God’s wrath and sanctification

Intro: Salvation and sanctification

In “How do I know what God’s will is“, “Does God stands behind all evil on earth” and in “What Is Sanctification?” we looked at the creation its inhabitants which from the start of creation choose a way contrary to the Will of the Creator.

The choices made in the Garden of Eden determined the coarse of history. We still bear the consequences of the choices made by the first man (man: 1° Adam) and mannin (woman: Eve).

Throughout Christendom many Torah teachings were put aside for human teachings. One such got varying adherents. Namely lots of people want to believe:

Once saved, always saved.

Calvinist thought about believers and salvation

Edwin H. Palmer in “The Five Points of Calvinism” (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1972, p 68) does find it:

It is one of the grandest thoughts in the Bible

According to him and many Calvinists

once you believe, you can never be lost, you can never go to hell.

First of all, everybody goes to hell, like Jesus also went to hell (for three days). Nearly all people shall have to face their end of their life. The only exception shall be those few at the end of the Big Battle, World War III, the Armageddon, who would be able to survive that.

Secondly not all who believe at one point shall keep the faith and shall consider Christ as their Messiah. So for those who lose their faith in Christ and in God, Jesus shall not always be their Saviour.

Secure key to eternal destiny and perseverance of saints

Contrary to what the author for his Calvinist followers writes it shall not be possible to get your eternal destiny (or eternal life) settled once for all so that you never have to worry about it

It is nice that the person has so much confidence in humankind that he thinks that  those who have been baptised shall persevere in trusting in Christ as their Saviour. Strange that when this pastor wrote that book he was already 50 years old (or young) and than you would consider that he would have already had several experiences in life, having seen people leaving his church or worse having already seen pastors who lost faith and became atheists.*

Edwin H. Palmer, referring to the fifth point of Calvinism, said the following:

This is strictly a Reformed doctrine and hangs or falls together with the other four points that we have been discussing. There are, however, Christians today who hold to the perseverance of the saints while at the same time rejecting the other four points. We believe, however, and will try to show later on, that this is an inconsistency in their thinking. (The Five Points of Calvinism, Moelker Printing Co. [Grand Rapids, Michigan], 1954 ed, p. 59.)

Doctrine of limited atonement

In keeping with his expert opinion of this theology, Edwin H. Palmer went on to write about the perseverance of the saints:

This doctrine also naturally follows from the doctrine of the limited atonement … (ibid., p. 61).

In other words, if the doctrine of limited atonement is true, then so is the perseverance of the saints. But then on the other hand, if limited atonement is untrue, so is eternal security. The above two quotes from Edwin H. Palmer are valuable to Christians who know all five points of Calvinism are not from God and especially desire to help free some Calvinists from the theological snare they are trapped in. Calvin shared with Luther belief in the absolute authority of the bible and in justification by faith alone, and as such many came to believe that their faith in Jesus Christ was enough to have them justified to enter the heaven, though if they would have looked closer into the Holy Scriptures they would have found that the Kingdom of God will be for most here on earth and that faith without works is dead, and as such would not bring salvation to any person. We do know the envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like shall not inherit the kingdom of God; but often still can be found by people who are baptised or who call themselves “new born Christians”. Even when they do know that the law is good they still have to try to keep it. If a man uses it lawfully there does not seem a problem, but when they stay kneeling in front of statues, worshipping more than one god, not obeying the Only One True God, doing unholy and profane things, murdering, killing or hurting by manslaughter,  or fornicating, doing homosexual acts, slave trading, but also being liars, perjurers,encountering a road to success dotted with many tempting parking places, they should know that if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, they should know they will not be able to enter the small gate of the Kingdom of God. It is just called a small gate and being it more difficult for a camel to enter the eye of the needle, because God demands full recognition and keeping to His commandments. According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to the trust of the apostle Paul he has been enabled by Christ Jesus, that he counted him faithful, putting him into the ministry. He was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and insolent, but he obtained mercy, because he did it ignorantly in unbelief.  Though afterwards when he got the call of Jeshua, when the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus, he got on the right track and changed his life.  If we do not change our way of life, our calling shall not result in saving ourselves. It really is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, but if the sinners do not repent, the blood of Christ, which also was shed for them, shall have no use for them because there is no reason for whitewashing for them. We can only obtain mercy, that in us first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for an example to them who should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting, when we do come but also stay in the faith of Jesus Christ.

Now the works of the flesh are obvious, which are: sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustfulness,  (20)  idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousies, outbursts of anger, rivalries, divisions, heresies, (Galatians 5:19-20 NHEBJE)But we know that the law is good, if a man uses it lawfully,  (9)  as knowing this, that law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,  (10)  for the sexually immoral, for men who practice sexual relations with men, for slave-traders, for liars, for perjurers, and for any other thing contrary to the sound doctrine;  (11)  according to the Good News of the glory of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.  (12)  And I thank him who enabled me, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he counted me faithful, appointing me to service;  (13)  although I was before a blasphemer, a persecutor, and insolent. However, I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.  (14)  The grace of our Lord abounded exceedingly with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.  (15)  The saying is faithful and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.  (16)  However, for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first, Jesus Christ might display all his patience, for an example of those who were going to believe in him for eternal life.  (17)  Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1Timothy 1:8-17 NHEBJE)

Legitimate ones to receive Grace

In 1980, the year of Edwin H. Palmer’s death, an enlarged edition of this same book was released. In this more recent edition the words were slightly changed from the previous quote, while retaining its essence:

All five points of Calvinism hang or fall together (The Five Points of Calvinism, Baker Books [Grand Rapids, Michigan], 1980 enlarged edition, p. 69).Dear reader, if you know that any of the five points of Calvinism are unscriptural, then the rest are as well. All a Christian has to do, therefore, is to refute any of the five points of Calvinism and by doing so he has destroyed all five points, according to Dr. Edwin H. Palmer himself. But dear Christian, please be assured that people who embrace Calvinism’s beloved fifth point won’t surrender it easily. They often feel just like Palmer did as reflected in his following statement:The teaching of “once saved, always saved is one of the grandest of Biblical teachings (ibid., p. 79).

In the Christian set of beliefs that is based on the teachings of John Calvin and that stresses God’s power and the moral weakness of human beings a strong emphasis is placed on the sovereignty of God, the depravity of humankind, and the doctrine of predestination. For Calvin, God gives himself to be known, and that revelation is about who God is, not an explanation of how God is three and a unity, nor a revelation that human reason could reach on its own.

In the Bible, God’s Word, there is given a distinction between the God of Abraham and the Jewish man, not a god-man, but a human, a man from God, who worshipped that God of Moses and only wanted to do God His Will and not his own will, and as such giving his body as a Lamb for God and becoming the Christ.

We do believe everybody received the grace of salvation, but that does not make it that everybody is saved for ever. Those who do not want to accept God in their life shall when they die, when staying with their mind not willing to know about a Divine Creator, shall not be legitimate to receive the Grace, provided by the blood of Christ. Those who at a certain point in their life came to accept Christ Jesus as their saviour, got baptised, but then continue or come back to a way of life not in accordance to the Law of God, shall miss the salvation also.

Under or not under a Law and righteousness

Now we know that whatsoever things the law says, it says to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.  But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets. We do have the Holy Scriptures for us to witness and to take the words of it into our heart.

Even the righteousness of God which is by faith in Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe, which means shall not be onto those who do not believe. The Grace of God and the salvation by the Lamb of God comes over all the same way, for there is no difference, for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. We all may be happy that we can be justified freely by Jehovah God His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.  It is that Jewish Nazarene man of flesh and blood, who gave his life, Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.

