When there is secrecy involved

In this world there are lots of denominations in Christendom. Lots of Christians say that the non-trinitarian christians belong to cults or sects, but clearly than they forget what the characteristics of a sect or cult are.

The many non-Trinitarians who found one or another denomination in which they go to meetings are all free people with no obligations to that meeting, congregation or church except to live according to the commandments of God. In nearly all other Christian denominations of trinitarians we can find churches which dare to say they are the only church by which people can be saved or “go to heaven”. Nearly all of them are weekly asking money to their parishioners or even ask a tithing. Whilst in most of the non-trinitarian churches the parishioners are free to give or not to give any amount of money and are not pushed to do so. Never are they threatened by a so called burning in hell for ever, because such false teaching even does not exist by them.

Anna in Shadowland is a web-blog from a certain Andrea which represents the view of a disillusioned girl who left her own church to have an experience in a Charismatic church influenced by the New Apostolic Reformation. She writes

Every so often I receive testimonies from people who have read my “Leaving the NAR Church” series. There are more than 50 of them, and I am adding another. These stories are precious to me, and serve as a painful reminder that there is hope for the dear deceived ones caught up in this insidious movement. If you don’t know what NAR is, I hope you’ll take a moment and read What is the New Apostolic Reformation Movement. {Leaving IHOP and the NAR: Sammy’s story}

She has a testimony about how the good and faithful God she loves and wanted to serve opened her eyes and removed her from the clutches of the deception, lack of discernment, and false teachings of a movement that has invaded the worldwide church on a massive scale. {An open letter to the church I left}

In Christendom and Christianity we may see many churches who claim to be adhering to ‘authentic New Testament practices’ but when we look closer at them we find all sorts of practices which are not according to the lifestyle of the first Christians (which we can come to know from the Acts of the Apostles and from civil writings of the first century CE).

Today there are several churches who love to attract people with their “Speaking in tongues” and all sorts of trance movements, even not minding to have people in hysterics, shaking on the floor to the very contemporary music of Hillsong and Bethel (not to be confused with the Bethels of the non-trinitarians), surrounded by all their technological advances, big screens, and coffee bars, and all the other comforts of modern convenience that they manage to accumulate around them.

Although it sure is a whole lot of fun and I have to admit, you had me fooled there for a while.  {An open letter to the church I left}

does the blogger says after her eyes were opened. Continuing

I was really starting to climb up that ladder to sit there with you because I’m sure the view is amazing. But thankfully I could never quite manage to get there, and these days I actually find it rather insulting that anyone can claim to be living ‘authentic Christianity’ just because they belong to a certain kind of church.  {An open letter to the church I left}

The blogger Andrea thinks

seeking after a truly authentic apostolic life and experience would be completely unattainable, because I currently live in 2017. {An open letter to the church I left}

but than she forgets we do have enough civic papers, next to the biblical account, to give us a fair image how life was by the first century followers of the Nazarene Jewish master teacher Jeshua (Jesus Christ).

Naturally she should also know that life 2000 years later is so different that we should take that into account too.

Today we see a growing amount of people loving the ‘New Apostolic Reformation’ (NAR), a movement which seeks to establish a fifth house within Christendom, distinct from Catholicism, Protestantism, Oriental Orthodoxy, and Eastern Orthodoxy. Some of that church, at the moment, say they are ‘Charismatic’ others say they are a ‘New Testament’ or ‘Apostolic Household’ church and do not belong to the Charismatic movement.

For sure all the modern Holly-Bolly-Woody-Booly modern entertainment forms a very attractive asset to lure people in the community. At several places in the United States certain movements took place which were noticed by C. Peter Wagner to fall under the same denominator. Unlike several sects or cults groups it is not some secret society or shadowy organization. They started to find like-minded people who had no intention to overthrow world governments or undermining the Church. For many of them the “New Apostolic Reformation” started off as a name giving for a movement that was going through the established church. Nothing more but a term used to classify a subset of people throughout denominational and non-denominational Christendom who seem to share some common characteristics.

In Christendom we may find lots of churches which not only worship a Trinity, but also believe that the Holy Spirit is with them and moving around in their church even in such a way that this spirit would choose special pastors, giving them a special role in the Church of God and/or in the Kingdom of God. They may come up with many different stories even telling that people got ‘gold dust’ on their hands.

