Archive for the 'Unitarianism' Category

Is the Trinity taught in the Bible?

Monday, June 1st, 2015

Eastern Orthodox icon depicting the First Council of Nicaea (courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear

It’s interesting to note how tricky people can be in avoiding declaring that they do not believe in the fundamental Christian doctrine of the Trinity of God. This is how one fellow was elusive on a Christian forum. He wrote that there is no Scripture which refers to the Triune God:

Anti-trinitarian in action

This is how one anti-Trinitarian (a unitarian) explained his/her rejection of the Trinity:

1 Corinthians 8:6, ‘But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him’.

Ephesians 4:5-6King James Version (KJV), ‘5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all’.

There is no scripture saying Triune God…the scripture says continue in the Father and the Son

1 John 2:22-24King James Version (KJV), ‘22 Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. 23 Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. 24 Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father’.[1]

So, according to this person, Scripture does not say Triune God. He[2] continued:

bronze-arrow-small ‘by your own admission ….if the HS [Holy Spirit] is God’s Spirit… then the HS is God and therefore not a third person…which means there is no trinity.’[3]

bronze-arrow-small ‘The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God… Do you not believe the scripture??? Ephesians 4:5-6 (KJV) ‘5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all’.[4]

bronze-arrow-small ‘‘The Spirit of God is God… and NOT something other than God…and thereore (sic) NOT another person or entity. John 4:24God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth”. John 14:23, ‘Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.’[5]

bronze-arrow-small The scripture does not teach…..the Holy Ghost is  a person of a Trinity….scripture teaches the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God… Paul said   “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” (Eph 4:30 KJV)’[6]

bronze-arrow-small ‘You have not been reading scripture …have you?…scripture sats (sic) nothing about a triune nature….it says God is ONE……what are the three natures you are talking about??? show scripture saying there are three natures… Jesus said I and my Father are one….Jesus and  the Father makes their abode with us….One  Spirit’. [7]

bronze-arrow-small ‘OK here is the person…..: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”  who was HE that the disciples Knew???….who was he that dwelleth with the disciples???…and who was the HE that shall be in us????’[8]

bronze-arrow-small ‘where does scripture say one God in three persons….???? you have no scripture to back up that claim.’[9]

bronze-arrow-small ‘none of those say or imply in any way…”one God in three persons.”….. you are reading that into the scripture friend’.[10]

The challenge

After seeing this kind of back and forth from a non-Trinitarian person, I asked him directly, ‘Don’t you believe in the Trinity?’[11] His response was predictably, ‘Where does the scripture command anyone to believe in the trinitarian God???’[12] I replied, ‘You are not answering my question. I asked: Do you believe in the Trinitarian God or not?’[13]

He eventually confessed: ‘I do not believe in the trinitarian god… it is a false doctrine… can you now answer my question??… where does the scripture command anyone to believe in the trinitarian god???[14]

It was at this point I gave him….

A beginning answer [15]

Please note that I do not deal here with the unity of God, that there is one God.

Where does the Scripture command us to believe in the Trinitarian God?

Let’s answer the first issue associated with this question. Where does Scripture command us to believe in God? There are many Scriptures we could choose. Let’s deal with just a couple:

a. ‘And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.’ (Heb 11:6 ESV). ‘And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off for ever’ (1 Chron 28:9 ESV). We could go to other verses as well to affirm the need to believe in God.

b. The second question is: What is the nature of this God? Is he Trinitarian or non-trinitarian? Let’s investigate further.

In a response, this is what happens when a person only gives the biblical verses that support the anti-trinitarian view of god, which is a heretical view of God as was declared at the Council of Nicea in AD 325 (Encyclopaedia Britannica 2015). See the Nicene Creed below. Why? Because he has chosen to exclude the verses that demonstrate that God consists of three persons who are deity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The definition of the Trinity which has biblical support is: ‘God eternally exists as three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and each person is fully God, and there is one God’ (Grudem 1999:104).

What’s the evidence that God, the Father, is fully God? It is progressively revealed throughout Scripture. As early as Genesis 1:26 (ESV), God is revealed as a plurality: ‘Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness’. Here we have the plural pronouns ‘us’ and ‘our’ used. Are they plurals of majesty or do they indicate that there is plurality in the Godhead? ‘In Old Testament Hebrew there are no other examples of a monarch using plural verbs or plural pronouns of himself in such a “plural of majesty,” so this suggestion has no evidence to support it’ (Grudem 1999:104). The God who is plurality made a human being (man) in their (plural) image.

