"Any one who goes ahead
and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God;
he who abides in the doctrine has both the Father and the
Son." (2 John 9, RSV)
"The doctrine of
Christ" was clear in John’s time. He was unwilling to
receive any contrary thinking. John held uncompromisingly to
this doctrine, saying, "If any one comes to you and does
not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into the house or
give him any greeting; for he who greets him shares his wicked
work" (2 John 10, 11, RSV). In this treatise, we will
discuss the false teaching John was addressing. Suffice it to
say here, it did not include a defense of the doctrine of the
Trinity. The Trinity concept was foreign to the early Church and
did not emerge until the third and fourth centuries. Through
time this "doctrine of Christ" has developed into a
theology meaning something different from that which was held by
John and the entire early Church.
The Christian Church started
out exclusively Jewish and, as such, had a singular God.
"The Lord our God is one Lord" is the basic concept of
the Jewish faith (Deut. 6:4). This was universally accepted and
stressed by Jewish authorities from ancient times. They
understood the Old Testament Scriptures to portray God as truly
singular in being, and they consistently rejected any other
characterization. With one voice, Jehovah was believed to be the
only all-powerful, unoriginated, immutable, eternal and
self-existing One—the one true God.
There is little doubt the
Christian religion started out with this original concept of
God. The Church of England, in the Book of Common Prayer,
presents the Apostles’ Creed as a Unitarian Creed, which it
affirms was the belief of the Church during the first two
centuries. This Unitarian Creed is still quoted in many churches
today. (We should distinguish between the Unitarian Creed, which
presents God as a single being, and the Unitarian Church, which
believes Jesus is not the son of God but only the son of Joseph
In the fourth century, under
Constantine (A.D. 325), the Nicene, or Semi-Trinitarian concept,
was forged making Jesus and God one in substance. Then in the
fifth century, the Athanasian, or Trinitarian Creed, came along,
adding the holy Spirit, to complete the Trinity doctrine. Though
called the Athanasian Creed, it is now generally admitted to
have been composed by some other person. It is noteworthy that
the word Trinity nowhere appears in the Bible. More importantly,
the early Church debates of the Apostolic Era were centered on
keeping newly converted Gentiles from being brought under the
Jewish law. There were no ongoing debates on whether Jesus and
God were two persons in one. Yet since the early Christian
Church was mostly Jewish, any deviation from the "Lord our
God is one Lord" foundation would have taken enormous
discussion and debate.
The formulators of the
Athanasian Creed well knew they had to meet the singular
requirement: "The Lord our God is one Lord" (Deut.
6:4). How could they make three persons into one? Some of the
best minds forged this explanation—"There are not three
incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated; but one uncreated, and
one incomprehensible." It was an explanation that did not
explain. With such incantation of words, they presented their
case and, apparently, prevailed. They claimed the One God was
three persons, yet only One God. No wonder they said it was
There was subtlety here. God
himself, in one sense, is incomprehensible, in that He is above
and beyond our grandest conceptions. (In another way, He is not
incomprehensible, because we are created in His image with the
ability to reason and think in the same mode, though vastly
inferior to the divine.) Many people will grant that in one
sense God is "incomprehensible," and therefore, by
association, they propose that the doctrine about God is
"incomprehensible." They shift the
"incomprehensible" from the person of God to a
doctrine made by men about God. Yet, "the doctrine of
Christ" was clear and comprehensible in John’s time.
Jesus Presented Himself
to Israel Covertly
Jesus did not go about
declaring he was the "Christ" or the "Anointed
One." He did not encourage his disciples to do so. Jesus
inquired, "Who do men say that the son of man is"
(Matt. 16:13-20)? The answers were: Elijah, Jeremiah or one of
the prophets. Nothing very dramatic, was it? Nobody guessed he
was the "Christ"—much less God. No!—not even His
disciples. Jesus asked, "Who do you say that I am?"
Peter’s answer pleased our Lord—"You are the Christ
[Anointed], the Son of the living God." That was correct.
Only by the aid of the holy Spirit was Peter able to speak thus.
But notice what the holy
Spirit did not suggest: It did not imply Jesus was God—not
even the vaguest hint of it. The holy Spirit owed us the truth,
and it gave us the truth. "You are the Christ [Anointed],
the Son of the living God." They were then charged,
"Tell no one." If denied from presenting Jesus as the
Christ, would they present Jesus as God? Did the holy Spirit
tell Peter a half-truth about the Christ?
The "doctrine of
Christ" is: Jesus is the "Anointed" One. The Jews
knew only priests, kings and some prophets were anointed, and it
was strictly forbidden to make or use the special "holy
anointing oil" improperly (Ex. 30:31-33). Jesus was not a
Levite and, therefore, could not be of the Levitical Priesthood.
He was, however, of David’s line and could be anointed
"King." Before his death, Jesus rode into Jerusalem
saying, "Tell the daughter of Zion, Behold, your king is
coming to you" (Matt. 21:5-16).
In Jesus’ last encounter
with the Pharisees, he asked: "What do you think of Christ?
Whose son is he?" They knew Christ (Messiah, the Anointed)
was spoken of as the Son of David and that David looked for a
son he would call Lord. They answered: "The son of
David." Jesus said, "How is it then that David,
inspired by the Spirit, calls him Lord" (Matt. 22:42, 43,
RSV)? We ask: Did David believe he would father a son who would
be God himself? Would he father God? Certainly not! David,
through the Spirit, was showing that the Messiah of promise
would be born of David’s royal line and, by faithfully laying
down his life as the ransom price, would be raised as Lord of
both the living and the dead. (See Rom. 14:9.) This would be the
Father’s reward for His son Christ Jesus, to enable him to
carry out his great future work as Judge and Mediator in the
If the doctrine of Christ
meant Jesus was God, the holy Spirit failed to make this known.
The title "Anointed" is never applied to God. That
would be a sacrilege. The greater always anoints the lesser. God
is above all. He anoints, but is not anointed—nor can He be.
We repeat: God is never called anointed! Never ever! It would be
a grave impropriety to do so.
We Have Found the Messiah
Andrew found his brother Simon
and said, "We have found the Messiah [Christ, the
Anointed]" (John 1:41). That is what they were looking
for—the Anointed One of God—certainly not God. When they met
Jesus, he did not tell them to take off their shoes because they
were standing on holy ground, as Moses was instructed to do (Ex.
3:5). Jesus simply said, "Thou art Simon the son of Jona:
thou shalt be called Cephas [Peter] (John 1:42)." We find
no instance where they fell at Jesus’ feet worshiping him, nor
of Jesus looking for such worship. As a matter of fact, we are
told "Even his brothers did not believe in him" (John
7:5, RSV). They did not believe Jesus was the Messiah, and
certainly they did not believe he was the God of Moses. Could
they be God’s brothers? Surely not! (See Heb. 2:11, 12.)
Jaroslav Pelikan, sterling
Professor of History at Yale University, who is called "The
Doctrine Doctor," is quoted saying: "You are not
entitled to the beliefs you cherish about such things as the
Holy Trinity without a sense of what you owe to those who worked
this out for you. . . . To circumvent St. Athanasius on the
assumption that if you put me alone in a room with the New
Testament, I will come up with the doctrine of the Trinity, is
naive."1 The renowned Doctor of Doctrine is telling us the
Trinity cannot be found by open study of the New Testament. He
is admitting that it is not a doctrine of clear Biblical
statement. Rather, the Trinity is a doctrine of inference, not
of statement. That is why the Trinity has such troubled
acceptance. We could add to Dr. Pelikan’s statement and say
that if you placed 10,000 people in rooms with New Testaments,
they would not find the Trinity. We also have not found it.
The churches have had
consistent trouble with unbelief in the Trinity. We quote Larry
Poston, writing for Christianity Today, who looked into
why the average age of Christian conversion was 16 years old
whereas the average age of Muslim conversion was 31. His
explanation in part was: "The Muslim is not asked to give
credence to allegedly ‘irrational’ concepts such as the
Trinity, the Incarnation. . . . If one does consider it
essential that concepts such as the Trinity be explained before
conversion, are the common presentations of these teachings
Can you have a rational
explanation of an "irrational" concept? Mr. Poston
cannot be a rational believer in the Trinity, and there are more
like him. Such members within the church find themselves put
upon to accept something that is inherently not understandable.
The Athanasian Creed tried to present the Trinity not as
"three incomprehensibles" but "one
incomprehensible." As much as Mr. Poston would like to see
a more adequate explanation of the Trinity, it is unlikely that
anyone will come up with a clear explanation of it.
The early Christian Church
converts were mostly adult men and women. Mr. Poston must
believe the modern church attracts members in their teens
because mature minds are less inclined to accept irrational
tenets. We must not conclude that everyone who professes belief
in the Trinity teaching is necessarily a wholehearted believer.
Some are silent doubting Thomases or, even worse, it is
mandatory they confess the Trinity in order to be a member of a
church denomination or that they put down theologically
programmed answers to become degreed ministers. Forced belief
was the stock and trade of religious oppression, but it has
proved ineffective in making true believers out of people.
"A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion
For Those Who Have Doubts
About the Trinity
The purpose of this writing is
not for those who have no doubts about the Trinity. That is
their fixed belief. Nothing we could say would penetrate their
patriotic zeal for the Trinity. However, if you are one with
gnawing doubts about it, and wish to satisfy your reason and
heart, then this message may be very helpful. You may be glad to
know early Christians did not believe in the Trinity, so you
have lots of company. Also, there are increasing numbers in the
churches today who sincerely doubt it, including some of the
scholars as well.
Mr. Poston is not a lone voice
crying in the wilderness on this subject. Quoting another
source: "A fruitful cause of error in ancient and also
modern times is owing to an attempt to explain or illustrate
this [Trinity] doctrine, forgetting that it is a mystery to be
received on faith, which cannot, from its own nature, be
rendered intelligible to man’s intellect."3 We may also
here quote H. M. S. Richards, in a Voice of Prophecy Radio
Broadcast, who similarly said, "[Trinity] is basic in our
faith. . . . None of us can understand it. It’s a divine
mystery, but gloriously true."4 No wonder children are
prepared to believe it more readily than adults.
Three Classes of
The tendency is to group all
Trinitarians into one group. Such is not the case. Actually,
there are three groups in the Christian world professing belief
in the Trinity.
(1) The Catholic Church and
the Episcopal Church believe in Apostolic succession. They
believe the Word of God is being developed on an ongoing basis
through a continuous chain of apostles from our Lord’s time
until now. Hence, they are not embarrassed to accept the
Apostle’s Creed, the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed
even though contradictory. They do not need a strong Biblical
basis for their beliefs because they can accept a council of
bishops’ or a pope’s statements as a basis for belief. They
believe God invests his truth in an ongoing body of apostles to
define and clarify the faith. Hence they accept the fact that
the early Church had a Unitarian God concept which evolved into
the Trinity. They believe the Trinity just developed over time
as the outgrowth of continued apostolic revealment.
(2) Then there is the
Protestant Modernist and those who believe in Contemporary
Religion. Their belief is that man makes known his understanding
of God on an ongoing basis. In each time and place, men have
presented their concepts of God. They hold that the Bible was
created by men who presented their opinions about God in their
time and place, and men have a right to continue presenting
their growing conceptions of God and truth. Such do not believe
the Bible to be the inspired Word of God but merely an attempt
to define God in ancient times. Hence they do not waste too much
effort trying to harmonize it or understand it. They feel man
must continue writing his own Bible as he progresses. In this
camp the range of belief is incredibly diverse, and the real
question with many of these is not if they believe in the
Trinity, but do they, in fact, believe in God. However, in that
they do not openly oppose the Trinity or the Bible, but are
quite permissive of both, they are acceptable in the Christian
(3) The last group are the
Fundamentalists and the Evangelicals who believe the Bible is
the Word of God and inerrant. To this we agree. This group is
uncomfortable with the fact that the Nicene Creed was created in
the fourth century and the Athanasian Creed in the fifth
century. That is an embarrassment to them because they feel the
Bible is their sole basis of belief. Hence, having accepted the
Athanasian Creed, they become revisionists of history and try to
rewrite it so they can teach the early Christian Church believed
it. They also comb through the Bible looking for some support of
Trinitarianism. Some of their assertions make the Catholics, the
Modernists and Contemporary religionists a bit uncomfortable. As
badly matched as these three groups are, they are amazingly
tolerant of each other in this regard.
In John 8:13-18 (RSV) the
Pharisees were having a little skirmish with Jesus. They said,
"You are bearing witness to yourself; your testimony is not
true." Here you are, just a plain ordinary person, going
about making claims. Why should anyone believe you? After all,
we are learned and taught in rabbinical schools, and why should
we be concerned with your testimony? Jesus answered, "Even
if I do bear witness to myself, my testimony is true, for I know
whence I have come and whither I am going. You judge according
to the flesh, I judge no one. Yet even if I do judge, my
judgment is true. . . . In your law it is written that the
testimony of two men is true; I bear witness to myself, and the
Father who sent me bears witness to me." If they wanted two
witnesses, Jesus gave them two witnesses—God and himself. We
might ask, why didn’t he give them three witnesses, as
provided for in Deut. 19:15, by adding the holy Spirit?
Evidently because the holy Spirit was not a person. God and
Jesus together make two, no more, no less: 1 + 1 = 2. That is
pure math as taught by Jesus.
"They Have Taken Away
Remember Mary, standing at the
empty tomb. As she stood there weeping, two angels asked her,
"Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them,
"Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know
where they have laid him" (John 20:13, RSV). Now, she was
not looking for her deceased God. God does not and cannot die.
She was looking for her Master or Teacher, or at least for his
remains. Her only mistake was to look for the living Jesus among
the dead after he was resurrected. We might say the same. The
Trinitarians have taken away the living Lord and we do not know
what they have done with him. If he is the God of Moses, then
what has happened to our Lord Jesus? We would not have an elder
brother. How could the Absolute God say, "I will proclaim
thy name to my brethren" (Heb. 2:11, 12, RSV)? Only Jesus
could speak of us as his brethren, and only he is privileged to
thus proclaim the Father’s name to us.
God never ever called anyone
His brother. He has no brothers or sisters. Jesus taught us to
address God as "our Father." Our resurrected Lord
Jesus is not "ashamed to call us brethren." God has
given us the "Spirit of Sonship"—that makes Him
"our Father." God is not our "brother." The
Trinity concept has taken away our Lord Jesus—our Elder
Brother, and we do not know what they have done with him. We
cannot find him in this doctrine. God’s voice in two Gospels
said, "This is my beloved Son" (Matt. 3:17; Mark 9:7).
If Jesus is a Son and we are sons of God, then we are brethren.
Why have they taken away our brother? What have they done with
Will a "Holy Quaternity"
Replace the "Holy Trinity?"
In 431, the Council of Ephesus
issued the dogma that Mary was to be honored as Theotokos, the
God-bearer or Mother of God. The Nicene, or semi-trinitarian
creed, was formed in 325. A century later they declared Mary
officially to be the Mother of God. Once Jesus was declared to
be God, it is only logical to conclude Mary to be God’s
mother. If that be so, then King David was a great, great
grandfather of God. Commenting on Mary’s elevated position of
worship, Kenneth L. Woodward in a Newsweek article wrote:
"In place of the Holy Trinity, it would appear, there would
be a kind of Holy Quartet, with Mary playing the multiple roles
of daughter of the Father, mother of the Son and spouse of the
Holy Spirit."5 Dr. R. C. Wetzel says in his evaluation of
the Council of Nicaea called by Constantine in 325: "The
Trinity was established as: God the Father, the Virgin Mary, and
Messiah their Son."6 Strange that Mary should be replaced
by the holy Spirit and now resurface again with a view of being
part of a "Holy Quarternity."
Today, Mary is again on the
minds of many Catholics. The Pope receives an average 100,000
requests a month requesting that he exercise the power of papal
infallibility to proclaim that Mary is "Co-Redemptrix,
Mediatrix of All Graces and Advocate for the People of
God." If the present pope yields to religion by polls and
consensus, rather than by Scriptures, perhaps he will make such
a proclamation. However, Catholic theologians wish this whole
idea would just go away. It is Scripturally indefensible. In 1
Timothy 2:5 we are told: "There is one God and one mediator
between God and man, the man Christ Jesus." That says it
all. If the Pope makes Mary a "Co-Redemptrix" they
will be equally hard pressed to defend it Scripturally.
Protestants know the Bible
does not say that Mary is the mother of God, yet if they teach
Jesus was God then Mary must be God’s mother. They are
uncomfortable with this. The best answer they have is that the
Bible does not say Mary was God’s mother. But then, the Bible
does not say there is a Trinity. Note the insightful quote from
Shuster of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif.,
analyzed more than 3,000 sermons. . . . Out of this huge
sample, only 20 sermons focused on the Trinity itself. The
sermons, Shuster says, reveal considerable confusion in the
preachers’ understanding of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Many preachers, she finds, confuse the work of the Holy Spirit
with that of Jesus. Others collapse the Trinity into one God
who operates in different modes—an ancient Christian heresy.
Still others preach as if Christians worshiped three gods, not
one—a heresy that the stringently monotheistic Muslims have
always accused Christianity of teaching. As particularly
egregious examples, Shuster cites such sermon titles as ‘You
Need Three Gods in One’ and ‘God Speaks Through Many
Voices.’ In one sermon, Billy Graham himself confesses that
while he believes in the Trinity, ‘Don’t ask me to explain
it. I can’t.’"7
If the trinity teaching is so
important, why is it that so many preachers can’t seem to get
it right? If the preachers seemed to be confused, what about the
congregations? What if the Pope adds Mary as the "Co-Redemptrix?"
How will this affect Protestants? This is fallout from the
trinity theology. Can anything so complicated and
incomprehensible be true?
1. Christianity Today,
Mark A. Noll, "The Doctrine Doctor," Sep. 10, 1990, p.
2. Ibid., Larry Poston, "The Adult Gospel,"
Aug. 20, 1990, p. 24.
3. Dictionary of Doctrinal and Historical Theology, p.
4. The Voice of Prophecy radio broadcast, H. M. S.
Richards, speaker, Los Angeles, Dec. 20, 1958.
Let Us Reason Together
"Come now, and let
us reason together, saith the Lord."
(Isa. 1:18, KJV)
John 1:1 is the rallying point
of Trinitarians. But in defense of the Bible Students’
non-Trinitarian reading of this verse, we quote from The
Bible Translator, a periodical sent to Trinitarian scholars:
"If the translation
were a matter of substituting words, a possible translation .
. . would be, ‘The Word was a god.’ As a word-for-word
translation it cannot be faulted, and to pagan Greeks who
heard early Christian language, Theos en o Logos, might have
seemed a perfectly sensible statement. . . . The reason why it
is unacceptable is that it runs counter to the current of
Johannine thought, and indeed of Christian thought as a
Please note their observation
that, as a word-for-word translation, "it cannot be
faulted." As a matter of fact, in Acts 12:22 (Herod’s
voice is a god’s voice) and Acts 28:6 (Paul is called a god),
the translators supplied the article "a" to the word theos
in both instances. They just happen to think this would be
contrary to John’s thought in John 1:1. That is a very
John 1:1, 2 reads: "In
the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with [ton, the]
God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with [ton,
the] God." A word-for-word Greek rendering of John 1:1, 2
is: "In [a] beginning [arche] was the Word, and the
Word was with the God, and [a] God was the Word. This was in [a]
beginning with the God." Trinitarians tried to level the
field by leaving out the article (ton) "the."
