Conversation on the Trinity
Here is a conversation on the Trinity that is an extract from the comments after a blogpost. Check the post for the complete discussion that took place over a period of more than three months.
Commentator 11 October
George I have to tread carefully here. My intent is not to say that Christianity is untrue or that the Bible itself is untrue. That would be disrespectful to you. I am only concerned with how you are evaluating other religions and your methodology. But you keep making statements about the Bibles accuracy that are based on your own faith and one particular interpretation not historical or scholarly fact. This is why when we started this conversation instead of attacking Christianity in any way I was pointing out that there were more than one interpretation of Christ, his teachings, and his relationship to God at the time of his death. What that means is that one particular group cannot really claim theirs as the only true understanding. To many historians, archaeologists and scholars the Bible has many contradictions. The Bible is interpreted by many groups differently. So saying that there is only one understanding or interpretation is just not accurate. So as a way to demonstrate I will go back to one of those differences I mentioned earlier, the Trinity. There were some groups of Christians (and still are) that view God, Christ, and the holy spirit as separate beings. If I am correct George you do not believe in this interpretation. So to kind of show that each individuals understanding of the Bible is based on their or their denominations interpretation of the Bible in reference to any particular topic. So here are several quotes from the Bible that if you read them and do not interpret them through your own denominations lens they clearly say that God the Father and his Son Jesus were separate. Jesus himself is referring to himself and God as being separate in each one of them. To say that is not what he is saying is in my opinion linguistically impossible. It would certainly twist reason. To show that this is a matter of interpretation I would like for you to explain how they do not say that they are separate without referencing other passages. The reason I am saying that is, is that I can list out three times as many of these that support the idea that they are separate. Because of space I did not want to list them all. So it really makes no logical sense that you can refute these by just listing a number of other quotes that you interpret as saying that God, Jesus, and the holy spirit are one. If you choose to give a list of quotes that support your interpretation then effectively all you have done is prove an inconsistency.
Mark 10:18 (KJV): “And Jesus said unto him, why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is God.”
Mark 13:32: “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.”
Mark 15:34: “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
John 5:19: “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do.”
John 5:26: “For the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.”
John 7:16: “Jesus answered them, and said, my doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.”
John 7:17: “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”
George I am still not trying to say that you or your interpretation is wrong. What I am saying is there is room for more than one interpretation and only you through your faith can decide what is right. The truth is absolute but no ones interpretation of the Bible is absolute.
Well at least you can see that I do own a Bible and have read it.! Take care George!
George’s reply 14 October
Thanks for the comment. You say, “To many historians, archaeologists and scholars the Bible has many contradictions”. I am aware of this, but I understand that these apparent contradictions can be harmonized. If you know of any that are not able to be resolved, please let me know. By the way, different eyewitnesses will not give identical accounts of the same event unless there has been collusion.
You say “The Bible is interpreted by many groups differently. So saying that there is only one understanding or interpretation is just not accurate.” That is true and it’s why I rely on the Bible as an objective source of Christian belief. The main message of the Bible is clear and it is stated repetitively. It’s not ambiguous. Jesus came to reconcile humanity with God and to ultimately restore His creation. If we don’t personally accept that He took the penalty that we deserved, we face eternal punishment in hell. I don’t want you (or anyone) to face a future like that!
You say that some Christians believe that God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are “separate beings” and quote seven Bible verses that seem to support this. The answer is that they are separate (distinct) persons, but one essence (being). Each of the verses quoted refer to God the Father and Jesus Christ as separate persons.
Commentator 15 October
George said, “You say that some Christians believe that God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are “separate beings” and quotes seven Bible verses that seem to support this. The answer is that they are separate (distinct) persons, but one essence (being). Each of the verses quoted refer to God the Father and Jesus Christ as separate persons.”