We shall not be justified on the account of the Law nor just works, but by the law of faith and the works of faith.  Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

Now we know that whatever things the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may be brought under the judgment of God.  (20)  Because by the works of the law, no flesh will be justified in his sight. For through the law comes the knowledge of sin.  (21)  But now apart from the law, a righteousness of God has been revealed, being testified by the Law and the Prophets;  (22)  even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ to all those who believe. For there is no distinction,  (23)  for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God;  (24)  being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus;  (25)  whom God set forth to be an atoning sacrifice, through faith in his blood, for a demonstration of his righteousness through the passing over of prior sins, in God’s forbearance;  (26)  to demonstrate his righteousness at this present time; that he might himself be just, and the justifier of him who has faith in Jesus.  (27)  Where then is the boasting? It is excluded. By what manner of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith.  (28)  We maintain therefore that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.  (29)  Or is God the God of Jews only? Is not he the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also,  (30)  since indeed there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith, and the uncircumcised through faith.  (31)  Do we then nullify the law through faith? May it never be! No, we establish the law. (Romans 3:19-31 NHEBJE)Therefore, we are always confident and know that while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord;  (7)  for we walk by faith, not by sight.  (8)  We are of good courage, I say, and are willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be at home with the Lord.  (9)  Therefore also we make it our aim, whether at home or absent, to be well pleasing to him. (2 Corinthians 5:6-9 NHEBJE)So then, those who are of faith are blessed with the faithful Abraham.  (10)  For as many as are of the works of the law are under a curse. For it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things that are written on the book of the law, to do them.”  (11)  Now that no man is justified by the law before God is evident, for, “The righteous will live by faith.”  (12)  The law is not of faith, but, “The man who does them will live by them.”  (13)  Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us. For it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree,”  (14)  that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Christ Jesus; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Galatians 3:9-14 NHEBJE)

Living according to the true faith required by God

Snowy Grand Rapids, MI 12-23-08

Not all who are whitewashed by baptism somewhere in their life on this earth shall be able to enter the gates of the Kingdom of God. – Snowy Grand Rapids, MI 12-23-08 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every Christian should know that those who do not live according to the true faith required by God shall have judgement without mercy. Without changing his or her attitude, the Christian shall  not be different than the one who does not believe in Christ. Did the Calvinist preacher does not wonder what does it profit when those many people who say they have faith (in what?) but did not show they are real followers of Christ living according his teachings and according to the Will of God? The many people we can encounter daily who say they are a “Christian” but do not really have faith, or those who have faith but not show any works; can faith save them?

It is easy to say you believe in Christ or in God, perhaps you might find other people around you who also believe there are many gods and Jehovah is one of them, or they even might consider Jesus to be one of the many gods. And what is the real difference between the Jew, Christian, Muslim, the ones believing in the God of Abraham, and the ones who do good works, live decently, but do not believe in the One True God, Divine Creator of heaven and earth? Many atheists do live very well and do many good deeds? Many who say they are believers in Jesus Christ do lesser good deeds than those non-believers. Christ also died also for them, for all sinners, believers and non-believers. Would that mean they all come in the Kingdom of God?

Not all people shall come into the Kingdom of God.

Jesus has told enough parables which make it clear how people do not only have to have faith and have to honour God. His stories also make it clear how we can loose the right of entrance or the right of salvation.
Scripture tells us also that a man may say, “You have faith, and I have works” or “you believe that there is one God; you do well: the demons also believe, and tremble”.  The Bible warns us not to be vain and to be aware that faith without works is dead. We should be very careful by our idea that our baptism would be well enough. We can be very mistaken by thinking and by being assured that everything what we do after our baptism would be all right, because it does not matter any more because we are saved by Christ. When we do not mind doing things against the Will of God we might be very surprised at the End-times, standing in front of Jesus Christ, being rejected by him and not able to enter that gate to eternal life. Like Abraham believed God we too should have it imputed unto us for righteousness and being a real Friend of God. Looking at Abraham we should see how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

For judgment is without mercy to him who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.  (14)  What good is it, my brothers, if a man says he has faith, but has no works? Can faith save him?  (15)  And if a brother or sister is naked and in lack of daily food,  (16)  and one of you tells them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled;” and yet you did not give them the things the body needs, what good is it?  (17)  Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead in itself.  (18)  Yes, a man will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I by my works will show you my faith.  (19)  You believe that God is one. You do well. The demons also believe, and shudder.  (20)  But do you want to know, foolish man, that faith apart from works is dead?  (21)  Wasn’t Abraham our father justified by works, in that he offered up Isaac his son on the altar?  (22)  You see that faith worked with his works, and by works faith was perfected;  (23)  and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him as righteousness;” and he was called the friend of God.  (24)  You see then that by works, a man is justified, and not only by faith.(James 2:13-24 NHEBJE)

Doubters and the ones mulled back and forth

The one who are pulled back and forth, shall also not find God turning on and then turn off their life chance. Contrary to what the Calvinist writers wants us to believe they will not continue believing forever and they will not be saved for ever. History has know many cases of people who “came to the lord” but later left him. History has also seen people who were supposed to be “men of God”, became religious people, became priest, bishop and even pope, but who misused boys and girls, fornicated, did homosexual and other acts with man or with animals. According to us those shall not be able to enter the Kingdom of God.

To blame God for having them going astray is, according to me a sort of blasphemy. It is too easy to blame God for the wrongdoings of man like the pastor does when he writes;

Thus they will always be saved…It is possible, however, to use another term to describe this fact, namely, the perseverance of God. For really the perseverance of the saints depends on the perseverance of God. It is because God perseveres in His love toward His church that the church perseveres in its love toward Him. (Edwin H. Palmer, The Five Points of Calvinism, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1972, p 68).

Having said that, he wants citizens to believe that clergy or holy men, who want to oppress the people in their church and demands things of them which they themselves do not keep, persevere their love for God or do that because that God has given up His love for them.

It is also easy to say

if someone appears to be obeying God but then turns to rebellion, it only means they were never actually elect by God’s grace to begin with. Or if they really are God’s elect, God will bring them back to obedience at some later time before death. {How to Rely on God’s Grace without Becoming a Calvinist-Perservance}

A puller and a decider and the elected

God is the One Who pulls the people towards Him, but it are the people themselves who have to make their own free will choice: coming close to God and accepting Him as the Divine Creator, Sovereign Master over heaven and earth, and presenting themselves as Children of Him, to behave as children of God.

The latter believe that a moment of faith brings the grace of God into the lives of the elect and their later behaviour has no bearing on their salvation because Christ’s atonement covered all their sins, past, present, and future. Be aware that the former position is that of Calvin; the Stanley position is a corruption of true Calvinism (at least so it seems to me).

says Edwin Crozier, who calls himself a disciple, husband, father, preacher and author who is convinced God’s way works and would love to discuss it.

Calvinism has taught that election is unconditional. Man does absolutely nothing as a determining factor of whether or not he is elect. Additionally, the true offer of atonement is only made to the elect. But more than that, when that true inward call is given, the elect cannot resist it. They will be effectively drawn by it. That, of necessity, means the elect will persevere in God’s grace. There is simply no alternative for them. Since they can’t resist it, they will, of necessity, continue in it until it ultimately saves them in the end. {How to Rely on God’s Grace without Becoming a Calvinist-Perservance}

How can it be than that so called elect have gone up and down like a yoyo, and several at the end of their life also obstinately refused to believe any more in Christ or in God? How did it come that they were not “effectively drawn” by the inner call which came unto them at a certain point in their life?

Is it also not too easy to say you just rely on the calling of God? Is it also not too easy to you are going

“to be through relying on God’s power to carry me through”.

Arminianism, God’s sovereignty and Predestination

Also Robert A. Peterson and Michael D. Williams recognize the role of grace in the opposing view of salvation but show how Calvinists part company with Arminians by affirming that God’s grace is efficacious, particular, and irresistible. As compatibilists, they present God’s sovereignty as the ultimate cause of things, while “human freedom, although not ultimate, is significant and considerable” (Why I Am Not an Arminian. By Robert A. Peterson and Michael D. Williams. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2004, 224 pp., p. 64). Prevenient grace gets special attention as universal opportunity and conditional election require biblical justification.  Predestination is buttressed by data from every major section of Scripture; the authors prefer an asymmetrical election to salvation. The bottom line for Peterson and Williams in this debate:

“Divine sovereignty and human responsibility cannot be pitted against one another” so that libertarian free will is unnecessary (Why I Am Not an Arminian, p. 151).”the human will is free and the divine is not” (Why I Am Not an Arminian, p. 140).

