Can the Doctrine of the Trinity be defended as a mystery?
The Mystery Of the Trinity
I was recently asked during an Internet Discussion about the Orthodox Christian Doctrine of the Trinity with several people. Through this discourse, it ended up helping readers gain some valuable tools to understand and defend this doctrine. It is my prayer that you may likewise be helped and grow in the knowledge of the Lord.
One person involved asked the question – how can God be one and yet three? Another was opposed to the doctrine of the Trinity. Then another participant ‘Bart’ stated the following truth:
The Trinity or Godhead reconciles all the elements you're noting with the understanding that God is three, yet one in essence. There's an element of mystery to it that transcends human experience…
The truth of the Trinity as being a mystery is a very biblical factual position. Below is my response and may it help you gain insight into the Doctrine of the Trinity justified from the perspective of being a mystery continued below:
…Adding to what Bart says about 'there being in the Trinity (the Godhead) an element of mystery to it that transcends (our own) human experience,' let us look at these two scriptures:
Isaiah 40:18 - To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare to Him?
Isaiah 40:25 - "To whom then will you liken Me, Or to whom shall I be equal?" says the Holy One.
Notice how the bible proclaims that there is none like the Lord as it is written elsewhere:
2 Samuel 7:22 - Therefore You are great, O Lord GOD. For there is none like You, nor is there any God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears.
Psalm 86:8 - Among the gods there is none like You, O Lord; nor are there any works like Your works.
Psalm 89:6 - For who in the heavens can be compared to the LORD? Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened to the LORD?
Now think upon this for a moment :
If God is in the same likeness of oneness as any other false god or thing, then these bible verses are in error as this cannot be because there is none like God! There is no likeness that can adequately compare with God (see Isaiah 40:25).
That is why the Orthodox Doctrine (Christian) of the Divine Trinity is termed as a mystery because it retains and proves that there is none like God: One God in three distinct persons of one divine essence. Truly, None like Him!
If God were in the same image of oneness as any other false gods, items, or things then that would be in conflict with what Exodus 20:1-5 says. God is unlike all and therefore His oneness is unlike all other oneness’s out there. That is why the mystery of the Trinity retains the biblical injunction from Exodus 20:1-5 and is in no violation of this.
This is in keeping with how in the bible God describes and how God reveals himself to be within the very pages of the bible. For a few more examples see below:
Read Isaiah 40:1-31 - on your own and note the usage of third person speech God uses when speaking of himself. Note verse 10 and 11 as well who is speaking in throughout this chapter and then note transition in verses 25-31 (Isaiah 40:25-31) noting the types and parts of speech used by the Lord when referring to himself)
Note Isaiah 59:16, “He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor; Therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him; and His own righteousness, it sustained Him.”
Isaiah 52:10, “The LORD has made bare His holy arm In the eyes of all the nations; And all the ends of the earth shall see The salvation of our God.”
Isaiah 53:1, “…Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?”
Isaiah 63:12, “Who led them by the right hand of Moses, With His glorious arm, Dividing the water before them To make for Himself an everlasting name…”
Psalms 98:1-9, "Oh, sing to the LORD a new song! For He has done marvelous things; His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory.2 The LORD has made known His salvation; His righteousness He has revealed in the sight of the nations.3 He has remembered His mercy and His faithfulness to the house of Israel; All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God..."
Look at Psalms 89:13- 15, You have a mighty arm; Strong is Your hand, and high is Your right hand. 14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Mercy and truth go before Your face (pāniym). 15 Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! They walk, O LORD, in the light of Your countenance (pāniym).”
Note that the Hebrew word pāniym: is a masculine plural noun with dual meaning. It can denote face(s) or countenance(s). Pāniym used here looks like it refers to the distinct attributes of the Son and Holy Spirit. (See reference notes below)
Notice in verse 14 how two words are used – 'mercy and truth' in NKJV and note verse 13 that three distinct parts from one essence is being revealed within the context of biblical symbolism: You Have (denoting essence), then strong is your hand/arm and then another hand also mentioned as being distinct by the phrase ‘High Right Hand.’
Next note how Mercy and Truth being mentioned in the NKJV text. After this explore what is recorded in John 1:14 about Jesus and what John 14:26, John 15:26, and John 16:13-15 says. Look at what Isaiah 53:1 states – to whom has the Arm of the Lord Revealed – then look at what Jesus says about the Spirit of Truth.
Yes, God is One and there is none like him in the type – essence - of his own oneness! There is in the Trinity (the Godhead) an element of mystery to it that transcends our own human experience... which is very scripturally founded.
Psalms 89:6 , “ For who in the heavens can be compared to the LORD? Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened to the LORD?
There is no likeness that can adequately compare with God. The Lord is unlike all and therefore His oneness is unlike all other oneness’s out there conceived by man. That is why the Orthodox Doctrine (Christian) of the Divine Trinity is termed as a mystery because it retains and proves that there is none like God: One God in three distinct persons of one divine essence. Truly, None like Him!
Bible quotes are all from the NKJV (New King James Version)
Regarding Pāniym – AMG Complete Word Studies Old Testament and from Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (re: face – Pāniym)
Also explore what the symbolism of Hand and Arm had as used in the Old Testament – what these represent. Is there anything too difficult for God?