Practical Consequences of Believing in the Trinity

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Introduction

God wants his children to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4) and also to fight for the faith that was originally delivered to the Church (Jude 1:3). Therefore it is important that we be diligent in discovering the truth, and clear about what we believe and why we believe it.

Our study of the Bible has led us to believe that the Trinity is not a biblical doctrine. It is not the purpose of this paper to set forth the rationale for the Biblical Unitarian doctrinal position, which has been done in many different books. [1] Rather, this paper will confine itself to examining some of the practical consequences of believing in the Trinity. Jesus told us that it was truth that would set us free, and the Word and experience teach us that erroneous doctrine usually has consequences; sometimes very serious consequences. As we will see in this paper, there are definite consequences that come from believing in the Trinity.

There are many good and godly Trinitarians, so we want to make it clear that this paper is not meant to be an attack on people who believe in the Trinity. Also, we should point out that after Jesus’ resurrection, God gave him all authority in heaven and on earth. This means that on many points there is a functional equality between God and Jesus that diminishes some of the differences between the Trinitarian and Biblical Unitarian positions. For example, both Trinitarians and Biblical Unitarians believe Jesus is “Lord,” that is, their “boss,” “master,” or “chief,” and look to Jesus for help and guidance. [2] Also, many Trinitarians and Biblical Unitarians pray to Jesus, and can fully expect those prayers to be answered. Furthermore, both Trinitarians and Biblical Unitarians expect to be judged by Jesus on the Day of Judgment.

In spite of the similarities about God and Christ on a few points, Trinitarians and Biblical Unitarians believe very differently about God and Jesus on many points. This paper is not meant to be exhaustive, but rather will cover some of the major consequences of believing in the Trinity.

Practical Consequence #1: We should know who God is

All truth has value, because all truth is anchored in God. Jesus told us that the truth would set us free (John 8:32). No wonder, then, that the Apostle John wrote: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4). No wonder also that the Bible tells us that God wants all people to be saved and come “to perceive and recognize and discern and know precisely and correctly the [divine] truth” (1 Tim. 2:4 Amplified Bible). As children of God, it behooves us to work to find the truth, and separate truth from error. This can be a very challenging task, and requires much prayer, patience, effort, humility, and teamwork.

We believe that knowing who God is, is valuable for many reasons. One of the most important reasons is that, as our creator, God deserves to be known and honored for who He is, and how He has revealed Himself in the Bible. If God is a Trinity, then He has one set of characteristics, but if He alone is God, and has a begotten Son, Jesus, then He has a different set of characteristics. If the Trinity is correct, God is made up of three co-equal, co-eternal “Persons,” and Jesus is both fully human and fully God. If our Biblical Unitarian position is correct, then there is one God who alone is God, Jesus Christ is the fully human Son of God, and “the Holy Spirit” is one of the names or titles of God, just as Elohim, Adonai, Father, and Ancient of Days are names for God. [3]

When we think of God as “One God,” we naturally think certain things about Him: for example, that He created mankind so he could have a family to fellowship with and to love. When we think of God as a Trinity, then we build beliefs and paradigms based on that model. The point is that how we think about God, and thus how we relate to Him, should be based on the way God really is. If God is not a Trinity, then Trinitarians do not actually know who God is.

Practical consequence #2: Belief in the Trinity has created a reliance on “mystery” in the Church

God created us with the ability to think and use logic, and then He calls upon us to walk in wisdom and use our logic. “Come now, let us reason together,” says God in Isaiah 1:18. Biblical Unitarianism places a lot of emphasis on logic, and the belief that we can read the Bible and understand it. In contrast, when we read the Bible but cannot understand the Trinity, we are told, “It is a mystery.” But there is a problem with having a “mystery” as the very foundation of the Christian Faith: “mystery” becomes the standard for biblical understanding and interpretation. After all, if the very foundation of the Faith is a mystery, then many other things about God are likely to be mysteries also. Thus, it is now the case that “mysteries” abound in Christian denominations. The mysterious powers of the sacraments dominate Roman Catholicism, as do unbiblical “mysteries” such as Papal infallibility. Many Protestant denominations also recognize the mysterious powers of some of the sacraments. For example, being water baptized in the right way has the mysterious power to confer salvation (or even confer “the Holy Spirit” on the one being baptized) in spite of the verses that teach we are saved by faith alone. Other “mysteries” in the Christian religion include how a God who is love can torment people in Hell forever; or how a God who is love can cause or allow so much suffering in the world. [4]

Although there certainly are things that are “mysteries” when it comes to God, most Christians feel powerless to confront mysteries that offend their conscience, appear contradictory, or block their understanding of the Bible, because what can anyone say to a “mystery?” The answer we are given when we say, “We do not understand,” is, “Of course not; it’s a mystery.” Only the most confident students of the Bible are willing to step forward and say, “It’s not a ‘mystery;’ it’s a false doctrine.”

