really looks at what the RCC teaches re the "trinity" it should make us all nervous. "My Catholic Faith" by Most Reverend Louis Laravoire Morrow explanation of the RC "Trinity" doctrine [link edited out] basically says the Father has to KNOW Himself for the Son to exist and continue to exist. The Holy Spirit's existence depends upon the Father and the Son KNOWING each other.

        When we look at what Mrs. White said, Christ is SELF-existing! Same with all three members of the Godhead! Makes us somewhat Polyestic!

        17, 18 (Isaiah 6:8; Philippians 2:6-8; see EGW on Mark 16:6). Christ Man's Surety.--Not one of the angels could have become surety for the human race: their life is God's; they could not surrender it. The angels all wear the yoke of obedience. They are the appointed messengers of Him who is the Commander of all heaven. But Christ is equal with God, infinite and omnipotent. He could pay the ransom for man's freedom. He is the eternal self-existing Son, on whom no yoke had come; and when God asked, "Whom shall I send?" He could reply, "Here am I; send Me." He could pledge Himself to become man's surety; for He could say that which the highest angel could not say,--I have power over My own life, "power to lay it down, and . . . power to take it again" (YI June 21, 1900). {5BC 1136.12}

        • Daniel, in my opinion it really doesn’t matter what another church teaches. Our faith must be based on what scripture says.

          Dr. Davidson pointed out in Thursday’s lesson, “The doctrine of the Trinity, far from being a piece of abstract speculation, is the inevitable conclusion that comes from a systematic survey of Scripture." That is the reason why the Seventh-day Adventist Church believes in the concept of the trinity.

          I believe there is one more thing that needs to be said here. We cannot expect to arrive at truth by selecting out only those texts that agree with what we want the Bible to say. The only way we can be certain of a doctrine is to consider all that the Bible has to say on the subject. In the case of the trinity the Bible speaks of God being one and yet the writers of the Bible talk about the Father and Jesus the son and of a Spirit that is closely related to them. We need, therefore, to draw a conclusion based on all of these things.

    • I agree, Bennett. The text you quote is adequate to show divine persons who are linked in the rest of the Bible as Father and Son since eternity, the Father being God and Jesus being the Son of God and so divine.
      Disapproving of the trinity doctrine and "trinity" label doesn't deny Jesus' deity. We simply accept what the Bible says about Jesus' divine Sonship. A full Bible study establishes this. Heb 1:1-3 is pretty clear that God's Son truly existed as his Son from eternity. Doing away with Jesus' eternal Sonship, within our SDA trinity doctrine, cancels all the Sonship proofs, especially in John's Gospel, for Jesus' full deity [edited]. We want the Biblical truth, and it says Jesus is the begotten Son of the infinite God since the days of eternity [edited].

      • Colin, you seem to charge that our Fundamental Belief 3 is "doing away with Jesus’ eternal Sonship." I consider such a charge unjustified. The statement is brief and reads thus:

        There is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a unity of three co-eternal Persons. God is immortal, all-powerful, all-knowing, above all, and ever present. He is infinite and beyond human comprehension, yet known through His self-revelation. He is forever worthy of worship, adoration, and service by the whole creation.

        Thus, the statement is wholly compatible with Christ's "eternal Sonship." Having said that, we must realize that God is not like us, but He used human language to teach us divine things. The problem is that there is no exact human analogy. A human father always exists for a length of time before he can become a father.

        Thus we must recognize that God was trying to communicate something of the nature of sonship, other than the obvious human counterpart of a child of the father. The original language regarding Christ being the "only begotten of the Father" (John 1:14) stressess the uniqueness of the Son of God.

        Believers in the Creator God are also called "sons of God" (Gen. 6:2) and the representatives from created worlds are called sons of God (Job 1:6).

        But Christ is unique. He is so exactly like the Father that He could say, "Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father." (John 14:9 NKJV)

        Thus the Trinity doctrine, as stated in our Fundamental Belief 3 is a good statement to represent the relationship without confusion. It does not deny sonship, but neither does it limit the relationship to something like that between a human son and father.

        • Thank you for reiterating our current theology. [edited out last part of paragraph]

          Perhaps one of her most famous statements - below, it shows her consistent reference to Christ as the only begotten of the Father in a literal sense, since the days of eternity, as stated in PP 34, too.

          "A complete offering has been made; for “God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son,”—not a son by creation, as were the angels, nor a son by adoption, as is the forgiven sinner, but a Son begotten in the express image of the Father’s person, and in all the brightness of his majesty and glory, one equal with God in authority, dignity, and divine perfection. In him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." (ST May 1895, par.3)

          This, also, speaks of a literal family relationship: the plain reading is evident in PP 34.1, too, so should we not acknowledge what the Bible says?
          "God is the Father of Christ; Christ is the Son of God. To Christ has been given an exalted position. He has been made equal with the Father. All the counsels of God are opened to His Son." (8T 268.3)

          Grammatical arguments over "monogenes" against "only begotten" fail to recall that native Greek speakers agreed on "begotten not made". Almost all Christians, today, still agree with that, including Strong's. Let's think about the Sister White comments on Christ's Sonship, too.

        • Hello Colin,

          I would like to ask what point Ellen White was making in her article and why she specifically says that Jesus was, "not a son by creation, as were the angels, nor a son by adoption, as is the forgiven sinner?" If He wasn't created and wasn't adopted then what is He?

          Maybe a few other quotes from Ellen White might clarify some things.

          "Jesus declared, 'I am the resurrection, and the life.' In Christ is life, original, unborrowed, underived. 'He that hath the Son hath life.' The divinity of Christ is the believer's assurance of eternal life." The Desire of Ages, p. 530 (1898)

          "'In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.' It is not physical life that is here specified, but eternal life, the life which is exclusively the property of God. The Word, who was with God, and who was God, had this life. Physical life is something which each individual received. It is not eternal or immortal; for God, the Lifegiver, takes it again. Man has no control over his life. But the life of Christ was unborrowed. No one can take this life from Him. 'I lay it down of myself,' He said. In Him was life, original, unborrowed, underived. This life is not inherent in man. He can possess it only through Christ. He cannot earn it; it is given him as a free gift if he will believe in Christ as his personal Saviour. 'This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.' John 17:3. This is the open fountain of life for the world" (ST Feb. 13, 1912).

