Grace and peace be to you from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Recently on the "Creation vs. Evolution" discussion board on MySpace, a question concerning the Holy Spirit came up. Similar to the prayer thread, many strange ideas began to pop up. The individual who began the thread asked about Christian mysticism and was interested in looking into the Holy Spirit. After explaining to him (and clarifying) a little more about what the Holy Spirit is, I gave him some famous Christian mystic sources and urged him to seek out a spiritual elder (like a pastor) for spiritual guidance.
However, a point was made that the Trinity was man-made. I countered with clear Scriptural examples. One man has seen fit to link to an article which he believes proves that the Bible declares Jesus to be man and not God. When I countered with the same examples from the Gospel of St. John (John 1:1-3, John 8:54-59). His response was: "These Gospels are hardly reliable pieces of work to use both historically and specifically to make any argument for Christ let alone that he was God. I had offered you a link yet it seems you chose not to look at it.
You offer me vague excerpts that must be interpreted, I offer you plain, strait forward examples."
To defend the divinity of Jesus and the threefold nature of the mystical Trinity, I have seen fit to respond to his link bit by bit. The full link can be found here
. The main group is "True Grace Ministries" which claims to be an "interdenominational" Christian ministry, yet they are actually Unitarians as their other articles make evident. They believe the Trinity was established by the Council of Nicaea.......that is false. The idea was around in Christianity from its very foundation. Even the heretic Montanus who thought he was the paraclete rather than the Holy Spirit believed in a trinitarian formula. He was around in the mid-2nd century and even then there were concepts of the Christian Trinity.....the Council of Nicaea sought to make the Trinity coherent and avoid heresy. The best treatment on the subject that I have read is found in the late Jaroslav Pelikan's monumental opus "The Christian Tradition Volume 1: The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600)." Pelikan was not some quack hyper Christian historian, he was one of the most respected historians in his academic field (middle ages) and held a prestigious chair at Yale University in the history department. He was raised Scandanavian Lutheran and became Russian Orthodox later in his life. He joined his Father in Heaven earlier this year. From his work and his original sources it is clear that the assertion that the Trinity is a man-made concept that was put in place at the Council of Nicaea is patently absurd.
Introduction: The author claims that doctrine is something taught as the principles of a religion, and that dogma is a doctrine formally and authoritatively affirmed, but not necessarily proven. He then continues to say that the Trinity is a principle to be considered dogmatic. First of all, from dictionary.com the only definition of dogma the author seems to be using is "a settled established opinion, belief, or principle." We do not claim to prove such a doctrine with reason, but with Scripture. He intends to prove his point with Scripture....we shall read in context his passages and see whether or not they hold as much water as his historical claim does.
II. How the Trinity Became Doctrine: The author states that the Gospel was preached purely at the time of the Apostles but after their death, Pagan ideas began to creep in. He quotes prophesies in 2 Peter 1:20-21, 2:1-3 to infer that his assertion that Christianity began being controlled by the state. This cannot be the Jewish state, nor could it be the Roman state, as the Jews in the first century had no love of Christians and the Roman state tended to kill Christians or at least heavily persecute them......what state is this? Why does he not just come out and say Rome.....indeed if the state is being associated with Pagan ideas.....it MUST be Rome! That makes absolutely no historical sense! Feeding to lions and treating as third class citizens when not feeding to the lions is not dictating spiritual ideas! This echos much of the anti-Trinitarian rhetoric of members of the Jehovah's Witnesses or the Mormons! If it were a true state dictator to Christianity....it would not be a slow creeping in, but a monumental change when St. Constantine the Great converted to Christianity and wished to see it unified!