Sadly, the reliance on mystery in the Church has caused many people to stop trying to understand biblical things because they can never get answers to their questions. Also, it has caused people to not push to understand God the way we would push to understand math or physics, using the Book as a guide, because we believe that the search would be futile—there would be no answers in the end anyway.

Practical Consequence #3: Logic is lost as an exegetical tool

Interwoven with the reliance on “mystery” to explain many Christian doctrines is the loss of logic as a tool for “exegesis” (a theological word that means “understanding and explaining the Scripture”). One of the most important tools we have for exegesis is logic. Although there is a large portion of the Bible that is self-explanatory, much of it must be “figured out.” For example, when it came to not needing to wash before eating, Jesus used a logical, not a “doctrinal” explanation: he simply pointed out that because the food we ate went into the stomach and then out into the sewer, it did not make a person unclean to eat with dirty hands (Mark 7:14-23). The same thing occurred when Jesus ate with sinners. The religious people thought it was wrong, but he said to them, “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice’” (Matt. 9:13). Jesus expected that anyone who knew that God wanted mercy would logically deduce that God would approve of a person eating with sinners to help them understand how to be more godly. Logic is a necessary tool for proper understanding of the Word. However, the Trinity and other “mysteries” defy logic, so in Christian theology, logic is not used as aggressively as it should be to help us understand the Bible.

Traditionally, since the Trinity is the foundation of the Christian Faith, people—even knowledgeable Christian teachers—accept mystery rather than logic as their primary approach to Scripture. They believe, “The Scripture does not have to make sense.” That is one of the main reasons that the Trinity can be accepted when it is never actually in the Bible. There is no verse that describes it, but it is “pieced together” from separate Scriptures. Furthermore, theologians are at a loss as to how the early Church learned the Trinity. It is not in any teaching by Jesus or the Apostles. All this falls into the category of “mystery.” Since any verse can be explained by mystery, there is almost no emphasis on using logic to interpret Scripture in theological schools.

For example, according to the doctrine of the Trinity, the Father, the Son, and “the Holy Spirit” are co-equal, co-eternal Persons, and the three make up “God.” Yet in the New Jerusalem, God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple (Rev. 21:22). Why would “the Holy Spirit” be left out? In fact, there are many verses that mention the Father and the Son and exclude the Holy Spirit (the salutations at the beginning of the Church Epistles are a good example. The Epistles are from “God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Where is the Holy Spirit?). We assert that the most logical reason for that, and one that fits best with the scope of Scripture, is that there is no “Person” called the Holy Spirit.

Notice also that in that final Jerusalem there is a throne that is said to be for “God” and for the “Lamb” (Rev. 22:3). This is easy to understand for a Biblical Unitarian, and very logical. There is one place for “God” because He is the “One God” of the Bible. There is another place for the “Lamb,” who is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. There is no place for “the Holy Spirit” because there is no such “Person.” From a Trinitarian perspective, however, this simple description of the future is illogical and confusing. Why, for example, if the Lamb, Jesus, is “God,” say there is a throne for “God” and one for the “Lamb.” If the Trinity were true, there should either be one throne for “God,” who would be all three Persons, or there should be places for all three “Persons” of the Trinity. But there is no logical reason to say “God” and “the Lamb,” if “the Son” is God, and there is no logical reason to leave “the Holy Spirit” out of the picture if he is a co-equal, co-eternal part of “God.”

Actually, if Jesus is “God,” should not the many verses that are about “Jesus” and “God” be “Jesus” and “the Father?” For example, in Mark 11:22 when Jesus says, “Have faith in God,” what does he mean? Is he saying to have faith in himself, or when saying “God” does he mean the whole Trinity, or just the Father? This type of question is part of the confusion introduced by the doctrine of the Trinity, and that can never be answered conclusively as long as the Trinity is accepted as truth. Examining Mark 11:22 in light of verses such as John 14:1, “Trust in God; trust also in me,” would seem to indicate that when Jesus says “God,” he is not referring to himself. But then who does he mean by “God?” Verses like these, which are simple and straightforward from a Biblical Unitarian position, become entangled in “mystery” when they are read from a Trinitarian perspective.

The average Church-going Christian is usually never involved in exegetical debates, and is never clearly told, “We do not use logic as a primary tool to understand and explain the Scripture.” However, theologians are clear about it. “Martin Luther…when pushed to the wall by Erasmus in their debate about free will, urged his readers to ‘adore the mysteries’ and not try to use logic.” [5] (p. 107). Many such theological quotes could be produced, but the point should be clear: many theologians believe that logic can be a hindrance to understanding truth.

Because logic is discarded as an exegetical tool, unbiblical and nonsensical language is brought into Christianity to explain the mysteries the Church has created. For example, Jesus is recognized as “the Son,” but everyone knows that a “son” has a beginning. There is a point at which a “son” is conceived and later born. But Trinitarians assert the Son is eternal, which means logically he should not be called “son.” Trinitarian doctrine “solves” this problem in two ways: first, it claims, “It is a mystery.” Second, it invents unbiblical vocabulary to explain the mystery: it says the Son is “eternally begotten.” This is nothing more than nonsense. There is no such thing as “eternally begotten;” it is a logical impossibility.

We Christians should be aware of the difference between a genuine mystery and a contradiction. In his excellent book, Against Calvinism, Roger Olson writes: “We must point out here the difference between mystery and contradiction; the former is something that cannot be fully explained to or comprehended by the human mind, whereas the latter is just nonsense—two concepts that cancel each other out and together make an absurdity.” [6] Richard Daane uses the term “verbalism” which he applied to certain aspects of Calvinism, but we feel is appropriate when applied to many of the explanations of the Trinity: “…verbalism, a theoretical game in which words really carry no ascertainable sense and phrases no ascertainable meaning.” [7] Many of the so-called explanations of the Trinity are mere verbalisms.

A consequence of the lack of emphasis on logic in theology is a lack of emphasis on wisdom in everyday Christianity. Wisdom is often discovered by logic, and, since logic is not a part of most Christian exegesis, wisdom often gets ignored as well. Take being overweight. We hear it is “not good for you,” which is true, but how often, especially in Christian circles where “wisdom” should be a major factor in all decisions, do we hear, “Being overweight is unwise, and God admonishes us over and over to be wise.” Similarly, we rarely hear of any Christian be complemented for being “wise.” Yet there are so many verses that speak of being wise that it should be a common attribute of Christians, and a common complement.

Practical Consequence #4: Many people become complacent about reading and understanding the Bible.

The Bible is a large book, but it was written in clear and simple language for the masses; it was not written in erudite language for the well educated few. Every Christian, with a little instruction in geography and the customs and cultures of the biblical world, should be able to pick up the Bible, read it, and understand the flow of the passage they are reading. Sadly, this is rarely the case.

Surveys of Christians who are asked about the Bible show that biblical illiteracy in America is at epidemic levels. Ron Rhodes, president of “Reasoning from the Scriptures Ministries,” pointed out a recent poll that indicates 35% of born-again Christians do not read the Bible at all. Furthermore, among those Christians who do say they read the Bible, when probed more deeply, the vast majority say they only read it during the one hour they attend church each Sunday morning. Another recent poll showed that two-thirds of British Christians cannot name the first book of the New Testament (reported in the April 2012 issue of Christianity Today magazine).

Since the Bible is God’s communication to man, it ought to be a wonderful experience to read it, and reading it should make us feel powerful, joyful, peaceful, and give us hope. So why do so many Christians never read it? A major reason is that false theology makes many passages in the Bible impossible to understand. People are told they cannot understand it; and that, along with the natural discouragement they feel when they try to read and understand it but fail, causes most Christians to simply put the Bible down and not read it.

A Biblical Unitarian theology goes a long way towards eliminating the so-called mysteries in the Bible and making it easier to understand and more enjoyable to read. Thus, when the Bible says Jesus is a man, but “God is not a man” (Num. 23:19), those statements make perfect sense and can be read and believed in a simple, straightforward way. Similarly, when Peter said that Jesus was “a man approved of God among you” (Acts 2:22), the verse is easy to understand. In our experience, when people understand the Bible, and as a result learn to enjoy it, they will read it, think about it, talk about it, and it will change their lives in wonderful ways.

Practical Consequence #5: The real meaning of many verses is missed due to trying to force a Trinitarian meaning into the text

There are hundreds of verses that are regularly misunderstood because a Trinitarian meaning is forced into the text. Jesus said, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). If “every word” is important, then distorting the meaning of hundreds of verses must have a huge impact on understanding God, Jesus, and the Bible. In his book, Justification, N. T. Wright has this to say about tradition: “If we…allow our traditions to force us to read the text in a way which it does not in fact support, that means there is something the text really does want to tell us which we are muzzling, denying, not allowing to come out.” [8] That is well said and precisely the point: there are things the Bible is actually saying, the true meaning of the text, which is being muzzled by Trinitarian theology.

It would be distracting to list dozens of verses to make the point that Trinitarian tradition obscures the real meaning of the text, but a good example is Isaiah 9:6, which is usually translated something such as: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” The mistranslation, “Mighty God,” is taken at face value by Trinitarians, as is “Everlasting Father” (which is strange, since Trinitarian doctrine says not to confuse the Father and the Son and the Son is never called the “Father.” This all becomes part of the “mystery”). The real truth being taught by Isaiah 9:6 is lost, which is that Jesus is a “mighty hero” and the “father” of the coming Messianic Age. In the Semitic idiom, “father” often means the author of something, or it refers to a leader, and Jesus is indeed the “father” of the Messianic Age. [9]

Importing Trinitarian theology into the Scripture causes simple verses to be confusing. A good example is Peter’s statement: “God has made this Jesus, who you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). As a Biblical Unitarian, this verse is both clear and simple: God made His Son, the man Jesus, Lord. As a Trinitarian, the verse is confusing. If Peter knew Jesus was God, why did he say that God “made” Jesus Lord? If he were God, Jesus was already Lord and was not “made” Lord by God.

Causing further confusion is Peter saying that “God” made Jesus, Lord. Did Peter mean that as God, Jesus helped make himself “Lord,” or did he use “God” in a way that excluded Jesus in order to better communicate with his Jewish audience? And if he did that, was he thinking of “God” as the Father and Holy Spirit, or just as his audience did, as the Only God? But if that was in fact what he did, is it right to exclude a part of the Godhead just because the audience is not aware of it? These questions are confusing, and cannot be answered for certain—more of the consequences of importing the doctrine of the Trinity into the Christian Faith. Acts 2:36 is just one of hundreds of verses that, when a Trinitarian perspective is imported into the text, the real meaning of the verse is lost and the verse does not make sense.

Practical consequence #6: We cannot understand Jesus

It is vital to the Christian walk that we understand Jesus. It is through the lens of Jesus that we see the Father, and also see our own abilities and our own potential as well. From the Biblical Unitarian position, Jesus is simple and straightforward, and what he accomplished is awesome and inspiring. Jesus was fully human, the second Adam, created by God. He was not a God-man. He had real problems, just as we all do. He needed the gift of holy spirit to walk in the fullness of his ministry, just as we all do (God put holy spirit upon him at his baptism. Matt. 3:16). He lived by faith, just like we all should; and he controlled his body, mind, and emotions, just as we are all called to do.

Jesus pushed his mind and body to do the will of God. In contrast to God, who can do anything, Jesus was so tired after a long, hard, day, that his disciples had to “take” him to the boat where he immediately fell asleep in the stern (Mark 4:38). We should take that example to heart and say to ourselves, “If Jesus can push himself like that, so can I.” Theoretically a “God-man” can do anything, so the fact that Jesus did things like fast for forty days even though he was hungry, or pushed himself until he was exhausted, or kept doing good things for others even though he was constantly criticized, attacked, and misunderstood (even by his own mother!), loses its impact on us.

In contrast to this easy-to-understand picture of Jesus that is easily documented from Scripture, the Trinitarian Jesus is just one more mystery. No Trinitarian, not even Trinitarian scholars who spend their lives studying theology, understand Jesus. He is said to be both “fully God and fully man,” which Trinitarians assert is a mystery. Actually it is just more verbalism, a genuine contradiction. Nothing can be 100% of one thing and also 100% of a different thing. Even God cannot make something 100% blue and 100% red, or make a fact 100% true and 100% false. Since “it is impossible for God to lie” (Heb. 6:18), words have to have genuine meaning, and not just be strung together in impossible configurations.

In Trinitarian theology, Jesus is a living contradiction. He is a man and God, even though “God” is not a man (Num. 23:19). Jesus said he was not a spirit (Luke 24:39), but the Bible says that “God” is spirit (John 4:24). Jesus was tempted in all ways like we all are (Heb. 4:15), but “God” cannot be tempted (James 1:13). Jesus has a “God” who is greater than he is (John 20:17), in fact, the Bible says the “head” of Christ is “God” (1 Cor. 11:3). How is any thinking person supposed to make sense of this? We are not. According to Trinitarian theology, all this contradiction lives inside Jesus, and it is all a mystery.

Trinitarians usually further confuse who Jesus is by referring to his “man nature” or “God nature” according to what he was doing. For example, when he was hungry after fasting in the desert, they say that was his man nature, but when he raised the dead or walked on water, that was his God nature. But since he is both fully God and fully man at the same time, how are we to make sense of that? For example, when Jesus “grew in wisdom” (Luke 2:52), how did that occur? Since the human Jesus is also 100% God, how does he “grow” in any meaningful sense?  This is said to be another mystery, and like many other mysteries in the Bible, orthodox Christians “explain” it by using unbiblical language. In this case, the Latin phrase communicatio idiomatum is used to explain how both the God nature and man nature can co-exist in Jesus.

The Internet Encyclopedia, Wikipedia, has this to say about communicatio idiomatum:

“In Christian theology communicatio idiomatum (“communication of properties”) is a Christological term, seeking to explain the interaction of deity and humanity in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. Christian orthodoxy has maintained that the divine and the human are fully unified in Jesus Christ (according to the Council of Ephesus in 431) but that the two natures also remain distinct (according to the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451). Christians agree that the two natures, distinct yet unified, participate in some sort of exchange.”

The verbalism, that “theoretical game in which words really carry no ascertainable sense and phrases no ascertainable meaning,” in trying to describe the two natures of Christ, is easy to spot. First, although the Latin phrase communicatio idiomatum sounds scholastic and impressive, it does not actually explain anything. It just says in Latin that the two natures of Christ communicate. It does not explain how they do, or how Jesus can be both God and man without the human part being completely dominated, but those are exactly the things we would need to know in order to understand Jesus.

Then we note from Wikipedia that Christians have argued over the two natures, and whether they are distinct or combined. Of course there is no way to settle the argument from Scripture because it is based on the false doctrine that Jesus is both God and man. Orthodox Christians have supposedly solved the problem, as Wikipedia reports, by claiming that Jesus’ two natures are “distinct yet unified.” This is more verbalism, a phrase that has no real meaning, and is actually just one more contradiction caused by making Jesus into God.

Some Trinitarian theologians have recognized the problem with Jesus being both 100% man and 100% God, and espoused a doctrine called “kenosis,” or “kenotic theology” (from the Greek word for “empty;” kenoō). Kenotic theology really crystallized in the late 1800’s, and is now believed by some Trinitarians but rejected by others. According to kenosis, Jesus temporarily emptied himself of many divine attributes at his incarnation, but reassumed them when he ascended back into heaven. Thus, according to kenosis, while he was a human on earth, Jesus emptied himself of attributes such as being omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, and immutable. Needless to say, none of this is clearly spelled out in the Bible. Kenotic theologians refer to Philippians 2:6-8, but traditional Trinitarians refute their interpretation.

Kenotic theologians assert that kenosis is necessary to explain Scriptures such as how Jesus grew in wisdom. Traditional Trinitarians reject kenosis, and say that God cannot divest Himself of the very properties that make Him God, especially when there is no clear verse that says so. Traditional and kenotic Trinitarians argue vehemently over kenosis—including sometimes calling people in the other camp “unsaved” for not believing in the “real Trinity.” From an outside point of view, there are indeed great problems with Jesus doing things like growing in wisdom, or that “he learned obedience from what he suffered” (Heb. 5:8). However, saying that God can divest Himself of the very attributes that make Him God is just more verbalism. It is both illogical and unscriptural to say that God can divest Himself of those things that make Him God. Kenotic theology is a belief system that was invented to explain something that can easily and scripturally be explained by realizing that Jesus was a fully human being, the created Son of God.

If we believe Jesus is a God-man, we lose a lot. We lose our ability to understand and relate to Jesus as a human being. We lose our ability to believe that we can actually be like him, and face life the way he did. We lose our confidence that we can do the works that he did. We lose the meaning of his simple words, such as “the Father is greater than I” (John 14:28). We also lose the meaning of his actions, like why he would pray to God if he were God, or why he would need the gift of holy spirit, which he received at his baptism. Belief in the Trinity demolishes the great human example of Jesus Christ, the “mighty hero” of Isaiah 9:6.

Practical consequence #7: We cannot understand verses about “the Holy Spirit.”

The doctrine of the Trinity does irreparable harm to the understanding of “the Holy Spirit.” [10] For one thing, just as with the verses that have to do with God and Jesus, making the Holy Spirit into a person causes the true meaning of the verses which include it to be lost, and a false meaning is imported into the text. Beyond that, however, entire scenarios have been invented to explain what “should” be in the text but is not. For example, it is not lost on Trinitarian theologians that since the Holy Spirit is a co-equal member of God, there should be a throne for him in the New Jerusalem, so explanations have to be invented as to why there is not one.

The Biblical Unitarian position on the “Holy Spirit” or “holy spirit” is simple and straightforward. The “Holy Spirit” is another name for God, while the “holy spirit” is the nature of God or God’s nature in action, and every use of Holy Spirit will fit into one of those two categories. God has many names that are based on His nature or character, and since God is holy and God is spirit, it makes complete sense that one of his names would be “the Holy Spirit.” Also, since God is both holy and spirit, when he puts His nature upon people (Old Testament), or His nature is born in people (Christians), it makes sense that His nature would be referred to as “the holy spirit.” There is no verse of Scripture that mentions Holy Spirit or holy spirit that cannot be understood in this way. Furthermore, this simple explanation gets rid of many “mysteries” in the Bible. Why is there no mention of a throne for the Holy Spirit in the New Jerusalem? Because only God and Jesus rule there. Why is Mary said to be impregnated by “the Holy Spirit” in both Matthew 1:18 and Luke 1:35, and yet Jesus is never said to be the Son of the Holy Spirit? Because “the Holy Spirit” is a name for the Father, God.

Literally dozens of verses mention the Father and Son together. In contrast, there is only one verse that mentions the Father, the Son, and the spirit (Matt. 28:19), and a few more places have all three in close proximity. In each case, “the spirit” in those places can refer to the nature of God that He gives to believers. Once we realize that “the holy spirit” is the nature of God, many verses that were unclear before can be understood. For example, we can see how the Bible can say that at the time of Jesus the spirit we have today did not exist yet (John 7:39); [11] how it can be “poured out” (Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17; 10:45); how it can be sealed inside people (Eph. 1:13); how we can be said to be “baptized” in it (Acts 1:5); why it is called a “gift” (Acts 2:38); how a believer can be “filled” with it (Acts 13:9); how it can be given by “God” (Acts 15:8); how we Christians can be said to have the “firstfruits” of the spirit (Rom. 8:23); and why it is sometimes called “the spirit of God” (Matt 3:16; 1 Cor. 3:16). [12]

Practical consequence #8: The Trinity creates an idol

No Christian wants to worship idols, and that certainly includes Trinitarians who sincerely love God. Nevertheless, it is important that we recognize that if the Trinity is not true, then many Trinitarians are unknowingly caught up in idol worship. As Christians we worship God. We also worship Jesus, just as God commanded the angels to do (Heb. 1:6). [13] We worship them differently, knowing and respecting their differences. God is the One God of the Bible, while Jesus Christ is the Son of God, worthy of our worship because of his accomplishments and because of the high position to which God has elevated him, even giving him all authority in heaven and on earth.

When it comes to our worship of God, we must be careful to distinguish “wrong worship” from idol worship. We can worship God wrongly without being involved in idol worship. For example, some denominations teach that worshipping God with musical instruments is wrong. Others teach that worshipping God on the “wrong Sabbath” is wrong (and there are arguments about whether Saturday or Sunday is the proper Sabbath). Some Christians believe that if a woman leads the congregation in worship it is wrong. This is not the forum to discuss and decide what is the “right” way to worship God and what is the “wrong” way. What is important for us to distinguish is that worshipping God in a wrong manner is different than idolatry, which is worshipping an idol.

The orthodox Christian worship of “the Holy Spirit” is not just wrong worship, it is idol worship, because there is no such “Person” as “the Holy Spirit.” Nevertheless, Trinitarian doctrine has created the Person and built an entire theology describing who he is and what he does. [14] The Person of the Holy Spirit is said to be a distinct Person from the Father and Son. He has his own will and knowledge, and he makes his own decisions. He also has his own mission, gives gifts to the Church, guides, convinces, and gives commands. He also prays for us. Thus it is clear that in Trinitarian theology “the Holy Spirit” is a separate “Person” whom we must understand and with whom we must deal if we want to know “God.” But in reality this “Being,” worshipped by so many Christians, does not actually exist, and therefore is an idol.

While we want to respect the sincere hearts of Christians who love God and believe in the Trinity, we still must derive our theology from the Word of God. An “idol” is a false God to whom honor and/or worship is given (and usually from whom some kind of spiritual help is expected). When it comes to worshiping idols, we must pay attention to Isaiah 42:8 (HCSB), which says, “I am Yahweh, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another or My praise to idols.” Christians should avoid idol worship.

God, the One God of the Old Testament, created the heavens and earth, then mankind. Then, even though Adam and Eve betrayed Him, He still made provision for their redemption and salvation, and He has been providing for mankind for the last 6,000 years. About 2,000 years ago He had a Son, the second Adam, the man Jesus Christ, who was His provision for mankind. Jesus obeyed God and looked to Him for sustenance and direction, eventually dying so mankind could be saved. Because of that, God has now elevated Jesus to His right hand and given him all authority. Both God and Jesus want us to know them. Furthermore, both God and Jesus want the love, respect, and worship they deserve. The doctrine of the Trinity not only obscures who God and Jesus are, it creates a “Person” who takes glory and worship from the true God.

God has always looked on the heart, and so it must be that He looks on the hearts of those people who cause Him to share his glory with the Person of the Holy Spirit. Most of them are worshipping God because they really love Him, and to them the Trinity is just one more mystery that their trusted leaders have taught them, and they worship their “God” out of a pure heart. Their deception is even more understandable when we realize that in many versions of the Bible, verses such as John 1:1; 7:39; and Romans 9:5 are translated in a way that supports Trinitarian doctrine when they could as legitimately have been translated to support the Biblical Unitarian position. Nevertheless, that does not mean that God would not prefer that people know the truth about who He, and His Son, are. Thankfully, the truth of who God and Jesus are is being recaptured by a growing number of theologians and Christians, and there is a growing body of literature and Bible teachers proclaiming the truth that God is One God and there is no Trinity.

Practical consequence #9: The doctrine of the Trinity hinders evangelism

Anyone who has spent time trying to get Jews or Moslems to accept Christ knows that the greatest hurdle to their salvation is the doctrine of the Trinity. To both Jews and Moslems the idea that God became a human being is absurd (we have seen above that saying Jesus is both 100% God and 100% man is a logical contradiction and mere verbalism). To the Jews, the most well-known and definitive text from the Old Testament is the Shema: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord is one” (Deut. 6:4). For Christians to suggest that God is actually three-in-one, and that “one” in Deuteronomy 6:4 does not really mean “one,” is an absurdity, offensive to both their language and their history.

For Moslems too, the idea that Allah somehow came down to earth and was a man is absurd and offensive. [15] Moslems aggressively resist any Trinitarian teaching. However, since Jesus is a holy figure in the Koran (but without Trinitarian overtones), many Moslems will openly discuss Jesus, and many admire him.

The February 2011 issue of Christianity Today magazine, in an article titled “The Son and the Crescent,” reported that in one Moslem country, more than 1,000 fellowships had been established in which the Bible was being studied. [16] The “Bible” these Moslems were studying replaces “Son of God” with “the Beloved Son who comes from God” because in the Arabic language, saying “Son of God” has sexual overtones the English does not have. The article reported that hundreds of Moslems were coming to Christ. Sadly, the translation that is driving this wonderful move of God is being resisted by Trinitarians. They sincerely, but wrongly, believe that since these Moslems are not being taught the Trinity, they are not actually being saved. More sadly, this trend is continuing. The April 2012 issue of Christianity Today reported that the Wycliffe Bible translators were pulling a Bible from circulation that was being read in Moslem countries because it was opposed by the 3-million-member Assemblies of God denomination. Christianity Today reported: “Muslims object to Christian teaching that Jesus is the eternal Son of God” (emphasis added).

What a coup for the Devil! Trinitarians who think a person has to believe in the Trinity to be saved are promoting their false and complex doctrine to such an extreme extent they are blocking a powerful move of God. From their actions we can see they would rather have unbelievers read no Bible at all (which is what happens when Moslems read Trinitarian Bibles—they reject them) than read a Bible that says “the Beloved Son who comes from God.” And this is the case even though the translation “Beloved Son who comes from God” is getting people to believe and accept Jesus as the resurrected Lord. [17] It is a major responsibility of every Christian is to tell other people about the Lord Jesus so that they can believe and get saved. The doctrine of the Trinity is a major hindrance to that effort.

In Conclusion

What Jesus, Paul, John, and others said 2,000 years ago is still true—there is a great value in truth, and error has consequences. When we look at the text of the Bible from the eyes of a Biblical Unitarian, many wonderful things occur. The Bible can be seen to speak in very simple and plain language about most subjects, and thus it becomes a book that is much easier to read and understand. Logic is reinstated as a powerful tool of exegesis, and helps us explain many things that are not clearly written in the text itself. Many of the so-called “mysteries” of God can be seen to not be mysteries at all, but just erroneous thinking. Instead of being an incomprehensible Trinity, “God” can be seen to be a Heavenly Father and Creator, who in His love and wisdom, created mankind and then provided for their redemption and restoration when they turned against Him. Instead of being a walking contradiction, Jesus leaps off the pages of the Bible as the mighty hero he was prophesied to be, a genuine inspiration to us. Living wisely becomes more than just something helpful in a Christian’s life, it is a direct extension of the wisdom of God which is woven into the fabric of Scripture. Last in this list but certainly not least, Christians are empowered and inspired to read the Bible with new energy and insight, with a conviction that they can understand, and then live by, what the Bible says.


Endnotes:

1. For information on the Biblical Unitarian position, and why we believe it is true and biblical, see: One God & One Lord: Reconsidering the Cornerstone of the Christian Faith by Graeser, Lynn, and Schoenheit (and the large number of works explaining and defending the Biblical Unitarian position in that bibliography; especially books such as Buzzard and Hunting, The Doctrine of the Trinity: Christianity’s Self-Inflicted Wound; Patrick Navas, Divine Truth or Human Tradition; Richard Rubenstein, When Jesus Became God, Donald Snedeker, Our Heavenly Father Has No Equals; and Kermit Zarley, The Restitution of Jesus Christ). Also see the website: BiblicalUnitarian.com. Back to top

2. For more on the meaning of “Lord,” see One God & One Lord: Reconsidering the Cornerstone of the Christian Faith by Graeser, Lynn, and Schoenheit, Appendix A, note on Romans 10:9; or BiblicalUnitarian.com, or at STFonline.org/REV, commentary on Romans 10:9 (REV stands for Revised English Version). Back to top

3. There is also a use of “the holy spirit” in which “holy” and “spirit” should not be capitalized. These uses refer to the nature of God, who is both holy and spirit, which was “upon” Old Testament believers and is “born in” Christians. That is why there are verses that say the holy spirit is poured out from heaven, is sealed inside us, etc. For more information on this, see, Graeser, Lynn, Schoenheit, The Gift of Holy Spirit: The Power to be Like Christ. Back to top

4. For a better understanding of the unsaved person’s destruction in the Lake of Fire, see the online REV commentary on Revelation 20:10 at STFonline.org, and The Fire that Consumes, by Ed Fudge. For more on God not being the cause of disasters, sickness, and death, see Graeser, Lynn, Schoenheit, Don’t Blame God! Back to top

5. Roger Olson, Against Calvinism (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 2011), p. 107. Back to top

6. Ibid. p. 105. Back to top

7. Richard Daane, The Freedom of God (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MI, 1973), p. 71. Back to top

8. N. T. Wright, Justification (Kindle edition; Chapter 6, section III), 2009. Wright was not speaking about Trinitarian tradition, but tradition in general, which we assert includes the tradition of the Trinity. Back to top

9. For a more complete treatment of Isaiah 9:6, see Op. cit., One God & One Lord: Reconsidering the Cornerstone of the Christian Faith Appendix A, note on Isaiah 9:6, or see that reference on BiblicalUnitarian.com. Back to top

10. There is a lot about the holy spirit that cannot be covered in this short presentation. Due to Trinitarian bias, most verses dealing with the holy spirit have been mistranslated. For much more, see the book, The Gift of Holy Spirit: The Power to be Like Christ by Graeser, Lynn, and Schoenheit, or see individual verse entries in our commentary at STFonline.org/REV. Back to top

11. The NRSV does a good job of translating the Greek of John 7:39: “Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” More information can be found about this in The Gift of Holy Spirit: The Power to be Like Christ by Graeser, Lynn, and the online REV commentary, which can be found at STFonline.org. Back to top

12. To a Biblical Unitarian, “the spirit of God” is a genitive of origin: the spirit that comes from God. Back to top

13. For more on worship, see One God & One Lord by Graeser, Lynn, and Schoenheit, Appendix A note on Matthew 4:10; or on BiblicalUnitarian.com see Matthew 4:10 under difficult verses. Back to top

14. The Holy Spirit is referred to as a “he” in orthodox Trinitarian theology. He is not considered to be female, although sometimes his gender is disputed or he is said to have some feminine characteristics, usually because in the Hebrew language, “spirit” is a feminine noun, and in the Greek language it is a neuter noun, but in neither language is it a masculine noun. Back to top

15. Allah is the Arabic word for “God.” The Hebrew is Elohim, and the Aramaic is Allaha. Back to top

16. The specific name of the country was withheld from the article for security reasons. Back to top

17. Even if the Trinity is the truth, a person does not have to believe it to be saved. See “Do You Have to Believe in the Trinity to Be Saved,” a major paper on the subject freely available from Spirit & Truth Fellowship International on our website: TruthorTradition.com Back to top