Does the Trinity Matter in Apologetics?

The truth that God is Triune (“God is Three, God is One”) was not something I had previously given much thought to in doing apologetics. However, at a time when many Christian apologists are trying to convince non-believers of “bare theism,” I have now come to see that the Doctrine of the Trinity is absolutely vital to the defense of the Christian faith.

I came to this conclusion while researching and writing one of my Capstone papers (like a Master’s thesis) for Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, which addressed the question, “What is the role of the Trinity in John Frame’s Apologetics?”

In the paper, I dig into the writings of John Frame (in my opinion, one of the most important theologian-philosophers doing work today) and his unique contribution to the world of theology, namely triperspectivalism. Don’t know what that is? You aren’t alone. It’s unfamiliar to many, but incredibly important, and incredibly cool once you find out how it works. I submit this paper as a resource for thinking about doing apologetics in a more biblical way.

Access the white paper at the Resources tab or here.

Read more by Dr. Frame here.

Catechism Qs 3-4

How many Persons are in the Godhead?

Three!

Who are the Persons in the Godhead?

The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he came up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened. Jesus saw the Spirit of God coming down on him like a dove.  A voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, and I love him. I am very pleased with him.”

Matthew 3:16-17 (NIrV)

May the grace shown by the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. May the love that God has given us be with you. And may the sharing of life brought about by the Holy Spirit be with you all.

2 Corinthians 13:14 (NIrV)

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit….

Matthew 18:19 (NET)

Going back to the early years of this American experiment, there was a growing concern around the issue of diversity. The first settlers to arrive here from the Old World were English, but it did not take long for a large number of German immigrants to arrive. The Americans of English descent, then, began to worry that their anglo culture would be overcome by the norms, traditions, and religion of the Germans. It was a question of, how will this country achieve a sense of unity amidst all this diversity. Of course, there were two other people groups on the scene–namely the Native Americans and African-Americans–and it could be argued that the anglos did not exactly incorporate these two groups very well (but that is a discussion for another time).

Today, the question of unity amidst diversity has not gone away. In many ways it has intensified. And the question is relevant on every level, from a global scale (how will refugees from Syria integrate into Western culture?) down to our own homes (how will my son who wants to watch “Ninja Turtles” get along with his sister who is dying to watch “Strawberry Shortcake?”)

In the Bible, the question of unity and diversity is solved. And the answer comes in the very nature of who God is. The Scriptures present God to us as one God, ever-existing in three Persons. These are not three “personalities,” as though God were schizophrenic, but actual, distinct Persons. And yet God is one.

So, Christianity is monotheistic, believing in the one true God. Yet the one God has revealed to us as a Trinity–a tri-unity or “three-one-ity.” So there it is: God, the foundation of reality, in whom we all live, move and have our being (Acts 17:28) is united-in-diversity. The Father is not the Son is not the Holy Spirit. And these three are one.

If your children are toddlers, do not expect them to grasp this concept (as an adult, do you grasp it?!). It is enough for now that they know that there is one true God, and there are three persons in the “Godhead,” or divine nature. And this basic doctrine can be the foundation upon which you can build into your kids the complementary truths that (1) different does not automatically mean bad, and (2) it’s good to be united around what really matters.

The Doctrine of the Trinity is essential for understanding how the Church, which is a diverse bunch if ever there was one(!), can be one family–and how a family can love each other, even if its members are not all the same.

How does the Doctrine of the Trinity affect the way you see the world? Let me know.