So George you are saying that they are “but one essence (being)” in other words one “being”. “You say that some Christians believe that God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are “separate beings” and quotes seven Bible verses that seem to support this.” The distinction is that you say one being and others say three separate beings. And these verses do not “seem” to show this, they emphatically show this.
Definition of Trinity: the unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three persons in one Godhead according to Christian dogma.
Definition of godhead:
1 divine nature or essence
The definition above agrees with you George, Jesus , the holy ghost, and God are one being called God. The problem is that the Bible does not.
Mark 13:32: “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.”
If you take this sentence apart man, the son (Jesus), and the angels do not know the hour. Only the father knows the hour (they are separate otherwise they would both know). If they are the same being this is impossible. If they were the same being Jesus and the father would know what the angels and man do not. The Bible says that they are separate beings not one. Bible believing Christians want to take the Bible literally until they get to passages that cause them a problem. There is no amount of linguistic gymnastics that you can do to make this statement mean that god and Jesus are one being.
George’s reply 28 October
Thanks for the comment. With regard to the trinity you say, “you say one being and others say three separate beings”. It’s what the Bible says that counts, not what I or someone else may say. In exegesis, it’s dangerous to interpret a verse without considering its context and what the Bible says elsewhere on the topic. The Bible is an integrated book, not isolated verses.
The Bible says that Jesus is God (Rom. 9:5). He is the exact representation of God’s being (Jn. 14:9, Heb. 1:3).
“Anyone who has seen me [Jesus] has seen the Father” (Jn. 14:9NIV).
“The Son [Jesus] is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His [God’s] being, sustaining all things by His [Jesus’] powerful word” (Heb. 1:3NIV).
“The Son [Jesus] radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and He [Jesus] sustains everything by the mighty power of His [Jesus’] command” (Heb. 1:3NLT).
The Bible also says that Jesus is equal with God the Father:
“I [Jesus] and the Father are one” (Jn. 10:30).
“I [Jesus] am in the Father, and the Father is in me [Jesus]” (Jn. 10:38, 14:10-11).
“He [Jesus] was God” and so Jesus had “equality with God” (Phil. 2:6).
The God of the Bible is monotheistic, not tri-theistic. Trying to understand the trinity is like Job trying to understand God. God said that Job was speaking “ignorant words” or “words without knowledge” (Job 38:2). Job was ignorant about God. After a revelation of God’s wisdom, power, providence and sovereignty in nature (Job 39-41), Job repented of his pride and acknowledged “surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know” (Job. 42:1-6). When Job was trying to understand God, he was talking about things he knew nothing about. Likewise, when we are discussing the trinity, we are discussing things we know very little about. We don’t understand God’s power (it’s infinite). We don’t understand God’s goodness (it’s perfect). And we don’t understand God’s composition (one being but three persons).
Here’s a verse that shows that Jesus is both the same as God and separate from God in some way, “In the beginning [of time] the Word [Jesus] already existed. The Word [Jesus] was with God, and the Word [Jesus] was God” (Jn. 1:1). It’s perplexing to us because this mystery is beyond our human experience. As an ant is ignorant of the universe, we are ignorant of the unseen spiritual world (except for what is revealed in the Bible). After all, we can’t assume that the unseen spiritual world is like our physical world.
When Jesus said He didn’t know when He would return to earth to set up His kingdom (Mk. 13:32), it shows that He wasn’t always omniscient. Whereas, on another occasion He was omniscient (Jn. 1:48). This could be an example of a divine power that He gave up when He came to earth – “He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave” (Phil. 2:7NLT). Also, see my blogpost for another possible explanation of Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32.
Commentator 28 October
George, you still don’t get it. All you do is repeat bible quotes that if I really had the desire and the energy I could use the very same bible to refute them.
George’s reply 9 November
Thanks for the comment. You say you could use the Bible to refute bible quotes. You imply that the Bible is contradictory. But the only case presented in all your comments relates to the trinity, which I have answered in some detail. The main points were that the Bible is an integrated book, not isolated verses. And because we are finite, we don’t understand God’s composition (one being but three persons).
