Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Most Plausible Anti-Trinitarian Complaint

(last updated 6/23/14)

Probably the most common comment, complaint, charge and challenge (yay for alliteration!) that anti-Trinitarians make and which also has (IMHO) the greatest plausibility to it is, "If the doctrine of the Trinity is true why doesn't the Bible directly teach it?" There are variations to the comment.

For example:

"Why doesn't Jesus teach it in the Gospels?"

"Where does the Bible state that God is one in being and three in person (or is one in essence/substance and three in subsistence)?"

"Nowhere in the Bible is the doctrine of the Trinity described in full."

"Jesus, as a 1st century Jew, assumes the standard strict monotheistic conception of God and never corrects it. For example, in Mark 10:17-18; Mark 12:28-31; John 17:3."

 "Unitarianism should be the default position until you can prove Trinitarianism since the Bible explicitly teaches God is one and we are in agreement that every other personal being we can think of or discuss is always one in being and one in person."

Jesus affirmed the Jewish Shema in Mark 12:29 and would have naturally interpreted it in the strict monotheistic way the Jews did at the time. Why should we interpret it any other way?.



How should or how can Trinitarians respond to such statements if given or asked in sincerity?

In this blog post I want to answer the above complaint as it would be given by someone who believes in the inspiration of both the Old and New Testaments but nevertheless rejects the doctrine of the Trinity. That is, to Unitarians like Anthony Buzzard et al. Such people affirm the authority of the New Testament, but nevertheless reject the doctrine of the Trinity because they can't seem to find it there. This blog therefore assumes the inspiration and infallibility of Scripture and won't attempt to argue for it.


Three things must be distinguished and a fourth thing recognized.

1. Non-Inspired Doctrinal Development. [NDD]
2. The concept of inspired Progressive Revelation [PR]
3. Inspired Doctrinal Development [IDD]
4. Jesus Veiled Mission and Identity [JVMI]

1. Non-Inspired Doctrinal Development. [NDD]
 
 1. Non-Inspired Doctrinal Development is the development of doctrine among the people of God in an uninspired non-revelatory way during times when full infallible inspiration has/had ceased (e.g. during the intertestamental period, then later after the closing of the Canon of Scripture).

[As a side note, I'm a continuationist. Specifically a Charismatic. However, I don't think continuationism negates Sola Scriptura (or what I prefer to term Summa Scriptura and which seems to be somewhat similar to what some people call Prima Scriptura).]

As a matter of fact, since the closing of the Old Testament Canon (both during the intertestamental period [as Christians would refer to it] and since the closing of the New Testament) Jews have developed doctrines that have similarities to the doctrine of the Trinity in various ways. Often by affirming a kind of plurality in God. Or by positing an intermediary that was God-like and, analogously, Christ-like. For evidence of this see the resources on this blog along with the link to another blog post of mine HERE. This fact itself would suggest that the doctrine of the Trinity is not so completely alien to Old Testament theology that it must be rejected outright and without further consideration. Otherwise Jews would not have come to such conclusions. Conclusions which they often prooftext by quoting the Old Testament.

Non-inspired doctrinal development has also occurred in Christian history and theology as it did in Jewish history and theology. Such non-inspired development rightly cannot, should not and understandably does not bind the conscience of believers in the New Testament Scriptures. Anti-Trinitarians are therefore right in not accepting the doctrine of the Trinity merely on the basis of tradition or Tradition (with a capital "T").


2. The concept of inspired Progressive Revelation [PR]


The concept of Progressive Revelation is acknowledged by New Testament believing Unitarians like Anthony Buzzard. Otherwise they wouldn't accept Jesus' messiahship, mediatorship, atonement and a host of other New Testament teachings not explicitly found in the Old Testament. However, in my opinion, strict/simple Unitarians don't take the concept of progressive revelation seriously enough in all its implications. Naively appealing to Jesus' monotheism, as Unitarians like Anthony Buzzard do, doesn't do justice to the principle of Progressive Revelation. Revelation didn't stop with Jesus. As Jesus Himself instructed and prophesied. When taken seriously, progressive revelation would lead to the 3rd distinction. Namely......


3. Inspired Doctrinal Development [IDD]


Inspired Doctrinal Development happened during times when inspired Revelation was still being given either verbally or in written form. Or when verbal revelation was being recorded in written form.

This type of development occurs during a time when people could still receive inspired revelation from God, but sometimes made doctrinal inferences and decisions based on their limited understanding of the implications of already given revelation. During such times there's a kind of imprecision and growth in understanding while doctrine is still developing and being refined.

It should go without saying that not all inspired revelations were recorded in Scripture. Also, that because of the historical nature of the Bible, it's also the case that some inspired doctrinal developments have been recorded in Scripture itself (even if not all).

Here are some examples recorded in the New Testament Church:

  • The Gospel was ultimately also intended for the Gentiles

  • Circumcision is no longer necessary for full obedience to God

  • The Biblical kosher laws are no longer necessary for full obedience to God

  • Eating meat sacrificed to idols is permissible with proper understanding and practice contrary to the decree and teaching of the Apostles at the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15. Contrast the seemingly contradictory teaching of Paul in 1 Cor. 8 and Acts 15.