He continues to say that the Trinity is not a Christian concept and that it was most likely influenced by Plato's "Timaeus." However, he continues to say that the trinity is actually an older idea which Plato simply "rearranged." He traces the trinity back to Hinduism with Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu. He says that in Egypt the trinity was Kneph, Phthas, and Osiris (This is incorrect as far as I can determine, the Egyptian trinity would have been; Osiris, Horus, and Seth OR Isis, Osiris, and Ra OR Nuit, Hadit, and Horus OR Amun, Re, and Ptah which is the Supreme Egyptian Trinity where "his name is hidden as Amun, he is Re before men, and his body is Ptah"
). He says the Phoenician trinity was Ulomus, Ulosuros, and Eliun. He says in Greece that it was Zeus, Poseidon, and Aidoneus (this again seems to not make sense as Hades would have been the other of the three original male gods. He received as his abode, the underworld while Zeus got the sky (heavens) and Poseidon got the sea. The closest I can find of the name Aidoneus in this context is the Etruscan god Aita who is the god of the underworld and thus a parallel of Hades). In Rome he says they were Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto. In Babylon and Assyria they were Anos, Illinos, and Aos. In the Celtic nations he says they were Kriosan, Biosena, and Siva. In the Germanic nations he says they were Thor, Wodan, and Fricco. He then goes on to say that other religions had trinities (and he left out Wicca!!). His point in all of this was to say that the trinity is not peculiar to Christianity. He forgot to point out that neither is the concept of a supreme uncreated being (Odin the All Father, the Great Spirit, etc.), a divine messiah (Egypt had many of those ideas), A cross (the Ankh), or an underworld (let me count the ways!). His argument seems to be that Christians think that the idea of the Trinity is unique to Christianity. He says it's not, but does not mention that its nature is. The Trinity in Christianity isn't seen as three gods but one god and three distinct persons.....it is "triune." All of the other examples were either three gods or one god with different aspects to him. This is not to say that the persons of the triune God cannot be seen as different aspects such as the face of God or the breath of God, but they are also distinct persons, especially the Son as he became flesh and underwent an incarnation while being totally human and totally divine. All other religions with a divine messiah that I am aware of treat any divinity as mixed with his humanity, such as hercules who was 50/50 man/god. Jesus was completely human and completely God (Homoecious-"one house").
The next section is by far the most nonsensical part. He claims the Trinity is not mentioned in the Bible. Well, if the Gospel of St. John does not count, let's play by his rules....Truth still prevails. He claims that the New nor Old Testament mentions the Trinity and that "theologians today are in agreement that the Hebrew Bible does not contain a doctrine of the Trinity." There are many hypotheses concnerning the Trinity in the Old Testament (see here
to start with!). He says that using Genesis 1:26 to prove God's plurality....and then does not finish the comment, but merely quotes from different encyclopedias. Genesis 1:26 is a good passage for the plurality of God. As is Genesis 1:1 as "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth" uses a plural form for God! The Hebrew of God is El....if it were singular, but Elohim is plural! God in the Old Testament is called both Adonai Elohim (Lord God...plural form) and El Shaddai (God Almighty....singular form). God is also referred to as YHWH (the Tetragrammaton) which is related to the statement "I am who I am." Indeed, Genesis refers to God's Spirit hovered over the face of the waters! There is also a distinction in the Old Testament between an angel of the Lord and The Angel of the Lord. Many including myself believe that The Angel of the Lord is the pre-incarnate Christ. This makes sense in light of the event when Abraham is ready to sacrifice Isaac, and the Angel of the Lord stops him and says "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from ME your son, your only son" (Genesis 22:12). The Angel speaks as if he is God here....there is no interpretation necessary to see that! A final illustration I will leave with you also comes from Genesis. When Abraham was promised that he would have a son.....Genesis records that The Lord appeared to him as three men......there's an interesting number! It doesn't say that the Lord came down and two angels accompanied him....it shows that the three men who appear are the Lord! At this point, can you safely say that the Old Testament does not speak about a plurality for God....indeed the Abraham covenent regarding Isaac has three men represent the Lord!
As to the assertion that the New Testament does not speak of a Trinity...again, that is pattently absurd! Many sources are present in the Gospel of St. John, but my MySpace opponent sees this Gospel as one which is unreliable....I will not use it nor the Revelation to St. John nor the epistles of St. John.....the disciple who Jesus loved seems to play no significant part in the theology of anti-trinitarianism.....why would THAT be :-/???? The Great Commission (Gospel of St. Matthew 28:19-20) clearly has Jesus telling the disciples to Baptize people in the name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit. Now it might be added that the preceeding verse has Jesus saying that all authority on heaven and on earth has been given to him.....but before he tells the disciples that, they worship him! If Jesus were not God he would have told them not to worship him as this would violate the first commandment (and he earlier told Satan that worship is for God alone (Gospel of St. Matthew 4:10)!)! St. Paul also writes that "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form" (Collosians 2:9). The Holy Spirit descending like a dove on Jesus at his baptism while the Father speaks from heaven is another poigniant picture of the Trinity! To say that the New Testament does not point to a Trinity or Jesus's connection to the Father as true God makes no sense! But you might say....Jesus never claimed to be God, nor did any of his followers push for this until the Council of Nicaea.....however, St. Paul clearly indicates Christ's divinity in his letter to the Philippians (2:6-11). If you want more Scriptural support for Christ's divinity......this is an excellent summary
The writer goes on to state that Tertullian was either the first to coin the term Trinity or the first to use it to apply to God in Christianity.......but that is simply the term.....it was acknowledged that the Holy Spirit was God (Acts 5:3-4), that Jesus was God, and that the Father was God....it was also acknowledged that there was ONE God because Scripture clearly taught BOTH! Therefore to say that he was the first to introduce it into Christianity from external Pagan concepts is wrong. The writer continues to say that greed and human egotism at the Council of Nicaea led to a yes/no answer regarding Christ's divinity or humanity......we know they accepted his divinity against the Arians....but they also believed he was a man, contrary to the Gnostics....which he leaves out. It is interesting to note that he then goes on to say that Christ's divinity and the Trinity contradict the Hebrew Shema ("Hear O Israel, The Lord our God is one Lord" (Deut. 6:4))....but as was shown above concerning the plurality of God....so does a lot of the same early biblical books. Unless the concept of the Trinity is correct this is a contradiction of God's Word, which the writer does not allow for.
