Questions for Brandon E: #3 If the Apostles Did Not Need to Use the Words “Trinity” or “Triune” to Describe God, Why Do We?

This is the third in a series of questions for Brandon E which began with this first question.

If the apostles of Jesus Christ saw no need to use the words “trinity” or “triune” to describe God to the disciples, why do we need to use such terms to describe God?

13 Replies to “Questions for Brandon E: #3 If the Apostles Did Not Need to Use the Words “Trinity” or “Triune” to Describe God, Why Do We?”

  1. I personally don’t think we “need” to use such terms. They’re useful expressions to describe and summarize the overall biblical revelation that there is one God and that the Father, Son, and Spirit exist at the same time, are identified as God and Lord and ascribed attributes of deity, are one, are distinct but not separate, etc.

    If the apostles of Jesus Christ saw no need to use the words “Bible” to describe the sixty-six books of the canon, why do we? Did the apostles use all the same words as Mike Gantt does on his blog? Does Mike Gantt never use expressions they apostles didn’t concerning the nature of God?

    1. They didn’t exactly use synonyms for the canon of the sixty-six books comprising the Old Testament and New Testament that we have today. Words like “trinity” and “triune” are used to summarize and describe what I briefly outlined in the first paragraph of my previous comment. Anyone who uses words that the apostles did not explicitly use, or assigns a particular denotation to words they did use, like “God,” “kingdom,” “church,” etc., does the same thing. So I don’t see why the apostles would need to use the words “triune” or “trinity” in order for what is meant by them to be true.

  2. It is inconceivable to me that you could teach the doctrine of the trinity to someone without using the words “trinity” or “triune” or a synonym for those terms. I am unaware of any book ever written about the trinity concept which does not use those terms. If you know of such a book, please identify it.

    1. One couldn’t teach that there is one God and that the Father, Son, and Spirit exist at the same time as the same God, distinct but not separate (for each is described as God and Lord), etc,, without using the words “triune” or “trinity”?

  3. Not without using those terms.

    By the way, not only did the apostles not use the terms “trinity” and “triune,” they also did not teach the concept that something could be “distinct but not separate.” These are all philosophical concepts imported into biblical discussion. The apostles never taught this way. On the contrary, they disparaged philosophy (Colossians 2:8), just as philosophers disparaged them (Acts 17:18).

    1. Mike, you use words that the apostles did not on your blogs all the time. Have you not claimed that the revelation that Jesus is God was not revealed to the human soul until the second coming, even though the Bible doesn’t actually say that? Have you yourself not claimed that the Bible reveals that the Spirit is a “separate” being from God? The Bible wasn’t written in English, and language is an expression of human culture. We’re just using words to summarize or describe what we believe is in the Bible.

      “Distinct but not separate” is a summary or description of such biblical data as the Father and the Son being one (10:30); the Father being in the Son and the Son in the Father (John 14:10-11); seeing the Son being equivalent to seeing the the Father (John 14:7-9); of there being one God, one Lord, one Spirit, revealed as existing at the same time, but God being called the Lord, the Lord being called the Spirit, God being called Spirit, and the Father, Son, and Spirit each being describe as God, the Lord, the One who indwells the believers. Your own claims about God (the Father “dying” and “becoming” the Son and ceasing to be the Father between the incarnation and the second coming; that Son was not revealed as God in the Scriptures; the Spirit not being God but a a separate being from God) are not explicitly revealed in Scripture, and I believe they contradict the biblical revelation.

  4. The point of this post was that if the apostles did not need to use terms like “trinity,” “triune,” and “distinct but not separate” we shouldn’t feel the need to do so either. The goal was not to try to talk you out of your belief in the trinity, to which you are clearly wedded. It was much more modest than that.

    1. I said that I don’t feel we “need” to use the expressions “trinity” or “triune.” Rather, it can be helpful. Do you feel the need to use words that the apostles did not use on your blogs in order to describe what you believe that Scripture reveals? If not, are all strings of words you use found in Scripture? Why isn’t your blog composed of nothing but direct quotations of Scripture?

  5. Even when speaking in God’s name, I don’t feel that we need to restrict our vocabulary to biblical vocabulary. I do feel, however, that we need to restrict our concepts to biblical concepts. If you can’t find the words “trinity,” “triune,” or “distinct but not separate” – nor even synonyms for these terms – in the Bible, then you ought to stop and ask yourself how confident you can be that such concepts are actually biblical.

    1. Did Christ and the apostles say or have a synonym for “the Father became the Son and ceased to be the Father,” or “the Spirit is not God but a separate being from God”? How can you be so confident that such concepts are actually biblical?

  6. They had a concept for death and resurrection, which is all over the Bible. Most importantly in that regard, Christ is a type of God. The apostles also had a concept of seeing the Holy Spirit as the Holy Spirit and not as God Himself. For example, David prayed in Psalm 51 to God about the Holy Spirit; he did not pray to the Holy Spirit about the Holy Spirit.

    1. 1) Christ and the apostles didn’t apply a death and resurrection concept to the incarnation or to the relationship between the Father and Son. They applied it to the Son physically dying and resurrecting both spiritually and bodily, not to the Son at any point “dying” and ceasing to be the Son and “becoming” another identity, still less to dying and resurrecting and then praying to and conversing to His former identity that had ceased to exist as if it still existed. You’re doing what I described earlier–assigning a new concept or new meaning that they didn’t explicitly teach to words they did use. If your example here counts as a “synonym,” then I can just as easily say that John 10:30; John 14:7-11; 2 Cor. 3:17-18 shows that they had a concept of the Father and Son or the Lord and the Spirit being one and not separate, except that the application would be accurate in the names it is being applied to and it wouldn’t contradict the biblical revelation of a Father and Son who exist at the same time.

      2) In Psalm 51:11, His Spirit of holiness is in apposition to His presence. His holy Spirit was understood as the manifestation of His presence, or His shekinah glory: an aspect of how God manifested Himself, not a separate being from God. If you later learned that the Lord is the Spirit and the Lord Spirit, you would not conclude that the Spirit is a separate being from the Lord God.

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