Lovers of God, seekers and lovers of truth

Accusations

The previous weeks we got very strong reactions at certain things we said about God and His son on the net and on our replies to certain writings on the net about Jesus, God and the Christadelphians.

Title page to the ASV

Title page to the ASV (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On several websites we where accused of being a sect and of being God haters and/or Jesus haters. When we tried to give a polite answer with what we could find in the Bible and how we funded our believes on the Holy Scriptures we were silenced and did not get an opportunity to show where our believes came from and why they are not so stupid.

The bad language send to us, plus other negative elements like viruses and Trojan horses, made us not afraid to find other ways of giving a reply or showing people what we think, why we think it and why there is reason not to consider Christadelphians being a sect or cult.

Apostolic times and Jesus’ definition of God

At the beginning of the apostolic times the followers of Christ Jesus were considered to be a Jewish sect. Their faith was based on the classic traditional monotheist faith of the People of God, the People of Israel, the Jews. Jesus coming from an Essene, and therefore a very traditional devout Jewish family, grew up in a family where they believed in Only One God. Jesus also worshipped the God of Abraham, which was considered by the Jews the Only One True God.

The Christadelphians do have the same faith as the Jews, in the Only One True God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob. Jesus was in perfect agreement with a Jewish scribe, as together they discussed the greatest of all questions we humans must face. Who is God?
So prepare now to hear what Jesus commands us in terms of our definition of God.

In the New testament we do find:

“24 Jesus said unto them, Is it not for this cause that ye err, that ye know not the scriptures, nor the power of God? 25 For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as angels in heaven. 26 But as touching the dead, that they are raised; have ye not read in the book of Moses, in [the place concerning] the Bush, how God spake unto him, saying, {1} I [am] the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? {1) Ex 3:6} 27 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living: ye do greatly err.

28  And one of the scribes came, and heard them questioning together, and knowing that he had answered them well, asked him, What commandment is the first of all? 29 Jesus answered, The first is, {1} Hear, O Israel; {2} The Lord our God, the Lord is one: {1) De 6:4 ff 2) Or [The Lord is our God; the Lord is one]} 30 and thou shalt love the Lord thy God {1} with all thy heart, and {1} with all thy soul, and {1} with all thy mind, and {1} with all thy strength. {1) Gr [from]} 31 The second is this, {1} Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. {1) Le 19:18} 32 And the scribe said unto him, Of a truth, Teacher, thou hast well said that he is one; and there is none other but he:” (Mark 12:24-32 ASV)

God being the One Who is One

Excerpt of the book of Exodus from the The Gre...

Excerpt of the book of Exodus from the The Great Bible (entitled The Byble in Englyshe), publ. 1540. The English form Iehovah (Jehovah as the “J” stands for both I and the later J) is used for the Tetragrammaton at Exodus 6:3. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Clearly for Jesus the Most High Elohim Creator deity is only One as is also written in the Book Deuteronomy of the Old Testament

“Hear, O Israel: {1} Jehovah our God is one Jehovah: {1) Or [Jehovah our God, Jehovah is one]; Or [Jehovah is our God, Jehovah is one]; Or [Jehovah is our God, Jehovah alone]}” (Deuteronomy 6:4 ASV)
For Jeshua or Jesus Jehovah is his God and is only one, not two or three.
Jesus also added we should love that One God with all our heart.

“And he said unto him, {1} Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. {1) De 6:5}” (Matthew 22:37 ASV)“And he answering said, {1} Thou shalt love the Lord thy God {2} with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; {3} and thy neighbor as thyself. {1) De 6:5. 2) Gr [from] 3) Le 19:18}” (Luke 10:27 ASV)

We as Christadelphians do love God and do love His creation. They want to open their heart to all people and not only just to some who belong to the same denomination as they. We also want to give attention to other minded persons and do respect them for what they think and feel. This cannot be said about those who call themselves Christians and attack us.

Jewish unitarian creed and Jesus’ creed

As we can find in the New Testament Jesus stated that God is a single Lord. He uttered the Jewish unitarian creed and made it the pinnacle of good Christian understanding and practice.

What else can we say about this One God of Jesus’ creed?

He could not possibly be the triune God of traditional Christendom. Jesus is on record as recognizing no god but the God of his Jewish heritage based on the Scriptures preserved as God’s oracles. That God was never the Trinity. Jesus was not a Trinitarian, on the plainest evidence of his testimony in Mark 12:28-34. He himself never claimed to be God and knew very well he could not do anything without his Father in heaven.

“Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father doing: for what things soever he doeth, these the Son also doeth in like manner.” (John 5:19 ASV)

“I can of myself do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is righteous; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” (John 5:30 ASV)

God’s Will and Jesus’ will

In case Jesus is God Jesus would do his own will by doing the Will of God and nothing would be to difficult for him. But Jesus clearly tells us he was placed on this earth not to do his will but the Will of the One Who had sent Jesus and was not him but God. Jesus also submitted himself totally to the Will of God.

 “For I am come down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” (John 6:38 ASV)

“Jesus therefore said, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that {1} I am [he], and [that] I do nothing of myself, but as the Father taught me, I speak these things. {1) Or [I am] he: [and I do]}” (John 8:28 ASV)

Jesus also not speaks out of himself but brings the Word of the one Who sent him and Who commands him. We believe those words written in the scriptures which tell us about Jesus his position.

 “For I spake not from myself; but the Father that sent me, he hath given me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.” (John 12:49 ASV)

“Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I say unto you I speak not from myself: but the Father abiding in me doeth his works.” (John 14:10 ASV)

God’s call to be seekers and lovers of truth

God calls us to be lovers of truth and seekers of truth. Jesus let his followers know that they should search those Scriptures and belief the Words of God.

We would not like it to see our heart hardened like the one of the Pharaoh of Egypt, him refusing to believe God’s agents, Moses and Aaron. The same we would not like our ears to be deaf like the ones of the sons of the prophet Eli to be deaf to Eli’s words of warning so that they did not repent of their sin and turn back to God (1 Samuel. 2:22-25).

For  us it is most important, not to follow human doctrines and as such pleasing man, but following the teachings of Jesus Christ continuing in God’s truth, continuously willing to seek truth and to endure sound doctrine, which is provided in the Holy Scriptures.

Sound doctrine

We do believe God will guide us by His Word and by the teachers he allows us to find, who will encourage us in sound doctrine and not in a teaching according our own, or the majority of man’s own desires, even when they claim to be the majority and therefore being the right ones. It is  not because they belong to the most numerous denomination in Christendom, which are the Roman Catholics, that all others are the wrong ones, not keeping to the main rules and being sects.

We are convinced that anyone, including believers, pastors, church leaders and Bible scholars, can be deluded in some area of their understanding, if they are not always “lovers of the truth,” if they are not always open to criticism, to other perspectives and scholarship which may give new insights and even improve our Bible translations, which in turn may lead to the need to discard some of our pet doctrines or practices.

In fact, we can see a God-sent delusion that has infected much of the Christian Church for many of the last 1900 years in a number of very significant areas of faith and practice! We may wonder if  the traditional Christian Church may not be blind to significant portions of God’s clear truth. for sure we can see lots of Christians who refuse to try to read the Bible without their known doctrine of the Trinity. Are they afraid that in case they would try to leave that doctrine away for a moment, they would loose track?

Why is it that sincere and earnest pastors seem happy to rest in their beliefs that were perhaps ingrained from Bible college or from their time in the pews? Why do so many pastors seem unwilling to read widely, to read honest critiques from Bible scholars, to read the criticisms of their opponents, to be challenged by and confront the beliefs of such ideologies as Catholicism, replacement theology, prosperity religion, materialism, paganism, and Islam, etc?

