I have found that most people who do not believe in the trinity just do not understand what it is. So they will use this proof-text that they think disproves the trinity, when really, all they have done is disprove a version of the trinity in which nobody claims. A common example of this is Deuteronomy 6:4, which reads, “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!” One can see the force of this objection. After all, the trinity suggests that the Lord is three, while this verse says that the Lord is one. What does this say about trinitarian theology? Does Deuteronomy 6:4 disprove the trinity?
I would like to begin by indicating that trinitarian theology is the strictest form of monotheism. Nobody who understands and adheres to the doctrine of the trinity would suggest that there are three gods, or that the Lord is not one. There is one God. That is the first premise going to prove the doctrine of the trinity. The premises for the trinity can be spelled out as follows: 1 – There is one God. 2 – The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are each God. 3 – The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are each distinct persons. Thus, the doctrine of the trinity is that there is one God, who is eternally present in three persons.
Whether we can make sense of this, or if it is counter-intuitive is of little interest to me. God does not have to make sense to us. Indeed, for us to complain that God is so far beyond our comprehension does not permit us to change the attributes of God. This article is concerned only with the question: does Deuteronomy 6:4 disprove the trinity?
There is a difference between Oneness Theology and the view that there is one God. There is a model of Theology Proper known as modalism, or Oneness Theology. Oneness Theology suggests that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, are each the same person. That is to say, Jesus is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. When the person who believes in Oneness Theology hears, “The Lord is one,” they hear an affirmation of Oneness Theology. They hear, “The Lord is one person.” But that is not what was being addressed.
The point of that declaration was to declare strict monotheism. The Jews were surrounded by polytheism, people saying that there are multiple God. So God declared that he is God alone. But nobody was saying that perhaps God was more than one person. That doctrine was not on the radar. For anyone to suggest such a thing, they would have to read modern theology into the text. When Deuteronomy 6:4 says, “The Lord is one,” it means that there is one God.
But that is precisely what trinitarian theology teaches. Of course there is only one God. That is the theme of the Old Testament. That is a necessary underpinning of the doctrine of the trinity. If somebody says, “I believe in three gods,” they do not believe in the doctrine of the trinity. They believe in tri-theism.
Does Deuteronomy 6:4 disprove the trinity? Not at all. It disproves tri-theism. But the statement, “The Lord is one,” is perfectly consistent with the doctrine of the trinity. In fact, that statement goes to support the trinity, because, one of the premises of trinitarian theology, as I pointed out in my introduction, is precisely that there is only one God. So, Deuteronomy 6:4 goes as support for the doctrine of the trinity. It can not, under any circumstances, be used as an argument against the trinity. It can only be used to support it.
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