Christmas Special: Holy Spirit, where art thou?

Holy Spirit Forget Me Not: Matthew 11:27 falsifies the Trinity

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons), MCollT

According to standard Trinity doctrine, all three Persons in the Triune Godhead, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, are distinct from each other yet equally and fully God and each Person is equally omniscient (all knowing). The doctrine stipulates that each Person is inseparable from the Godhead and they have been three in one and one in three from all eternity. Matthew 11:27 shatters all of that into pieces when it completely leaves out the Holy Spirit to dry:

“All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (ESV)

Once again, the Holy Spirit is conspicuously absent from the picture. A plain reading of the verse necessitates ignorance on the part of the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Triune Godhead. The verse negates the Holy Spirit’s alleged omniscience and his alleged eternal relationship within the Godhead with the other two Persons, the Father and the Son. The verse is explicit in saying that only the Son, i.e., Jesus, knows the Father, which means the Holy Spirit does not know the Father and that only the Father knows Jesus, which means the Holy Spirit does not know Jesus. Noting this significant theological point Mark H. Graeser, John A. Lynn and John W. Shoenheit state:

“If the spirit is a sentient (able to sense, be self-aware), separate and distinct being with personality, then Jesus either did not know this or was very inconsistent in giving “Him” proper due. In Matthew 11:27, Jesus asserts that “…no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son…” If “the Holy Spirit” is a person distinct from the Father, and is also omniscient and almighty “God,” then would He not also have to know the Father and the Son? Jesus’ statement, then, would not have been true, and in fact would be a lie.” [1]

In light of the plain reading of Matthew 11:27, Christians have to choose between two possibilities:

1. The Trinity is true and the Holy Spirit is indeed omniscient and knows the Father and the Son intimately as the third Person in the Godhead just as the first and second Persons in the Godhead know him, but this would make Jesus inconsistent or a deceiver for claiming that only the Father knows him and only he knows the Father as per Matthew 11:27.

2. Jesus is being neither inconsistent nor a deceiver in Matthew 11:27 and that means the Trinity is false as the Holy Spirit, according to the verse in question, is necessarily demoted from the pedestal of godhood for not having omniscience.

To make things even clearer the following syllogism may help:

Premise 1: The Trinity has three Persons and each Person is equally almighty God and totally all knowing, having known each other in an eternal relationship where each Person is distinct from the other yet inseparable from the Godhead in One Essence.

Premise 2: The third Person, i.e., the Holy Spirit, according to Matthew 11:27, is not all knowing and has no knowledge of the first or second Persons in the Godhead and is left alone in the dark.

Conclusion: The Trinity is false.

Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch in their commentary on the verse say that the knowledge that the Son has of the Father and that the Father has of the Son demonstrates “the intimacy between the Father and Son [which] points to their oneness within the Blessed Trinity–i.e., their shared divine knowledge implies a shared divine nature.” [2] If the verse substantiates the oneness and divinity of both the Son and the Father in the Godhead as Hahn and Mitch claim, then it must also be recognised that the verse explicitly singles out the Father and the Son for that honour. This then must necessarily lead to the fatal collapse of the Trinity because the doctrine demands that all three Persons and not only two of the three Persons be fully omniscient and intimately aware of each other. Since the verse emphatically states that only the Father knows the Son and only the Son knows the Father, then the Holy Spirit has no knowledge of either the Father or the Son and that disqualifies him from being part of the Godhead.

Notes:

[1] Graeser, M. H., Lynn, J. A. & Schoen (2010). One God & One Lord: Reconsidering the Cornerstone of the Christian Faith. Indiana: Spirit & Truth Fellowship international. p. 584

[2] Hahn, S. & Mitch, C. (2010). Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: New Testament. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. p. 26

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