E. The Trinity Doctrine Exposed



Origins of Trinity Doctrine … Greek thinking makes mathematical models of God … the Trinity targeted by the Quran … Statements of belief in modern churches betray confusion … The words “coequal” and “Godhead” are false teaching … the Holy Spirit best defined as the breath of God, not as a “person” … Jesus is the Son of God, subordinate to the Father.

Table of Contents


The Trinity doctrine is a definition of who God is, formulated by Christian theologians, in which Biblical terms are intermixed with metaphysical concepts. A brief statement of the Trinity doctrine is as follows:

God is one God who exists simultaneously as three distinct persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three persons are coequal and coeternal.

If you’re a Christian and that confuses you, you’re not alone. If you’re not a Christian, this mind-bending concept probably puts you off more than a little bit. Consider: a God who claims to be three different people, all at the same time? A psychologist would diagnose anyone claiming to be three persons at once as having dissociative identity disorder (in other words, having a serious mental disease). And who wants to worship a God who has psychological problems?

The Trinity concept emphasized more by churches in recent years

The concept of the Trinity has been around since a few hundred years after Jesus’ life on earth, but it seems that for some reason the internet has brought the Trinity into more prominence in recent years. Churches that once used the Apostles’ Creed as their statement of faith (a creed which never mentions the Trinity), now feature websites with customized statements of belief that always seem to include the Trinity (although each church gives its own somewhat modified definition of the Trinity). These statements of belief usually begin by affirming the church’s 100% reliance on scripture, and then in the next paragraph declare their belief in the Trinity. The irony is that the Trinity is a word and concept which never occurs in scripture! If you were to ask any of the church’s founding theologians – the apostles Peter, John, James, and Paul – whether they believed in the Trinity, they would say, “Trinity? What is that?” And yet many churches today are telling their congregations they must believe in the Trinity in order to be considered Christian.

Origins of the Trinity doctrine

So how did the idea of the Trinity get started? It was started several generations after the time of the original apostles, by church fathers who were searching for formulas to defend Christian orthodoxy against various heretical teachings. Their cause was a worthy cause, but the results were not always helpful to believers. These theologians were not just trained in the Bible, they were also trained in Greek philosophy. The general feeling was then (and often is today, as well) that the language of metaphysics is more rigorous and sophisticated than the language of the Bible; therefore Biblical ideas are best defended by using the language and thinking of Greek philosophers.

“Three in one” is Greek thinking, not Biblical thinking

The idea of “three in one” is an idea from the Greek way of thinking, not the Biblical way. It is a product of thinking in terms of mathematical analogy rather than spiritual revelation. The Bible warns us that God’s thinking is very different than human thinking (that is, human thinking without the benefit of divine revelation). As the Lord told Isaiah: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). We need to acknowledge the limitations of our thinking from the beginning, and realize there are certain things completely hidden from our eyes unless God reveals them to us. To attempt to “extend” God’s revelation by using the language of metaphysics will only lead to corrupted teaching and confusion.

Greek wisdom opposed to Biblical wisdom

Several times in the Bible, the Lord specifically identifies “Greek” thinking and “Greek” wisdom as enemies of God’s divine wisdom. The apostle Paul says in his letter to the Corinthians:

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the cleverness of the clever I will thwart.”

Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Corinthians 1:18-25)

He says that God’s wisdom appears to be “foolishness” in the eyes of men, because it does not conform to the Greek way of thinking. And he sets up the two kinds of wisdom – the divine and the Greek – as enemies of each other. This opposition becomes even clearer in God’s words spoken through Zechariah the prophet:

“I will brandish your sons, O Zion, over your sons, O Greece, and wield you like a warrior’s sword.” (Zechariah 9:13)

In other words, God plans to use us, his believers, to defeat the thinking of Greece and overcome it with our warrior’s sword – the word of God. This is not just a statement of fact; it is a call to action. God was warning us that the thinking of the philosophers is not just different than his thinking, but it is opposed to his thinking. We must choose one kind of thinking or the other; we cannot have it both ways. If we try to think of God in terms of mathematical models, we will only cause ourselves confusion and weaken our testimony to the gospel.