          "But while God's Word speaks of the humanity of Christ when upon this earth, it also speaks decidedly regarding His pre-existence. The Word existed as a divine being, even as the eternal Son of God, in union and oneness with His Father. From everlasting He was the Mediator of the covenant, the one in whom all nations of the earth, both Jews and Gentiles, if they accepted Him, were to be blessed. 'The Word was with God, and the Word was God' (John 1:1). Before men or angels were created, the Word was with God, and was God.
          The world was made by Him, 'and without him was not any thing made that was made' (John 1:3). If Christ made all things, He existed before all things. The words spoken in regard to this are so decisive that no one need be left in doubt. Christ was God essentially, and in the highest sense. He was with God from all eternity, God over all, blessed forevermore. {1SM 247.2-3}

          Please notice her use of the words eternal, everlasting, and eternity. Those words denote infinity to the point that there was no beginning, He always existed along side the Father with a life that was unborrowed and underived.

      • Eternal Sonship -- what does it mean?
        Father and Son since eternity.

        There never was a time when both were not in existance.

        It's eternity going forever into the past that is the mystery we as humans can't understand, but we can believe. Humans seem to want a "beginning" where there is no beginning only eternity.

        When known history began God the Father and the Word (Christ) were already there. (Gen. 1:1 and John 1:1)
        They have always been there -- eternally.

        And I agree with Inge, that God is trying to communicate something other than the obvious human counterpart of a child born of the father and mother. In the same way that the church being refered to as Christ's bride -- it's communicating something other than the human counterpart. YET, it brings home a deep and tender love relationship within the Godhead with the closest thing we as humans can understand.

        Nor does "sonship" negate the fact that Christ is truly God as the Father is truly God. Rather it establishes it.

        The Jews understood this!

        See John 10:29-33
        When Jesus claimed God as His Father, they took up stones to stone Him because they thought he was a mere man making Himself God.

        He is co-regent with the Father --
        King of kings and Lord of lords. (Rev. 19:16)
        Worthy of the worship of all creatures. (Philippians 2:10)
        And only the true God is worthy of worship of all creatures, no one else. (Luke 4:8)

        Scripture, as far as I"m concerned gives an OVERWHELMING support to a Godhead that is comprised of three persons.

    • Since no one else addressed the anti-trinitarian stance of some of our pioneers, I shall give it a try ...

      The history of the Seventh-day Adventist church goes back to a group of fairly young people who had heeded the call of William Miller to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus in October 1844. These had been members of various churches, with James White and Joseph Bates, the foremost leaders, having come out of the "Christian Connection" which had a strongly anti-trinitarian stance. (This included a belief in the sub-ordinate position of Jesus, with some initially believing Him to be a created being, then moving towards Jesus not "created" but "begotten" some time before this world began.)

      When they met together to study further they concentrated on the meaning of the prophecies that had been the focus of Miller's message. Examining their beliefs on the nature of God was not high on their agenda. So naturally, their writings reflected this anti-trinitarian stance.

      But gradually, their understanding grew. And this resulted in a move towards accepting the concept of one God in three Persons. But it took time. It is beyond the scope of this comment to trace all the history. However, if you are interested, you can read a brief overview of "The Trinity in Seventh-day Adventist History." You can find a little more detail in a couple articles by Jerry A. Moon, on =""The Adventist Trinity Debate,"beginning with "Part1: Historical Overview."

      It is misleading to say that the trinity doctrine was "created" in 325 AD. We believe it was inherent in the teachings of Paul, though he did not use the term "trinity." The Latin form of "Trinitas" was apparently used first by Theophilus, a Patriarch of Antioch, who died in 181 A.D. The oldest known exposition of trinitarian doctrine using the term "Trinity" is by Tertullian (160-c.220 AD)
      Note that this means that the doctrine of the Trinity, using essentially the same word, was stated by the early 200's at the latest, and possibly earlier.

      When the Council of Nicea met in 325 A.D. this was codified as part of the Nicene Creed, which reads thus:

      We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father [the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God], Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; By whom all things were made [both in heaven and on earth]; Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down and was incarnate and was made man;He suffered, and the third day he rose again, ascended into heaven; From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. And in the Holy Ghost. [But those who say: 'There was a time when he was not;' and 'He was not before he was made;' and 'He was made out of nothing,' or 'He is of another substance' or 'essence,' or 'The Son of God is created,' or 'changeable,' or 'alterable'--they are condemned by the holy catholic and apostolic Church.]

      Note that "catholic" in this confession does not refer to the Catholic Church, but means "universal" or "world-wide."

      The wording of the Adventist Fundamental Belief on the Trinity does not use the term "of one substance" but uses "a unity of three Persons":

      There is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a unity of three co-eternal Persons. God is immortal, all-powerful, all-knowing, above all, and ever present. He is infinite and beyond human comprehension, yet known through His self-revelation. He is forever worthy of worship, adoration, and service by the whole creation. (Deut. 6:4; Matt. 28:19; II Cor. 13:14; Eph. 4:4-6; 1 Peter 1:2; 1 Tim. 1:17; Rev. 14:7.)

      There is nothing inherently suspect in the term "Trinity" which refers to a unity of three persons. Those who believe in one God in three Persons are known as Trinitarians.

      Unitarians are those who believe that God is only one Person, as does Islam.

      Binitarians are those who believe that both the Father and the Son are divine Persons, but that the Holy Spirit is not a person. (Several who write on this blog write like binitarians.)

      Tri-theism describes a belief in three distinct Gods with different minds and different personalities. For instance, the Father may be seen as a hard Judge, while the Son is seen as the loving Savior.

