Before me as I write is a small booklet written by one Margaretha Tierney of Australia dealing with the concept of the “Trinity.” The author has done a commendable job of sifting through the writings of such well-known authorities as Alexander Hislop, Benjamin Wilkinson, and others to establish the fact that virtually all of the pagan religions of the world had the concept of a “Trinity.” This is not new. The Jehovah’s Witnesses have been saying the same thing for many years. Tierney sets forth seven major pagan religions of the world as examples, and quotes her author’s affirmations that there is virtually no exception to the rule that pagan religions had “Trinities.” She then goes a step further and proposes that since all pagan religions come from the devil, it follows that the concept of the “Trinity” came into these pagan religions only from Satan, who originated it.
This does not surprise me, nor does it trouble me. What does astonish me is the fact that virtually all anti-Trinity writers drop their investigations at this point, and act as if they have said all that there is to say on the subject. This is very far from the truth. No treatment of this subject can be considered adequate unless it deals with the vital and critical question, where did the devil get the idea of a Trinity?
Why did he so unfailingly work that idea into all of his false religions?
Why did he never set up a false religion with a godhead of two divine beings, or four, or five, or six?
Why did he stick so religiously to his “false religion blueprint,” that there must always be a godhead of three divine beings in every false religion?
Let us proceed slowly and carefully. In order to achieve the greatest possible degree of simplicity and clarity, let us use a question and answer method.
Question: Where was the devil born?
Answer: The devil was not born, he was created.
Question: Who created the devil?
Answer: God created him.
Question: Did a good God create a bad devil?
Answer: No, God created Lucifer, a perfect angel, and he made himself a devil.
Question: Where did God create Lucifer?
Answer: God created Lucifer in heaven.
Question: What was Lucifer’s position in heaven?
Answer: “Among the inhabitants of heaven, Satan, next to Christ, was at one time most honored of God, and highest in power and glory. Before his fall, Lucifer, “son of the morning,” was first of the covering cherubs, holy and undefiled. He stood in the presence of the great Creator, and the ceaseless beams of glory enshrouding the eternal God rested upon him.” Signs of the Times, July 23, 1902.
Question: In that position, would it have been possible for Lucifer to know about the Godhead: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit?
Answer: It would have been impossible for him not to know about them. He had Daily converse and association with them. He knew them as intimately as it is possible for any created being to know its Creator.
Question: How can we be sure that there was a “Trinity” in heaven and that Lucifer knew about it?
Answer: Because he set up a counterfeit of it in all of his false religions. Satan is a master counterfeiter. God has a Sabbath; Satan has a counterfeit, Sunday. God has baptism: Satan has a counterfeit, sprinkling. God has prophets; Satan has counterfeits, false prophets. God has a gift of tongues; Satan has a counterfeit, gibberish. God has divine healing; Satan has a counterfeit, pretended healing. God has faith; Satan has a counterfeit, presumption. God has divine worship; Satan has a counterfeit, celebration worship. God has conditional immortality for the faithful, Satan as a counterfeit, natural immortality for everybody. God has fire that will destroy the wicked: Satan has a counterfeit, a fire that will never stop burning the wicked. And so on and on. Satan has overlooked nothing. He has counterfeited everything that God is or does!
In view of these unquestionable realities, and in view of his intimate knowledge of the three heavenly persons of the true Godhead, would it not be reasonable for us to suppose that he would fail to counterfeit the heavenly Trinity? And is it not perfectly obvious that he did not fail to do this? Just look at his pagan religions. Do they not all have their trinities?
And there is another point to be considered. Several of Satan’s false religions not only have their trinities; they also have their miraculously born babies. Tierney faithfully copies Hislop’s list of them on page two of her booklet. How did this happen, and what does it mean? Does it prove that the miraculous birth of Jesus is only a pagan myth? Not by any means. It only affords additional proof that Satan counterfeits everything God does. How did Satan know about the miraculous birth of Jesus so long before it happened? Look again at the first promise of a Redeemer in Genesis 3:15.
“I will put enmity between thee (Satan) and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Genesis 3:15.
Visualize the three persons listening intently to these words, Adam, Eve, and Satan. Would not Satan’s first puzzlement be the greatest? Consider the progression of his thoughts. “A child of this woman bruise my head? That is ridiculous! No human being could bruise my head.” Then, “Not even an angel could bruise my head.” Then, “No one but God could bruise my head.” Then, “That is it! If any child descended from this woman is going to bruise my head, that would have to be a child who is part God, a divine-human child! That is the only what that it could happen! I will have to do something about that!”