God cannot be described by mathematical models

The desire for a mathematical model is so strong that the Trinity is sometimes depicted by a geometric design like the one below:

Designs like this can be seen in the stained glass windows of some churches, and this design also appears on the covers of some recent editions of the New King James Bible. When you see a picture like that, you should know instinctively that you are dealing with false teaching. First of all, math – including geometry – is a tool for describing physical elements of the creation, not for describing the spiritual nature of the Creator himself. Second, what do you say about that center area of the diagram where all three lobes overlap? Is that area of overlap some super-special part of God, where God’s essence is more concentrated? And does that make the outer lobes less special, containing less-concentrated doses of God? And when you pray, are you now going to think of yourself as praying to a geometric pattern? “God is spirit” [not something physical] “and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” [John 4:24] Attempts to picture God mathematically or geometrically betray more confusion, and give an unbiblical portrayal of God.

Trinity images violate the Second Commandment

Another image that has been used for the Trinity is this one:

The triangle within a circle is actually an ancient occult symbol. Satanists use the triangle within a circle and place an all-seeing eye at the center to represent Satan and Satan’s power in the universe. It makes me shudder to think that Christians would ever use this symbol; but it does not take much exploring on the internet to find it being used in the context of Christian apologetics.

When God told us not to make any likeness or image of him (the Second Commandment, Exodus 20:4-6), I believe he meant to include geometric shapes in that statement. We do not draw pictures of God!

The Trinity doctrine begets confusion

Confusion is a weapon of God’s enemy, Satan. When we see confusion arising, we know the enemy is at work. “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33). We have already noted that church websites all seem to give somewhat different definitions of the Trinity, which is a clue right off the bat that there is confusion surrounding the term. (We will see some examples shortly.)

The Trinity and Islam

But did you know that while the word Trinity does not occur in the Bible, it does occur in the Quran (the holy book of Islam)? Already in the seventh century A.D. Muhammad was citing the doctrine of the Trinity as a weakness of Christianity. He correctly sensed that if he could propose a God who was not three different persons, but just one person, his religion would have an advantage over Christianity. He could exploit the confusion involved in explaining the Trinity. Christian theologians, please take note of this: The doctrine of the Trinity has played a role in leading millions of people away from Christianity and into slavery to a false religion!

The Athanasian Creed

Let’s get into more detail about confusion in the doctrine of the Trinity. I’ve already given my very brief definition of the Trinity; I said it is the idea that there is one God who exists as three coequal persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The “original” definition of the Trinity comes from the Athanasian Creed, dated around the fourth or fifth century A.D. It is so wordy that I won’t quote it here; I have put it at the end of this message so you can read it if you are interested. In my researches, the best short summary of what the Athanasian Creed says about the Trinity is this one, posted by James White, April 29, 1998, on the Alpha & Omega Ministries website:

The doctrine of the Trinity is simply that there is one eternal being of God – indivisible, infinite. This one being of God is shared by three coequal, co-eternal persons, the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. [Source: http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/1998/04/29/a-brief-definition-of-the-trinity/]

While this is an excellent summary of the doctrine, I can’t help noting that the author then goes on to give a lengthy explanation of the meaning. It’s almost as though he is admitting to the reader, “I know this is confusing – especially that part about being indivisible and yet three different persons – so now I’ll try to talk my way around it and see if I can cover up the problem with more words.”

Modern statements of belief: United Methodist Church

I mentioned that it has become customary for different churches to post their own statements of belief, almost always including their own version of the doctrine of the Trinity. Let’s take a look at three of those.

Consider the situation of a new believer who is thinking of joining a United Methodist church. He or she might browse the United Methodists Church (UMC) website and find this statement:

When we say the Apostles’ Creed, we join with millions of Christians through the ages in an understanding of God as a Trinity—three persons in one: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God, who is one, is revealed in three distinct persons. “God in three persons, blessed Trinity” is one way of speaking about the several ways we experience God.

