By Eusebio Tanicala, Ph. D.
(Note: This is another article that could give additional knowledge about the Holy Trinity which will increase understanding about Tritheism and Unitarianism as well. Please don’t teach weak arguments to our young preachers. These young preachers could be discouraged once they are confronted with the weakness of arguments they are initially taught. This is series #4).
In an earlier posting, we have submitted to you the English dictionary meaning of the cardinal numeral “one” which is represented by the Arabic symbol “1”. In Iloco – maysa; in Tagalog – isa; in Spanish – uno; in Latin – unus; in Greek – heis and its declined forms of mia, mian, mias, en, enos. We’ve suggested that clarifying the meaning of the word “one” is essential to the discussion and understanding of the oneness of God which we technically call monotheism (belief that there is one God).
In the English language, the basic meaning of the term “one” points to the number of a solid, single, individual object. When we talk about God, this elementary meaning of separate individuality tends to be the only idea that is in the mind of many people.
Our elementary science and elementary arithmetic have conditioned our five senses to think, feel, judge and conclude within this solid level. At this lower level of awareness, we limit the application of the tern “one” to a single, solitary, separate, individual, solid, impermeable, non-intersecting object. In the elementary grades, pupils count separate, solid, impenetrable, objects like sticks, stones, animals, birds, trees, plants, buildings, persons. Each individual object is labeled “one” (1).
In high school and college, however, the student’s mind is introduced to chemistry and modern math. In the field of chemistry, elements in liquid or gaseous forms put in separate containers could be mixed in test tubes which result to a transformation. The mixture is labeled “one” (1). For example two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen (H2O) becomes water (singular). Several agreeable food elements could be mixed together then frozen that would result to ice cream which is labeled “one” (1) or singular. Not plural. These are limited illustrations just to demonstrate fluidity in contrast to solidity.
Some chemical elements repulse each other so there’s no transformation, no combination, no harmony, no unity, no oneness comes out.
In modern math, there’s the Venn Diagram where the student is trained to think in the abstract level. As an illustration we think of Figure A intersecting Figure B and both intersect Figure C. There results a common area which is called the congruent area. In the area of congruence the three are considered “one.”
One could demonstrate the congruence or intersecting of elements in the gaseous level. Light three match sticks. When the 3 solid sticks are separated we see 3 separate flames, but when the 3 sticks are taken together we see one flame. On the solid portion there are three separate sticks, but on the gaseous portion, we see one flame. This is a limited illustration on the possibility of 3 becoming one as elements appear to the senses.
On a higher degree above the liquid and gaseous states we have the world of the will, of ideas, of emotions. In theology and philosophy the categories we deal with are ideas, concepts, notions, emotions and will. These things emanate from the mind. When distinct persons come to possess the same idea, same concept, same desire and/or same emotion and/or same will, there results unity, harmony, congruence, coalescence. Writers and speakers use the word “one” to describe the harmonious state of the persons. The minds from whence the idea or emotion emanate are also said to be “one” (1).
Let’s analyze several verses using the NKJV. Luke 14:18, “they all with one accord began to make excuses.” John 17:21-23, “they all may be one” “they may be one” “they may be made perfect in one.” Acts 4:32,“those who believe were of one heart and one soul.” See also Acts 5:12; Romans 12:4,5 “one body” “we being many members are one body.” Romans 15:5-6, “be like-minded . . . you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. See also 2 Cor. 13:11. In 1 Cor. 12:12, 13, “the body is one … members of that one body being many, are one body…” 1 Cor. 12:20, “many members, yet one body.” Phil. 1:27, “one mind.” See also 1 Cor. 1:10 and Eph. 4:3.
The harmony, unity, congruence of ideas and emotions of the disciples made the several individuals be labeled “one” (1). This is the oneness of the ideal groom and bride spoken of in Gen. 2:22-26; Matt. 19:4-6 and Eph. 5:30-31 that in the counting made by Yahweh, by Christ and by Apostle Paul the cardinal number used is “one” (1). To exaggerate their spiritual, moral, emotional oneness the label is even applied on the flesh – the two persons become “one flesh.” How could we explain two distinct persons in the state or being of flesh become “one flesh” after the bride and groom are pronounced husband and wife? Again, we ask, did Yahweh use multiplication? Did He say, “Adam and Eve, I multiply 1 Adam X 1 Eve, so you two are now one flesh”? No. Did the Apostle Paul say, “Multiply the cardinal number of the bride times the cardinal number of the groom and that makes them husband and wife, one flesh?” No. Therefore, the math formula of multiplication or division does not explain the oneness of the Godhead.
The unity, harmony between the ideal husband and wife as well as the unity and harmony of Christian disciples, in a limited way, illustrate the unity and harmony of the Three Persons in the Godhead. In the Holy Trinity, the congruence, coalescence, intersecting, inter-relating of attributes are so perfect and complete that we could not find any iota of discord or disharmony. No distance, no separation. Same in the attributes of omnipotence, same in omniscience, same in omnipresence, same in eternity, same in holiness, all three wear the excellent name of Yahweh, all three participated in the creation of the invisible and visible worlds, and so on.
Only three persons can come up to the level and possession of the above omnific attributes of deity: the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit.
Please evaluate what Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, (1977, pp. 186-187) says about the term “one” (heis):
“b. in app. to a division into parts, and in ethical matters to dissensions: he soma polla mele, Roma.12:4 sq.; I Cor. 12:12,20; hen enai, to be united most closely (in will, spirit), Jn 10:30; 17:11, 21-23; en heni pneumatic, mia psuche, Phil.1:27cf. Acts 4:32 … apo mias …, Luke 14:18 xxxxx c. one and the same (not at variance, with, in accord with one’s self): Rom. 3:30; Rev. 17:13, 17; 18:8; to hen phronein, Phil. 2:2; hen einai are one, i.e. are of the same importance and esteem, 1 Cor. 3:8; eis to hen einai (see eimi; v. 2 d.), 1 Jn. 5:8; more fully to en kai to auto, 1 Cor. 12:11, hen kai to auto tini, 1 Cor. 11:5”.
We would like to point to the parts where the above quotation tells of situations or conditions or states that are called “one.” They are the following (1) “to be united most closely in will, spirit,” (2) “one and the same (not at variance, with, in accord with one’s self),” and (3) “same importance and esteem.” The Father and Christ are “united most closely” which is why Christ said his teachings come from the Father and all that the Father possess are also the possession of Christ, and what the Father works out, Christ also does. In the level of deity, the Father and Christ have the same “importance and esteem,” which is why Christ declared that the honor given to the Father should be the same degree of honor given to the Son. See John 5:23.
In view of the above, it is clear that the term “one” is not limited to pointing to the single, independent, individual, solid object or person. Also the Greek Lexicon does not cite multiplication or division to arrive at oneness or unity. However, if anyone has a lexicon that submits multiplication or division as an explanation of the oneness of the Godhead, I’d be happy to buy a copy of that book. Please show me such a lexicon.
I appeal to our aging preachers and Bible College teachers who use weak arguments to stop passing on to young preachers their lightweight and unvalidated theological opinions. ##