In the King James, as in many other translations, all references
to God are equal to the English reader. You do not get the
contrast between the emphasized God spoken of twice and the
unemphasized God referring to the Logos.
Yet consider how later in this
chapter (John 1:18), in the same context, a clear distinction is
drawn between these Gods apart from mere grammatical emphasis:
"No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten god,
who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him." (New
American Standard Bible, Marshall Interlinear, etc.)
Clearly, there is a "begotten God" and a begetter
"God." Hence, John 1:1 must be understood in a manner
that harmonizes with this verse.
To be convincing, the
Trinitarian must prove that "God" in John 1:1 has
supreme signification in all three of its uses. We quote from an
orthodox Trinitarian, Dr. G. C. Knapp: "It (the appellation
Logos, here translated Word), signifies, among the Jews
and other ancient people, when applied to God, every thing by
which God reveals Himself to men, and makes known to them His
will. In this passage the principal proof does not lie in the
word Logos (‘revealer of God’), nor even in the word theos
(‘God’), which, in a larger sense, is often applied to kings
and earthly rulers, but to what is predicated of the Logos."2
Using such reasoning, is it
possible to prove Jesus is the supreme God from this passage?
Does the passage in fact say that the Logos God has
parity with the God? Without parity, he cannot be the God, nor
can he be one-third God. What beginning is John talking about?
God has no beginning or end, for He is "from everlasting to
everlasting" (Psa. 90:2). So what "beginning" is
the Logos identified with? Rev. 3:14 supplies the answer:
"The Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning [arche]
of the creation of the [ton] God."
Some say that the word
"beginning" (arche) is rendered "principality(ties),
magistrates, at the first, first estate, corners," etc. and
that this gives Rev. 3:14 a different meaning. Whether our Lord
was the beginning, first, or principal "creation of
God," how would that change his being a created being
before all others? In the King James, the Apostle John’s use
of the word arche is consistently translated
"beginning." In the Appendix we submit every usage of arche
in the New Testament by John and other New Testament writers as
listed in The
Englishman’s Concordance. Please note its uses and how
"beginning" is an appropriate translation. It is only
because translators have seen the threat this poses to the
Trinity that they have labored to change the intent of that word
in this verse.
But, let us assume that the
Trinitarians are correct on John 1:1. Let us presume the Logos
was Jehovah (or Yahweh God). What is John then
telling? If John believed the Logos was the God of Moses,
why would John say the "Logos was with God, and the Logos
was God"? What God was the Logos with? Why
place a mark on eternity and say that was the beginning and the Logos
was there? If he really wanted to prove the Logos was
God, he should have said, "See this mark. It is the
beginning. Now, the Logos was here before that beginning
as the God, for He was the God." To place the Logos
at the mark called beginning and not before the
"beginning" weakens their whole position.
The following texts delineate
this truth—that God always existed and that a beginning in
time is associated only with the Logos:
God "from everlasting
to everlasting." Ps. 90:2
Christ Jesus "in the
beginning was the Word . . ." John 1:1
"The Lord created me at
the beginning of his work." Prov. 8:22, RSV
Furthermore, John 1:1 could
not be a proof of the Trinity, for no mention is made of the
holy Spirit. That is most embarrassing when the key scripture to
the whole Trinity concept omits one-third of the Trinity.
Therefore, whatever John 1:1 proves, it does not mention the
holy Spirit, and it fails to provide the third part necessary to
support the Trinity. Trinitarians have combed through the Bible
using every possible text to prove their point. In the
overwhelming majority of texts used, you find them doing the
same thing as in John 1:1, using arguments that God and Jesus
are one, hoping we will not notice that none of their proof
verses include the third part necessary – the holy Spirit. The
idea is to get people so involved in the discussion that they
will forget the holy Spirit is not mentioned. Therefore, the
debate lacks the third part needed for rational proof. In order
to prove the Trinity doctrine, it is necessary to find Biblical
statements of the oneness of being of Father, Son and holy
Spirit. Even if we could prove the Father and Son were one
being, would it give us a Trinity?
To call God "Christ"
gives them a name but not a Christ [an Anointed One]! We ask
again, "What have you done with Christ?" Where is he?
You cannot have three absolute Gods and one absolute God. The
moment you do, you must redefine absolute. The moment you define
God as Christ, you replace Christ. God can never be less than
Why Must the Savior be a
The Trinity concept insists
that Jesus had to be a God-man to be the Savior. If he was a
mere man, they say, how could he take upon him the sin of the
whole world? It sounds good to make such extravagant claims
about Jesus. Generally, we cannot pay sufficient homage to our
Savior for his great sacrifice, so why not go all out in our
claims for him? To some extent that is how the Trinity was
started, countering claims that Jesus was just a mere man. As
the defense of our Savior was made, so the claims for him grew
and became exaggerated – from being a perfect man and Son of
God, until at last the ultimate claim was made that he was in
fact God. Then followed the super patriotism and the cry
"To the fire" with those who dare claim Jesus someone
less than God. History records John Calvin burned (roasted)
Michael Servetus at the stake for not believing the Trinity. As
they lit the flames, Michael Servetus cried out, "Oh thou
Son of the eternal God have pity on me." One observer said,
We might have had pity on him if he had said, "Oh Eternal
Son of God." Why is church history so lacking in mercy and
kindness and so mean?
"By this shall all men
know ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another"
(John 13:35). If only God’s people had served their God as
well as they had their Church organizations, how much kinder
Church history would be. In a Church bent on world conquest,
there is little love or kindness to be found. Our country was
born to provide refuge from religious persecution.
Jesus Christ the
"Ransom for All"
We read in 1 Tim. 2:5, 6:
"The man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all,
to be testified in due time." What is the ransom? The Greek
word for ransom is antilutron – defined by Dr. Young as
"a corresponding price."3 One perfect man was a
substitutionary sacrifice for the perfect man Adam, who
forfeited his life along with the human race in him. However,
the Church fathers lost sight of the true meaning of the ransom.
When this happened, there was no holding back the ground swell
of extravagant claims about Christ. Anything less than calling
Jesus God was considered demeaning.
For the sake of argument, let
us go along with this exalted claim that Christ is God—a claim
neither he nor Scripture makes. Let us accept their claim that
he was God and, therefore, God died for us. May we ask, How
could an immortal God die?
Did the Absolute God die? The
creed maintains Christ was "very man." Hence, to call
God "Christ" gives them a name, but not a Christ. It
was the "very man" Christ who died. No matter how they
define it, they have only a "very man" who died. How,
then, did "very God" die? God is immortal,
death-proof. God could not die; only some flesh form could die.
Despite the semantics, they come away with only a perfect
"human sacrifice." That is exactly what we believe and
Dr. Adam Clark, a Trinitarian,
says, "Two natures must ever be distinguished in Christ:
the human nature, in reference to which he is the Son of God and
inferior to him, and the Divine nature which was from eternity,
and equal to God."4 He also disallows that Jesus could be
begotten from eternity, saying: "To say that he [Christ]
was begotten from all eternity, is, in my opinion, absurd; and
the phrase eternal Son is a positive self-contradiction.
Eternity is that which has had no beginning, nor stands in any
reference to time. Son supposes time, generation, and
father."5 In other words, it was only the human flesh of
Christ that died. Hence, they do not have an infinite sacrifice,
because it was the inferior Son who died. So where, oh where, is
the infinite sacrifice of God?
Unless the complete Trinity
died on the cross, Trinitarians have but a very man for their
savior. While Trinitarians insist Jesus was wholly God and
wholly man, their burden is to prove this and also to show that
both God and man died on the cross. The Bible does not say this.
Theologians have labored long and hard to compensate for what is
not clearly stated in the Word. Did Jesus ever say he would give
his flesh and deity for man as a ransom? No. He said, "The
bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the
life of the world" (John 6:51). Then could he take his
flesh body back after giving it? What would have become of his
ransom if taken back after it had been given?
Dr. Adam Clark renders Psalm
8:5: "Thou has made him little less than God." He
refers to this verse in Heb. 2:7, and applies it to Jesus,
saying, "For a short while, he was made lower than the
angels, that he might be capable of suffering death."6 If
Dr. Clark’s assertion were true, Jesus was less than God or
lower than the angels. How could he be "less than God"
and still be Absolute God? This presents a problem in logic.
A Mighty and Infinite
With Small Results
Let us allow that Christ’s
sacrifice was infinite as claimed. We are allowing this without
a Scriptural basis, for nowhere does the Bible say Jesus’
sacrifice was infinite. It does not say he suffered more than
all mankind. It does not even say he suffered more than any man.
Even Isaiah 52:14, which speaks of his "visage" and
"form" being marred "more than any man,"
does not fulfill the infinite suffering assertion. It is not
wise to say more than the Scriptures say. We are allowing such
reasoning only to see where it leads.
Now, allowing for the most
extravagant sacrifice for sin, we ask, How come so few are
saved? How come, when salvation has been reduced to just making
a "confession for Christ," the vast majority of
mankind are not accepting Christ? The churches, for some 1500
years, have entreated the world. They have carried on bloody
wars, imposed the "holy(?) inquisition," employed the
powers of the state, threatening damnation and eternal fire on
those slow to respond — torturing, killing, maiming — all in
vain. The vast majority of the world is not Christian in any
sense of the word, and the part called Christian is suspect of
being mostly a field of "tares" (Matt. 13:24-30).
Would God provide such a powerful salvation, requiring only the
faintest acceptance, and still somehow fail to save the vast
majority of those purchased?
Even when telling people that
Christ has purchased their ticket to heaven and all they have to
do is accept it, still the world at large is unsaved. How come
this mighty salvation fails? More than two-thirds of the world
are without Christ. And the part that accepts Christ might have
a goodly number of "tares" among them, who are the
planting of the Wicked One. How could something so overpowering
be so ineffective? With such an overwhelming salvation, how is
it that most people are lost?
The claim that Jesus had to be
God to pay for every man’s sins, who, according to their
theology, is to be tortured forever and ever if unsaved, means
that Jesus would have endured the fires of theological hell for
every man, woman and child that eternity would inflict upon
them—a very sadistic concept. They claim he had to be God to
do this. This whole claim is totally unscriptural. The Bible
says, "For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I
have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for
your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the
soul" (Lev. 17:11). Again we read: "Without shedding
of blood is no remission" (Heb. 9:22).
This shedding of blood
requires the death of the victim, not merely suffering. If
people could atone for their sins by suffering, then the Hindu
and Eastern religions, wherein people afflict themselves, laying
on spikes, putting hooks in their flesh and staring at the sun
until blind, would certainly commend themselves to God by buying
remission for their sins. Even the pre-reformation Christian
theology with its flagellations should not then have been
discarded. The world already endures such great suffering
because of sin. As we look out into the world, our hearts ache
for humanity. How they need the hope of Christ’s glorious
Kingdom on earth, when all men will be lifted up and blessed as
God pours out His "spirit upon all flesh" (Joel 2:28).
All of this will be possible by Christ’s death on the cross.
Let us see how.
Our understanding of Scripture
is that Jesus died as a perfect man providing a
"corresponding price" for father Adam. He died a
substitutionary death for Adam. All who are in Adam, therefore,
will be ransomed, released from the condemnation of death. It
stands to reason that if Adam did not possess everlasting life
(and he didn’t because he died), then Christ’s ransom
sacrifice can restore to Adam and all men only what he lost
before he sinned. Adam had an opportunity to live everlastingly
if he obeyed God, but failing in this, he died. Christ’s
ransom sacrifice can only bring Adam, and all in him, another
opportunity to attain everlasting life.
Two classes, the Church and
the world, will be privileged to benefit from Christ’s death.
During the Gospel Age, the True Church receives justification to
life and, upon "overcoming," will receive a heavenly
reward. The world will be released from Adamic condemnation
during the Millennium. Christ will be their Mediator (1 Tim.
2:5, 6). How can he mediate between God and man if he is God? A
Mediator must always be a third party! When the world is
nurtured back to human perfection and their reconciliation with
God shall have been accomplished, they will then be delivered to
God, the Father. When Christ’s mediation is completed, then
shall "The King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye
blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from
the foundation of the world" (Matt. 25:34). The
Mediator’s work shall have been accomplished. See 1 Cor.
Mankind, which had been driven
from Eden, will return to an Edenic Paradise on earth. We have
all that is required—the perfect man Christ Jesus as our
Savior and tremendous results from two salvations—the Church
now, and the world of mankind in Christ’s kingdom here on
earth. Therefore all men will be benefited from Christ’s
sacrifice. That is as it should be.
And in the final picture, the
Divine Christ will be subject to the Father, with all "overcomers"
of both the Gospel Age and the Millennium received back into
favor with God (1 Cor. 15:24-28). Then God will be all in all.
What could be sweeter?
"Are You the
In Jesus’ illegal trial at
night, while Peter was still there, they asked Jesus
–"Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?" And
Jesus said, "I am" (Mark 14:61, 62). If Jesus was
truly the Absolute God, didn’t Jesus owe them that
information? The reason Jesus was crucified was because he was
the "Christ, the Son of the Blessed." If Jesus
proclaimed himself to be Absolute God, they would have had a
perfect right to put him to death according to their
understanding of the Mosaic Law: "You shall have no other
Gods before me" (Ex. 20:3). Oddly, they crucified Jesus for
claiming to be the "Son of God," exactly what he
admitted being, while they themselves claimed, "We have one
Father, even God" (John 8:41).
If the disciples believed
Jesus was God, they would not have believed his death. How could
they if they held any concept of his being God? God is eternal!
Their immediate problem after his death was accepting the truth
that God raised Jesus from the dead—Thomas being the last to
believe. Later, they became witnesses to his resurrection,
saying to the Jews, "Ye denied the Holy One and the Just,
and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and killed the
Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead" (Acts
"Christ who is above
God for ever blessed! Amen."
—The Jerusalem Bible
The above quoted subhead is
from Romans 9:5. Several interesting commentaries on this verse
may be found in the literature. A Catholic Dictionary states:
"We have the strongest statement of Christ’s divinity in
St. Paul, and, indeed, in the N[ew] T[estament]."7 But
establishing Christ’s divinity is not the same as establishing
the Trinity. The King James reads, "Whose are the fathers,
and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over
all, God blessed for ever. Amen." No one would argue Jesus
is not "God blessed." To argue that this statement
makes him God the Father is pressuring this verse to say
something more than it does.
The New International
Dictionary of New Testament Theology comments on this verse:
"Even so, Christ would not be equated absolutely with God,
but only described as being of divine nature, for the word theos
[God] has no article. But this ascription of majesty does not
occur anywhere else in Paul. The more probable explanation is
that the statement is a doxology [praise] directed to God,
stemming from Jewish tradition and adopted by Paul."8 A
Catholic Dictionary comments: "There is no reason in
grammar or in the context which forbids us to translate ‘God,
who is over all, be blessed for ever, Amen.’"9 The
Revised Standard Version so renders it—"God who is over
all be blessed for ever. Amen." Hence, we see, there are
rational thinkers who try to prevent the spread of hasty and
unwarranted conclusions. Some Trinitarians are in constant and
labored activity reading Trinity into verses so eagerly that it
is needful for their fellow theologians to try to temper some of
There is another strange fact
of Trinitarian behavior. They seldom inform the laity of the
host of criticisms and corrective evaluations from within the
walls of religious academia. They vent most of their anger and
frustration upon those who openly and honestly confess not
believing the Trinity based on personal Bible study. They
endeavor to malign these by calling them improper names or even
failing to recognize such as Christians.
In Acts 11:26 we are told the
disciples of Jesus were "called Christians first in
Antioch." If this be so, how could they be called
Christians who knew nothing of the theological Trinity which did
not become defined until the fifth century? How is it that those
who believe in the Father, the Son and the holy Spirit are not
recognized as Christians today if they say they do not believe
the "incomprehensible" Trinity? Perhaps the old desire
to persecute and stigmatize those who differ still exists
latently in the hearts of some. Insecurity can surely lead to
1. The Bible Translator, Vol.
28, No. 1, Jan. 1977.
2. Beach vs. Hickey on the Trinity, W. B. Beach and Y.
Hickey, quoting G. C. Knapp, pp. 60, 61.
3. Young’s Concordance, "Ransom," #3, p. 794.
4. Clarke’s Commentary on Luke 1:35, p. 360.
5. Ibid., p. 361.
6. Ibid., on Heb. 2:7, p. 696.
7. A Catholic Dictionary, on Rom. 9:5, p. 809.
8. The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology,
on Rom. 9:5, p. 80.
9. A Catholic Dictionary, ibid.
The Trinity Emerges Gradually
"The time will come when men will
not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own
desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers
to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn
their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." (2
Tim. 4:3, 4, NIV)
After the Church lost the pristine vision
which it held in the beginning, these last two creeds were
formed. The Athanasian, or Trinitarian Creed, became the largest
and most confusing creed of all. It became necessary for
salvation to believe this creed—making this a threatening
theological statement. Please notice the unitarian concept of
God was a statement of belief without threatening overtones.
Notice how the Creed becomes more foggy and
"incomprehensible" as it endeavors to incorporate
Trinity concepts. Additionally, as it swells to more than a
statement of belief, it then threatens any not accepting this
foggy concept with perishing "everlastingly."
When Jesus rendered his final report to his
Father, it only required three words—"It is
finished" (John 19:30). Nothing more needed to be said.
Notice, however, when the one-talented, unfaithful servant
rendered his report, it required 43 words, and he was just as
much a failure after his explanation (Matt. 25:24, 25). The
Unitarian Creed required only 115 words to make itself known;
the Nicene Creed required 230 (twice as many words to make God
and Christ one); and the Athanasian Creed required 702 words to
explain the "incomprehensible" Trinity. If the number
of words used proved the case, the latter is clearly the winner.
But it is not by much speaking that we shall be heard.
Illustrated Bible Dictionary states: "The word
Trinity is not found in the Bible. . . . It did not find a place
formally in the theology of the church till the fourth century.
. . . Although Scripture does not give us a formulated doctrine
of the Trinity, it contains all the elements out of which
theology has constructed the doctrine."1 That is partially
correct. Theology indeed is responsible for constructing the
doctrine. But we firmly believe that the "elements" of
Scripture alluded to here were never intended to provide a
framework for such a dogma.
The following is found in The
Book of Common Prayer on Three Creeds of the Church of
The Apostles’ or
Being the Creed of the first
two Christian centuries.
"I believe in God, the Father
Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:
"And in Jesus Christ, his only son our
Lord: who was conceived by the holy ghost (spirit), born of
the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified,
dead, and buried, he descended into hell (the grave); the
third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into
heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God, the Father
Almighty: From thence he shall come to judge the quick and
"I believe in the holy ghost (spirit);
the holy catholic (general) Church; the communion of saints;
the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body, and the
life everlasting. Amen."
The Nicene, or Semi-trinitarian
Principally drawn up by the
Council of Nice in A.D. 325, the clause concerning the Holy
Ghost in brackets [ ] having been affixed to it by the Council
of Constantinople, in A.D. 381, except the words [and the
son], which were afterwards introduced into it."
"I believe in One God, the Father
Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth; and of all things
visible and invisible.
