Sunday, January 26, 2014

GOD AND THE TRINITY - PART I

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This is a Christian blog with biblically-themed articles. It also includes respectful articles on the errors of Mormonism. If you would like to be automatically notified each time a new article is posted (once a month), please contact me at janishutchinson@comcast.net.


In view of the confusion that exists on the subject of the Trinity, even by Christians, I felt readers would appreciate an article that pulls it all together. Some Christians may find parts of it elementary; but on the other hand they may catch new insights as well as find their testimony about the Trinity and Jesus’ deity strengthened . .  . and yes, a comparison will be made to Mormon Church's beliefs, but that will come in Part 3.

This article was published some time ago. It generated more interest and positive comments than any other article I've published, making it obvious that more people want to know more on the subject of God. Therefore, since I have many more new subscribers now I am republishing it. There are only a few minor changes from the original; however the major change is that there are endnotes. For some reason they didn't show up in the original publication.




GOD AND THE TRINITY©

(Part 1 of 3)

“And this is life eternal, that they may know thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.”(Jn 17:3)




The Shield of the Trinity - "Scutum Fidei"(1)
The Elohim (plural) is One God

The Trinity is a topic I’ve wanted to address for some time. It is definitely challenging, considering that theologians admit that the concept of three persons in one God is “baffling.” Certainly, the Book of Job expressed it well:  
Can’st thou by searching find out God? Can’st thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? (Job 11:7) 
But what theologians mean by “baffling” is this:  The Trinity, in its pure, unadulterated, infinite, spiritual and eternal reality is unfathomable to the human mind. Nevertheless with that said, we are not totally void of information. The scriptures reveal enough to give us the essentials.

Still, for some that isn’t enough. Many clamor for more detail. They want to be able to picture in their mind’s-eye the ultimate naked reality of the three-in-one God in His spiritual form as He existed in eternity past—even to the point of scientific explanation.

This kind of curiosity, however, does not pose a problem for most Christians—they simply don’t worry about it. They just take on faith what scripture and the Nicene Creed (the 325 AD document that professes the Christian faith) tells them and their inquisitiveness goes no further. They accept as fact that God, knowing that humans would never be able to understand the mystery of an invisible God, condescended to come to earth in human form and reveal what was necessary. This makes Jesus God. So, when they pray they simply picture Jesus. No problem.

However, not all have been able to comfortably settle into this; therefore, this article will be geared for the following:

  • Those who desperately want more detail, Christians or otherwise.
  • Christians who, while accepting Jesus as God feel that their denomination’s creed is written in such indistinct terms that they need to have it spelled out more explicitly.
  • Christians who privately admit they picture the Trinity as three separate Gods (as Mormons do).
  • Those who don’t claim any particular denomination but would like to know more on the subject.
  • Those who have wrestled with so many interpretations in different churches over the years that they’re not sure what to believe.
  • Christian ex-Mormons who find themselves vacillating between the Christian and Mormon view of God.
  • Mormons (yes, they do read these articles), who believe in three separate Gods with Elohim the Father being a resurrected man from a previous world. 
While it would be interesting to cover the complexities of all the different, ear-tickling theories about God floating around “out there,” this is not my intent. The article will focus on presenting the Biblical facts on God and the Trinity (from what has been revealed in scripture) from an evangelical perspective.(2) (See endnote for definition of Evangelical)

As an added bonus this article will offer a unique analogy from the field of Quantum physics (made simple) that will show how the reality of a three-in-one God is scientifically possible. Once you comprehend that, you will have no problem understanding how the three Personages in the Trinity can be “One” God; also, how Jesus can be God and be able to picture it! And in saying this I’m not implying that the Trinity can be technically and scientifically analyzed, but a good metaphor or analogy often helps.

The article necessitates three parts because it will cover such a variety of intriguing questions that people have asked over the years, a few of which are:
·    Is God a person or a cosmic force?
·    Could He possibly be a man?
·    What is meant by God’s essence and attributes? Did he acquire them?
·    Did God have a beginning?
·    Are there three separate Gods in the Trinity? Or are they three beings in one being, or three persons in one being?
·    Could the plural word “Elohim” suggest a plurality of Gods?
·    Is God like a schizophrenic who has three different personalities?

My hope is that the reader will:

(1)   Gain deeper insight into who and what God is—also, what he is not.

(2)   Formulate a better “mind-picture” of the Trinity through the special analogy presented.

(3)   Understand how Jesus can be God.

(4)   Be able to discern the difference between Biblical and unbiblical views of the Godhead.