Commentator 10 November
George says: “You say you could use the Bible to refute bible quotes. You imply that the Bible is contradictory. But the only case presented in all your comments relates to the trinity, which I have answered in some detail. The main points were that the Bible is an integrated book, not isolated verses. And because we are finite, we don’t understand God’s composition (one being but three persons).”
As I have repeatedly stated I am refuting your methodology in attacking other religions not claiming your religion is false. I gave you 7 verses that anyone with a elementary school level education in the English language would say after reading them that they are referring to separate beings. Your answer is “And because we are finite, we don’t understand God’s composition (one being but three persons)”.
No George this has nothing to do with us not understanding God. We understand the English language just fine and understand what those verses say. You are giving these verses a meaning that they don’t say, one being but three persons. You can argue that these verses say “one being but three persons” all you want but it is just in your imagination because no where in them do those words appear.
This has been one of the problems with this discussion from the beginning. You like to make statements as fact that just are not fact at all. When you do not have an answer for what I give your answer is that you just do not answer.
Commentator 21 November
I gave you 7 bible verses where in plain English it says that the Father, son, and holy ghosts were separate. You ignore this fact and claim otherwise.
Commentator 22 November
You say that the bible is consistent. I brought up before the different views on the trinity and you, like usual, came back in an authoritative way proclaiming that the bible clear teaches the trinity but that I just did not understand it. Well here is a write up by a fellow Christian that uses the bible to disprove the notion of the trinity and gives 74 reasons why, oddly taken right from …………wait for it…………………the bible (see Appendix A)! His name is Michael A. Barber, in fact he has written a whole book on it! Funny George I thought that this argument was settled? I guess there is more than one interpretation of the Bible isn’t there.
George’s reply 26 November
Thanks for the previous three comments. You used seven verses about the trinity to claim that the trinity is comprised of three separate beings, which is different to the traditional explanation that the trinity is one being but three persons. Why the difference? You use a biased sample that leaves out verses that imply that the trinity is one being. A biased sample gives a biased interpretation. We can’t find the truth if we ignore some of the evidence.
The Bible teaches that there is only one God (monotheism) (Dt. 6:4; 1 Cor. 8:4; 1 Tim. 2:5). Nevertheless, it is clear in the Bible that the Father is God (e.g., 1 Cor. 1:3; 1 Cor. 8:6; Phil. 1:2), Jesus is God (e.g., Jn. 1:1-3; Col. 1:15-20; Tit. 2:13), and the Holy Spirit is God (e.g. Acts 5:3-4; 1 Cor 3:16). When these verses are considered along with the others, it’s clear that the trinity is one being but three persons. There is one God who exists as three persons. The Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are different persons (or minds), but these three minds all exist as one being—God. And all three persons of the godhead are associated together on an equal basis in the Bible (Mt. 3:13-17; 28:19; Eph. 3:14-21; 1 Pt. 1:2; 2 Cor. 13:14; 2 Th. 2;13).
One of the principles of biblical hermeneutics is to use the Bible to help interpret itself (use Scripture to interpret Scripture). To interpret a passage without taking into account other passages that deal with the same topic can cause a poor interpretation. Ask, what other passages are related to the subject of this passage and how do they affect the understanding of this passage? We can practice this principle by using a Bible with cross-references in the margin.
Since the Bible is the Word of God and God cannot lie or contradict Himself (Num. 23:19; Heb. 6:18), then one passage will never contradict another passage. If we incorrectly interpret a given passage, by studying other passages on the same topic, we can recognize our error. Human beings are fallible, but our mistakes of interpretation do not mean that the Bible is flawed. Usually it is our flawed interpretation that is the problem.
Commentator 30 November
George said “He uses a biased sample that leaves out verses that imply that the trinity is one being.” In reference to the 7 verses that said that the trinity was not one being.