"And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the
only-begotten Son of God; begotten of his Father before all
worlds; God of (or from) God; Light of (or from) Light;
Very God of (or from) Very God; begotten, not made;
being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things
were made; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down
from heaven; and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the virgin
Mary; and was made man; and was crucified also for us under
Pontius Pilate, he suffered, and was buried, and the third day
he rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into
heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father:
and he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and
the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.
"And I believe in the Holy Ghost, [the
Lord and Giver of life; who proceedeth from the Father [and
the Son]; who with the Father and the son together is
worshipped and glorified; who spake by the prophets].
"And I believe one catholic and
apostolic church: I acknowledge one baptism for the remission
of sins: and I look for the resurrection of the dead; and the
life of the world to come. Amen."
The Athanasian, or
Long ascribed to Athanasius,
a theologian of the fourth century, but now generally allowed
not to have been composed until the fifth century, by some
"Whosoever will be saved, before all
things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith; which
faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without
doubt he shall perish everlastingly.
"And the Catholic Faith is this: that
we worship One God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;
neither confounding the Persons nor dividing the substance.
For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son,
and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the
Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one; the
glory equal, the majesty co-eternal. Such as the Father is,
such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost, the Father
uncreate, the son uncreate, and the Holy Ghost uncreate; the
Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal;
and yet they are not three eternals, but one eternal. As also
there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated,
but one uncreated, and one incomprehensible. So likewise the
Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Ghost
Almighty; and yet they are not three Almighties, but one
Almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy
Ghost is God; and yet they are not three Gods, but one God. So
likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Ghost
Lord; and yet not three Lords, but one Lord. For like as we
are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every
person by himself to be God and Lord; so are we forbidden by
the Catholic religion to say, There be three Gods, or three
Lords. The Father is made of none, neither created nor
begotten. The Son is of the Father alone, not made nor
created, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of
the Son; neither made nor created nor begotten, but
proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one
Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts.
And in this Trinity none is afore or after another, none is
greater or less than another; but the whole three persons are
co-eternal together, and co-equal. So that in all things, as
is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity
in Unity, is to be worshipped. He, therefore, that will be
saved, must thus think of the Trinity.
"Furthermore, it is necessary to
everlasting salvation, that he also believe rightly the
incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right faith is,
that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the
Son of God, is God and man; God of the substance of the
Father, begotten before the worlds; and man, of the substance
of his mother, born in the world; perfect God, and perfect
man; of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting; equal to
the Father, as touching his Godhead; and inferior to the
Father, as touching his manhood; who, although he be God and
man, yet is he not two, but one Christ; one, not by conversion
of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of the manhood into
God. One altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by
unity of person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one
man, so God and man is one Christ: who suffered for our
salvation; descended into hell, rose again the third day from
the dead; he ascended into heaven, he sitteth on the right
hand of the Father, God Almighty, from whence he shall come to
judge the quick and the dead; at whose coming all men shall
rise again with their bodies, and shall give account for their
own works. And they that have done good shall go into life
everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting
fire. This is the Catholic faith, which except a man believe
faithfully, he cannot be saved. Glory be to the Father, and to
the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is
now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen."
"The three Creeds, Nicene Creed,
Athanasius’s Creed, and that which is commonly called the
Apostles’ Creed, ought thoroughly to be received and believed;
for they may be proved by most certain warrants of Holy
Scripture."—Article VIII. of the Church of England:
taken from the Book of Common Prayer.
[In the Articles of the
Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America,
Article VIII. reads as follows: "The Nicene Creed, and that
which is commonly called the Apostles’ Creed, ought thoroughly
to be received and believed; for they may be proved by most
certain warrants of Scripture."]2
Greek philosophy was a serious threat to the
early Christian Church. Paul said, "Greeks seek
wisdom" (1 Cor. 1:22, RSV). To counter this, Paul said,
"I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God in
lofty words or wisdom" (1 Cor. 2:1, RSV). Apparently, there
were those who did. Greek philosophy was kept out of the Bible,
but not out of theology. As the church fathers strove for
preeminence, they found the high-sounding wisdom of Greek
philosophy a cutting edge for distinguishing themselves. When
the religious debates spilled over before the Roman emperors,
what better tool could be used than Hellenistic philosophy
interwoven with Christian doctrine? Greek and Mid-eastern
philosophies were pervasive, and when someone like Constantine
listened to the controversy between Arius and Athanasius, the
strong pagan influence was certain to have an effect.
Constantine had ostensibly converted to
Christianity, and he intended to use the new religion to
solidify the empire. Earlier he had raised a symbol of Christ
seen in a vision ("P" fixed in the center of an
"X"—the first two letters of "Christ" [CRISTOS]
in the Greek) as a new imperial standard and used it to gain
victory in a key battle against pagan forces. He believed he had
heard a voice from heaven saying, "In this sign
conquer."3 If the symbol (also called a "Christogram")
actually represented two gods, he might have thought it all the
better. If Christ were really both man and God, flesh and
spirit, that would be closer to Greek philosophy and the pagan
trinity models. It would make the new religion all the more
attractive to the masses.
The Nicaean Council
Quoting Bruce L. Shelley, a writer for Christian
History, we read:
"The Council of Nicea, (was) summoned
by Emperor Constantine and held in the imperial palace under
his auspices. Constantine viewed the Arian teachings—that
Jesus was a created being subordinate to God—as an
‘insignificant’ theological matter. But he wanted peace in
the empire he had just united through force. When diplomatic
letters failed to solve the dispute, he convened around 220
bishops, who met for two months to hammer out a universally
acceptable definition of Jesus Christ."
The expression homo ousion, ‘one
substance,’ was probably introduced by Bishop Hosius of
Cordova (in today’s Spain). Since he had great influence
with Constantine, the imperial weight was thrown to that side
of the scales. . . . As it turned out, however, Nicea alone
settled little. For the next century the Nicene and the Arian
views of Christ battled for supremacy. First Constantine and
then his successors stepped in again and again to banish this
churchman or exile that one. Control of church offices too
often depended on control of the emperor’s favor."4
Why would anyone look to the fourth century
for truth, particularly in view of our Lord’s great prophecy
covering the period of his absence and return, saying,
"Take heed that no man deceive you" (Matt. 24:4)?
Without a doubt, this was where the Church had lost its way. It
was shamelessly prostituted before the ambitious Roman emperor.
It is important to know that while Constantine accepted
Christianity and became the Pontifex Maximus of the
Church, he also continued to function in all the pagan
ceremonies, as paganism had deep roots in the Roman Empire and
would not pass away overnight. Julian succeeded Constantine to
the throne, and he was a devout pagan, although a noble one.
Rome became a melting pot of paganism and Christianity—not a
Wrong conclusions are easily reached about
the Nicaean Council. It is easy to conjure up images of a united
group of bishops with only two in dissent, endorsing
wholeheartedly the Athanasian proposition uniting the Father and
Son into two parts of one deity. Nothing could be further from
the truth. We quote the following:
"They rejected the formulae of Arius,
and declined to accept those of his opponents; that is to say,
they were merely competent to establish negations, but lacked
the capacity, as yet, to give their attitude of compromise a
positive expression. . . . True, at Nicaea this majority
eventually acquiesced in the ruling of the Alexandrians; yet
this result was due, not to internal conviction, but partly to
indifference, partly to the pressure of the imperial will—a
fact which is mainly demonstrated by the subsequent history of
the Arian conflicts. For if the Nicaean synod had arrived at
its final decision by the conscientious agreement of all
non-Arians, then the confession of faith there formulated
might indeed have evoked the continued antagonism of the
Arians, but must necessarily have been championed by all else.
This, however, was not the case; in fact, the creed was
assailed by those very bodies which had composed the laissez-faire
centre at Nicaea; and we are compelled to the conclusion that,
in this point the voting was no criterion of the inward
convictions of the council. . . . For it was the proclamation
of the Nicene Creed that first opened the eyes of many bishops
to the significance of the problem there treated; and its
explanation led the Church to force herself, by an arduous
path of theological work, into compliance with those
principles, enunciated at Nicaea, to which, in the year 325,
she had pledged herself without genuine assent."5
This tells us, in effect, the body of bishops
who voted for this Creed were not unanimously believers in it.
Hence, the vote testified to weakness of character and the human
tendency to get on the bandwagon for the sake of expediency.
What else would make one vote for something not truly believed
and which would later be assailed by them?
When the Nicean Council ended on August 25,
325 A.D., Emperor Constantine delayed the festivities of his
twentieth anniversary until the close of this council. We quote
"A magnificent entertainment was
provided by that prince, ‘for the ministers of God’ . . .
No one of the bishops was absent from the imperial banquet,
which was more admirably conducted than can possibly be
described. The guards and soldiers, disposed in a circle, were
stationed at the entrance of the palace with drawn swords. The
men of God passed through the midst of them without fear, and
went into the most private apartments of the royal edifice.
Some of them were then admitted to the table of the emperor,
and others took the places assigned them on either side. It
was a lively image of the kingdom of Christ(?), and appeared
more like a dream than a reality."6
We cannot help but contrast this event with
the occasion when Satan showed Jesus all the kingdoms of this
world and their glory and then said, "All these I will give
you, if you will fall down and worship me" (Matt. 4:9,
RSV). It seems the Devil had more success with these bishops
than he did with our Lord. Yes, Constantine now had most of the
bishops in his pocket, and from there we see the church merged
with the kingdoms of this world, trying to make believe that
this was the kingdom of God.
Pagan Models of Trinity
The Trinity concept presented by Athanasius
was essentially borrowed from other ancient religions. John
Newton (Origin of Triads and Trinities) writes: "With the
first glimpse of a distinct religion and worship among the most
ancient races, we find them grouping their gods in triads."
He then proceeds to trace the strong Trinitarian beliefs which
were common in ancient India, Egypt, and Babylon as examples.
Regarding ancient India he states: "The
threefold manifestations of the One Supreme Being as Brahma,
Vishnu, and Siva was thus sung of by Kalidasa (55 B.C.):
"‘In these three persons the One God
Each first in place, each last, not one alone.
Of Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, each may be
First, second, third among the Blessed Three.’"
In speaking of ancient Egypt, Newton quotes
Professor Sayce (Gifford Lectures and Hibbert Lectures)
as follows: "‘The indebtedness of Christian theological
theory to ancient Egyptian dogma is nowhere more striking than
in the doctrine of the Trinity. The very same terms used of it
by Christian theologians meet us again in the inscriptions and
papyri of Egypt.’" Newton continues:
"And now we see some meaning in the
strange phrases that have puzzled so many generations in the
Nicene and Athanasian Creeds, such as ‘Light of Light, Very
God of Very God, Begotten not Made, Being of one Substance
with the Father.’ These are all understandable enough if
translated into the language of the Solar Trinity [worshipped
in ancient Egypt], but without this clue to their meaning,
they become sheer nonsense or contradictions. . . . The
simplicity and symmetry of the old sun Trinities were utterly
lost in forming these new Christian Creeds on the old Pagan
models. . . . The [pagan] trinities had all the prestige of a
vast antiquity and universal adoption, and could not be
ignored. The Gentile converts therefore eagerly accepted the
Trinity compromise, and the Church baptized it. Now at length
we know its origin."7
What a revelation—that portions of the
Nicene and Athanasian Creeds were plagiarized from pagan
sources—word for word and exact phrases, lifted right off the
papyri and inscriptions of ancient Egypt! Should this knowledge
not leave a little chill among those subscribing to these
Edward Gibbon says, in his preface to History
of Christianity: "If Paganism was conquered by
Christianity, it is equally true that Christianity was corrupted
by Paganism. The pure Deism of the first Christians . . . was
changed, by the Church of Rome, into the incomprehensible dogma
of the trinity. Many of the pagan tenets, invented by the
Egyptians and idealized by Plato, were retained as being worthy
of belief."8 Gibbon is an historian’s historian. He would
not speak so forthrightly without an enormous basis for his
Commenting on the state of affairs in the
early Church, H. G. Wells writes: "We shall see presently
how, later on, all Christendom was torn by disputes about the
Trinity. There is no clear evidence that the apostles of Jesus
entertained that doctrine."9 The fact that the Trinity did
not originate with the Apostles should be of grave concern to
all Christians. The Church of England freely admits the
Unitarian Creed was believed in the first two centuries. In view
of all these facts, we cannot help but wonder why anyone would
feel secure in accepting the doctrinal developments of the
fourth and fifth centuries and forsake the pristine teachings of
our Lord and the Apostles.
In Matthew 13:24, 25 we read: "The
kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in
his field: but while men [the Apostles] slept, his enemy came
and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way." How can
one leave the Apostolic Era to find truth without risking being
contaminated and choked by "tares"? The
"tares" sowed were the work of the enemy. The
"tares" that sprouted and grew were results of false
teachings that begat "tare" Christians. Hence, all
Bible-believing Christians need to be aware of the risks
involved in leaving the Apostolic Era of doctrinal purity and of
coming under the influence of the "tare" seeds of
error spread by the Adversary.
1. The Illustrated Bible
Dictionary, R. A. Finlayson, "Trinity," Vol. 3, pp.
2. Some Account of the Origin and Progress of Trinitarian
Theology, James Forest, p. 9.
3. After Jesus. The Triumph of Christianity, Gayle Visalli,
editor, p. 209.
4. Christian History, Bruce L. Shelley, "The First
Council of Nicea," Issue 28 (Vol. IX, No. 4), 1990, p. 11.
5. Encyclopedia Britannica, "Nicaea, Council of,"
Vol. 5, p. 410.
6. Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, The Council of Nice,
Isaac Boyle, p. 27.
7. Origin of Triads and Trinities, John Newton, pp. 20-21,
8. History of Christianity, Edward Gibbon, preface.
9. Outline of History, H. G. Wells, p. 421.
The Holy Spirit Misunderstood
"When he [the truth-giving Spirit]
comes, he will guide you into all truth. For he will not speak his own
message—on his own authority—but he will tell whatever he hears
[from the Father] . . . He will honor and glorify me, because he will
draw upon what is mine and will reveal it to you." (John 16:13,
14, KJV and Amp.)
Of the three components of the Trinity doctrine,
the so-called holy Ghost (or Spirit) is certainly the least
understood. The holy Spirit is assigned equality in relationship with
the Father and the Son and is spoken of as "God the Holy
Spirit." As such, it is necessary to conceive of this entity as a
distinct person—the Third Person in the Trinity equation—with
attendant powers and capabilities to distinguish it from the others.
Yet such a concept is impossible to prove from the Scriptures and
certainly was not held by early Christian believers for three hundred
years after the death of Christ.
Jeremy Taylor has written: "That the Holy
Ghost (Spirit) is God is nowhere said in Scripture; that Holy Ghost
(Spirit) is to be invocated is nowhere commanded, nor any example of
its being done recorded."1 Well spoken. Who has a right to say
what is not stated in Scripture? One clearly stated Scripture verse
would have more weight than a mountain of theology. Until such a verse
can be produced, Trinitarians have an impossible burden. An
incantation of words and never-ending theology is no substitute for a
weighty Bible text or a "thus saith the Lord."
Biblical Designations of the
In the Bible, there are various titles and
definitions that are applied to the holy Spirit. As these are
carefully studied, it becomes evident that all of them describe
characteristics that stem from God and Christ and do not necessitate
an additional personality. Many are also reflected in the life of the
Church. Note these examples.
"The Spirit of God" (Matt. 3:16)
"The Spirit of Christ" (1 Pet. 1:11)
"The Spirit of Holiness" (Rom. 1:4)
"The Spirit of Truth" (John 14:17)
"The Spirit of a Sound Mind" (2 Tim. 1:7)
"The Holy Spirit of Promise" (Eph. 1:13)
"The Spirit of Meekness" (Gal. 6:1)
"The Spirit of Understanding" (Isa. 11:2)
"The Spirit of Wisdom" (Eph. 1:17)
"The Spirit of Glory" (1 Pet. 4:14)
"The Spirit of Counsel" (Isa. 11:2)
"The Spirit of Grace" (Heb. 10:29)
"The Spirit of Adoption" (Rom. 8:15)
"The Spirit of Prophecy" (Rev. 19:10)
Even the most avid Trinitarian would find it
necessary to define "Spirit" in most usages as an influence
or power. Personhood of the Trinity just does not fit into these
descriptions. So the Trinitarian must use two definitions when
referring to "Spirit" in the Bible: one meaning the Third
Person of the Trinity and the other as an influence or power. Unless
the meaning is continually defined in each verse, the reader is left
uncertain as to what is meant.
There is another side to this matter which is very
revealing. There is also an "unholy spirit" that is referred
to frequently in the Scriptures. This spirit is described in opposite
terms to that of the holy Spirit. Note the following:
"The Spirit of Fear" (2 Tim. 1:7)
"The Spirit of Divination" (Acts 16:16)
"The Spirit of Bondage" (Rom. 8:15)
"The Spirit of Antichrist" (1 John 4:3)
"The Spirit of the World" (1 Cor. 2:12)
"The Spirit of Slumber" (Rom. 11:8)
"The Spirit of Error" (1 John 4:6)
Would anyone propose to add personhood to these
spirits or to suppose that these various designations, unitedly
considered, prove there is another evil being apart from Satan, the
adversary of God? Not very likely, because it is commonly recognized
that these terms, which generally signify the wrong spirit, all have
their chief exemplification in Satan. A separate personality is not
required, nor are a host of personal spirits needed to justify the
listings. We submit that for consistency a similar conclusion should
be drawn in regard to the various references to the holy Spirit as
A Variety of Operations
In Scriptural usage, various actions and operations
of the holy Spirit are illustrated. Some were manifested from earliest
times, such as in creation; others became evident in succeeding ages
as God’s plan of salvation unfolded. Yet all of them can be shown to
emanate from God Himself or from His Son Christ Jesus and do not
require an additional personality.
Early in Genesis, this Spirit was evidenced in
God’s creative power, as He brought into existence the earth, the
oceans teeming with life (Gen. 1:2), plants and animals, and finally
man himself. In later times, the operation of God’s Spirit expanded
in various ways, especially as it was directed toward the Church.
Believers in Christ were begotten of the Spirit as they entered their
new consecrated life and were privileged to become the sons of God
(John 3:3, 7; 1 John 5:4, 18). Other manifestations of the Spirit are
seen in its thought-creating power (2 Pet. 1:21), its life-giving or
quickening power (Rom. 8:11) and its transforming influence (1 Cor.
6:11). In none of these instances is a separate personality required
to carry out these functions.
Other usages of the Spirit in Scripture are equally
revealing. Joel 2:28 reads, "I will pour out my spirit upon all
flesh." This is a wonderful reference to that future day when
God’s Kingdom is fully established on earth and all mankind will
have the opportunity of growing in the knowledge of God and His ways
of righteousness. Does this mean that a person is to be poured out? If
the Trinity is inseparable as an entity, does this mean that God and
Christ and the holy Spirit are to be poured out on all flesh? Surely
not! Such a usage helps us to grasp the correct meaning of the holy
Spirit as the power or influence of God.