III. The Father:
Genesis 3:5 KJV is seen by him to indicate that angels are also called gods....but that makes no contextual sense. Why would mankind want to be like the angels? The angels are simply spiritual beings with no physical nature....while man has both. The only being man could be jealous of is God himself!
Genesis 23:4-5: There is no way the Hittites believed Abraham to be a god as he infers. He infers that the language used is Elohim to describe Abraham........Abraham is the plural of God?! If he were being referred to as a Lord, he would be Adonai, not El or Elohim! While I could be wrong about the Hebrew word used....a quick Google search (and Google Scholar) with "Genesis 23:4-5" and "elohim" sends me......nothing but the article itself! Even if the language is correct, it is a reference to an OT patriarch by a Hittite....not a follower of Christ or of God! The context is once again wrong.
Exodus 7:1 KJV is aluded to as God calling Moses a god.....but it has God saying that he has made Moses a god to Pharoah....in other words Pharoah saw Moses as a god.....this makes sense since Pharoah thought himself Osiris on earth! However, what does this have to do with the main premise?
He claims that the Angel of the Lord is referred to as a god....but this is not the case.....he refers to HIMSELF as THE GOD....vis a vis Abraham/Isaac as above. The writer then makes a blanket statement of "References to angels as gods are found in dozens of other places in the Bible." I'm waiting for the specific references.....unless it is in reference to the SAME Angel of the Lord.....thus the Angel of the Lord is God himself!
He claims that the judges appointed by Moses are called elohim (gods) (Exodus 21:6KJV and 22:8-9, 28)......but this is misleading as he is not discussing a being in direct connection to the Father as Jesus has been shown to be. His passage concerning the princes of Egypt again clearly show a non-connection with the Father....and one that cannot be interpreted into the Scripture (if indeed elohim is the word used to describe them), hence, not in the same context (Exodus 12:12).
Of all the New Testament sources....he uses the Gospel of St. John! And in a context where Christ is referring to himself as God!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm confused by his reasoning (John 10:34). He cites 2 corinthians 4:4 as evidence concerning the god of this world being referred to as A god.....and in this verse and the VERY NEXT VERSES it says "..., so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus sake. For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:4b-6). Hence Jesus isn't just a god.....he is THE GOD and WITH the Father!
His final statement concerning the Father makes no sense if he takes Scripture as he seems to: "Since so many beings are referred to as gods, how do we know when the Bible speaks of the only true God -- the Creator of the heavens and the earth?" The answer is quick in coming! He refers to the personal name of God in the Tetragrammaton............and then says ONLY the true God ever received this title........then he uses the Gospel of St. John again (did his MySpace defender truly read this link???) (John 1:1,3). Christ declaring himself as "before Abraham, I AM (Gospel of St. John 8:58) when asked how he knew Abraham!? What is he thinking? He says that the Word and YHWH have a relationship....then begins with his next section.
IV. The Son: He states the name Jesus was not uncommon......it doesn't need to be for the name to be apt for the true messiah. Now it gets interesting.....he refers to the Word as Jesus....and Jesus was the Word made flesh....hence Jesus was around before the creation. But he says that the Word was begotten........then he goes on to question whether or not Jesus was truly God beginning with John 1:1 (you know, that Gospel I'm trying NOT to use for the article's defender?!) and says that it seems to be a straightforward passage. "And, on the surface, this statement seems to be a rather straight forward explanation of the relationship of God and Jesus. However, truth does not arise from single Bible verses taken out of context or blindly accepted without research and study." So he wasn't taking single verses out of context earlier???? What does he mean? He refers to an "authoritative Bible Scholar" by the name of Benjamin Wilson who says that this actually says that the Word was A god. I wondered why I'd never heard of this guy before.....well, there's a reason. He's the disciple of John Thomas who began the Christadelphian movement, which is a non-trinitarian group.........hence......this article and main group. This apologetics site addresses
Wilson's title as "an authoritative Bible Scholar" as well as the true source for the strange translation that is missing from so many Bibles for John 1:1-3......including the original Greek sources.