  • There is some sense in which the Old Testament Law no longer applies or is binding. I'll leave the details of this aside and keep this point ambiguous because explaining it will take us away from the topic of this blog post. I mention this as a matter of fact based on Heb. 7:12, 18-19; 8:8, 13; Gal. 2:16, 19, 21: 3:10-13, 21, 23-24; Rom. 3:21; 7:4; 10:4; Acts 13:39 et cetera

  • For Evangelicals, another example is the doctrine of justification by faith alone

It took time for the apostolic Church to come to such conclusions. There were minor disagreements, disputes and doubts. The Church as a whole grew into these conclusions. Such inspired development was sometimes the result of a direct and explicit revelation AND/OR due to a logical inference drawn from the implications and ramifications of the Gospel and other sound teaching or revelation  previously given.

Let's look at the specific example of eating meat sacrificed to idols. At first the Apostles in Acts 15 forbade the eating of such meat because it would violate their understanding of the Gospel at that time. However, Paul's further developed understanding of the implications of the Gospel allowed him to clarify in what sense it was permissible to eat such meat. This shows doctrinal development in the apostolic Church even though one would think that since apostles existed who could receive revelation from God, that therefore the Church would come to perfect and unified doctrinal truth immediately from the very start. But we don't see that in the history of the apostolic Church as recorded in inspired Scripture. Doctrines had to develop EVEN in the apostolic Church when (and while) the apostles were still living.

From these examples it's clearly evident that the apostolic Church was growing in it's understanding of truth and the Gospel during the lives of the Apostles. IT WAS NOT the case that AFTER Jesus died and rose again that the Apostles always and only preached what Jesus taught and preached. Jesus Himself said,

"I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.- John 16:12-13

Then He said to them, "Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old."- Matt. 13:52

 Paul wrote:

15    Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.- Phil. 3:15-16
12    For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.- Heb. 5:12-14
9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part.10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.- 1 Cor. 13:9-10

12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.- 1 Cor. 13:12
Peter even acknowledged that angels were still learning things about the Gospel as the Church progressed in understanding.

12 To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven --- things which angels desire to look into.- 1 Pet. 1:12
This is just a sampling of the evidence that the Apostolic Church grew in it's understanding of the Gospel.

I belabored the point above to argue that the same thing is true of the nature and work of Jesus (i.e. of Christology). And the reason this is especially true is because of the this next point.


4. Jesus Veiled Mission and Identity [JVMI]

Prior to His crucifixion, Jesus occasionally, and in private, made it clear that He was the Messiah. However, for most of His ministry He veiled His mission and identity. Sometimes to the point of veiling His healings and exorcisms. See THIS LINK for examples. It was not until the Triumphal Entry that Jesus publicly announced His Messiahship. Even then, it wasn't absolutely explicit.

Here's a sampling of the evidence Jesus veiled His mission and identity.

Jesus didn't specifically and explicitly tell John the Baptist He was the Messiah when asked. See. Matt. 11:4-6

The fact that Jesus had to ask His disciples, "...Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" (Matt. 16:13c) proves that Jesus didn't go about publicly claiming He was the Messiah. Otherwise, Peter's declaration three verses latter that Jesus was the Messiah wouldn't make any sense (Matt. 16:16). Peter wouldn't have had to present his opinion of who Jesus was since he would have already heard Jesus say, "I am the Messiah", or words to that effect. The text goes on to say,

Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ.- Matt. 16:20
Then He strictly warned them that they should tell no one about Him.- Mark 8:30
Compare Matt. 16:13-20 to it's parallel in Mark 8:27-30.


After Christ's transfiguration Scripture says,

9    Now as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, "Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead."- Matt. 17:9 compare Mark 9:9

Much more evidence could be marshaled to prove that Jesus veiled His messianic identity. There are various reasons for why Jesus did so, but it must be realized that if Jesus veiled his Messiahship, how much more would He veil his Divinity IF He were Divine and God? Non-Trinitarians have got to think about that seriously as a hypothetical thought experiment. One of the reasons why Jesus veiled His Messiah was in order not to get stoned to death or crucified too early. It would have ruined God's planned timing of Jesus' crucifixion which was to be after Jesus gave all the teaching that He did give. God probably also timed Christ's crucifixion to fulfill the timing of the prophecy of the coming of the Messiah in Dan. 9:24-26.

Now if the premature unveiling of Jesus messiahship would ruin God's plan and timing, how much more would the Jews have prematurely crucified or (more likely) stoned Jesus for publicly claiming to be God? Such a claim by a human being would be completely outrageous in the eyes and ears of Jews. Yet that's precisely what almost happened in (presumably) private conversations in John 5:18 and John 10:31. In these two passage Jesus didn't explicitly claim to be God, even though the Jews rightly inferred Jesus implicit claim to deity and so were ready to stone Him.

Let's review all Four Points and put it all together:

1. Non-Inspired Doctrinal Development. [NDD]
2. The concept of inspired Progressive Revelation [PR]
3. Inspired Doctrinal Development [IDD]
4. Jesus Veiled Mission and Identity [JVMI]

When one takes into consideration all four points, it can be better understood, that if the doctrine of the Trinity were true, why Jesus never taught the doctrine of the Trinity. Along with why the New Testament doesn't explicitly teach the doctrine of the Trinity in the sense formulated by modern Trinitarians. Since the apostolic Church itself was still growing in its understanding of the person, nature and work of Christ and the implications of the Gospel. Inspired Doctrinal Development was necessary because 1. Christ veiled His identity and 2. intentionally didn't give the final/last word regarding who He was, regarding the fulness of the Gospel and regarding the person and work of the Holy Spirit.


