You can read it here: https://beroeans.net/2022/02/22/trinity4/
For anyone familiar with the "Beroean Pickets" movement, the strong anti-trinitarian rhetoric will be quite familiar. The movement is somewhat libertarian on many issues, but if you have any belief in any form of Trinity, you will likely find yourself in a very unwelcoming environment. If anything, the level of anti-trinitarianism has ratcheted up a notch or two from its ex-JW members.
This purpose of this post is not an argument in favor of the Trinity, even though some of my points might imply that. Rather than being any kind of rebuttal, I simply want to review the article itself, not only in terms of its claims, but also its style, tone, and words choices.
Let's begin with the title itself.
The question "given by God?" would be confusing to a Trinitarian. If the Trinity were true, then how would it be a gift? Who is God supposedly giving it to in this question? If the Trinity were true, it would simply be."The Trinity: Given by God or Sourced by Satan?"
The follow-on question "or Sourced by Satan?" is quite Rutherfordist if I might say so. Go back to the early Watchtower articles when Rutherford began his reign over the newly formed regroup that would later become Jehovah's Witnesses, and you will find countless false dichotomies like this - always with the aim of separating "his sheep" from mainstream Christianity. And it was very effective. For people who didn't actually think for themselves, the choice was clear. Either believe Rutherford or you are believing in the Devil himself. And that tradition has pretty much continued down to the age of jw.org.
Perhaps a title something like "The Trinity: Is it an accurate concept of God?" would have been more appropriate to the article content.
Let's dive into the article itself.
At the outset the article seems to assume that the transcendent God of the universe can be understood through intelligence (although later it seems to backtrack on that). The Bible doesn't teach that. In fact, it teaches the opposite. To quote our Lord: “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children" (Matt 11:25)Each time I’ve released a video on the Trinity – this will be the fourth one – I get people commenting that I don’t really understand the Trinity doctrine. They are right. I don’t understand it. But here’s the thing: Each time someone has said that to me, I’ve asked them to explain it to me. If I truly don’t understand it, then lay it out for me, piece by piece. I’m a reasonably intelligent fellow, so I think that if it’s explained to me, I would be able to get it.
Some may argue that this leaves too much room for gullibility, but it doesn't change the reality. Intelligence is not the best weapon in your arsenal to understand God. The Bible repeatedly tells us not to lean on our own understanding (Prov 3:5; 28:26; Jer 10:23; 1 Cor 3:18) and that faith is manifest by obedience to the thing heard (Rom 10:17). We hear through the scripture, and we gain understanding when God grants our requests for the power of the Spirit.
This being the case, it's clear that harmonizing scripture with scripture is really the only way to arrive at truth. To think that we can understand the intimate nature of God through our intelligence is sheer hubris. In no way does that mean that God is distant from us. In fact again the opposite is true (Acts 17:27). But think for a moment what it takes to be close to another person. Do we have to understand every aspect of how their marvelous body and consciousness work in order to have a close relationship? Or do we have to know how many dimensions they exist in, in order to be their friend? The notion would be ridiculous.
We can have a relationship with our heavenly Father without having to know how everything about His nature works. All we have to go on is the scriptures.
Ultimately, God has seen fit to reveal Himself through Jesus Christ (John 14:9). If we have seen the Son we have seen the Father. Of course, nobody has physically seen the Son in our modern age, but seeing the Son through scripture and personal experience binds us to the Father. The two are simply inseparable according to scripture. And yet, it seems that there are those who make it their life mission to force a separation. I genuinely do not understand their motivation.
"Tired proof texts"? I can certainly understand that anyone who has been raised their entire life on "proof texts" would feel tired of them, and that would certainly be the case for the author of this article. This can cause a person to feel jaded about use of ANY texts that conflict with their preferred point of view.What response do I get from these Trinitarians? I get the same old tired proof texts that I’ve seen for decades. I don’t get anything new. And when I point out the incongruities in their reasoning and the textual inconsistencies between their proof texts and the rest of Scripture, I again get the derisive response: “You just don’t understand the Trinity.”
