I am convinced that the doctrine of the Holy Trinity is foundational to all Christian truth. This is a rather bold statement. Indeed, it is rather controversial. There are some Christian teachers who would adamantly disagree with this. They may accept the Trinity as a biblical doctrine, but they argue that acceptance of the Trinity is not essential in order to be a Christian. While I honor their privilege to believe as they do, I must differ with this position most stringently.
I have dealt with this issue in an earlier post. You can read for yourself regarding the question of the necessity of belief in the Trinity. Allow me to summarize my argument for you. First of all, we understand that salvation is experienced in a person’s life by that person repenting of sin, accepting Christ, and coming into a personal relationship with the Lord God. Thus, relationship is at the heart of the Christian experience. In this light, it is important to note the words of Christ in John 17:3, where He declares that eternal life consists of knowing the true God and the true Son of God. In other words, without a relationship with the true God, there is no eternal life. And thus, whether or not God is triune in His nature is necessary for salvation. You cannot have a relationship with a false god and have eternal life. If God is a monarchial, monolithic deity—one God, one Person—then to assert that you have a relationship with a triune God is a false premise. You cannot have eternal life if you have a relationship with a deity that doesn’t exist. Continue reading →
In the history of religion Judaism, Christianity and Islam are considered the three Abrahamic faiths. The idea is that there is a continuity between the three different religions that can be traced back to the legacy of Abraham and the early Hebrews. For this reason, so the argument goes, all three religions are basically differing expressions of the same faith. So this means that all three religions actually worship the same God. The Yahweh of the Jews is really the same deity as the God/Jehovah of the Christians, who is in turn no different than the Allah of the Muslims. But is this really true? Continue reading →
Charles Taze Russell was nothing if not troubled. Much of his life was motivated by fear. It is said that as a young man he would walk the streets of Pittsburgh, writing “There is no hell!” on the sidewalks in chalk. His fear of hell dominated his thinking and profoundly affected his theology. He was also troubled by what he could not understand. What could not be discerned through human reason was unacceptable to him. For instance, the Christian doctrine of the Holy Trinity was nonsense to him. It is no surprise then that when he founded the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society in Pittsburgh in 1884 that the denial of hell and the rejection of the Trinity became hallmark doctrines of this organization. To this day the Jehovah’s Witnesses reject what they cannot understand or accept as rational. Continue reading →
I have been reading a book lately about the history of Christian doctrine. In this work, the author comments on the differences between the Gospel of John and the other three Gospel writers. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are often called the Synoptic Gospels. The world “synoptic” basically means “seeing together.” You may have noticed that these three Gospels present a great deal of similar material in a roughly parallel format. So these Gospel writers often share the same material but with their individual perspectives and approaches. The Gospel of John, however, is dramatically different from the Synoptics.
One of the chief differences is that John’s Gospel is very explicit in presenting Christ as divine. The deity of our Lord is most clear in John. The author of the book I am reading emphasizes this. Yet, he goes beyond this, and states that it is only in John that we see Christ’s deity. According to him, the Synoptics present Jesus as merely a man, Messiah perhaps, but certainly not divine. Continue reading →
Does theology matter? If you listen to some people, you would have to say, “No!”
For example, a few weeks ago I was talking with a friend who is taking some classes in theology. He told me how excited he was in his studies. He also told me that he shared his excitement with a friend of his. His friend commented positively, but then said, “But really, in the grand scheme of things, what does all that matter? In our everyday lives, what good is theology?”
My friend was telling me this to make the point that theology is okay for theologians, philosophers, and academicians. But for the common man, living in the real world, it has no value. Continue reading →