They sometimes exaggerate the Arminian view of saving faith as if it were meritorious:

“Rather than affirm a boot-strap doctrine of merit, the Calvinist insists upon the effectiveness of divine grace” (Why I Am Not an Arminian)

All requested by god to believe in Him and His Word

Each human being may hear some call by the Most High but is left totally free by the Creator how to cope with his freedom how to use his will. “Elect” and “non-elect”, are requested by God to believe the gospel. Before a person came to God he might have been foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.  When the person came to see and understand what it was that after the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we had, have done, or still would be going to do, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit;  whom he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour. The apostle tells us that being justified by Jesus his willingness to offer himself, doing the Will of God, and not his own will, giving us his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7)

This is a faithful saying, and these things we should desire that everybody in our congregation would affirm ‘constantly’, that they who have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. (Titus 3:8)

These things are good and profitable unto men.  (9)  But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.  (10)  A man that is divisive after the first and second admonition reject;  (11)  Knowing that he that is such is perverted, and sins, being condemned of himself.  (12)  When I shall send Artemas unto you, or Tychicus, be diligent to come unto me to Nicopolis: for I have determined there to winter.  (13)  Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey diligently, that nothing be lacking unto them.  (14)  And let our own also learn to maintain good works for urgent needs, that they not be unfruitful.  (15)  All that are with me greet you. Greet them that love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. Amen.

Getting to know God and consequences

We can hear the call of God and answer to it. We can going to be by relying on the grace of God poured out on us through His Holy Spirit. We can come to proclaim God’s command to repent and believe to all men. But are going out to tell others about god should not be so much because for our fear for missing sanctification, but our of our love for God. Knowing the reality of God’s wrath, the sin of man, believing implicitly the promise of God that anyone who turns in faith to Christ will be saved, we will ave others to be saved also.

that God will assuredly bestow life and salvation upon all believers (The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, John Owen)

misses out on the point of the Biblical teaching that we should prepare ourselves for the Kingdom of God.

True believers should faithfully warn the unsaved, to show wherein their sins consists (enmity against God), and they should also warn the believers that it is very important to keep the good faith and to make sure we obey because the gospel is a command.

Now you know what is restraining him, to the end that he may be revealed in his own season.  (7)  For the mystery of lawlessness already works. Only there is one who restrains now, until he is taken out of the way.  (8)  Then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will kill with the breath of his mouth, and destroy by the manifestation of his coming;  (9)  even he whose coming is according to the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,  (10)  and with all deception of wickedness for those who are being lost, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. (2 Thessalonians 2:6-10 NHEBJE)Being then the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold, or silver, or stone, engraved by art and design of man.  (30)  The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked. But now he commands that all people everywhere should repent,  (31)  because he has appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he has ordained; of which he has given assurance to all men, in that he has raised him from the dead.” (Acts of the apostles 17:29-31 NHEBJE)

The times of ignorance God overlooked has gone. Man is being asked everywhere to change. The change is what God wants to see and shall take account of.

John MacArthur says:

When you share the gospel, you command people to believe. You command people to repent so that it is crystal clear that what they have done is obey or disobey. That’s why I say invitation is not a word that is consistent with commanding. Better to finish your sermon with a command than an invitation.” (“Two Paths, One Way”, John MacArthur)

Condemnation from old

There are many people who may believe in God, gods, Satan, wrong doing and good doing. Many shall have heard the Voice of God in their life, but it shall depend on how they reacted if they shall be justified to enter the gates of the Kingdom. Whoever believes in the ‘Son of God‘ Jesus is not condemned, but whoever does not live according to that believe shall have to face the consequences of his acts. Like the false prophets and false teachers who also arose among the people, who will craftily bring in deadly heresies, even disowning the Lord who bought them and bringing on themselves quick ruin. And the many who will follow their shameless ways and by these the path of truth will be profanely spoken of. In covetousness they will make gain out of many by their cunning words. But their condemnation from of old shall not not be inactive. They should really be fully aware that also for them, though they may call themselves believers, their destruction has not been sleeping.  For if God did not spare angels that had sinned, but thrust them down to Tartarus and committed them to pits of darkness to be kept for judgement, and did not spare the ancient world, but guarded Noah, a herald of righteousness, and seven others, when he brought the flood on the world of the ungodly;  and if reducing to ashes the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah he condemned them to destruction, making them an example for the godless of what would come upon them,  and rescued righteous Lot worn out by the indecent lives of the lawless, —  for that righteous man living among them was tortured day and night in his righteous soul by the sight and hearing of their lawless deeds, —   the Lord knows how to rescue the pious from trial and how to keep the wicked under punishment for the day of judgement,  especially those who go after flesh in polluting passions, and despise lordship. They are daring, self-willed; they do not tremble to speak insultingly of glorious beings, whereas angels who are greater in might and power, do not bring against them a railing accusation before the Lord.

But false prophets also arose among the people, as false teachers will also be among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, denying even the Master who bought them, bringing on themselves swift destruction.  (2)  Many will follow their immoral ways, and as a result, the way of the truth will be maligned.  (3)  In covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words: whose sentence now from of old does not linger, and their destruction is not asleep.  (4)  For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them down to the lower parts of hell, and committed them to pits of darkness, to be reserved for judgment;  (5)  and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah with seven others, a proclaimer of righteousness, when he brought a flood on the world of the ungodly;  (6)  and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly;  (7)  and delivered righteous Lot, who was very distressed by the lustful life of the wicked  (8)  (for that righteous man dwelling among them, was tormented in his righteous soul from day to day with seeing and hearing lawless deeds):  (9)  the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment;  (10)  but chiefly those who walk after the flesh in the lust of defilement, and despise authority. Daring, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries;  (11)  whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not bring a railing judgment against them before the Lord. (2 Peter 2:1-11 NHEBJE)

Also for those so called reborns if they have eyes full of adultery and unceasing sin; ensnaring unstable souls; having a heart practised in greediness; an execrable race; having forsaken the right road they have gone quite astray, they should know that for them there shall also not be a salvation at the end. They by the lusts of the flesh, by acts of lasciviousness, shall miss the boat. For if alter fleeing from the pollutions of the world by an acknowledgement of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, any are again entangled and overcome by them, the last state of such persons is worse than the first. They also should be well aware that they even could be worse off than a person who was never been baptised. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after knowing it, to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them.

But these, as unreasoning creatures, born natural animals to be taken and destroyed, speaking evil in matters about which they are ignorant, will in their destroying surely be destroyed,  (13)  suffering the penalty as the wages of evil; people who count it pleasure to revel in the daytime, spots and blemishes, reveling in their deceit while they feast with you;  (14)  having eyes full of adultery, and who cannot cease from sin; enticing unsettled souls; having a heart trained in greed; children of cursing;  (15)  forsaking the right way, they went astray, having followed the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of wrongdoing;  (16)  but he was rebuked for his own disobedience. A mute donkey spoke with a man’s voice and stopped the madness of the prophet.  (17)  These are wells without water, and mists driven by a storm; for whom the blackness of darkness has been reserved.  (18)  For, uttering great swelling words of emptiness, they entice in the lusts of the flesh, by licentiousness, those who barely escape from those who live in error;  (19)  promising them liberty, while they themselves are bondservants of corruption; for a man is brought into bondage by whoever overcomes him.  (20)  For if, after they have escaped the defilement of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in it and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.  (21)  For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them.  (22)  It has happened to them according to the true proverb, “The dog turns to his own vomit again,” and “the sow that has washed to wallowing in the mire.” (2 Peter 2:12-22 NHEBJE)

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* Note Edwin H. Palmer (1922-80) was born, grew up and went to school in Quincy, Massachusetts. He graduated from Harvard College (A.B.) in 1944, following which he served as first lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps 1944-1946, service which included operations in the Pacific theatre and involvement in the fighting around Okinawa.
In 1949 he received his Th.B. degree from Westminster Theological Seminary and furthered his education at The Free University of Amsterdam, receiving his doctorate (Th.D.) there in 1953. His accomplishments and contributions were so respected by the Christian academic community that, in 1977, Houghton College conferred on him the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity.

