So far we have only examined the underlying compulsions which led to the creation of the myths of Jesus’ deification and his so-called role in the Trinity as the Son of God. But the third person in the Christian dogma of Trinity, that is the Holy Ghost is bit of an enigma. Why could not ‘Two in One’ suffice and why was there the need to introduce the third entity into this fundamental doctrine? Logically, the third entity has no justification to occupy a place in the Christian concept of godhead. Harnack, a commentator on this question feels that initially, Christianity was represented by a dryad in God and Jesus. It later encompassed the church referring to it as ‘The Spirit’ to add an element of divinity to what would otherwise be a hollow and implausible third partner. This also served as an excellent anti-judaic tool.1 Rev K.E. Kirk in his essay on The Evolution of the Doctrine of Trinity has this to say on the same subject:
‘We naturally turn to the writers of that period to discover what grounds they have for their belief. To our surprise, we are forced to admit that they have none. The question as it presented itself to them was not, Why three persons? but rather Why not?’
He goes on to point out the complete failure of Christian theology to produce any logical justification for the trinitarian doctrine and the Christian triad could be explained as essentially a binatarian concept to which a third disparate entity was laced in order to paint a more complete picture.2
We believe that this entity gradually evolved under the influence of earlier pagan philosophies and myths which abounded in the Roman empire. The exchange of ideas must have drawn Christian theologians to determine the position of the Holy Ghost. As there is ample evidence of the existence of such faiths or cults that visualized God as being composed of three entities in one, it is not difficult to trace back the ultimate source of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. After all if two could be one, and one two, why could not three be one as well. It is for the research scholars to determine exactly when and how the third entity of the Christian godhead took its firm roots in Christian mythology, but at present it is outside the domain of this discussion. Here, we only wish to examine the absurdity of such claims that are rejected outright by human understanding. Human nature spurns self-contradictory and paradoxical ideas.
Interrelationship within Trinity
When one tries to visualize the inter-relationship of the three constituents of the Christian godhead, the only possible scenarios which arise are as follows:
- They possessed different phases or aspects of one single person.
- They were three different persons, sharing eternity
among themselves equally.
- They were three persons with some of their characteristics
individual and distinct; not entirely shared by others.
- They were three persons in one with completely
similar characteristics and similar equal powers, merged with each other
and with no functions separate from the other.
We will consider each of these possibilities in turn.
Different Phases or Aspects of One Single Person
As for this possibility there is no need to discuss it at length because there is hardly any Christian today who would believe Jesus to be an aspect or a phase of God rather than a distinct person. Believers in Trinity insist on there being three different persons merged into one.
The moment one accepts the scenario of one person having different aspects displayed simultaneously, the concept of Trinity, that is, of three gods in one, melts away into thin air. and no Trinity is left at all. Then it would be God the Father Himself who, motivated by His mercy, would die for human sins. In this case it will merely be a transient phase of the same person. Aspects are not persons, and similarly phases do not create separate entities. Any human being can pass through a multitude of varying moods and aspects, without splitting into two or three or many persons. Therefore, if God decided to die for the sake of the sinful humanity, it will have to be God Himself and not His aspects who would do so.
Hence, regarding the case in point, that aspect of God which played a vital role in the Divine sacrifice for the sake of sinful humanity can only be understood to be a mere display of one of his attributes. So, if the mercy of God is alone to be treated as a ‘person’ and that person is given the name of Jesus Christ, then that something which died was the ‘mercy’ of God. What a strange contradiction that the mercy of God, having taken pity on sinful humanity, commits suicide. It implies that for three days and nights there was no mercy left in God.
Remember that in this scenario, Jesus is not being treated as a separate independent person, but only a characteristic or an aspect of God in which he becomes a sort of mercy personified. That person however remains to be the one single indivisible entity of God. So if anything died during this process, it would have to be either the person God or the attribute of His Mercy which played the most vital role in this episode. Hence there is no option but to believe in either the death of the Mercy of God, or the death of Merciful God Himself.