The believer is also admonished to be "filled
with the Spirit" (Eph. 5:18). This is certainly commendable, and
all of us should desire to have more and more of the Spirit that we
may be drawn into a closer relationship with our Lord. But how could
we be filled with another person? One might be filled with such
qualities as wisdom and faith, but hardly with the Spirit if it were
an actual person. Note how the Scriptures treat all of these as
qualities (not persons) and relate them to each other: "Look ye
out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost
[Spirit] and wisdom. . . . and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith
and of the Holy Ghost [Spirit]" (Acts 6:3, 5). Joy is another
quality with which the believer is to be filled, and it likewise is
linked with the filling of the Spirit (Acts 13:52). To insist on the
personality of the holy Spirit in these examples merely produces one
paradox after another, all of which are wholly unreasonable and
unnecessary in the light of Biblical truth.
We could also say that it is entirely proper to
pray for the holy Spirit to operate in our lives (Luke 11:13), but not
to pray to it! Never once in Scripture is an example given of someone
praying to the holy Spirit, and never once is anyone urged to do so.
Jesus taught clearly that prayer was to be directed to the Father in
heaven, and he provided a model of such prayer for his disciples to
follow. (See Luke 11:1-4.)
A Missing Factor in the Equation
The efforts of Trinitarians to give personality to
the holy Spirit has proved to be an extravagant and futile exercise.
Most of their writings expend nearly all their energy in trying to
prove that certain Bible texts equate God and Jesus. Very little can
be found to defend the holy Spirit directly in their Trinity concept
because it is nearly impossible to do.
By far, the one text most alluded to and thought to
be a "Trinity fortress" was 1 John 5:7. However, even the
most ardent Trinitarians must concede that the words "The Father,
the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one" are not
truly the Word of God but are spurious—merely an interpolation. The
Revised Version and all modern translations omit the verse, since it
is not contained in any Greek manuscript prior to the fifth century
and is not quoted by any of the early Church fathers. Evidently it was
added by an over-zealous scribe who thought the Trinity concept needed
a substantial boost in the Scriptural record; but surely this attempt
merely betrays the weakness of the argument.
Unless Trinity can be Scripturally established with
all three persons in one entity—including the holy Spirit—the case
simply sinks beneath the waves.
Use of the Personal Pronoun
It is noted by some that there are abundant
references in Scripture where the holy Spirit is referred to using the
personal pronoun "he." Even our Lord Jesus, in alluding to
the work of the holy Spirit, according to the King James Version, used
these words: "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you
another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever. . . . But the
Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost [Spirit], whom the Father will send
in my name, he shall teach you all things" (John 14:16, 26,
italics supplied by us). Does this not prove that the holy Spirit is a
person? A study of the Greek text in this and other instances shows
this not to be the case. Here the word for Comforter is parakletos,
which in the Greek language is masculine in gender and, therefore,
needs to be placed with a masculine pronoun for grammatical purposes
John 16:13 is another text which properly engages
masculine pronouns to describe the holy Spirit. It reads:
"Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you
into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he
shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to
come" (italics supplied). Again, this gives the impression that
the Spirit is a person, designated with "he" and
"himself." But this is not the correct thought, for it is
simply a follow-up of good Greek grammar matching a masculine subject
with equivalent pronouns. In again referring to the
"comforter" or "helper" aspect of the Spirit,
there was a consistency in using the masculine pronoun "he"
rather than the neuter "it." This usage shows adherence to
the rules of Greek grammar and provides no proof that the holy Spirit
is a person.
On the other hand, when the word "spirit"
is from the Greek pneuma, the grammatical application changes,
and the neuter pronoun "it" is appropriately used. Whereas
this rule is generally hidden by the translators, the Catholic New
American Bible says, regarding John 14:17: "The Greek word for
‘Spirit’ is neuter, and while we use personal pronouns in English
(‘he,’ ‘his,’ ‘him’), most Greek MSS employ ‘it’"
(bold supplied). Note the following Scriptural examples where the
Greek pneuma is used and is referred to by the neuter pronoun
"it": John 1:32—"John bare record, saying, I saw the
Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon
him." In Rom. 8:26 (if this passage is applied to the holy
Spirit)—"Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for
we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself
maketh intercession for us."
Thus seen, the attempt to prove the
"Spirit" is a person because masculine pronouns sometimes
are used in referring to it is neither scholarly, consistent, nor
Possible Personality Traits
Finally, due to the wide-ranging applications of
God’s Spirit, there are some Bible texts that at first might be
construed as endowing it with personality. The Spirit, for example, is
portrayed as "speaking" in Heb. 3:7, and "bearing
witness" in Heb. 10:15. Nonetheless, other Scriptures clarify the
matter for us. Whereas the Spirit may be described in a loose sense as
speaking, in reality it does this through actual persons, such as God
or the believer. The warning against provoking God through unbelief,
which is ascribed to the holy Spirit in Heb. 3:7, is clearly shown in
Ps. 95:6-11 to have been the voice of God originally raised as an
expression of God’s anger against the Israelites in their wilderness
journey. Likewise, the lovely picture of the establishment of the New
Covenant with the house of Israel, which is attributed to the
witnessing of the holy Spirit in Heb. 10:15, is really shown to be a
consequence of a direct "thus saith the Lord" in Jer.
31:31-33. Hence the holy Spirit has no personal voice of its own and
must operate through other personalities, such as God, Christ and the
An approach similar to this can be used in properly
harmonizing other texts that in varying degree may appear to endow
personhood to the Spirit. For example, compare "tempt the Spirit
of the Lord" (Acts 5:9) with the clearer "tempt the Lord thy
God" (Matt. 4:7); and again, "filled with the Spirit"
(Eph. 5:18) with the more understandable "the Spirit of God
dwelleth in you" (1 Cor. 3:16). It is only reasonable to expect
that on a matter of such weighty consequence, bearing on the true
nature and identity of the holy Spirit, the Scriptures themselves can
be relied upon to furnish satisfying truth. And thus we actually
perceive examples of God’s Spirit at work, in so arranging the holy
Scriptures and granting the needed guidance and help in properly
understanding them, for which we are grateful.
Some Notable Admissions
In summing up our case for the holy Spirit as the
power or influence of God, we would like to quote from some Catholic
A Catholic Dictionary:
"On the whole, the New Testament, like the Old, speaks of the
spirit as a divine energy or power particularly in the heart of
The New Catholic Encyclopedia:
"The OT clearly does not envisage God’s spirit as a person .
. . God’s spirit is simply God’s power. If it is sometimes
represented as being distinct from God, it is because the breath of
Yahweh acts exteriorly. . . . The majority of NT texts reveal
God’s spirit as something, not someone; this is especially seen in
the parallelism between the spirit and the power of God."3
The Catholic Encyclopedia:
"Nowhere in the Old Testament do we find any clear indication
of a Third Person."4
Catholic theologian Fortman:
"The Jews never regarded the spirit as a person; nor is there
any solid evidence that any Old Testament writer held this view. . .
. The Holy Spirit is usually presented in the Synoptics [Gospels]
and in Acts as a divine force or power."5
Placing these comments into the overall context of
Catholic belief, we appreciate the sincerity of these admissions,
while at the same time recognizing their acceptance of the Trinity
doctrine, as based upon church authority and tradition. We quite agree
that God’s Spirit is "something, not someone." Our purpose
in excerpting these quotations is to point out the candid admissions
that are made in respect to the lack of Biblical evidence to support
the personhood of the holy Spirit.
1. Beach vs. Hickey on the Trinity,
[authors are already listed above], quoting Jeremy Taylor, p. 70.
2. A Catholic Dictionary, p. 810.
3. New Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 13, pp. 574, 575.
4. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. XV, p. 49.
5. The Triune God, Edward J. Fortman, pp. 6, 15.
Further Scriptural Harmony
"Do your best to present yourself to God
as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who
correctly handles the word of God." (2 Tim. 2:16, NIV)
God (‘Elo-him’) in Plural Form
The reasoning is presented that the Old Testament
Hebrew word for God is often in plural form. To the Trinitarian mind,
this is supposed to prove that God is a composite of three beings
somehow congealed into one identity. It never had such a connotation
to the Jewish writers of the Old Testament. They did not believe in a
Trinity. It is an enigma to them that, after the fact, some Christians
come along and prove the Trinity where none existed in the minds of
the writers of the Old Testament. Trinity never was in their thinking,
and therefore it was not in their ink quills.
Commenting on Gen. 1:1, where God is mentioned in
the plural as ‘elohim,’ Dr. Rotherham says: "It should
be carefully observed that, although ‘elohim’ is plural in
form, yet when, as here, it is construed with a verb in the singular,
it is naturally singular in sense; especially since the ‘plural of
quality’ or ‘excellence’ abounds in Hebrew in cases where the
reference is undeniably to something which must be understood in the
Oxford scholar R. B. Girdlestone writes on this
matter in his Synonyms of the Old Testament: "Many
critics, however, of unimpeachable orthodoxy, think it wiser to rest
where such divines as Cajetan [a theologian] in the Church of Rome and
Calvin among Protestants were content to stand, and to take the plural
form as a plural of majesty, and as indicating the greatness,
the infinity, and the incomprehensibleness of the Deity."1 The
truth on this matter is clearly perceived by many scholars, but it is
hard to restrain some hard-pressed Trinitarians from stretching the
truth to prove the unprovable.
It should be mentioned also that the Hebrew "elohim"
is used to describe pagan gods such as Dagon (1 Sam. 5:7) and Marduck
(Dan. 1:2). These were singular gods. No one has claimed they were
triune gods. Hence, it seems many Trinitarian scholars wince at
excesses of their brethren. The higher ground for the Trinitarian is
still that the Trinity is not understandable, nor explainable, and
must simply be accepted as a theological mystery. This is especially
difficult for fundamentalist Bible believers to accept. They find this
an uncomfortable posture in which to be.
"Immanuel" and the
Isaiah 7:14 reads: "Behold, a virgin shall
conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." We
shall not enter the discussion as to whether this verse may have had a
fulfillment other than to our Lord Jesus. Be that as it may, we have
Matthew’s application of this verse being fulfilled in Jesus’
birth (Matt. 1:23). It is, therefore, on Apostolic authority, applied
to our Lord, and that should be the end of all strife. However, when
it came time to give our Lord a name, he was not called Immanuel,
meaning "God with us," but Jesus, "Savior" (Matt.
1:25). Hence, the name is a title, very much as the Son of God or the
Son of Man. If God was sending His only begotten Son to dwell with
men, that surely would be a sign that God was with us, lifting up His
countenance upon us and being gracious to us. Even today we use the
expression, "God be with you." No more than this need be
implied in Isaiah 7:14.
Isaiah 9:6 gives our Savior the title, "The
mighty God." But the Jewish writers were not saying that the
Messiah would literally be Jehovah. If judges of Israel were called
"gods," as in Ps. 82:1-7, what would be earthshaking about
calling Jesus the "mighty God" (Hebrew, ‘El Gib-bohr’)?
Notice, he is not called ‘El Shad-dai,’ a term exclusively
applied to Jehovah. Further, "God" in the Isaiah text is the
Hebrew EL, defined by Dr. Strong as "strength; as adj[ective]
mighty; espec[ially] the Almighty (but used also of any deity)."2
The fact that the same word (EL) is used in Isa. 57:5 in describing
idols shows indeed that it is a general term used to describe any
mighty being and, hence, quite appropriately may be applied to our
Savior, Jesus, in Isa. 9:6.
The following sources offer additional comments on
Isa. 9:6 and Ps. 82:1-7: The Catholic Encyclopedia states: "Even
these exalted titles did not lead the Jews to recognize that the
Saviour to come was to be none other than God Himself."3 And the
Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature, by
McClintock and Strong, says: "Thus it appears that none of the
passages cited from the Old Test[ament] in proof of the Trinity are
conclusive. . . . We do not find in the Old Test[ament] clear or
decided proof upon this subject."4
Scriptures with Groupings of Three
Some Bible texts mention three subjects in
continuity and have been seized upon as proof of the Trinity. In 1
Corinthians 12:4-6 are found Spirit, Lord and God; 2 Corinthians 13:14
lists Christ, God and the Holy Ghost [Spirit]; Galatians 4:4-6 lists
God, Son and Spirit of his Son; Ephesians 4:4-6 lists Spirit, Lord and
God and 1 Peter 1:2 lists God, Spirit and Jesus Christ. If we were to
accept such logic as proof of the Trinity, then we would be led to
believe that Peter, James and John are a Trinity because they are
listed together. (See Luke 9:28.) 1 Timothy 5:21 says: "I charge
thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect
angels." Does this make angels a part of the Trinity?
Then there is the great commission text, "Go
ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the
Father, and of the son, and of the Holy Ghost [Spirit]" (Matt.
28:19). However, sentiment is mounting that this text is a forgery. In
every other instance where baptism is mentioned in the New Testament,
it is shown to be in the name of Jesus. Further, many of the early
Church fathers, in quoting this passage, leave out the Trinitarian
formula and say simply "in my name"; that is, in the name of
Jesus alone the baptism was to be carried out. In 1960, The British
& Foreign Bible Society published a Greek Testament, and in Matt.
28:19 the phrase "in my name" is given as an alternative
reading, with Eusebius cited as the early Church authority.
Let us note what some theologians have to say on
Dr. Adam Clark, a Trinitarian, in commenting on
Matthew 28:19 as proof that the Father, Son and holy Spirit were three
persons, says: "‘But this I can never believe.’ I cannot help
that—you shall not be persecuted by me for differing from my
opinion. I cannot go over to you; I must abide by what I believe to be
the meaning of the Scriptures." He then shows how the New
Testament believers in Acts 2:38; 8:16 and 19:5 were baptized in the
name of the Lord Jesus alone.5 Also, G. Kittel, in his Theological
Dictionary of the New Testament, states forthrightly: "The
N[ew] T[estament] does not actually speak of triunity. We seek this in
vain in the triadic formulae of the NT."6 Hence, there is such a
thing as trying too hard to use Scriptures to infer meanings not
intended, and some scholars refuse to do that.
"My Lord and My God"
One verse often used in an attempt to prove the
Trinity doctrine is John 20:28. "And Thomas answered and said
unto him, My Lord and my God." First, let us notice Thomas did
not mention the holy Spirit. He would have needed to do so for this
verse to sustain any Trinity connotation. Failing in this, it becomes,
at best, a stool with only two legs—not good to stand on. This verse
reveals Thomas’ happy response on finding his Master appearing
before him. He was slow to believe in Jesus’ resurrection, and it
took this personal interchange with the Master to make a true believer
out of him. He was the last of the Apostles to have been honored with
a visit from the Master after his resurrection. This probably hurt his
feelings to think that so many others had met with the resurrected
Lord and he had not been so blessed.
Thomas resolved: "Except I shall see in his
hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the
nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe [in his
resurrection]" (John 20:25). Did Thomas believe that it was God
the Father who was dead? Surely not. But if he believed Jesus was God,
how could he believe that it was Jesus who was dead? Yet if anything
at all is clear, it is that Thomas did believe Jesus was dead and
was overjoyed to find him alive.
When Jesus offered to fulfill all the necessary
conditions to make him believe his resurrection, Thomas cried out,
"My [the] Lord and my [the] God" (John 20:28). God here is a
translation of the Greek THEOS, which is defined by Dr. Young
as "God, a god, object of worship."7 It is a general term in
the New Testament, used frequently to denote the Heavenly Father (such
as in Matt. 27:46, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken
me," and in many additional places). However, it is also used to
depict other beings, whether good or bad. THEOS is used to
describe Satan, "the god of this world" (2 Cor. 4:4), the
saints, "gods, sons of the Most High" (John 10:34, 35, from
Ps. 82:6, RSV), idols, or fabricated "gods who will go before
us" (Acts 7:40), and heathen gods, "the gods have come down
to us in human form!" (Acts 14:11, 12). Hence, THEOS is
quite general in its application in Scripture, and the fact that it is
occasionally used of Jesus should not be taken as proof that he was
God the Father. Such usage alone is not conclusive to warrant such a
The Jews had earlier accused Jesus of blasphemy
because, being a man, he made himself "God"—but this was a
false and exaggerated accusation against Jesus which he never is
recorded as saying. Jesus’ response was, "Is it not written in
your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the
word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken; say ye of him,
whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou
blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?" (John
10:34-36). Even to be called God was not earthshaking. Jesus pointed
out that those to whom the Word of God came were called
"gods." (The original early manuscripts were written with
all capitals. Hence, translators must decide whether to capitalize or
not.) But Jesus did clarify who he was. He said, "I am the Son of
Did Thomas now believe something different than
Jesus claimed for himself? If those to whom the word of God came were
called "gods," what would be extraordinary about Thomas
calling Jesus "My Lord and my God"? Herod’s voice was
called "god’s" voice, and Paul was called "god"
(Acts 12:22; 28:6). This, undoubtedly, was a very emotional moment for
Thomas and certainly not an attempt on his part to offer advanced
theology. The fact that he says "the Lord" and "the
God" seems appropriate to his emotional state wherein he accepts
Jesus as his resurrected "the Lord" and "the God."
His very Jewishness prohibits us from concluding he thought Jesus was
"God the Father." He could not possibly have fused Jesus and
God the Father into one. Jesus had been his "Lord" (or
"Master"), and now, believing his resurrection, he accepts
him as his "God" (or "mighty one").
In addition to the foregoing, there is an
alternative explanation that should be considered. This was an
emotion-filled moment for Thomas, a moment about which he had spent
much time in prayer to God. It may be that Thomas was merely crying
out to God, his Father, "My Lord and my God" as an
exclamation for answering his prayers. Today, people cry out "My
God" in moments of overwhelming sorrow or joy. Jesus cried out,
"My God, my God" on the cross. This may be what Thomas meant
by his expression on this occasion. There is nothing to preclude this
thought. One thing we know, his assertion did not include the holy
Spirit, and therefore the Trinity cannot have been implied.
The Apostle John, who wrote his Gospel long years
after Pentecost, likewise did not believe Jesus was God. John quotes
Jesus’ reminder to Mary, saying, "I ascend to my Father, and
your Father; and to my God, and your God" (John 20:17). Jesus had
the same Father and God as Mary. Additionally, John sums up his lesson
covering these momentous events, saying, "But these are written,
that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and
that believing ye might have life through his name" (John 20:31).
The Apostle Thomas was a Jew who held to the view that the "Lord
our God is one." To argue that he forsook his Jewish religious
training at the moment in question and received Jesus as (the) God the
Father is an unlikely scenario. John, who is aged and serene while
writing his Gospel, summarizes this entire chapter saying, "Jesus
is the Christ, the son of God." That’s what he wanted us to
believe—and that’s what Thomas believed as well.
"In Three Days I Will Raise
In John 2:19 we read: "Destroy this temple,
and in three days I will raise it up." The argument is made that
Jesus was God and that he raised himself from the dead. This is said
in spite of the clear and oft repeated statement of Scripture that
"God raised him from the dead." (Please see our Bible
readings in Chapter VI.) The testimony of Scripture is so complete and
overwhelming that God raised Jesus from the dead that there cannot be
any shade of doubt about it.
Now let us examine some of our Lord’s statements
on this to see if they can be harmonized. In Matthew 17:22, 23, Jesus
said, speaking of his approaching death: "The Son of man shall be
betrayed into the hands of men: and they shall kill him, and the third
day he shall be raised again." (See also Luke 9:22; Matt. 16:21.)
