I have watched several religious debates on YouTube these last few days (as I've completed mindless activities associated with the preparation and distribution of our monthly newsletter) between supposed Christian apologists and Mormon apologists. While these debates have been very interesting and informative for a number of reasons, one issue that has been consistently raised is that of the Godhead, or what many refer to as the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).
The Mormons believe that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are all divine (or so they claim) and yet they argue that they are three distinct persons and therefore take the position (technically) that there are three gods. Of course, they also believe in a "Mother Goddess" and that we can become gods.
On the other hand, Christians generally believe in what we term the "Trinity" which states that there are three personages within one God. The Father is God, Jesus is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and yet there is just one God.
I'm not as concerned about the Mormon's position on this issue. Mormonism is a false religion and while I am certainly willing to address any of their false doctrines, I am more concerned at this time with the inability of Christians to explain one of the most fundamental doctrines of the Bible: the nature of the Godhead.
Is it possible that we must simply accept a very difficult position on the basis of faith because, whether we understand it or not, it's taught in the Scriptures? Absolutely. Do I have to understand something to believe it? Not at all. There are a lot of things that the Bible teaches that I don't believe any of us can truly comprehend. Also, the Bible is silent about many things (e.g. all of the happenings of the spiritual realm, God's activities before He created the earth, the exact nature of heaven, etc.) that we may waste a lot of time trying to understand. This is a part of what it means to have faith in God. Even when there are things we can't fully explain or understand, we accept humbly what the good Lord says knowing that He's right no matter what.
And so regarding the Godhead, how do we understand the fact that Father is God, the Son is God and the Holy Spirit is God...and yet there is one God? Wouldn't that be THREE gods? This is the argument the Mormons would make as well as many others. It almost seems laughable to many and totally contradictory to good, sound reason. Again, maybe it is that we CANNOT fully comprehend this and that we just need to accept it.
But maybe there's a pretty simple explanation.
I believe there is, and I believe it has to do with understanding what is meant by "one."
Regarding marriage, God has said that "a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (Gen. 2:24). Jesus says that "the two shall become one flesh" (Mt. 19:5). These verses teach us that, in the eyes of God, when a man and woman marry, there is a sense in which they become "one." Do they become one literal person, one physical entity? Or does the term "one" here merely designate a kind of unity that is achieved between the man and woman?
We are also given a lot of insight into oneness in John 17:20-21 when Jesus says in prayer, "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me." Here, the "oneness" of God is used as an illustration for the oneness of the disciples. Just as God and His Son are "one" so also are fellow believers to be "one." Again, what are we talking about here? Do disciples coalesce into one homogeneous life-form? Of course not. Jesus is discussing UNITY. In fact, in places like 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4:4, we're told that there is "one body" (i.e. church) that consists of many members.
Here's what I'm getting it (if it's not already obvious): I don't believe that the doctrine of the Trinity is some intangible, unexplainable thing. When I articulate that the Father is God, that Jesus is God and that the Holy Spirit is God, and yet there is but one God, not three...what I am referring to is the perfect unity that exists between the three members of the Godhead. They are one in the sense that they are completely and totally unified in mind and purpose.
While our marriages or churches may not always reflect this perfect unity, this is the unity for which we are to strive (1 Cor. 1:10) and thankfully (and beautifully), the Godhead is the perfect model for us in this regard.