Major headings will be as follows:

I.              Is God like a Pitcher of Lemonade?
II.           The Hologram— a new analogy for the Trinity
III.         The Biblical Perspective of God

I.
Is God Like a Pitcher of Lemonade?

Many years ago, I lived in the small desert town of Wendover, Utah. My neighbor, a Church of Christ pastor, and I were talking over the backyard fence one summer day about Christianity’s three-in-one concept of the Trinity and Jesus being God. Because I was a Mormon at the time, thus a Tritheist (belief in three separate and distinct Gods), I posed this question to him thinking to show him how illogical his Christian view was. I said:

“The New Testament shows God the Father in heaven and Jesus on earth. Now, how could you possibly believe that Jesus is also God if they’re both in two separate places?”

To illustrate his answer he held one hand high above his head as if holding on to the handle of something and then said: 
“Visualize God as a pitcher of lemonade, pouring out a little part of Himself down onto earth. The part of the lemonade that lands on earth is Jesus, while the lemonade that remains in heaven is God. Therefore, because the substance [material] of both Jesus and God come from the same lemonade, they are both God.” (He also added that the Holy Spirit consists of the same lemonade.) 
I know that with that analogy he was trying hard to help me understand his view of the Trinity—and I’m not belittling his attempt, for now, as a Bible-believing Christian, I can see that there is a kind of truth in it. Yet, somehow his comparison seemed a little, say, irreligious and disrespectful, even somewhat humorous since his description suddenly whet my appetite for an ice-cold glass of lemonade. (It was a hot day).

Regardless, I decided I needed to come up with a better depiction of the Trinity than a pitcher of lemonade—and I do believe I have come up with a unique analogy—in fact, I think it is quite good. It not only offers a good illustration but also scientifically proves how a three-in-one reality is possible. So, here it is:

Drum roll please . . .
II.
THE HOLOGRAM!
A NEW ANALOGY FOR THE TRINITY

In years past, the usual analogies illustrating how three Personages can be one God has been to describe the tri-fold natures of the following:

(1) Water (liquid, ice, vapor)
(2) Egg (white, yoke, shell)
(3) Fire (light, particle and wave)
(4) White light (primary wave lengths of red, blue and yellow)

Since most analogies can only be carried so far before becoming counter-productive, I am proposing a new one. But first, a few definitions of terms that will be used in this article:

Most of us are already familiar with the terms “holistic” and “holism” as it relates to today’s approach to health and medicine, meaning that all aspects of people's needs, physical, psychological, social and mental should be taken into account as having a significant influence on the whole person. But a term that may not be so familiar is the hologram, which will be used in this new analogy.

But before we get into the definition of a hologram, here are the three terms I will be using. I am not talking about three different subjects. They mean the same thing:


Holism:      the view that the whole is greater than the sum of its                         parts.
Holistic:     the nature of holism; for example, “Holism is holistic in                      nature.”
Hologram: a special kind of three-dimensional lensless photography                  that embaces Holism. It is, therefore, holistic.
Now, to holograms:  They are already being used in industry, aeronautics and in supermarkets where holographic discs and laser beams read bar codes. They can also be used in three-dimensional holographic laser-photography. You may recall the hologram used in the movie Star Wars where Princess Leia called for help by sending a three-dimensional moving image of herself on film to Obi-Wann-Kenobi. However, to my knowledge a moving image is not yet scientifically achievable; but holographic laser-photography is. And it proves to be an excellent illustration of the oneness and “unitedness” of the Trinity. (Yes, I know there’s no such word as unitedness.)

So, what exactly is hologram laser photography? Ken Wilbur, editor of The Holographic Paradigm and Other Paradoxes, gives the definition:  
. . . a  method of lensless photography in which the wave field of light scattered by an object is recorded on a plate as an interference pattern. When the photographic record – the hologram—is placed in a coherent light beam like a laser, the original wave pattern is regenerated. A three-dimensional image appears. Because there is no focusing lens, the plate appears as a meaningless pattern of swirls [but] any piece of the hologram will reconstruct the entire image.(3) 
Here is how Wilbur illustrates the above: 

If you were to take a holographic photograph of a horse and cut out one section of it, say its head, and then enlarge that picture of the head it to its original size, you will get, not a big head but a picture of the whole horse. Do the same with the tail and you’ll get the same result—the whole horse. Even if you keep cutting out smaller and smaller pieces of the horse, when you enlarge each piece the original image of the whole horse will be displayed instead of only the part you cut out. The image of the complete horse is in the head and the image of the complete horse is in the tail. Wilbur emphasizes that, “Each part contains the whole [and] the part has access to the whole.”(4)