So that is why some pagan religions not only had a trinity, they also had miraculously born child, a divine-human child, long before Isaiah wrote, “A virgin shall conceive, and bear a child.”
Counterfeits are more effective when they are made in advance. And consider this question: Do counterfeiters put forth likenesses of things that do not exist? Have you ever seen, or heard of, a counterfeit four-dollar bill? Or a six, seven, or eight-dollar bill? Does not the existence of the counterfeit indicate the existence of the genuine? Think it over. Satan may not have anticipated that Christ Himself would come down from His throne to be that divine-human baby, but he surely saw the principle involved.
Now tell me what you would think of me if I did something like this. I come out on the platform to speak and observe a man sitting on the front row, and a lady sitting beside him.
“Sir,” I say to him, “Who is that lady sitting beside you?”
He answers, “She is my wife.”
Then I proceed to talk to him like this: “Do you think I was born yesterday? You must think I am pretty dumb. Well let me tell you something, sir. I am not so dumb. I have been to school and I know how to count. The Bible states clearly that when a man and a woman marry, they become “one.” But you two are certainly not one. You are two. I am not blind. I can count. Do not try to tell me that you are married. You are not one.”
I believe that you would be ready to say, “Larson, you are making a fool of yourself.”
And you would be right. I would be making a fool of myself. Yet how many times we have heard people talk just like that when the subject of the Trinity is brought up. I find it very depressing. We have to face it, folks. Our little heads simply cannot be wrapped around the Godhead. It just is not possible! “Canst thou by searching find out God?” Job 11:7.
“Human talent and human conjecture have tried by searching to find out God. Many have trodden this pathway. The highest intellect may tax itself until it is wearied out, in conjectures regarding God, but the effort will be fruitless; and the fact will remain that man, by searching, cannot find out God. This problem has not been given us to solve.” Loma Linda Messages, 253.
I have seen it tried. I have watched a class of highly educated graduate students spend an entire hour trying to work out a definition of the Godhead that would express clearly both the unity of the Godhead and the individuality of the Godhead. When they were finished they had nothing better to offer than the simple Bible affirmation that there are three divine beings, and that the three are one. This combines unity with individuality in a way that no human mind can explain, but it is the “given” with which we have to do. Like the statement that a husband and wife are one, it is a truth as stated, but not explained. If we were to study the mystery of the Godhead throughout eternity, there would still be mysteries beyond our comprehension. We have been told as much as we need to know. Let us accept that and move on. Let us waste no time in conjectures and speculations about the nature of the Godhead. And let us not forget that the devil had his concept of a trinity from heaven. He did not just manufacture it out of thin air. He did not originate it. He was counterfeiting what he had seen in the courts of glory.
It cannot be denied that our pioneers, who came from different religious backgrounds, took awhile to learn this. They also took awhile to learn the truth about the Sabbath and unclean meats. But God sent light to them through His chosen messenger, Ellen White, which gradually cleared away the darkness. Here is a small sampling of the light that came through her.
Concerning the Three–member Godhead:
“The three powers of the Godhead, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…” Australasian Union Conference Record. October 7, 1907.
“The eternal heavenly dignitaries—God, and Christ, and the Holy Spirit…” Manuscript 145, 1901.
“…The Godhead was stirred with pity for the race, and the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit gave themselves to the working out of the plan of redemption.” God’s Amazing Grace, 190.
Concerning the divinity of the Holy Spirit:
“…the Spirit being God, knoweth the mind of God.” Signs of the Times, October 3, 1892.
“…the third person of the Godhead,” Advent Review and Sabbath Herald. November 19, 1908.
“…the Spirit in all the fullness of the Godhead.” In Heavenly Places, 336.
“…the third person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit.” Evangelism, 617.
On the divinity of Christ:
“The divinity of Christ is our assurance of eternal life.” The Youth’s Instructor, February 11, 1897.
“Another dangerous error, is the doctrine that denies the divinity of Christ, claiming that he had no existence before his advent to this world…If men reject the testimony of the inspired Scriptures concerning the divinity of Christ, it is in vain to argue the point with them; for no argument, however conclusive, could convince them.” The Great Controversy, 524.
“That doctrine that denies the absolute Godhead of Jesus Christ denies also the Godhead of the Father.” Signs of the Times, June 27, 1895.
Is there a ray of light through the confused and confusing theories and arguments that are now besetting the Historic Adventist people? I think there is. When the devil gives a great deal of time and attention to a movement among God’s people, I think that it is pretty clear indication that those people are doing something right.
Courage in the Lord.