Bible Study Notes: The Trinity

If you happen to be familiar with the church year, then you know that last week, June 11th, was Trinity Sunday. On Trinity Sunday, some Christian churches recite the Athanasian Creed, which is a thorough description of the immanent workings of the Triune God as well as the nature of Jesus as god and man. My church’s vicar, who is essentially acting as pastor while the pastor is away, gave the congregation the week following Trinity Sunday to submit any questions that we had about the Trinity so that he could address their questions in this week’s bible study. The bible study ended up being a combination of his pre-prepared presentation and his answers to the congregation’s questions. While he’s not as wild as the crazy pastor, some interesting topics did come up. As you’re about to see, I took notes on what was said.

The Trinity: A Complete Explanation in One Hour

  • First, we watch St. Patrick’s Bad Analogies to explain the workings of the Trinity
  • People’s first thoughts of the Trinity are things like “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” and “Three in One”
  • One reason to believe in Christianity is because the Trinity is essentially too complicated to be made up; if someone thought up Christianity then why did they make it so complicated? The only explanation for how complicated the Trinity is must be because it’s real, so the intricacy was unavoidable
  • Whoever desires to be saved must wholeheartedly believe the Athanasian Creed (thus the Trinity)
  • Vicar says his children are Christians even though they can’t explain the Trinity or the Athanasian Creed, so they, like all true Trinitarian Christians, must believe by faith and not rely on reason or their own understanding
  • Someone asks about how the Athanasian Creed doesn’t sound very LCMS towards the end since it hints to being saved by good works and not by faith alone; “And those who have done good will enter into eternal life, and those who have done evil into eternal fire.”
  • Vicar points him towards Matthew 25:31-46 where essentially, at the ends of their lives, people are separated into those who did good and went to heaven and those who did bad and went to hell, similarly to what is said in the Athanasian Creed
  • This too, hints at being saved by works rather than faith, but Matthew 25 is Lutheran, which means that the Athanasian Creed is Lutheran as well
  • They justify themselves in teaching that good works get you into heaven, because they say that good works are only a result of faith, so those who do not have faith cannot do good
  • (This confuses me because it seems to contradict what these same Lutherans believe on the topic of total depravity and the fact that no one can do any good. I understand that they say that the Holy Spirit performs good works through us rather than the believers themselves doing good, but why, then, does he only do good works through and give faith to certain people?)
  • Anyways, their verdict on this is that good works without faith is worthless and does not get you into heaven, and also there are some good works that you can only do if you’re a Christian (I don’t know what this means… they didn’t give any examples)
  • This leads them to the question: if not for sinners, then who was Hell made for?
  • (One guy shouts: “HELL WAS MADE FOR UNBELIEVERS!”)
  • The vicar corrects him, saying that hell was made to punish Satan and his angels, but unbelievers end up going there as well
  • You only count as a believer if you’re a Christian believer, and you’re only a Christian believer if you believe in the Triune God, and you only believe in the Triune God if you believe in the Athanasian Creed
  • Just because you go to church and recite the Athanasian Creed doesn’t mean that you believe it (yes, I am aware of this)
  • If you believe in a god that’s not the Triune God, then you don’t believe in the God of the Bible but rather an idol that doesn’t exist or provide salvation, like Allah
  • They then got into some of the more intricate workings of the trinity, which can essentially be summed up by this graphic:

trinity


I kind of enjoyed attending this bible study. It was interesting that my mother and I sat and listened to the same thing and took the same notes and obviously have completely different thoughts on what we heard. Even though I don’t agree with or believe what was said, it’s still an interesting topic to learn about. It’s important to understand that you can attend church, even sit in bible study and takes notes and even be somewhat intrigued without believing in the Trinity or in God at all. It even helps me become a more informed atheist so that I know both what I do believe and what I don’t believe.

Note: when the Athanasian Creed says “catholic church,” it essentially just means the Christian church.

4 Replies to “Bible Study Notes: The Trinity”

  1. It is a strange coincidence that you posted this on the same day I happened to come across the article below from Christian Today, which wonders if finger spinners are useful for explaining the Trinity and finding God. I can’t help but feel that the argument that the Trinity is too complex to have been invented, Nan’s point above that the historical record seems to suggest the idea of the Trinity is a later extra-Biblical invention and the apparently common observation of finger-spinner-Trinity analogies are somehow related – like they are three different yet inseparable parts of some larger argument, linking the concept of the Trinity, the historical record and the seemingly limitless ability of humans to make stuff up and see what they want to see.

    https://www.christiantoday.com/article/toying.with.the.trinity.can.fidget.spinners.point.us.to.god/109960.htm

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Re: “The Trinity” — in research for my book, I learned the doctrine of the trinity was not taught by early Christians, nor is the word found anywhere in the bible.

    In fact, there wasn’t any mention of a trinity until the late second century when Theophilus of Antioch used it to refer to God, his Word, and his Wisdom. Later, in the early third century, Tertullian, a Latin theologian, wrote a treatise in which he definitively described the trinity as the Father, Son, and Spirit. It wasn’t until the first Council of Nicaea that the doctrine became orthodoxy and part of the Nicene Creed. The Athanasian Creed wasn’t completed until the fifth century.

    The early (human) church fathers and their interpretations are the basis for many of the church doctrines taught in churches today as “gospel.”

    Liked by 3 people

  3. oh what fun. I suspect they also insist that Jesus was Lutheran, too, and that Catholics came long long after Christianity was started.

    This one has my head spinning, but hey, all sects do the same doubletalk. And while i’ve never heard any attempts in the Catholic Church to explain the Trinity (our parish priest wisely said ‘some things need to be taken on faith, and this is not made for us to understand”), it’s definitely a part of the whole business.

    This: Anyways, their verdict on this is that good works without faith is worthless and does not get you into heaven, and also there are some good works that you can only do if you’re a Christian (I don’t know what this means… they didn’t give any examples)
    They may be referring to spreading the Word to heathens, sort of thing. I mean, if you’re already a heathen/atheist/whatever you surely are not going to be going to China or South America to spread the word of God and measles…

    I do admire your self restraint and your note taking.

    Liked by 2 people

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