Now, if you could step into eternity and take a holographic photograph of the three-in-one God (if this were possible), cut one of the three personages out, say God the Son, and enlarge only that piece of God the Son, you would see, not the Son by Himself but God in his whole and complete triune reality! Do the same with the Holy Spirit—cut Him out and you would see the complete image of God. Thus, the whole image of God is contained in the Son whether he is still in heaven as the second Person in the Godhead or on earth in human form. It is the perfect hologram! Therefore, holographically speaking, Jesus contains the whole image of God, so Jesus is also God. This applies to any of the three members of the Trinity who are all holographic in nature and essence. The hologram also helps to clarify the statement in Col. 2:9, “For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” (Discussed later)

God’s Omnipresence and Omniscience explained by holism
“Omnipresence” (everywhere present), and “Omniscience” (all-knowing) are two of God’s attributes. While not explicitly labeled as such in the scriptures they are, nevertheless, implicit as in Jer. 23:24:

Omnipresence:  “Do not I fill heaven and earth? Saith the Lord.” (Jer. 23:24)
The holistic principle explains how God is able to be everywhere at once, permeating all of creation (this is not suggesting pantheism.) If this principle of holism were not contained in God’s spiritual essence (substance), none of the theologians could make the statement as they do, that “Spiritual substance . . . . is a complete whole at every point”(5)

Omniscience:  “Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord.” (Jer. 23:24)
This holistic attribute is infused into every part of the universe, including man and accounts for God’s all-knowing capability that enables Him to receive immediate and instant knowledge of whatever is taking place.

These two attributes are only possible with a God who is a spirit. If God were a man as Mormons believe, even a resurrected and exalted one, He would not be capable of this.

The holistic consensus
We’ll now touch on science a little, for it would appear that God created a holistic universe as well. (Relax, we're not going to get into String Theory, but see endnote.(6)) This section will show that scientists acknowledge the principle of holism in the creation. Why are they saying this? Because of their observation of the interrelatedness of subatomic particles. Many have said that the subatomic particles act as if they are part of something greater—as if the universe is a giant hologram, where each part has access to some whole. Physicists are bent on searching for that “Fundamental Something” that they believe supports everything—an underlying ground that ties everything together that is greater than the individual parts of our universe.

Men of the past, such as Max Planck and Einstein, stated that they believed that the universe itself could be a hologram; that is, every so-called individual part is in some mysterious manner connected to and contains the whole. In fact, Einstein said this is how he formulated his theory of relativity. His passionate search, as with present-day scientists, was for a fundamental, underlying ground that would tie together the four forces of nature: the strong and weak nuclear forces, electromagnetism and gravity. His theory is referred to as GUT, or the “Grand Unifying Theory.”(6) He said it would be impossible to find the underlying ground of the universe without regarding the total physical system of the universe as an “organic, functional whole.”

Dr. Ernest Nagel, in the Structure of Science defines functional wholes: 
Organic or functional wholes are systems where the behavior of the individual elements are not determined of themselves, but determined by the intrinsic nature of the whole, and the parts of this whole are so related that any alteration in one of them causes a change in all the other parts.(7) 
This definition makes itself evident in Quantum physics and subatomic particles:

In 1982, Alain Aspect, a physicist at the University of Paris, found that under certain circumstances subatomic particles such as electrons were able to communicate instantaneously with each other regardless of the distance separating them. This occurred whether they were 10 feet or 10 billion miles apart. Each particle always seemed to know what the other was doing at such speed that it violated Einstein’s claim that communication could not travel faster than the speed of light. Aspect also added that “at some deeper level of reality such particles are not individual entities, but are actually extensions of the same fundamental something.”(8)  (Compare this to Jesus being an extension of God.)

David Bohm, University of London physicist, said that Quantum field findings indicate the universe is like a gigantic hologram—a kind of ‘whole in every part’ structure, where each part or element of the universe contains all the information contained in every other part. He also stated that there is “a deeper level of reality we are not privy to—a more underlying unity that is holographic and indivisible.”(9) Physicists are still continuing to search for this holographic, underlying fundamental something.

Thus, the scientific view that has emerged is that the parts of any whole cannot exist and be understood except in their relationship to the whole. Dr. Fritjof Capra, theoretical physicist, elaborates:
The basic oneness of the universe is . . . one of the most important revelations of modern physics. It becomes apparent at the atomic level and manifests itself more and more as one penetrates deeper into matter, down into the realm of subatomic particles.  . . . subatomic particles . . . the constituents of matter and the basic phenomena involving them are all interconnected, interrelated and interdependent . . . they cannot be understood as isolated entities, but only as integrated parts of the whole.(10) 
Capra’s concept of the hologram in which the whole is in the parts and the parts are in and have access to the whole should facilitate a clearer picture of how the three Personages in the Trinitarian God, including Jesus while He was on earth, contain the whole image of God. (Remember how the hologram, in using the individual parts of the horse [head, tail], shows they contain the whole image of the horse.)

