by Colin Gyles
Is the gospel based on a concept of God as a Trinity? A brief look at the gospel and its implications on the one hand and the Trinity and its implications on the other hand should provide a basis for a reasonable answer to this question.
First consider the gospel. If the Christian gospel were to be summarized in a single Bible verse, that verse is universally acknowledged to be John 3:16 - ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
From the gospel the following realities are brought to view:
(1) A God who loves (2) A God who can and does have a Son (3) A Son who was begotten (4) A Son who could be and was given (5) A Son who could and did die. By God giving His Son is understood that God gave His Son to die wherein humanity should have died. (6) The believer who is most precious and dearly loved. Such love elicited from God the sacrifice of His only begotten Son and elicited from the Son of God the unselfish sacrifice of himself- a double sacrifice of Father and Son.
Next consider the Trinity. The Trinity teaches that there is one God; and that one God is Trinity - Father, Son, Holy Spirit. A primary supporting tenet is that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are absolutely (in every sense) co-equal persons.
From the Trinity the following implications are evident:
(1) The Father-Son relationship is not literal. To make the Son absolutely co-equal with His Father eliminates all possibility of the one being begotten of the other. That which is presented to humanity as the measure of God's love for us - namely the sacrifice of His only begotten Son for our sakes is all but nullified if Jesus is not truly and literally the begotten Son of God.
(2) Jesus did not truly die. If Jesus is absolutely co-equal with "the blessed and only Potentate Who only hath immortality" (1 Tim. 6:15,16), who absolutely cannot die, then Jesus did not truly die, but continued to live on some different plane while appearing to be dead. This would make all our professions about death and resurrection of Christ mere vanity and illusion.
The Trinity denies the most fundamental tenets of the gospel and therefore cannot be reasonably held as a foundation on which the gospel is based. The biblical basis of the gospel is that Jesus is the Son of God (Matt. 16:16-18).
Finally, the identity of the Holy Spirit will be established. Unlike the Trinity concept which holds the Holy Spirit as a co-equal person who is distinct from Christ, the Bible identifies the Holy Spirit as the glorified manifestation in which Jesus would return to be with His followers.
The Greek word (Parakletos) which is translated Comforter (John 14:16) is the same Greek word (Parakletos) which is translated Advocate (1 John 2:1). Thus, the one who is the Comforter is the same one who is our Advocate who promised "I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world" (Matt. 28:20) and is the same one who offers to live in human hearts, saying "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock" (Rev. 3:20). Accordingly, Jesus said "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you." (John 14:18).
Cumbered by the form of humanity, Jesus could not be at more than one place at the same time. He first had to be glorified and thus enabled to divest himself of the form of humanity. This is why He said that the Holy Spirit could not come if He did not go away (John 16:7) and it was declared that "the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified" (John 7:39). Jesus prayed "O, Father glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." John 17:5. The Holy Spirit is really the glory of the Father which is given to the Son and through the Son communicated to believers. Jesus promised another Comforter because it was in another manifestation that He would return to offer further comfort.
Thus, in yet another instance the trinity concept is contrary to the gospel since it denies that Jesus is Himself the Comforter. But most fundamentally, it denies that Jesus is truly the Son of God and that Jesus truly died. The gospel is therefore not based on a concept of God as a Trinity, but rather on the concept of one Supreme Being who has a divine Son. May each professed Christian worship God in accordance with the revelation that He has given of Himself because "this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." John 17:3.
(This article was contributed by Colin Gyles. You may contact Colin by writing to him at: God's Love, P.O. Box 542, Kingston 10, Jamaica W.I.)