This Article explores further concepts of remarks to a re-blog recently posted on this site about the “Trinity”. Indeed, as so frequently occurs – semantics confuse a PROPER understanding of too many important ABSOLUTES. Therefore, a closer look at Scripture is in order.
“No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” – Jn.1:18.
“[To Moses] He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” And the Lord said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.” – Ex. 33:20-23.
Relative to semantics, the term ‘seen’ is one such unfortunate English word when used in relation to describing supernatural realities. Because it immediately conjures up a literal reference to PHYSICAL sight through PHYSICAL eyes, the proper figurative nature of Scriptural interpretation tends to be most elusive to the mere casual reader.
Of course, there is ample Scripture to indicate that God intended that ONLY His true children (believers indwelt and guided by the Holy Spirit) would have access to the right interpretation of His WORD. Still, apart from such direction, a surface rendering understood in merely the LITERAL sense of ‘seen’ definitely indicates GOD can NOT be ‘seen’ (at least – has never been seen by man in THIS physical dimension).
Upon THAT idea, consider this insight – perhaps “GOD” is much more than what has been determined by centuries of theological scholarship. I have researched and written other Articles offering challenges to many ‘popular’ doctrines regarding the “Trinity”. Even avoiding the term, the nature of GOD revealed in Scripture declares that He has ‘manifest’ Himself in various forms.
A comment received in reply to a Forum post offered a perspective worthy of further research and prayerful contemplation. It proposed, “Is it GOD ‘no man has seen’ or is it ‘the FACE of GOD’ no man has seen? And if GOD can manifest HIMSELF into the image of man, then, for sure, the image one looks upon is GOD’S manifested image – not the ACTUAL ‘FACE’ of GOD”.
This particular commentator and I developed a mutual respect along with an ‘agreement to disagree’ several years ago. On THIS specific thought, in consideration of the ongoing differences involved in the personal comprehension of certain terminology, semantics remains a nefarious culprit. But I do discern that he’s ‘on’ to something of a revelation.
In other Articles (i.e. The Transfiguration, The Son of God) I’ve explained the unfortunate terminology involved in English versions of dogma expressing the triune nature of the Godhead, namely the unscriptural term – ‘Trinity’. I further expounded on the various manifestations of the SAME ‘GODHEAD’. Throughout Scripture, There are many more specific encounters with God that appear in several other forms than merely the three indicated by the ‘Trinity’. Generally speaking, I ‘see’ NO reason to limit our comprehension of our Creator to merely three distinct manifestations.
As I clearly state in other Articles – I am NOT denying the ‘main’ three manifestations of GOD, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. I merely hope to raise an awareness that GOD is so much bigger and beyond the ability of human rationale, than to think that ALL He is has been FULLY revealed.
“My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand” – Jn. 10:29.
Due to the the adjective ‘greater’ many have reasoned that Christ and the Father cannot both be GOD. Even many proponents of Trinity Dogma have trouble with this, creating an explanation that there are three ‘persons’ in GOD. This has added to the confusion, and attempts to further explain the ‘three persons’ is virtually impossible. How can GOD be ONE, if He really is THREE separate ‘persons’?
Semantics again, is the primary culprit. The unfortunate use of both ‘Trinity’ and ‘persons’ induce faulty comprehensions. Better substitutes would be ‘triune’ and ‘manifestations’ but traditional doctrines proclaimed as ‘set in stone’ are hard to remove the unexpected problems of semantics and translation.
That should be NO excuse however, for settling on acceptance of any doctrine of men, regardless of their influence or popularity. Sound doctrine requires PERSONAL study of Scripture under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, utilizing an error proof rule of scholarly biblical exegesis as explained in another Article – Interpretation of Scripture.
Regarding ‘Trinity’, Scripture nowhere specifically proclaims that the ONLY true identity of GOD is triune in nature, thereby LIMITING Him to merely three manifestation of Self to mankind. Significantly, many doctrines of men exist that proclaim such exclusively, especially in defense of their dogma regarding the Deity of Christ. Such are unfortunate examples of myopic explications and/or ‘private interpretations’ – to be completely avoided according to an admonition of Scripture.
“We have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any PRIVATE INTERPRETATION, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” – 2Pt. 1:19-21.
The idea that GOD is The Eternal Supreme Being is widely believed and considered completely consistent and relevant to any notion the He ALONE is the Creator, Savior, and Sustainer of life. But the term ’Supreme Being’ appears NO WHERE in all of Scripture! Do we then reject it, as so many do other equally descriptive terms like ‘Trinity’ and the ‘Deity of Christ’ and/or of the Holy Spirit?
Can GOD be rightly referred to as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (and other usually familiar names) EXCLUSIVELY? Isn’t the real essence of GOD so much MORE? What if ALL the names and manifestations of GOD are truly emitting from Him, yet NOT meant to provide a FULL revelation of Him? What if Paul realized this when he communicated in the spirit how little anyone really knows about TRUE GOD?
