Do Christians have three gods? What is the Trinity?
Muslims often make the claim that Christians believe in three gods, whereas Islam teaches there is one God named Allah. However, the Bible is clear that God is one.
The very first verse of the Bible teaches, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1). The Law of Moses affirmed one God, stating, "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one" (Deuteronomy 6:4). The first of the Ten Commandments taught, "You shall have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:3).
In the New Testament, Jesus is revealed as God (John 1:1) and speaks of the Holy Spirit as God (Matthew 28:18-19). Christians refer to God revealed in three Persons as the Triune God or the Trinity. This is not the belief in three different gods, but one God expressed in three Persons.
In fact, all three Persons of the Triune God are revealed at the same time in two key places in the Bible. When Jesus was baptized, we read, "… immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, 'This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased'" (Matthew 3:16-17). This marked the beginning of the public teaching and ministry of Jesus.
Another occasion is found at the end of Matthew's Gospel as Jesus prepared to return to heaven. He commanded, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:18-20). Here, Jesus commanded His followers to baptize in the "name" not "names." He mentioned one God expressed in three Persons.
Though the term Trinity is not used in the Bible, it has become the term used by Christians to describe this unique teaching. Islam includes similar ideas. Tawhid (God's unity) is used to refer to Allah's unity in Muslim teachings. However, the term is not used in the Qur'an. The teaching of God's unity is based on principles from the Qur'an though not explicitly stated.
Though the concept of the Trinity is beyond our full comprehension, many illustrations can help us understand the Trinity. For example, H2O can exist as a liquid (water), solid (ice), or gas; yet it is always H2O. Fire offers a similar example as it can be seen as a form with shape, light, and heat. Even our created world exists with space and time simultaneously.
A final interesting observation about the idea of the Trinity is the ability of God to share in perfect community or relationship with Himself. God lacks nothing, not even personal relationship, as it is perfectly satisfied within Father, Son, and Spirit.
Christians believe in one God and only one God. Yet God has revealed Himself as Triune, a teaching that includes Jesus Christ as the only way to know God (John 14:6) and the One who can provide salvation and eternal life (John 3:16).
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