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Additional literature:

  1. Are you religious, spiritual, or do you belong to a religion, having a faith or interfaith
  2. People Seeking for God 1 Looking for answers
  3. People Seeking for God 2 Human interpretations
  4. Looking for True Spirituality 8 Measuring Up
  5. Doubting the reality, genuineness and effectiveness of God’s love
  6. Seeing or not seeing and willingness to find God
  7. Do you believe in One god
  8. Does there have to be a Holy Trinity Mystery
  9. How long to wait before bringing religiousness and spirituality in practice
  10. Science and the Bible—Do They Really Contradict Each Other?
  11. Science, belief, denial and visibility 2
  12. Believing in God the rewarder
  13. Jehovah steep rock and fortress, source of insight
  14. Bric-a-brac of the Bible
  15. Bible basic intro
  16. Bible power to change
  17. Bible word of God,inspired and infallible
  18. Bible Word from God
  19. Creator and Blogger God 7 A Blog of a Book 1 Believing the Blogger
  20. Creator and Blogger God 10 A Blog of a Book 4 Listening to the Blogger
  21. God’s forgotten Word 1 Introduction
  22. Eternal Word that tells everything
  23. Missional hermeneutics 3/5
  24. Missional hermeneutics 4/5
  25. Belief of the things that God has promised
  26. Exceeding Great and Precious Promise
  27. God wants to be gracious to you
  28. Heed of the Saviour
  29. A Living Faith #1 Substance of things hoped for
  30. A Living Faith #3 Faith put into action
  31. A Living Faith #4 Effort
  32. A Living Faith #12 The Love for Jesus
  33. Faith
  34. Faith Requires a Basis
  35. Faith and works
  36. Faith moving mountains
  37. Trusting, Faith, Calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #13 Prayer #11 Name to be set apart
  38. What Should I Preach ?
  39. Understanding what we read
  40. Counterfeit Gospels
  41. A promise given in the Garden of Eden
  42. Old language to confirm the promises
  43. God’s Special Gift
  44. Do not be afraid. Good news because a Saviour has been born
  45. A remaining name
  46. Entrance of a king to question our position #1 Coming in the Name of the Lord
  47. Entrance of a king to question our position #2 Who do we want to see and to be
  48. An unblemished and spotless lamb foreknown
  49. In the death of Christ, the son of God, is glorification
  50. Love and forgive this friday
  51. The redemption of man by Christ Jesus
  52. For the Will of Him who is greater than Jesus
  53. Shabbat Pesach service reading 1/2
  54. Shabbat Pesach service reading 2/2
  55. After the Sabbath after Passover, the resurrection of Jesus Christ
  56. Seven days of Passover
  57. A Holy week in remembrance of the Blood of life
  58. Bread and Wine
  59. Ember and light the ransomed of Jehovah
  60. Ransom for all
  61. No Other Name (But Jesus)
  62. Faithful to the listening ear
  63. Nazarene Commentary Luke 2:36-38 – Anna’s Thanks before Those Waiting
  64. It is not try but trust
  65. How Many were Bought
  66. We are redeemed; we are “bought with a price”
  67. Joining for a new year in the assurance to be bought with a price
  68. It is Today
  69. Self-preservation is the highest law of nature
  70. Commit your self to the trustworthy Creator
  71. Man’s plans prevailed by God’s purpose
  72. Holiness and expression of worship coming from inside
  73. Ask Grace to go forward
  74. Dying or not
  75. Not to speak is to speak
  76. Immortality, eternality – onsterfelijkheid, eeuwigheid
  77. I Can’t Believe That (1) … God would send anyone to hell
  78. Being Religious and Spiritual 7 Transcendence to become one
  79. Not all will inherit the Kingdom
  80. We are ourselves responsible
  81. Reasons why they cannot do what they want to
  82. Only the contrite self, sick of its pretensions, can find salvation
  83. The road to success is dotted with many tempting parking places
  84. Choices
  85. Never making mistakes because never doing anything
  86. Let not sin reign in your mortal body
  87. Self inflicted misery #3 A man given to suffer for us
  88. Self inflicted misery #6 Paying by death
  89. Let me keep to “first importance” things
  90. Wishing to do the will of God
  91. Get Your Wonderful Disease-proof Human Body
  92. Give your worries to God
  93. Atonement And Fellowship 1/8
  94. Atonement And Fellowship 4/8
  95. Atonement And Fellowship 7/8
  96. Atonement And Fellowship 8/8
  97. Proclaiming shalom, bringing good news of good things, announcing salvation
  98. Divine service (16-10-2013): “The way to salvation/ Die weg na verlossing”
  99. Many forgot how Christ should be our anchor and our focus
  100. Follower of Jesus part of a cult or a Christian
  101. Looking for something or for the Truth and what it might be and self-awareness
  102. Deliverance and establishment of a theocracy
  103. End of the Bottom Line
  104. All Positive Energy People Are Acceptable
  105. Trusting, Faith, Calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #10 Prayer #8 Condition
  106. Continuing Paul’s Prayer Requests
  107. God’s forgotten Word 5 Lost Lawbook 4 The ‘Catholic’ church
  108. Condemnation of the World and Illustration of Justification
  109. Being of good courage running the race
  110. Agape, a love to share with others from the Fruit of the Spirit
  111. Bearing fruit
  112. Together tasting a great promise

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Further Additional literature:

  1. Calvinism
  2. Calvin: A Biography
  3. Calvin in Context
  4. Calvin and the Rhetoric of Piety
  5. Calvin for Armchair Theologians
  6. Calvin as Biblical Interpreter among the Ancient Philosophers
  7. Calvin and the English Episcopate, 1580-1610
  8. Calvin and the Beasts: Animals in John Calvin’s Theological Discourse
  9. Calvin, Classical Trinitarianism, and the Aseity of the Son
  10. Calvin and Praying for “All People Who Dwell on Earth”
  11. Lincoln’s Calvinist Transformation: Emancipation and War
  12. Calvinist Pilgrimages and Popish Encounters: Religious Identity and Sacred…
  13. Why I Am Not a Calvinist/Why I Am Not an Arminian
  14. Greatest single cause of atheism
  15. Shapers of English Calvinism, 1660-1714: Variety, Persistence, and…
  16. Dutch Neo-Calvinism and the Roots for Transformation: An Introductory Essay
  17. Ethnic Persistence among Dutch-Canadian Catholics and Calvinists
  18. The Influence of Calvinism on Seventeenth-Century English Baptists:…
  19. Traditional Baptists and Calvinism: If We Are Not Calvinists, What Shall We…Calvin, John

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  • Calvinism vs. Arminianism: Should We Tell Unbelievers That God Loves Them? (thegraceapparatus.wordpress.com)
    God does not love the reprobate (those who ultimately reject him) in the same way he loves his children. His children are chosen from before time to be his children, and nothing will ever change that. It doesn’t matter whether you have a covenantal theology, only those who are the elect will be regenerated, given faith and persevere until the end. The reprobate have no chance whatsoever.
    One obvious problem with this line of thinking is that not all children who grow up in a Christian home become Christians. If they ultimately die and go to hell, then telling your children that God loves them was a big fat lie (in the Calvinist way of thinking about God’s love). And if these children prove to be reprobate, then they are no different than any other unbelievers. This is a double standard where you tell some unbelievers that God loves them (your children) but not others (strangers).
  • Did God really say “Prevenient” Grace (onedaringjew.wordpress.com)
    The problem is that “grace” for the Arminian and the Calvinist is as different as “faith plus works” and “faith alone” in justification. In Arminianism, grace (“prevenient” grace, which is not in the Bible) possibly saves, whereas in Calvinism, grace does nothing else but save. Yet both Arminians and Calvinists believe that grace is glorious and love singing “Amazing grace.”
  • Southern Baptist Pastor, Randy White, Rebukes Evangelicals for Promoting Racial Justice as a Gospel Demand (blackchristiannews.com)
    “Seems to me that racial reconciliation is a good thing and is a social issue, not a doctrinal or theological issue, and certainly not a “gospel demand.” If there is something Biblical that expresses racial reconciliation as a gospel demand, I’ve missed it.”

    To this, McKissic says, “WOW! That is an incredible, reprehensible, biblically incorrect and racially offensive statement.”

    In citing this statement, McKissic fails to note that I am responding to Matthew Hall, who says, “all Christians should be mindful of the gospel’s demands for racial reconciliation and justice.”

  • Limited Atonement and the Divine Command to Believe Falsehood (arminianperspectives.wordpress.com)
    Many times, an incorrect belief by itself isn’t particularly harmful, but if taken to its inevitable conclusions, tends to produce great inconsistencies. Limited atonement, if taken in conjunction with the common Calvinist beliefs about the gospel call, inevitably leads to the conclusion that God commands people to believe falsehood. I’ll start by postulating and defending the necessary premises.
    +
    Christians since the beginning have understood that believing in Christ is more than just assent that He died and rose (as James also notes, even the demons believe that). True and living faith in Christ requires that we trust in His work on the cross, and in Him as our Savior. Herein lies the second part of the premise: that the aforementioned command requires that they believe that Christ can save them. I don’t think any tenable objection can be raised to this point. One cannot trust Christ as his Savior without believing that He has power to save him.
    +
    Many Calvinists don’t like language that Christ cannot save certain people, but that is an inescapable ramification of limited atonement. Christ either can save one through His sacrificial death, or He cannot. Christ cannot save people for whom He did not die to save. The sacrifice has already been offered, there’s no going back and changing who it was for; there is no other sacrifice, and there is no other way. If the non-elect were excluded, that decision has already been made, and cannot be abrogated. It matters not how many sins the sacrifice was sufficient to cover, if its power to save is not applicable to a person, then Christ cannot save that person.Thus to believe that Christ can save one of the non-elect, if limited atonement be true, would be a falsehood -often called a ‘lie’ when speaking in an objective sense.
  • Spurgeon’s Calvinism (baldreformer.wordpress.com)
    In Spurgeon’s Calvinism, the Prince of Preachers walks readers through the five points that were formulated at Dort.  Readers familiar with his style will be drawn to his passion for Scripture and his ability to relate the doctrines in a unified whole.  While Spurgeon’s treatment of the doctrines of grace prove to be unshakeable in the final analysis, the real highlight of the book is its ability to draw worshippers to the throne of God.  Spurgeon’s Calvinism is a fitting introduction to this biblical way of viewing God’s purposes in redemptive history.
  • Is Atheism a Specifically Western Phenomenon? (the-american-interest.com)
    Atheism, as we know it, came out of a Judaeo-Christian context. But I would slightly re-phrase Garfinkle’s question. The dichotomy is not western/non-Western. It is Abrahamic/non-Abrahamic. It is a rebellion against the monotheistic faiths that originated in the Middle East–Judaism, Christianity, Islam. It makes much less sense in a non-monotheistic environment.
    The rebellion is triggered by an agonizing problem: How can God, believed to be both all-powerful and morally perfect, permit the suffering and the evil afflicting humanity? This is the problem called theodicy, which literally means the “justice of God”; in the spirit of the rebellion it is also a demand that God has to justify himself. The most eloquent expression of this atheist rebellion in literature is by Dostoyevsky’s Ivan Karamazov rejecting God, because he allowed the cruel murder of one child.
  • I was wrong – but I am right – Calvinists preach a false gospel. (craigbenno1.wordpress.com)
    Basically the doctrine of Divine Impassibility is one which states that God is not effected by his emotions. He suffers no pain and cannot suffer pain. Certainly within the framework of the Godhead, God isn’t affected by sinful emotions. Nor does God suffer tiredness, broken limbs and old age.

 

Christianity without the Trinity

Nicene Creed in cyrillic writing

Nicene Creed in cyrillic writing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since the Council of Constantinople (381) the concept that God exists as three Persons in one Substance has been affirmed has formed a central part of the Christian confession. Though perhaps neglected in Protestant theology, the modern evangelical movement has given considerable emphasis to the doctrine of the Trinity as fundamental constituent of Christianity. Nevertheless a number of groups, including the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Christadelphians and the Church of God of the Abrahamic Faith, have from biblical foundations developed a trinity-less theology. In their book The Doctrine of the Trinity: Christianity’s Self-Inflicted Wound, Sir Anthony Buzzard and Charles Hunting presented the argument that the doctrine of the Trinity is both a misrepresentation of the biblical doctrine of God and a liability that weakens Christianity’s power.[1] The controversy caused by The Myth of God Incarnate opened up to scrutiny the doubts of ‘respectable’ theologians about the ideas surrounding the divinity of Christ.[2]

The question I wish to consider in this article is what would Christianity without the Trinity look like, and is such a Christianity desirable? This can only be a cursory survey of the issues involved nevertheless I hope that this review prompts a reconsideration of the centrality ascribed to the doctrine of the Trinity in Christian theology.

A Platonic Doctrine

English: Diagram of the Holy Trinity based on ...

Diagram of the Holy Trinity based on the Hebrew word רוח “air, wind, spirit” having feminine grammatical gender in the Hebrew language (though in fact in a significant minority of its occurrences in the Hebrew Bible, the word actually has masculine grammatical gender). Could be considered “non-orthodox” by the criteria of the traditional mainstream of Christian doctrine. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When theologians write about the doctrine of the Trinity they cite great luminaries like Augustine and Karl Barth, and, occasionally, the Bible.[3] But rarely will one pause to consider the theological pioneers of later Christian doctrine, such as the early apologists. Yet any scholar who deigns to do so will come against the awkward fact that the concept of a triune god is not Christian at all, but has the Platonists as its progenitors.[4] If Justin Martyr held a doctrine of three divine principles (First Apology 13), it is because Middle Platonists like Numenius of Apamea held this doctrine first. And the first thinker to propose three co-ordinate divine members of a trinity was not one of the Cappadocian Fathers[5] but a bitter enemy of Christianity, the Neo-Platonist Porphyry.[6]

The Platonic doctrine of a triune god is an imposition upon Christianity and an imposition that diverts Christianity from its original message and purpose. The simplicity of Christ’s teaching was supplanted by philosophic complexities that are seldom consistently defined. And thus too, the Bible was, in part, supplanted, because where in the Bible can one go to find theological definitions about the Trinity? It is noticeable that the Nicene Creed quotes verbatim from the New Testament regarding almost every aspect of belief except its definitions of the nature and trinity of God, where philosophic terms are supplied instead.[7]

A return to the teaching of Christ and the apostles would necessitate a reversal of the Platonic influence upon Christianity and thus require the revoking of the doctrine of Trinity.

The Role of Christ

In early Christian thought Christ was understood as a mediator. Paul writes ‘there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ’ (1 Tim 2:5). This relationship between to God and Jesus was seen through the role of high priest, Paul describing Christ as ‘making intercession’ for believers (Rom 8:34). Paul does not connect the intercession of Christ to any supposed divinity but to his ascension to the right hand of God. We find the same concept used in Acts when Peter says of Christ ‘God has exalted him to his right hand to be a prince and a saviour, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins’ (Acts 5:31).

The writer to the Hebrews makes this concept his own, repeatedly naming Jesus ‘High Priest’. As with Paul, this intercession is linked to the literal ascension of Jesus from the earth to the right hand of God, ‘passing into the heavens’, as the writer puts it (Heb 4:14). Christ’s entry into the presence of God is described as a high priest entering the Holy of Holies (Heb 9:11-12). And, unequivocally, Christ becomes High Priest, not by intrinsic divinity but by the calling of God (Heb 5:5-6, 10, 6:20).

Other early Christian writers also view Christ has a mediator between God and men. Clement of Rome describes Jesus as ‘High Priest’, saying that he was ‘chosen’ by God (1 Clem 64). Ignatius too uses the term ‘High Priest’ but also describes Christ’s intercession through another figure, saying ‘he is the doorway to the Father’ (Ign.Phil 9). Also see Polycarp’s letter to Smyrna, where he too says Christ is ‘High Priest’ (12).

If Christ is promoted to the Godhead (and the Holy Spirit too), who then intercedes on behalf of believers? Historically, this problem was ‘solved’ by the introduction of a series of other go-betweens, namely the Saints and the clergy. In modern evangelical theology can alternative ‘solution’ has been posited, namely that Christ, whilst ontologically co-equal with the Father, remains subordinate and can thus perform his scripturally defined duties of intercession.[8] Yet this fudge simply results in the conundrum that Jesus is neither fully co-equal, nor fully mediator.