He then goes on to quote numerous Scriptural references against Christ's divinity.
Psalm 2:7.....a poem......not chronological in time obviously, nor should it necessarily be taken at the face value the author takes it in. It is referring to the Christ, but it is referring to God speaking to him in eternity....and Christ was begotten in eternity. There is nothing wrong with this passage.
He quotes from Genesis about God making man and woman in OUR image........let me get this straight....you acknowledge that Jesus was around before the creation, but not yet human as the next passage you use (Deut. 18:15, Acts 3:22), and you acknowledge that he was begotten of his Father who was God.......and he wasn't God? What then was he? A unique being totally unconnected to his Father? That is impossible as that would contradict him being begotten of his Father.......Scripture also doesn't say that the Word was MADE....but begotten....hence so far the Nicene Creed is correct!
He quotes John 12:49 which has Jesus saying that his authority is given to him by the Father who sent him.........we do not doubt that "all things proceed from the Father".......there is no debate with this verse.....in fact I believe this was used in the pre-Schism Nicene Creed in the third article (....who proceeds from the Father, who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified....).
At this point it is interesting to note that God is now being referred to as Jehovah....Jehovah's Witness maybe???? He then says that "There are a large number of Bible verses which can be used to prove that Jesus was not God, but the Son of God. The chapter of this thesis, "VII. Bible Verses Prove Trinity False", lists over a hundred such texts." Over a hundered such texts???? There are that many concerned with Jesus's humanity? Wow....I'm looking forward to that section! I counted 99 verses he references for Jesus's non-divinity and only 93 proving the Trinity false....not hundreds....especially since some of the verses are repeated in both subsections!
V. The Holy Spirit: His description of what a spirit person is is interesting....but his final statement that "When the Bible speaks of God's Holy Spirit, it speaks of God's invisible active force. There is no Bible description which indicates that it is a person" is wrong. He uses Judges 14:5-6 and Romans 15:18-19 and says about Romans that pneumas is translated Holy Spirit. Okay.....his issue is that the Spirit is not a person......is the writer's spirit a person....or something else? When he dies....does his energy go to Heaven/Hell or does his spirit which is seen as his PERSONAL ESSENCE? At this point the writer is becomming non-sensical and the true nature of the writings is starting to shine through!
He goes on to claim that the Holy Spirit is the reflection of God's personality, but it is not a person.....ignoring the fact that he even quotes Scripture where the Holy Spirit has the pronoun "he" (John 14:17KJV) and "itSELF (Romans 8:16KJV)." The Great Commission in the Gospel of St. Matthew makes NO sense if you are baptizing with the standard Father, Son, Holy Spirit formula....since the Father and the Son are actually persons......you then add the Father's reflected personality......that makes no sense....especially when the Holy Spirit has pronouns like "he" or "itself." Also, the Father gave all authority on heaven and earth to Jesus....but the Father still has authority....how can he give away authority and still have authority? Similarly.....does a reflection have any power apart from the source? No, the Spirit cannot be a reflection of God and have the traits given to it! There is only ONE way to correct the baptism instructions Christ gave his disciples.......if the Father and the Son are persons, but the Holy Spirit is not.......then it is not necessary to invoke the Holy Spirit as the Holy Spirit is a reflection of the Father and the whole Father is the better source for baptism.......OR......they are ALL persons and ALL connected as one God......present in the Old Testament and present in the New.
The author's statements concerning the "truth" of the Bible leave us with a Father God who begot a Son who had no part of God from the Father (in other words, it would be like a human begetting a dog.....the offspring of the human would be a human and be similar to the parent.....and if there's only one parent, the offspring will share in all the genes of the parent......hence, a begotten Son of the Father God must be God as well. We are also left with a Holy Spirit who is the invisible active power of God. A reflection of His personality who we must baptize in the name of......????? No, a reflection is nothing without its source. A reflection would not be called upon in Holy Baptism! To say it is God's reflection and not God is again an issue....it is OF God!
I hope the above is clear.....the writer of the article uses flawed logic and Scripture out of context. He uses incorrect translations from scholars who no one but adherers to the Christadelphian cult see as authoritative. He reasons poorly from history and uses logic that if carried through to its ultimate conclusion, treats Christ as an anomaly, begotten of a Father yet sharing nothing but the power given to him by the Father which the Father also keeps. This is Unitarianism using the New Testament.........it is wrong. In fact, it is interesting to note that the author accepts Scripture....but not the decrees of the SAME council! The evidence shows me that the Trinitarian formula WINS and is TRUTH!
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son (+), and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever, amen!