[This article was originally published by Kegan Chandler on his website, The God of Jesus]
Most Christians have been taught that Jesus is both “fully God and fully man”; that he is God Almighty clothed in human flesh. Also, it is said that in addition to Jesus, two other individuals are also fully God: the Father, and another person called the Holy Spirit. All three of these persons, it is claimed, are co-equal; no one is greater than the other. Yet while all three are divine, they are somehow not three deities. Rather, they are said to mysteriously share the same single essence; an inexplicable “three-in-one” being.
Theologians both ancient and modern have claimed that this mysterious “Doctrine of the Trinity” is the core of the Christian faith. While churches today actually disagree on many details of this doctrine, and most admit that it is ultimately impossible to understand, it is often claimed to be necessary for salvation.
But what if Jesus himself never taught these things? What if the Bible actually teaches something completely different?
Could it be possible that the real message of the New Testament has been radically misinterpreted, and those misinterpretations have simply been passed onto the next generation? What if the claims of Jesus have been so badly misunderstood, and Church tradition so heavily influenced by ancient, pagan philosophers, that the original faith of Jesus and his disciples has gone unrecognized by many believers today? What if the “the Doctrine of the Trinity” isn’t actually Biblical after all?
Would you want to know?
Countless Christian scholars have long recognized that the Trinity doctrine is not in the Bible. Surprisingly, most of these scholars are actually Trinitarians! (Click here to see what the most respected Trinitarian scholars admit about the doctrine.) While a handful of passages have been used to “prove” the Trinity from the Scriptures, it has been admitted by theologians that none of these examples clearly teach the doctrine, but are only suggestions, hints, or inferences which have been pieced together to support a thesis. Of course, we think it’s pretty obvious that people can make the Bible say just about anything if they try hard enough. But we believe the Bible is actuallyvery clear on a number of important points, specifically, on who the one true God is. After all, wouldn’t you think such a basic truth would need to be clearly communicated in the Bible? How could something like that only be suggested or hinted at as tradition says?
Contrary to tradition, we believe the Bible teaches that God is only one, the Father. That this single individual is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is, therefore, not the one true God himself, but is his only-begotten human son.
Today this view is often called Unitarianism, or the belief that God is one person, or a “certain self.” This biblical position has been held by various Christian groups throughout Church history. The belief that only the Father is God also represents the classic monotheism which the Jews have practiced for thousands of years. Moses, David, Elijah—they all believed that God was simply one. The Bible shows us that this was also the religion of the first-century Jew, Jesus of Nazareth.
” Father… you [are] the only true God.”– JOHN 17:1A, 3
In prayer, Jesus calls the Father “the only true God” (Jn 17:3). In fact, Jesus says that he himself has a God many times (Rev 3:2, 12, Mk 15:34). Even after being raised from the dead, he tells Mary that God is “my Father and your Father, my God and your God” (Jn 21:17). He teaches the woman at the well that “the true worshippers shall worship the Father,” and that those who do this are “worshipping God in spirit and truth” (Jn 4:23, 24). Incredibly, Jesus also agrees with a Jew in a public debate that “our God” is only “one.” (Mk 12:28ff). For Jesus, that one is the Father alone. “It is my Father,” he explains to the Jews, “of whom you say ‘He is our God.’ (Jn 8:54).
So what are we to make of all of this? Why does Church tradition say that God is ‘three different persons in one essence’ when Jesus never did? We see that even Jesus’ original disciples agreed with their master on who God is: “For us there is only one God, the Father” (1 Cor 8:6). Even after Jesus ascended to heaven, the Apostles continued to give praise to “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 1:3, Eph 1:3, Rom 15:6, Col 1:3). Why is it that most Christians today don’t speak this way? Why do so many groups say that the Father, Jesus, and yet another mysterious person called the Holy Spirit are all the true God, when Jesus said that “the only true God” is the Father? (Jn 17:3)
Unbeknownst to some, millions of Christians all throughout history have rejected the Doctrine of the Trinity as unscriptural. Today, more and more devoted believers are bravely confronting the many problems that arise when one compares the doctrine with the Bible and with Church history. Any encyclopedia will inform you that, historically speaking, the formal doctrine of “One God in three persons,” did not arrive on the scene until the fourth century AD. That’s three hundred years after Jesus. (Click here to see a timeline of the Trinity’s development.)