      By contrast, the Adventist concept of the Trinity is that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit represent a total unity of mind, character and purpose. In Jesus we see the mind and character of God. That's why Jesus could say "He that has seen Me, has seen the Father." (John 14:9) And, just as Jesus said He did not speak of Himself (John 12:49), so He said that the Holy Spirit would not speak of Himself. (John 16:13) Since the Holy Spirit is totally united to the Father and the Son in mind, character and purpose, Christ can be "present" to the believer in the person of the Holy Spirit, seeing that Christ has limited Himself to a human body through the incarnation.

      For Christ's own clarification of His relationship to the Father and the Holy Spirit, I highly recommend a prayerful reading of these chapters: John 14, John 15, John 16 and John 17, preferably in several versions of the Bible.

      • I just have a question for Inge . When Jesus was speaking with Nicodemus, he told him in John 3:13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. The last part of the sentence allow us to see that Jesus has and still having the omnipresence attribute. Also this is categorical to say that Jesus is fully God, so he can be present everywhere. Also Mat 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. So when two are reunited in the name of Jesus there he is, he himself nor the Holy Spirit, so I don't agree that Jesus lost his omnipresence.

    • 1 John 5:7 says it
      1Jn 5:7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. kjv

      Brethren, dont misquote 1 Cor 8:6, it says BUT THERE IS ONE GOD((Deut 6:4,1jn 5:7), and these are)THE FATHER, of whom all things were Created, and we in him; and one LORD, JESUS CHRIST whom are all things, and we by him”

      Paul (a monotheistic Jew and pharisee) equates Christ to the Father Phil 2 vs 6 and Christ himself said it John 10:30. and he bids us to teach all nations and baptise them in the name of the father, the son, and the holy spirit. matt 28 : 19.

      No wonder John, the beloved of Jesus wrote more on his deity in John 14-16 and again makes the trinity in bold in 1 John 5:7

      LETS NOT QUESTION THE DIETY OF CHRIST, BRETHREN HE IS OUR GOD...Ex 20 presents GOD's Commandments and Christ calls them his! If you love me keep my commandments John 14:15

  2. I will let scripture answer B.Kanzuki.
    John 1:1-4 and John 1:14,18
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.All things were made through Him and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
    verse 14: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
    verse 18: No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
    If you jump to John 3:16, the Son of God being referred to here, is of course, the Lord Jesus Christ.
    It is clear as day, that Jesus is also God, co equal with the Father and the 2nd Person of the Trinity.
    above verses are also good arguments for Jehovah's witnesses who deny His divine nature. Happy Sabbath.

      • Brother Kelly, I am not aware of any passage in the Bible that claims that Jesus is His own Father. But perhaps you can enlighten me if such a text exists and I have somehow missed it.

        When it comes to understanding the concept of the Trinity, I like how John Wesley sought to explain it in his diaries. He wrote that it was like three candles that all have distinct flames yet only produce one, inseparable light.

      • We may also ask, how is it possible for Christ to be "in the Father" and the Father to be "in Christ." Yet this is precisely what Jesus claimed in two separate instances: John 10:38, John 14:10,11.

        (When Jesus walked this planet, He addressed God in heaven as "Father." Yet the prophecy of the Messiah in Isaiah 9:6 NASB says that "He will be called Wonderful, Counselor [same as the Holy Spirit], Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.")

        When it comes to understanding God's nature, we are on holy ground, and we had best take off our shoes and be still.

    • Jesus' deity isn't in question [edited] his eternal Sonship is. Is Jesus truly the only begotten Son of God since the days of eternity?
      Sister White is clear in attributing Prov 8:22-30 to Christ in his pre-existence, not just Jn 1:1. What do you think?

      • Colin, when EGW uses Prov. 8, she isn't trying to prove that Christ had a beginning. Rather she is proving His pre-existance.

        Here is a paragraph preceding her use of Prov. 8. Notice as well, that she (as well as the Bible) says Christ is God.

        " While God's Word speaks of the humanity of Christ when upon this earth, it also speaks decidedly regarding His pre-existence. The Word existed as a divine being, even as the eternal Son of God, in union and oneness with His Father. From everlasting He was the Mediator of the covenant, the one in whom all nations of the earth, both Jews and Gentiles, if they accepted Him, were to be blessed. "The Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1). Before men or angels were created, the Word was with God, and was God. {LHU 16.2}

  3. To me much of what we understand is found by piecing together a collage of statements many of which may not be very clear. Besides, sometimes there are statements that seem to be contradictory that we have to make sense of.

    In the case of the trinity concept there is no direct statements about it but we can derive a good sound understanding of by bringing together numerous statements. The following text in this case is good advise, "Whom will he teach knowledge? And whom will he make to understand the message? Those just weaned from milk? Those just drawn from the breasts? For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little" (Isa 28:9-10 NKJV).

    • Dear Brother Chindebvu, I'm not sure I understand your point. You quote the verse regarding "our" image which is plural. But it seems like maybe you are saying that you don't believe God is plural. Maybe I don't understand you.

  4. The concept of the Triune God teaches that there are THREE distinct persons together in ONE unified Godhead, One in substance, character, purpose, co-eternal, and equal, in absolute unity and closeness, yet three persons, working in total harmony together. The NAME of the GODHEAD is "JEHOVAH".

    "The Father is all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and is invisible to mortal sight. The Son is all the fullness of the Godhead manifested....The Comforter that Christ promised to send after He ascended to heaven, is the Spirit in all the fullness of the Godhead....There are three living persons of the heavenly trio; in the name of these three great powers --the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit--those who receive Christ by living faith are baptized, and these powers will co-operate with the obedient subjects of heaven in their efforts to live the new life in Christ.-- Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 7, pp. 62, 63. (1905) {Ev 614-615}

    Biblical? Yes!

    Deut 6:4
    "Hear oh Israel, the Lord our God is ONE Lord.

    Have you ever wondered why it says, "the Lord our God is ONE Lord" and that "There is no other God but One. For even if there are so called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords) yet for us there is ONE GOD; the Father of whom are all things and we for Him; and ONE LORD, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and we through him exist.1 Corinthians 8:4-6

    ONE LORD, ONE GOD, "the Lord our God is ONE Lord" yet here we see TWO, and in other places we see three? It's because GOD is ONE in three persons.

    "In the beginning God...." Before there was time-- there was God
    "In the beginning was the Word..." Before there was time---there was the Word.

    John 1:1-4,14
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.
    All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
    And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,

    John 10:30
    I and My Father are One

    John 14:7-11
    If you have known me, (Christ) you should have known my Father also: and from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.
    Philip said to him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us.
    Jesus said to him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet have thou not known me, Philip? He that has seen me has seen the Father; and how is it that you say, Show us the Father?
    Don't you believe I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwells in me, he does the works.
    Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me:

    God the Father bears witness to Christ’s deity when He addresses Him as God.

    Heb. 1:8-10
    “Unto the Son, he say, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever…and thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of thine hands.”

    Phil. 2.5-7
    Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form (very nature) of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation,

    And Jesus says through the prophet Isaiah

    Isaiah 48:17
    From the beginning; from the time that it was, I was there. And now the Lord God and His Spirit have sent ME. Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer.

    Deut 6:4
    "Hear oh Israel, the Lord our God is ONE Lord.

    • Dear Sister Ulrike, your use of capital letters in the sentence, "The NAME of the GODHEAD is “JEHOVAH,”" could be taken to mean that you are promoting this as an absolute truth. I published an article about this on SSNET last summer. You can read it at
      I would be interested in any feedback you wish to share.

    • This a very good discussion. The way I looked at it is just like when a man and a woman get married. The Bible says they become one, but we all know that they can never be in one body. In order for the marriage to go a long way they have to come to an understanding or an agreement to work things out.

    • Dear Sister Ulrike, the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ cannot be in disputed, given the Biblical evidence. To assert, as does the doctrine of the trinity, that "the concept of the Triune God teaches that there are THREE distinct persons together in ONE unified Godhead", takes away simple certainties like 1 Cor 8:6, "There is but one God, the Father..., and one Lord Jesus Christ," as was quoted in full earlier. It is wrong to put on one spot the nature of God, the Godhead, and the members of the Godhead, to make a God of three persons. That's unbiblical confusion [edited]. The Godhead isn't three divine people in one Being, but the one nature each, separately possesses - God is pragmatic, not mystical.
      The SOP quote you provided is perfect: the Father has one, begotten Son, and the infinite Spirit of their divinity, the Godhead, proceeds from them to us. This is the simplicity of the heavenly Dignitaries, the divine family of Father and Son who share the Holy Spirit, their omnipresence in the fulness of the Godhead.
      Concepts of three in one, triunity or trinity, don't fit [edited].

  5. To me the idea of Jesus being an actual son of God in a physical sense is a theological problem. Finite human beings come into the world by way of a physical birth and have trouble with the idea that Jesus is equal to the Father in every way. To them when the Bible says “son” it means exactly that because we have no physical evidence of anything else happening.

    But the Bible is spiritual (John 6:63) and conveys things that are beyond what we know physically like eternity and immortality. When dealing with the idea of the Father – Son relationship the Bible establishes the relationship through the words it uses. For instance, in the Gospel of John the King James Version and the New king James Versions unfortunately use the word “begotten” which is translated from the Greek word, “monogenes.” The word literally means one of a kind or unique and really has nothing to do with actual birth as Heb 11:17 shows because Isaac wasn’t the only child born to Abraham nor the first but was preeminent as a first born in a theological sense.

    Begotten is also used in other parts of the New Testament writings. Paul for instance said, “I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in my chains” (Philemon 1:10 NKJV) and again of the Corinthian church, “for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel” (1 Cor 4:15 NKJV). In these two verses the Greek word “gennao” is used which in these verses obviously has nothing to do with birth but as a source or beginning. So the word begotten doesn’t have to suggest that Christ was born or somehow came into existence by the hand of the Father. That would make him created and scripture states that, “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made (John 1:3 NKJV).

    An apparent problem happens in verses such as, “So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it was He who said to Him: ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You’” (Heb 5:5 NKJV). But the writer of Hebrews is talking about Christ becoming High Priest which according to Hebrews happened after the cross. Furthermore the other two New Testament references to Ps 2 (Acts 13:13 and Heb 1:5) are also interpreted as referring to Jesus of the New Testament especially the resurrection (Acts 13:13).

    In conclusion, Jesus cannot be said to have come into existence after the Father. He was equal in every way and had all the attributes of the Father including eternal existence, without beginning or end.

    • Question: When Scripture declares Christ to be the ONLY Begotten Son of God is it referring to His divinity OR His Humanity? IF Divinity it implies a beginning - IF His humanity then it fits. What say ye?

      • There is a tiny split in Christendom on this one, especially among Protestants, but it's a tiny minority which favours the incarnation as when Christ is begotten of the Father while becoming a man. We're formally - we've voted on it - in that minority, now.

        Given all the Scriptures on this, and SOP as well, the majority viewpoint - withOUT voting - holds up: Christ's Sonship, of eternal pre-existence, is real in our literature of the past, and the reasons listed by Tyler for how we think now - it appears very much that he's explaining our current theology, don't fit with all of Ellen White's statements or the sweep of Bible statements.

        Was there a beginning for Christ? His deity is infinite, begotten of the Father, who is personally the infinite God - that's how Sister White wrote it. His Sonship is real, even challenged - yes, challenged - by Lucifer...unsuccessfully, so his Sonship has a beginning, but his deity as God's Word does not. That's how I've personally pieced together the threads of our pioneers, including Ellen White: it may be better than that, too, though. We can't say, but the record stands.

        • Colin, may I suggest Ellen White's statement in the Desire of Ages, p 530, "In Christ is life, original, unborrowed, underived. 'He that hath the Son hath life.' 1 John 5:12." To me Christ's existence stands alone apart from the Father. That doesn't mean that they aren't one what it does mean is that they are equal in every way, that one is not subordinate to the other.

          When Christ condescended to also become man according to Philippians 2 some things changed but not his standing as an equal with the Father. His authority is as that of the Father because the Father was in Him and He in the Father (Jn 14:10).

