Article of the Month
We almost hesitate to present an Article of the Month on
a topic like the Trinity which has traditionally aroused
more emotion than thought. So many Christian people find
the topic an unquestionable but necessary object of
belief — a “mystery” of faith more than an examinable
doctrine. This, in itself, should set alarm bells
ringing. Whenever religious teachers surround a
teaching with fear and “mystery,” it is likely because
nothing short of fear will keep people believing in it.
Fear has always been the devil’s best tool for keeping
people in line. Thus, many Christian people use the
doctrine of the Trinity as a litmus test for orthodoxy.
They whip out some form of the magic question, “Do you
believe Jesus and God are the same?” If the response is
negative, or even hesitant, these Christians close all
doors of communication as if their unreasoning question
settles all dispute. Yet, if we were to put one
hundred of these people in the same room and ask them to
explain what they mean by Trinity, we might have as many
as one hundred variant answers.
In a recent television interview, a nationally known
evangelist was asked about the difficulties evangelical
Christians have with Mormonism. His immediate (and only
stated) objection was that Mormons do not accept the
Trinity. Mormons, of course, are not the only
professedly Christian group which is not Trinitarian.
As the matter of fact, a large percentage of Christians
in the early part of America’s history were Unitarian in
their beliefs. Yet, this evangelist made it sound as if
Trinitarianism is the single, unchallengeable test of
what has always made a Christian a Christian. It is
— History —
It is a sad thing to be historically uninformed.
Tyrants, of course, and bigots along with them, have
always wanted to obscure the memory of the past. Such
controllers of thought are those who burn books,
discourage questioning, and often (as with Hitler and
Stalin) simply murder those who have and teach facts
about truths they don’t want to hear. And the fact is
this: The doctrine of the Trinity was not a part of
Christian theology in the days of Jesus and the
Apostles. When Trinitarian thought did emerge,
it evolved! It was not even Father, Son, and Holy
Spirit. That trio is only the final recipe that emerged
over the centuries!
A perceptive and informed Jewish man, Richard E.
Rubenstein, a professor at George Mason University in
Virginia, has written a book entitled “When Jesus Became
God.” It is one of the better historical treatises on
the subject of the evolution of Trinitarian thinking.
Those who wish an unprejudiced treatment of the subject
may wish to consult this book for an accurate history.
Many thousands of pages have been written in defense of
and in opposition to Trinitarian thinking. In a short
article like this one, it would be fruitless to try to
carefully compare the many Scriptures that are cited on
each side of the question. As a generalization,
however, it is fairly safe to say that if a person did
not believe in the Trinity before trying to
justify it with Scriptures, one would never become
Trinitarian from reading the Bible.
Jesus, of course, was Jewish, born under and obedient to
the Jewish Law. The Jewish Law certainly does not teach
a Trinity! The doctrine to this day is repugnant to
Jews and forms one of the basic roadblocks to a Jew’s
having any respect for Christianity.
Jesus often magnified the Law. For instance, he taught
that “Thou shalt not commit adultery” could actually be
an improper way of THINKING instead of the more obvious
illicit open sexual impropriety. (Matthew 5:27, 28)
But Jesus never contradicted the Law and its content.
As he plainly stated, “I am not come to destroy the
Law.” (Matthew 5:17-19) As Jews correctly understand
it to this day, God is God. He is not a part of a
Trinity. Everything in the Jewish Law mitigates against
Trinitarian thinking — and Jesus believed the Law.
The Simple Truth —
The personal identities of God and Jesus are clearly
spelled out in Scripture. There is nothing complicated
or mysterious. Likewise, the identity of the “Holy
Spirit” is clear and unambiguous. It is not a “person”
— not a sentient being. It is the invisible power and
influence of God and of Jesus.
Jesus, of course, had a pre-human existence. He was
God’s original and only direct creation. (Revelation
3:14) By Jesus everything else was made. He was his
Father’s active agent in creating all that was created.
(John 1:3; Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:15-17) He became
a man in order to ransom mankind from the death
penalty. (Hebrews 2:9; Galatians 4:4, 5; I Timothy 2:5,
6) When God raised him to a new nature, he became (and
still is) “the express image” of God’s person…seated “on
the right hand of the Majesty on high.” (Hebrews
1:1-3) He is not THE God — “the Father,” or
YAHWEH. He is a totally separate, distinct, and created
being. Yet, no Biblically-informed Christian would deny
Jesus his rightful place in God’s order of things. No
being approaches Jesus’ greatness and station. Next to
the Father, Jesus is pre-eminent in the universe. But
we don’t need a Trinitarian doctrine to acknowledge his
The doctrine of the Trinity adds nothing helpful to
Christian theology. It does add confusion of thought
because it is unexplainable! It also challenges truth
because it beclouds the philosophy of Jesus’ death —both
the reasoning behind it, and the actuality of it. It is
an unscriptural and deceptive teaching unworthy of
belief by any thoughtful and studious disciple of
Jesus. Yet, it continues to be perpetuated by most
Christian denominations — and with an unreasoning
What is it, other than Devilish deception, that makes
this doctrine seem so important to so many? How is it
necessary that Jesus and his Father be the same
being?What does the teaching accomplish? It seems,
actually, to diminish God and to make Jesus into
something he could never be if he were really to DIE!
And what is it about the Holy Spirit that should make it
so “co-equal” in every way with God and with Jesus?
This third part of the Trinitarian doctrine is mostly
ignored or pushed into the conversational shadows when
Trinitarian concepts are discussed. And yet, according
to orthodoxy, the Holy Spirit is no less than, (yea — it
is “co-equal”) the other parts of this God. Does it
somehow defy reason to see the Holy Spirit as inanimate,
but powerful in the extreme, because it IS God’s and
Jesus’ power working in the universe? The thought does
not defy Scripture!
We cannot even hope to expect open discussion on this
topic. Only God will clarify the matter. We would
hope, however, that the Holy Spirit will convince a
number of us to, without fear, consider the totality of
the Biblical evidences on this matter. A true
understanding releases us from fear and confusion and
infuses us with a light which glows with happiness in
better knowing God and His relationship to His beloved
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