The angels quoted our Lord’s words to the women who witnessed his
resurrection, saying: "Remember how he spake unto you when he was
yet in Galilee saying, the Son of man must be delivered into the hands
of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. And
they remembered his words" (Luke 24:6-8). These verses fit in
with the Bible testimony that God raised Jesus on the third day.
However, in John 2:19, Jesus said, in response to
the Jews’ request for a sign from him: "Destroy this temple,
and in three days I will raise it up." John quotes Jesus and then
gives the proper understanding of Jesus’ words. He says, "But
he spake of the temple of his body" (John 2:21). Here the aged
John is suggesting what Paul confirms: "For as the body is one,
and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being
many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all
baptized into one body. . . . Now ye are the body of Christ, and
members in particular" (1 Cor. 12:12, 13, 27). Further insight is
provided in 2 Cor. 4:14, which reads: "Knowing that he which
raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by [with,
through] Jesus, and shall present us with you." In John 6:44 we
read a similar thought: "No man can come to me, except the Father
. . . draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day." This
shows that God’s power would not be exercised independently but
through Jesus in the resurrection of the Body of Christ.
Hence it is Jesus who will take an active role in
raising his Church from the dead. John shows in 14:2, 3 when that will
be. He says: "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will
come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may
be also." So it is at Jesus’ second advent that his faithful
followers will be rewarded. Other Bible texts detail the timing of the
Church’s resurrection yet further. Peter declares that "One day
is with the Lord as a thousand years" (2 Pet. 3:8). If we divide
the time from man’s creation into one-thousand year days, Jesus was
crucified and resurrected on the fifth (thousand year) day. If he
returns in three days to raise his body members, counting inclusively
from the fifth day, we arrive at the seventh (thousand year) day,
which is the grand Millennial Day of blessing.
Now let us examine John 2:19—"In three days
I will raise it up"—from another standpoint. The disciples had
come to regard Jesus’ death and resurrection as a precursor of their
own resurrection. They remembered his promise: "Because I live,
ye shall live also" (John 14:19). Hence we read: "When
therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he
had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word
which Jesus had said" (John 2:22). We must remember that before
Pentecost, Jesus’ disciples did not entertain a heavenly hope. The
last thing they asked our risen Lord before he ascended was:
"Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to
Israel?" (Acts 1:6). Subsequently, they came to realize they were
to be a part of the body of Christ and that God would "raise up
us also by Jesus" (2 Cor. 4:14). That is what they remembered
Jesus’ words to mean.
Challenges of Interpretation
Some while back, a 31-page booklet entitled "Should
You Believe the Trinity?" was circulated, which caused quite
a stir in Trinitarian circles. Robert M. Bowman, Jr., rose to the
occasion and wrote an entire book in reply entitled Why You Should
Believe in the Trinity. His work enables one to see how a Trinitarian
studies the Bible and how he comes to his conclusions. It demonstrates
that an effort can be made to defend the Trinity and that Bible verses
may be used in an endless array to justify said beliefs. Yet, despite
a valiant overall effort, Mr. Bowman clearly falls short of the mark
in at least one direction—and that is in clarifying the doctrine for
us. After attempting at length to explain the unfathomable mystery of
the Trinity, he finally admits in summary: "The choice is
therefore between believing in the true God as he has revealed
himself, mystery and all, or believing in a God who is relatively
simple to understand but bears little resemblance to the true God.
Trinitarians are willing to live with a God they can’t fully
Most of his arguments pertain to Bible verses where
God and Christ may be, with a little effort, fused into one Being. The
hard part was in adding the holy Spirit to make Trinity complete. He
says, to lay the foundation for his argument: "The Holy Spirit is
nothing less than God himself. God is present everywhere, so he has no
problem controlling his works. He needs no force outside himself to do
his works, nor does he need to emanate some of his own energy to
places far from his presence in order to ‘be there.’"9
Unfortunately, he asserts God is "everywhere" without a
Bible citation. One must suppose this is accepted in theology.
However, our Lord Jesus taught us to pray, "Our Father, which art
in heaven" (Matt. 6:9). Jesus could have helped theology if he
taught us to pray: "Our Father, which art everywhere," but
he did not say this.
Such reasoning comes close to New Age theology
which teaches that God is everywhere and in everything and if we
identify with the earth, sun, water, etc., we become a part of God.
The wise man said: "God is in heaven, and thou upon earth:
therefore let thy words be few" (Ecc. 5:2). When Moses wished to
see God’s glory, God caused a representation of Himself to pass
before Moses. The restriction was that Moses would see God’s
"back parts" (Ex. 33:23). How could a God who is everywhere
be represented by God’s glory as it passed by? How long would it
take for everywhere to pass before Moses? Also God is said to dwell in
"light which no man can approach unto" (1 Tim. 6:16). If God
is everywhere, he must also be in the dark holes of the universe. How
could it be said: "God is light, and in him is no darkness at
all" (1 John 1:5)?
If God is everywhere, then Jesus is everywhere and
so also the holy Spirit. This raises a question in logic. In John
14:3, Jesus promises: "I will come again." How does someone
who is everywhere come again to somewhere? Jesus also promised in John
15:26: "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you
. . . he shall testify of me." How do you send someone who is
everywhere? Why would you need to? How can everywhere be moved to
Mr. Bowman asserts God "needs no force outside
himself to do his works, nor does he need to emanate some of his
energy to places." It is doubtful if many theologians would back
such an extravagant assertion. This would seem to rule out any use of
the holy Spirit as the mind, influence, power, etc., of God. For a
case in point, God says: "I will pour out my spirit upon all
flesh" (Joel 2:28). How could a God-person, who is everywhere, be
poured out on "all flesh"? Logic and common sense require
even Trinitarians to read certain verses with the same meaning as
non-Trinitarians. That is the hard part of arguing against the
Trinity; it seems everyone defending it has some different ideas.
Greater minds than his have struggled to find the
formula to merge three persons into one and have conceded that, after
having done their best, their concepts were
"incomprehensible." Mr. Bowman concludes the same, as we
have observed: "Trinitarians are willing to live with a God they
can’t fully understand." The Trinity is a doctrine of
inference—not of Biblical statement. We doubt that many theologians
would support his position that it is unnecessary for the Spirit ever
to be a power or influence or the mind of God. His position seems
Finally, every Christian must realize that there is
nothing they believe that cannot be assailed by someone somewhere. The
Devil quoted the Bible trying to beguile our Lord. The Judaizing Jews
quoted Scripture verses to bring Gentiles under the Law. Were they
sincere? Probably, but misinformed. There is not a single doctrine
believed by any Christian which is not assailed with vigor and even
sometimes with forceful presentations. What do we do in such an event?
We can close our mind to all discussion and retreat to our trenches.
That is probably good if indeed our belief is well-founded in the
Word. There definitely is a cloud over the Trinity which is very
troubling to many, and we trust that such will be blessed by this
1. Synonyms of the Old Testament,
R. B. Girdlestone, p. 22.
2. Strong’s Concordance, Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary, #410.
3. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. XV, p. 49.|
4. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature,
McClintock and Strong, Vol. IV, "John," pp. 551-2.
5. Clarke’s Commentary on Matt. 28:19, p. 284.
6. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, G. Kittel, p.
7. Young’s Concordance, "God," #8, p. 419.
8. Why You Should Believe in the Trinity, Robert M. Bowman, Jr.,
9. Ibid., p. 13.
Confronting Gnostic Heresies
"Turn away from godless philosophical
discussions and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called
knowledge[GNOSIS], which some have professed and in so doing have
wandered from the faith." (1 Tim. 6:20, NIV and NJB)
When the Apostle John spoke of those who do not
"abide in the doctrine of Christ" (2 John 9), what false
teaching was he refuting? We believe he was confronting a particular
false teaching being advocated in his time and place. As mentioned
earlier, the Trinity doctrine was not yet formulated, and John was not
confronting it. It was not troubling the Church at that time. In Acts
15 the early Church did have a heated conference of elders and
Apostles, but it addressed the issue of Gentiles coming into the
Church and being pressured to keep the Jewish Law Covenant. The
council ended with a very clearly-worded message: "For it seemed
good to the Holy Ghost [Spirit], and to us, to lay upon you no greater
burden than these necessary things; that ye abstain from meats offered
to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from
fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well"
(Acts 15:28, 29).
Now, you would think if the Trinity was even
faintly mentioned in Church teachings, it would need some
clarification. Certainly, those of the Priesthood (Acts 6:7) who had
become believers and who were trying to bring Gentiles under the Law
would have raised eyebrows at any teaching beclouding the one-God
concept of the Jewish Law. The leadership of the Church were all
mainly Jews carried over from the Law arrangement. Yet not one word
emerged about a tripersonal deity. How could the Trinity not have been
mentioned in this conference, or in the Bible itself, if it was an
essential doctrine for Jews and Gentiles alike to believe?
John’s Gospel, as well as his epistles, are
believed to have been written toward the close of the first century.
McClintock & Strong on "John," says:
"Ephesus and Patmos are the two places
mentioned by early writers, and the weight of evidence seems to
preponderate in favor of Ephesus. Irenaeus . . . states that John
published his Gospel whilst he dwelt in Ephesus of Asia. Jerome . .
. relates that John was in Asia . . . Theodore of Mopsuestia . . .
relates that John was living at Ephesus when he was moved by his
disciples to write his Gospel.
"The evidence in favor of Patmos comes from
two anonymous writers. The author of the Synopsis of Scripture,
printed in the works of Athanasius, states that the Gospel was
dictated by John in Patmos, and published afterwards in Ephesus. . .
. [Another] author . . . states that John was banished by Domitian
to Patmos, where he wrote his Gospel."1
Quoting McClintock and Strong, on "John, First
Epistle," we read:
"It has been conjectured by many
interpreters, ancient and modern, that it was written at the same
place as the Gospel. The more ancient tradition places the writing
of the Gospel at Ephesus, and a less authentic report refers it to
the island of Patmos . . . it was probably posterior to the Gospel,
which seems to be referred to in 1 John 1:4. Some are of the opinion
that the Epistle was an envelope or accompaniment to the Gospel, and
that they were consequently written nearly simultaneously."2
These comments suggest John’s writings were the
writings of his old age. Having outlived the other Apostles, John
could see the essential fabric of Christianity beginning to be
subjected to intellectual Hellenistic philosophy and gnosticism. John
was the last Apostolic outpost defending the "faith which was
once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3). He was dearly loved by
the brethren of that time, but not by all. "Diotrephes, who
loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not" (3
John 9). It is hard to believe anyone would not receive John in the
Christian community. However, ambition and power-lust were running
high, and hence even the beloved Apostle found himself put upon. This
should make us wary of accepting beliefs not originating in Apostolic
Confessing Jesus Christ Is Come
in the Flesh
John, in his epistles, as well as in his gospel
writings, was dealing with certain gnostic heresies that had started
to trouble the early Church. In 1 John 4:3, we read: "And every
spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is
not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist." What was John
addressing here? For an answer we quote McClintock & Strong:
"Irenaeus says, ‘Cerinthus taught that the
world was not made by the supreme God, but by a certain power
(Demiurge) separate from Him, and below Him, and ignorant of Him.
Jesus he supposed not to be born of a virgin, but to be the son of
Joseph and Mary, born altogether as other men are; but he excelled
all men in virtue, knowledge, and wisdom. At His baptism, the Christ
came down upon Him, from God who is over all, in the shape of a
dove; and then He declared to the world the unknown Father, and
wrought miracles. At the end, the Christ left Jesus, and Jesus
suffered and rose again, but the Christ being spiritual, was
This view presents Jesus as a mere man fathered by
Joseph, who later became possessed by Christ at Jordan and deserted by
Christ before Jesus was crucified. Hence, Christ did not come in the
flesh, nor did he suffer in the flesh, but simply took possession of a
man named Jesus from Jordan and left him before he was crucified.
Under this teaching, Christ neither suffered nor died. It was Jesus
the man who suffered and died and was resurrected. This concept may
have arisen from the practice of demons entering fleshly bodies to
possess them, such as evidently was fairly commonplace in Jesus’
We refer again to McClintock & Strong on
"The account of Irenaeus is that he [Cerinthus]
appeared about the year 88, and was known to St. John, who wrote his
Gospel in refutation of his errors. Irenaeus, on the authority of
Polycarp, narrates that the Apostle John, when at Ephesus, going on
a certain day to the bath, and finding Cerinthus within, fled from
the building, saying ‘Let us even be gone, lest the bath should
fall to pieces, Cerinthus, that enemy of the truth, being
This scrap of history would confirm John’s
unwillingness to have any interchange or contact with one who was
introducing such mind-beguiling errors into the Churches. Yet, the
point to be noted is that, even while the Apostle John still lived,
various forms of gnostic errors affecting the nature of Christ were
indeed infecting Christianity. What would happen when all the Apostles
fell asleep? Surely, no one would logically expect truth to triumph.
Jesus taught—"While men slept, his enemy
came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way" (Matt.
13:24-30). What were the "tares" the enemy sowed? Errors or
false teachings which would subvert true Christianity. Yes. Even
before the Apostles fell asleep, the Devil was busy trying to infuse
gnostic beliefs among the people of God. Paul confirms this, saying,
"The mystery of iniquity doth already work" (2 Thess. 2:7).
We must always remember, these false teachings were kept out of the
Bible, but not out of the Church. What was to be a "wheat
field" turned into a field of "tares," the planting of
the Wicked One. The Parable of the Wheat and Tares (Matt. 13:24-30)
was given by the Master to foretell what would follow the death of the
Apostles. For anyone to go to the fourth and fifth centuries to seek
the truth is to ignore this clear warning of Jesus.
Docetism appeared in the latter half of the second
century. It was, in fact, only another form of gnosticism. McClintock
& Strong, commenting on Docetae, say:
"In order to remove the author of all good
from all contact with matter, which they conceived to be the same as
evil, they called in the aid of Oriental philosophy in order to
people the space between God and matter with a vast succession of
superhuman beings as mediators between God and the world. These,
emanating from the Deity, were called aeons; among these the highest
rank was assigned to Christ. Here, however, they seem to have split.
‘Many imagined that Jesus was a mere man, and maintained that the
aeon Christ descended upon the man Jesus at his baptism, and left
him immediately before his crucifixion, so that Christ was not, in
fact, subjected to pain and death; while others held that the body,
with which Christ appeared to be invested, was not really human and
passable, but unsubstantial or etherial, or, at least immaterial:
these last were called Docetae.’ (Waddington’s Hisory of the
Church, p. 74, 75). They denied the whole humanity of Christ,
regarding it only as a deceptive show, a mere vision.
"Docetism was a most subtle element, which
wrought variously before it had any discernible concentration in any
leading men or sects, and it infused its unreal and fantastic leaven
into various Gnostic sects, and other later ones which grew out of
Gnosticism. It was a deep, natural, rationalistic,
pseudo-spiritualistic, anti-incarnation element."5
The errors introduced by Cerinthus did not
disappear, but infected the Church heavily in the second century. It
was these errors that were leavening the lump, and to offset them,
both truth and additional errors were used to put down these gnostic
teachings. The hardest thing is to defend the truth without
exaggerating matters. The Devil does not care which ditch one gets
into, as long as one leaves the strait and narrow path of truth.
Gnosticism in the Church
The early Christians did seek knowledge of
spiritual things. Paul says some were given the "word of
knowledge (gnosis) by the same Spirit" (1 Cor. 12:8). There was a
proper knowledge that came to saints of that day, and then there were
supposed superior knowledge and insights that were nothing more than
heretical gnosticism. The Church was put upon by these claimants of
superior knowledge. McClintock & Strong, on Gnosticism, say:
"The name Gnosticism has been applied to a
variety of schools which had sometimes little in common except the
assumption of a knowledge higher than that of ordinary believers. .
. . They seldom pretended to demonstrate the principles on which
their systems were founded by historical evidence or logical
reasonings, since they rather boasted that these were discovered by
the intuitional powers of more highly endowed minds, and that the
materials thus obtained, whether through faith or divine revelation,
were then worked up into ascientific form according to each one’s
natural power and culture. Their aim was to construct not merely a
theory of redemption, but of the universe—a cosmogony. No subject
was beyond their investigations. Whatever God could reveal to the
finite intellect, they looked upon as within their range. What to
others seemed only speculative ideas, were by them hypostatized or
personified into real beings or historical facts. It was in this way
that they constructed systems of speculation on subjects entirely
beyond the range of human knowledge, which startle us by their
boldness and their apparent consciouness of reality."6
Most of the controversies of the early Church were
Judaistic in nature, but evidence is found early on of heretical
influences that affected the brotherhood. Quoting again from
McClintock & Strong on Gnosticism:
"The heretical gnosis did not make its
appearance with an uncovered head until after the death of the
apostles, but . . . that it previously worked in secret. . . . While
most of the heresies of that period were Judaistic, there was an
obvious difference between those reproved in the Galatian churches
and those noticed in the epistles to the Colossians and Timothy. The
latter are treated much more mildly, and we readily perceive that
they must have been much less developed and less subversive of the
Christian system. They are expressly called (1 Tim. 6:20) a false gnosis,
and were characterized by empty sounds without sense and subtle
oppositions to the truth, a depreciation of the body, and a worship
of angels (Col. 2:18, 23), and interminable genealogies and myths (1
Tim. 1:4). These seem more akin to Jewish than to heathen
speculations, and imply not the completed Gnosticism of the second
century, but the manifest germs of Docetic emanations and Gnostic
It is easy to see how such forces at work within
the early Church were like leaven that needed an incubation period
before it "leavened the whole." While the leaven was rising,
it induced a power struggle among the bishops, some for truth and some
for error and, more often than not, a struggle for preeminence and
power. To secure these, one needed some platform that played well and
would seduce the largest numbers. Later, the seduction was directed
toward the Emperor Constantine, for the imperial power would make or
break the bishops. Those who contended for the faith "once
delivered unto the saints" became merely voices crying in the
wilderness (Jude 3).
To believe that most Church leaders were the great
preservers of the "faith once delivered to the saints" is to
believe the unbelievable. The Great Wall of China was built to keep
out invading enemy forces. However, the wall was breached three times
within the first century of its construction—in each instance from
within. Once we leave the Apostolic Era and the Word of God, it
becomes stormy and treacherous.
What John Was Confronting
The Apostle John, in his Gospel, was filling in
details left out in other Gospel accounts as well as lightly
addressing some subtle errors of that era. In John 1:1-18, we find
John refuting gnostic heresies. He shows that Jesus was a spirit who
was "with God" and who subsequently became flesh. He
says, "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we
beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,)
full of grace and truth" (vs. 14). This is a plain statement of
fact. Jesus was "made flesh." He did not possess another’s
body or form, but he was, in fact, "flesh." Neither was he a
mixture of natures—spirit and flesh. He was "flesh." Peter
confirms this truth, saying, "Being put to death indeed in flesh,
but made alive in spirit" (1 Pet. 3:18, Rotherham). The gnostic
teaching that Christ was a composite of spirit and flesh did finally
emerge. But the Bible is quite clear that Jesus was made
"flesh." It does not say he assumed a fleshly body and then
left it. He died on the cross and was raised from the dead by God on
the third day (Matt. 28:7; Acts 2:31, 32).
John 1:18 reads, "No man hath seen God at any
time; the only begotten son [some authorities read God], which is in
the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." Men did see
Jesus. No man has ever seen God, nor can they and live. Jesus, then,
is the revealer of God, the one through whom we may know the Father.
What did John mean when he said: "Whosoever
transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not
God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the
Father and the Son" (2 John 9)? Why didn’t he add: "hath
the Father and the Son and the holy Spirit"? Obviously, John was
not dealing with any part of the Trinity when he wrote these words. He
was meeting the errors of Cerinthus and gnosticism, which were
beginning to surface in that very early era when the Apostles still
lived. He was endeavoring to prevent Cerinthus and his deceived
followers from bewitching the Church with their Satan-inspired,
The battle did not cease after the Apostles fell
asleep. The Church of God became infested with philosophy, gnostic
dualisms, docetic emanations, etc. The stage was being set for the
dualism of God and Christ to be fused into one substance, composed of
spirit and flesh simultaneously. Because these earliest errors had to
do with the nature of Jesus Christ in human flesh and his relationship
to God, it became increasingly difficult to separate fact from fancy.
A thick cloud of confusion settled upon Christians. As a result,
theologians left the simplicity of the unitarian God of the first
century and fused Jesus and God into one Being in the fourth century.
At last in the fifth century, the Trinity was born
even while the Christian Church began its descent toward the Dark
Ages. If at least we could see the Church moving toward more brotherly
love and kindness after the Trinity concept took root, we could sense
that something good had emerged. But such was not the case. The
picture that emerges is of a Church steeped in worldliness, pomp and
ceremony, leaving the purity and simplicity of its early faith far
behind. Even worse are centuries filled with bloodletting and
ruthlessness that followed, with the Church bent on world conquest.
All contrary religious thought was stifled as the Church grasped for
Hellenistic Influences in the
Hans Kung writes:
"If we take the New Testament as a
criterion, we cannot deny that the Council of Nicaea certainly
maintained the New Testament message and did not Hellenize it
totally. But it is equally beyond dispute that the council remained
utterly imprisoned in Hellenistic concepts, notions and
thought-models which would have been completely alien to the Jew
Jesus of Nazareth and the earliest community. Here in particular the
shift from the Jewish Christian apocalyptic paradigm [beliefs,
values, techniques and so on shared by the members of a given
community] to the early church Hellenistic paradigm had a massive
There is little doubt that after the Hellenization
of the Church, it would have been unrecognizable to early Jewish
When the Church became Hellenized, it became a tool
for Constantine. Hans Kung says:
"He not only convened the ecumenical council
but directed it through a bishop whom he had commissioned, with the
assistance of imperial commissioners; he adjourned it and concluded
it; by his decision the resolutions of the council became imperial
laws. Constantine used this first council not least to adapt the
church organization to the state organization. . . . It was now
clear to Constantine, the political strategist, that the imperial
church needed more than just the more or less varied confessions of
faith of the individual local or provincial churches. It needed a
uniform ‘ecumenical creed,’ and this was to be the church law
and imperial law for all the churches. He believed that only in this
way could he ensure the unity of the empire under the slogan ‘one
God—one emperor—one kingdom—one church—one faith.’"9
While Constantine was using the Church for his own
political agenda, it must be remembered that, although confessing to
be a Christian, he was actually a ruthless opportunist. He still
presided at all pagan festivities, commissioned many of the new
Churches to be adorned with pagan artwork, and was responsible for
murdering members of his own family. In 326 A.D., long after his
"conversion," he had his wife, Fausta, and his eldest son,
Crispus, put to death. When convinced that his own death was near, he
received baptism from Eusebius of Nicomedia, in 337 A.D. He had
delayed baptism to the end, since he felt he could not avoid
committing "mortal" sin during his lifetime, and such sin
after baptism was considered to be unforgivable.10 This was the man
who forced his will upon the Nicene Council, dictated the wording of
its creed, and thereby directed the doctrinal course of the Church for
centuries to come. But is this the kind of man to whom we should be
entrusting our most sacred beliefs?
Hans Kung makes another observation:
"Nor did Paul want to replace Jewish belief
in one God with a Christian belief in two Gods. Rather, he always
regarded the Jesus who had been exalted by God’s spirit to God as
subordinate to this one God and Father: as the Messiah, Christ,
image, Son, of the one God. So his christocentricity remains
grounded in and culminates in a theocentricity: ‘from God through
Jesus Christ’—‘through Jesus Christ to God.’ To this degree
Paul’s christology is directly compatible with Jewish
We realize, too, that Paul was not opposed by his
Judaizing Jewish brethren because of his presentations of God. It was
his opposition to bringing Gentile Christians under bondage to the Law
arrangement that incurred their ire.
We quote again from Hans Kung:
"We should note that whereas the Council of
Nicaea in 325 spoke of a single substance or hypostasis in God, the
starting point in the 381 Council of Constantinople was three
hypostases: Father, Son and Spirit. There has been much discussion
in the history of dogma as to whether the transition from a
one-hypostasis theology to a three-hypostasis theology is only a
terminological change or—more probably (as the temporary schism in
Antioch between old and new orthodox shows)—also involved an
actual change in the conceptual model. At all events it is certain
that we can speak of a dogma of the Trinity only after the Second
Ecumenical Council in Constantinople."12
There is little doubt when Trinity became a Church
dogma. For those willing to accept the Council of Constantinople as
the basis of their faith, we wish them well, but our conviction is
that Christians should be free to believe only what was taught by the
Trinity a Recognized Stumbling
When the Church united with the Roman powers, it
seemed certain that the conquest of the world lay before it. Rome was
the leading power of the world, and the Church was able to march under
two banners—Christ and Rome. It was seemingly invincible. Why did it
fail? Hans Kung says:
"A main cause of the failure of Christianity
seems to have lain in the inadequate foundation of the dogmas of
christology and the Trinity. The Catholic theologian Hermann
Stieglecker, who gives an admirable account of the theological
controversies between Christians and Muslims in his book on The
Doctrines of Islam, rightly regards this lack as one of the most
serious causes of the collapse of Christianity, particularly in its
homelands, in the Near East and North Africa. It was in fact simpler
to believe in the One God and Muhammad, the Prophet after Jesus. In
addition, however, there were also the lamentable internal divisions
Christianity was born in the Middle East, and for
the churches to have lost that whole area is most painful to them.
While a few churches are now tolerated there, what hope is there in
regaining what the Muslims have taken? The Trinity, which seemed a
popular route to take in conquest of the world, has turned out instead
to be a great impediment. That is why Hans Kung and a host of men like
him are trying to break out from this "incomprehensible"
Trinity concept. No matter how it
how it is
qualified, no matter how it is propped up, its inherent weakness
remains—it is unreasonable and consequently incomprehensible.
An Overview of the Controversies
Let no one come away thinking that only two views
of Christ have existed. The controversies were many. We quote from Christian
Those Believing Jesus Was Either Divine or Human
"Docetists, e.g., Gnostics: The
divine Christ would never stoop to touch flesh, which is evil. Jesus
only seemed (dokeo, in Greek) human and only appeared to die, for
God cannot die. Or, in other versions, "Christ" left
"Jesus" before the Crucifixion.
"Apollinarians: Jesus is not equally
human and divine but one person with one nature. In Jesus’ human
flesh resided a divine mind and will (he didn’t have a human mind
or spirit), and his divinity controlled or sanctified his humanity.
"Modalists, a.k.a. Sabellians:
God’s names (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) change with his roles or
‘modes of being’ (like a chameleon). When God is the Son, he is
not the Father. There is no pemanent distinction between the three
‘persons’ of the Trinity, otherwise you have three gods."
Those Believing Christ May Be Special, But Not
"Ebionites: For these conservative
Jewish Christians, God is one, and Jesus must be understood in Old
Testament categories. Jesus was merely a specially blessed prophet.
"Adoptionists, a.k.a., dynamic
monarchianists: No denying Jesus was special, but what happened
is this: at birth (not conception) or baptism, God ‘adopted’ the
human Jesus as his special son and gave him an extra measure of
divine power (dynamis, in Greek)."
Arians: The Son as Word, Logos, was
created by God before time. He is not eternal or perfect like God,
though he was God’s agent in creating everything else."
Those Believing Christ Has One Nature
"Monophysites, e.g., Eutychians:
Jesus cannot have two natures; his divinity swallowed up his
humanity ‘like a drop of wine in the sea.’
Those Believing Christ Was Two Persons
"Nestorians: If you dismiss Jesus’
humanity like that, he cannot be the Savior of humankind. Better to
say he has two natures and also two persons: the divine Christ and
the human Christ lived together in Jesus."
The Orthodox View: (The Majority View, Right or
"Trinitarians: Jesus is fully human
and fully divine, having two natures in one person—‘without
confusion, without change, without division, without
Every inquirer for truth should know how
widespread, divisive and confusing these controversies were before the
Trinitarians were able to crush the opposition, taking over schools of
learning much as evolutionists have done in our day. The law at work
here might be likened to that of the Wild West, where the man with the
fastest draw became the established authority. History records that
the Church "was racked by feuding, recriminations, and downright
treachery. . . . Bishops turned against one another, often mounting
intricate intrigues to promote their theological viewpoints. To win
the day, or just to survive, churchmen needed both a theologian’s
wisdom and a politician’s savvy."15
Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria and called a saint
by his followers, is an outstanding example of a Trinitarian leader
noted for his strong stand against Arianism. But consider the kind of
man he was—ruthlessly and tenaciously opposing Arius, the kindly,
intelligent and popular presbyter in Alexandria, who courageously
defended the early Church view of Jesus as the only begotten Son of
God. Athanasius, in contrast, staunchly upheld the Nicene Creed,
"was incapable of compromise, and believed that anyone who
disagreed with him was not only wrong but also evil." He was
harsh and acrimonious in manner and was known for being
"autocratic in his dealings with dissenters in his church."
He was variously accused of employing black magic, attempting to levy
improper taxes for priestly vestures, and even of rape and murder.
Called before a full ecclesiastical council at Tyre in 335, just ten
years after Nicea, he was deposed as bishop and thereafter was exiled
no less than five times. Yet, despite all this, he is considered one
of the Fathers of the Church—solely because of upholding the
"faith of Nicea."16
It is also common knowledge that the victor in the
kind of strife that occurred here is the one who controls the history
of the period. The evidence for the opposing view is methodically
squelched or distorted. In this instance, an effort was made to give
the impression that Trinity was the accepted Christian belief from the
very beginning of the Church, rather than the labored product of
centuries of theological squabble and fusion with pagan beliefs.
In retrospect, it seems odd that the one view which
seems least understandable, and the least logical, would be the one
that claims orthodoxy today. And yet we must not allow ourselves to be
overwhelmed by what the Apostle Paul termed "the godless chatter
and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge [Greek,
GNOSIS], for by professing it, some have missed the mark as regards
the faith" (1 Tim. 6:20, 21, RSV). What a hollow victory for
Trinity to have carried the day with such an incomprehensible and
Finally, when we turn to artwork, we find that
artists created other heresies when they tried to illustrate the
doctrine of the Trinity. Medieval art depicted God with three faces
and one body, which really is modalism, which denies differences
between the Father, Son and holy Spirit. Another medieval Hungarian
portrait showed God on a throne with the holy Spirit as a dove resting
upon Jesus, who is portrayed as a man. This shows God as three
separate beings. Alas, nothing seems able to describe this mystery
adequately, even in artwork! Yet Jesus confidently taught us,
"Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of
God" (Mark 4:11). And the Apostle Paul said, "We speak the
wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained
before the world unto our glory; which none of the princes of this
world knew . . . but God hath revealed . . . unto us by his
Spirit" (1 Cor. 2:7-10).
1. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological
and Ecclesiastical Literature, McClintock and Strong, Vol. IV,
"John," p. 949.
2. Ibid., "John, First Epistle," Vol. IV, pp. 951-2.
3. Ibid., "Cerinthus," Vol. II, p. 191.
5. Ibid., "Docetae," Vol. II, p. 844-5.
6. Ibid., "Gnosticism," Vol. III, p. 891.
7. Ibid., p. 893.
8. Christianity: Essence, History and Future, Hans Kung, p. 182.
9. Ibid., pp. 180-1.
10. After Jesus. The Triumph of Christianity, pp. 231, 233, 236.
11. Christianity: Essence, History and Future, p. 113.
12. Ibid., p. 187.
13. Ibid., p. 343.
14. Christian History, Robert Payne, "A Hammer Struck at
Heresy," Issue 51 (Vol. XV, No. 3),1996, pp. 20-21.
15. After Jesus. The Triumph of Christianity, p. 225.
16. Ibid., pp. 225-6.
Readings from the
Inspired Word of God
"All Scripture is given by inspiration
of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for rebuking error, for
correcting faults, and for instruction in righteousness, that the man
of God may be fully qualified and equipped to do every good
work." (2 Tim. 3:16, 17, KJV and TEV)
The following Scriptural references are a
compilation of numerous Biblical texts which state Jesus was the SON
of God—not God Himself. The fervent prayer is offered that this
study will be a valuable aid to those seeking to know the true
identity of our Lord and Master, Christ Jesus. Weigh the evidence with
Bible in hand and a prayerful honest heart. By the Lord’s grace, you
may come to see the facts long hidden by controlled theology. We are
no longer a "voice crying in the wilderness" on the
"doctrine of Christ." Many voices are now being raised
together with clear Bible readings to depict the harmony of the Bible
on the nature of the man Christ Jesus.
Please notice that the verses cited also contain
typical Trinitarian "proof" scriptures, as well as those of
our own persuasion. Most of the quotations are self-explanatory when
one realizes the simple truth, that Jesus was God’s only begotten
son—a Lord and a god—above all angels, who sits at the right hand
of God. This should become obvious as one objectively reads the
presentations below in their entirety.
Italicized words indicate the author’s emphasis
to help the reader "key in" on the main points. Sometimes a
brief comment is supplied to emphasize the scriptural point of logic.
"A good honest heart" is the prerequisite of every true
Christian. (See Luke 8:15, RSV.) In Jesus’ time, many did not follow
their hearts, because they asked, "Have any of the rulers or of
the Pharisees believed on him?" (John 7:48). Of yet another class
we read, "Many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they
did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: for
they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God" (John
12:42, 43). We must be honest to God and to our own hearts be true.
All the citations are from the King James Bible.
Exodus 33:20 "And he said, Thou canst
not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live." (Many
saw Jesus’ face and lived; therefore, how could Jesus be God?)
Compare John 5:36.
Psalms 110:1 "The Lord [Yahweh or
Jehovah] said unto my [David’s] Lord, Sit thou at my right hand,
until I make thine enemies thy footstool." (We note here that the
instructions were given by the Father [Jehovah] to the Son [David’s
Lord]; this order is never reversed in Scripture, with the Father
always preeminent. See p. 7 for comments on Matt. 22:42-43, wherein
Jesus discourses with the Jews on the meaning of Ps. 110:1.)
Proverbs 8:22-30 "The Lord possessed
[created, see Strong’s] me in the beginning of his way, before his
works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or
ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth;
when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the
mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: while as
yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of
the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when
he set a compass upon the face of the depth: when he established the
clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: when he
gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his
commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: then I
was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing always before him." See Rev. 3:14.
Isaiah 9:6 "For unto us a child is
born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his
shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The
mighty God [El, Strong’s, #410, ‘strength, mighty, Almighty,’
applicable ‘to any deity’], The everlasting Father, the Prince of
Peace." (Christ is appropriately called "Father" from
the standpoint of his becoming the second Adam—lifegiver to the
race—and "source of eternal salvation" (1 Cor. 15:47; Heb.
5:9). Christ is no longer a branch (receiver) but the "root"
(giver of life) in the regeneration (Rev. 22:16; Matt. 19:28).
Isaiah 42:8 "I am the Lord: that is my
name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to
graven images." (God does not give His glory to another. In
contrast, Jesus invites the saints to share his glory as a bride.) See
Romans 6:3-6; 8:17, 18; Col. 3:4; 1 John 3:2.
Dan. 7:13 "I saw in the night visions,
and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven,
and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before
Matt. 3:17 "And lo a voice from heaven,
saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (We
note that it was the Father, speaking from heaven, who indicated His
good pleasure in His Son upon the earth. Jesus always strove to be
pleasing to his Father, to carry out His will, and to receive His
commendation and approval. The Scriptures never reverse this
relationship, always giving the Father the preeminence.)
"Then was Jesus led up of the
Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil." (James
1:13 states "God cannot be tempted!") See Luke 4:1, 2, 13.
Matt. 10:40 "He that receiveth you
receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent
Matt. 16:16 "And Simon Peter answered
and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Matt 17:5 "While he yet spake, behold,
a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud,
which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye
Matt. 18:10 "Take heed that ye despise
not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their
angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in
Matt. 20:23 "And he saith unto them, Ye
shall drink indeed of my cup . . . but to sit on my right hand, and on
my left, is not mine to give but it shall be given to them for whom it
is prepared of my Father." (Jesus lacked authority in this
Matt. 24:36 "But of that day and hour
knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father
only." (This demonstrates that God and Jesus are not equal in
knowledge!) See also John 7:16; 12:50; 17:8.
Matt. 26:39 "And he went a little
farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it
be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will,
but as thou wilt." (This verse implies Jesus had one will and his
Father had another. Two different wills imply two different beings!)
See also Matt. 26:42; John 5:19-22.
Matt. 27:46 "Jesus cried with a loud
voice, saying, Eli, Eli, La-ma sa-bach-tha-ni? that is to say, My God,
my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" ( If Jesus were God . . . had
he forsaken himself? Is this logical? Clearly, Jesus was speaking to
another being, his Father.)
Matt. 28:18 "And Jesus came and spake
unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in
earth." (Jesus was given power not previously possessed.)
Mark 1:24 "What have we to do with
thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee
who thou art, the Holy One of God." (The unclean spirit knew
Jesus was not God but rather the Holy One of God.)
Mark 12:36 "For David himself said by
the Holy Ghost [Spirit], The Lord [Jehovah] said to my [David’s]
Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy
footstool." (Hebrews 1:13 identifies the Lord Jesus as the one
who sits on the right hand of the Lord God.)
Luke 2:49 "And he said unto them, How
is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my
Luke 2:52 "And Jesus increased in
wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man." (How and why
should Jesus increase in favor with himself?)
John 1:18 "No man hath seen God at any
time; the only begotten Son [many manuscripts read "only begotten
God"], which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world,
that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him
should not perish, but have everlasting life." (The following
verses confirm that Jesus died for our sins! Rom. 5:10; Romans 14:9;
Acts 3:15; Col. 1:15, 18; Rev. 1:5, 18; 1 Tim. 2:5; 1 John 4:9, 14;
John 3:34, 35 "For he whom God hath
sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by
measure unto him. The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things
into his hand."
John 5:26 "For as the Father hath life
in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself."
John 5:30 "I can of mine own self do
nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek
not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent
me." (Jesus was seeking another being’s will—not his own!)
John 5:37 "And the Father himself,
which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard
his voice at any time, nor seen his shape."
John 6:38 "For I came down from heaven,
not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me." (Two
John 7:16-18 "My doctrine is not mine,
but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of
the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. He
that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh
his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is
John 8:17-19 "It is also written in
your law, that the testimony of two men is true. I am one that bear
witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.
Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye
neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have
known my Father also." (Note there was no third witness—only
the Father and the Son. Jesus omits the holy Spirit. Why?)
"Jesus said unto them, If
God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came
from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not
understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of
your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do."
John 10:29 "My Father, which gave them
me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my
Father’s hand. I and my Father are one. (Note John 17:21, 22.) Then
the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many
good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works
do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we
stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man,
makest thyself God. Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your
law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word
of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him, whom
the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest;
because I said, I am the Son of God?" (This would have been the
perfect place to state that he was, indeed, God the Father.)
John 14:1 "Ye believe in God, believe
also in me." (An unnecessary injunction for those who believe in
John 14:20 "At that day ye shall know
that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you." (Would this
make Jesus’ disciples a part of the Trinity? Shown here is the
oneness of the family of God—not a oneness of person, but oneness of
purpose and will.) Compare John 17:21-22.
John 14:28 "Ye have heard how I said
unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would
rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is
greater than I." (How can the Father be greater than Jesus, if
Jesus and his Father are equal? Admittedly, some Trinitarians
recognize Christ was inferior in flesh. Even so, then his sacrifice on
the cross was less than God. How could Jesus in flesh be
"co-equal" with God?) See 1 Cor. 3:23; 11:3.
John 17:3 "And this is life eternal,
that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom
thou hast sent."
John 17:11 "And now I am no more in the
world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father,
keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they
may be one, as we are." (If Christ’s true followers are to be
"one" as are God and Jesus, could that oneness be anything
more than "oneness" of purpose and will? Could we be a part
of the Trinity? See also John 17:21-23.)
John 20:17 "Jesus saith unto her, Touch
me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren,
and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my
God and your God." (Jesus had a God and brethren. God has no God
and no brethren!) See Eph. 1:17; Rev. 3:12; Mark 15:34; 1 Cor. 15:24 (Rotherham’s).
Acts 3:15 "And killed the Prince of
life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are
witnesses." (Isn’t it logical to conclude the one that was dead
is separate from the One who raised him from the dead?) See 1 Cor.
15:12-21; Acts 2:24; 5:30; 7:56; 13:34 and Col. 2:12.
Acts 7:55, 56 "But he [Stephen], being
full of the Holy Ghost [Spirit], looked up stedfastly into heaven, and
saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and
said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on
the right hand of God." (God and Jesus are twice depicted
separately. Stephen was "full of the Holy Spirit" but did
not see the holy Spirit. God and Jesus were not everywhere either, but
Jesus was "standing on the right hand of God" in heaven.)
"And the people gave a
shout, saying, It is the voice of a god [theos], and not of a
man." (King Herod was referred to as "[a] god"—
"a" is supplied by translators and is not in the text. This
is the same Greek word for god [theos] which in other places is
used of Christ. It is defined as "gods, objects of worship,
judges," and is used variously to depict Jehovah, Satan, the
saints, and idols, as well as Christ.) See also Acts 28:6—in
reference to Paul.
Acts 20:28 "Take heed therefore unto
yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost
[Spirit] hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he
hath purchased with his own blood." (God is a Spirit and Spirits
do not have flesh and blood [Luke 24:39]. Rotherham reads: "With
the blood of his own [son]"; Revised Standard Version, footnote:
"With the blood of his own son"; Barclay: "At the price
of the blood of his own One.") See also Marshall’s Diaglott and
Rom. 8:11 "But if the Spirit of him
that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up
Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his
Spirit that dwelleth in you." See Rom. 4:24; 7:4.
Rom. 8:17 "And if children, then heirs;
heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ." (Could Christ be his
own heir? How, then, could we be joint-heirs with him?)
Rom. 8:29 "For whom he did foreknow, he
also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he
might be the firstborn among many brethren."
Rom. 10:9 "That if thou shalt confess
with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that
God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."
1 Cor. 8:5, 6 "For though there be that
are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods
many, and lords many,) but to us there is but one God, the Father, of
whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom
are all things, and we by him." (All things are OF the Father and
BY the son. Jesus is the agent of God.) Compare Heb. 1:1, 2; John 1:2,
3; Col. 1:16, 17; Gen. 1:26.
1 Cor. 11:3 "But I would have you know,
that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the
man; and the head of Christ is God." (God, Christ, man and woman
are all separate entities.)
1 Cor. 15:27, 28 "For he [God] hath put
all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under
him, it is manifest that he [God] is excepted, which did put all
things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then
shall the Son also himself be subject unto him [God] that put all
things under him, that God may be all in all." (These verses
distinguish two separate beings: namely, the Father and His son. How
could God place all things under His feet to subdue all things, and
then later become subject to Himself? This defies reason.)
Eph. 1:20-22 "Which he wrought in
Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right
hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power,
and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in
this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things
under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the
Eph. 3:9, 10
"And to make all men see
what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the
world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: to
the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly
places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God."
(If Jesus was God incarnate, what possible reason would God have had
to create all things from the beginning of time by Jesus Christ?)
Eph. 4:6 "One God and Father of all,
who is above all, and through all, and in you all." (One God and
Father of "all"—the "all" includes Jesus.)
Philip. 2:5, 6 "Let this mind be in
you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God,
thought it not robbery to be equal with God." (Revised Standard
Version: "Who, though he was in the form of God, did not count
equality with God a thing to be grasped." Can anyone try to be
equal with himself? Rather, Jesus did not strive by vainglory to grasp
Philip. 2:8 "And being found in fashion
as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death."
(If Jesus were God, who would God have to become obedient to? No one!
Therefore, this must be another entity, namely, his only begotten Son,
clearly distinguishable from the Heavenly Father.)
Col. 1:13-17 "Who hath delivered us
from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of
his dear Son: in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the
forgiveness of sins: who is the image of the invisible God, the first
born of every creature: for by him were all things created, that are
in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they
be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things
were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by
him all things consist."
1 Tim. 2:5-6 "For there is one God, and
one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave
himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." (A
mediator is one who endeavors to reconcile two opposing parties. Could
Christ be God and still mediate between God and men? Ransom here means
a "corresponding price." How could a God-man be the exact
equivalent of the perfect man Adam?)
1 Tim. 3:16 "And without controversy
great is the mystery of godliness: God [hos, who] was manifest
in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto
the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory."
(Nearly all ancient MSS, and all the versions have "He who,"
[referring to Christ] instead of "God," in this passage. Sir
Isaac Newton wrote a paper stating that this verse is a false reading.
The Concordant Bible, p.18: "In the Sinaitic there can be no
doubt that it originally read ‘who.’ A late corrector has added
‘God’ above the line.")
Heb. 1:2-5 "Hath in these last days
spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things,
by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his
glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things
by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat
down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much
better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more
excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any
time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I
will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?" (If Jesus
was God, how could he have "by inheritance obtain[ed] a more
excellent name?" Clearly, one does not inherit that which he
Heb. 1:8, 9 "But unto the Son he [the
Father] saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of
righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved
righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy [Jesus’]
God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy
fellows." (What "fellows" was Jesus anointed above? Two
Gods are involved here—the greater, Yahweh, anointing the lesser,
Jesus. This exaltation of Jesus takes place after he demonstrates he
"loved righteousness" and "hated iniquity." No one
contests that Jesus is a God. Remember, the greater always anoints the
lesser, as is here demonstrated.)
Heb. 2:10 "For it became him, for whom
are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto
glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through
sufferings." (God the Father has always been perfect and did not
require the experience of suffering to crystallize His character.
Jesus, by way of contrast, did require this development.)
Heb. 5:7, 8 "Who in the days of his
flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong
crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and
was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he
obedience by the things he suffered." (Again, Father vs. Son,
clear-cut distinctions are very evident. The Father did not need to
learn obedience; His Son did. In his distress, Jesus prayed to his
Father for strength and grace; it is never the other way around.)
Heb. 9:14 "How much more shall the
blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself
without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve
the living God?" (If Christ was God incarnate, is it reasonable
that he should offer himself to himself?)
Heb. 9:24 "For Christ is not entered
into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the
true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for
us." (Jesus functions as our Advocate before the Father.)
Heb. 11:17-19 "By faith Abraham, when
he was tried, offered up Isaac; and he that had received the promises
offered up his only begotten son, of whom it is said, That in Isaac
shall thy seed be called: accounting that God was able to raise him
up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a
figure." (In this scenario, Abraham was a type of God, and Isaac
represented Christ. Abraham thus pictured God’s willingness to
sacrifice His Son, Christ, to provide the ransom (John 3:16). Just as
in the figure Isaac was not Abraham, so Christ must be distinguished
from God as a separate being.) See Gal. 3:29; 4:28.
James 1:13 "Let no man say when he is
tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil,
neither tempteth he any man." (If Jesus was tempted, as in
Matthew 4:1, and God cannot be tempted, clearly they must be two
distinct and separate entities.)
1 Pet. 1:19-21 "But with the precious
blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: who
verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was
manifest in these last times for you, who by him do believe in God,
that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith
and hope might be in God."
2 Pet. 1:17 "For he received from God
the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from
the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well
pleased." (Whose voice was this? Was God pleased with Himself or
1 John 3:1 "Behold, what manner of love
the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of
God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him
not." (We are sons of God, NOT the sons of Jesus. Note carefully
this distinction. We are brothers of Jesus, NOT of God. The Church is
never referred to as God’s brethren! Hebrews 2:11, 12; Romans 8:29).
1 John 4:2, 3
"Hereby know ye the
Spirit of God: every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come
in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that
Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that
spirit of anti-Christ, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and
even now already is it in the world." (Could Christ in the flesh
be half-human and half-divine? This is what Cerinthus, a heretical
teacher in the early Church, taught! Does the Trinity come dangerously
close to this teaching? Isn’t this a strong basis for doubt of the
1 John 4:12-16 "No man hath seen God at
any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is
perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us,
because he hath given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do
testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.
Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in
him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God
hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God,
and God in him." (Men did see Jesus, but not God. Those who love
one another in Christ are privileged to share a similar relationship
with God as does Jesus. Do you confess Jesus was God or the Son of
1 John 5:7-8
"For there are three that
bear record [in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and
these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth,]
the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in
one." (Words in brackets are spurious! They are not retained by
any manuscripts of earlier date than the seventh century and are not
in the Revised Version. One hundred and twelve of the oldest
manuscripts do not retain them. Trinity thus loses its supposed main
Rev. 1:1 "The Revelation of Jesus
Christ, which God gave unto him [Jesus Christ], to shew unto his
servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and
signified it by his angel unto his servant John."
Rev. 1:5, 6 "And from Jesus Christ, who
is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the
prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed
us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests
unto God and his Father."
Rev. 2:27 "And he shall rule them with
a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to
shivers: even as I received of my Father." (Jesus’ kingdom
authority is received from the Father.)
Rev. 3:12 "Him that overcometh will I
make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out:
and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city
of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven
from my God: and I will write upon him my new name." (Jesus, in
resurrected glory, retains his relationship to his God and Father,
highly honored but always subordinate.)
Rev. 3:14 "And unto the angel of the
church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the
faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God."
(Could God be the beginning of his own creation? Clearly, you cannot
create yourself! Refer to Col. 1:15 and then compare God not having a
beginning. Ps. 41:13; 90:1-2.)
"To him that overcometh will
I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am
set down with my Father in his throne." (Jesus did not have a
throne co-eternal with the Father. Only after overcoming was he
enthroned, and thus also will it be with his followers.)
Rev. 5:12 "Saying with a loud voice,
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and
wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing." (You
receive power, etc., from another, not from yourself! Why or how could
you give yourself something you already possess?)
Views of the
Early Church Fathers
"To us there is but one God, the Father,
of whom are all things, and for whom we live; and one Lord, Jesus
Christ, by whom are all things, and through whom we live." (1 Cor.
8:6, KJV and NIV)
If Jesus taught and revealed himself to be an
uncreated "God the Son" rather than the Son of God, it
should have been universally accepted by our early Church brethren.
Their writings should show the Trinity to be understood and developed
from the very start of the Apostolic Era. The fundamental doctrines of
the Church were not to be originated by those following the Apostles.
God did not give further revelations after their passing. (See Rom.
15:4; 1 Cor. 4:6; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 John 9, NAS.)
The doctrine of the Trinity, defined over a
264-year period from The Council of Nice in A.D. 325 to The Third
Synod at Toledo in A.D. 589, states that there are three distinct
persons of the same spiritual nature—The Father, The Son and The
Holy Spirit. It is claimed that all three persons are uncreated and
share in omnipotence, making them one. Therefore, the Trinity fails
once it can be established that (1) There was a time when the
uncreated Father was alone, (2) The Son, Jesus, was produced from the
first creative act of God, and (3) The holy Spirit is not a person,
but the power, the energy or force used by God (and in this sense is
Let’s examine what the students of the Apostles,
their friends, peers and subsequent students had to say between A.D.
96–A.D. 320. We present these historical readings, not as a
foundation for Truth, but simply to show that these early Christians
had not come to believe in the Trinity. To those who feel comfortable
going to the fourth and fifth centuries to establish this doctrine, we
wish them well, but we cannot leave the Apostolic Era to come over to
them. Biblically and historically, this early period is just too
important to abandon. We submit the following:
Clement of Rome:
according to many
Christian writers before the Nicene Council, he is the Clement of
Philippians 4:3. He was an elder in the Rome congregation from about
A.D. 92-101. His Corinthian Epistle, written about A.D. 96, was held
in high esteem, considered by many to be equal to the writings of the
Apostles and was frequently used in their Sunday meetings. He was born
about A.D. 30 and died about A.D. 100.
"We know you alone are ‘highest among
highest’ . . . You have chosen those who love you through Jesus
Christ, your beloved son, through whom you have instructed,
sanctified and honored us. . . . Let all nations know that you are
the only God, that Jesus Christ is your son and that we are your
people." To The Corinthians, Chap. 59, vs. 3, 4.
Ignatius of Antioch: was surnamed "Theophorus,"
meaning "God-bearer," because of his gentle, kindly nature.
He was an elder at the Antioch, Syria, congregation and was a student
of the Apostle John. His authentic writings, being the short version
of his seven epistles, were written about A.D. 110. He was born about
A.D. 50 and was martyred A.D. 116.
"There is one God, who manifested Himself
through Jesus Christ, His son, who being His Word, came forth out of
the silence into the world and won full approval of Him whose
ambassador he was." To the Magnesians, Chap. 8, vs. 2.
". . . who also really rose from the dead,
since his Father raised him up,—his Father who will likewise raise
us also who believe in Him through Jesus Christ, apart from whom we
have no real life." To The Trallians, Chap. 9, vs. 2.
"You are well established in love through
the Blood of Christ and firmly believe in our Lord. He is really
‘of the line of David according to the flesh’ and the son of God
by the will and power of God." To The Smyrnaeans, Chap.
1, vs. 1.
Polycarp: born about A.D. 69, was
also a student of the Apostle John, as well as a close friend of
Ignatius of Antioch. He was an elder at the congregation in Smyrna,
Asia Minor, and wrote his Philippian epistle before A.D. 140. He was
burned at the stake February 23, 155.
"Now, may the God and Father of our Lord
Jesus Christ, and the Eternal Priest himself, Jesus Christ, the son
of God, build you up in faith and truth." To The
Philippians, Chap.12, vs. 2.
". . . to Him who is able to bring us all in
His grace and bounty, to His Heavenly Kingdom, by His only-begotten
child, Jesus Christ, be glory, honor, might and majesty
forever." Martyrdom, Chap. 20, vs. 2.
because of his martyrdom in A.D. 166, was born about A.D. 107 in Rome.
He was a heathen philosopher converted to Christianity about A.D. 130.
His first work, Dialogue with Trypho, was written in A.D. 135 as
Trypho, a Jew, was fleeing Jerusalem after the Bar Kochba revolt. He
wrote between A.D. 135 until just before his beheading.
"God begat before all creatures a Beginning
who was a certain rational power proceeding from Himself, who is
called by the holy spirit now ‘The Glory of the Lord,’ now
‘The Son,’ again ‘Wisdom,’ again ‘an Angel,’ then
‘God,’ then ‘Lord’ and ‘Logos;’ and on another occasion
he calls himself ‘Captain.’" Dialogue with Trypho, Chap.
"We follow the only unbegotten God through
His Son." First Apology, Chap. 14.
"We assert that the Word of God was born of
God in a peculiar manner, different from ordinary generation, let
this, as said above, be no extraordinary thing to you who say that
Mercury is the angelic word of God." First Apology,
"The Father of all is unbegotten . . . And
His Son, who alone is properly called Son, the Word . . . was with
Him and was begotten before the world. . . ." Second
Apology, Chap. 6.
born in Assyria about A.D.
110, was a student of Justin Martyr. He wrote the earliest Bible
commentary of the four Gospels known to exist. Sometime he became the
leader of the Encratite sect of the Gnostics. Despite this, his
writings give a semi-fair view of Christian doctrines. He wrote
between A.D. 161-170 and died about A.D. 172.
"The Lord of the Universe, who is Himself
the necessary ground of all being, inasmuch as no creature was yet
in existence, was alone. . . . And by His simple will the Logos
springs forth; and the Logos, not coming forth in vain becomes the
first-begotten work of the Father and was the beginning of the
world." To The Greeks, Chap. 5.
born about A.D. 110, was an elder at
Sardis, Asia Minor, from about A.D. 160-170 and a friend of Ignatius
of Antioch as a young child. He wrote between A.D. 165-70 and was
martyred A.D. 177. Only small fragments exist.
"There is that which really exists and it is
called God . . . This being is in no sense made, nor did He come
into being, but has existed from eternity."
Apology 1: To
"Jesus Christ . . . is perfect Reason, the
Word of God, he who was begotten before the light, he who is creator
together with the Father." Apology 4: On Faith.
Theophilus of Antioch:
was born about A.D.
130 and was an elder at Antioch, Syria, around A.D. 170-180. He wrote
before A.D. 175 and died A.D. 181.
"God, then, having His own Word internal
within His own womb begat him, emitting him along with His own
Wisdom before all things. He had this Word as a helper in the things
that were created by Him, and by him He created all things." To
Autolychus, Chap. 10.
Athenagoras: born in Athens of heathen
parents in A.D. 134 wrote his work "Defense for the
Christians" in A.D. 176 and presented it to the Roman Emperor
Marcus Aurelius, a fierce persecutor of Christians, in A.D. 177. He
died A.D. 190.
"We acknowledge one God uncreated, eternal,
invisible, impassable, incomprehensible, illimitable . . . by whom
the universe has been created through His Logos and set in order . .
. I say ‘His Logos’ for we acknowledge also a Son of God . . .
He is the first product of the Father, not as having been brought
into existence, for from the beginning, God, who is the eternal
mind, had the Logos in Himself, being from eternity endowed with
spiritual reason, coming forth as the idea and energy of all
material things." Defense for the Christians, Chap. 10.
Irenaeus: one of the most recognized
early Christians, was born A.D. 140 and was a student of Polycarp. He
was an elder at the Lyons, France, congregation from A.D. 178. He was
well known throughout the Western world of the time. He died in France
A.D. 202. His writings can be dated from about A.D. 180.
"If anyone, therefore, says to us, ‘How,
then, was the Son produced by the Father?’ we reply to him, that
no one understands that production, or generation . . . no powers
possess this knowledge but the Father only who begat and the Son who
was begotten." Against Heresies, Book 2, Chap. 28, vs.