In the same manner, one cannot consider the three Persons individually and separate, for they are one holographic God containing the full essence and attributes of God. Therefore, the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. Like the organic, indivisible functional whole that underlies the universe that physicists are looking for, so an organic and indivisible God underlies the Trinity.

I found that the similarity between the principles of the subatomic universe and the Christian perspective of the Trinity captivating, if not startling, so created this comparison chart:
With that under our belt, we’ll now move on to the “Biblical Perspective of God” and then to the Trinity. (Quotes will be from the KJV unless otherwise noted.)

III.
The Biblical Perspective of God

The following questions will be considered:

         1)   Instead of a person, could God be a cosmic force, or an immense blob              of spiritual energy?

2)      How can an invisible God be a person?

3)      What is meant by God’s essence and attributes? Did he acquire them?

4)      Did God have a beginning?

5)      What is God’s name?

6)      Does God say anything about his own existence?

7)      Could He possibly be a man?

8)      Could there be other Gods?

9)      Could the word “Elohim” suggest a plurality of Gods?

10)   Is there a difference between the Holy Ghost and the Holy Spirit?

Instead of a person, could God be a cosmic force—an immense blob of spiritual energy?
Ask yourself this:  Can a cosmic force, spiritual blob or something that is not a person have the following attributes?
·     Love?
·      A voice?
·      Center of consciousness?
·      Awareness?
·      Independence and autonomy?
·      Hearing?
·      Ability to bless?
·      Intellect, knowledge, emotion will and intentions?
·      Thoughts, feelings, desires, and beliefs?
·      Feelings of both anger and love?
·      Plan and create the earth?
·        Make man in his own image? (mind, free will, emotion, intellect, ability to communicate)
·      Desire relationships?
·      Act as judge?
·      Exhibit jealousy and indignation?
·      Refer to us as his children and Himself as a Father?
·      Heal us?
·      Provide for us?
·      Be faithful and true?
·      Provide salvation?
·      Provide a plan to redeem believers?
·      Comfort us in time of trouble?
·      Reward those who seek him?
·      Continually be there for us?
·      Do things with a purpose?

A cosmic globule cannot exhibit the above capacities; neither can an impersonal spiritual energy, divine principle, creative urge, unseen force or mathematical necessity. Only a Person. Therefore, all the characteristics of God shout loud and clear that He is a Person—a loving One who speaks, hears, blesses and saves via His distinctions as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And because the whole is in the parts and God is a person, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are also persons. (See an excellent article on God’s character and attributes at:  http://www.saintsalive.com/resourcelibrary/general/the-character-of-god.

How can an invisible God be a person?
A “person” has intellect, mind, can think, reflect, reason, has freedom and can consider itself as itself (a self-consciousness being). These invisible attributes are what make God a person. He does not have to have a physical body to be a person. Theologians continually state that we are met with problems when we try to transfer our mortal definition of “person,” to the realm of the eternal because we have a tendency to picture individual, mortal-like persons in bodies.

But the truth is that with humans, the physical body only houses the person. We are persons because we are self-conscious, capable of thinking, reasoning and exercising free will. This is how we are in the image of God. If God did not have these invisible attributes, He would not be a person and would be on a lower level than man.

We also know that God is a person because He used personal pronouns in the scriptures when referring to Himself (He, Him, I, Me); so did Jesus when speaking of Him.

What is meant by God’s attributesDid He acquire them?
One cannot acquire attributes. Both words, attributes and essence mean the same. They refer to the composition of whatever it is that makes something what it is. It makes humans what they are and makes God what He is. According to Webster, essence and attributes are adjectives used to describe an intrinsic property, quality or characteristic. The word “intrinsic” means that which is built-in; the fundamental nature of a thing which is inseparable from that nature. Here is an example:

I have a particular essence and set of attributes that go to make up my what-ness. They are what decides that I am human. My cat has the essence and attributes that go to make up its “cat-ness.” A bird has the essence and attributes that go to make up its “bird-ness.” God has the essence and attributes which make up His “God-ness.” Therefore, no one can learn or acquire attributes or essence. You are what you are.

What are the intrinsic attributes of God?


