Mark Sandlin’s post “No Trinity For Me, Please” has been making the rounds with some of my friends. Sandlin makes a few striking claims in regards to the Trinity, including this strong statement:
[B]iblically there is no mention of the Trinity. There are a few places where the Spirit and God are mentioned somewhat closely together but they are few and far between – and even then, the text is far from clear if it is talking about a Trinity. If anything, it seems to be talking about three distinctly different entities. Admittedly, the Trinity is an interesting theory and it certainly quelled some of the early Church’s division on the nature of God, but it is just that – a theory. A somewhat politically motivated theory at that. And it’s a theory that the Bible puts absolutely no energy toward explaining. I’m not saying the theory of Trinity is wrong. I’m just not saying it’s definitively right, which is exactly what many of its adherents do when they say that if you don’t believe in the Trinity, you can’t be Christian.
I’d like to challenge these sentiments by examining them in light of baptismal practices in Early Christianity. Sandlin states that the Trinity is a “politically motivated theory”, so I am going to assume that he is suspicious of the formation of Trinitarian thought within the Early Church Fathers (2nd - 10th century). He has also stated that he is suspicious of the Gospel of St. John. Therefore, I will limit my discussion to certain passages in the New Testament and the often overlooked work known as The Didache (mid to late 1st century). We have to agree with Sandlin that there is no strict literal mention of the word “Trinity” in Scripture. Are we then limited to a strict theological vocabulary only found in Bible? Is the Trinity “biblical”? Is it necessary for Christians to discuss God in Trinitarian terms?