Having said that, there is a plethora of statements and teachings in both the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament which support the Trinitarian position (which I'll call a "theory" or "hypothesis" for the sake of building a bridge for Unitarians to use to incrementally come to Trinitarian conclusions). The links I provided 1. above, 2. on this blog site, and 3. the articles in this blog site itself demonstrate that assertion that there are many passages in the Bible that supports a Trinitarian position. I've even written a rough and ready case for the Deity of Christ based solely on the Gospel of Mark. The Gospel of Mark of course is considered by most people to have been the earliest written and therefore the most primitive and pure (accurate) record of Christ's life and teachings. Here's the link:



Returning to the topic of Non-Inspired Doctrinal Development, I would grant that Modern formulations of the Trinity are examples of Non-Inspired Doctrinal Development. However, I'm of the opinion that their various formulations are closer to the truth than the most (if not all) versions of Unitarianism out there because it does the best job of accounting for all the Biblical data using Abductive reasoning. Abduction, also called Inference to the Best Explanation, is reasoning/inferring to that theory or hypothesis that has 1. the greatest explanatory power and 2. the greatest explanatory scope. Different non-Trinitarian Christologies, Theologies and Pneumatologies can explain some aspects of the Biblical data well, but to the neglect of other data which the doctrine of the Trinity can account for and make sense of.
 
This is how I myself have come to Trinitarian conclusions even though I still have some questions and doubts. For example, I find some plausibility in the position of Nicene Monarchism held by the brilliant former Trinitarian David Waltz and the eccentric Drake Shelton.





21 comments:

  1. Greetings, Trinitarian.

    Nope, I am not a unitarian. But I, with the Spirit's help, expose all trinitarians apologies that I can find as self-contradictory and non-sensical, never mind it being extra-biblical and just implicitly taught in the Bible.

    I have seen your online posts from triablogue as you and the other Trinitarians rip into Dale Tuggy's arguments. I also read James Anderson's website his defense of his book about MACRUEs and the RAPT model.

    You have a lot to say about your Trinity defense. But they are riddled with mistakes, I am sad to say. That's no judgment on your intellect or knowledge. Clearly you have read more than me. But your understanding is limited, just like the 4th century Roman Bishops who have to create the creeds before they can say that their triune God is a mystery. If the Holy Spirit is with you, why summarize? If the Holy Spirit is with you after you summarize, why is your God still a mystery? Why still summarize, Trinitarian?

    On a personal note, who are you annoyed with? With the Unitarians?

    I am not a troll. I will not pester you if you don't want to engage in an exchange of ideas. I guess you will just read them in my book.

    Anyway, can I quote at least 200 words for each blog post from your blog I may comment on in a book I am writing about the Trinity excuses and mistakes?

    Be warned, Trinitarian. I, with the Spirit's help, will use your (trinitarian) arguments against your beloved divine triplets and the Jesus twins. You and your tribe will never win. I won against two Trinitarians in two online debates (one in a blog and one thru emails).

    I may not be right but the Trinity Theory will die the death of a thousand self-contradictions.

    Peace.

    Gilcrist

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    1. Nope, I am not a unitarian.

      You're free to label yourself however you want. That won't stop Trinitarians labelling you as Unitarian. Just as some Trinitarians prefer not to use terms like "Trinity" or "Trinitarianism" won't stop non-Trinitarians from calling them Trinitarians. I'm curious, what is your denominational affiliation, if you have one? Do you have a blog of your own? If so, what's the link? Your blogger nick is, "lord.gilchrist.ako". I see what might be the Filipino word for "me" (ako) in your nick. Does that mean you're Filipino? Maybe Iglesia Ni Cristo?

      ...as self-contradictory and non-sensical...

      What's your greatest and best example of nonsense or self-contradiction in the historic doctrine of the Trinity? Let's discuss it as we have time.

      You have a lot to say about your Trinity defense. But they are riddled with mistakes, I am sad to say.

      What's your best example of a mistake I've made? I confess I've made mistakes. I've tried to correct them whenever I can in this Blog, Trinity Notes. For example, I changed my views on a number of issues. For example, the term "Son of God" doesn't always imply true divinity. In most instances it probably doesn't. I could give more examples, but that's enough to show that I'm teachable. In fact, in this particular blogpost you commented on AND in my blogpost The Purpose of This Blog I freely admit that I still have doubts about the Trinity and that I don't have answers to every question that comes up in my mind. However, I pointed out that in my current opinion the doctrine of the Trinity makes the most sense of all the data compared to the alternatives I've examined. I'm willing to change if I'm shown something better.

      ...before they can say that their triune God is a mystery.

      I see the (purported) fact that the doctrine of the Trinity is both 1. not contradictory and 2. a mystery as supporting its truth. A purported mystery that's contradictory is probably false. But we Trinitarians claim it's not contradictory, but it is still a mystery. Also, the fact that it's a mystery makes sense if God is much greater than what the finite human mind can fathom. If a conception of God were completely comprehensible to finite human minds it would suggest it was conceived of by finite minds and therefore false. Trinitarianism is consistent with the Bible's teaching concerning God's transcendence and greatness.

      If the Holy Spirit is with you, why summarize?

      I don't know what you mean by "summarize".

      CONT.

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    2. On a personal note, who are you annoyed with?

      I picked the nick "Annoyed Pinoy" because it rhymes and I'm "pinoy" (i.e. ethnically Filipino). As I wrote in a combox Here: "Besides, if I was being elitist, why would I use the word "Annoyed". It usually has a negative connotation. Like the word "irritable" (how much more now that the phrase "Irritable Bowel Syndrome" has been coined (heh)). Though, I hate and am annoyed by (and by God's grace will continue) error, heresy, demonic lies, ignorance, sin and attacks on the Christian faith. So, in another sense it's appropriate.

