A number of years ago, a famous megachurch hosted a debate between a prominent atheist and a Christian apologist. Thousands of people gathered to hear the evidence for and against the existence of God. But when it came time for the Christian to contend for God’s existence, he argued that most evidence points to the greater probability for the existence of “a god.”
As I listened, I thought, “Why is he only arguing for the existence of a god, rather than the God of the Bible?”
Sadly, Christian apologists regularly argue for the existence of “a god.” Rather than defend the God of the Bible, they simply promote a general deity.
Sadly, Christian apologists regularly argue in this way. Rather than defend the God of the Bible, they simply promote a general deity. But there is a big difference: generic theism does not equal biblical theism. When we give people evidence that merely points to a higher power, Scripture tells us that fallen humans will take that evidence, suppress it, and make an idol out of their distorted version (Romans 1:18, 25; Acts 17:23).
Our belief in the triune nature of God is fundamental to our defense of the Christian faith; in fact, this belief separates us from every other religion. Our goal is to point people to the triune God, the only God who truly exists and on whom every person’s eternal destiny depends.
The Triune God at Creation
The Bible clearly teaches that the world was created by the triune God. While the Father is at the forefront of creation (1 Corinthians 8:6), the Son, Jesus, is recognized as the one who spoke creation into existence and upholds the universe by the Word of his power (Hebrews 1:2–3, 8–10, 11:3). Scripture reveals, “For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm” (Psalm33:9).
The New Testament bears witness to this immediate creation through Jesus’ miracles in the Gospels (for example when he instantaneously turned water into wine [John 2:1–11] or when the centurion’s servant was healed the very moment Jesus commanded it [Matthew 8:5–13]). So when Jesus, the Word, spoke the divine command, “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3), we have very good reason to conclude that it did not take millions of years for that light to come into existence (Exodus 20:11).
The Holy Spirit was also active at the beginning of creation, hovering over the newly formed earth, nurturing and preparing it for habitation through the creative Word. He is the one who breathes life into every living thing (Genesis 2:7; Job 33:4; Psalm 104:30). God’s statement “Let us make man in our image” (Genesis 1:26) is in harmony with divine plurality in the Godhead.
“In the Beginning” Is the Gospel
The gospel has its foundation in Genesis. In John 1:1, for example, we read, “In the beginning was the Word.” This of course takes us back to the first verse of Genesis: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” John is referencing the God of Genesis, namely the Word (Greek: logos) who was not only with God but was God. This Word is the one who brought all things into being at creation (John 1:3; cf. Colossians 1:16).
John then tells us that the Word who was with God in the beginning “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). John did not say that the Word stopped being God (cf. John 8:58). In fact, John uses the very particular term dwelt (Greek: skēnoō), which means he “pitched his tent” or “tabernacled” among us (cf. Exodus 25:8–9, 33:7). John is telling us that God dwelt in the person of Jesus, who came to take away the sins of the world (John 1:29). Certainly, Jesus is our savior, but the New Testament emphasizes that he is also our Creator.
People ask, “If the Holy Spirit is God, why does the Bible not emphasize him as much as Jesus?” The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit is sent by the Father and the Son as a helper for us (John 14:16, 16:7). The Holy Spirit’s role is very different from that of Jesus’. As a result, the Holy Spirit does not point to himself but points to the Son and glorifies him (John 15:26, 16:14). Jesus said it was for the disciples’ advantage—and ours—that he should return to the Father so that the Holy Spirit would come to indwell and empower every believer and to “convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8).
When we proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are in absolute need of the Holy Spirit because he opens the minds and hearts of sinners.
A Generic or Triune God—Why Does It Matter?
Theists who believe in a generic god will one day face the judgment of the true triune God (John 5:25–29). As Christians we are called to defend our faith by standing on the authority of Scripture and sharing the message of salvation, which is provided by the Creator God through the Holy Spirit’s conviction and the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (John 16:8; Romans 10:9, 13).