Omnipotence (all powerful)
Omniscience (all knowing)
Omnipresence (His infinitude in relation to space)
Self-existent (eternal)
Immutable (unchangeable)
Spiritual (a quality opposed to material)
Infinity (unlimited existence, capacity, energy and perfection)
Eternal (the Infinitude of God in relation to duration)
Self-sufficiency (in need of nothing)
Perfection (no possibility of defect)
Holiness (moral perfection; absence of evil)
Freedom (a self-determiniing agent; a free personal being who acts on his own perfections.)
Just (righteousness in judging)
Truth (being above all that is true, real and reliable; constant, permanent, faithful, reliable.)
Love (highest characteristic of God consisting of feeling and affection)
Mercy (A ministry of love for the relief of those suffering or in need, whether ill-deserving.)
Grace (what God is free to do. Distinguished from mercy and love)

Did God have a beginning?
While this is an intriguing question, an answer would be impossible because it would suggest that if God had a beginning there had to have been a time when He did not exist. If he did not exist, then prior to his coming into being one of two conditions had to exist: (1) absolutely nothing existed at all, or (2) an outside source existed that brought God into being. If an outside source brought God into being, that source would have to be greater than God (another God). This would naturally bring up the following question:  “Well, then who created Him?”

If one answers, “yet another God,” and keeps going back, genealogically speaking, God after God after God ad infinitum, then this not only creates a plurality of Gods which God denounces in the scriptures, but when arriving at the original God who supposedly is the cause of all these other Gods, the question still remains: “Did this original God have a beginning? It all leads to an obvious dead-end. The logical answer and the most scriptural is that God did not have a beginning. There is only one infinite and eternal Being who is the “Uncaused First Cause.” Joseph Smith’s declaration that the original God came from a “Sea of Intelligence” to which God was subject, would demote God and is in total disagreement to what God declared about His preeminent nature. (Discussed in section on Mormonism-Part 3.)

If the original God is the Uncaused First Cause, the next question usually asked is:

What is His Name?
In eternity past before the universe was created, when the only thing that existed was the Trinitarian God, there was probably no need for a name since names are only used when one is required to identify oneself to someone else. After God created the world and began communicating with man, He had a name to offer, although he never revealed it right away—not even to Abraham (Ex. 6:3)—but maybe this was because Abraham never asked. As we’ll see below, Moses asked and found out it was YHWH. But first a little academic stuff.

The name of God is referred to as the “Tetragrammaton,” which means “four letters.” Since there are no vowels in Hebrew, only consonants, the four letters are YHWH (Yahweh). The Jews, to avoid pronouncing the sacred name of God, used “Adonai” which means “My Lord,” “Lord,” or “Master.”(11)Yahweh is a hybrid word combining the vowels of “Adonai” with the consonants of the Tetragrammaton.” Therefore, YHWH was revised into English as JHVH, then to Jehovah. (See endnote on how Bible translators designate the difference between Elohim, Jehovah, and Lord on the printed page.)

We now know His name because God gave it to Moses. When Moses approached the burning bush and was told he was to deliver the children of Israel from bondage, Moses asked:

Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of our fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? What shall I say unto them?” (Exodus 3:13)

God’s response, and the only one He could possibly give as an eternal Uncaused First Cause, was “Ehyth asher ehyehl:”

I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. (v. 14)

God was saying, “I am Who I am!” or, “I will be that which I now am.” With a certain verb inflection of hiph’il of the root word it can also mean something like, “he who causes to exist,” or “who gives life.” As a qal (basic stem) verb inflection, it could mean “he who is, who exists(12)  The Greek translation (Septuagint) renders it as: “I am He who is.” Both the word  “am” and “is” indicates an ever-present existence. God was literally declaring to Moses that He is “the absolute I, the self-existent one—a statement of his timeless, eternal nature that has no beginning or end.(13) He also added, “This is my name forever.” This means that going backwards forever, or going forward forever, He eternally exists as the only great I AM, who forever IS.

Could God possibly be a man?
God has unequivocally said “No!” In fact, He said there is absolutely nothing or anyone to compare Him to:

To whom then will ye liken Me, or shall I be equal? Saith the Holy One’             (Isa. 40:25).

To whom then will ye liken God? Or what likeness will ye compare unto
Him?’ (Isa. 40:18).

To whom will ye liken Me, and make Me equal, and compare Me, that we
may be alike?’ (Isa. 46:5).

Certainly, if God were a man or could even be compared to a man, He would have said so—especially since he was relaying this crucial information to a man (Isaiah) who would appreciate a specific comparison. In fact, God continually warned those who would corrupt His nature and change it into a man or something He was not:

. . . do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol [physical or mental], an image of any shape, whether formed like a man or a woman, or like any animal on earth or any bird that flies in the air, or like any creature that moves along the ground or any fish in the waters below. And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars—all the heavenly array—do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshipping things the LORD your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven. (Deut. 4:16–19 NIV 1984)

So, what is God? The Apostle John spells it out:  God is a Spirit(Jn. 4:24).