Many complications would arise out of the claim that aspects of a single person could be wiped out of existence, whether temporarily or permanently. This scenario can only be understood in relation to its application to human experience. A man can lose sight or hearing temporarily or permanently, but he would still be the same living man. The death of a faculty is, in fact, a partial death of the same person. In the ultimate analysis, the loser or sufferer remains the same individual entity of the person.
Different Persons Sharing Eternity
If they were three different persons sharing eternity simultaneously, the question would arise as to their internal relationship. If they were eternally three persons making one God, they have to have their own independent egos, so that the suffering of one, if he could suffer, would be his own personal experience. The others could sympathise with him, but could not actually participate in and share the suffering. Of course it is almost impossible to imagine the thought mechanism and decision making processes of God, but the claim that He is actually three persons moulded into one, justifies an effort to interrelate the three independent thought processes.
One possible scenario which arises is that of a human child born with three heads. This enormity can be referred to as a single person by virtue of there being only one trunk and four limbs, but three heads do present a problem of describing their true nature. If such freaks of nature live long enough to be able to speak and express themselves only then can we enquire as to what is happening inside the three different heads. In the absence of such knowledge, however, to declare them to be one person sharing three minds or three persons sharing one body is not possible.
It is strange that this very important aspect of Christian doctrine is not explained in the scriptures at all. As far as the reference to Christ and the Holy Ghost are concerned there is no dearth of evidence that they are presented as two distinct persons, who did not share the same thought processes and the same feelings. Otherwise the visions of the Holy Ghost as distinct from Christ would be impossible to conceive, particularly during the period that Christ was confined to his human body.
The questions that would certainly arise as to what actually happened to the person of Christ during that experience, in relation to the other two constituents of Christian Godhead are as follows:
- Did the other two constituents, that is, God the Father and the Holy Ghost, jointly share in any way the body of Jesus Christ or his experiences in their relation to that body?
- Was Jesus the sole occupant of that body and
as such he did not share his experience in relation to that body with either
of the remaining two constituents of Trinity?
The ramifications of the former have already been discussed. In the case of the latter a further complication arises as to the relationship of Jesus, at that time, with the other two constituents of Trinity. Did Jesus become a completely separate entity by himself during that period or did he remain an integral part of the other two constituents, only additionally occupying a dwelling in the form of a human body exclusively. Now we have another question to answer:
- Was his divine godly entity entirely contained
in his human body, or was it only projected out of the commonly shared form
of God the Father and the Holy Ghost like a tiny finger jutting out of an
This scenario will also have us believe that during that phase Jesus was greater than both his copartners because he equally shared the form of existence with the Father and the Holy Ghost, while they did not share the jutted out finger of his human existence.
Hence, to make matters easily understandable, an attempt is made to illustrate the inherent paradoxes and absurdities by visualising different hypothetical situations. Of course, the illustrations should not be taken literally by the readers.
The issue before us is whether there is a single person exhibiting different attributes or going through different phases. This brings us to the question of considering the proposition of ‘Three beings in One’ and ‘One being in Three’, particularly from the angle of different phases as distinct from each other; displaying different characters and moods by the same person.
This position has been considered at length in a previous chapter. Here, it is only necessary to re-emphasise the point that if one person or one entity exhibits different phases, it cannot exhibit those different phases simultaneously, without dividing itself into different parts.
Take, for example, water in a certain measure and quantity. It can be turned entirely into vapour or ice without compromising the singleness of its entity. If it is to be simultaneously observed in these different phases, it would have to be split so that a third of it would be ice, a third vapour and a third liquid. Each form different from the other, none sharing the other two phases simultaneously. That quantity of water would be split into three states, but the size of each will be certainly smaller than the totality of the substance and no one can declare it to be ‘one in three’ and ‘three in one’. Similarly, the incarnation of Christ in the human form of Jesus, while keeping both the bondages between Jesus the man and God the Father intact, is inconceivable.