        • Tyler, I appreciate your comments, but I must question your evident assumption that subordination necessarily means inequality.

          "For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself..." John 5:26 (NKJV)

          While I do believe that the Son has always been the Self-existent One, this Scripture tells me that even the self-existence of Christ is by the will of the Father. For me, this alone is sufficient evidence to prove Colin's assertion regarding the eternal Sonship of Christ. Where I must differ with Colin is in what I perceive as an attempt to fully explain the Godhead, and especially in his use of arguments from silence (as purported evidence against the Holy Spirit's personhood), with reference to the Bible verses that mention only the Father and Son.

          • It seems to me that the only time subordination does not mean inequality is when/if the subordination is voluntary. It is possible for totally equal persons to voluntary subordinate themselves to one another.

            However, anyone who is subordinate by nature is, by definition, not "equal" to the one to whom he is subordinate -- unless we create our own definitions.

            The usual definition of subordinate is as follows:

            1. placed in or belonging to a lower order or rank.
            2. of less importance; secondary.
            3. subject to or under the authority of a superior.
            4. subservient or inferior.
            5. subject; dependent.

            In fact, the word is derived from the prefix "sub-" which means inferior or lower and the root "order." So someone who is "subordinate" is literally of a "lower order." Synonyms include "inferior,ay" among other things.

            Thus, any interpretation of Scripture that sees Christ as subordinate to the Father by nature denies the equality of the Son.

            Scripture teaches that Christ voluntarily left His position of equality with the Father to lower Himself to the position of a created being, going so far as to lower Himself to experience the most ignominious form of death known to man at the time He lived on this planet. (See Phil 2:6,7 CEV)

            It is interesting to note that in quoting Ps 2:7 in both Heb 1:5 NIV and Heb 5:5 NIV, an accurate translation reads: " “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.” Note that existence is implied before the second Person of the Godhead became "my Son" or, as the KJV reads, before He was "begotten." We can only know as much as Scripture tells us, and that is that Christ condescended voluntarily to the position of Son.

            I believe that Scripture teaches that by nature, Christ is God is immortal, all-powerful, all-knowing, above all, ever present and fully equal with the Father. He voluntarily gave up that equality when He became incarnate as a human being. He went back to heaven to reclaim His position "in the heavenly places," but He took with Him the human body in which He lived on this planet. Thus He gave up forever the quality of omnipresence which He had before the incarnation.

            This voluntary subordination of Jesus Christ is an expression of the law of life for earth and heaven -- the law of self-sacrificing love. The Apostle Paul understood this to be the foundation of the exaltation of Christ by which He gained "the name which is above every other name that at the name of Jesus 'every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Phil 2:9,10 NASB)

        • @ A R.
          Thank you for your comments. On the Holy Spirit, we can and do know very little! 🙂 I'm keeping it as a Spirit, the infinite Spirit of God and of Christ: I'm not after knowing everything about the Holy Spirit or God the Father himself, just keeping the lid on too much detail and extrapolation.

          Seeing the activity of the Spirit is not seeing someone other than Christ - it is Christ's Spirit, as the Bible says, that is, Christ by his omnipresent, his divine Spirit. I'll stop there. 🙂

        • Dear Inge,

          Thank you for expressing your views. You have said that you could conceive of subordination among equals, if the subordination were voluntary. So, in this case, I suppose that your five definitions would not apply — especially since dictionary definitions would have to do with relations between sinful human beings, and not within the Godhead.

          I have no doubt that the subordination of the Son to the Father is voluntary. John 5:26, as already mentioned, makes it crystal clear to me that being the ultimate authority is simply a permanent part of the Father’s role, agreed upon by all of the Co-equals. John 10:18 possibly also conveys the same concept. As for the question of just when such an agreement may have been reached, I would only question as to who can comprehend an eternity past.

          In our usual way of thinking, such a permanent arrangement may not seem consistent with equality. I would only say here that there are many such paradoxes in the Scriptures. I, for one, dare not insist on fully understanding the words of Christ before I am willing to accept them.

          When Christ condescended to take on the (human) nature of a servant, I do not believe that He actually gave up His equality with God. In fact, the Jews were ready to stone Him for making Himself equal with God. He certainly did set aside His prerogatives over the created universe, for a time, so that He could give us an example, and so that He could suffer and die for us.

          May His name indeed be exalted above every name!

        • Colin, I do disagree with you on your ideas concerning the Holy Spirit. It is true that Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” (Mat 18:20 NKJV) but that is the same as saying, “I am in the Father and the Father in Me” (John 14:11 NKJV) only with the Holy Spirit instead.

          When Jesus said, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you” (John 16:7 NKJV). Why didn’t Jesus simply say “My spirit” rather than “Helper” or “Him.” In fact Jesus uses “He” or “Him” some nine times in the six verses following Jn 14:11. Never does He use “My.” While Jesus does that in these verses He uses “My” at the cross, “He said, ‘Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit'" (Luke 23:46 NKJV). Jesus is not confused about what spirit He is talking about.

      • Thank you, Daniel, for trying to clarify things. However, I must beg to differ with your assumptions. I believe that, if this were a reference to the divinity of Christ, it would merely reflect the inadequacy of human language to describe the infinite God. I do not believe that it would actually imply a beginning.

  6. This doctrine on trinity has been classified as a great mystery or riddle by some SDA teachers. However we are not asked anywhere in the Bible to believe riddles or mysteries. We have been asked to believe in, have relationship with and to know One God Yahweh and one Son of God Yahshua Messiah: 1 John 1:3; John 17:3; John 14:1; I Cor. 8:6.[Deleted]
    Proper wording of Deuteronomy 6:4 is not "Hear o Israel "trinity" our gods are one god" but:
    "Hear o Israel YAHWEH our God YAHWEH is One".
    Just the same as The Son of God repeated in Mark 12:29

    • Lisa, I wonder what you would say to the Apostle Paul who frequently writes of "mystery" in connection with the truths of God. (Just a few examples: I Tim. 3:16 KJV; I Tim. 3:9 KJV; Col. 4:3 KJV; Col. 2:2 KJV; Col. 1:27 KJV; Eph. 6:19 KJV, etc.)

