The Trinity

Dictionary.com

nounplural Trinities for 2, 4.
1. Also called Blessed Trinity, Holy Trinitythe union of three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost) in one Godhead, or the
three-fold personality of the one Divine Being.
2. a representation of this in art.
4. (lowercasea group of three; triad.
5. (lowercasethe state of being threefold or triple.

Etymonline.com

early 13c., “the Father, Son and Holy Spirit,” constituting one God in prevailing Christian doctrine, from Old French trinite “Holy Trinity” (11c.), from Late Latin trinitatem (nominative trinitas) “Trinity, triad” (Tertullian), from Latin trinus “threefold, triple,” from plural of trini “three at a time, threefold,” related to tres (neuter tria) “three” (see three).

The Latin word was widely borrowed in European languages with the spread of Christianity (Irish trionnoid, Welsh trindod, German trinität). Old English used þrines as a loan-translation of Latin trinitas. Related: Trinitarian.


Discussion/Explanation

The Trinity – an extra-biblical term (from outside the Bible) to describe truth involving God that we see in the Scriptures (the Bible).

The Trinity, though, is more than just a term; it is a doctrine involving the nature of God. It is considered a key element in assessing the beliefs of any group that would call themselves Christian.

Why is the Trinity so important? As you could probably guess from the above definitions, it has everything to do with who is God. God is one, not three. Any who would proclaim a “trinity” of gods would not be holding to the same as the one god we commonly call God in Christianity. Changing the nature of God, in any way, thereby makes the “new” natured “God” different from the original; therefore, it is a different god from the God of Christianity.

This is another topic in which many books exist that discuss the topic alone. There are also many online materials as well. I recommend using the included links to read further.

Even so, I don’t want to stop there as I want to direct your attention to why this term is used. The definitions above show one of the reasons – it fits what is described in Scripture. More reasons are tied up into the “persons” of the Holy Trinity.

  1. God the Father – the governing “head” that has no physical form.
  2. God the Son – Son of God and Son of Man, the God-Man. He is God in human flesh – God in human form. Fully God and fully man.
    1. Present from the beginning (even before born into flesh) – (John 1:1-18)
      1. With the Father before creation
      2. The one through which all creation came into being
    2. One with God
      1. Every “I am” reference in the Scriptures refers to this. (Ex. 3:14; Lev. 18:2 – 19:37; Matthew 27:43; Mark 14:61-63; John 8:12, 23, 58, 10:38,… for starters)
    3. Sinless – a trait held in common with the other two persons.
    4. Conqueror of death
      1. Not even death could bind the Son of God as is evident in His resurrection.
      2. Was seen physically before His ascension to Heaven and continues in that physical form to this day. He will also return physically.
  3. God the Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost) – the spirit of God in the created world and in God’s followers. Often depicted as light or “like a dove” but has no true physical form.
    1. Only the Holy Spirit indwells believers. The Holy Spirit is distinct from the believer and a person of God.

What’s more, there is perfect unity between each of the persons of God. There is no disagreement, no disunity, no division – and yet it is clearly revealed that God makes Himself known to us through these three persons.

I spent more time on the Son of God, who we know as Jesus Christ, as He is the person people try to argue/debate the most about. The list is not a comprehensive list but should give you a great start as to the Trinity and what is involved.


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Apologetics

At the root of the term “apologetics” is “apology”. NO, we are not talking about saying “I’m sorry” here. Let’s take a closer look as to its actual meaning & origin.

Dictionary.com

noun, ( used with a singular verb)
1. the branch of theology concerned with the defense or proof of Christianity.

Etymonline.com

apologetics

“branch of theology which defends Christian belief,” 1733, from apologetic (which is attested from early 15c. as a noun meaning “formal defense”); also see -ics.

apology

“early 15c., “defense, justification,” from Late Latin apologia, from Greek apologia “a speech in defense,” from apologeisthai “to speak in one’s defense,” from apologos “an account, story,” from apo “away from, off” (see apo-) + logos “speech” (see Logos).