All human beings are made up of the same elements, but their conformity and similarity to each other does not turn them into one single person. It is their characteristics, individualities and separateness from one another which divides them into a multitude of entities, although they are intrinsically made from the same substance. One cannot, however, call them ‘one in five billion’ and ‘five billion in one’, despite them all sharing the humanity factor.
Let us now examine the same question from another angle. If for any specific period of time, Jesus was separate and distinguishable from God the Father on one hand, and the Holy Ghost on the other, in which areas did that distinct separate existence of Christ lie? Remember that one has to conceive Christ as being so totally distinct and disengaged from the Father and the Holy Ghost, that his sacrifice for his fellow human brothers, or shall we say partial human brothers, be thought of as entirely his own personal experience, different from that of the Father or the Holy Ghost. This would evidently result in our considering Christ alone transferring his mind or his thought processes to the physical body of Jesus. Also then he could be understood as having undergone an experience which was not shared by the other two components of the Christian Trinity. Mind boggling, isn’t it?
Different Persons with Distinctly Different Characters
If they were three persons with individual characters, not entirely shared by others, then they may not be considered as ‘Three in One’ and ‘One in Three’. The complete merger of the Trinity into Unity can only be conceived if the characters, attributes, functions and all the faculties possessed by three persons become identical to each other, without any distinctive feature separating one from the other.
This presents a scenario which could be to a degree likened to that of identical triplets, who with reference to their mind, heart, feelings and the functions of their organs are in such perfect unison that the individual experience of each of them is shared by the others completely. If this happens then something of the Trinity of God, the Son and the Holy Ghost could become more understandable. But the problem would still remain concerning the three bodies which contain the three identical persons. This of course is not applicable to the Christian idea of Trinity. At second glance one is compelled to visualize a single body possessing three identities. Again, such an identity of the so-called triplets can only be visualized if one body can contain three persons; which in itself poses many problems. However, it can be pointed out that God has no body and as such the similitude of a human body, as suggested, is not applicable. Of course, we fully understand that God has no body in human terms, but the problem would still remain concerning three spiritual beings as identical triplets, individually as persons, yet being one in all other respects.
Another problem which would confront the existence of hypothetical triplets would be their relationship with regards to worship. Would the ‘Three in One’ spiritual persons of the godhead worship one another? Would they all be the recipients of worship by their creation without there being any exercise of worship in relation to each other?
Although repeated mention is made in the New Testament, of Jesus Christ worshipping ‘God the Father’ and admonishing others to do the same, no such mention has been made in relation to the Holy Ghost worshipping God the Father. Again, there has never been any attempt by Jesus, as recorded in the New Testament, to exhort others to worship himself or to worship the Holy Ghost. One is intrigued by this total absence of reference to worship except in relation to God the Father.
Although it is a common practice among the Christians to worship Jesus as the ‘Son of God’ along with the Father, there are no recorded instances by any of the disciples of Jesus Christ ever having worshipped him or Jesus prompting them to do so during his sojourn on Earth. Even if he had done so, it would raise many unanswerable questions. Again the same applies to the Holy Ghost and raises the question that why did the Holy Ghost not require anyone to worship him.
The case where they were ‘Three in One’ in the sense that their ultimate ego or consciousness of existence was one despite being divided into three aspects or phases, has already been examined at some length. A being of such a description cannot be logically referred to as ‘three persons in one.’ Moreover, aspects or phases are neither worshipped nor do they worship their own central ego. To conceive of these as separate persons they have to have their own independent identity in the form of an ultimate ego which offers a reference point to their consciousness as persons. Otherwise the question of referring themselves and others as ‘I’, ‘You’ and ‘He’, simply does not arise.
Trinity in application to one being can only be conceived as attributes and no more, and as far as attributes are concerned, they are certainly not limited to three. Whether we know them or not, God could possess a multitude of attributes.