      When we approach a discussion of the nature of the Godhead, we had best tread very softly, realizing that it is beyond our comprehension. For, if you could comprehend all there is of God, He would no longer be God, but be less than we are. Thus the nature of God is a true mystery -- how He can be one God, yet three persons, as the Bible indicates in a number of ways already referenced.

      Ellen White also reminds us that "'The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever.' Deuteronomy 29:29. The revelation of Himself that God has given in His word is for our study. This we may seek to understand. But beyond this we are not to penetrate. The highest intellect may tax itself until it is wearied out in conjectures regarding the nature of God, but the effort will be fruitless. This problem has not been given us to solve. No human mind can comprehend God. None are to indulge in speculation regarding His nature. Here silence is eloquence. The Omniscient One is above discussion." Ministry of Healing, p. 429.

      The current statement of our Fundamental Belief of the Trinity is carefully worded to avoid going beyond what the Bible says while including all we may know of the relationship of the members of the Godhead. Beyond that, silence is advised.

      • I do not know if we can be certain to know that this mystery that Paul is talking about in the verses is "trinity". In my opinion, there are some mysteries that our finite minds cannot grasp due to our limitation by space and time and we all know that God is not limited by space and time. That is why the Psalmist in Psa 14:1 (KJV) says "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God..." However in verse 2 of the same chapter the psalmist continues to write "The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God" - with keywords UNDERSTAND and SEEK God. We should thus understand the God we believe in as revealed to us through His Son Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.

      • there is only two mysteries. The mystery of iniquity, and the mystery of the incarnation; the Godhead is not a mystery. The others mysteries Paul talked about are explained.Catholics say that Trinity is a mystery, but I would like to ask is there really a mystery on knowing that there are three persons on the heavenly trio, they are equal, eternal and the three are but one God, also that all three are interesting in the salvation of all us. The Catholic church says the trinity is a mystery, but where on the Bible we find that the Godhead is a mystery? I personally think that all about Godhead pertain to us and that we are able to understand who God is.

        • Iisa, you said, “there is only two mysteries. The mystery of iniquity, and the mystery of the incarnation.” It seems to me that the Bible speaks of more than just those two mysteries:

          For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Eph 5:30-32 NKJV).

          that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ (Col 2:2 NKJV)

          And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness (1 Tim 3:16 NKJV).

          You speak of the Godhead not being a mystery. I don't think you really mean that you know all about God, I don't think any of us do, I know I don’t. God is infinite in every way and by definition infinity is beyond our understanding. There certainly are things we can and should know about God but to know everything about God would make us God and I don’t think we have come to that point yet, in fact I don’t think we will ever come to that point. That is why even the Catholics recognize that God is beyond our understanding except for the little bit He has chosen to reveal of Himself.

    • Hi, Lisa

      I don't think anyone has any problems with what Deuteronomy 6:4 says but rather with what it means. For instance, it could have a similar meaning to "one stop shopping." Come to God for all your needs. Whereas other cultures at the time Deuteronomy was written had one god for weather, another for fertility, another for war, etc. Instead of many different gods for many different purposes, all purposes could be addressed by God. The current pantheon had just been replaced. There is contextual support for that interpretation.

      Anyone who has ever counted off for intramural sports also knows that "one" can represent the team you are on as opposed to the "twos" or "threes." In that case one could mean God's team as opposed to the other teams out there. A case could be made for this contextually as well. This interpretation could have room for different persons all part of team One.

      I hope you can understand my point that what seems obvious on the surface can have a far richer and deeper spirituality to it than might first be noticed.

    • Lisa yes Deuteronomy 6:4 does indeed say "Hear of Israel YAHWEH our God YAHWEH is One" but what you seem to have overlooked is literally it says "Hear of Israel YAHWEH our Elohiym (plural - Gods) YAHWEH is One (united - Strongs #H0259)."

  7. I have been reading what Colin has to say about what he calls the "eternal Sonship" of Jesus. I feel that he has shared solid support for the concept, and I personally have no problem with it. However, if one were to use this concept as an argument against the concept of the Trinity, I should find that problematic. The human logic behind any such attempt would, in my view, require a complete knowledge of things which have not been revealed to us, and which (as I perceive) are far beyond our understanding. I suggest that we had better let God be God, and not try to bring Him down to our human level of understanding.

    • A R., I'm not against three persons possessed of deity, but the SDA doctrine of the trinity - the Nicene Creed is different, again - cuts out the "only begotten" Sonship as having any real sense in eternity. Logical objections about eternity and deity may fail to notice the natural link between Father & Son which is the basis for a monotheistic Godhead in both Father and Son, as that is all the Bible says: as Son of God, the Son is equal to God. Thus, there are three persons in whom is the fulness of the Godhead, separately - same substance but personally separate. Holding to Jesus' real, infinite, eternal Sonship, after reading about definitions of doctrinal teaching held by us, is a point of difference I've noticed with that doctrine. Yet, holding to Jesus' deity in verity without endorsing "the trinity" DOCTRINE is Biblical, where his deity is based on his Sonship of- and equality with God his Father.

  8. Thank you brothers and sisters for the spirited discussion. Very enlightening. I do remember one of the blind persons that Jesus had he healed was asked by the pharisees, "by what power had Jesus healed him, that of God or belzeebub?" The man's answer was very simplistic. "whether by God or belzeebub, i do not care. What i know is that I was blind but now I see".

    I can be equally simplistic and say, " I was a sinner and the Spirit of God searched me, found me and brought me to Jesus. Jesus shed His blood for the remission of my sins and I have peace with the Father. The Father will send Jesus Christ to redeem me in that glorious appearing and i shall be with Him forever. The throne of God shall be in the New Earth. And i shall understand better by and by". Praise the Lord!!

