The Evangelical Universalist Forum

How Many Gods Are There?

In this verse the word “θεός” does have a modifier besides the article—namely the adjective (or “possessive pronoun”, as you say) “μου” (my).

Yes, but that is irrelevant to whether or not there is an eternal divine Trinity comprised of,

  • God the Father
  • God the Son
  • God the Holy Spirit

Again, I ask you,

I haven’t claimed a relevancy. But what is your reason for believing in a Trinity? The word “God” throughout the New Testament NEVER refers to a Trinity. Over 95% of the instances, it refers to the Father alone.

Thomas didn’t identify Jesus as “God the Son.” To imagine that he did seems to be a desperate attempt to find the Trinity in the Bible. The fact is that it just isn’t there!

Read the context carefully:

24 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came.
25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”
27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”
28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

What was it that Thomas did not at first believe, but came to believe? It was not whether or not Jesus was God. Rather he didn’t believe that God raised Jesus from the dead. Then the risen Lord Jesus entered through closed doors and had him put his fingers into the mark of the nails, and thus he came to believe that Jesus had been raised from the dead.

Some believe that Thomas was so amazed to find Jesus alive again that he exclaimed, “My Lord and my God” in much the same way as surprised people today exclaim, “Oh my God!” when they have been surprised. Personally, I don’t see it that way. I think he was indeed exclaiming and calling Jesus his God, but in no way thinking of Him as part of a Trinity. Trinitarianism didn’t actually develop until the 4th century.

I have never denied that Jesus is divine since He was God’s only begotten Son, just as you are human since you are the offspring of a man.

Jesus is “God” in the generic sense of having been begotten by the Father (the only true God). Just as you are “man” in the same sense having been begotten by a man.

That is the sense in which it is affirmed in John 1:1 that the Logos was God. Not “the God.” That same verse affirms that he was with the God.

(1Ti 2:5) For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.

If the Son of God were part of a Trinity the above statement would not make sense. Clearly, in this verse, the “one God” is the Father alone.

Jesus prayed the following to the Father:

John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

How could Jesus have regarded His Father as “the only true God” if God is a Trinity of three divine Persons?

Is each ‘Person’ omniscient - do they each know everything? That would mean that all knowledge and wisdom is complete in each person. There would be NO difference in knowledge. The same with omniscience. The same with omnipresence. The same with omnipotence.

It’s not like we would add the 3 together to get one god, right? If each knows everything, can do anything, is everywhere - you might ask - why 3? Why ‘talk’ to One another? Not to share information, or insight etc. - none of the 3 needs anything from the ‘others’. In fact, if they are each gods, do we call the group of them ‘God’? Or is the term ‘God’ meant to mean three exactly the same ‘persons’?

I would argue that Thomas exclaimed "My Lord and my God" because he recognized irrefutable evidence of Jesus being God (the Son) --both by virtue of seeing Jesus alive again with his own eyes, and thus seeing the authority of Jesus over death; and by seeing Jesus walk into the room through closed doors. Thomas’s reaction was in the vein of Nathanael’s epiphany:

“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! you are the king of Israel!” John 1:48-49.

No, I would argue Jesus is God because he is uncreated, eternal, and co-equal with the Father and the Holy Spirit:

John 1:1,2 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word WAS God; this one [“Jesus,” the Second Person of the Trinity] was in the beginning with God; YLT.

Perhaps Jesus’ subordinate Sonship began in his subsequent rôle as a human being, after he had been “begotten” by the Father, through the Holy Spirit’s work in the womb of his obedient servant, Mary (Luke 1:35), foretold in Scripture (Isaiah 7:14).

No, the Scriptures themselves had already pointed to a God comprised of Three Persons, e.g.,

  • Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;"
  • Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,"
  • 2 Cor. 13:14 “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.”

And, of course,

Matthew 3:16-17
"As soon as JESUS was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw THE SPIRIT of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a VOICE FROM HEAVEN SAID, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased”

vis-à-vis

John 5:18
Because of this, then, were the Jews seeking the more to kill him [JESUS], because not only was he breaking the sabbath, but he also called God his own Father, MAKING HIMSELF EQUAL TO GOD.

and

John 8:58-59
Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

“Trinitarianism” was formally ratified in the 4th century, but it cannot be said that that is when it originated.