To bring this discussion to a conclusion, we re-emphasise that the question of worship in relation to each other can only arise if they were different persons who did not enjoy equal status and equal characteristics.
In this instance, only one would be worthy of worship and the other two by the logic of their being inferior would be expected to worship him. The answer, again, is acceptable except that the ‘Oneness in Trinity’ will vanish. There is no way that you can have both ‘Three in One’ and ‘One in Three’ simultaneously.
This reminds me of a joke which
I would like to share with you. It is reported that Joha, a famous court jester,
so amused Tamerlane during his invasion of Baghdad that he decided to carry
him back with him as booty and appointed him as the chief court jester. Once
it is said, Joha felt like eating meat alone by himself so much that he could
not resist it any more. So he bought two kilos of the best meat available from
the butcher. While handing it over to his wife he instructed her to prepare
a delicious roast out of it, and that no one except him must touch it, the
wife inclusive. Unfortunately for him, however, as his wife had just finished
cooking, a few of her brothers gave her a surprise call. A pleasant surprise
for her indeed but one which was destined to become a very unpleasant surprise
for Joha. The tempting aroma of the freshly roasted meat was simply too much
for them to resist and what followed was a logical conclusion. Having finished
it to the last morsel they happily took leave of their rather worried sister.
However she composed herself by the time Joha returned home and was ready with
a foolproof excuse. When Joha also, smelling the remnant of the flavour, longingly
asked for his two kilos of meat, the wife responded by pointing at the cat
which was Joha’s favourite pet, and said: ‘take your meat out of
this cat, if you can. While I was busy working, she made short work of the
entire roast.’ Thereupon Joha immediately picked the cat and weighed
him in the scale. It so happened that the cat turned out to weigh exactly two
kilos. Then he turned gently to his wife and enquired: ‘Please my dear,
I do believe you of course, but if this is my meat then where is my cat and
if this is my cat, where is my meat!’
Jokes aside, let me assert that I do not wish to contend this issue on the basis of Jesus’ real and true teachings. This treatise is purely an exercise in viewing current Christian doctrines which we believe have deviated a long way from the original teachings of Jesus.
denied any reference in the Bible to Jesus being worshipped, it is left to
us to explain the only reference relating to this in Luke 24:52. Many claim
that these verses provide evidence of Jesus himself exhorting his followers
to worship him. Contemporary Christian scholars are well aware that these
verses have been proved to be spurious and have no right to be treated as
a genuine part of St. Luke’s Gospel.
Let us now turn to the question of common practice, whether it is supported by evidence in the Gospels or not. According to the common practice, in many sects of Christianity today, Jesus is indeed being worshipped as the ‘Son of God’. Yet they all agree that the same Jesus whom they worship, used to worship God the Father and Him alone.
In vain I have often enquired from knowledgeable Christian scholars as to the reason why Jesus should have worshipped God the Father if he himself was an inseparable part of God and was so completely merged with Him so as to create a sense of unity despite there being three persons? Did he ever worship the third constituent of Trinity, that is the Holy Ghost? Did he ever worship himself? Did the Holy Ghost ever worship Jesus? Did the Father ever worship either of the remaining two. If not, Why? Perhaps the answer to these questions would compel the Christians to confess that a distinct superiority is certainly established of God the Father over the remaining two constituents of the Trinity. From this it emerges that the three constituents of Trinity are not identical in their status. Hence they are ‘Three in three,’ if at all they are three, but they are not ‘Three in One.’
Sometimes when Christian scholars are confronted with the question of Jesus, whom they believe to be the Son of God, having worshipped God the Father, they claim that it was the man who worshipped God the Father, and not the Son Jesus who did so. That takes us back to the discussion which we have already covered earlier. Were there two conscious beings possessing the same body of Jesus, one possessing human consciousness and the other that of the Son of God?