Sola Scriptura

Luther Bible, 1534

Luther Bible, 1534 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The fifteenth and sixteenth centuries saw both the invention of the printing press and the translation of the Bible into the common tongues of the people of Europe. And following almost immediately on the heels of these developments was the emergence of groups that denied the doctrine of the Trinity. The Socinians, the Brüder in Christo and other unitarian groups were founded across Europe, teaching that the Bible alone was authoritative and that the Bible knew nothing of the Trinity. The problem for the Protestants was clear. The Reformation was founded on the principle of sola scriptura, and yet these groups, who also held the principle of sola scriptura, denied the doctrine of the Trinity.

English Protestant theologians wrestled with this problem throughout the seventeenth century. They urged that the believer needs both scripture and reason, and hoped that reason itself would be sufficient to safeguard the Trinity. Catholic theologians pounced upon the dilemma, challenging the Protestants to meet the objections of the Socinians by scripture alone or else return to the Catholic rule of faith.[9] The consequence of these disputes led English Protestants to neglect the doctrine of Trinity, passing over it in silence, a tacit admission that with scripture alone as the rule of faith the Trinity could not be sustained.[10]

Vickers bemoans the demise of the Trinity as the impact of an emphasis on the Trinity as a set of propositions (the immanent Trinity), and urges a return to the invocation of the Trinity in the believer’s encounter with God (the economic Trinity).[11] Yet, as Karl Rahner declares, the economic Trinity is the immanent Trinity; it would make little sense to invoke God as Trinity if that set of propositions cannot be assented to. Given then the failure of Protestant theologians to defend the doctrine of the Trinity by scripture alone, it seems we must either abandon the Trinity or the founding principle of the Reformation, sola scriptura.

Modern evangelicals attempt to hold both sola scriptura and the Trinity, and yet it seems no evangelical can preach about the Trinity without reference to the creeds.[12] Though evangelicals may claim that the bible alone is authoritative, there is implicit in many evangelical writings a retreat to tradition to defend the doctrine of the Trinity.

Interfaith Dialogue

Christianity is oft categorized as one of the three great monotheistic faiths, alongside Judaism and Islam. Yet the Trinitarian conception of monotheism is determinedly different from that of either Jews or Muslims. Inasmuch as the Trinity is three Persons in one Substance, the Trinitarian claim to monotheism is an ontological one. However, viewed from a liturgical perspective it is hard to escape the fact that Trinitarian Christians claim to experience God in plurality, worshipping three Persons as God. This feels very different from the Jewish experience of a uni-personal God, and seems to have more in common with Hinduism’s conception of Brahman.

The upshot of this is that in dialogue with other monotheistic faiths the Trinitarian brings to the table a plural conception of God. However carefully the theologian may define the Trinity ontologically as one God, the bread-and-butter of traditional Christian liturgy is hopelessly poly-personal. Christians may claim to be monotheists but they appear for all world to practice polylatry. This hampers interfaith dialogue (and ultimately evangelism).

The issue is not simply that Christians experience God differently from other faiths, but that they define God differently. Judaism, Christianity and Islam all claim to adherence to the God of Abraham, and yet the Trinitarian definition of God is simply alien to both Jews and Muslims (and, one must assume, would have been alien to Abraham himself). Therefore Christianity’s most primitive form of evangelism, preaching the coming of Jewish Messiah, is robbed from it by a doctrine that fundamentally alters the conception of the God of Abraham.

The Atonement

One proposition above any other motivates the continued emphasis on the doctrine of the Trinity in modern evangelical theology: that only God could be sufficient substitute to bear the punishment due to mankind. It therefore becomes necessary that Jesus was fully God to bring about the atonement and to question the Trinity is treated as tantamount to denying the salvation of believers.[13] Yet this doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement is a relatively new doctrine; it certainly did not motivate the doctrinal innovations that led to the formulation of the notion of the Trinity.

It is beyond the scope of this article to digress into a full rebuttal of the notion of penal substitutionary atonement but, in brief, there are at least two reasons why Christianity would be better off without such a doctrine.

Firstly, none of the New Testament writers appeal to the idea of a substitute to explain the atoning sacrifice of Christ. The analogy to the brazen serpent speaks of a representative icon (John 3:14-15); the analogy to the Passover lamb speaks of a representative offering (1 Cor 5:7); even the analogy to the Day of Atonement speaks of a representative death (Heb 9:11-14). The recapitulation theory that Paul develops at length (Rom 5:12-21; 1 Cor 15:20-22; Phil 2:5-11) knows nothing of a substitutionary death, rather an offering of obedience to God (Rom 5:19). Even the very words of the NT writers presuppose a representative understanding of the Christ’s death, using huper (‘on behalf of’) in preference to anti (‘instead of’) in almost every instance where the death of Christ is described (cf. Luke 22:19-20; John 6:51; Rom 5:6-8; 1 Cor 15:3; 2 Cor 5:14; Gal 1:4; Eph 5:2; 1 Thes 5:10; 1 Tim 2:6; Tit 2:14; 1 Pet 2:21; 1 John 3:16).[14]

Secondly, the notion of penal subtitutionary atonement skews our notion of God. The psalms describe a God who does not desire sacrifices (Ps 40:6; 51:16). Hosea states that God prizes mercy above sacrifice (Hos 6:6; cf. Matt 9:13, 12:7). The idea of a God who requires sacrifice as a prerequisite for mercy seems inconsistent with this picture. Rather the biblical concept of forgiveness is one without price or condition; the king in the parable, moved with compassion, writes off the debt of his servant without any requirement of some other source of remittance (Matt 18:22-27). Followers of Christ are instructed to forgive freely; are we then more righteous than God, who only forgives at cost? This notion would seem to annul the very idea of grace and portray God as limited and constricted by the requirements of Justice, unable to act freely upon His compassion. This is not the God of the Bible.

Christianity without the Trinity

Christ Church

Christ Church (Photo credit: Nathan Kavumbura)

There are some that feel that without the doctrines of the Trinity and of the incarnation Christianity is doomed to failure. It is claimed that robbing Christ of his divinity makes his message and mission of null affect, and ultimately leads to a denial of the atonement, the resurrection and miracles in general.[15] Unfortunately in some cases, such as the Unitarians (capital ‘U’), this has been the result, Jesus being treated as just a righteous teacher. However there is no reason why the reductive process of removing the doctrine of the Trinity from Christianity should be a purely negative process. Rather it is, I am arguing, a restoration of the primitive Christian faith.

What, then, would Christianity without the Trinity look like? A unitarian creed might look something like this:

  1. There is one God (Mark 12:32), who is the Creator of all things (Eph 4:6) and the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor 8:6; 2 Cor 1:3).
  2. There is one Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor 8:6; Eph 4:5), the Son of God (Rom 1:4) born of a virgin (Gal 4:4; Matt 1:23; Luke 1:27f), who lived a sinless life of obedience to God (2 Cor 5:21; 1 Pet 2:22; Rom 5:19), was crucified and rose the third day (1 Cor 15:3-4). Through his death Christ reconciled man to God (Rom 5:10).
  3. There is one Spirit (1 Cor 12:13; Eph 4:4), the power of God (Luke 1:35), by which God inspired the prophets (2 Pet 1:21) and works miracles (Gal 3:5).

What would Christianity without the Trinity feel like? It would feel more reminiscent of its Jewish roots, more consistent with its claims to monolatry, more reflective of scriptural language, and more intelligible to its adherents.

It has oft been claimed that those who deny the Trinity aren’t real Christians. Yet a ‘Christian’ (Greek christianos) by definition is a follower of Christ, and if this is to be anything more than a nominal title then those who claim to be Christian should follow Christ, in both his teaching and mode of life. Jesus Christ preached the God of Abraham (Matt 22:32) as his Father and as the one true God (John 17:3). Isn’t it time for the teaching of Christians to reflect the teaching of Christ?


[1] A. F. Buzzard & C. F. Hunting, The Doctrine of the Trinity: Christianity’s Self-Inflicted Wound (New York: International Scholars Publications, 1998).

