Three Questions From a Former Trinitarian (me):

(1) Is one (such as myself) sound in doctrine who does not believe

– in the “trinity”,

– in a “triune” God or

– that the Father, the Son or the Holy Spirit are “persons” who are “members” in the  Godhead  (none of which are ever stated in scripture)…

but who does believe that…

– there is one God,

– the Father is God, is a spirit and sent the Son to be the saviour of the world,

– the Lord Jesus is God, is a spirit, was made flesh, born of a virgin, died for the sins of  the world, rose again from the dead, ascended into heaven and sent the Comforter, the  Spirit of truth to abide with his disciples for ever,

– the Holy Spirit is God who proceeds from the Father and was sent by the Lord Jesus to comfort and guide believers into all truth and to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment  (all of which are stated in scripture)?

 (2) On the other hand, is one (who is a Trinitarian) sound in doctrine who does believe…

– in the “trinity”,

– in a “triune” God and

– that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are “persons” who are “members” in the Godhead? 

 (3) What is the standard by which you distinguish between sound and false doctrines?

 Leave your answers and other comments below…

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9 comments on “Three Questions From a Former Trinitarian (me):

  1. Galen says:

    “Trinity” is a Latin word for an abstract concept. Neither the word nor the abstract idea appears in the New Testament books. The trinitarian formula was invented by serious bible students in the early centuries in order to affirm the very truths that you yourself believe (“who does believe”), in a controversy with some who were denying that the physical Jesus be God in a real human being. Unfortunately, acceptance of certain Trinitarian statement became a test of faith and still is for many. The NT test is the confession that “Jesus Christ is Lord”!

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    • Hi Galen,

      Yes, I very much realize that those who invented the “trinitarian” doctrine were seeking to defend the same truths which I embrace from scripture! But in the process of putting the teaching into their own words they stated false teachings! This always happens! See Eve’s creed of Genesis 3 and the the first “apostle’s creed in John 21!)

      And I also agree with you that another major problem with men’s creeds are that they are designed to be “tests of fellowship” and thus means by which religious control is exercised over members of the Body of Christ whose only Head is Christ!

      Paul never stated or subscribed to a creed but rather his own life was his creed. (See Philippians 4)

      Blessings brother!
      Bruce

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  2. Clyde says:

    You are so right Bruce! Too many people rewrite and read into verses like 1 John 5:7 and try to make them fit their theology. I am glad that we can finally start seeing through all of that inherited herasy.
    And there is no such thing as a godhead. It was just an invention of a translator.
    Good work Bruce.

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  3. Tim A says:

    This is quite interesting. You described the oneness of God and the threeness of God. Yet you label anyone who uses the term trinity or triunity to describe what you just described as a heretic. That is an interesting conclusion.

    You reject the word person to each of the three distinctions in the revelation of God, even though the Bible attributes qualities of personhood to each one of them which we also possess as persons.

    Would you consider that there is a relationship between the three distinctions?
    Would you consider that we as people have a relationship with each of the three distinctions you see in the one God?

    Words mean things. Trinity and triunity means what you described. Person means some of what the Bible describes about God. Every time you translate the Bible into hundreds of different languages and dialects you use different words than found in the Hebrew, Greek, etc text. The translators do their best to make the meaning the same for whatever culture they address Bible to. I fail to see any substantive difference of meaning worthy of labeling heresy or false teaching over simple word choice. You can attribute any meaning to the word person or member that you want, but to try and establish a distinction of truth or falsehood on these micro differences is not really helpful to building the body. What am I missing from what you have said said?

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    • Hi Tim,
      Glad you stopped by. Did I really call one who believes in the Trinity doctrine a heretic? I did say that some would label me as a heretic for not embracing that doctrine! I just claim that the doctrine that states that God is a “trinity of persons” and that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are “members in one Godhead” or “three modes” is not a scriptural doctrine but is rather a fable of men.

      And no, Tim, they are not “three distinctions” either! They are rather the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Scripture clearly tells us there is one God, one Lord, one Spirit. You asked if I consider that there is a relationship between the three. While scripture never calls them “three” it does say that the Father loves the Son and shows him all things that he himself does. It does tell us that the Father sent the son to be the saviour of the world and it does tells us that the Son sent the Holy Spirit into the world. And, yes, believers under the new covenant have been brought so near to God that not only do we dwell in the Father, in the Son and in the Spirit but that they also dwell in us!!!

      You are absolutely right, Tim, when you say that words mean things. It is also true that different words than the Holy Spirit chose mean different things than he intended! Take the word “person” for an example…. Take any good dictionary and look up all the meanings of the word “person” and ask yourself…”Does this word accurately describe the Father or the Holy Spirit? I think you will find that none of them do! Every one of them would degrade them and bring them down to our level as creatures! Then to accept such terms as “persons”, “members”, “modes” as better terms to describe God than the words which the Holy Spirit chose is to raise up man and say that he has done a better job than the Holy Spirit did in expressing the mind of God in human language! Both of these things always happen when men try to express God’s truth in their own words…God is brought down and man is elevated!

      Far better to simply state scriptural truths in scriptural words and be satisfied with the inspired scriptures which the Holy Spirit has given us rather than seeking to improve upon them by creeds, catechisms and doctrinal statements penned by sinful men!