  9. There is no question about the divinity of Jesus Christ or more being the 2nd person of the Godhead. I will only qoute few scriptures (KJV) which clearly tell us that Jesus (God the Son) and God the Father are clearly one.
    Isaiah 9:6, For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

    Matthew 1:23, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

    I also don't have a problem with the Holy Spirit being the 3rd person of the Godhead. The problem I have is the word or label "Trinity". Where did this word originate and what does it mean? What informed its choice to be used in referring to the 3 persons of the Godhead? I do have a serious problem when we start referring to the Godhead as "Trinity", as in the title. This word doesn't exist in the bible and God has given us enough words/names/titles referring to the Godhead. And I see the lesson from the part of Tuesday talking of "Three Persons of the Godhead..." and "...all three Persons of the Trinity...".

    Lastly, the word "deity" is another one which I need clarity on the choice and the use of this word, I learn of Deism referring to acknowledgement of God who has no influence in people lives. If Deity refer to God, and deity to god or goddess, so to me Deity/deity is connected to Deism. How does one justify referring to God as Deity but not the one of Deism?

    • Boykie, thank you for your comment and affirmation of the unity of the Godhead.

      There are many words we use today that are not in the Bible. "Seventh-day Adventist" is one of those terms, but we use it because it identifies who we are and what we believer.

      In the same manner, "trinity" identifies a particular belief. It is a combination of the prefix "tri" meaning "three" and "unity." This forms "tri-unity" which is shortened to "Trinity," a very meaningful term to describe a God who reveals Himself as three Persons and is yet one God because of the total unity of nature, attributes, purpose, activity, character and more. For instance, Jesus could say, "He who has seen me has seen the Father." (John 14:9) Though some have used marriage as an equivalent -- because God said the two shall be "one" or a "unity" -- there is no true human equivalent. So a new word was formed to describe this truth.

      If you prefer to avoid the word "trinity" and use "Godhead" instead, that is your privilege. There's no real difference, except that Trinity affirms that there are three members of the Godhead, not just two, as some seem to believe.

      "Deity" is a general word referring to God or gods. There may be heathen "deities," just like heathen "gods." But when we Christians refer to "God" or the "Deity," we mean the Creator God.

      Deism refers to a belief in the existence of a God who made this world and then left it to function on auto-pilot, never interfering with life on this planet. Deists thus believe in a very impersonal God or godlike first cause. By definition, deists to not believe in miracles or prophecy, for instance.They do not believe that God became incarnate in Christ, and they certainly do not believe in the Trinity.

      • I have the same problem that Boykie has, Trinity and Godhead are no the same, in fact when one bring the term trinity to a conversation we can think that we are referring to the Catholic teaching on the trinity which is against the biblical concept on the Godhead. We need to clarify this concept and talk about the Godhead nor the trinity, and there is no any validity to say that the term trinity does no exist or similar because one thing is the trinity and another the Godhead.

        • Iisa, both you and Boykie seem to say that the term trinity came from the Roman Catholic church. They certainly use the term as we all know but according to Wikipedia the term was used quite a bit before the Roman Catholic church was organized which we consider to be in the sixth century:

          “The first of the early church fathers recorded as using the word Trinity was Theophilus of Antioch writing in the late second century. He defines the Trinity as God, His Word (Logos) and His Wisdom (Sophia) in the context of a discussion of the first three weeks of creation. The first defence of the doctrine of the Trinity was in the early third century by the early church father Tertullian. He explicitly defined the Trinity as Father, Son and Holy Spirit and defended the Trinitarian theology against the ‘Praxean’ heresy.” (Wikipedia article on “Tinity”

          There are various differences in understanding when using this term which is more descriptive than theological. You can see even on this blog there is a wide range of understanding within the Adventist church. Here is the Catholic definition of the term:

          “The Trinity is the term employed to signify the central doctrine of the Christian religion -- the truththat in the unity of the Godhead there are Three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, these Three Persons being truly distinct one from another.

          Thus, in the words of the Athanasian Creed : "the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and yet there are not three Gods but one God." In this Trinity of Persons the Son is begotten of the Father by an eternal generation, and the Holy Spirit proceeds by an eternal procession from the Father and the Son. Yet, notwithstanding this difference as to origin, the Persons are co-eternal and co-equal: all alike are uncreated and omnipotent” (from “Catholic Online”, article on “The Blessed Trinity”

          Notice here that the only difference between the official Adventist understanding of the Godhead and theirs is in the origin everything else is the same. A very good theological explanation of the official position of the Adventist church is given in “The Handbook of Seventh-Day Adventist Theology”:

          “Within the human context the father-son relationship involves the generation of the son from the father and mother. Arius (see IX. B. 4) affirmed the creation of the Son by the Father. Even though this position was rejected as heretical, orthodox Christian teaching kept a subordinationist emphasis built into its concept about the eternal generation of the Son (see VII. B. 4, 5). The generation of the Son from the Father cannot be analogically deduced from the process of human generation. Such a deduction would produce a speculative theory without any ground in revelation. However, some biblical expressions seem to suggest some kind of generation; for instance, when God the Son is called the “first-born” (prōtotokos, Col. 1:15; Rom. 8:29; Heb.1:6; Rev. 1:5) and “only begotten” (monogenēs, John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9 [KJV]). However, prōtotokos is also used in a metaphorical sense (LXX of Ex. 4:22; Ps. 89:27) and when applied to Christ expresses superiority and preeminence. In a similar vein, monogenēs does not contain the idea of begetting but rather of uniqueness and, when applied to Christ, emphasizes His unique relationship with the Father. On the other hand, Hebrews 1:5 gives no idea of physical or spiritual generation. There is, therefore, no ground within the biblical understanding of the Godhead for the idea of a generation of the Son from the Father.” (Dederen, Raoul. Vol. 12, Handbook of Seventh-Day Adventist Theology. electronic ed. Logos Library System; Commentary Reference Series, Page 125. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2001, c2000)

          As you can see from this blog Adventists are split over this issue. Even some Adventists that use the term “Godhead” exclusively tend to lean toward the Catholic understanding rather than the official Adventist position. It therefore, is my belief that the use of the term “trinity” is a very minor issue and that we would be far better off to concentrate on what the Godhead means with respect to our salvation.

  10. The efficacy of trinity to us is in the role they play in our Salvation. All three of them play significant roles in the salvation program (John 15:1 --“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.) The role of Holy Sprit is not defined here but He is very significant (John 14:16,17 --And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[c] in you. ) This marked roles that transform a selfish rebel to agape love filled and reincarnated (2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!) being is created who's predisposition is to live by spirit and suffer to kill the power of the flesh.
    This is the only context in which we are given some light of how the triune Gods exist. Individually, Job was given a discourse of what God the Father does, Paul explained to us what Jesus accomplished (Romans 5,6 ; Hebrews 1,2), and the host of those who are being saved are witnesses of the work of Holy Spirit. What remains obscure to morden Christian are the roles of God the Father and Holy Sprit, in the salvation of a person? What Jesus Christ accomplished was for the humanity (Romans 5:18,19 18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous), Until the roles of God the Father and the Holy Spirit, are manifested in a persons life, the full value of the trinity is not delivered to us. The discussions here are objective enough to present the concept of three entities united in a single status, capacites and relationsips. I believe that apart from an objective revision of the Trinity, their existance is palpable only by the conversion of a Human from the state of a Rebel to the state of producing Agape Love person.

  11. Could someone please explain the difference between what the Catholic church believes and SDAs believe concerning the Trinity? To me they seem the same, but I've been told they differ. Thanks.

  12. Tyler you said that the only difference between the official Adventist understanding of the Godhead and the Catholic church is in the origin everything else is the same. I don't think so, in the Catechism Of The Catholic Church, pag 74 entrance 251 they say that in order to articulate the dogma of the trinity the have to created their own terminology. The explanation that they give over God the Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit in pag 75 is that the real distinction in the three persons resides only in their relationship, they call this "Hypostasis", and say they are one in nature or substance. In other words they don't think of the three of them as a three persons separated one from another; so I really cannot grasp this concept. So Trinity as Catholics teach is that Jesus proceed from the Father, The Holy Spirit is generated from the Father and the Son. In the Bible we have a clear understanding of the three of them, they are eternal, they have no origin, they act separated one from another, each of them have their own role in our salvation, but they are united, they are but one God. So if Jesus has an origin, also the Holy Spirit, if I cannot see The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit as three separated persons, I don't want to have anything to do with the Trinity. I would like to be identified as protestant, who only agree with the teaching of the Bible. Finally a question remains for me, why E.G.W and her husband never used the term Trinity and made statements against the Trinity?

    • Iisa, I don't think you read far enough in the catechism. Further on it says:

      "253 The Trinity is One. We do not confess three Gods, but one God in three persons, the "consubstantial Trinity".83 The divine persons do not share the one divinity among themselves but each of them is God whole and entire: "The Father is that which the Son is, the Son that which the Father is, the Father and the Son that which the Holy Spirit is, i.e. by nature one God."84 In the words of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), "Each of the persons is that supreme reality, viz., the divine substance, essence or nature."85

      254 The divine persons are really distinct from one another. "God is one but not solitary."86 "Father", "Son", "Holy Spirit" are not simply names designating modalities of the divine being, for they are really distinct from one another: "He is not the Father who is the Son, nor is the Son he who is the Father, nor is the Holy Spirit he who is the Father or the Son."87 They are distinct from one another in their relations of origin: "It is the Father who generates, the Son who is begotten, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds."88 The divine Unity is Triune."

      From what I see the catechism agrees with their encyclopedia. It is very easy to get caught up in technical terminology but these entries seem to make their teaching rather clear.

      At this point I am going to stand on what I said before concerning the difference between what they believe and what we believe unless something better comes along.

      As for the rest of what you say I generally agree. When it comes to why Ellen White didn't use the term trinity I suppose we will have to ask her in Heaven when we get there.

  13. There appears very little difference between RC and our doctrines, aside from "origins", but, whatever they might say for themselves the RC have a hidden problem. We have our differences with them and with our own, historical teaching, on this topic, too.

    Their "eternally begotten" is complex: it's rather hard to find the references for this online, but basically it's not what you'd think it is. The divine persons are without form in a substance of unknown shape, etc: really mystical and mystery - almost their own imagination. I leave them with it...! The begetting part of their confession involves an eternally ongoing connection within that "consubstantial" union, so it's not a 'happened and now it's over' begetting at all: it's happening all the way, from eternity-to-eternity, so an eternal Sonship. Of course, that's not really a begotten Sonship...

    Some Evangelicals have differed with that notion by preferring the incarnational Sonship idea, instead, as have we in our doctrine. So, too, did Walter Martin, incidentally; however, his study institute - whatever it is called - held that view with him, but changed back to the eternal Sonship belief as soon as he passed away.

    The incarnational Sonship idea has problems, not least making God operate from eternity on future identities used solely for salvation rather than personal identities true from the beginning: is God truly personal - and not just numbers 1, 2 & 3, or something later that he isn't now? Biblical texts support, rather, the Father as God personally from the start, and his Son with him. We used to teach this as a church, but not at all like RCism does.

    Our historical teaching is pretty clear, that, while the pre-existing Son of God was literally God's only Son "since the days of eternity" and made all things that do exist, and is himself begotten not created, he is very God but not his Father's person, being himself Son of the infinite God. Biblical hints at inheritance and Sonship may and were applied by us as a church to eternity; today we reject that while some of us find it a credible belief - not least because it's what the Bible appears to say and what Ellen White and those of her time and others since have spoken of, too.

    A classic, Evangelical who switched back to eternal Sonship is John McArthur. His interpretation is simple: Jesus surely is God by inheritance also in eternity past, not just since the incarnation. This is also what the Bible looks like it's saying, though it isn't trying to be, nor should we try to be, altogether human in saying so. We are simply a finite, created image of God's infinite family. Let's not limit the infinite God just because the Father's awesomeness threatens to stretch our imagination. God's love is so big, that the Father let his Son endanger his own - the Son's - personal deity and eternal self-existence and holiness by becoming a man. Let's praise him for that rather than worry too much about whether Jesus actually is God.


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