Clement of Alexandria:
Flavius Clemens A.D. 150, was born, raised and became an elder at
Alexandria, Egypt. He wrote between A.D. 190-195 and died about A.D.
220. His writings are valuable because once he was converted to
Christianity, he traveled throughout the Roman Empire to learn pure
Christianity from the oldest and most respected Christians alive.
"The best thing on earth is the most pious:
perfect man; and the best thing in heaven, the next and purer in
place, is an angel, the partaker of the eternal and blessed life.
But the nature of the Son, which is next to Him who is alone the
Almighty One, is the most perfect." Miscellanies, Book
7, Chap. 2.
"He [Jesus] commences his teaching with
this: turning the pupil to God, the good, and first and only
dispenser of eternal life, which the Son, who received it of Him,
gives to us." Salvation Of The Rich Man, Chap. 6.
Tertullian: was born in Carthage,
Tunisia A.D. 160, of Libyan descent and a distant relative of Arius.
His writings began about A.D. 190, about 10 years before he joined the
Montanist sect of Christianity, who believed in continuing revelation
[speaking in tongues, healing , etc.] and a life of asceticism. He
continued writing until about A.D. 210 and died A.D. 230 in Carthage,
where he was also an elder.
"Before all things God was alone—being in
Himself and for Himself . . . the Word was in the beginning with God
although it would be more suitable to regard Reason as the more
ancient . . . For although God had not yet delivered His Word, He
still had him within Himself . . . Now, while He was actually thus
planning and arranging with His own reason, He was actually bringing
forth the Word." Against Praxeas, Chap. 5.
"The Word, no doubt, was before all things.
‘In the beginning was the Word’; and in that beginning he was
sent forth by the Father. The father, however, has no beginning, as
proceeding from none; nor can He be seen since He was not begotten.
He who has always been alone could never have order or rank." Against
Praxeas, Chap. 5.
Hippolytus: born about A.D. 160, was
a student of Irenaeus. He wrote about A.D. 220, dying August 13, 235,
after being banished to the Mediterranean island of Sardinia.
"If therefore, all things are put under him
[Jesus] with the exception of Him [God] who put them under him, he
is the Lord of all and the Father is Lord of him . . . And this
indeed is said by Christ himself, as when in the Gospel he confessed
Him to be his Father and his God. . . . He [Jesus] did not say, ‘I
and the Father am one,’ but ‘are one.’ For the word ‘are’
is not said of one person, but refers to two persons and one power.
He has himself made this clear when he spoke to his Father
concerning his disciples [in John 17:22-3] . . . For Christ had
spoken of himself and showed himself among all to be as the Son . .
. And as the author and fellow-counsellor and framer of the things
that are in formation He begat the Word . . . He sent him forth to
the world as Lord . . . And thus, there appeared another beside
himself . . . For there is but one power, which is from the All; and
the Father is the All, from whom comes this power, the Word . . .
and was manifested as the Son of God. All things, then, are by Him
and He alone is the Father." Against The Heresy Of One
Noetus, Chaps. 6, 7, 10, 11.
Origen: born of Christian parents
A.D. 185 in Alexandria, Egypt, Origen was the most prolific of all
early Christian writers. Trained by Clement of Alexandria, he was
elected elder at the age of 18 when Clement had to flee for his life.
He was a friend of Hippolytus and is distinguished for the first
complete Bible commentary. In A.D. 253, at age 70, he was captured,
tortured and one week later died for his faith.
"We next notice John’s usage of the
article in these sentences. He does not write without care in this
respect, nor is he unfamiliar with the niceties of the Greek tongue
. . . He uses the article when the name of ‘God’ refers to the
uncreated of all things, and omits it when the Logos is named
‘God’ . . . The God who is over all is God with the article . .
. all beyond the Only God is made god by participation in His
divinity, and is not to be called simply ‘The God’ but rather
‘god’ . . . The true God, then, is ‘The God,’ and those who
are formed after Him are gods, images as it were, of Him, the
prototype." Commentary on John’s Gospel, Book 2, Chap.
who was born about A.D. 200
is known for his work that was posthumously titled Commentary on the
Trinity. It was written about A.D. 240, 18 years before his death in
"God the Father and Creator of all things,
who only knows no beginning . . . when He willed it, the Son, the
Word, was born . . . But now, whatever he is, he is not of himself
because he is not unborn, but he is of the Father, because he is
begotten . . . he owes his existence to the Father . . . He
therefore is god, but begotten for this special result, that he
should be god. He is also the Lord, but born for this very purpose
of the Father, that he might be Lord. He is also an Angel, but he
was destined of the Father as an Angel to announce the great counsel
of God . . . God the Father is God of all, and the source also of
His son himself whom He begot." Commentary on the Trinity,
Arnobius: born A.D. 253 in Sicca,
Algeria, was first an enemy of Christianity. When converted, he became
a teacher to many new Christians in the West. He wrote Against the
Heathen about A.D. 300 and died about A.D. 327.
"We Christians are nothing else than
worshippers of the Supreme King and Head, under our master, Christ .
. . O greatest, O Supreme Creator of all things invisible . . . You
are illimitable, unbegotten, immortal, enduring for age, God
yourself alone, whom no bodily shape may represent, no outline
delineate . . . ‘Is that Christ of yours a god, then?’ some
raving, wrathful and excited man will say. A god, we will reply, and
a god of the powers of heaven, and—what may still further torture
unbelievers with the most bitter pains—he was sent to us by the
King Supreme for a purpose of the very highest order." Against
The Heathen, Book 1, Chaps. 27, 31, 42.
Lactantius: Lucius Coelius Firmianus
Lactantius, born in Rome A.D. 260, was a student of Arnobius. He was
the teacher of Emperor Constantine’s oldest son, Crispus. His work
entitled The Divine Institutes was written about A.D. 320. Eventually
moving to France, he died about A.D. 330.
"God, therefore, the contriver and founder
of all things, as we have said in the second book, before He
commenced this excellent work of the world, begat a pure and
incorruptible Spirit whom He called His Son. And although He had
afterwards created by Himself innumerable other beings, whom we call
angels, this first-begotten, however, was the only one whom He
considered worthy of being called by the divine name." The
Divine Institutes, Book 4, Chap. 6
Summary and Conclusions
Some 1600 years have passed since the Trinity was
forged. In all that time, no one has been able to provide a clear and
logical statement of it. It has begged an explanation in every age.
Oddly enough, no scholar or groups of scholars have been able to coin
a clear and workable formula that is an acceptable standard for all
time. Every explanation is flawed and needs more theology to clarify
it. Endeavors at clarification, more often than not, lead into a
labyrinth of words with the fog-level index going out of sight. And
there we would be left—hopelessly lost and struggling for truth.
The Trinitarians paradoxically operate on two
levels. When reading or quoting the Bible, both Trinitarians and
non-Trinitarians sound alike. Both refer to the same verses, and their
readings are similar. As long as the Bible is adhered to, they are
hard to tell apart. But when the Bible is departed from and
philosophical arguments are introduced, a wide gap soon appears.
Because the Trinity is a doctrine of inference, and not of statement,
it can be sustained only as long as it is continually inferred from
the Bible. Whenever the Scriptures are merely read and quoted, the
Trinity loses ground. Hence, every so often, the doctrine must be
"injected" into the consciousness of the hearers lest they
forget. The Trinity has to be piped into Scripture before it can be
Everyone knows you do not get cider from cotton.
Yet, in fact, you can squeeze cider from cotton. However, you must
first soak the cotton with cider, and then, lo, and behold, you can
squeeze cider from cotton. That is how you may extract the Trinity
doctrine from the Bible. First, saturate the Bible texts to be used
with the concept; then squeeze it out. That is why Dr. Pelikan, who
has been called "perhaps the foremost living student of Church
history," said, in effect, no one could find the Trinity by just
reading the New Testament (see p. 8). You need the theologians to
superimpose their theology upon the Word before you can find it there.
In our brief consideration of this subject, we have
found the Scriptures unequivocally teach that "to us there is but
one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one
Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him" (1 Cor.
8:6). These are the two great personalities of the Bible, with the
holy Spirit an expression of their power and influence. The Father,
always supreme and preeminent, exists "from everlasting to
everlasting." The Son, the direct creation of the Father, was
highly exalted for his faithfulness in becoming the world’s
redeemer; yet he always remains in harmony with and in submission to
his Father’s will.
It was also shown that Trinity as a concept was an
integral part of heathen religions many centuries prior to
Christianity. The idea was borrowed by some later theologians, who,
during the third to the fifth centuries, developed it into a basic
dogma of the Christian religion. The gradual emergence of the Trinity
doctrine is freely acknowledged by most historians, attested by its
lack of Scriptural support and demonstrated by the evolving sequence
of the basic creeds of the faith.
Hence, rather than being pure truth taught by Jesus
and his Apostles, the Trinity turns out to be Church dogma arising
gradually from the philosophy of men who attempted to fuse certain
heathen and Christian ideas together. It required many years to
fashion and shape it against the objections of many of the outstanding
leaders of the early Church, as we have noted. In the end, the effort
prevailed, a doctrinal theory was created, and it was given the
blessing of orthodoxy by official Church councils. Yet all of this
does not make it valid, for eternal truth is not the handiwork of man
but stems only from our immortal and all-wise God.
We opened this treatise with a discussion of the
"doctrine of Christ." We found this to mean that Jesus had
come in the flesh and died in the flesh. It holds that he was the
"Anointed" of God, anointed King of Kings and Lord of Lords,
and also the abiding Melchizedek priest. He is the glorious Bridegroom
for whom the Heavenly Father is selecting a bride during this Gospel
age. As Christians, we hope to be joined with our Master in the
marriage of the Bride and the Lamb. No Christian can anticipate
marriage to God, but only to God’s dear Son. In another figure, he
is the vine and we are the branches (John 15:5). And in yet another,
he is the head of the body of Christ of which the faithful believers
are members (Col. 1:18). In contrast, God is spoken of as being
"the head of Christ" (1 Cor. 11:3).
Repeating our opening text, 2 John 9 (RSV)—
"Any one who goes ahead and does not abide in the doctrine of
Christ does not have God; he who abides in the doctrine has both the
Father and the Son." The lesson is clear. We cannot have access
to the Father apart from the doctrine of Christ—that he is the
Anointed One of God. When we accept the singular personhood of Jesus
as God’s Anointed, then by addition, we have two—both the Father
and the Son. Let us then abide in the doctrine of Christ. In so doing
we shall have the extravagant blessing of having both the "Father
and the Son"—and that is everything!
The Trinity was a theological attempt at fusion.
Somehow, with the incantation of words, the effort was made to fuse
God, Jesus and the holy Spirit into one. We get the feeling,
sometimes, that many scholars wish they had not done this, but like
the leaning Tower of Pisa, it will just have to remain a religious
wonder until it falls of its own weight and imbalance due to an
Translations of the Greek arch (arkee, arche)
in italics. (From Englishman’s Greek Concordance of the New
Here are the complete uses of the Greek word arch
mentioned in Chapter I. The reader may see how the word is used
throughout the New Testament. Please note how John 1:1 and Rev. 3:14
use the word "beginning" in common usage. By studying the
various uses of the Greek word arch, the reader may be properly
Matt. 19: 4 which made (them) at
Matt. 19: 8 from the beginning it was not so.
Matt. 24: 8 these (are) the beginning of sorrows.
Matt. 24: 21 since the beginning of the world
Mark 1: 1 The beginning of the gospel of
Mark 10: 6 from the beginning of the creation
Mark 13: 8 these (are) the beginnings of sorrows.
Mark 19 as was not from the beginning
Luke 1: 2 from the beginning were eyewitnesses,
Luke 12:11 unto the synagogues, and (unto) magistrates,
Luke 20:20 might deliver him unto the power and authority of
John 1: 1 In the beginning was the Word,
John 1: 2 The same was in the beginning
John 2:11 This beginning of miracles
John 6:64 Jesus knew from the beginning who
John 8:25 I said unto you from the beginning.
John 8:44 was a murderer from the beginning,
John 15:27 with me from the beginning.
John 16: 4 not unto you at the beginning,
Acts 10:11 knit at the four corners, and let
Acts 11: 5 down from heaven by four corners,
Acts 11:15 as on us at the beginning.
Acts 26: 4 which was at the first among
Rom. 8:38 nor principalities, nor powers, nor
1Cor.15:24 have put down all rule and all
Eph. 1:21 above all principality, and power,
Eph. 3:10 now unto the principalities
Eph. 6:12 against principalities, against powers,
Phil. 4:15 that in the beginning of the
Col. 1:16 dominions, or principalities,
Col. 1:18 who is the beginning, the
Col. 2:10 the head of all principality,
Col. 2:15 having spoiled principalities
2 Th. 2:13 God hath from the beginning chosen
Tit. 3: 1 subject to principalities and powers
Heb. 1:10 Thou, Lord, in the beginning
Heb. 2: 3 which at the first began to
Heb. 3:14 if we hold the beginning of
Heb. 5:12 the first principles of the oracles
Heb. 6: 1 leaving the principles of the doctrine
Heb. 7: 3 having neither beginning of days
2 Pet. 3: 4 from the beginning of the creation
1 John 1: 1 which was from the beginning,
1 John 2: 7 which ye had from the beginning.
-- ye have heard from the beginning.
1 John 2: 13 him (that is) from the beginning.
1 John 2: 14 known him (that is) from the beginning.
1 John 2: 24 have heard from the beginning.
-- ye have heard from the beginning
1 John 3: 8 the devil sinneth from the beginning.
1 John 3: 11 that ye heard from the beginning,
2 John 5 which we had from the beginning,
2 John 6 as ye have heard from the beginning,
Jude 6 angels which kept not their first estate,
Rev. 1: 8 the beginning and the ending,
Rev. 3:14 the beginning of the creation of God;
Rev. 21: 6 the beginning and the end. I will
Rev. 22:13 Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.
Addis, William E. and Arnold,
Thomas. A Catholic Dictionary. St. Louis: B. Herder Book Co.,
Beach, W. B. and Hickey, Y. Beach
vs. Hickey on the Trinity. Dayton, Ohio: Christian Publishing
Bowman, Robert M., Jr. Why You
Should Believe in the Trinity. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book
Boyle, Isaac. The Council of
Nice. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1879. From Eusebius’
Ecclesiastical History. Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Mich.,
The Catholic Encyclopedia.
Edited by Charles G. Herbermann, et al. New York: Robert Appleton Co.,
Christian History. Carol
Stream, Ill.: Christianity Today, Inc. Payne, Robert. "A Hammer
Struck at Heresy." Issue 51, 1996. Shelley, Bruce L. "The
First Council of Nicea." Issue 28, 1990.
Christianity Today. Carol
Stream, Ill.: Christianity Today, Inc. Noll, Mark A. "The
Doctrine Doctor." Sep. 10, 1990. Poston, Larry. "The Adult
Gospel." Aug. 20, 1990.
Clarke, Adam. A Commentary and
Critical Notes on the New Testament, New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury
Dictionary of Doctrinal and
Historical Theology. Edited by John H. Blunt. London: Rivingtons,
Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., 1952 edition.
Forrest, James. Some Account of
the Origin and Progress of Trinitarian Theology. Meadville, Pa.:
Theological Press, 1853.
Fortman, Edmund J. The Triune
God: A Historical Study of the Doctrine of the Trinity. London:
Hutchinson and Co., Ltd., 1972.
Gibbon, Edward. History of
Christianity. New York: P. Eckler, 1923.
Girdlestone, Robert Baker. Synonyms
of the Old Testament, Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans
Publishing Co., 1951.
The Illustrated Bible Dictionary.
J. D. Douglas, organizing editor. Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House, 1980.
Kung, Hans. Christinaity:
Essence, History and Future. New York: Continuum, 1995.
McClintock, John and Strong, James. Cyclopedia
of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, New York:
Harper & Brothers, 1890.
New Catholic Encyclopedia,
Editorial staff of Catholic University of America. Washington, D.C.:
The New International Dictionary
of New Testament Theology. Colin Brown, general editor. Grand
Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Publishing House, 1976.
Newton, John. Origin of Triads
and Trinities. Liverpool: Henry Young & Sons, 1909.
Richards, H. M. S. The Voice of
Prophecy Radio Broadcast. Los Angeles, Dec. 20, 1958.
Strong, James. Exhaustive
Concordance of the Bible. New York: Abington Press, 1890.
Theological Dictionary of the New
Testament. Gerhard Kittel, primary editor, Geoffrey W. Bromiley,
editor and translator. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1965.
Visalli, Gayla, editor. After
Jesus. The Triumph of Christianity. Pleasantville, N.Y.: The
Reader’s Digest Association, Inc., 1992.
Wells, H. G. The Outline of
History. Revised by Raymond Portgate. Garden City, N. Y.: Garden
City Books, 1920.
Young, Robert. Analytical
Concordance to the Bible. New York: Funk & Wagnalls Co., 1936.
"Adding up the Trinity"
In Christianity Today, April 28, 1997, p.
26, in an article entitled, "Adding Up the Trinity,"
Immanuel Kant and Thomas Jefferson are quoted on the subject of the
logic and practical value of the doctrine of the Trinity. "Kant,
for example, argued the doctrine had no practical significance. ‘The
doctrine of the Trinity provides nothing, absolutely nothing, of
practical value, even if one claims to understand it; still less when
one is convinced that it far surpasses our understanding. It costs the
student nothing to accept that we adore three or ten persons in the
divinity. . . . Furthermore, this distinction offers absolutely no
guidance for his conduct.’"
"Jefferson seems particularly irritated by the
complexities of ‘Trinitarian arithmetic,’ as he called it, a
theological mathematics that only served to blur our vision of who
Jesus truly was: ‘When we shall have done away with the
incomprehensible jargon of the Trinitarian arithmetic, that three are
one, and one is three; when we shall have knocked down the artificial
scaffolding, reared to mask from view the very simple structure of
Jesus; when, in short, we shall have unlearned everything which has
been taught since his day, and got back to the pure and simple
doctrines he inculcated, we shall then be truly and worthily his
The same article quotes Roderick T. Leupp on his
book, Knowing the Name of God: A Trinitarian Tapestry of Grace, Faith
and Community. "For most people and, sadly, for most Christians
also, the Trinity is the great unknown. The Trinity, to use a familiar
equation is viewed as a riddle wrapped up inside a puzzle and buried
in an enigma. A riddle, for how can any entity be at the same time
multiple (three) yet singular (one)? A puzzle, for the Trinity is so
clearly contrary to any rational thought as not to warrant a second
thought from sensible people. An enigma, for even if the Trinity could
be understood, of what practical value, even what religious value,
would it have for ordinary people?"
The article continues: "Not much, many of us
might be tempted to say. As Karl Rahner notes, ‘Despite their
orthodox confession of the Trinity, Christians are, in their practical
life, almost mere monotheists.’" So we find the Trinitarians
very much in the same posture as the evolutionists. The evolutionists
control the schools, the media and all the mind programming areas, but
when all is said and done, most students go to Church on Sunday and
sing, "How great Thou art." They are not true believers in
the evolution theory. So with the Trinity, people are programmed to
believe the Trinity, but worship God in a monotheistic way and praise
Him for sending His son to be our Redeemer.