      Btw, there's at least one other person using the nick "Annoyed Pinoy" on the web (which makes sense since not many words rhyme with "pinoy"). Whether he/she is Christian or not, I don't know. So, not everyone on the net who uses that nick is me.
      "

      I'm not so much annoyed with Unitarians as with atheists or other heretics. I think some Unitarians are doing their best from the human perspective. As a Calvinist I believe that the true acceptance of true doctrines requires the enlightening of the Holy Spirit. Not all true Christians have been enlightened in the same way or to the same degree by God on various doctrines. That's why I think there might be genuine Christians among Unitarians. However, I think God's usual way of working in the lives of genuine Christians is to eventually bring them out of the various forms of Unitarianism and into Trinitarianism (or something like it).

      Anyway, can I quote at least 200 words for each blog post from your blog I may comment on in a book I am writing about the Trinity excuses and mistakes?

      You can quote from my blogpost only if you include:
      1. the website address of this blog Trinity Notes [http://trinitynotes.blogspot.com/]
      2. Point out I'm not a professional theologian, but a layman who's just trying to defend Christianity and the Bible through various blogs. Of the 8 different blogs I have, 7 are related to apologetics. Trinity Notes is just one of the 7.
      3. Eventually notify me when your book has been published and its title.

      In my opinion, it's probably better for your to quote real Trinitarians scholars and apologists since they have degrees. Some of them can read the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. If you quote me and don't point out the fact that I'm not a scholar OR don't provide the blog address then (in my opinion) you're attacking low hanging fruit. In your book you could make it appear that I'm some Trinitarian scholar who you refuted, when in fact I'm not a scholar at all. That would be dishonest of you to do that (if you did). Real scholarship does its best to give the source of their quotations. If your book is to be scholarly, then you should include the urls to my Blog and blogposts. Cults and cultists are in the habit of hiding the sources of their quotations because they're really afraid of their congregants/audience from thinking for themselves and doing their own studying.

      ...Dale Tuggy's arguments.

      I've collected some blogposts where I've interacted with Dale, HERE. I've tried to be respectful, but admittedly, I wasn't always successful.

      CONT.

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    4. ...against your beloved divine triplets and the Jesus twins.

      I don't know what you mean by "Jesus twins". Maybe that's a reference to the dual nature of Christ that Trinitarians hold? I think I know what you mean by "divine triplets", but I'm not sure since you refer to the "Jesus twins". Since I don't know anything about you or your website and/or blog, I'm at a disadvantage in addressing your concerns and objections. But I'll try to do so.

      You and your tribe will never win.

      I care about the God of the Bible's truth. If Trinitarianism is false and there's a better understanding of the Bible's teaching out there, I hope that wins. Nevertheless, it seems to me that God's divine stamp of approval is on Trinitarianism in terms of church history. As I noted elsewhere to someone else:

      Merely calling the doctrine of the Trinity wicked doesn't make it so. While it's true that some professed Trinitarians and Trinitarian denominations have sometimes done terrible things, in general God seems to have blessed Trinitarianism. Since the 4th century the greatest conservative Bible scholars have been Trinitarians. Along with the greatest theologians, apologists, evangelists, Bible exegetes/interpreters, missionaries, missionary agencies etc. It has been the Trinitarians who have had the best Bible translations, have had the greatest impact in advancing the Kingdom of God, have had the greatest revivals (e.g. the Reformation, The Great Awakening, the Second Great Awakening, etc.). It's been Trinitarians who have had the greatest reports of signs and wonders/miracles throughout Church History (and at present). Trinitarians who have built hospitals, colleges, universities, orphanages etc.
      Where are the denominations which preach your Christology? What impact have they had? What are there Bible translations and Bible commentaries?


      I won against two Trinitarians in two online debates (one in a blog and one thru emails).

      That's not much of a brag since most Trinitarians are theologically ignorant and/or theologically & philosophically unsophisticated. If there are 10 levels of scholarship among Trinitarians regarding all areas of theology, apologetics, philosophy (etc.), I think I'm only at level 3 or 4. I'm nobody. I'm just someone who loves God and is trying to do what I can to advance God's truth to the degree that I can see it.

      I bid you Peace as well. Wherever the Truth lay, may we find it both.

      Delete
    5. Oh, BTW, if your debates were with Trinitarian scholars and not laymen, and you won the debate, then that would be saying something. I'm curious, what's the link to the blog debate you had?

      Delete
    6. This is good that you replied in a respectful way. I should do the same. I will not be rude or disrespectful. I can see from your blogs that you're well read. That must be because you want to learn the truth about God and Jesus in the Bible, like the first Trinitarians, 4th century Roman Bishops who couldn't reconcile the Bible's "contradictory" verses about Jesus and God.

      Now, please don't delete or edit our conversation. I want everybody online to see whose interpretation is more biblical or less nonsensical. Let us begin. If anyone of us is in error, we should admit so that we are mistaken in our interpretation. This is important so we don't repeat the same points. May the Lord God of the Bible give us wisdom in this debate.

      No, not iglesia ni cristo. I don't go to any of today's churches, even unitarians.

      Point 1. What's your greatest and best example of nonsense or self-contradiction in the historic doctrine of the Trinity?

