Can Reason Alone Discover the Trinity?

What would you say if I told you that the basic concept of the Trinity—the part that everyone has trouble believing—could be demonstrated without appealing to one word of Scripture?

Most people think that the Trinity, even when properly defined, can only be accepted on pure faith. They know the Bible teaches it, but beyond that, there seems to be no particular reason that we ought to believe it. Actually, though, it doesn’t take much effort to demonstrate that, if God really does exist, then He must, by His very nature, exist as a plurality of Persons in one Being. I’ll offer full disclosure now and say that we can’t get necessarily to three Persons (at least, not very easily – an argument for three can be developed, but it gets very difficult), but merely showing that in order for the God concept to be coherent there must be more than one Person in the Godhead is a huge victory in and of itself.

The argument goes like this:

  1. If God exists, He is a perfect being.
  2. A perfect being, by definition, must be able to love (perfectly).
  3. If God exists, then He must be able to love.
  4. A perfect being cannot lack anything and still be called perfect. That is, a perfect being must be completely sufficient in itself.
  5. If God exists, then He is completely sufficient in Himself.
  6. A person cannot express love without another person to express it to.
  7. God must therefore have multiple persons within Himself to express love, or else He is not perfect or else He cannot love.

Now let me explain the argument more informally. Everyone agrees that, if God exists, He is perfect. By perfect, we mean that He lacks nothing. He has everything He needs within Himself. That includes knowledge, existence, goodness, power, etc. That also mean He must be able to love (whether He chooses to or not is unimportant; the critical point is that if God were incapable of love, then He would not be perfect!). But that presents a problem for the person who thinks that God is only one Person. Try to imagine God’s existence before He created anything else. There would be nothing in that state for Him to love, which means He would be fundamentally incapable of expressing love. That means that God needs other people to be able to express His love (some people use this, by the way, as an argument for why God chose to create humans – He needed someone to express His eternal love to).

Do you see the problem with that? If God is perfect and has everything He needs within Himself, then we can’t turn around and say that God needs anyone else for anything. If He needs us, then He isn’t perfect, because we would be giving Him something He didn’t have! The only solution to this problem is to say that there are multiple Persons within the Godhead. Perhaps there are two. Maybe three. Maybe infinite! Without Scripture, who knows? What we do know, however, is that the assertion that God is perfect requires us to admit more than one Person.

Far, then, from arguing that the Trinity’s basic concept of a plurality of Persons in the Godhead is self-contradictory, we actually find out that it is a logical necessity! What religions, then, in the entire world, have this concept of God?

The Trinity is not an illogical doctrine that can only be accepted by faith. On the contrary, though perhaps surprisingly, it turns out to be exactly what reason demands of us. And perhaps more amazingly, all this means that the love God has for us is exactly the same as the love He has experienced in Himself for all of eternity. The command to love is not arbitrary, for in God, in His very essence, is the model of unconditional love and unbroken fellowship, which God has invited to share with Him for all of eternity. That certainly can go a long way in meeting some of our emotional needs!

If you haven’t subscribed yet, be sure to do so. We’ll be doing several more studies on the Trinity in the near future that you won’t want to miss!

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