Have "Christians" Discovered the Doctrine of the Trinity in the Shema Prayer?
There is utmost confusion among students of the Bible about who God is! Some say He is three Persons, some two, and others maintain that He is strictly one Person. Apart from the massive power of tradition, which tends to grip the minds of people, the problem could be solved in a few moments. Here is the solution. Jesus is our authority. Which God did he serve?
by Rabbi Tovia Singer
I am about to begin a conversion process. My boyfriend is Jewish and I wish to convert before we marry. I have believed for many years that this is the way for me and will be the way in which I bring up my children. I have a born-again Christian friend coming to visit me next weekend. She has been very involved in Messianic Judaism (even though she is a Gentile) and I know she is going to have a big talk with me. I want to be able to answer her intelligently. I know exactly the one she is going to throw at me and I would like some help with the answer. She is going to talk about the time in the Bible (can't remember where it is) when they bought back a sample of the fruits of the promised land. Apparently it says that they bought "echad" grapes. The word "echad," although it refers to ONE, is talking about a BUNCH of grapes. Therefore, when we talk about "Adonai Echad," we can be talking about three gods in one.
None of this rings true for me, but I want to be well thought out on all of this. Would you please help ASAP. (She is arriving next weekend!)
I am very pleased that you have asked this question; I am certain that many of our Jewish readers will be surprised by your dilemma. Imagine the astonished reaction of a Jew when he discovers that missionaries employ his cherished national creed, "Hear O Israel, the LORD is our God, the LORD is one" (Hebrew: echad), to prove the doctrine of the Trinity. To the surprise of many,
Trinitarians will often use this most sacred passage which declares the oneness of God to support their belief in a triune nature of God. The doctrine of the Trinity has no greater foe than the declaration in Deuteronomy 6:4. Let's examine this well-worn missionary argument more closely.
To support their claim that there are multiple persons within the godhead, missionaries insist that the Hebrew word echad, meaning "one," at the end of Deuteronomy 6:4 does not mean an absolute one. Rather, they argue, this verse can only signify a "compound unity," or many things in one. They will often cite two verses to support this assertion. The first text you mentioned: "Then they came to the Valley of Eshcol, and there cut down a branch with one (echad) cluster of grapes; they carried it between two of them on a pole. They also brought some of the pomegranates and figs" (Numbers 13:23).
The second is Genesis 1:5 which reads: "And there was evening and there was morning, one (echad) day."
From these verses, they insist, it is clear that the Hebrew word echad can only mean a fusion of a number of things into one.
Although this assertion is as flawed as the doctrine it seeks to support, for those who lack an elementary knowledge of the Hebrew language, this argument can be rather puzzling.
The word echad in the Hebrew language functions in precisely the same manner as the word "one" does in the English language. In the English language it can be said, "These four chairs and the table make up one dinette set," or alternatively, "There is one penny in my hand." Using these two examples, it is easy to see how the English word "one" can mean either many things in one, as in the case of the dinette set, or one alone, as in the case of the penny.
Although the Hebrew word echad functions in the exact same manner, evangelical Christians will never offer biblical examples where the word echad means "one alone." Thus, by only presenting scriptural verses such as Genesis 1:5 and Numbers 23:13, it creates the illusion to the novice that the word echad is somehow synonymous with a compound unity. Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth. For example, Deuteronomy 17:6 reads: "At the mouth of two witnesses or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one (echad) witness he shall not be put to death."
Ecclesiastes 4:8 reads: "There is one (echad) alone, without a companion; yes he has neither son nor brother..."
In the above two verses the exact same Hebrew word is used, and clearly the word echad is referring to one alone, not a "compound unity." There is a question that immediately comes to mind: If the Hebrew word echad can signify either a compound unity or one alone, how can one tell which definition is operative when studying a verse? The answer lies in the context, which is always determinative. In the exact same way the word "one" is understood in the English language, that is, from the context. "Four chairs and a table make up one dinette set" is a compound unity, and "Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one" is unsullied monotheism.
I thank you for your question, and may the Merciful One guide you in your conversion process.
There is utmost confusion among students of the Bible about who God is! Some say He is three Persons, some two, and others maintain that He is strictly one Person. Apart from the massive power of tradition, which tends to grip the minds of people, the problem could be solved in a few moments. Here is the solution. Jesus is our authority. Which God did he serve? Fair question? The answer is simple and clear and is found in Mark's Gospel account, chapter twelve.
In verse 29 Jesus answered the question of a scribe (a theologian) by quoting the great foundational text of Israel. The nation was instructed about the true God:
"Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one LORD" (Mark 12:29, quoted from Deuteronomy 6:4).
Who is "the LORD our God"? No question: One LORD. Now ONE LORD is ONE person, not two, not three! We can prove that this is so. Note first that the theologian, who was commended for his intelligence by Jesus (v. 34), affirmed what Jesus had said: "You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him" (v. 32).
How many persons is God? Obviously one, not two, not three. Secondly note that in verse 36 the discussion is about two lords, one of whom is God and the other is the Messiah Jesus:
The LORD said to my lord: "Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet" (Mark 12:36, quoted from Psalm 110:1).
But remember: How many Lords make up the one God? "The LORD our God is ONE LORD" (Mark 12:29).
It is perfectly clear that God must be one Lord. But in verse 36 there are two Lords. Only one of these can be God, because God is one Lord (v. 29). That's what Jesus said. The second "lord" cannot be "God" therefore. Rather, he is the Messiah (Christ), the "lord Messiah." It is surprising that there should be any doubt about the Christian creed. Jesus said plainly: "The LORD our God is one LORD" -- not two or three as some believe. It is time for believers to agree with Jesus about the most important question of all: who God is.
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