Well George you have claimed that there is no contradiction in the bible. If you have multiple verses that clearly say that the trinity is three separate beings and then you have multiple verses that say that the trinity is one being that is the epitome of contradiction! You can’t have it both ways George! Nice try!
George says “The Bible teaches that there is only one God”. This is why the Christians had to tie themselves in a knot trying to explain that God had a son. It is simple logic that if God had a Son he would also be a god. That doesn’t sound very monotheistic now does it? That is why they had to come up with the Trinity in the first place. The Jews of the time would not accept a polytheistic religion like Christianity. I do not have my Bible with me right now but we will get back to the concept of the bible teaching only one god when I do.
George’s reply 17 December
Thanks for the last three comments. You criticize the Bible because you can find some people who make different interpretations of it and you can find ancient books that make statements that differ from it. But by using this method, other religions like Buddhism could also be criticized for the same reasons.
Commentator 18 December
This is no longer a discussion. Sadly you do not answer any of the questions I ask you and take my words and turn them around to try and score some sort of points. It began as a good discussion and I hoped that it would continue. It is a sad day! Hopefully during our discussions god has opened your eyes to be more tolerant of other faiths and that you can see that attacking them bears nothing but bad fruit. My god give you wisdom George. Well I am finished here. Merry Christmas to you and your family! I hope you have a pleasant holiday celebrating the birth of your lord.
George’s reply 25 December
Thanks. May God also give you wisdom. And may you also have a happy festive season over Christmas and the New Year.
Appendix A: Is the Trinity Taught in the Bible?
Link provided by commentator to a web page by Michael A. Barber.
In 1550 AD, in England, Joan Bocher was sentenced and burned to death. Her crime? The Encyclopedia Britannica (1964) says: “She was condemned for open blasphemy in denying the Trinity, the one offence which all the church had regarded as unforgivable ever since the struggle with Arianism.”
On October 27th, 1553 AD, Michael Servetus, a medical practitioner, was burned at the stake at Geneva, Switzerland, for denying the doctrine of the Trinity.
In 1693 AD a pamphlet attacking the Trinity was burned by order of the House of Lords, and the following year its printer and author were prosecuted.
In 1697 AD Thomas Aikenhead, an 18 year old student, was charged with denying the Trinity and hanged at Edinburgh, Scotland.
In 1711 AD Sir Isaac Newton’s friend, William Whiston (translator of the works of Jewish historian Josephus), lost his professorship at Cambridge for denying the Trinity.
An Historical Account of Two Notable Corruptions of Scripture, detailing Sir Isaac Newton’s condemnation of the Trinity teaching, was first published in 1754, twenty-seven years after Newton’s death, due to the controversies surrounding the doctrine and the church’s treatment of those who denied it.
What is it about the doctrine of the Trinity that has created such extreme examples of religious intolerance? Moreover, what was it that the above people, and others like them, saw in this teaching that impelled them to deny it at such great cost?
The following questions help to identify clearly the issues involved in this article’s title. By examining these questions, and consulting the cited scriptures, the nature of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as taught in the Bible, will become clear.
- Advocates of the Trinity doctrine believe that the words of Jesus at John 10:30, “I and the Father are one,” refer to the teaching that Jesus is God. But how does John 10:30 harmonize with John 17:22, where Jesus says, “in order that they [that is, the disciples] may be one just as we are one”?
- In what sense, then, are the Father and the Son “one”?
- The Greek language has three words that correspond to the English word “one” using three genders, (1) masculine, (2) feminine, and (3) neuter. If the oneness of the Father and the Son was a reference to the “persons of the godhead,” which gender would be used in this context: masculine, feminine, or neuter?
- Which gender is used for “one” at John 10:30 and at John 17:22 in the Greek text of the inspired scriptures?
- What did Jesus mean when he said, “He that has seen me has seen the Father”?—John 14:9.
- How does the above scripture harmonize with Hebrews 1:3, where Jesus is referred to as the “exact likeness” of his Father (Today’s English Version)?
- How do some believe that the following scriptures — as read from the Authorised (King James) Version — support the Trinity: Philippians 2:6; 1 Timothy 3:16; 1 John 5:7?
- Why do most other Bible versions not agree with the above renderings?
- The discovery of the Sinaitic manuscript (held at The British Library, but sometimes on view at the British Museum) shows how a “later hand” corrupted 1 Timothy 3:16 to read “he” rather than “who” — completely altering the sense of the verse. Would a sincere Bible student agree with the original, or with the corrupted version?
- Which version does the King James (AV)translation use?
- What did Jesus mean by his words “Abraham your father rejoiced greatly at the prospect of seeing my day”? — John 8:56.
- Why did the Jews then reply to Jesus, “You are not yet fifty years old, and still you have seen Abraham?” — John 8:57.
- What was the meaning of Jesus’ response in verse 58, “Before Abraham was, I am”? (King James)
- Is the expression translated “I am” in this verse the equivalent of the expression found at Exodus 3:14?
- Why do the following versions render John 8:58 thus:
“I have existed before Abraham was born.”
Moffatt, Schonfield, and An American Translation
“Before Abraham came to be, I was.”
“Before there was an Abraham, I was already there!”
“Before Abraham was born, I was.”
George M. Lansa, from the Syriac Peshitta
“Before Abraham existed, I was existing.”
‘Sacred Bible’, Catholic Bible Center
- How does the authoritative work on Biblical Greek Moulton’s Grammar of New Testament Greek (Vol. III, page 62) explain the use of the Perfective Present (“I have been”) at John 8:58 where the Greek word EI.MI’ is used?
- When John the Baptist used the same Greek word (EI.MI’) at John 3:28, how does the context demonstrate that the Good News Translation rendering of “I have been sent ahead of him,” is superior to “I am sent before him” (Authorised Version)?
- Consequently, was Jesus not referring to the fact of his having existed since before the time of Abraham?
- Although Trinitarians claim there is a connection between what Jesus said at John 8:58 and what Jehovah said at Exodus 3:14, how does an examination of the original inspired language text reveal otherwise?
- Whilst the Hebrew term at Exodus 3:14 (EH.YEH’) is rendered “I am” in some translations, why is it that in every other instance of the rendering of this term in the Bible, these same Bible versions correctly translate it using the future tense: “I will be”?
- When Jehovah used the same expression, EH.YEH’, in Exodus 3:12, “certainly I will be with thee,” why do translations correctly use the future tense for verse 12, but choose the present tense when the same word is used in verse 14?
- Is it not clear that, in Exodus 3:14, Jehovah is referring to his future purposes, whereas at John 8:58, Jesus is referring to his past, his prehuman existence during the time of Abraham?
- In Daniel 7:13, 14, who is it that is referred to as the “Ancient of Days,” and also, who is the “son of man” who was given “dominion and glory”?
- Who granted the “son of man” this “dominion and glory”?
- Was the vision of an earthly, or a heavenly scene?
- Why was the Holy Spirit not mentioned?
- In Psalm 110:1, two “lords” are referred to (Authorised Version). What is the identify of each “lord”?
- How can God and Christ be “coequal” when Jesus said that his Father was greater than he is?—John 14:28.
- At Proverbs 8:22, 23, who is the “Creator” and who is the one “created” as the beginning of God’s works?
- Does the above scripture harmonise with Colossians 1:15, 16 and Revelation 3:14 concerning Jesus’ being the first of God’s creation?
- Mark 13:32 says that “no-one knows” the day or the hour of God’s coming judgement, not even the son “but only the Father.” How is this possible if Jesus is God?
- Further, why is it that the Holy Spirit does not know the day or hour?
- The 144,000 bear the name of the Father and the Son on their forehead, why not also the name of the Holy Spirit?—Revelation 14:1.