Again, why did the man bypass and completely ignore the Son God in him and never worship Christ as such. The same man Jesus, the co-partner of Christ, should also have worshipped the third constituent the Holy Ghost, which he never did.
Worship is an act of mind and soul that is expressed sometimes in bodily symbols, but it remains an act rooted in the mental and emotional entity of the person. Hence it has to be determined who worshipped when Jesus Christ worshipped God. We have already dealt with the scenario, with all its intricacies, in which it is Christ, the Son of God, who worshipped. Conversely, if it was the man, who worshipped God the Father and if He never worshipped Christ, then why on earth do the Christians defy this holy example of Jesus himself. Why should they start worshipping Christ beside God, while Jesus the man never worshipped his co-partner Christ, despite being so close to him.
Persons with Identical and Equal Characters
Once again let us now examine, from a different angle this time, the formula of ‘Three in One’ in Trinity as three distinct persons who are absolutely and completely identical to each other. In this scenario we are not talking about a single person with different features combined in one but of three separate forms, rather like triplets. The kind of triplets which are so completely identical that their similarities do not end with likeness of form alone, but also extend to the entire thinking and feeling processes. They share their thoughts, feelings and experiences identically. In this case one has to admit that the two out of the three constituents of Trinity are superfluous. If they are done away with, it will not in the least effect the remaining constituent of Trinity which will remain complete in itself.
The Holy Quran also raises the same question when it points out that if God decided to destroy and wipe out of existence both Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost, what difference will it make to His Majesty, Eternity and Perfection and who can stop Him from doing so (5:18). It implies that all the divine attributes will continue to function eternally and as such the concept of the Trinity as portrayed in this scenario appears senseless and needless.
If however it is supposed that the three distinct persons in the Trinity perform different functions, then obviously all three components would become essential to the making of the Godhead. Nevertheless in this case there will be three distinct Gods cooperating with each other and living together in perfect harmony and as such they can only be treated as ‘Three Gods in Three’ and not ‘Three Gods in One’.
Again if it is proposed that the Trinity is similar to the case of a single person with different organic functions, all combined in one then of course Unity can be retained but not Trinity. Here we are not discussing a person with different organic functions but three entirely identical persons, each performing similar functions yet retaining its individuality. What is being discussed presents the case of a single person with different organs. So far there is nothing illogical about it. But when the organs are treated as persons in their own right and at the same time they are believed to constitute a personality which in its totality is one, then the confines of logic are breached and the whole discussion becomes unacceptable. Indeed organs they have their individuality, but their individuality is only a component of a larger personality, which not only comprises of this one organ but also of other organs. All such organs together within a man is called ‘man’ in totality. Of course some organs perform relatively minor functions and man can remain a man without them, but only with imperfection. A perfect man must possess all organs that are commonly possessed by a human being and the sum total of these organs would make him a perfect man.
If we take the case of a man called Paul, one cannot say that since the liver, heart, lungs and kidneys of Paul have individuality with specific functions to perform, they are distinct persons completely identifiable with Paul. Complete identification can only be possible if, say, the kidneys function exactly like Paul in his totality and the same can be said of his other organs. That proposition would require that the absence of each organ would not change the character of Paul in any manner or alternatively Paul even without his lungs, heart, kidneys and brain, indeed with all his organs removed, still remains a complete Paul in himself. This is because in the ultimate analysis they are all exactly similar to each other and the person of Paul remains absolutely intact, irrespective of the absence of these organs.
If that is the scenario of ‘Three in One’ then of course it is wrong to make any attempts to criticize Christian beliefs with reference to logic. Then the logic which is applicable to the present day Christian dogma is only the logic of the witches of Macbeth when they say, ‘Fair is foul, and foul is fair.’3
- Harnack, Constitution and Law of the Church, E.T. pg 264
- Essays on the Trinity and the Incarnation, edited by
A.E.J. Rawlinson, Longmans, London (1928)
- Macbeth, I,i