One of them was the wife of one of your pastors/elders, and she very excitedly and animatedly told us how the ‘spirit had been moving’ in a certain meeting, because the people had seen ‘gold dust’ on their hands. {An open letter to the church I left}

Andrea remarks

it is easy to dismiss the ‘manifestations of the spirit’ thing when someone is interpreting a verse of scripture about ‘being filled with the spirit’ or ‘being drunk in the spirit’, while you are sitting under the cloud of false teaching. But when you realize that these kinds of ‘manifestations’ are actually completely absent in scripture, and had been completely absent in the church until only a couple of years ago, that is when you sit up and take notice. And then when you realize that during all that time it had actually been present in the occult and Eastern mystic religions, that is when you start opening up a whole can of worms. That is when you get up and walk out of a meeting before the end, leaving behind some dear friends who are violently convulsing on the floor, and shaking in fits of ‘holy laughter’. That is when you walk out of a large WOF centre from a Jesus Culture ‘revival’ concert, feeling like you had just walked out of the depths of hell, and all the while absolutely hating yourself for having such feelings and for questioning ‘the work that God is doing through the moving of His spirit’.
And you’re asking yourself ‘Is this really the God that I know?’, but still you are convinced that the problem lies with you because you are ‘not open to the spirit’, because that is what you’re being told over, and over, and over again. And then you get pushed, and pushed, and pushed to get baptized so that you can also ‘receive the spirit’, and you’re left scratching your head because you had thought that because you were already a believer, you had already received the Holy Spirit, but the word ‘obedience’ gets thrown at you over, and over, and over again. And this is when you start to see the indoctrination above the doctrine. {An open letter to the church I left}

People should come to see that at such point they do come in the danger zone. There it is, where we would differentiate between a through church and a cult or sect. Whilst non-trinitarians do keep to the biblical teachings and are not pushing people to come into their church, afterwards demanding all sorts of obligations, and not letting people easily go, this is typical for the cult groups we notice in the trinitarian churches. Also when people then want to leave such a church or group we notice the leaders of such community want to give a ‘guilt feeling’ to the person who wants to leave.

Andrea gives a nice example how such cults or groups work

Instead you preyed on my hurt and my weakness, and used it to set your trap, so that you could be the ones who avoided the issue. This leads me to believe that, despite the deceptive façade, you actually have no idea who you are or what you believe, and you are carried about by every wind of doctrine. If this was not so, you would have had no problem answering all the questions I had first, despite any other issues that might have been present. {An open letter to the church I left}

Backsliding term used within Christianity to describe a process by which an individual who has converted to Christianity reverts to pre-conversion habits and/or lapses or falls into sin, when a person turns from God to pursue their own desire. – The story of the Prodigal Son has become a representation of a backslider that repented. Engraving of the Prodigal Son as a swineherd by Hans Sebald Beham, 1538.

In most such dominating churches we can see that they try to put the guilt feeling by accusing that person who has objections of being a backslider. Saying that the faith is watering down because the person is going the wrong way, spiritually. They want to have the doubting person to believe all lies within him or her. Saying that he or she  is regressing rather than progressing and that there is no proof any more of a commitment to Christ or that a certain standard of behaviour is not there any more.

DivideTheWord.blog, a cloud-based ministry who claim to have as purpose to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world in such a way as to be available to all of God’s children, saying it is free from denominational judgmentalism, free from race, colour or creed stipulations, brings a testimony

Having been a member of an independent Oneness Pentecostal (Apostolic) church for fifteen years, gaining a 4-year degree from a Oneness Pentecostal Bible College, and being involved in many ministries within that church, to them, I am now completely backslid. I know the doctrines. I learned the dogma. I defended it ardently.

I justified foul behavior for the purity of the doctrine and I even considered, as they do, all other Christians, lost. According to Apostolic Oneness Pentecostals (the majority, there are personal exceptions) all other Christians, be they Baptist, Lutheran, you name the group, they will not be going to heaven, because they do not follow the Pentecostal doctrines.

And when I finally had enough of the stink of judgmentalism, elitism, self-righteous pomp, the hypocrisy of their holiness standards, I backslid. I left the church. I’ll never return, nor attend another Oneness Pentecostal church again.

But something miraculous happened to me, and to hundreds, and thousands of others I’m connected to via this blog, my YouTube channel and many recovery based online groups;

I backslid, right into Jesus {I Backslid Into Jesus}

Also Andrea writes

I can assure you that I am anything but a ‘lukewarm’ Christian. {An open letter to the church I left}

The woman who likes to think of the NAR as a ‘mega cult’ or an ‘out-of-control cult’ seems to have not such nice experiences, though at first it looked even so attractive she left her ‘old’ traditional church.

For her

Praise and Worship during a Catholic Charismatic Renewal Healing Service.

It is probably important, at this point, to also note its interconnectedness with the Signs and Wonders, and Word of Faith movements. And that it is also known or characterized by a bunch of other terms, like ‘Dominionism’, ‘The Third Wave’, ‘Kingdom Now Theology’, ‘Joel’s Army’, ‘Manifest Sons of God Doctrine’, ‘Charismania’, ‘The Seven Mountain Mandate’, and ‘The Fivefold Ministry’, to name only a few. And that its precursor was ‘the New Order of the Latter Rain’, a discredited movement out of which a lot of current day NAR teachings is derived. It seems to be an ever changing, constantly evolving and expanding movement, which is what makes it so hard to pinpoint and, I believe, is part of its deceptiveness. {Eighteen Months in a Cult: Prologue}

In Pentecostalism there may be found so many subgroups that often people can not see the woods any more because of the trees. Some of those groups evolve around one ‘spiritual leader’ who can have many people under his spell. Some groups have an end to their existence when the pastor dies, others have a longer life.

In the book ‘A New Apostolic Reformation? A Biblical Response to a Worldwide Movement’, Geivett & Pivec writes:

“Whereas the Latter Rain revival lasted only a few years, NAR has been around for more than thirty years – since the 1980s, when the office of prophet began to be restored. NAR teachings have gained enough momentum for an entire generation of young people to be raised in churches that promote them. For these people, NAR teachings are at the heart of Christianity.”

Andrea was raised Reformed, and writes

– that is, the other reformation. Whereas the NAR is a falling away from the authority of Scripture towards ‘experiences’, ‘encounters’, and ‘new revelations’, the Protestant Reformation was a return to the light of Scripture. To the eternal things that God has already promised and revealed in His Word, and to recognizing it as the only truth and authority to live by. Hence one of the battle cries was Sola ScripturaScripture Alone. And even though I do not remember the emphasis ever really being placed on the fact that we were Reformed, or being taught exactly what that even meant, this was very much the culture and mind set I had grown up with. {Eighteen Months in a Cult: Prologue}

For the Mega-churches and Pentecostal Churches youngsters are an easy prey because they are not so much interested in pure words of the Scriptures, but like more “ambience” with song and dance and special actions, like seeing people going in trance or watching unbelievable things like people nearly going mad.

Andrea also admits

when you are a young person, still searching for passion and a sense of purpose, it is very hard to disagree with those who say that the traditional church is ‘dead’. And hymns, structure and doctrine simply does not seem all that relevant and exciting anymore.
So for me, when the opportunity presented itself to become part of a young, vibrant, hip & happening church, suffice it to say that I did not hesitate for very long. Even though the circumstances of how I came to be introduced to this church was accompanied by a sense of hurt and rejection, I nevertheless grabbed the opportunity to join what seemed like a genuinely committed, and caring, community of believers. I was hoping, and expecting, to have my faith nurtured and strengthened in the process. {Eighteen Months in a Cult: Prologue}

Question is how much such attractive groups can nurture a person in the good sense. We should know it is really god’s Word that must give guidance to people. It is the Bible which can give us the most correct education and foundation for a good faith.

When not much attention is given to the text from the Bible, people shall miss out edifying material, for reproof and profitable for correction for building up a life according to the Will of God.

When to much attention is giving to the pleasures of life or to the human or natural flesh the real faith can not grow. Mike sojournerphoto remembers

I (was) removed from these organisations many years ago – initially with judgement in my heart – but have since watched the ‘Toronto ‘blessing’ and such stuff thrive. I became increasingly appalled at what was happening and now am amazed that it continues, ever more subtle. I remember a dark day sitting in ‘my church’ sometime around 1986 or 7 and the band deciding to play on after the service to ‘continue to seek God’ and as looked down it was a though there was a dark pit (not visual, so much as metaphorical) and I felt compelled to leave the building. I later came to recognise so much of this as seeking after ‘the flesh’ and to equate it with James observation on the ‘earthly, natural, demonic’.

Therefore let us remember that a true Christian church should be open, have no secrecy for its members nor for the outside world, and should give most attention to the Word of God, it is to readings from the Bible.

Eighteen Months in a Cult: Prologue

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Preceding

Lovers of God, seekers and lovers of truth

Some one or something to fear #3 Cases, folks and outing

All Souls’ Day

 

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Additional reading

  1. Ideas about Religiosity
  2. Religions and Mainliners
  3. Parish, local church community – Parochie, plaatselijke kerkgemeenschap
  4. Expenses, costs – Onkosten, uitgaven
  5. Contribution – Contributie, bijdrage
  6. Follower of Jesus part of a cult or a Christian
  7. A small company of Jesus’ footstep follower
  8. Matthew 6:1-34 – The Nazarene’s Commentary on Leviticus 19:18 Continued 5 Matthew 6: 24-34: e) Anxiety and neighbor love
  9. Why we do not have our worship-services in a church building
  10. Why we do not keep to a Sabbath or a Sunday or Lord’s Day #6 Sunday or the Lord’s day
  11. Breaking up with a cult
  12. Evangelicalism in France on the rise
  13. Do those who want to follow Christ to be Jews
  14. What is the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International (FGBMFI)?
  15. What Doctrines came out of the Shepherding/Discipleship Movement (SDM)?
  16. Place for a fifth and sixth house in Christendom
  17. History of the NAR cult infiltrating the marketplace.
  18. Wagner the NAR and new wineskins
  19. C. Peter Wagner – The Don Quixote of Evangelicalism (Part 1): Knighted as a General.
  20. A new bible translation from the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) group
  21. Using Alexander Dowie’s “altar call” system to suggest that they are God’s instrument to furthering the Kingdom of God here on earth
  22. Brian Simmons and The Passion Translation Deception

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Related

  1. Christianity Is Not a Cult, It’s How It’s Taught
  2. So you want to be a Christian? [731]
  3. Cult…
  4. Cults around the World: Heaven’s Gate
  5. 049 :: Cult thinking
  6. Sects in the New Testament
  7. Q17: Sects and conflicts
  8. Cult Accusations Against the Body of Christ
  9. True Talk: What goes on within a sect?
  10. Same God – Different People
  11. #Tupper #Saussy PDF : Exposing the #Luciferan #Jesuit #Cult for what it is. #Catholic #Evil – YouTube
  12. Church of England downplayed extent of child abuse allegations, ritual abuse, padeophile cults, multiple personalities, FLDS – Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
  13. What is the New Apostolic Reformation?
  14. New Series: The New Apostolic Reformation
  15. Churchwatchcentral create a boogie man
  16. Should James White be disregarded as a valid voice in the field of Christian apologetics?
  17. James Goll Is a Tricky Devil: He Deceives After Warning People About the Devil’s Deception
  18. Prophetess Stacey Campbell Participated in and Promoted Catholic Event that’s in submission to the Magisterium of the Church
  19. Make Your Marine Demon Tap Out Through Full Immersion: Jennifer LeClaire’s Spiritual Hacks to Drowning Marine Demons
  20. NAR Nonsens
  21. N’ar John Silver
  22. When Church Invades Your Home
  23. Blame Cindy Jacobs for Terrorist Attacks and Tyrannical Leaders
  24. Psychic Fishing Expedition with John Edward and Shawn Bolz
  25. Cults on the rise in social media
  26. Cults of the World: Synanon
  27. Cults of the World: Aum Shinrikyo
  28. Cults of the World: Lundgren Cult
  29. Cults and sects – Jehovahs witnesses [702]
  30. Cults and sects – Christadelphians [703]
  31. Cults and sect – World Wide Church of God, Herbert Armstrong [706]
  32. Children Of God #Cult Was Hell On Earth. #Scotland
  33. Rating Cult Websites (and some background about the cults)
  34. I said #no ..’#In14ways #MercyfulGrace
  35. When Control Sets In – An Excerpt from my Book
  36. The Fall Rivers Cult
  37. A Bunch Of Rich White People From New York Are Being Arrested In Connection With A Sex Cult
  38. This Isn’t a Culture War — But a Patriotic Defense Against All Cults
  39. “Choose Freedom, Choose Happiness” – introduction
  40. Introduction – Prophet or Profit?
  41. My cult made me do comedy
  42. Card Catalog Review: Breaking Free: How I Escaped Polygamy, the FLDS Cult, and My Father, Warren Jeffs
  43. Bethel School Of Spiritual Drunkenness
  44. Drawning in mystery or Secrets with Courtney – a brief series on Scientology
  45. Video Comparison: Matt Chandler and Bethel Redding’s Shawn Bolz on the Same Page: Kooky Practices of Charismatic Things
  46. Are Phil Pringle’s ‘visions’ from God just as infallible as the NT Apostolic letters?
  47. Todd Bentley’s Vintage Heresy Oil and Prayer Cloths
  48. Experience Outweighs Scripture Implies Apostle Jennifer LeClaire
  49. Dr. Michael Brown Promotes Baby Throwing Evangelist Smith Wigglesworth
  50. Greater Works Epic Fail: Why Did Bethel Redding Need to Buy so Many Groceries for CARR Relief?
  51. I Backslid Into Jesus
  52. “Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid”
  53. Jesus The Way (2)

An anarchistic reading of the Bible—(1) Approaching the Bible

As human beings we do have to make a lot of choices in our life. the first one is who we want to follow and trust. First of all those we consider our parents, but next we can see many human persons asking for our attention. People have written loads of books, but none of them can really compete with a master-work which has different styles of literature bundled together to offer us a lot of knowledge and advice for life.

Many do ignore it and neglect what it can bring to them.

Believer or not a believer in the Most High Divine Creator of all things, that book which Christians consider to be the infallible Word of God, has a lot of knowledge, wisdom and idioms we should look at, in it.

The Bible actually presents itself as a very non-authoritarian collection of writings. It never pushes its ideas on others, contrary it tells itself that people are free to take it or leave it. It gives us one of those choices in life about which it speaks thoroughly. It let us see what happens if we go through life without seeing the many opportunities, without making use of the different choices laid in front of us.

The Best Seller of all times does not demand that we follow this or that rule or saying but it presents openly the different possibilities, the many choices we can make in our life and tells us also what the consequences are of our choices made freely or deliberately.

One of the difficulties of the Book of books is that in some way it can not be taken up passively. It is impossible to read or to go though it without having questions posed to yourself.
This amalgamation of works from the very old times is still accurate and actual, an authority that requires the participation of the reader — and, actually, the participation of many readers.

That it has certain powers can be seen throughout history. Many people tried to destroy it but never succeeded. Lots of people tried to break it down and bagatelle it, but did not succeed and even several negative people reversed their standpoint and became a believer in God, became Jew, Christian or Muslim.

This collection of books, as no other, can transform people. It has so much power, never seen by any other peace of literature or any written work of human beings.
Yes “Its power on its own terms—different from the power that comes from being expropriated by human authoritarian institutions — is power than empowers the reader. It is not power that lends itself to being concentrated in top-down structures but the power that enhances diversity and decentralization.”
The book of books breaths the Power of a much more higher Supreme Being, that surpasses all modern technology and human knowledge.

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To look at:

How the Bible works as an authority is a complicated and contested issue.

approach Bible as source of absolute truths that simply need to be heard and followed

“the house of authority” => three authoritative presences:

Bible revealed truth from God, official doctrinal statements (creeds, confessions, etc.)

Bible actually presents itself as a very non-authoritarian collection of writings.

pick up Bible and read from it =>one will be struck by what we could call an epistemological humility.

Bible makes few claims for its own truthfulness.

gives us a bunch of stories that upon reading together, numerous times, does seem to have a kind of coherence

Bible’s message is invitational. The reader can choose to enter the story or not.

The characters in the Bible are quite human— sometimes strikingly so.

an on-going conversation within the Bible where different points of view challenge each other.

Beyond the internal dynamics that humanize the Bible and present a non-authoritarian kind of authority, we need also to recognize that the humanness of the text for us is reinforced by the fact that what we have in our English Bibles are translations made by human beings from ancient languages that at best provide us with what has been called “dynamic equivalence” where the translators can do no better than approximate the meanings of the original.

authority of the Bible =anarchistic = requires participation of the reader

Its power on its own terms = empowers the reader = enhances diversity and decentralization.

reader of the Bible, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, may read the Bible and find direction from it for oneself

 

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Find additionally: Trusting, Faith, calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #3 Voice of God #5 To meditate and Transform

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  • Food for Thought-3 Things to Remember Before Starting a Lenten Bible Study (richardsfoodforthought.com)
    The Bibles we use emerge from two distinct ancient communities. The Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) comes from the history, people, and traditions of ancient Israel. The text of the New Testament first originates in the early Christian church. When I say, “the Bible is the product of well-intentioned human beings”, I’m not denying the existence of God. Nor am I disputing the idea that God inspired humanity to do certain things then record those events for posterity. I am saying the Bible isn’t a divinely created product in the way Islam regards the Quran. The Bible is a collection of many different types of writing (politics, history, theology, poetry, genealogy) which tell the history of how people understood their relationship with God.  Fallible people wrote our holy book.  God didn’t write or dictate words to a scribe.  There are contradictions and errors throughout the Bible.  Once we realize that God works within our mistakes, we can read scripture with fresh eyes.
  • Think Einstein believed in God? You probably haven’t read this letter he wrote in 1954 (deadstate.org)
    Some religious figureheads such as Ray Comfort claim that Einstein believed in some form of God and acknowledged a higher power’s presence.