First of all: Did the authors of this statement even bother to read the Apostles’ Creed? The Apostles’ Creed does talk about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, but it never mentions the three-in-one concept of the Trinity. Do the UMC authors assume that simply talking about the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the same as postulating a doctrine of the Trinity? Apparently they are suggesting to new believers that if they simply believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, then they also adhere to the doctrine of the Trinity; all theological problems are resolved. However …

The Trinity is a definition of who God is, not a statement about ways we “experience” God

Then the UMC statement says that “God in three persons, blessed Trinity” is a “way of speaking” about the ways we “experience God.” In other words, they are deftly and deceptively changing the Trinity from a definition of who God is, to an expression of how people experience God. But there are many ways we experience God, not just three ways. We may experience God through the beauty of a sunset, or in our newborn baby’s smile, or in a helping hand from a friend, and none of these ways is considered (according to their definition) part of the Trinity. The UMC statement tries to trick our minds into forgetting that the Trinity is a metaphysical statement of who God is. Presumably they themselves can’t make sense out of the concept, so they have come up with a clever deflection. Once again, confusion reigns.

Modern statements of belief: Southern Baptist Convention

As another example, let’s take a statement from the website of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC):

“There is one and only one living and true God. …The eternal triune God reveals Himself to us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being.”

Does it really make any sense to speak of “one and only one” God, and then call that God ”triune”? In normal English, triune means having three parts, or being threefold. The SBC statement is probably an attempt to reconcile the doctrine of the Trinity with Deuteronomy 6:4, which says, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.” The SBC approach is to claim that he is one God, but he “reveals himself to us” in different ways. This is beginning to sound a lot like the UMC talk about “ways we experience God.” Once again, it is an attempt to sidestep the fact that the Trinity is a metaphysical definition of who God is, and change it into a statement that is situation-dependent – a statement meaning something like, “God speaks to us now one way, now another way.”

God reveals himself in millions of ways, not just three

And I must repeat that God reveals himself to us not just in three ways, but in millions of ways. Saying that God is “triune” is not in fact a statement about ways God reveals himself to us; it is a metaphysical claim about who God is – a statement that God’s nature occurs in three parts. To say that God is triune, and then say that he is “without division of nature,” is incomprehensible gobbledygook. The SBC may try to deflect the gobbledygook by talking about ways God reveals himself, but they are not being intellectually honest. Again, confusion reigns.

Modern statements of belief: Stonebriar Community Church

As a third example, here is a statement from the website of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas. This is the church of Dr. Chuck Swindoll, a well-known Christian author and radio show host. The statement reads:

We believe that the Godhead eternally exists in three persons—the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit—and that these three are one God, having precisely the same nature, attributes, and perfections, and worthy of precisely the same homage, confidence, and obedience.

Use of the word “Godhead” is a sacrilege

If the word Trinity is confusing, the word Godhead which is used here is downright odious. The word Trinity brings up an image of God existing in three parts. The word Godhead brings to mind some super-God (or especially intelligent part of God?) even more exalted than a “mere” God could be. Now (it seems to say) we’re not just talking about God; we’re talking about an even more important “Godhead.” When you think about it, this is blasphemy. And once again there is the nonsense about three separate persons who have the same “nature” and “attributes.” To a normal person speaking normal English, this is incomprehensible.

The Trinity as seen by the faithful

What about the everyday application of these Trinitarian ideas to a Christian’s faith? Does any person in the Bible, or in Stonebriar Church or any other church, for that matter, actually pray to the Godhead or the Trinity? Fortunately, none that I know of! Jesus taught us to pray to “our Father who art in heaven” – not to a Godhead or a Trinity. There seems to be an unspoken understanding among believers that Godhead and Trinity are terms that theologians like to talk about, but they have no place in our actual spiritual lives. This means that the “wise” theologians had better take a hard look in the mirror!