“For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known” 1 Cor. 13:12.
Hopefully, the absurdity and blatant ignorance of such matters of semantics is understood and accepted as a point of departure for further prayerful consideration. That said, moving on to exploring the actual nature and essence of TRUE GOD, What Scripture does CLEARLY teach is that GOD is ONE. There is ONLY ONE TRUE GOD.
The Old Testament is resplendent with narratives that reveal the worship of many false gods, called idols. The practice is condemned as an abomination, substantiated by GOD’s own declarations of exclusivity to the title GOD. But throughout those many passages, GOD never refers to Himself as ‘Father’ – prophecy does, but never GOD Himself. In fact, the now familiar terms of ‘Father’ and ‘Son’ are exclusive to the New Testament, barring this:
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” – Isa. 9:6.
“Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, And you perish in the way, When His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him” – Psa. 2:12.
Many tend to confuse this truth when they begin to contemplate the several other ‘manifestations’ of GOD. ‘ONE GOD’ does NOT infer that He hasn’t PLURAL manifestations. Just as individuals appear differently at times (new clothes, hair styles, roles, titles, occupations, etc.) while remaining intrinsically the SAME person, so GOD (in who’s ‘image’ man was created), has revealed Himself to mankind in many various forms. Many examples of these various forms are annotated in the Article referred to in the opening sentence RE-BLOGGED – The Trinity: Easy As 1, 2, 3? – ONE FOR ISRAEL Ministry.
Biblical scholars have originated terminology to indicate certain manifestations of God the Son in various ‘pre-incarnate’ Old Testament appearances, often called ‘the Angel of the Lord’ – but NOT exclusively. The theological term for these is ‘Christophany’.
While such references implicate a Christ-like figure, another term, ‘Theophany’ is a manifestation of GOD in a visible appearance of God in the Old Testament period, that is tangible to the human senses. Some examples of theophanies are: as a burning bush, a voice from out of the tempest, a pillar of cloud, the glory of the Lord. No similar term has been offered for Old Testament appearances of God the Holy Spirit.
As was indicated in the aforementioned Article, all the passages containing related narratives clearly implicate that it is GOD that was encountered. Yet many of the cites include manifestations that are NOT even animate personalities! This indicates a much broader comprehension of GOD – well beyond a limited notion of mere triune existence.
Hopefully, the use of BOLD emphasis for GOD throughout this Article has been noticed. The intent is is to distinguish traditional concepts of GOD that are the result of merely ascribing to a specific proclaimed doctrine or an acceptance of a universal idea of God that is so nefarious that any and all religions profess. Under such a notion, GOD could be Allah, Brahma, Buddha, or any number of pagan deities – ALL false gods diametrically opposed to the GOD of the Bible Who ALONE claims to be the ONE TRUE GOD.
“Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, And his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no GOD“ – Isa. 44:6.
“I am the Lord, and there is no other; There is no GOD besides Me” – Isa. 45:5.
“Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth! For I am GOD, and there is no other” – Isa. 45:22.
“Remember the former things of old, For I am GOD, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me” – Isa. 46:9.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.” … And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.” – Rev. 1:11-17.
In the final passage (quoted directly above), the speaker in the narrative is a post-resurrection appearance of Christ to the Apostle John. These claims MUST be perceived as either true and consistent with Isa. 44:6 (the 1st cite above), or blasphemous in light of GOD claiming exclusive right to proclaim of Himself, “I am the First and the Last”.
“God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” – Jn. 4:24.
In conclusion, prayerfully consider this: GOD as He has chosen to reveal Himself is as Jesus declared, essentially SPIRIT. As can be rightly understood, ‘spirits’ are NOT discernible to the natural physical eye. generally considered beings of another realm The very FACT that GOD has manifest in different ways, although specifically appropriate to the incident. In like manner, the SPIRIT that is GOD also evades natural ‘sight’, choosing to reveal Himself in ways conducive to human reception. Equally incomprehensible is the overwhelming evidence of GOD’s Spirit as that of the natural wind.
“Jesus said, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” – Jn. 3:5-8.
Any attempt to reason such spiritual analogies apart from the unique discernment available ONLY from the guidance of the Holy Spirit sadly leaves one as confused as Nicodemus. But fortunately for sincere seekers of God, several clearly proclaimed promises of God have been given.
“You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” – Jer. 29:13.
“The Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you” – Jn. 14:17.
“But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me” – Jn. 15:26.
“When He, the Spirit of Truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth” – Jn. 16:13.
Back to the matter of semantics for these closing remarks – in ALL the above Scriptural quotations, the pronouns (exclusively as part of proper English grammar) are ALL in the masculine tense. This especially important to understand because by their use, an express rejection of any notion that references to the Spirit portray HIM as an inanimate object or mere ‘force’, opposed to the proper designation in the masculine tense, is false.
Other Article for further related exploration >>> , The Existence of God, and The Son of God.