    “Although he clearly didn’t believe in a personal God [like the one in Christianity],” Ray Comfort says in his book Einstein, God, and the Bible.

    “Einstein wrote that he wanted to know ‘His’ thoughts, referred to God as ‘He,’ and acknowledged that He revealed ‘Himself.’”

    But in contrast, vocal atheist

  • Christianity book speaks ‘with conviction and eloquence’ (gospeak.org)
    On their Facebook page, the Jundiaí School of the Bible wrote Feb. 10 about our new book, Cristianismo Original (=Original Christianity), by Joel Stephen Williams
  • Did Plato influence the Book of Genesis? (lionoftheblogosphere.wordpress.com)
    Now the belief among Orthodox Jews is that the book of Genesis is very old, but as the web page points out, there are no outside historically dated references to the book of Genesis until the second century B.C., which is two hundred years after the founding of Plato’s Academy. This all fits in with a general pattern I’ve pointed out before that Judaism isn’t as old as people think it is.

    Thus it’s likely that Genesis was not influenced by God dictating Genesis to Moses (who probably never existed as a real person), but rather by the scientific research and philosophy of Aristotle, Plato, and other ancient Greeks scholars.

  • A Unification of Creation and Evolution (robertjrgraham.com)
    When people say that “god created the heavans and the earth in six days and on the seventh he rested”, who can say how long one of god’s days is. Why are we so egotistical as to believe that his day is the same as our’s. We don’t know god (Most of us who believe in god do so because we want to not because we have proof.) but if there is a god why can’t his, her or it’s day be a thousand or a million or even several billion of our years.

    Chapter 2, verse 7 of the book of Genises states “then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” It does not state how long this took or what form the being we call man originally took. God’s image can be many things. We have no way of knowing. Additionally, although the bible is supposed to be the word of god, it was written by humans and therefore subject to human interpretation.

  • Big Brother has a lot to offer (georgehach.wordpress.com)
    We all have a big brother who would like to help us have a better quality of life.  His name is Jesus.  He inspired 4 books in the Bible: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  They will give you great insight into how to live better.
  • A Conversation About The Nature of God (thehardincrowder.wordpress.com)
    God doesn’t need us in any way, shape, or form. God would still be God if no human being ever worshiped Him.

    I do, however, believe that human beings (and all of creation for that matter) were created to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. As John Piper would put it “God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him.”

    God cares about what we think about him because:

    1. God is worthy of worship
    2. God loves us and knows that there is no lasting joy, fulfillment, or life apart from Him.
    3. God loves us and knows that apart from His love there is only wrath, destruction, and death.
  • Zionists Have Used Evangelical Christianity To Cheat Christianity (thetotalcollapse.com)
    It’s no coincidence that the rise of Zionism, that is: the impulse of the Jews to seek a homeland for themselves, began not long before the Scofield Reference Bible was published. In the late 1800’s, England is where Zionism first found political support. England was already awash with the erroneous “Christian” doctrine of British-Israelism, wherein the British Christians were taught that they were of the lost tribes of Israel; therefore they should support the Zionist Jews venture to create a Jewish state: Israel.

Thinking Pacifism

Ted Grimsrud—January 25, 2015

[This post is a continuation of the conversation about anarchism that I have started in this blog in months past—the most recent post was “More thinking about an ‘anarchistic’ Christianity” on December 15, 2014. It’s an introduction to a series of seven or eight posts that give a quick survey of some anarchistically-inclined dynamics in the Bible.]

I have become motivated to pursue, as a thought experiment, an anarchistic reading of the Bible, for several reasons. For quite some time, probably going back to my discovery of Christian pacifism now nearly 40 years ago, I have found the Bible to be a great resource for thinking politically. However, it has been rather difficult to find connecting points between biblical politics and our current political landscape. I don’t find attempts to link biblical politics with liberal democracy all that attractive; likewise with Marxism. Yet, I also am…

View original post 1,357 more words

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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