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Trinity…equal or hierarchal?

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1. Given that there is God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit, is there a hierarchy in the Trinity?

 
The short answer is “yes” and “no.” Consider the biblical evidence.

 
Yes – there is a hierarchy in relationship within the Trinity.

Paul tells us in Ephesians 3:14-15, “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.” God is recognized honored as the One with Fatherhood.

Jesus tells us in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. ” Jesus is recognized as being the Son with the appearance of coming after the Father and with unique characteristics: part man and fully God.

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 2:10-11 that “For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.” Thus the Holy Spirit knows and understands the thoughts and depths of God. And Jesus tells us in John 15:26, “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me.”

The Father sent the Son whose purpose was to reveal the Father. The Son sent the Spirit whose purpose was to reveal the Son.

NO- no hierarchy exists in nature within the Trinity despite the different functional roles that They play.

Creation. Each personality of the Trinity created the world.

God the Father
Psalm 102:25, “Of old You founded the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands.”

Jesus Christ the Son
Colossians 1:16, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things have been created through Him and for Him.”

Holy Spirit
Genesis 1:2, “The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.” 

Creation of man. Each personality of the Trinity created man.

God the Father
Genesis 2:7, “Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”

Jesus Christ the Son
Colossians 1:16, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things have been created through Him and for Him.”

Holy Spirit
Job 33:4, “The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”

The Incarnation. The power of God, ministered through the Holy Spirit, resulted in the birth of Jesus Christ.

Luke 1:35, “The angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.”
Matthew 1:18-20, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”

The Baptism of Our Lord. When Jesus Christ was baptized, the Spirit descended on Him and God the Father attested to His Son.

Matthew 3:15-16, “But Jesus answering said to him, ‘Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he permitted Him. After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.'”

Death of Christ. Each personality of the Trinity was involved with the death of Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 9:14, “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

The Resurrection of Christ. Each personality of the Trinity was involved with the resurrection.


God the Father

Acts 3:26, “For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.”

1 Thessalonians 1:10, “and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.”

Jesus Christ the Son
John 2:19-21, “Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews then said, ‘It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?’ But He was speaking of the temple of His body.”

John 10:17, “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again.”

Holy Spirit
Romans 8:11, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”

The Provision of Our Redemption. Each personality of the Trinity is brought together in providing for man’s eternal salvation.

God the Father chose us for salvation, Jesus Christ the Son was the offering to God the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit set us apart.

Hebrews 9:14, “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
1 Peter 1:1-2, “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in fullest measure.”

Indwelling Believers. Both Jesus and God the Father dwell within Believers through the person of the Holy Spirit.

John 14:23, “Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him.”

John 14:16-17, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you.”

The Great Commission. The name of each distinct personality of the Trinity is invoked at baptism; but note that they are declared in one name.

Matthew 28:18-20, “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.'”

http://helpmewithbiblestudy.org/4Trinity/DeityEqualOrHierarchal.aspx

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IS THE TRINITY PAGAN? Is the Holy Trinity Pagan?

Some groups (including Jehovah’s Witnesses) claim that the Holy Trinity comes from paganism; Is there really any truth, or hard evidence in this claim?

My purpose in this article and in the graph which follows it, is to show that this claim is a nonsense because, as a matter of fact, the Trinity is a very distinctively Christian belief. Following this brief article you will find a graph showing how The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit are all biblically revealed to be God. If you do not read the article at least scroll down to the Godhead graph so you will know the Scriptures to quote in any future controversy.

So What is the Trinity?

It is the Christian belief that there are Three Persons in One God. These Three Persons – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – are distinct from one another yet they share the same Divine Nature. Thus they are not three distinct gods, but one God; so God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit ALL (according to the Holy Bible) bear the character and attributes of God.

Some cults and sects claim that the early Christians copied the Holy Trinity from surrounding pagan religions. They are a mile from the truth. So just what is the truth? Why did the ‘Church Fathers’ find it necessary to set out this doctrine? Far from what the sects and cults teach (and they are often woefully ignorant of the facts of church history), the concept actually came from a very careful reading and inspired interpretation of the Bible, which refers to three distinct Persons as “God” yet insists that there is but one God. The ‘fathers’ were concerned that some early groups were coming to an understanding of God which did not do full justice to ALL the Scriptures about God so they found it necessary to set these things out doctrinally in order to avoid error and heresy. Many of these things were set out in doctrinal, creedal fashion in the 4th century. Much (though not all) of this was in order to refute Arius who was guilty of perverting the Scriptures which refer to God. This man, of course, came to give his name to the well-recognized heresy of Arianism – very much ‘alive and kicking’ in today’s Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Evidence of an Egyptian “Trinity”?