- Just before the disciple Stephen was stoned to death, he saw a vision of Christ standing at God’s right hand. Why didn’t he also see the Holy Spirit?—Acts 7:56.
- How did Jesus cause the disciples to receive Holy Spirit by blowing upon them?—John 20:22 (see Genesis 1:2).
- Does the use of a masculine pronoun (“he”) by itself prove that something is a person?—Joshua 24:27; Luke 7:35; Romans 5:14, 21; Revelation 16:7.
- Are Jesus, or his father Jehovah, ever referred to in the Bible by the impersonal pronoun “it”?—John 1:32; John 14:17; Romans 8:26.
- When the Bible uses the expression “the Holy Spirit said,” does this mean that the Holy Spirit is a person?
- Why, then, does Acts 4:25 say “the Holy Spirit, by the mouth of our father David thy servant, didst say…”?
- When someone uses the expression “look what it says here in the newspaper,” do we conclude that the newspaper is literally speaking?
- As God’s Word is produced by his Holy Spirit, is it not clear that the “speaking” is done whenever we read his Word?
- When the Bible uses the expression “the Holy Spirit said,” who else in fact sometimes does the actual speaking? — Acts 19:6; 21:4.
- Which scriptures show that Jesus Christ was subject to his Father before his coming to earth, upon his coming to earth and lastly, after returning to heaven?
- The Bible repeatedly says that Jehovah is one God. How is this possible if he consists of three persons?
- Is Jesus also this one God?
- Does this “one God” consist of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as the “three persons in one God”?
- Why, then, did Paul speak of the one who is one God as being “the Father”? — 1 Corinthians 8:5, 6.
- Also, why, in the above scripture, is the “one God” separate and distinct from the “one Lord,” Jesus Christ?
- Why does Jesus refer to the Father as “my God” even after his return to heaven, if Jesus is said to be God? — Revelation 3:2, 12.
- Why does the much-used expression “God the son” not occur even once throughout the Bible?
- Though some translations use John 1:1 to support the Trinity, why do the following versions render it thus:
“The Logos [Word] was Divine.”
“The Word was Divine.”
“The Word was itself of Divine Being.”
“And God [=of Divine Being] the Word was.”
“And God of a sort the Word was.”
- From a biblical perspective, can a human be called a god? — Psalm 82:1, 6; Acts 28:6.
- Can an angel be called a god?— Psalm 8:5.
- Can Satan be called a god? — 2 Corinthians 4:4.
- If the Hebrew word for God (E.LO.HIM’) can be used to mean something less than a god (for example, “great,” “mighty”), why is it so unusual that Christ is referred to as an E.LO.HIM’ at John 1:1 (using the Greek THE.OS’)? — Genesis 23:6; 30:8; Deuteronomy 28:32; 1 Samuel 14:15; Job 41:25 (v.17 in the Masoretic Text); Psalm 29:1; 36:6; 50:1; 82:1; 89:6; Ezekiel 17:13.
- What reason does Bible Translator William Barclay give for the absence of the definite article [“the”] before the “Word” at John 1:1?
- How does John 1:1 harmonise with John 1:18, where “the only-begotten god,” Jesus, is described as being in the bosom position with the Father?
- How does the above understanding further harmonise with Jesus’ statements explaining that he has not originated anything, but speaks only what his Father taught him to speak? — John 5:19, 30; 8:28.
- If Jesus and his apostles had taught the Trinity, why did unbelieving Jews, who bitterly and passionately opposed Christianity, not attack a doctrine that to them would have been abhorrent?
- If the Father and the Son are both said to be co-eternal and co-equal, why are there many references to the subordination of the Son to the Father (John 5:19, 30; 7:28; 8:28, 42; 12:49; 14:28; Romans 15:6; 1 Corinthians 15:28; 2 Corinthians 1:3; Ephesians 1:3; Colossians 1:3; 1 Timothy 2:5; 1 Peter 1:3; Revelation 3:14, etc.) but no references to the subordination of the Father to the Son?
