Q: I want to ask about our church’s stance on the Trinity. I have read that our church pioneers didn’t believe in it and that this doctrine of the Trinity is of pagan origin. — Mae
A: As Adventists we’ve always believed that the “the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day” (Proverbs 4:18).
Our pioneers were very careful to require a “thus saith the Lord” for every doctrine and precept. As they studied the Bible, the Lord gave increasing light on many subjects, including the Godhead or Trinity.
There’s a biblical understanding that we have in that the Father and the Son are equal in every respect as God (John 1:1, Col. 1:17, Zech. 6:13). The Holy Spirit is said to be a Comforter like Jesus (see John, chapters 14-16), and intercedes for us (see Romans 8).
When we baptize, we baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as Jesus commanded us to (Matt. 28:19). The one name of “God” includes all three of these Persons. This is also why they are mentioned in other places together, such as in 2 Cor. 13:14, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.”
Often those who deny the Godhead or Trinity use arguments arising from philosophical discussions of the Christian church in the early centuries. These debates often relied upon pagan Greek methodology.
But thankfully, as Seventh-day Adventists we believe the biblical teaching on the Godhead or Trinity and are not encumbered by these early dogmatic debates. One word of God is worth more than thousands of human words spoken by the “church fathers,” or church councils.
With regard to the biblical teaching, Ellen White is also very clear. She speaks of the “heavenly trio” and the three great powers in heaven: “There are three living persons of the heavenly trio; in the name of these three great powers—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit — those who receive Christ by living faith are baptized, and these powers will co-operate with the obedient subjects of heaven in their efforts to live the new life in Christ. (Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 7, p. 441).
She also writes that “The Godhead was stirred with pity for the race, and the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit gave themselves to the working out of the plan of redemption (Ibid., p. 442).
The second fundamental belief of the Seventh-day Adventist Church states the following:
“The Trinity: There is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a unity of three coeternal Persons. God is immortal, all-powerful, all-knowing, above all, and ever present. He is infinite and beyond human comprehension, yet known through His self-revelation. God, who is love, is forever worthy of worship, adoration, and service by the whole creation. (Gen. 1:26; Deut. 6:4; Isa. 6:8; Matt. 28:19; John 3:16 2 Cor. 1:21, 22; 13:14; Eph. 4:4-6; 1 Peter 1:2.)
For more on the doctrine of the Godhead or Trinity, read this excellent article by Dr. Jo Ann Davidson, “God in Three Persons: Blessed Trinity” at https://bit.ly/GodinThreePersons.