Insecurity, fear opposite confidence

Is it not best to wonder why people are afraid to put their Trinity doctrine for a moment at the site to read what is really written there black on white in the Book of books. Are they so insecure or fearful to do the test of sound reasoning? Or is it a form of  cowardice or fear or insecurity that prevents many from being earnest and zealous seekers after truth?

Yet are we not all cowards by nature? Are we not all fearful of standing against the tide of this world — standing against the crowd when they practice evil?

When Paul was in prison he was encouraged that many of his fellow believers gained confidence in their stand for the truth of the Gospel.

“Most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear” (Philipeans 1:14).

Each of us has different opportunities to play our part in the teaching of truth. The Church exists mainly to teach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, and we take to heart Jesus’ warning that we must never be ashamed of him and his Gospel (Mark 8:38).
It is each of us individually and not our pastor or church leader who will stand before the Messiah, the righteous Judge, and have our heart searched on these matters.

Which leader to follow

Christadelphians do not have one specific worldly leader or organisation which we all have to follow. We do not have to be obedient to an overall organisation or church institution. By us no specific gifts or tenths (teeting) obligated. So how can it be certain people accuse us of being a sect, where this are all elements particular to sects.

Jesus in the Gospels

Jesus in the Gospels (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Christadelphians do not follow someone here on earth, but do follow Jesus Christ, who, according to the Holy Scriptures is now seated at the right hand of his heavenly Father to be a mediator between God and man.

We do believe each individual is himself or herself responsible and shall have to be answerable before the judge Jesus Christ on his return, which he even did not know when it would be, though God knows everything.

It is therefore you and I who need to be sure regarding where we stand before God for our own peace of mind and salvation. We ourselves have to make our own choice who to follow, Jesus or those who claim to be the traditional church.

Task to help others

But we also have received the task to help others and to “Rescue those being led away to death” (Proverbs 24:10-12) Therefore we may encounter lots of discouragement but we must continue and may not falter in times of trouble. We should not fear man but more fear God and count on the strength He is willing to give us.

I think perhaps in this issue of God we have to be careful to pay close attention to the unitarian statements of Jesus.

“You, Father, are the only one who is truly God” (17:3).

Is that statement unacceptable?
Does it not obviously tell us that no one else is the true God?

Jesus also tells us that he is the Way to God and we should follow him so that he can lead us through the small gate of the Kingdom of God.

Clearly Jesus being the Way to God and to life, we should focus on him, not as being the God, but as being the Way to God and being part of the Plan of God.

Once we say that Jesus is God we are counting two Gods — and that contradicts the Shema which Jesus says is the most important commandment (Mark 12:29).

Jesus learned everything from God as he grew up in wisdom and stature. If he were God he would have nothing to learn! God also tells us that He does not tell lies, is an eternal Spirit Who cannot seen by man or they would fall death, and that he cannot be tempted. Jesus was seen by many who did not fall death. Jesus also was tempted more than once. God Who knows everything and does not tell lies would not have told the truth when He is Jesus, and was been asked when he would come back and who would be seated next to him. Jesus told his disciples he did not know that and that only his Father knows that. God obviously cannot die. Jesus did die. The Son of God died. This is one of the special elements of our faith or a core element of the Christian faith.

All those facets we should tell others and help them to see what is written in the Bible about Jesus and the Plan of God.

Having no opportunity to explain this and to go deeper into detail, we were confronted with that censorship and saw the necessity to explain this more to the general public.

Therefore we started looking for an other means to show how Christadelphians next to the Word of God put their focus on that Nazarene man Jesus Christ, who we believe to be our saviour and example to follow.

Spokesmen for Jesus

Looking on the internet for means to help others to come to see who Jesus really is and what is really written in the Bible, we tried out some blogging systems.

As such we created:

C4A: Christ for all a site to show the reasons why to love Jesus.

C4U:Christ for you and Christadelphians for you, an other site to site of Brothers and Sisters in Christ, who love the Creator and His creations, to show which way we do have to go and whom to follow.