- Why, when a certain ruler called Jesus “Good Teacher,” did Jesus refuse the title, saying that “nobody is good, except one, God”? — Mark 10:17, 18.
- At Matthew 4:1, Jesus is spoken of as being “tempted by the Devil.” But how could Jesus be tempted to be disloyal to God if he was God?
- When the apostle Paul described Jesus’ sacrifice as a “ransom” at 1 Timothy 2:6, he used the Greek term anti’lutron for “ransom.” However, the word for ransom is simply lu’tron (for example, as used at Matthew 20:28). What do Greek scholars say about the term anti’lutron?
- As Jesus’ sacrifice bought back (repurchased) what Adam had lost (for example, Jesus himself is referred to as the “last Adam” at 1 Corinthians 15:45), if Jesus was God, how could he be the equivalent of the man Adam?
- How can Jesus be “co-eternal” with the Father if he is at the same time referred to as the “only-begotten Son”? — John 1:14; 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9.
- Why did the Roman soldier say of Jesus “certainly this was God’s Son” if the disciples had taught that Jesus was God? — Matthew 27:54.
- Who is the “one mediator between God and men”? — 1 Timothy 2:5.
- Trinitarians point to Isaiah 9:6 where Jesus is called “Mighty God” in support of their teaching. But, although the expression “Mighty God” is here applied to Jesus, inasmuch as he is certainly the powerful “only-begotten god” (John 1:18), why is it that the Father is the only one to whom the expression Almighty God is used? — Genesis 17:1; Exodus 6:3; Job 34:10; Ezekiel 10:5.
- If Jesus was God, to whom did he ascend according to his own words to Mary Magdalene: “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God”? — John 20:17, RS, Catholic edition.
- What reason did Jesus give for his “going to the Father” at John 14:28?
- If Jesus himself taught that “the Father is greater than” the Son, how can the Son be co-equal with the Father, as the Trinity doctrine teaches? — John 14:28.
- At John 5:18, the Jews (in this case, the Pharisees) accused Jesus of “making himself equal with God.” Did the Pharisees accuse Jesus of claiming to be God?
- Jesus made a reply to the above accusation when he said: “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do” (Authorised Version). How does this statement completely refute the claim of Jesus being “equal with God”?
- As Trinitarians sometimes use John 5:18 in support of their teaching, which of the following should be more important to Christians: the accusation of the Pharisees, or the response of the Lord Jesus Christ?
This is an extract from “The Trinity – In Light of the Harmony of the Holy Scriptures”, Michael A Barber (2017).
Barber’s comment on Isaac Newton is deceptive. Newton only addressed two verses (1 Tim. 3:16 and 1 Jn. 5:7) and his textural findings have been adopted in the modern critical text of the New Testament. But they have no implications on the Trinity because the teaching of the Trinity is mentioned many times in Scripture and doesn’t just rely on a few verses. Since early times (over 1,200 years before Newton) Christians have understood that the Bible teaches a triune God (see Appendix B).
Appendix B: Early Christian Creeds
Extracts from early Christian Creeds that mention the Trinity. These creeds were developed to counter Arianism (the heresy of denying the divinity of Christ).
Apostles Creed (AD 200)
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit …
Nicene Creed (AD 381)
We 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 the Father before all worlds (æons), Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made;
And in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spake by the prophets.
Athanasian creed (AD 500)
We worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Essence. 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 coeternal. Such as the Father is; such is the Son; and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreated; the Son uncreated; and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father unlimited; the Son unlimited; and the Holy Ghost unlimited. 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 uncreated; nor three infinites, but one uncreated; and one infinite. 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 are 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 before, or after another; none is greater, or less than another. But the whole three Persons are coeternal, and coequal. So that in all things, as aforesaid; the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved, let him thus think of the Trinity.
Written, September 2019