      I SAY. In bethinking.org article's name is Understanding the Trinity by Peter Williams, he claims the four propositions below taken from the Athanasian Creed are not contradictory.
      1. The Father is God.
      2. The Son is God.
      3. The Holy Spirit is God.
      4. There are not three Gods but one God.
      For him (I quote) "The crucial point here is that in our list of four propositions the term ‘God’ is ambiguous... Most obviously, ‘God’ can mean either ‘the Trinity’ or ‘a single divine person’. "

      a. Clarify for me if I am mistaken then that he seems to assert that there are three one-person God individuals within or in one three-person God being as your triune God. There seems to be two God types in your theory: one-person God and three-person God.

      b. Do the three-person God being (or essence) act and talk like another person apart from the three divine persons whenever singular personal pronouns are used by somebody who claims to be the only God and there is no other? See Isaiah 45:5.

      c. Who among the three speaks for the three-person substance using singular personal pronouns?


      Point 2 What's your best example of a mistake I've made?

      d. Note that nobody in the Bible asks the same questions as your ancestors did. BB Warfield, CS Lewis, and other Trinitarians claim that your Trinity theory was already common knowledge among the first Christians.

      d. If the first Trinitarians belonged to the true Christian church, why would they summarize what they should have known already? They could have just recalled what was common knowledge already.

      We debate only the identity and nature of God.

      I claim that even the first humans already knew at least one name and one form of the God who were with them in Eden. Trinitarians cannot even describe how their three persons can be one God, except as a mystery. No offense intended but just to point out that Roman Bishops then nor those with numerous degrees today can never describe how that is possible.

      e. Did Adam and Eve not notice that the God who walked with them in the Garden were three divine persons and one divine substance?

      f. Did Moses and the elders with him not see a one-person God sitting on one throne?

      h. If the triune God was the God of the Bible, then Jehovah must be the first name of the three divine persons and the one divine essence. Do you agree?

      I don't know what you mean by "summarize".

      Trinity apologists always claim that their doctrine is a systematic summary of the Bible.

      i. If the Holy Spirit is with you, why summarize? Can He just not tell you directly?

      j. If the Holy Spirit is with you after you summarize, why is your God still a mystery? Did the Holy Spirit tell you your God is a mystery?

      That is it for the moment, kaibigan. Salamat.

      May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

      Peace.

      Gilcrist

      Delete
  2. Excuse the grammatical errors. Pasensiya na po.

    Gilcrist

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  3. YOU SAY: However, I think God's usual way of working in the lives of genuine Christians is to eventually bring them out of the various forms of Unitarianism and into Trinitarianism (or something like it).

    I SAY. This is heretical against your faith to concede that other forms of Trinitarianism (when you say something like that) exists and that at least one form of Unitarianism is compatible with your faith.

    You are brave, friend. I won't tell the other Trinitarians.

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  4. like the first Trinitarians, 4th century Roman Bishops who couldn't reconcile the Bible's "contradictory" verses about Jesus and God.

    Among Catholics, there is a general agreement of at least 7 infallible Ecumenical Councils (e.g. for Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox etc.). Roman Catholics add to the original 7 many more so that they generally believe there have been 21 such (allegedly) infallible Ecumenical Councils. Evangelicals like myself deny that such councils are infallible. Nevertheless, Evangelicals usually agree with the **doctrines** of the first 4 ecumenical councils (i.e. Nicaea I, Constantinople I, Ephesus I, Chalcedon). The doctrine of the Trinity as defined in creeds from those councils were hammered out and formulated by many bishops and theologians in the church, and not just by the Bishop(s) of Rome.

    Re: Point 1a - I'm not exactly sure what you're asking because of the grammar. But I'll say this. There are many Trinitarian formulations and variations. See for example, Unitarian Dale Tuggy's article at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy HERE. Even among conservative Evangelicals there are differences. As I said in my The Purpose of This Blog, David Waltz (non-Evangelical) pointed out the following regarding the deeper Trinitarian views/options among Evangelicals:

    Now, when we look at “the” Evangelical doctrine of the Trinty, one is forced to conclude that it is “doctrines”, not “the doctrine”, for the following are but a few examples of the different forms of Trinitarianism held within Evangelicalism. 1.) The Son and the Spirit are generated from the Father’s essence, who is the source, fountain-head of the Trinity (Melanchthon, Jonathan Edwards). 2.) It is the person alone, not the essence which is generated from the Father (John Calvin, Francis Turrettin, and most Reformed theologians). 3.) There is no generation of persons within the Godhead; the Logos became the Son at the incarnation (Oliver Buswell, Walter Martin, early writings of John MacArthur). 4.) The Godhead is one person, and within the being of this one person there are three personal subsistences (Cornelius Van Til). 5.) The Trinity is not composed of persons in the modern sense (i.e. three distinct centers of conscious personal beings), but rather of three modes of existence (Donald Bloesch). 6.) Social Trinitarianism (Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Millard Erickson, Edward Wierenga).

    Two paragraphs later I wrote: For simplicity's sake, in this blog whenever I refer to the Trinity it is usually with the following basic definition. Three persons eternally share the one being of God. That is to say, God is one "What" and three "Whos." Again, by the Trinity I mean there is one being (AKA substance, AKA essence) with three centers of consciousness (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).

    My default and tentative position is the standard, general, and basic Evangelical Trinitarian position that God is one in BEING and three in PERSON. "Being" and "Person" are two different categories. That's why it's NOT a contradiction to say that God is one in being and three in person. Whereas, it WOULD be a contradiction to say that God is one in being and three in being. Just as it WOULD be a contradiction to say that God is one in person and three in person. A contradiction involves saying X and non-X are true in the same sense, or relationship and at the same time. The basic Evangelical Trinitarian position say God is One in one sense [i.e. in "being"; also sometimes called "substance" or "essence"], and Three in another sense [i.e. "person"].
    CONT.