The persons and deity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit

The “Shield of the Trinity” or Scutum Fidei diagram of traditional Western Christian symbolism (courtesy Wikipedia)

The more complete revelation is in the New Testament where we find that

cubed-redmatteGod, the Father, is regarded as God. ‘For on him God the Father has set his seal’ (Jn 6:27 ESV); ‘God our Father’ (Rm 1:7 ESV); ‘God the Father’ and ‘God the Father’ (Gal 1:1, 3). Isn’t that clear enough? The Father is God.

cubed-redmatteGod, the Son, is regarded as God. He has the attributes of deity: (1) Eternity (Jn 1:15; 8:58; 17:5, 24); (2) Omniscience (Jn 4:24; 16:30; 21:17); (3) Omnipresence (Mt 18:20; 28:20; Jn 3:13); (4) Omnipotence. ‘I am the Almighty’ (Rev 1:8); Heb 1:3; Mt 28:18; (5) Immutable (Heb 1:12; 13:8); (6) He does the actions of deity: creator (Jn 1:3; Heb 1:10; Col 1:16); holds things together (Col 1:17; Heb 1:3); forgives sin (Mt 9:2, 6); raises the dead (Jn 6:39-40, 54; 11:25; 20:25, 28); he will be the Judge (Jn 5:22) of believers (2 Cor 5:10), of Antichrist and his followers (Rev 19:15), the nations (Ac 17:31), Satan (Gen 3:15) and the living and the dead (Ac 10:42).

cubed-redmatteGod, the Holy Spirit, is regarded as God. The Holy Spirit is a person. Take John 16:13 as an example. the neuter substantive pneuma [Spirit] is referred to by the masculine pronoun ekeinos [he], thus recognising the Holy Spirit not as a neuter ‘it’ but as a person, ‘he’. He is the Comforter/Helper (Jn 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7). No ‘it’ can do this. The Holy Spirit has the attributes of Deity. He is eternal (Heb 9:14), omniscient (1 Cor 2:10-11; Jn 14:26; 16:12-13), omnipotent (Lk 1:35), omnipresent (Ps 139:7-10). And have a guess what? He does the works of deity in creation (Ps 104:30), regeneration (Jn 3:5), giving us Scripture (2 Pt 1:21; and raising the dead (Rm 8:11).

In preparing these Scriptures I have been assisted by Henry Thiessen (1949:134-146). Thiessen notes that ‘the doctrine of the tripersonality of God is not in conflict with the doctrine of the unity of God. There are three persons in the one essence…. These distinctions are eternal. This is evident from the passages which imply Christ’s existence with the Father from eternity (John 1:1, 2; Phil. 2:6; John 17:5, 24) and from those which assert or imply the eternity of the Holy Spirit (Gen. 1:2; Heb. 9:14)’ (Thiessen 1949:145).

Although the words Trinity, Triunity or tripersonality do not appear in Scripture, the teachings do, as I’ve attempted to show. Exact wording should not put us off. Try finding these words in the Bible: Rapture, inerrancy, infallibility, Bible, literal interpretation, Sunday, Christmas, Easter, ‘Jesus is God’, etc. However, all these teachings can be demonstrated from the Bible.

The above exposition begins to answer the question: Where does the Scripture command anyone to believe in the Trinitarian God? The God revealed in Scripture and who acted in history as described in Old and New Testaments is the Trinitarian God. The God I worship is no Unitarian or Deist God. He is the Trinitarian Lord God Almighty.

Excuses

clip_image002Tanuki cartoon (openclipart)

How do you think a person would reply to the above explanation? He gave me his avoidance: ‘Sorry I have not read your post because you misrepresent me in the beginning…I asked …where does the scripture command anyone to believe in the trinitarian god??? so you are not answering what I asked….plain and simple…you started wrong.’[16]

My reply was:[17]

When you don’t read my post, you demonstrate ignorance of having a reasonable conversation. I dealt with your Unitarian god by addressing two questions that are coherent with one another.

  1. Are we commanded to believe in God? Yes!
  2. What is the nature of God we are commanded to believe in? The Trinitarian God of Unity and Trinity.

I directly answered your question but what have you done? You have given me a flick pass by your use of a red herring logical fallacy. This fallacy is when you decide not to deal with the issue I raised but to take the conversation in another direction. What you have done is engaged in avoidance of the fact that I DID ANSWER YOUR QUESTION but you DID NOT EXTEND TO ME THE COURTESY OF READING MY POST.