While some claim the Trinity was the faith of Jesus and his apostles, history proves that the doctrine was actually the product of centuries of slow, post-biblical development. While in the Bible, the Apostles do speak about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, they don’t speak about them in the way that later Catholic theologians do. They certainly don’t say they are a Trinity, a triple-person God, much less that you have to believe in the idea to be saved. In fact, many people in the New Testament believed in Jesus as the Christ, were baptized, and were saved without ever being told that God is a Trinity. In fact, thousands were saved upon beleiving that “Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him” (Acts 2:22).
Surprisingly, we also don’t find anyone in the Early Church debating about the controversial principles of the doctrine, though they argued about so many other less-central matters. Later Trinitarians however, have argued with Jews and non-Trinitarian Christians about the doctrine constantly. Isn’t that strange for the original Jewish Christians of the New Testament to not discuss what is supposed to have been the core of their faith? Could it simply be because they’d never heard of the Doctrine of the Trinity?
” [I am] a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God.”– JOHN 8:40
If we pay careful attention to the Bible, and if we are educated about the errors made by well-meaning theologians, we begin to see the truth: That while Jesus often claims to be “the Christ, the Son of God,” (Matt 16:16-17) he never claims he somehow is the one God himself. While his enemies often misunderstand him or try to put words in his mouth to accuse him, he never clearly says that he is God. When his opponents accuse him of this, he even corrects them: “I said ‘I am the Son of God.’ ” (Jn 10:36). Instead of claiming to be God, we find that Jesus is a good law-abiding Jew who follows the commandment to worship the one God with all his heart, the Father, the God of his ancestors. Jesus consistently describes himself as God’s Son, his appointed servant, and the one to whom God has given all authority to work and speak in his name. He even describes himself as “a man” who was only preaching “the truth I heard from God” (Jn 8:40). With God’s help, the man Jesus lived a sinless life and became the perfect sacrifice for our sins, the only way to get to the Father. Because of his obedience, God raised Jesus from the dead and made him Lord of everything, even higher than the angels. The only thing now higher than Christ is God himself (1 Cor 15:27-28). These simple truths, while in the Bible, have long been neglected and obscured by the most popular ideas of mainstream Christianity.
History, like the Bible, is also quite clear on many things. That early Christianity was heavily influenced by the teachings of pagan philosophers like Plato, is undeniable. The records prove that many of the ancient Catholic theologians who developed the Trinity drew from Greeks sources in their formulations, causing Christians to blur the lines between the one God, the Father, and the one Lord Messiah, Jesus. Eventually these ideas resulted in the official three-in-one God. We argue that this was the same intermingling of philosophy and Christianity that the Apostle Paul so strongly warned us about before he died (Col 2:8, Acts 20:29-31, 1 Tim 4:1, 2 Tim 4:3-4).
Despite all of this, Christians today are in a unique position. We have access to better manuscripts, Bible-study tools, and a wealth of scholarship that can help the modern disciple of Christ recognize the errors of tradition, and ultimately recover the faith of the New Testament. With God’s help, you can join the thousands of Christians whose lives are now being changed through this rediscovery of the faith of Jesus Christ.
It’s time to act boldly. What is at stake is nothing less than the truth about God. What have you got to lose by fully investigating the matter? The Bible can stand up to scrutiny. Our doctrine should, too. Contrary to tradition, the Bible doesn’t tell us that you have to believe in the Trinity doctrine to be saved. In fact, it doesn’t explain anything about the doctrine at all. But what it does tell us is that the Lord Jesus expects each one of us to “worship God in spirit and truth,” that is, to worship God for who he truly is. A Lutheran theologian once said:
” God is the God of truth! The love of truth, submission to the force of truth, the surrender of traditional views which will not stand the test of truth, is a sacred duty, an element of the fear of God. “– FRANZ JULIUS DELITZCH (1813-1890)
We pray that the Father, the God of Jesus, will bless you as you seek him with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength.