Could the Doctrine of the Trinity Be Wrong?

THE TRINITARIAN DOCTRINE WAS GIVEN THE IMPRIMATUR OF THE POST-APOSTOLIC CHURCH AT THE FIRST COUNCIL OF NICAEA.

THE TRINITARIAN  DOCTRINE WAS GIVEN THE IMPRIMATUR OF THE POST-APOSTOLIC CHURCH AT THE FIRST COUNCIL OF NICAEA.

“Who do men say I am?” Jesus posed the question to his disciples as they went out to the towns of Caesarea Philippi. John the Baptist, Elijah or other of the prophets, they answered.

“But who do you say that I am?” Jesus asked them. And while 11 of the 12 disciples were uncertain, Peter responded, “You are the Christ.”

This account, taken from the Gospel According to Mark, appears in slightly different form in Matthew and Luke, the other two synoptic gospels. What is noteworthy is that in none of the accounts does Jesus say He is other than the Son of God.

He does not say He is, at once, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

It is because of that ambiguity that in 325 AD the Roman emperor Constantine the Great – who reputedly converted to Christianity 13 years earlier – summoned some 300 bishops of the post-Apostolic church – including Philocalus of Caesarea Philippi  – to the lakeside city of Nicaea to decide who the church believed Jesus to be.

And 1,690 years ago this past week, the so-called First Council of Nicaea concluded two months of ecumenical debate with the decision that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one and the same.

That bestowed the church’s official imprimatur upon the disputed doctrine of trinitarianism, leaving a mark on Christendom that endures to this very day.

Indeed, those who refused to accept the conclusions at Nicaea were condemned as heretics – like Arius, the Alexandrian presbyter who accepted the divinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but who challenged the idea of a triune “godhead” made up of three coequal, coeternal supreme beings.

Arius believed God the Alpha and the Omega; the beginning and the ending; the One Who was, Who is, and is to come; the Almighty.

He believed Jesus to be, “the first born of all creation,” the “only begotten Son of God.” He held that Jesus and God were of like essence, but not the same essence. He also taught that Jesus was perfect and unchanging; that He was in all things subject and obedient to the Father; that He was sent to earth to take away the sin of the world.

As to the Holy Spirit, Arius did not think it an actual being, but the illuminating and sanctifying power of God, which was indeed divine, but unequal to either the Father or the Son.

In today’s Christian church, be it Roman Catholic or Protestant, those who bend towards the Arian view, who question the “mystery” of the Trinity – that “the Lord is one,” yet  He manifests Himself as three distinct beings – are perceived as having theological views that border on the blasphemous.

But the Trinitarian doctrine is extremely problematic. It requires those who read the Word of God to convince themselves that it doesn’t really mean what it plainly says with respect to the relationship between God and the Son of God.

Indeed, if Jesus is God, and God Jesus, as most Christian churches espouse today, why did Jesus say, in the Gospel According to John, “I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I.”?

Why did Jesus advise his disciples, in the Gospel According to Mark, all would one day see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory, but that of that day and hour no one knows, “not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the father.”

Then there’s the passion of Christ, from the Garden of Gethsemane to the cross at Golgotha.

As the Lord prayed in the garden, He cried out, according to Mark’s gospel, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”

Then on the cross, the Gospel of Matthew tells us that, about the ninth hour Jesus cried out, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

If Jesus and God were one and the same being, then the Lord need not have asked the Father to spare Him the ordeal that awaited. He could have decided so Himself. And he needn’t have asked God why He had forsaken Him. Because He would have been asking Himself why He had forsaken Himself.

Because the Trinitarian doctrine has been accepted wisdom in Christendom since the First Council of Nicaea nearly 1,700 years ago, we accept it today as gospel truth. But it is abundantly clear, not from church traditions, but from the words of Christ Himself, that the doctrine is wrong.

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This entry was published on August 30, 2015 at 9:41 AM. It’s filed under THEOLOGY and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

9 thoughts on “Could the Doctrine of the Trinity Be Wrong?

  1. I must give a caveat. Read your Bible and do not ever rely on “Church Fathers” or someone else who formulated a opinion. I gave my opinion but it is not written in stone. It is to be used only as far as it is validated by scripture. That is why , when I show my thoughts on something I add scripture to show why I believe what I believe. People make mistakes and multiplied over the years they only get worse. The Bible is the only real source that we have. If you say, “This is what the fathers have thought” we can conclude that they could very well be wrong as Paul admonished plenty for missing the target. Read the Bible, It is pretty much self explanatory.

    • That’s good advice. Those who make a practice of relying on church “fathers” are either ignorant of or ignore the fact that they differed with one another on a myriad of biblical subjects and doctrine. Since they disagreed with one another on so many subjects, which one of them is right and on which issues are they wrong? Even Roman catholic authorities have differed with one another (and, like mormon “prophets”, nailing down what constitutes an official pronouncement from them is like trying to nail Jello to the wall, i.e., whenever they’re called out on an error, they claim it wasn’t an official position of their church) The fact is, only God is infallible and true, which why His Word remains the Christian’s standard of faith.

  2. Hi JP, Long time no hear. Am I off the list? I missed your posts and started searching and found this. Anyway, please allow for my two cents.

    BTW, frankgrauillustrator is spot on. Although he sounds too intelligent for my small mind, he is right.

    Let me add: The first sentence of the Bible says “In the beginning, God (Heb Elohim) created…” Now Elohim is a Hebrew word meaning more than duo. The next verse says, the spirit of God was hovering–the Hebrew definition was as a chicken brooding over it’s eggs causing them to hatch.

    Col 1:16 says “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:”

    This of course refers to Jesus. Now if God claims to have created the earth and then the Spirit and then Jesus they either are all God or the Bible is wrong. I think the problem may be in the word Trinity but if we use it the same way we use God (Elohim) we can consider it all inclusive.

    There are plenty of studies on the Spirit showing Him distinct and that He can be grieved; that He convicts… Jesus even said when He left that He had to go so the Holy Spirit will come.

    As humans we have difficulty thinking is Godly terms. God says He gives His glory to no one yet in Revelation we see the glory given to Jesus who by definition is either no one or God. Also, as Frank said, Jesus set apart His power as God.

    The Bible said He was the physical representative of an unseen God and if you remember when God turned Moses around and put him in a crag in the mountain and then passed him with His rear part facing Him and still, Moses face shone so much he had to cover it.

    How could Jesus come in all the glory and face us face to face? So yes, He was the ONLY Begotten son. He proceeded from God as God used Mary.Yet He had to be fully human to fulfill the sacrifice.

    Cats have kittens, Dogs have puppies, humans have babies and God begot God (Jesus) John 1:1 – In the beginning was GOD and the WORD and the Word was with God and the word WAS God. Vs 14-And the WORD became flesh and dwelt among us.

    From the time God said to the trinity-Let us go down and confound their language, There were always this composite oneness and while our feeble minds try to define it with a name, it never the less, still exists.

    • Excellent post, Pastor. And I’m sorry I haven’t kept in touch. My secular life has intruded over the last several months. But I plan to post more often – especially during the upcoming holidays – and to be more responsive to comments. God bless.

      • Hi JP, I just ran across this post while checking my sites. I was never notified of your response. Can you check to see if I am still on the list or tell me what to do? Love your posts and hope you are well.

  3. Hey friend,

    Those are some great question that present in your post. I would strongly recommend you to read Frank Sheed book tittled “Theology and Sanity”. It has one of the best Christian explanation of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity that I ever read. If you give this book a chance or at least the Chapter on the Holy Trinity you will find reasonable and biblical answers to those questions.

    Cheers,

    Caleb

  4. (Please forgive my lengthy response)

    The reason the doctrine of the trinity was formulated was to solve problems that arise in its absence.

    Consider the unequivocal Biblical teaching that there is only one true God. But John tells us that Jesus is God (as Christ Himself declared, for which the Jews took up stones to kill Him). This leaves us with two possible positions. Either Jesus is consubstantial with the Godhead or Jesus is a false God.

    Or consider Jesus words to the rich, young ruler. Jesus said that there is none good but God. Again, we either have to say that Jesus is God, or Jesus is not good. Jesus leaves no room for a tertium quid.

    And consider when the Father says of the Son, “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever,” as the passage in Hebrews 1:8 declares. If the Son were not God, why would the Father address Him so? And if the two were not distinct persons, why would the Father speak of the Son as if He were another?

    It should also be observed that many of the problems you’ve laid out are easily dealt with. Subordination passages (whether with respect to being “greater” or with respect to the emptying Himself of use of His divine omniscience) can be better understood when considering Jesus’ words and actions from His perspective as an incarnated being and not from the perspective of His divinity. It’s too easy to commit an act of eisegesis when considering a term like “greater”, for even skeptics raise the same criticisms when observing that Jesus told His followers that they would do works “greater” than He. In the latter case regarding “works”, one could view Jesus’ statement as referring to quantity and not quality. And in the case of Jesus’ position to the Father, one need only take the term to represent a position Jesus takes in His incarnated state.

    Regarding the cross, you observed:
    “If Jesus and God were one and the same being, then the Lord need not have asked the Father to spare Him the ordeal that awaited. He could have decided so Himself. ”

    If the doctrine of the Trinity were true, then it makes perfect sense for Jesus to speak to the Father in the way He did in His incarnated state. In fact, Jesus’ statement would only be nonsensical were our view of God a form of monarchial modalism, where a single person is changing hats and playing three roles. In such a case, it makes little sense for one person to interact with himself in such a manner.
    It seems then that the problem with your argument is that you’re assuming that Jesus’ appeal to the Father to save Him is somehow indicative of an inability to save Himself. But what warrants such an assumption? Doesn’t Paul tell us that Jesus emptied Himself of His divine glory in clothing Himself with a mortal tent? That He, in His humanity, is subject to the same fear of death or pain is not indicative of His inability to save Himself. The best way to put it is like this: You have the free will to ignore God when He asks you to do something you do not want to do. However, since you love God, you determine to do as He asks. Nevertheless, you may protest and ask Him that He change His mind and release you from whatever duty He has laid upon you. And here’s the point: Simply because you plead that He save you from something to which you do not want to submit, that doesn’t logically imply that you have no power to act contrary to God’s will. It simply demonstrates that you’re willing to suffer while also pleading that God not ask you to freely do so.

    Finally, it’s often argued that the doctrine of the trinity originated in a council at Nicaea. However, there’s a world of difference between an official formulation of a doctrine, and having an understanding of premises that later leads to such a formulation. The issue is not whether the Bible or early Christians used the term “trinity” or had a developed formula of the doctrine. The real question is whether the Bible and early Christians held to the premises of the doctrine. Did the Bible and early Christians believe in only one, true God? Unequivocally so. Did both view the Father as God? The Son as God? and the Holy Spirit as God? One could easily make a case for such a premise.

    The only real question is about what kind of distinction one should make between the Three. Either one can take a modalistic monarchial view, which makes the kind of interaction you noted seem a bit nonsensical. Or one can adopt a trinitarian view, which not only makes sense of such interaction, but is probably the only thing that makes sense of God being the very essence of “love”. For when nothing existed prior to God’s creating, and if God were singular in personhood, how could He be the essence of love if there was nothing else to love? But if God exists in a triune state, the Three persons of the Godhead would have eternally existed in a relationship of love. Were that not the case, “love” would simply be an emergent property, a byproduct of creation and not an essence of God’s immutable nature.

  5. i agree with the conclusion but not on some very critical details. were i to take one, it would be the issue that gives more reason to pause and people look seriously at your conclusion.

    that is, the trinity was not a topic of the council of nicaea. the divinity of christ was. almost nothing was said about the holy spirit, and certainly nothing formulaically ontological.

    here’s a great, short read, and any wiki i’ve read on early church history is consistent on the point.

    the fact is, the trinity is a late 2nd century *development* and before it (providing more divisions), there was the entirely unsettled debate of the divinity of christ. that was settled not by theological superiority, but by an emperor who got tired of there being an argument at all, since his whole point in christianity was to have one religion and a unified empire viz uniformity.

    https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/study/module/nicea/

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