Ten years ago, I rejected the doctrine of the Trinity.
I grew up with the concept that there is one God who eternally exists in three distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It was a doctrine I took for granted, until I studied theology in my final year of high school. What was supposed to help me understand God better became an overload of information. I couldn’t wrap my head around the teaching on the Trinity, and started to question its veracity. But instead of earnestly searching for answers, I brushed it off as a man-made idea.
Some time later, someone introduced me to the Oneness doctrine. This states that God is only one person with three manifestations. From that premise, it posits that Jesus Christ is not only the Son, but also the Father and the Holy Spirit. It suited my thinking then, so I accepted it.
My new belief began to tear my close family apart as we argued daily. My parents desperately tried to convince me otherwise, but I refused to be persuaded.
Until God spoke one day.
“Who is Jesus?” my dad challenged me.
“Jesus is God,” I said simply. Wasn’t it enough that I still believed in Jesus? That I still believed that God came to die for my sins and had redeemed me for eternity?
Then my mom quoted Matthew 16:15-16:
“But what about you?” [Jesus] asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Son of the living God.
Have you ever heard God speak? I didn’t hear God’s audible voice, but those words came alive like never before. It made my heart beat faster and I couldn’t speak. I was terrified, because I knew that God was speaking right to me.
And I knew that I was wrong.
God continued to speak in the months following that episode. Every time I opened the Bible, a verse or passage popped up proclaiming the triune nature of God. It was a fear-inducing experience—the holy fear kind. But finally, the scales of pride and stubbornness fell, and I could see God more clearly.
The journey was humbling, and has taken me 10 years to share it. There are other sources that extensively describe the Trinity well, like this one. But for here, I shall list the few points that spoke to me personally.
1. God is love
God doesn’t just know how to love. He is the origin of love. He is the definition of love itself (1 John 4:8).
But true love cannot function with only one person involved. That would be narcissism. True love is selfless. And this must be in the context of relationship.
Since God is love itself, it means that His love is self-contained within the Godhead. He is love from the beginning of beginnings, before angels and mankind were created. If God were only one person, whom did He love then?
In his book, The Pattern, Singaporean pastor and author Dev Menon defines the Trinity this way: “If you take a snapshot of God, what you would see is the Father loving the Son, and the Son responding in love to the Father—all this through the Spirit. . . At His core, God is love. That means different Persons loving one another in a relationship.”
2. God was and always will be three persons
Throughout His time on earth, Jesus communed with the Father. Even as He hung on the cross, He cried out to the Father (Luke 23:34, 46).
If Jesus were also the Father, was He speaking to himself? Would we not label that schizophrenia or split personalities? Some argue that it was the human part of Jesus talking. If so, where do we draw the line of distinction between divine and mortal?
I have heard one explanation that God was Father in the Old Testament, Son in the New Testament, and Holy Spirit in the church age. But Hebrews 13:8 says that, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” James 1:17 declares that our Father “does not change like shifting shadows.” Hence, the Father would have to be as much the Father today as yesterday. The Son would have to be the Son from the beginning, not only from His physical coming into the world. The same goes for the Holy Spirit.
3. God in three persons is essential to the Gospel
The crux of the gospel message is about God meting out His justice against the sinfulness of mankind in love—by sending His son, Jesus into this world to take the punishment on our behalf.
Firstly, justice had to be met. If Jesus were also the Father, He could have decided to waive His law and save the trouble of coming down to earth. But neither the eternal justice nor love of God can be compromised. Through the Trinity—the Father taking on the role of judge, the Son the mediator, and the Holy Spirit binding them in unity—justice and love was both upheld and fulfilled (John 3:16; Hebrews 9:14).
Secondly, someone had to take our place. If Jesus on the cross were only a manifestation, how much of Him was really here? The certainty of the sacrifice would be questioned. Also, where was He for the three days after He died? If He were back in heaven as the Father, where is the significance of waiting for His resurrection over death and sin? God the Son, fully God but His own person, had to be fully here to be nailed onto the cross. Only then could Jesus boldly declare, “It is finished” (John 19:30).
Thirdly, there has to be a way for salvation to take effect in each of us. And that is through the Holy Spirit. He reveals the truth of the Gospel, convicts us to repent, and seals us to salvation. It is only through the Holy Spirit that we can call Jesus Lord and become God’s children (Romans 8:15; 1 Corinthians 12:3). It is also He who empowers us to live new lives in Christ, just as He empowered Jesus (Hebrews 9:14; Romans 8:11).
4. Each person of the Trinity is distinct
Jesus had mentioned several times to the disciples that He would return to the Father (John 16:5, 10, 17, 28, for example). He then promised the coming of the Holy Spirit, “another advocate to help you and be with you forever” (John 14:16).
If Jesus were also the Holy Spirit, couldn’t He have said simply that He’ll be back in a different form? Why then all the fuss over His ascension and second coming?
But Jesus spoke clearly that He was to leave, with another taking His place. Stephen confirmed it when, after the Holy Spirit had already come, He saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God (Acts 7:55).
5. The Bible has evidence of the trinity throughout
One challenge against the concept of the Trinity is that triune or trinity are not found in the Bible. But the truth is, if we only look, evidence of the triune nature of God is everywhere in Scriptures.
There are simply too many verses to include them all here. So I will focus on the unlikeliest passages—the opening greetings of all the New Testament letters. If you’re like me, we tend to run through the greetings quickly, dismissing them as formalities. But they can actually reveal much, and they answered my questions about whether Jesus was also the Father and the Holy Spirit.
For example, the apostle John wrote in 2 John 3, “Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love” (emphasis added). We find similar phrasings in the other letters that identify the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as separate persons, or Jesus Christ as the Son but never the Father or the Holy Spirit.
This doesn’t diminish who Jesus is. Jesus Christ is still the name above every name (Philippians 2:9). But if Jesus—oh magnificent, wonderful Jesus—is the fullness of God and yet not the whole of God, how great then is God in all His majesty!
How does the Trinity affect me?
You’re probably asking now, “What’s the point to all this? It just sounds like another thing to boggle our minds.”
I used to think that. I had thought that “simplifying” my idea of God would make things easier. But if something is not the truth, it simply will not stand.
In fact, the more I dwelled on it, the more the “simple idea” became confusing to reconcile with. Unbelievable as it may sound, it is the truth of the Trinity that has deepened my understanding of the world, and reshaped my approach to relationship with both God and people.
I wish I could fully express how much this truth means to me. But at the end of the day, it’s a journey each one of us needs to take, a question we each should ask, and the search we each have to pursue.
But it’s not about gaining more head knowledge. We don’t need to know more about God. We need to know God. When we make a new acquaintance or start a relationship, we are eager to know the other person. We ask questions, listen, observe. Do the same with God. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you. Get to know Him, and He will respond.