One article I read says “The concept of the Trinity is so basic that if you miss it, you miss all of Christianity. The doctrine of the Trinity is the great Christian distinctive. It separates Christianity from all other beliefs.” This article goes on to say that Christian faiths which do not hold to the doctrine of the Trinity are “aberrations from the faith”! As with all attempts to explain “Trinity”, this author, too, proceeds to try to convince the reader that the Holy Spirit is a “person”. Drawing on scriptures, the author attempts to show that the Holy Spirit speaks, is self-aware, has feelings and can be sad, loves, has a will, can be offended, and can be lied to. Thus the reader is to be convinced that the Holy Spirit has all these human characteristics, those characteristics of a physical person, therefore the Holy Spirit is also a person. QED.
But scripture says that God cannot be described or compared to anything! Isaiah 40:18 says: “With whom, then, will you compare God? By what standard will you evaluate him?” Saying “God is three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” is levying on God a comparison to a person! What an insult to God! But even that is not my central problem with the “Trinity”. My issue is much more involved:
Scripture right away reveals that God is Spirit! It is not a “new” concept to Christianity! Genesis 1:2 “…and the Spirit of God hovered over the surface of the water”. The English phrase “Spirit of God” is from the Hebrew “Ruach Elohim”. Right away we have an understanding problem because in English the word “Spirit” carries a connotation not found in the Hebrew word “Ruach”. To an English speaker, the word “spirit” conveys a manifestation of the “soul” of a person and in Christianity a person’s “soul” or “spirit” is assumed to “live on” – as a person - after bodily death. So in English, “Spirit of God” immediately sounds like something entirely separate from God, a separate “entitiy”, thus, the phrase “Spirit of God” (and later, “Holy Spirit” found in most English Bibles) becomes mistakenly understood as a separate “form” of God.
But in Hebrew, the phrase “Ruach Elomin” was never intended to convey a separate “entity”! The Hebrew Ruach is a far more complex word than the English “spirit”! The depth of the meaning of “ruach” is determined by the thing it is associated with! In Genesis 6:17, for example, “ruach chay’im” is translated into English as “breath of life”, while the meaning of “ruach chay’im” is actually far deeper. The verse actually is saying that the flood would destroy those living things on the surface of the earth with (a) “ruach” – that is, the “essence” which makes it “alive” or more importantly, makes it “a life”, would be taken. So the English “breath” actually “dumbs-down” the significance of the Hebrew “ruach”. Similarly, in Genesis 8:1, “ruach” is translated into English as “wind”: “…so God caused a wind to pass over the earth,...”. The scripture actually reads: “…vi’yah’aver Elohim Ruach ha’aretz…” or in English “…the Ruach of Elohim passed over the earth…”! It was not just “a wind”! It was the Ruach!
Yeshua did not “invent” or “reveal” an unknown 3rd person or entity when he said in John 14: “15. [Yeshua speaking] If you love me, keep my Commandments. 16. And I will ask of my Father and He will give you another Redeemer who will be with you forever.” (Some versions say “Counselor, the Spirit of Truth” here instead of “Redeemer”.) Yeshua simply informed the disciples of the pre-existence of “Spirit of Truth” (Holy Spirit) that would be made available to them so they could worship God spiritually and truly (John 4:23-24), provided they be the faithful obedient! In fact, Yeshua goes on to explain: “23…He who loves me keeps my word, and my Father will love him and we will come to him and we will make a dwelling with him. 24. But he who does not love me will not keep my word and this word that you hear is not mine; rather, it is of the Father who sent me. 25. These things I have spoken among you while I am with you. 26. But the Redeemer, the Ruach haKodesh, the One whom my Father will send in my name will teach you everything. And He will remind you of everything that I said to you.” The description uses personal pronouns to attempt to describe the presence of the Ruach in a person, but the pronouns do not imply a “person” called the Ruach! Remember Isaiah 40:18 - God can’t be described!