[2] The Myth of God Incarnate (ed. J. Hick; London: SCM Press, 1977).

[3] Cf. M. A. McIntosh, Divine Teaching: An Introduction to Christian Theology (Oxford: Blackwell 2008), 111-178

[4] T. E. Gaston, The Influence of Platonism on the Early Apologists, The Heythrop Journal 50.4 (2009), 573-580.

[5] Pace I. S. Markham, Understanding Christian Doctrine (Oxford: Blackwell, 2008), 76-7.

[6] J. Dillon, ‘Logos and Trinity: Patterns of Platonist Influence on Early Christianity’, in The Philosophy in Christianity, (G. Vesey ed.; Cambridge University Press, 1989).

[7] E.g. “Light of Light, very God of very God”, “being of one substance with the Father”, etc.

[8] R. M. Bowman, Why you should believe in the Trinity (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1989), 78-81.

[9] J. E. Vickers, Invocation and Assent: The Making and Remaking of Trinitarian Theology, (Grand Rapinds: Eerdmans, 2008), 69-101.

[10] Vickers, Invocation and Assent, 165-7

[11] Vickers, Invocation and Assent, 191-2

[12] cf. S. Olyott, The Three are One (Darlington: Evangelical Press, 1979), 101-2; N. Gumbel [Alpha Course], Is the Trinity Unbiblical, Unbelievable and Irrelvant? (Eastbourne: Kingsway, 2004), 7;

[13] cf. J. I Packer, Knowing God (Leicester: IVP, 1984)166-170.

[14] The single exception to this rule is Matt 20:28 (cf. Mark 10:45), “to give his life a ransom for (anti) many”.

[15] Cf. Packer, Knowing God, 46+

Please do find to read:

  1. Did the Inspirator exist
  2. God, Creation and the Bible Hope
  3. God of gods
  4. A god between many gods
  5. Only One God
  6. God is One
  7. “Who is The Most High” ? Who is thee Eternal? Who is Yehovah? Who is God?
  8. The Divine name of the Creator
  9. God about His name “יהוה“
  10. Jehovah Yahweh Gods Name
  11. Sayings around God
  12. Attributes of God
  13. One God the Father, a compendium of essays
  14. Some one or something to fear #6 Faith in the Most High
  15. God Helper and Deliverer
  16. God is Spirit
  17. Praise the most High Jehovah God above all
  18. Praise and give thanks to God the Most Highest
  19. Lord or Yahuwah, Yeshua or Yahushua
  20. Yahushua, Yehoshua, Yeshua, Jehoshua of Jeshua
  21. Jesus begotten Son of God #12 Son of God
  22. Seeing Jesus
  23. Jesus Messiah
  24. Christ begotten through the power of the Holy Spirit
  25. Who was Jesus?
  26. Jesus spitting image of his father
  27. Jesus and his God
  28. Is Jesus God?Jesus and His God
  29. Jesus is the Son of God but Not God the Son
  30. How much was Jesus man, and how much was he God?
  31. On the Nature of Christ
  32. Jesus spitting image of his father
  33. Yeshua a man with a special personality
  34. A man with an outstanding personality
  35. Reasons that Jesus was not God
  36. The wrong hero
  37. He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. #1 Creator and His Prophets
  38. Jesus begotten Son of God #5 Apsotle, High Priest and King
  39. Jesus begotten Son of God #13 Pre-existence excluding virginal birth of the Only One Transposed
  40. Jesus begotten Son of God #14 Beloved Preminent Son and Mediator originating in Mary
  41. Jesus begotten Son of God #19 Compromising fact
  42. One Mediator
  43. Nazarene Commentary Luke 3:1, 2 – Factual Data
  44. A fact of History or just a fancy Story
  45. Politics and power first priority #2
  46. Politics and power first priority #3 Elevation of Mary and the Holy Spirit
  47. A promise given in the Garden of Eden
  48. 2 Corinthians 5:19 – God in Christ
  49. Christ Versus the Trinity
  50. Is God a Trinity?
  51. The Trinity – true or false?
  52. The Trinity – the Truth
  53. The Trinity: paganism or Christianity?
  54. Trinity And Pagan Influence
  55. How did the Trinity Doctrine Develop
  56. How did the doctrine of the Trinity arise?
  57. History of the acceptance of a three-in-one God
  58. Questions for those who believe in the Trinity
  59. Altered to fit a Trinity
  60. Preexistence in the Divine purpose and Trinity
  61. The Great Trinity Debate
  62. TD Jakes Breaks Down the Trinity, Addresses Being Called a ‘Heretic’
  63. Compromise and accomodation
  64. Written to recognise the Promised One
  65. Christ begotten through the power of the Holy Spirit
  66. Do not be afraid. Good news because a Saviour has been born
  67. About a man who changed history of humankind
  68. No Other Name (But Jesus)
  69. Doesn’t the name “Immanuel” show that Jesus is God, and therefore proves the Trinity? (Isa. 7:14, Mat. 1:23)
  70. Is Isaiah 9:6′s “Wonderful counselor” related to Isaiah 7:14 and 8:8′s “Immanuel”?
  71. Why does Isaiah 9:6 call Jesus “Mighty God, Everlasting Father”?
  72. In the death of Christ, the son of God, is glorification
  73. One Mediator between God and man
  74. Philippians 1 – 2
  75. Worshipping Jesus
  76. Idolatry or idol worship
  77. People Seeking for God 2 Human interpretations
  78. People Seeking for God 4 Biblical terms
  79. Patriarch Abraham, Muslims, Christians and the son of God
  80. Science and God’s existence
  81. Science, belief, denial and visibility 1
  82. Blackness, nothingness, something, void
  83. Being Religious and Spiritual 5 Gnostic influences
  84. Joseph Priestley To the Point
  85. Hanukkahgiving or Thanksgivvukah
  86. Not all christians are followers of a Greco-Roman culture
  87. Thanksgivukkah and Advent
  88. The professor, God, Faith and the student
  89. Concerning gospelfaith
  90. Creator and Blogger God 7 A Blog of a Book 1 Believing the Blogger
  91. Apologetics (23) – The Hard Questions: Which God? The Exclusivity Issue (7) The Resurrection and Exclusivity
  92. Pluralis Majestatis in the Holy Scriptures
  93. Finding and Understanding Words and Meanings
  94. Trusting, Faith, Calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #10 Prayer #8 Condition
  95. Follower of Jesus part of a cult or a Christian
  96. Edward Wightman
  97. Focus on Jehovah’s Witnesses
  98. Book of Mormon (5): God and Jesus
  99. The Book of Mormon: (7) Right First Principles are Essential to Getting it Right
  100. What the Qur’an Says About…(2): Jesus
  101. Creation’s Gospel: (12) The Veiled Glory

+++

Additional reading:

  1. Trinity And Pagan Influence
  2. Trinity: A False Doctrine of a False Church
  3. Part 2) God is not a Trinity
  4. The Trinity: paganism or Christianity?
  5. Unitarianism and the Bible of the Holy Trinity
  6. Trinity: The Truth about Matthew 28:19 & 1 John 5:7
  7. Anyone Who Goes Too Far and Does Not Abide in the Teaching of Christ, Does Not Have God
  8. Is Jesus God?