      I hope this helps you to see the importance of valuing the pure words of the Lord (Psalm 12:6) to see the danger of using words additional to his to seek to state his truths (Proverbs 30:5,6) and the importance of avoiding the words which man’s wisdom teaches in favour of the words which the Holy Spirit teaches. (I Cor.2:13)

      Bruce

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  4. Tim A says:

    You’re right. Some might call you a heretic. Calling the trinity a fable seems a bit far off. I don’t see where God limits our vocabulary about God to only words in the text. All the words in the text must be translated. God has given us synonyms to bring more color to a concept that is not well understood with one set of words. Different words don’t always mean contrary or altered things. Sometimes they can and the context tells us how to understand them. As God’s word is translated into cultures where they have no words that are an exact match as English speakers understand things we are left with dynamic equivalents. Even within the english language there are some translation words that lack accuracy even though they are used by translators. One such word is the word sin. There are many words for rejecting God and all of them give a word picture of what is meant, but the word sin gives no such meaning unless a Bible expert expands on it, requiring other words than what is in the text. I don’t think your description of God is any different than normal, you just throw out a few words commonly used along side the ones you use that mean the same thing.

    I looked up “person” and an acceptable listing was given. “a :  one of the three modes of being in the Trinitarian Godhead as understood by Christians.”

    You have three separate paragraphs about 3 different and distinctive elements or expressions of God. God chose three different descriptions to show distinctions. The whole Bible builds out a broad differentiation of the three all the while showing a unity of deity in the three. Scripture ascribes personality traits and works to them with distinctions between them yet consistency in other elements. My heart and mind says this is synonymous with trinity. No one I know who teaches the trinity means anything different than what you have written.

    I don’t think men are trying to say they are doing a better job than the Holy Spirit. God has given us the task of bringing meaning and understanding to every tribe and tongue in the world. The Holy Spirit has not translated this for us to deliver. We must do it. Even as languages change, we must continue the meaning of God’s word to current hearers. God is at work in this process. The devil is as well. There may be some attempts at translation that elevate man by changing the meaning of the text to reflect preference of meaning that a culture wants. I don’t see this taking place in the use of trinity, triunity or person with God.

    I raised the issue of relationship between the three descriptors of God and asked two questions but I don’t think you answered my question because I used the word distinction. If there were no distinctions there would not be 3 different descriptions or names used of God. There are some names that are used in God’s unity and some used of his diversity. There are distinctions between Jesus and the Holy Spirit because the text describes them. Jesus left and the Holy Spirit was sent. To rule out distinctions is to blur what the text reveals. You state distinctions but refuse to acknowledge them as what they are – distinctions. Distinctions used by the text itself. You did not answer my questions because I used a word you won’t allow. This makes relationship or understanding the distinctions you want to make and deny at the same time. I will ask the questions without the words distinction.

    Would you consider that there is a relationship between the three?
    Would you consider that we as people have a relationship with each of the three you see in the one God?

    Perhaps you would throw out the word relationship as being a bad word to to use in any explanation of what goes on between God and man; God and himself, and person to person. Perhaps because it is not exactly found in greek or hebrew. Relationship is a concept found in the scriptures, not as a word in itself. Is this unacceptable to you?

    IN 1 Cor 2:13 the word is logos, which does not have a meaning with exact words but includes meanings and concepts. This is a broad term. I can’t see this limiting man to only using exact words in the original.

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  5. Hi again Tim,

    I’ve read your comments carefully above and yes, I did answer your questions in my previous answer. I was surprised that you would be happy to call the Father, Son and Holy Spirit “modes”! That brings in the whole heresy of “modalism”!

    If what you say is true, that those who teach “Trinity” of “persons” etc is really no different from what I am saying in the words of scripture…”Father. Son and Holy Spirit”….why use such additional words anyway???

    This is my point…that words of scripture are entirely sufficient to state any scriptural truth!

    That is why it is fruitless for theologians to “restate” or “Paraphrase” or compose “creeds” “catechisms” or “doctrinal statements” in their own words!

    If it is allowed in one case, there is no limit and that is why there is such division in the Body of Christ. Theologians are NOT satisfied with the words of scripture, because so many of their own doctrines are inventions of men and are not only stated in words of scripture but are actually contrary to scriptural teachings!

    Hope this helps!
    A brother in Christ,
    Bruce

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  6. Tim A says:

    The use of the word mode does not necessitate modalism. The dictionary is most likely not aware of every theology aberration. Your belief that only the words of scripture can be used demonstrates a false understanding of how God uses words in thousands of different languages, many of which have no exact replication to the original words in the Bible. It’s not a matter of being “not satisfied with the words of scripture”. Words are not the end result. Understanding, belief, love relationship and the doing of every good work are the goal. I fear you have missed the mark on what is really corruption of God’s Word. There are limits in meaning and understanding ideas. There are many reasons why there is division in the body of Christ. The devil has many tools besides the simple corruption of words and their meanings. Your limitations will not bring greater unity to God’s people. I agree with your meaning of what and who God is, I don’t think you have made your case for your added limitations. I’ve done my share of throwing out traditions of men claimed to be taught by the Bible, but this isn’t one of them from what I have read so far. It lacks understanding of languages around the world and throughout time.

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  7. Tim, There are translations of the Bible in thousands of languages but translation does NOT require the invention of ideas foreign to scripture! (“Trinity”, “three persons”, “three modes” etc!) In any language, “Father, Son and Holy Spirit” will always suffice to express scriptural teaching!

    BTW, what other doctrines (not stated in scripture) would you defend on the very same grounds?
    Just curious…
    Bruce

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