The word “coequal”

One word from the James White definition of the Trinity which is absent from the three church definitions quoted above, is the word “coequal.” This is a critical omission. The idea of complete equality among the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, has in past years been a fundamental part of the doctrine of the Trinity. The Trinity doctrine — correctly stated — defines God as three coequal persons in one. My guess is that the authors of the three church statements above may have avoided that word in order to forestall some uncomfortable questions! They have deliberately “dumbed down” their definition of the Trinity, perhaps thinking to avoid confusion, but at the cost of correctness.

Coequality is an essential part of the Trinity doctrine. We will see a little further on, however, how scripture refutes the idea of coequality.

The Holy Spirit is not a person

What then is a true scriptural understanding of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, if they are not to be regarded as a triune God or a Godhead?

To begin with, the Holy Spirit is not a person. And if the Holy Spirit is not a person, there can be no “third person” of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit is more accurately described as the breath of God – the breath of God coming forth from God’s mouth with power to perform his will. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word “ruah” is used for Spirit, and ruah – the very same word – also means breath or wind. In the New Testament, the Greek word “pneuma” is used for Spirit, and it too has the alternate meanings of breath or wind. This is significant. It means that those people reading scripture in the original languages would always, in all contexts, be aware of the association of spirit with breath – an association that is lost in English translations.

Old Testament example: God breathes his Spirit into the dry bones

A famous example that illustrates the multiple meanings of the word ruah occurs in Ezekiel chapter 37, the vision of the dry bones. At one point Ezekiel sees in his vision a valley filled with lifeless bodies lying on the valley floor. Then God says to Ezekiel:

“Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great host. (Ezekiel 37:9-10)

The word that is translated as “breath” is ruah. Here you can see that it also is associated with wind (the same word ruah is used), and it is associated with God’s Spirit, since it gives life to the dead bodies. A few verses later the Lord is explaining the meaning of the vision to Ezekiel, and he says it is a message to the people of Israel who have given up hope. God addresses the people, and says to them, “And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken, and I have done it, says the Lord” (Ezekiel 37:14). Here the word for Spirit is again ruah – the breath of God.

New Testament example: the Holy Spirit comes as a wind and tongues of flame

A famous passage in the New Testament that brings out the triple meaning of the word “pneuma” occurs in Acts chapter 2, the story of the Holy Spirit coming upon the disciples on the Day of Pentecost. The text says:

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:1-4)

Here the Holy Spirit (Pneuma) is heard arriving like the rush of a mighty wind (pneuma) – it’s the same word. And then the Spirit is associated with breath and speech in the disciples themselves, as it inspires the disciples to speak God’s praises in new languages.

The Holy Spirit as Counselor

There are some Bible passages, however, where the Holy Spirit appears in other forms; and a few of these passages from the gospel of John are often invoked as “proof” that the Holy Spirit is a person (the third person of the Trinity). In one of these passages (at John 14:26) Jesus says to his disciples: “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” Christian theologians may draw the conclusion that, since the Holy Spirit in this passage is a “he,” the Holy Spirit must be a person; and since the Holy Spirit is a person, the Holy Spirit must be the third person of the Trinity.

The Holy Spirit in the form of a dove

That involves some fast jumps in logic, however, and it ignores Bible passages where the Holy Spirit takes yet other forms. We might recall, for example, that when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, scripture tells us “the Holy Spirit descended upon him [Jesus] in bodily form, as a dove” (Luke 3:22). Since the Holy Spirit descended as a dove, does that mean we should conclude that the Holy Spirit is a dove, and the Trinity consists of two persons plus a dove? That would be a ridiculous conclusion that no one is likely to draw. And recall the passage about Pentecost that we just read, where the Holy Spirit appeared in tongues of flame. Does that mean the Trinity must be two persons plus a tongue of flame? Once again, nobody is likely to draw that conclusion. What we see overall in scripture is that the Holy Spirit is normally to be associated with “breath” or “wind” from God (the word is the same for all three), but that it sometimes takes other forms as God directs. One of those other forms then is the Counselor (also translated as Advisor or Helper) in the passage from John 14. The Holy Spirit takes that form because it is so directed by God the Father in particular circumstances, not because it is a “third person” of the Trinity.