+++

Also of interest:

  1. Trinity Proof Texts Considered
  2. Unitarianism and the Bible of the Holy Trinity
  3. Can Genuine Christians Be Trinitarian or Non-Trinitarian?
  4. Trinity Doctrine vs Oneness Pentecostalism Doctrine – Berean Perspective Podcast
  5. The Unholy Trinity
  6. The Trinity: A Fundamental of the Faith or a Fable?
  7. Trinity And Pagan Influence
  8. Jesus Christ and God – Some Basic Considerations
  9. The Trinity – A Doctrine Overdue for Extinction
  10. What About Those Who Do Not Know The Name of God?
  11. The Existence of Jesus Christ
  12. The Doctrine Of The Trinity
  13. The Top Ten Most Important Church Councils
  14. Cult or True Religion
  15. Reimagining the Historicity of the Bible
  16. Bishop T. D. Jakes says he now embraces the Trinity Doctrine: T. D. Jakes was interviewed by pastor Mark Driscoll and pastor James MacDonald on January 27, 2012 at Harvest Bible Chapel
  17. TD Jakes Breaks Down the Trinity, Addresses Being Called a ‘Heretic’ By Nicola Menzie
  18. T.D. Jakes is Heretical Concerning Modalism Whether he Believes it or Not
  19. Changed Heart for @StevenFurtick & @BishopJakes: Conviction in The #ElephantRoom. Lessons for dads?
  20. An Elephant Room Roundup
  21. Mark Driscoll And The Mars Hill Churches: When Discipline Becomes Control Becomes … ?
  22. Heretical Modalism and T.D. Jakes Doctrine On the Trinity
  23. The Leader of the Episcopal Church is a Heretic
  24. Critiquing N.T. Wright’s monotheism
  25. God, the Trinity
  26. This Is That – 1
  27. Dwell
  28. A brief visit to the Father of Revolution and Evolution
  29. Who Are You Really Slandering?
  30. On Union with God
  31. By the oaks of Mamre

+++

  • Nineteenth Century Protestant Doctrines of the Trinity (redeemingthetext.wordpress.com)
    The discussion in chapter nineteen of The Oxford Handbook of the Trinity is, in brief form, one of how Enlightenment philosopher-theologians developed innovative ways to discuss the Trinity and their effectiveness leading into the twentieth century.
    +
    Immanuel Kant, a German Idealist continuing the exegesis of the Socinians, saw no need for the doctrine of the Trinity. It was this idea of “necessity” mixed with speculative interpretation that led many like Kant to dismiss it altogether. Questions addressing God’s being, volition, and self-consciousness brought to light some of the supposed weak spots in the Trinitarian doctrine. Not being convinced scripturally of the nature or the necessity of the Trinity, nineteenth-century theologians turned to philosophy to answer their questions. Powell describes it as providing “philosophical answers with expressly Trinitarian features (269).” This move loosened the shackles of theological presuppositions and creedal traditions. Nineteenth-century theology was freed to philosophically construct a new horizon for the doctrine of God. Powell examines four prominent figures to structure his argument.
  • Hans Kung on Trinity Part 2 (presenttruthmn.org)
    This is continued from the previous post on the Trinity. It is taken directly from Hans Kung’s book ‘Christianity: Essence, History and Future’

    All this should have made it clear that according to the New Testament the key quesiton in the doctrine of the Trinity is not the question which is declared an impenetrable ‘mystery’ (mysterium stricte dictum), how three such different entities can be ontologically one, but the christological question how the relationship of Jesus (and consequently also of the Spirit) to God is to be expressed. Here the belief in the one God which Christianity has in common with Judaism and Islam may not be put in question for a moment. There no other God but God! But what is decisive for the dialogue with Jews and Christians in particular is the insight that according to the New Testament the principle of unity is clearly not the one divine ‘nature’ (physis) common to several entities, as people were to think after the ne0-Nicene theology of the fourth century. For the New Testament, as for the Hebrew Bible, the principle of unity is clearly the one God (ho theos: the God = the Father), from whom are all things and to whom are all things.

  • A Theology Big Enough for the Gospel: Reviewing Mike Bird’s Evangelical Theology (marccortez.com)
    despite the fact that Bird mentions the image of God throughout, clearly viewing it as an important topic that has bearing on a range of other issues, he devotes only five pages to it, one of which is just a recitation of the relevant biblical verses. His excursus on infra- vs. supralapsarianism is almost as long! And union with Christ hardly gets any attention at all. In a systematic theology, pages are like currency; what you invest in shows what you value. And I was surprised at a few of the investments.
    +
    Bird affirms a social trinitarian approach, defining the divine persons as “self-aware” beings who are “capable of consciousness” (p. 615), and he even refers to separate consciousnesses in the Trinity (p. 118). Regardless of whether you think social trinitarianism is viable, Bird’s discussion simply fails to deal with the historical and theological objections that can (and have!) been raised. And unfortunately, these aren’t isolated incidents.
  • What’s Old is New Again: The Return of “Biblical Unitarianism” (southernreformation.wordpress.com)
    While I’m used to defending the deity of Christ against the Jehovah’s Witnesses, or fending off Mormon misunderstandings of the doctrine of the Trinity, I never thought I would see professing “conservative evangelicals” who were willing to jettison the central dogma that makes Christianity…Christianity.But it’s happening.

    I can name at least three churches in my immediate area (i.e., within 25 miles of my home) who have either had to turn away prospective new members because they wouldn’t affirm the Nicene formulation of the doctrine of the Trinity, or who have only found out that a new member denied the Trinity after the individual had already been received as a member (in this case, it was kept hidden from the elders).

    What’s more, I know of at least two seminary students (at Presbyterian and Reformed seminaries, no less!) who have informed their professors that they don’t out and out deny the Nicene Creed, but they’re not sure they can affirm it, either.

  • “Should You Believe in the Trinity?” (1peter58.wordpress.com)
    “The Bible says…” The real issue here is that these individuals, and also those that belong to very young churches/institutes, claim for themselves the authority to teach new doctrine, claim for themselves the authority to reject unchanged ancient doctrine. How do you decide when to trust that a doctrine is truly of God? How do you decide what is a false doctrine not of God?
  • Theophany, Epiphany and the Holy Trinity (orthodoxmom3.wordpress.com)
    Giving recognition to the Holy Trinity is an important aspect of the Holy Orthodox Church.  When we pray we make the sign of the cross.  The thumb and first two fingers represent the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The bringing of these three fingers together signifies that we do not believe in three gods, only ONE GOD.  Everything we do is in the name of the trinity: baptism, forgiveness, marriage, the confession of our faith (Nicene Creed) etc. The Trinity expresses the essence of our faith.  The work of salvation begins with the Father who created the world, is realized by the Son through His death and resurrection, and is completed through the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
  • Because the Bible Tells Me So (mackerelsnapperblog.wordpress.com)
    Whenever a Catholic debates the Faith with a non-Catholic — Christian or atheist — the very first argument that often gets brought up is that Catholic teaching contradicts the Scriptures.

    “Catholics believe (X), but (X) isn’t in the Bible”

    First off, let me put this out there and get it over with — Catholics do not believe in the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, which translates to “Scripture alone.” Unlike many Protestant beliefs, Catholics do not accept the Bible as the highest authority on doctrine. This may sound like a heresy to some, but it isn’t. The Church isn’t derived from the Bible. In fact it’s quite the opposite. It is precisely because of the Catholic Church that the Bible even exists

  • Sola Scriptura? (preacheroftruth.com) + > Sola Scriptura?
    Pythagoras is said to have been the earliest outside of Scripture (Isa. 40:22) to contend that the earth is round. He did not make the earth round with his assertions, but identified what already was.  Sir Isaac Newton certainly did not create gravity, but he is credited for our modern understanding of it.  Likewise, the term “sola scriptura” is not found in scripture (similar to terms like “trinity” and “omniscience”), but it was coined during the “Reformation Movement” as part of Martin Luther’s protests against perceived corruptions of the Catholic Church.  It was a “Latin phrase (literally ‘by Scripture alone’) describing the Protestant theological principle that Scripture is the final norm in all judgments of faith and practice.
    +
    Scripture is God-breathed, making one spiritually complete (2 Tim. 3:16-17).  If Scripture is sufficient, what need is there for anything beyond it?  On what basis would we accept anything more or less than or different from the Bible?  How could fallible man be equal to or co-authorize with the perfect law of the Lord?  Let us accept no substitute or rival to the Bible!
  • (1) The Two Pillars of the Reformation (altruistico.wordpress.com)
    The Protestant Reformation saw the advancement of the Gospel and an understanding of right doctrine that hadn’t been seen since the time of Christ and the Apostles. It drew Christianity out of the dark ages of the faith; a time when the Scripture was forbidden to be read in the language of the people, when superstition reigned, where abominations within the church leadership was a norm, and when a knowledge of the Truth was virtually unknown. But to the glory of God, He rekindled the fire of the Gospel, and it spread like a fire in a barn of hay. The Reformation has given us such a wealth of knowledge of the truth of Christ’s teaching that I personally will never be able to ingest all of.
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