Here’s the thing: I don’t need to understand it. All I need is some real empirical proof that it exists. There are a lot of things I don’t understand, but that doesn’t mean I doubt their existence. For example, I don’t understand how radio waves work. Nobody does. Not really. Yet, every time I use my cell phone, I prove their existence.
Let me give an example of a couple of random tired proof texts, followed by a Trinitarian argument that the author might dismiss in similar fashion if not carefully considered.
And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. (John 10:16)
Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32)
For many decades the author would have used these texts to "prove" a two hope theology. I did the same, until I was led by the spirit rather than doctrines of men. It's understandable in hindsight why an ex-JW would find it rather easy to write off scriptural harmonization that could lead to cognitive dissonance. After all, we've been there before, and it wasn't a great experience.
On the other hand, consider this:
Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. (John 12:41)
To understand John, all we need to do is to ask two simple questions. Who is in view when John writes "his glory"? Who is Isaiah recorded as seeing in glory?
By reading John 12:41 in context we see that the answer to the first question is clearly "Jesus Christ". By reading the entire book of Isaiah we find only one who is seen by Isaiah in his glory.
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train[a] of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Isaiah 6:1-3)
This kind of blurring of the lines between the Father and Son is a constant thread throughout the New Testament. It is overwhelmingly present for those who care to look with an open mind. I don't claim this passage as a "proof text", but rather as a part of a unified whole that leads to truth. I would quote a full catalogue of examples, but as stated at the outset, this is not a post arguing for the Trinity - just a critique of the BP article and the thought process that went into it.
Can a Unitarian argue out of the implications of John 12:41? Absolutely! But as with much JW thinking, they have to willfully jump through hoops to do so.
Nothing to disagree with here.I would argue the same about God. I see evidence about intelligent design in the creation around me (Romans 1:20). I see it in my own DNA. I am a computer programmer by profession. When I see computer program code, I know someone wrote it, because it represents information, and information comes from a mind. DNA is infinitely more complex code than anything I’ve ever written, or could write, for that matter. It contains information that instructs a single cell to multiply in a very precise way so as to produce a very chemically and structurally complicated human being. Information always originates from a mind, from an intelligent purposeful consciousness
If I were to land on Mars and find words carved into a rock reading, “Welcome to our world, Earthman.” I would know that there was intelligence at work, not random chance.
My point is that I don’t have to understand the nature of God to know that he exists. I can prove his existence from the evidence around me, but I can’t understand his nature from that evidence. While creation proves to me the existence of a god, it doesn’t prove that he is a three-in-one entity. For that I need evidence not found in nature. The only source for that type of evidence is the Bible. God reveals something of his nature through his inspired word.
I don't follow this. The Hebrew name of God was not a "sacred secret" to the Jews once it had been revealed to Moses. Prior to that it would seem that it was (Exodus 6:3). Would Moses have argued that YHWH could not possibly have been God's name because it was not fully revealed up to that time?Does God reveal himself as a Trinity? He gives us his name almost 7,000 times. One would expect him to also name his nature, yet the word Trinity, which comes from the Latin trinitas (triad) is nowhere to be found in Scripture.
My point is that there is always a temporal element to revelation - otherwise it wouldn't be revelation. At one time something is not known, and then later it is revealed. There are still people who argue that God's true name is not revealed to us, because the actual pronunciation has been lost. God himself has permitted it to be lost, just as Fred Franz wrote, before it became pragmatic for him to adopt a modern version of it. (See articles/2018/07/02/fred-franz-divine-n ... criptures/).
When it comes to the nature of God, He has revealed to us exactly as much as he wants us to know. He doesn't have to pin a label on it, any more than He is obliged to give us the exact pronunciation of his Name as used by the Hebrews.
I actually believe that comparing the Divine Name and the Trinity we find more similarity than difference, even though the author is trying to argue the opposite. They both have temporal elements and limited revelation.