Both do have some negative points and made us not satisfied. Therefore we went back to a well known source. Once more we decided to go for WordPress and created last but not least the site with the focus all on Jesus Christ our Messiah, a “Messiah for all“.

We invite you to come and have a look at those site and to give your impression, so that we can work on it and improve.

We do hope we can show the world why we need to follow Jesus Christ of Nazareth and how Christadelphians do that, and as such should also been seen as true followers of Christ or real Christians and not as a sect or cult because they do not follow any human worldly leader nor institution of this world.

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Please do find additional to read:

  1. People Seeking for God 2 Human interpretations
  2. Background to look at things
  3. Synagogue, Church or Ecclesia for the Christian
  4. Intentions of an Ecclesia
  5. United people under Christ
  6. Disciple of Christ counting lives and friends dear to them
  7. A participation in the body of Christ
  8. Who are the Christadelphians
  9. Christadelphian people
  10. Our Christadelphian faith
  11. What Christadelphians believe
  12. Our Creed and Practice
  13. About Brothers in Christ
  14. What are Brothers in Christ
  15. Often asked questions: faq – English
  16. What Christadelphians teach
  17. Those who call the Christadelphians a cult
  18. A small company of Jesus’ footstep follower
  19. Evangelisation, local preaching opposite overseas evangelism
  20. Those who love Jesus
  21. The Law of Christ: Law of Love
  22. The first on the list of the concerns of the saint
  23. Agape, a love to share with others from the Fruit of the Spirit
  24. The task given to us to love each other
  25. Christianity is a love affair
  26. The Greatest of These is Love
  27. Unarmed truth and unconditional love
  28. Unconditional love
  29. Compassion and Discipline
  30. Character transformed by the influence of our fellowships
  31. Integrity of the fellowship
  32. Fellowship
  33. Learn how to go out into the world and proclaim the Good News of the coming Kingdom

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  • Rule and Reign (activeinspiration.wordpress.com)
    As reported in the news these days we hear Christians are persecuted at all time highs. Maybe its because perfect love from God our Father that we share with the world is seen as weakness to the world of nonbelievers.
  • Stand Tall In Faith (mylordmyfriend.com)
    Jesus answered Peters confession, “That Jesus is the Christ, and the Son of The living God”Matthew 16 verse 16: Jesus declares that upon that Confession, the He is The Christ, He will build His Church.That is the concrete slab of faith, what Jesus came to do and what He did through the Cross. One of the statements of faith, that was established, by the forefathers, to counteract, heresies and mysticism which tried to wrongly attach themselves to the Truth, about Christ Jesus was.
  • Charles Spurgeon (rulookingforjesus.wordpress.com)
    It is a sweet thought that Jesus Christ did not come forth without his Father’s permission, authority, consent, and assistance. He was sent of the Father, that he might be the Saviour of men.
  • Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple (emmanuelchatham.typepad.com)
    Almighty and everliving God, we humbly pray that, as your only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple, so we may be presented to you with pure and clean hearts by Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
  • Scripture of the Day, 2/5 (sowegalive.com)
    And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
  • Daily prayer (0: have a free day (0: (hmweimar.wordpress.com)
    Lord- thank you for always giving us a way to salvation and peace. Thank you for the grace you cover our lives with and thank you Lord God for your son. In his holy name amen
    Believe and make it so
  • Monday, 26 January 2015 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Timothy and St. Titus, Bishops (First Reading) (petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com)
    I invite you to fan into a flame the gift of God you received through the laying on of my hands. For God did not confer on us a spirit of bashfulness, but of strength, love and good judgment. Do not be ashamed of testifying to our Lord, nor of seeing me in chains. On the contrary, do your share in labouring for the Gospel with the strength of God.
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    From Paul, servant of God, Apostle of Christ Jesus, at the service of God’s chosen people, so that they may believe and reach the knowledge of truth and godliness. The eternal life we are waiting for was promised from the very beginning by God who never lies, and as the appointed time had come, He made it known through the message entrusted to me by a command of God, our Saviour.

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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