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    1. Re: Point 1b - Again, I'm not sure what you're asking. Sometimes when YHVH speaks in the Bible it's specifically the Father who is speaking. Other times it's the Son, other times it's the Holy Spirit. Many times in the Bible it just doesn't indicate which person of the Trinity is speaking. Sometimes it might be all three speaking since they are one in purpose. I HIGHLY recommend you read my blogpost Old Testament Passages Implying Plurality in God. This is a MUST READ blogpost. If you don't read it, you won't get the force of much of what I say. In that blogpost there are examples I give in the OT where YHVH speaks and says another person whose name is also YHVH will do or say something.

      Re: Point 1c - I answered that above. It can be any of the three persons. Sometimes it's indicated or implied, other times it's not.

      Re: Point 2d "Note that nobody in the Bible asks the same questions as your ancestors did." What questions are you referring to? Also, I'm willing (for the sake of argument) to call them my "ancestors" in the theological sense. Though, they didn't fully agree with me or me with them. Evangelicals have our own understanding of church history, doctrinal development, church authority, and the importance and usefulness of the church fathers that's distinct/different from what Catholics believe about the fathers et cetera. We believe they were fallible individually and collectively. But they have some usefulness for various reasons. Read the books or listen to the lectures on church history that Evangelicals have produced. See for example, my blogpost History, Doctrine and Theology.

      BB Warfield, CS Lewis, and other Trinitarians claim that your Trinity theory was already common knowledge among the first Christians.

      I don't think they would say that the first Christians all the way up to the last of the ante-Nicene Christians believed ***exactly*** (keyword) what the Nicene and Post-Nicene Christians and theologians believed precisely. The doctrine was hammered out, refined, developed and more rigorously formulated by the latter Christians. However, the first Christians were groping at a Trinitarian theology and their experience was Trinitarian even if they couldn't put it into words just in that way. They didn't have the theological, lingustic and conceptual resources to describe it that way. It had to be developed. See for example my blogpost All Three Persons of the Trinity Mentioned In Scripture (Directly or Indirectly) for how often the Biblical authors wrote in triadic fashion because their experience of God was roughly Trinitarian, even if their creed was not explicitly so. I haven't read it yet, but I hear that Peter Toon's book The Development of Doctrine in the Church is a good introduction. Though, not having read it I can't fully endorse it, nor his book Our Triune God which I've only browsed. Nor have I read in its entirety Philip Schaff's History of the Christian Church, but it is a classic that all recommend. Even many Catholics recommend it (with minor reservations) even though it's an Evangelical work.
      CONT.

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    2. Re: Point 2e (you called it "d", but I think you meant "e"), "d. [sic] If the first Trinitarians belonged to the true Christian church, why would they summarize what they should have known already? They could have just recalled what was common knowledge already."

      I don't know what you mean you mean by "summarize"? If you mean formulate it in a more rigorous way, that's because it wasn't done so in the New Testament itself. The Triadology, Paterology, Christology and Pneumatology of the New Testament is rough and ready. It's not systematically and precisely defined. We have to systematize it so as to understand what the NT church taught and believed explicitly and implicitly. See this important and insightful quote by John Owen HERE. There's no point in me posting here since I've already created that blogpost for the quote. It's essential to read this quote because it's so powerful. Please, Please read it.

      Trinitarians cannot even describe how their three persons can be one God, except as a mystery.

      I explained to you the most common description and understanding of the Trinity among Evangelicals to you. It's clear, it's non-contradictory, and it's apprehendible/understandable.

      No offense intended but just to point out that Roman Bishops then nor those with numerous degrees today can never describe how that is possible.

      Even Unitarian Dale Tuggy says that there are some few (or at least one) formulation(s) of the Trinity that aren't contradictory, even though he doesn't accept any of them as true or correct.

      Did Adam and Eve not notice that the God who walked with them in the Garden were three divine persons and one divine substance?

      Many (most?) Evangelicals agree with me that it was the pre-incarnate Jesus who walked in the Garden in the cool of the day (Gen. 3:8). The NT says no one has seen God (John 1:18; 1 John 4:12; 1 Tim. 1:17; 6:16) or seen or heard the voice of the Father (John 5:37; 6:46). Yet, that seems to contradict the OT which says people saw "YHVH" and "God" like Adam and Eve; Abraham (Gen. 18); Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel saw the God of Israel (Ex. 24:10-11); Isaiah saw YHVH in a vision (Isa. 6) et cetera. Trinitarians can easily resolve this apparent contradiction by saying no one in the OT saw or heard the voice of God the Father, but they did see and hear the voice of God the Son. That's how God was both seen and not seen in the OT. Namely, because God is multi-personal.

      Did Moses and the elders with him not see a one-person God sitting on one throne?

      I'm not sure which passage you're referring to (Exo. 24?). But even then, the NT says no one ever saw "God" or the Father before. How do you reconcile this apparent contradiction which is easily solved given Trinitarianism?
      CONT.

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    3. If the triune God was the God of the Bible, then Jehovah must be the first name of the three divine persons and the one divine essence. Do you agree?

      I believe the name YHVH (or Jehovah, or Yehovah) equally belongs to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Everyone agrees that the name Jehovah applies to the Father, so there's no point in providing evidence for that. Paul, alluding to OT usage, says that the "Lord is the Spirit" twice In 2 Cor. 3:17-18. Paul of course is alluding to the Septuagint's use of kurios which often referred to and translated the tetragrammaton. Then there are many, many passages where Jesus is predicated to be Jehovah. See my blogpost Identifying Jesus with Yahweh/Jehovah. This is another must read blogpost. If you don't read this blogpost, there's no point in continuing our discussion. BTW, I consider this a discussion, not a debate. I've already written a lot on the topic of the Godhead, and if anyone wants to engage with me, and refuses to read essential blogposts, I have no duty (nor am I inclined) to re-type everything I've already written elsewhere in this Blog a second time. I've already provided my reasons for my beliefs free of charge on this public Blog. I'm not requiring anyone to buy my books. Nor have I even monetized this Blog so that there's no question in anyone's mind where my motives are at (i.e. not in making money, but defending God's truth). Jesus said, freely you have received, freely give (Matt. 10:8). I consider many of my blogposts very important, but about 3 to 5 as essential. I've only mentioned 3 so far.

      Trinity apologists always claim that their doctrine is a systematic summary of the Bible.

      So, I did understand what you meant. If you read this blogpost in which you are commenting, then you already know my views regarding Inspired Doctrinal Development (IDD) and Non-Inspired Doctrinal Development [NDD].

      If the Holy Spirit is with you, why summarize? Can He just not tell you directly?

      The Canon of the Scripture is closed. While I'm a continationist (as opposed to a cessationist) who believes in the continuation of the charismatic gifts, I don't believe infallible public revelation on par with Scripture is being given today. We're limited to the Bible for infallible teaching. The Holy Spirit inspired Scripture in such a way that it requires the enlightening of the Holy Spirit to progressively understand the Bible. Even in the NT church there was not full unanimity of belief. It required progression in its understanding. As Paul said, "for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized" (1 Cor. 11:19). The Bible was inspired to be sufficiently clear and sufficiently vague or unclear for the various purposes of God's redemptive plan. Each stage in church history the church was growing in its understanding as heresies popped up and needed to be addressed and refuted. Often, only as heresies popped up could the orthodox doctrine be made more clear by its contrast with error. Without the contrast, the church sometimes wouldn't see the need for more doctrinal precision. This was all part of God's plan.
      CONT.

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    4. As Paul said,

      13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,
      14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
      15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,
      - Eph. 4:13-15

      This is also a prophetic and eschatological passage about the future of the church and how doctrine would be shaped and developed down through history when factions and disagreements forced the church to go back to Scripture and get to its meaning. (Again, see the John Owen quote I linked to above, and HERE). Sometimes slavishly sticking to the wording of Scripture provides a way for heresy to hide. That's why sometimes we need to use extra-Scriptural words, terms and concept to make clearer distinctions and contrasts and so get to the Bible's meaning.

      If the Holy Spirit is with you after you summarize, why is your God still a mystery?

      I already explained in what sense we use, in what way we mean, and to what degree we use the term "mystery". God cannot be exhaustively comprehended, but He can be truly apprehended. That's because the finite cannot grasp or contain the infinite. What we know of God is true, even if it's not exhaustive.

      Did the Holy Spirit tell you your God is a mystery?

      The Bible teaches about God's transcendence and incommunicable attributes, and those things involve mystery. Read any good systematic theology. I recommend Wayne Grudem's, but that's not freely online. However, Louis Berkhof's is freely online HERE. Grudem's lectures based on his book are online HERE. See especially his lectures on chapter 10 through 13.

      CONT.

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    5. I SAY. This is heretical against your faith to concede that other forms of Trinitarianism (when you say something like that) exists and that at least one form of Unitarianism is compatible with your faith.

      You misunderstood me, I never said that any form of Unitarianism is acceptable. Everyone will be judged by God in light of their circumstances and place in history and geography. Most people living after the 5th century are in a better position to accept more Trinitarian understandings of God than those who came previously. That's why, for example, many modern Trinitarians are more lenient when it comes to ante-Nicene fathers who held to suborinationist-like and semi-Arian-like Christologies. In fact, many Trinitarian theologians and apologists agree with me that it's not absolutely necessary to believe in the Trinity to be saved. Since people are always progressing in their understanding, and the fact that it's Jesus Christ who saves, not impersonal doctrines. Having said that, it's nevertheless true that certain heresies are damnable, but holding to some of them doesn't necessarily mean one isn't regenerated and on their way to greater understanding of the truth. For example, there might be instances of people who are in cults who have been regenerated by God while in the cult. In such cases, God usually leads them out of the cult by coming to a fuller understanding and acceptance of Biblical doctrines. However, a knowledgeable, persistent and incorrigible rejection of and resistence to the truth is dangerous, and is a (fallible, yet indicative) sign of likely non-regeneration, and therefore likely future damnation if unrepented of before death. Most Trinitarians will also acknowledge that there are varieties of Trinitarian formulations (e.g. Social Trinitarianism, Latin Trinitarianism etc.). Everything I've said so far in this paragraph many Trinitarians like James White would also agree to. What's distinctive with my position is that my acceptable varieties are slightly larger in scope than most Evangelicals. That's where I might get into "trouble" with my fellow Evangelical Trinitarians.

      Excuse the grammatical errors. Pasensiya na po.

      Walang problema pare. [Tagalog/Filipino is my 2nd language, I'm Filipino American.]

      May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

      You know of course that that's a quotation of 2 Cor. 13:14, and a classic verse used to support the doctrine of the Trinity. ;-)

      Peace be to you as well, friend.

      Delete
  5. To:lord.gilchrist.ako

    In the next few days I'll be switching my internet provider. Since I'm not in a hurry to do this, I might not have internet access for a few days or weeks. Nevertheless, I'll eventually come back online to see if you've responded to my comments. In the meanwhile, you're welcome to continue reading my blogposts.

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  6. Alright, let us start with part 1a.

    1a.

    Question A. Did you read the blogpost bethinking.org article's name is Understanding the Trinity by Peter Williams?

    He is very smart as a trinitarian. That is still online.

    Nope, you didn't understand his argument. He claims the Father, His Spirit, and Jesus are three one-person divine persons. He also claims that your God the Trinity is a different type of God: the three-person God composed of the Father, His Spirit, and Jesus together.

    Question B. Do you agree with his defense?

    Trinitarians claim to worship one God but your one God is one divine essence (one God being).

    Question C. Don't you worship three divine persons (three God persons) and one divine nature (one God being)?

    You say: That is to say, God is one "What" and three "Whos."

    Question D. Does your one what talk, act, or look like another person apart from the three? Especially in the OT when God speaks with singular personal pronouns like I? Can your one what talk like that?

    Question E. Where is your one what when the three who's are around?

    Question F. Is the one what inside or outside the three divine persons?

    Question G. The word echad (to refer to the one God) is used in the Bible in two ways only: two becomes one flesh (one must mean united) or as one Father (one means a single). Which is your one God: one united or one single?

    I will discuss your answers in the other points after we have resolved part 1a.

    Salamat. Take your time.

    Peace in Jesus Christ.

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  7. Still in part 1A.

    You say: That's why it's NOT a contradiction to say that God is one in being and three in person. Whereas, it WOULD be a contradiction to say that God is one in being and three in being.

    Let me show you the mistake in this defense.

    Trinitarians claim God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit are three persons, but their God is still one. Or they claim that they have three A's and one B.

    I agree that (3A's and one B) is not a contradiction.

    A Father, A Son, A Spirit are three A's. I will agree, for argument's sake.

    Question H. But how can B Father, B Son, and B Spirit still be one B when the B for each person is different?

    Note that for trinitarians, B Father is not B Son is not B Spirit.

    Question I. Besides, if the Father's Spirit is another person, shouldn't the Spirit of Jesus be another person?

    Question J. Is your God the Spirit the union of the Spirit of the Father and the Spirit of Jesus?

    Question K. Isn't that a contradiction: two spirits as another spirit?

    You say: Again, by the Trinity I mean there is one being (AKA substance, AKA essence) with three centers of consciousness (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).

    Question L. How did those in the OT who have seen God describe this God: as one person, as one substance, as one group of persons, or as centers of self-consciousness?

    Question M. From the Bible, can a person (divine, human, or angel) also have two or more centers of self-consciousness?

    You say: The basic Evangelical Trinitarian position say God is One in one sense [i.e. in "being"; also sometimes called "substance" or "essence"], and Three in another sense [i.e. "person"].

    Question N: Where in the Bible does this one God essence interact with humans or angels, without any of the three God persons? My point in this question is that your mythical three-person God the Trinity cannot act like another divine person. That divine substance talking like another person is nowhere found in the Bible.

    You say: hammered out and formulated by many bishops and theologians in the church, and not just by the Bishop(s) of Rome.

    I agree.

    Peace in Christ




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  8. Question O. About these unbiblical mythical three divine centers of self-consciousness, can they appear as persons only or can they also appear as substances that can mimic persons (like the triune God)?

    Question P. Are angels and humans also centers of self-consciousness (CSC) ? Does each person have a CSC or is each a CSC? Does a substance have a CSC or is a substance a CSC? Can a person have multiple CSC and yet be considered as one person still?

    Question Q. Why did nobody in the Bible (unlike trinitarians) need to debate about and explain the triune God with technical terms like centers of self-consciousness, etc if indeed the triune God is the God of the Bible? If it was, why did nobody ask Jesus or the apostles to explain how three divine persons is still one God (essence)?

    Note that I group questions whenever they are related.


    FYI. Dale Tuggy is not always right, particularly on the genesis of Jesus and some other things. Trinitarians are not always wrong, particularly on the Father, most things about Jesus, and most things about the Father's Spirit.

    Trinitarian scholars hide their ignorance behind their unbiblical technical terms. According to Wayne Grudem in his book Systematic theology, ignorance is bliss and a blessing (not a direct quote). Let them describe their triune God without technical terms and you will see their mistakes and self-contradictions. But the Father has to enable you first (see Jn 6:44, 65). Jehovah described or talked about Himself with nontechnical terms to the Jews and to some Gentiles. They were never confused. But the Trinitarians' technical terms will only describe precisely what their God is not. That is according to James White in his book The Forgotten Trinity (not a direct quote).

    Luke 21:15 is right. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.

    I will check your blog for your answers every four weeks. No rush.

    Peace in Christ, kapatid.

    Gilcrist

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  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  10. Honestly, I'm so busy that I can't really respond yet. But I definitely will. Maybe after the new year. What makes me less than enthusiastic about answering is that I feel like I'm being grilled on my own Blog. You have many questions and you've barely answered any of mine. You ask me to address another Trinitarian's article (which I'm happy to do), but you should remember that I have my own view as well that I'd rather defend. You also haven't indicated whether you've read any of my three blogposts that I recommended. Also, you've never linked any of your blogposts or articles, though I've asked for them. Even if they aren't your blogpost/articles, link to your church's articles on the topic. I've told you I'm an Evangelical Protestant, why don't you tell me what your denomination is? I'm not being hostile in any of this. I've just been busy. I've also had to debate atheists on various topics as well. You're welcome to continue browsing my blogposts. You might better sharpen your arguments against my position. Or maybe even come to similar positions like my own.

    Blessings to you,
    Annoyed Pinoy

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