Before Christianity, no religion ever believed in a single Deity consisting of three persons. Detractors sometimes say that the Osirus-Isis-Horus family of ancient Egyptian mythology was a “model” for the Christian Trinity. Yet this is clearly a triad of distinct pagan deities, not a trinity in the Christian sense. The Egyptians never considered them to be three persons in one God, but as two separate gods and a goddess – among numerous other divinities such as Hathor, Ptah, Neith, Set, Nut, Geb, and Basht, to name a few. The highest deity in their pantheon was the sun god Ra, so they didn’t even consider the Osirus-Isis-Horus triad to be supreme among the gods!

A Triune Goddess Among the Celts?

Some point to “triple goddesses” worshipped by the pagan Celts as forerunners of the Christian Trinity. Yet these were either triads of mother goddesses or a single goddess with three “aspects” or “modes of being”. The Holy Trinity isn’t one Divine Person with three “aspects” or “modes”, for the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit are personally distinct from one another. Thus the “triple goddess” is merely a threefold deity, not a true trinity in the Christian sense, thus could not be the origin of the Holy Trinity.

The problem is that when people go looking for pagan ‘divine triads’ they might well find them, but so would they find ‘divine quartets’, ‘divine septets’ or almost anything else! It depends what the researcher is looking for! We must realize that in India alone it is claimed that over 1,000,000 deities are worshipped (according to the region and the particular strain of religiosity one prefers)!! – in such a huge number we might find almost anything! However, if it could indeed be shown that there are many pagan divine triads (probably highly dubious), is it not possible that Satan himself could have fashioned this on his knowledge of God as the former Lucifer? It would “prove” nothing.

Hindu Trimurti = Trinity?

Other critics within the cults claim that the Hindu “trimurti” – Brahma, Vishnu and Siva – was another model for the Christian Trinity. Yet scholars tell us that this “trimurti” only appears in Hinduism during the 4th-7th centuries AD. By that time the Christian understanding of the Holy Trinity was becoming fairly well-established! If the Holy Trinity concept predates the Hindu trimurti (which certainly appears to be the case), the former could not have been copied from the latter. In fact, given Hinduism’s tendency to absorb concepts from other religions, and the fact that Christianity reached India in the first century, it is very likely that the Hindu teachers developed the trimurti along the lines of the Trinity-concept professed by Indian Christians!

Yet the former is not an exact copy of the latter. Hindus do not consider Brahma, Vishnu and Siva to be three persons in one God, but three distinct gods who each manifest part of Brahman, the impersonal Absolute. Some even add a fourth god, Ishvara, to this group, and claim that he is the first – antecedent to the other three! This demolishes the threeness which might seem to parallel the Trinity.

Moreover, Brahma, Vishnu and Siva each have a goddess consort – Sarasvati, Lakshmi and Sakti respectively. That would make not three but six. Add Ishvara and his consort, Maheshvari, and you now have eight primary manifestations of Brahman! Yet these are only eight among millions of divinities in the Hindu tradition, all of which are considered various manifestations of the Absolute.

Thus any alleged Hindu parallel with the Trinity quickly dissolves into a modalistic polytheism and finally a monistic pantheism, in which all diversity in the universe merely manifests an underlying spiritual Unity (a concept which has no place at all in orthodox Christianity, although it certainly appears in New Ageism).

CONCLUSION
(But please check out the graph AT THE ARTICLES SITE before you leave this article!)

It is only too clear that those cults and sects which reject the Trinity do not even correctly understand it so it should not surprise us that they think they can find the Trinity in polytheism or modalism when those concepts are absolutely anathema to the doctrine of The Holy Trinity. So the Christian concept of the Trinity is quite unique to world religions, not copied from another faith but progressively revealed by God in Holy Scripture. Undoubtedly some Christians believe that various pagan triads and threefold deities may have originated in a primitive revelation of – or memory of – the Triunity of the One True God. This is also quite possible. Perhaps the memory traces back to our first parents, who walked with God at the dawn of humanity. Or maybe God revealed something of the Divinity to “righteous pagans”, Gentiles of centuries past who genuinely sought the Most High God (the Bible certainly appears to suggest that such people have existed). These memories or revelations may have seeped into the legends of the human race, and soon became myths of divine triads and deities with three “aspects”. For every religion has an element of truth in it; perhaps this is one such element. This may show that God has not left the human race in complete ignorance of Divine Truth throughout the ages. But many other Christians, including myself, are somewhat sceptical that divine triads can be found in paganism any more than any other shape or number of “divinities”.

Thus if we do locate pagan religious notions which might bear a slight resemblance to biblical truth, they would frankly prove nothing, and most certainly they would not prove that early Christians copied these concepts. Why would the early Christians do such a thing when we have a record which shows how determined they were in their fight against paganism? In fact, we have a very clear record from church history which tells us why ‘the fathers’ were concerned to outline the Trinity: It was a concern that biblical truth about God should be carefully preserved.

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/robin.brace/1THEGODHEAD.html

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