You have essentially told me: Don’t waste your time in spending effort on a response to newbirth because he can’t be bothered with answering the issues I raise. He doesn’t even both to read what I write to answer his issues.

Newbirth, there is a place on CB [Christianity Board] where you can discuss your heretical view of God. It’s called the Unorthodox forum. That’s where you should be promoting your Unitarianism and not here on an orthodox Christian thread.

This person is a Unitarian in his/her beliefs

I need to label this heresy for what it is. It is Unitarianism that is supported by, yes, Unitarians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christadelphians, United Pentecostal Church, and others of like minds.

First Unitarian Meeting House in Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, designed by Unitarian Frank Lloyd Wright (courtesy Wikipedia)

 

What do they believe?

Unitarians believe that God is one—one being, one mind, one person, one intelligent agent, and one only, who is supremely wise, powerful, holy, and good, and whose highest attribute is love. This is the one called “Father” by Jesus and his disciples….

As regards God’s indivisible unity. Jesus answered, “The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord” (Mark 12:29); “We know . . . there is no God but one” (1 Cor. 8:4); “God is one” (Gal. 3:20)….

Because there are many texts in the Bible plainly opposed to the Church doctrine of the Trinity. Such are the texts in which the Father is called the one or only God, which could not be said if the Son is also God and the Holy Spirit God: “For though there are many that are called gods, whether in heaven or on earth, (as there are many gods and many lords), to us there is one God, the Father” (1 Cor. 8:5,6); “For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 2:5)….

Unitarians object to the doctrine of the Trinity, because, while acknowledging the unity of God in words, it subverts that unity in effect. The doctrine divides and distracts the mind in its devotion to God. It defeats the effectiveness of true monotheism, which is to offer us one object of worship, one supreme figure, one person to whom we may ascribe all goodness, in whom is concentrated all our love and vitality, and whose beautiful and venerable nature may pervade all our thoughts (Miano 2003).

That is an heretical view that is not supported by Scripture. To refute some of these claims, refer to the material presented above and also,

See these other articles

clip_image003Sue Bohlin, ‘Jesus claims to be God’;

clip_image003[1]Norman Geisler, ‘The uniqueness of Jesus Christ’;

clip_image003[2]Spencer Gear: Is Jesus a God and not the God?

clip_image003[3]Spencer Gear, ‘Was Jesus omniscient while on earth?

clip_image003[4]Spencer Gear, Is the Holy Spirit God?

clip_image003[5]Spencer Gear, Is the God of Islam the same God as Elohim of the Christian Scriptures?

 

Appendix

The nature of God in the persons of Father, Son and Holy Spirit were summarised in the

Nicene Creed[18]

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father [and the Son]; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Works consulted

Encyclopaedia Britannica 2015. Council of Nicaea. Available at: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/413817/Council-of-Nicaea (Accessed 31 May 2015).

Grudem, W 1999. Bible doctrine: Essential teachings of the Christian faith. J Purswell (ed). Leister, England: Inter-Varsity Press (published by arrangement with Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan).

Miano, D R 2003. An explanation of Unitarian Christianity. American Unitarian Conference (online). Available at: http://www.americanunitarian.org/explanation.htm (Accessed 1 June 2015).

Thiessen, H C 1949. Introductory lectures in systematic theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Notes

[1] Christianity Board, ‘Prove practise of worship of the Holy Spirit is biblical’, newbirth#27. Available at: http://www.christianityboard.com/topic/21183-prove-practise-of-worship-of-the-holy-spirit-is-biblical/ (Accessed 31 May 2015).

[2] I will use ‘he’ but this person will not reveal his/her sex.

[3] Ibid., newbirth#28.

[4] Ibid., newbirth#30.

[5] Ibid., newbirth#32.

[6] Ibid., newbirth#33.

[7] Ibid., newbirth#35.

[8] Ibid., newbirth#38.

[9] Ibid., newbirth#45.

[10] Ibid., newbirth#47.

[11] Ibid., OzSpen#52.

[12] Ibid., newbirth#62.

[13] Ibid., OzSpen#64.

[14] Ibid., newbirth#66.

[15] Ibid., OzSpen#69.

[16] Ibid., newbirth#72.

[17] Ibid., OzSpen#76.

[18] For scriptural support for the Nicene Creed, see ‘Great stuff – The Nicene Creed according to Scripture’. The Brothers of John the Steadfast (online). Available at: http://steadfastlutherans.org/2012/06/great-stuff-the-nicene-creed-according-to-scripture/ (Accessed 1 June 2015).

 

Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 21 November 2015.