This was also verified by the Psalmist:

Whither shall I go Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. (Ps. 139:7-10. RSV)

Jeremiah also confirmed God’s spiritual make-up, at the same time including His attributes of Omnipresence and Omniscience:

Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? Saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? Saith the Lord.” (Jer. 23:24) [Omnipresence]

Furthermore, God emphasized to Moses that he definitely has no form:

Then the LORD spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice(Deut. 4:12 RSV)

You saw no form of any kind the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves very carefully. (Deut. 4:15)

God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. (Num. 23:19. NLT)

That God is a Spirit is evidenced when Jesus, after His bodily resurrection, made a point of establishing the difference between a Spirit and a man. He said to his disciples (who thought they were seeing a spirit):  “A Spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have.” (Luke 24:39) God does not have flesh and bones, although the incarnated Jesus did.

Over and over again, the scriptures reiterate that not only is God not a man. He is much more than we can conceive of—in fact so much more, that we are unable (at the peril of our lives) to stand in His presence as a mortal and see Him in His full glory. This is why God had to hold this privilege back when Moses asked to see Him:

Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. . . . thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.” (Ex. 33:20, 23)

The term, “face” is a metaphor. God does not have a human face like ours (except for Christ). We need to recognize when metaphors are metaphors, for if we were to take them literally then God would be a gigantic bird with wings and feathersand Jesus would actually be a loaf of bread or a doorThe only literal “face” God ever provided to mortals was the face of Jesus. It was God’s only way to reveal His invisible self to finite humans. (Col. 1:15-16; 1 Ti. 1:17; Heb. 11:27) While some Old Testament writers wrote that they saw God “face to face,” upon examination it will show that their experiences were mainly theophanies, a limited kind of appearance.

Could there be other Gods?
Some insist on debating this question. Why, I don’t know because what would be the warranted need for more gods? None that I can see. Jehovah makes clear in Isa. 44:6 and 3:10 that there have been no other Gods in the past, nor will there be in the future:

“I am the first, I am the last; besides me, there is no God.”

“. . . that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. (This eliminates Mormons becoming Gods.)

Jesus also confirmed only one God:

And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord . . . And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he(Mk 12:29-34) [See endnotes for 26 more scriptures.](14)

Could the plural word “Elohim” used in the creation suggest a plurality of Gods?’
The word Elohim can denote singular or plural depending upon the grammar and context. But in Genesis One the singular word rendered in English as  “God” is specifically translated from the plural noun, “Elohim—not from “Eloah,” the singular form for God.(15)  This was not a mistake. When Moses wrote the book of Genesis he was already familiar with Eloah and could have used it. (Deut. 32:15)Moses obviously had some Divine imperative that compelled him to employ such a term; otherwise he would never have opened Genesis with such a disturbing form.

The plural name of God is reiterated elsewhere:
Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” [Note the followed use of the singular “his” . . .]  So God [Elohim/plural] created man in his [singular] own image, in the image of God [Elohim/plural] created he him . . (Gen. 1:26-27)

Behold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil. (Gen. 11:7 NASB) Come, Let us go down, and there confound their language . . .” (Gen. 11:7, Tower of Babel).

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us.” ( Isa. 6:8 NASB) 
“Remember now thy Creator.” (Eccl 12:1)
 Accurate rendering:  “Remember thy CreatorS
“Thus saith God the LORD He that created the heavens, and stretched them out them out." (Isa. 42:5) Accurate rendering: “Thus saith God the LORD, He that created . . . and they that stretched them out.”
Who were included in the plural names of us and we, considering that during Old Testament times the Israelites knew nothing about any Trinitarian aspect of God? (This wasn’t made known until Jesus Christ came and revealed the truth.)

While many have conjectured that the plural rendering of God’s name of Elohim is a form of majesty in which a King sometimes refers to himself as “we” or “us,” not all are of that opinion. Some believe it is a reference to the three Persons of the Trinity, which I go along with. Taking the Old Testament and New Testament together, only the Trinity can explain all the plural usages of Elohim. Plus, John 1 appears to verify this as well (discussed later).(16) (Also see this endnote for combining both singular and plural.) While there may be three persons in the one God, they are not three separate Gods; they are one holographic God.

