Why Is the Trinity An Essential Christian Doctrine?

by J Warner Wallace

I recently received an email question from a listener who wrote: “I have studied quite a few different translations of the bible and have full faith in what it says. I also believe that Jesus is my savior, and do my best to live by what He taught. However, I am not a Christian according to many religious leaders, because I do not believe in the doctrine regarding the trinity. I have read nothing in the Word that supports this idea, in fact Jesus proclaims many time that He is less than the Father. My question is simply this, how can I be judged based on my faith in Jesus and following what he taught, and be told that I am not Christian because I won’t accept what I believe is a man-made theory?”

Keeping Jesus In His Place
Most people (and groups) who have historically denied the triune nature of God have relegated Jesus to a subordinate position that describes Him as something less than divine. This is perhaps the greatest danger in misunderstanding the Trinity. To deny the Trinity is to either embrace some from of polytheism or deny the Deity of Jesus. For this reason, a denial of the Trinity is a denial of Christian orthodoxy.

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A Suitable Sacrifice
If Jesus is simply a created being (even if He is something special yet not God), His death on the cross is insufficient to save us from our sin. In fact, if Jesus is not God Himself, the Christian God can fairly be described as a horrific deity that requires human sacrifice to appease his demands for justice. This is a common objection offered by skeptics who fail to understand the Trinity and the Deity of Jesus. The cross is the place where God Himself paid the price of our sin; He did not require the death of another created being, the sacrifice of one human for another. Instead, He offered himself in our place.

Solving a Biblical Dilemma
In addition, the Trinity explains an apparent contradiction in Scripture. The Bible clearly teaches that God is ONE (see Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Isaiah 43:10, James 2:19, 1 Corinthians 8:4, 6 and 1 Timothy 2:5-6). At the same time, however, the Bible also teaches that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit all possess the classic divine attributes of omnipotence (Isaiah 64:8, John 1:3, Job 33:4), omniscience (1 John 3:20, John 16:30, 1 Corinthians 2:10), omnipresence (1 Kings 8:27, Matthew 28:20, Psalm 139:7-10), and omnibenevolence (John 3:16, Ephesians 5:25, Romans 15:30-31). In fact, Scripture applies the title of “God” to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit independently (Philippians 1:2, John 1:1, Acts 5:3-4)! The solution to this apparent contradiction of Scripture (God is one, yet three are God) is the classic formulation of the Trinity…

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Why Is the Trinity An Essential Christian Doctrine? | Cold Case Christianity