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Posts Tagged ‘confusion in the Trinity’

Last Sunday was Easter, and my wife and I visited a megachurch that’s been gaining quite a reputation.

During the message, the speaker – a staff pastor – made the following statement:

“There are three parts in the Trinity.”

That’s such a glaring theological error that it drove me bonkers.

The correct statement is that “there are three persons in the Trinity.”

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are persons, not “parts.”

But the speaker’s slip-up reminded me of how often Christians – even pastors – confuse the members of the Trinity in their speaking and praying.

Especially their praying.

Have you ever heard a pastor say this?

“Heavenly Father, thank you for dying on the cross for us.”

I’ve heard it all too many times.

But is the statement accurate?

No.  God the Father didn’t die on the cross for our sins … God the Son did.

But, some people wonder, aren’t the Father and the Son identical?

No, they are distinct persons.  The Father isn’t the Son, and the Son isn’t the Father.

The Father is God … and the Son is God … and the Spirit is God.

All three members of the Trinity are divine beings.  Each member possesses the essence of God.

But each member is also distinct from the others.

At Jesus’ baptism, the Father gave His verbal approval from heaven … the Spirit descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove … and the Son plunged beneath the waters of the Jordan River.

One God, three persons.

The Father didn’t descend as a dove … the Son didn’t affirm anyone from heaven … and the Spirit wasn’t baptized.

The members of the Trinity are not interchangeable.

They have distinct names and duties.

When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He began, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (Matthew 6:9).

Should we pray to the Holy Spirit?  Jesus never said we should.

Is it wrong to pray to the Spirit?  Maybe not … but the New Testament pattern is to pray to the Father through the Son in the power of the Spirit.

I realize the Trinity is a mystery greater than our feeble minds.

But when believers – especially pastors – get sloppy with their terms and practices, they perpetuate theological error.

Dads pass them on to their sons … Bible study leaders pass them on to their groups … and Christians pass them on to unbelievers.

Years ago, I led a Bible study where we leaders were told, “When you ask a question, don’t correct people’s answers.”

I asked a question about Jesus, and one man replied, “Jesus was half man and half God.”

I swallowed hard, took a deep breath, and let that comment pass … correcting it later in the study.

(Jesus was fully God and fully man … the mystery of the incarnation.)

Words matter.  Theology matters.

And the Trinity matters big time.

So let’s be clear about the Trinity:

The Father is God … the Son is God … and the Spirit is God.

As the hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy” puts it:

“God in three persons, blessed Trinity.”

What do you think about this issue?

 

 

 

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