(Matt 11:25)Jehovah God, or Yahweh if you prefer, has chosen to reveal himself and he has done that in the pages of the Bible, but how does that revelation work? How does it come to us? Is it encoded in Scripture? Are aspects of his nature concealed in the holy writings, waiting for a few intelligent and privileged minds to decipher the hidden code? Or, has God simply chosen to tell it like it is?
Theology is rarely that simple. Yes, God could have just stated everything we could ever need to know about him as bullet points in a handbook in our native tongues. But he didn't.If the Most High, the Creator of all things, has chosen to reveal himself to us, to reveal his very nature to us, then shouldn’t we all be on the same page? Shouldn’t we all have the same understanding?
Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. (Matt 13:10-12)
As frustrating as it might be at times, God does not speak openly about certain things, thus giving the possibility of selectively concealing from some, while fully revealing to others. So while there is somewhat of a "hidden code" as the author calls it, he would be incorrect that it takes "a few intelligent and privileged minds to decipher [it]". That is only something that the Spirit can do.
Finally, the author acknowledges these things. So why did he earlier imply that his level of intelligence ought to be a factor in arriving at truth? It would appear to be a contradiction.No, we shouldn’t. Why do I say that? Because that is not what God wants. Jesus explains:
“At that time Jesus declared, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was well-pleasing in Your sight.
All things have been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.” (Matthew 11:25-27 BSB).
“Those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” According to this passage, the Son does not choose the wise and learned. When his disciples asked why he did that he told them in no uncertain terms:
“The knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them… This is why I speak to them in parables.” (Matthew 13:11, 13 BSB)
If someone thinks he is wise and learned, intelligent and scholarly, special and visionary, and that these gifts grant him the ability to decipher the deep things of God for the rest of us, even God’s true nature, then he is deceiving himself.
Whether you call yourself a "channel of communication" or a "chosen one", if you claim better knowledge of God's nature by means of that status, it would appear to be a distinction without a difference.We don’t figure God out. God reveals himself, or rather, the Son of God, reveals the Father to us, but he doesn’t reveal God to everyone, just to the chosen ones. This is significant and we need to think about what quality our Father is looking for in the ones he chooses to be his adopted children. Is he seeking intellectual prowess? How about those who promote themselves as having special insights into God’s word, or proclaim themselves as God’s channel of communication? Paul tells us what God is looking for:
“And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28, BSB).
Agreed.Love is the thread that weaves back and forth to unite all knowledge into a whole. Without it, we cannot get the spirit of God, and without that spirit, we cannot get to the truth. Our heavenly Father chooses us because he loves us and we love him.
I don't want to take any part of the article out of context, so I am quoting all the used scriptures in full. This makes for a long post, but I hope you'll agree it's necessary in this case.John writes:
“Behold what manner of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God. And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1 BSB)
“Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? The words I say to you, I do not speak on My own. Instead, it is the Father dwelling in Me, performing His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me—or at least believe on account of the works themselves.” (John 14:9-11BSB)
How is it possible for God to communicate truth in such plain speech and simple writing which his adopted children can understand, yet which he hides from those who think themselves to be wise and intellectual? For certainly the wise or intellectual ones, by Jesus’ own admission in Matthew 11:25, can’t understand the meaning of unity or love between the Father, the Son, and the chosen ones through the holy spirit because the intellectual mind seeks complexity so that it can distinguish itself from ordinary folk. As John 17:21-26 says:
“I am not asking on behalf of them alone, but also on behalf of those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I am in You. May they also be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
“Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” (John 17:21-26 BSB)
Agreed.The oneness that Jesus has with God is based on the unity that comes from love.
Is it?This is the same oneness with God and Christ that Christians experience.
I can agree that we can experience unity with the Father and Son through the message of Jesus' followers:
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (John 17:20,21)
However, we will never be the ONLY-begotten God (John 1:18), or be the "Firstborn over all creation" (Col 1:15 - Berean Literal Bible, NIV, New KJV, Amplified Bible, Christian Standard bible, Holman, ISV, NET).
Therefore, it is important to separate the issues. Being unified does not give us full equality with our Lord - the Son of God. He is, and always will remain, unique.
