One of the most unfortunate confusions ever foisted on humanity is the doctrine of the trinity: the idea that God is not one, but three in one.
That God is one was made more than clear through the Law of Moses: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God; the Lord is one.” There is no more fundamental teaching that God gave to Israel than this. If the trinity had been true, He completely misrepresented it. If He intended to reveal the trinity later, He laid a terrible foundation.
Jesus of Nazareth was God (not part of God) come to earth in the flesh. God emptied Himself of all privilege in order to live the life of Messiah – an identity He had created for Himself. Among other things, this identity would allow Him to demonstrate to all of humanity how life ought to be lived. In order to accomplish this goal, He had to keep His identity as God as a secret. Otherwise, He would not have had a true test as a human being. The glory of His humility is that He took upon Himself all the weaknesses of human life…and without complaint. Through temptations and trials that would have broken any of us, He completed a sinless life. The example He left will endure for eternity.
After His death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven, He sat at the right hand of all power and majesty. The coming of His kingdom in the waning days of the apostles included His re-assuming the fullness of His throne as God Almighty. He now is the Father to whom we may pray. During His earthly life, He was demonstrating how He would want us to approach Him.
When Jesus said things like “God sent His Son…” He was distinguishing roles that He was playing at different times. For us to insist, looking back on it, that there are two separate persons existing as God as the same time is unnecessary and foolish. Such an insistence also diminishes the great love God showed us by coming to earth. He did not send another person of Himself (whatever that even means!). Rather He came to be with us; He did not send someone else (or even Someone else). He gave 100% of Himself to our redemption. And how we should love Him for it!
As for the Holy Spirit, he is indeed the unique representative of God – but not God Himself. The Old Testament prophets spoke of the Holy Spirit without establishing a separate person of God (see, for example, Psalm 51). Church leaders in the generation after the apostles, contrary to what the apostles had taught, looked for a physical return of Jesus. They ignored the teaching of Jesus which said that His kingdom was not coming with signs to be observed. These leaders had to come up with an explanation for why Jesus’s coming was delayed. His spiritual coming should have resolved for them the dichotomy of Father and Son that was necessary for the successful execution of Jesus’ mission. Instead, they rejected that idea, saw double in God, and, in that confusion, included the Holy Spirit as well. The trinity is thus a man-made doctrine based on an unspiritual, unbelieving, and disobedient mindset.
All the generations since, including ours, have simply inherited this concept. We did not invent it. Nonetheless, it is a tradition of man that obscures the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him, and to Him alone, be the glory now and forever. Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God; the Lord is one.
To learn more about Christ versus the Trinity, see: