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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

18 July 2005

The Bible and the Trinity

Q: What passages in the Bible do Christians rely on to support the Trinity theory? My confusion comes mainly from Christ praying and talking to Heavenly Father while on earth. If they are one, then who was he talking to?

A: Your phrase “Heavenly Father” leads me to think that you might be Mormon (LDS), since this is standard terminology among Latter Day Saints. Thus, I understand that you write from a theological position which denies the Holy Trinity.

The Bible doesn’t deal with theory, whether of the Trinity or anything else. Scripture warns us: “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. (Col 2:8)” Rather, the Bible proclaims divine truth. God reveals Himself throughout His Word, so let’s speak of the doctrine — or teaching — of the Trinity.

We cannot understand the Trinity any more than we can understand the Incarnation and Virgin Birth of Christ, the Atonement, or any of the other mysteries of God. Christians hold the words of Scripture to be true and do not attempt to resolve paradoxes for which God has not given us answers.

The Persons (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) of the Trinity communicate with each other, even as they are also one God. The problem is not with God’s nature; the problem is summed up in the Scripture, “Who has known the mind of the Lord? (Rom 11:34)” — reminding us that our finite reason cannot comprehend God’s infinite essence. While countless books could carry forth a discussion of the Triune God, it is best to focus on a few words in which He reveals himself as either Three or One, and to use the Creeds as correct expositions of these Biblical statements.

Among the Scriptures speaking of God’s oneness are Deuteronomy 6:4; 1 Corinthians 8:4; 1 Timothy 2:5. Passages dealing with His Triune nature include Matthew 28:19-20 and 2 Corinthians 13:14.

Christians often speak of the Father as the Creator, the Son as the Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit as the Sanctifier. Yet you can see the other Persons interacting in Creation (John 1:1-3; Genesis 1:2), Redemption (John 4:34; 1 Corinthians 12:3), and Sanctification (John 15:26; Acts 1:4-5). The interrelationship of the three Persons is an incomprehensible mystery, thus the Creeds confess the Faith, they do not attempt to explain it.

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.


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