Belief in one-God-only, despite the use of the plural Elohim, is found throughout Israel’s long history—in fact, it is remarkably significant considering that Israel recognized a God with at least two major names: Elohim and Yahwey—yet the Israelites were never confused into believing that these two represented separate Gods. They were one and the same. Whatever name God used in the Old Testament, or any appellation the Israelites chose to designate Him by whether it be Elohim or YahweyEl-Shaddai or El-ElyonHe was One, and this fact was, and is, continually declared in Israel’s “Shema,” even though the name of God indicates both plural and singular:(17) (Also see this endnote for other names of God.)

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD.”
(Deut 6:4-KJV)
Literal Hebrew translation:
“Hear, O Israel: The Yahwey (singular) our Elohim (plural) is one Yahwey.”

Israelites also declared:

“The LORD, he is God.”
(Deut. 4:35 KJV)
Literal Hebrew translation:
“Jehovah (singular), he is Elohim (plural).”

Kudos also need to be given to Jesus’ Jewish followers. They fully accepted the pronouncement delivered by the angel who told Mary that her son would be called “Immanuel, God with us.” (Isa 7:14 and Matt.1:23) and were able to include Jesus into their one God concept without any confusion.

God states over and over again that despite the plurality implicit in His name of Elohim there are NO other Gods:

I am the LORD, and there is NO other; apart from me there is NO God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know there is NONE besides me. I am the LORD, and there is NO OTHER.” (Isa. 45:5-6. RSV)

Is there a God beside Me? Yea, there is NO God; I know not ANY. (Isa. 44:8).

I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is NO saviour. (Isa. 43:11)

There is NO God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is NONE beside me. (Isa 45:21)
         
As our mothers used to say, waving a finger at us, “What part of ‘NO,’ don’t you understand?”
#
To Summarize Part I of this series:
  • The Triune God:
    "... is not the Father. He is the one God consisting of Father, Son and Holy Ghost; neither is he the Son. He is the one God, consisting of Father, Son and Holy Ghost; neither is He the Holy Ghost. He is the one God, consisting of Father, Son and Holy Ghost.”(18)
  • Within God’s inner, implicate Being there are three personages, or distinctions, who are members of an undivided and indivisible whole. 
  • We do not baptize in the “nameS” of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, but in the “name” of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. 
  • There are not three beings within one being; there are not three persons within one person—There are three persons in one Being. 
  • The Trinitarian Godhead of Father, Son and Holy Spirit are a unified whole and function like a hologram.
  • Scientists verify the holographic nature of the universe, including subatomic particles.
  • God did not acquire the attributes that make him God. He is what he is.
  • God is a spirit, not a man. His omniscience, omnipresence and other attributes can only function if he is a spirit
  • He warns us not to think of him as a man (except for the later incarnation of Jesus).
  • He is a person, not a cosmic force.
  • He did not have a beginning.
  • He has a name—YHWH (Jehovah) he who is, who exists.
  • God emphatically states in the scriptures that there are no other gods besides him.         
         (All endnotes are listed at the end)

DON'T MISS PART 2!
HERE'S A PREVIEW OF SOME OF THE TOPICS!
  • The problem in viewing members of the Trinity as distinct individuals in their own right.
  • More verification of the holographic nature of God.
  • Does the term “Trinity,” coined by a council that took place after the last apostle died, negate the existence of a Trinitarian God prior to that?
  • Why does life eternal (John 17:3) hinge on knowing who God is?
  • Did Jesus really say he was God? If so, how could he pray to himself?
  • What is the difference between the Holy Spirit and the Holy Ghost; is he a person or a cosmic force?
  • Explanation of John 1, the begetting of the second person of the Trinity into humanity.
  • Why does John call Jesus the “Word?”
  • Did creation come ex-nihilo, out of nothing, or ex-materia, out of preexistent matter?
  • and much more . . .
THANK YOU FOR VISITING!

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ENDNOTES

1.   Also called, "Scutum Fidei.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinity. See also,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Shield-Trinity-Scutum-Fidei-variations.svg

2.   “Evangelical,” in this article, will mean Protestant Christian theology. Evangelicals do not belong to a specific denomination. They are found in all churches—non-denominational, independent, Baptist, Methodist, evangelical Bible churches, and others. While they may vary on a few points, basically, they all share the following: (1) a conservative view of the Bible [Biblical authority and verbally inspired] believe in one eternal God who, through a single essence, exists in three equal persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost/Spirit (3) God the Son became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ who was begotten by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary, and (4) all will be resurrected to enjoy either life with 
God or eternal suffering.

3.   Ken Wilbur, Ed., The Holographic Paradign and other paradoxes: Exploring the leading edge of science (Boulder, CO: Shambhalka Pub. 1982) p. 6.) [Italics are the author’s. Underlining mine.]

4.   Ken Wilbur, Op. cit, p. 2. [Italics are the author’s; underlining is mine.]

5.   Henry C. Thiessen. Lectures in Systematic Theology. (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., Dec. 1980), p. 78.

6.   The search for an underlying and unifying ground led to the speculative “String theory,” which theorizes that the nuclear forces are one-dimensional “strings” that vibrate at different resonances, producing the fundamental particles that make up the physical universe. However, for string theory to make sense mathematically, there has to be more dimensions to our universe than we perceive—ten. M-theory resulted from this, which calls for an eleventh dimension revealing objects called “membranes (“branes” for short). For a video explaining String Theory, go to http://www.ted.com/talks/brian_greene_on_string_theory.html.

7.   Dr. Ernest Nagel, The Structure of Science. (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, Inc., 1961) 28. [Underlining mine]

8.  The following link is not the one I originally read to obtain this information, but it still covers the same material. http://www.crystalinks.com/holographic.html. [Underlining, mine]

9.   Ibid. [Italics mine.]

10. The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra (Bantam Book 1980), 117-118. Note: In his book, the author
compares scientific discoveries with insights within Taoism and Buddhism. Quoting this author does not mean I embrace the Eastern religions, only that the book contains pertinent information on the subatomic world. Dr. Capra also has a book, Belonging to the Universe, that explores parallels between science and Christian theology.

11. In the Old Testament Bible translators make the following designations. (newer versions may vary slightly from this):
The word, “LORD” all in caps means Yahwey or Jehovah.
The word, “Lord” (capital L and rest of word in lower case), means Adonai, Lord or Master.
The word, “God” (capital G and rest of word in lower case), means Elohim.
The word, “GOD” (all caps), means Jehovah. (In instances were Adonai is used as a compound
with Jehovah, the latter term is spelled GOD, so that the compound name "Lord GOD" designates the Hebrew, "Adonai Jehovah."

12. Wikipedia.com. See also, http://www.tetragrammaton.org/tetrastudy.html.

13. Unger’s Bible Dictionary, Merrill F. Unger (Moody Press, 1980) 510.

14. Deut. 4:35, 39; Deut. 6:4; Deut. 32:39; 2 Sam. 7:22: I Kings 8:60; 2 Kings 5:15; 2 Kings 19:15; I Chron. 17:20; Neh. 9:6; Ps. 18:31; Ps. 86:10; Isa. 37:16, 20; Isa. 43:10, 11; Isa. 44: 6, 8; Isa. 45:21; Isa. 46:9; Hosea 13:4; Joel 2:27; Zech. 14:9; Mk 12:29-34; Jn 17:3; Rom. 3:30; 1 Cor. 8:4-6; Gal. 3:20; Eph. 4:6; I Tim. 1:17; 1 Tim. 2:5; James 2:19.

15. Scriptures using plural pronouns when God refers to Himself: Gen. 1:27; cf Gen. 3:22; 11:7; Isa. 6:8. When the angel of the Lord appears representing Yahweh who has same attributes and actions as God: Gen. 16:7, 10-11, 13; 18:1-33; Ex. 3:1-4:31; 32:20-22; Num. 22:35, 38; Judg. 2:1-2; 6:11-18. References to two Gods, the second recognized as Christ in the New Testament: Ps. 45:6-7; 110:1; 45:7; Ps. 110:1; Heb. 1:8, 13; Matt. 22:41-46; Prov. 8:22-31; 30:4; Dan. 7:13-14.

16. Is it unusual to combine both plural and singular? No. There is evidence in other cultures that a plural noun for God can be used to indicate a singular God. Michael S. Heiser, Doctor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Semitic Languages, notes examples from Akkadian texts where the plural Akkadian word 'ilanu, for “gods” actually has reference to a singular god. He also adds that there are over a hundred instances in the political correspondence of that time where 'ilanu was used to refer to Pharaoh, and there was only one Pharoah. http://www.sitchiniswrong.com/Elohim/Elohim.htm.

17. Other names of God: El-Elyon (The Most High God; Gen. 14:17-20; Isa. 14:13-14); or El-Roi (The Strong One Who Sees; Gen. 16:13); El-Shaddai (God of the Mountains/God Almighty; Gen. 17:1, Ps. 91:1; El-Olam (The Everlasting God Isa. 40:28-31). There are more. See
http://www.smilegodlovesyou.org/names.html and http://ldolphin.org/Names.html.

18 “The Doctrine of the Trinity” by Charles H. Welch, quoting a “Dr. Chalmers,” Ch. 7, p. 22. Published by The Berean Publishing Trust. (Emphasis mine) See also:
www.bibleunderstanding.com/Is%20God%20a%20Person.PDF.



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