In classical Greek, “a well-reasoned reply; a ‘thought-out response’ to the accusations made,” as that of Socrates. The original English sense of “self-justification” yielded a meaning “frank expression of regret for wrong done,” first recorded 1590s, but this was not the main sense until 18c. Johnson’s dictionary defines it as “Defence; excuse,” and adds, “Apology generally signifies rather excuse than vindication, and tends rather to extenuate the fault, than prove innocence,” which might indicate the path of the sense shift. The old sense has tended to shift to the Latin form apologia (1784), known from early Christian writings in defense of the faith.”


Discussion/Explanation

In Christianity we mean “apology” in the older sense of the word as is seen above from etymonline. As such, it is entirely focused on giving not only an accurate representation of the Christian faith, as seen in the Scriptures, but also communicating that message to those in and out of the faith. It can be easy to think that giving a defense is only against those easily seen as outside the faith, but it just as much includes defending against those who claim the faith (but are actually in heresy) or are simply in error and still in the faith (thereby simply receiving correction).

Within apologetics includes two predominant schools of thought – presuppositionalism and classical apologetics – which define effectively two different approaches to apologetics. Of course, there are various other named areas of apologetics (like moral apologetics) but these can easily be connected to the two approaches or describe “giving a defense” that isn’t connected to Christianity exclusively.

Apologetics, as you may have guessed, gets into the realm of philosophy despite its heavy use of the Scriptures. As such, it could be argued that there are other positions besides the two mentioned – and that’s fine. I’m not here to debate. I would say though that presuppositional & classical are the two I see most in my circles and what I hear debated most (a.k.a. whether to use one over the other).

You may be saying, well that’s all well and good – what are those positions? How/Where do they stand?

A good question. I would direct you to the following site. Here you will see presuppositional, classical, and a couple others. If you are looking for further reading on this topic, start there.

Soteriology

The study of salvation or, more specifically, the doctrine of salvation from our sins.

Etymology: (from etymonline)

“1847, in reference to health; 1864 in reference to salvation, from German soteriologie, from Greek soteria “preservation, salvation,” from soizein “save, preserve,” related to sos “safe, healthy,” of uncertain origin (perhaps from PIE root *teue- “to swell”). With -ology.”

Studying salvation helps us to understand our faith more deeply as well as enables us to give an account of it to those outside the faith (aka witnessing).

Key questions discussed in this area of study today include:

Is baptism required for salvation?

What does it mean to be a born-again Christian?

Once saved are you then always saved? (Can you lose your salvation?)

…and more.

It ultimately helps us understand other related doctrines such as redemption, sanctification, justification, propitiation, and substitutionary atonement. Many of these doctrines will appear in later posts.

This should at least give you an idea of what this area of study covers as well as provide you some material to begin digging into the doctrines of salvation.


Until next time!

 

Theology – part 1

Theology is commonly defined as the study of God.

From etymonline.com:

[mid-14c., “the science of religion, study of God and his relationship to humanity,” from Old French theologie “philosophical study of Christian doctrine; Scripture” (14c.), from Latin theologia, from Greek theologia “an account of the gods,” from theologos “one discoursing on the gods,” from theos “god” (from PIE root *dhes-, forming words for religious concepts) + -logos “treating of” (see -logy). Meaning “a particular system of theology” is from 1660s.] https://www.etymonline.com/word/theology

Why do we (particularly as Christians) study God?

  1. We study Him to approve ourselves to God (2 Timothy 2:15). This includes coming to know more about God. This action reflects a valuing of Him in our lives and is another way we bring God glory.
  2. We study God to stand for our faith. We cannot live our faith or even point others to it without first studying to understand Him and the basis of our faith more. We study to become more transformed into the likeness of His son, Jesus Christ.
  3. We study for the ultimate reason – to point others to God. This is all the more clear when reading in the Gospels, the Great Commission. (Matthew 28:16-20) It is God’s intent to spread His truth to those who would follow Him.

Some writers of the faith may add more to this list, but to me, this is a good start as many of the things we will be looking at going forward (including the follow-up to this post) will effectively be looking at subcategories within the realm of theology.

(Click here to continue to part 2)


Note: this is the first in a series – “-ologies & Key Terms“. The first post was broken into two pieces – the first laying the groundwork and the next digging a little deeper into a key question regarding division.

In addition:  I covet your prayers as I continue forward with this blog and other ministry opportunities. Thank you!