Do Christians worship one God or three Gods—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—as some unbelievers seem to think?
As a Christian I have heard many argue that the concept of the trinity means that Christians worship three Gods. So how to reconcile this seeming contradiction—that Christians believe in one God yet worship three?
Growing up I was a math tutor for a bit and that was when the language of math spoke to me and helped me understand. I probed a friend about the issue of oneness and how to explain that there is only one God when the concept of Father, Son and Holy Spirit may seem otherwise. This friend explained it in mathematical term.
He said this: three in one is the same as 1x1x1 which is equal to 1 to the power of three, and not the same as just a simple 1. (1 cubed.) That resonated with me and like a light bulb in my head I understood.
But what does the Bible say? Here are just a few of many:
Deut 6:4: Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.
Deut 4: 35 "Yahweh, He is God; there is no other besides Him." Deuteronomy 4:35
"I am Yahweh, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God." Isaiah 45:5
What about in the New Testament? In the words of Jesus in Mark 12:29
The word “echad” used here means united whole, a plural oneness
“…adonai eloheinu adonai echad”
Yachid means “one” as in singular, and so if the meaning here was supposed to imply a simple “oneness” meaning just a plain number one, and not a plurality in the one as in 1 to the power of three, for instance, the word “Yachid” would have been used.
But here it’s echad —like in one cluster of grapes, and not one grape—is used.
Perhaps it’s the fact that I am an author, but individual words matter to me. Why else would the Bible say that every “jot” and every “tittle” is important if we are meant to merely skim over meanings and not dig deep into the meaning of each word used?
The idea of a "triune" (a Greek word) God is hard to understand but not impossible, After all we humans are in some sense “three persons in one” too—I am made up of a body, a spirit and a soul. Yet there’s only one me. (Some people may say, thank goodness to that!)
Also, in Genesis this idea of plurality of oneness is seen even in Gen 1:26
Then God said, "Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."
God is described as Elohim in the Bible even though the ending –im (in Elohim as opposed to Eloha—which is singular) denotes plurality. This is again in keeping with and consistent with that “compound” one (in the 1 to the power of three illustration) referred to above.
Even from the very first verse in the Old Testament in Genesis 1: 1 this plurality is used.
Perhaps another time we could explore other word meanings.
Listen to this 12 minute message of Grace here .Emma Right is a multiple award winning young adult and children's fiction author. Her fantasy and suspense thrillers for young people have won many awards and her children's books have been Amazon best sellers. Sign up for a free Princess Series Book, here. A homeschool mother of five she hopes her wholesome books will empower, entertain and enlighten her readers. Find out more at http://emmaright.com/ and get free books for children.