If I confused the divine name with the name of the Lord Jesus, seems like the author of Romans did the same. Sure, YHWH changed to LORD (small caps), but the referent is still the same–the divine Name. Verses referring to YHWH are quoted in the NT referring to Jesus.

Romans 10:13 (to Joel 2:32), Hebrews 1:8-9 (Psalm 45:6), Hebrews 1:13 (Psalm 110:1), et al.

8 But of the Son he says,

“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,
the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.
9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”

and

13 And to which of the angels has he ever said,

“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”?

By implication, a doctrine of the trinity comes to the fore to reconcile the simultaneous assertion of monotheism with the inclusion of Jesus as fully divine alongside the Father (mutatis mutandis for the Spirit).

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But, in defence of your position that Jesus is not the one and only true God you said:

If that isn’t relevancy, then I don’t know what is.
The idea that the modifier ‘my’, in the context given, relegates Thomas’ declaration to something less than Jesus being the one and only true God just doesn’t hold water IMO.

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Dave, good points. It seems that whoever came up with the doctrine of the Trinity didn’t think it through very well. They also failed to include wisdom which would make it 4 persons as she was there with God as well. Revelation mentions the seven Spirits of God. Shouldn’t they be included too?

Perhaps! But ONLY if they aren’t zombies from Z-Hell (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)…

Perhaps we also need a song, to reinforce folks theme of “one God”? Much like faiths like Judaism, Sikhism, the Bahia faith and Islam - talks about!

Was Thomas REALLY saying that 'You are not only my Lord, but also the Second Person of the Trinity? That You are equal to but different than Yahweh, the almighty Father, who You called the only true God?"
No, that is not what Thomas was saying. There is absolutely no thing in that or any gospel that would have led Thomas to say that. He was talking to man that was dead and was now alive, not to a god who had disguised himself as human.

I agree that Thomas was not thinking about the Trinity but neither do I find it likely that Thomas was just taking God’s name in vain. So what are we left with, remembering that we are considering a culture that was deeply monotheistic and Thomas refers to Jesus as his God?

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I really don’t think the apostles and early folks hanging around Christ…had a CLEAR idea regarding the Trinity. It really came a bit later…as a result of creed formulation, counsel meetings, etc.

The early apostles and folks around Christ - including Paul, were probably singing this song!

I don’t know about “adding together” but classic Trinitarian teaching is that the three divine Persons constitute ONE God. So when they utter the word “God” in their conversation they mean “The Trinity,”
This doesn’t agree with the writers of the New Testament. When they used the word “God” they almost always referred to the Father alone.

Here are the three sentences in the New Testament in which the phrase “one God” occurs. Notice that in each sentence the “one God” denotes the Father, and not a “Trinity”.

1Co 8:6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

Eph 4:6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

1Ti 2:5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,

Yes, I wrote that, but only because I had observed it to be true. I didn’t write it in an attempt to prove that Jesus was never in any sense called “God” by the NT writers.

I think we should be wary of any doctrine that suggests man IS God as well as any man who claims to be God. Men may THINK they are God, but they are sadly mistaken. Men can be like God and they can be gods (rulers/leaders) under the power and authority of God, but man is certainly NOT God.

But God …if he or she - or whatever - wanted to become man…for whatever reason…is this something that is impossible, for God to do? Similarly, if God wanted to perform miracles through man, can God not do so? Whether through Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox saints, Tibetan lamas, Pentecostal members, Sufi Saints, Native American holy and medicine people, Indian yogis, etc.?

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Along with quite a few other students, my impression is that the synoptics suggest Jesus is Messiah and use several other titles used of an expected God-sent human deliverer, but emphasize Jesus’ role of pointing others to a proper faith in God the Father.

Whereas John’s account puts much more emphasis on believing things about Jesus’ unique identity. Thus Thomas’ words, placed at the climax of his narrative, appear to be a confession of Thomas’ faith concerning Jesus’ identity, and the main choices are that he is recognizing Jesus’ divinity, or exclaiming in shock about Jesus being alive, “O my God,” toward the Father in heaven. But the former option appears to fit that Gospel’s wider context much better.

The other much less widely supported option is that Thomas is addressing Jesus, and referring to him as deity in some sense, but not in the elevated sense that the Father is divine. The reason that few exegetes advocate that may be that it appears an obscure effort by non-trinitarians to avoid its’ bold language.

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