No seat in heaven for the Holy Spirit

We know that when Jesus was resurrected he was given a seat at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 8:1). But nowhere is it said that there is a seat in heaven for the Holy Spirit. There never has been, and never will be, a seat for the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit is not a person to take a seat. And if the Holy Spirit is not a person, then it cannot be the “third person” of the Trinity.

Are we left now with a two-part God?

So instead of a Trinity, are we now left with a Duality? Are we left with a God who consists of two parts – a Son and a Father? Two parts may be more reasonable than three parts, but talking about a God who is both his own son and his own father still sounds like a psychological disease. And it still comes up against the statement in Deuteronomy 6:4 where Moses proclaims, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.”

Paul never said “coequal”

There is a passage from Paul’s letter to the Colossians that might seem to buttress arguments for Jesus and the Father being “coequal.” It reads:

He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent. For in him all the fulness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:15-20)

I want to point out that Paul obviously was searching for all the right words to describe the relationship between Jesus and the Father; and while he was familiar with Greek thinking, he never used the word “coequal” – not here, and not in any other place in scripture.

Jesus bore the image of God

In the above passage, Paul first uses the word “image,” saying that Jesus is “the image of the invisible God.” This is a reminder of a conversation between Jesus and his disciple Philip, in which Philip asked Jesus to show them the Father. Jesus answered him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:9). Here Jesus obviously did not mean that seeing him was the same as ascending into heaven and seeing God sitting in glory on his throne. What Jesus meant was, “All you need to know about God is visible to you in my every word and every action, because everything I do and say is in direct obedience to God.” Everything that Jesus said and did bore God’s image.

All the fullness of God

Then Paul says that “all the fulness of God” came to dwell within Jesus. This carries forward the idea of Jesus doing everything in exact obedience to God, but adds to it the understanding that Jesus did not perform God’s will like a mechanical robot, but acted because his every wish and heart’s desire was the same as the Father’s.

Jesus subordinate to God

Note, however, that Paul says “all things were created through him [Jesus] and for him” — but not by him. There is here still an implicit subordination of Jesus to the Father: All things were created by the Father, through the Son. If we examine other passages, we find a similar subordination appearing. For example, Hebrews 8:6 speaks of Jesus as having a “ministry”: “But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry which is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.” A minister is an agent of someone else. Jesus is acting as an agent of the Father. An agent is understood to be subordinate to the one he represents.

Several Bible verses refer to Jesus as a “mediator.” Hebrews 9:15 calls Jesus “the mediator of a new covenant,” and 1 Timothy 2:5 says, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” This latter statement puts God and Jesus at different levels. The picture suggested is of God seated on his throne as judge, with Jesus as the lawyer mediating between his client (us) and the judge (God). Lawyer and judge are both way above us, but they are not coequal with each other.

Makes no sense to say Jesus prayed to himself

The Bible tells us that Jesus would go out to a desert place and spend long hours praying to God. If Jesus and the Father are both, well, God, then what sense does it make for Jesus to spend long hours praying to God? Wouldn’t it be very odd for him to be praying to himself – praying not just in a symbolic way, but in such earnest petition that at one point he was sweating drops of blood? Jesus most definitely was not praying to another form of himself; and when scripture says he was obedient to the Father, it doesn’t mean he was simply being obedient to another form of himself. In that case, his obedience wouldn’t mean much.

The book of Hebrews tells us:

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchiz′edek. (Hebrews 5:7-10)

Obedience to someone implies subordination

The distress Jesus endured was not in obedience to himself, or some form of himself; it was in obedience to his Father in heaven. How could he be obedient to God without being subordinate to him? And this passage says that Jesus “learned obedience.” Wouldn’t it be odd to say that God “learned” anything, since God knows all things? And this passage says that Jesus was “made perfect.” It would be blasphemy to say that God had to be made perfect, since God himself is the definition of perfection.

The “Son himself will also be subjected to” the Father

There is a passage in 1 Corinthians that even more forcefully contradicts the idea of the first two persons of the Trinity being “coequal.” In this passage, Paul is speaking of the resurrected Jesus. He says:

“For God has put all things in subjection under his [Jesus’] feet.” But when it says, “All things are put in subjection under him,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things under him, that God may be everything to every one. (1 Corinthians 15:27-28)

Paul here makes it clear that the Son will “be subjected” to God the Father. In fact, everything will be subjected to God the Father. There is no such thing as coequality when it comes to God!


The Trinity and the Godhead are concepts arising out of metaphysical ways of thinking. But God has warned us that we can’t use metaphysics (Greek philosophical thinking) to understand heavenly things. So, take heart! If you can’t quite wrap your mind around the concepts of the Trinity and the Godhead, that is a good sign! It means your brain is rebelling against a teaching that is false. It means that when you read the commandment to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37), you instinctively rebel against the idea of loving some three-part, metaphysical construct that isn’t mentioned in your Bible.

What then is a correct understanding of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?

So what is the proper response to make then, when we are asked if we believe in the Trinity? When asked if we believe in the Trinity, we may say simply, “I believe that God is the Father, Jesus is the Son, and the Holy Spirit is the very breath of God.” And by saying that, we don’t get into long-winded philosophical discussions about a non-biblical concept that can only create confusion. Just refrain from using the word Trinity.

Please do not say, “God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit”

What if you’re a member of the clergy, preparing a statement of faith? There’s no harm in falling back on the Apostles’ Creed, which is short, to the point, and says nothing about the Trinity. But if you must compose something unique in order to look like you’re earning your pay, please do not do like the Southern Baptist Convention and title three sections of your statement “God the Father,” “God the Son,” and “God the Holy Spirit.” To those of us not mesmerized by theological jargon, that looks very much like it is naming three gods. And face it; that really is what it is doing: If you simply read the words, it is listing three gods, one after the other. To curious Muslims who might be investigating Christianity, it is certain to look that way; the warnings of their teachers will be confirmed. Correct section titles would be, “God the Father,” “Jesus the Son of God,” and “The Holy Spirit – the very breath of God.”

Addendum: Athanasian Creed (fourth or fifth century A.D.)

Here is the part of the Athanasian Creed dealing with the Trinity. Note that the word “catholic” does not refer to the Roman Catholic Church, but means the universal church.

“We worship one God in trinity and the Trinity in unity, neither confusing the persons nor dividing the divine being. For the Father is one person, the Son is another, and the Spirit is still another. But the deity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one, equal in glory, coeternal in majesty. What the Father is, the Son is, and so is the Holy Spirit. Uncreated is the Father; uncreated is the Son; uncreated is the Spirit. The Father is infinite; the Son is infinite; the Holy Spirit is infinite. Eternal is the Father; eternal is the Son; eternal is the Spirit: And yet there are not three eternal beings, but one who is eternal; as there are not three uncreated and unlimited beings, but one who is uncreated and unlimited. Almighty is the Father; almighty is the Son; almighty is the Spirit: And yet there are not three almighty beings, but one who is almighty. Thus the Father is God; the Son is God; the Holy Spirit is God: And yet there are not three gods, but one God. Thus the Father is Lord; the Son is Lord; the Holy Spirit is Lord: And yet there are not three lords, but one Lord.

“As Christian truth compels us to acknowledge each distinct person as God and Lord, so catholic religion forbids us to say that there are three gods or lords. The Father was neither made nor created nor begotten; the Son was neither made nor created, but was alone begotten of the Father; the Spirit was neither made nor created, but is proceeding from the Father and the Son. Thus there is one Father, not three fathers; one Son, not three sons; one Holy Spirit, not three spirits. And in this Trinity, no one is before or after, greater or less than the other; but all three persons are in themselves, coeternal and coequal; and so we must worship the Trinity in unity and the one God in three persons. Whoever wants to be saved should think thus about the Trinity. It is necessary for eternal salvation that one also faithfully believe that our Lord Jesus Christ became flesh.” [Source: https://www.gotquestions.org/Athanasian-creed.html]