Numbers 23:19 discusses God’s essence by contrasting Him with mortal men: “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind.” The Bible sometimes refers to God and the Ruach as if “He” has a body. This is called anthropomorphism - a way of describing God with anatomical or emotional terms so that humans can better understand. (See Isaiah 59:1 which mentions God’s “hand” and “ear”; 2 Chronicles 16:9 speaks of God’s “eyes”; Matthew 4:4 puts words in God’s “mouth.” In Deuteronomy 33:27 God has “arms.” Etc. NONE of these “qualities” make YHWH or the Ruach a “person”!
Indeed, when Yeshua says that He spoke the words of His Father, that this Ruach (Holy Spirit) which would be available to them, He just reconfirmed the entire Tanakh, which revealed that God is one, there is only ONE God, that He, God, is the savior and the redeemer! There was no such thing as the “Trinity” at this time when Yeshua was explaining these things to the disciples about the Ruach! There was only God, YHWH, who had said all along that HE would save and He would redeem! (Isaiah 49:26, Isiah 60:16, Isaiah 63:8, Hosea 13:4). How did Christianity turn this into “God in three persons”? It is GOD, it has always been GOD, and always will be GOD, not “God in three persons”!
So here is my “doctrine”:
- There is only one GOD, YHWH, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We are to have no other gods. (Exodus 20:3, Deuteronomy 4:35, 5:7, and others).
- To live forever in the Kingdom, we must take YHWH as our God, and we must accept that Yeshua, the human (person), Messiah, with a divine qnoma/nature, was the blood substitute for our sins, died for us so we could be eligible for that eternal life. (John 17:2-3, and others).
- To receive the Holy Spirit (Ruach haKodesh) as Yeshua promised, to be taught everything, we must obey the commandments of God, as Yeshua said in John 14:15-26. (Ezekiel 36:25-27).
- If we don’t live by the commandments then we have “thrown away” this gift of eternal life, and the Ruach cannot teach us because the Ruach won’t reside within us if we choose to be “unclean” and live unclean lives. (Hebrews 10:26, 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). This is established by the fact that unclean people are not permitted in God’s presence. (For example: Leviticus 15:31, Numbers 19:20, 2 Chronicles 23:19).
- We remain responsible to “maintain” our worthiness to receive the promised everlasting life in the Kingdom. It is NOT a “given” as misunderstood by the isolated verse John 3:16! John goes on to say that: “3:18 Those who trust in him are not judged; those who do not trust have been judged already, in that they have not trusted in the one who is God's only and unique Son. 19 ‘Now this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, but people loved the darkness rather than the light. Why? Because their actions were wicked.’” This “maintenance” is not “works”! We don’t “earn our way to the Kingdom”! (Romans 2:13-15). We express our love for YHWH through our obedience to His commandments. (James 2:17-18). Our obedience to YHWH’s commandments is the only way we have to become and remain holy people (1 Peter 1:16), and being holy is the only way to remain a worthy vessel in which the Ruach can reside. (Why would the Ruach Elohim want to dwell within a filthy human body?)
- How we are to live our lives is provided for us by Torah. Simple. Torah is not “Law” as many have been taught and living by Torah is not “legalism”. YHWH gave us good instruction (Torah) and we are not to forsake it. (Proverbs 4:2). (Many argue that no one can keep all of the Torah, saying therefore, none of it must be kept. But I argue, not all of the Torah ever applied to me, and what applies to me, I most certainly can keep!)
So you may ask “Why baptize in the ‘Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit’ ”? (Matthew 28:19). Well, it’s not to glorify the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as 3 individuals! It is to imbue the recipient of the baptism with the knowledge that the Father is their God – there is no other; that their life has been redeemed by the shed blood of the Son on their behalf (washing them of their sins to that point in their lives – a gift not to be trifled); and now, living holy lives without willful sin, the Holy Spirit (the Ruach actually) can reside within them continually teaching them.
So that is why I can’t accept the “Trinity” as a doctrine. It literally denies that there is ONE GOD, implies there are “3 persons of God” (therefore limiting God) and leads to a denial of individual responsibility to live a holy life worthy of the gift of eternal life and worthy of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to receive the education Yeshua promised.
I believe that contrary to the idea that the “doctrine of the Trinity is the great Christian distinctive”, I find instead that the doctrine of the Trinity, has for countless millions, for hundreds of years, obscured the true understanding of God, the Son, and the Holy Spirit with a misleading message.