Why make such an assumption. Our relationship with the Father is not EXACTLY the same as our relationship with the Son. Where does the idea come from that our relationship with the Holy Spirit, out of necessity, would be the same as either? The Bible doesn't say such a thing, and I see no reason to assume it.You will notice that the holy spirit is not included in this oneness. We are expected to love the Father, and we are expected to love the Son, and we are expected to love one another; and more than that, we want to love the Father, and we want to love the son, and we want to love our brothers and sisters. But where is the command to love the holy spirit? Surely, if it were the third person of a holy Trinity, such a command would be easy to find!
Agreed.Jesus explains that it is the Spirit of truth that moves us:
“I still have much to tell you, but you cannot yet bear to hear it. However, when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak what He hears, and He will declare to you what is to come.” (John 16:12, 13)
Naturally, if you believe that the Trinity doctrine defines the nature of God, then you want to believe that the spirit guided you to that truth, right? Again, if we try to work out the deep things of God for ourselves based on our own ideas, then we will get it wrong every time. We need the spirit to guide us. Paul told us:
“But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 2:10, 11 New Living Translation)
The author states that he and a Trinitarian cannot simultaneously be true. That seems obvious enough.I don’t believe the Trinity doctrine defines God’s nature, nor his relationship with his Son, Jesus Christ. I also believe that the spirit guided me to that understanding. A Trinitarian will say the same thing about his understanding of God’s nature. We can’t both be right, can we? The same spirit did not guide us both to different conclusions. There is only one truth, though there can be many lies. Paul reminds the children of God:
“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.” (1 Corinthians 1:10 NIV)
This is a very leading question. The author is not disguising the fact that he considers people who believe differently to his own viewpoint must be worshipping God "in his own way". That strikes me as very JW thinking, and I am sorry that the author is still stuck in this rut.Let’s explore Paul’s discussion of the unity of mind and thought a little bit more as it is an important scriptural theme and therefore essential to our salvation. Why do some people think that we can each worship God in our own way and with our own understanding, and in the end, we’ll all end up with the prize of eternal life?
At one point the author agreed with me that a possible meaning of John 17:3 was that the purpose of eternal life is to fully know God - something that would not be possible with a limited lifespan. The language of John 17:3 certainly allows for this meaning. Now he has reverted to the New World Translation interpretation of this scripture, that an accurate knowledge of God leads to eternal life. Well, if all our salvations depend upon a full knowledge of His nature, rather than knowing Him by means of a relationship with His Son, then I say good luck with that.Why is understanding God’s nature vital? Why does our understanding of the relationship between the Father and the Son affect our chances at getting everlasting life as children of God in the resurrection of the righteous?
Jesus tells us: “Now this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.” (John 17:3 BSB)
So, knowing God means life.
"If the Trinity is a false teaching originating in pagan theology ..." At last we get to this piece of JW legacy. The argument that because pagan gods sometimes were represented as trinities, the concept must come from pagan gods. This is very weak reasoning. If Satan inspired false gods, is it more likely that he would inspire something that was more like the True God or less like the True God? The devil is the great imitator. He likes to take things that are true and then put his own twist on them. Or is that so hard to believe when you look at his track record in scripture?And what about not knowing God? If the Trinity is a false teaching originating in pagan theology and forced down the throat of Christians on pain of death, as it was by the Roman emperor Theodosius after 381 CE, then those who accept it do not know God.
As far as Theodosius, on this basis we'd have to throw out any and all belief in God if we want to be fully separated from any historical misuse of religion and theology. Again, it's a weak argument intended to evoke an emotional response. It has nothing to do with scripture.
Can we all agree that? As detailed above, it really depends on what you mean by "knowing". Here is the prerequisite to pleasing God as stated in scripture:Paul tells us:
“After all, it is only right for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are oppressed and to us as well. This will take place when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in blazing fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” (2 Thessalonians 1:6-8 BSB)
Okay, okay. So, we can all agree that knowing God is crucial to pleasing him and gaining his approval which leads to eternal life.
"And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him." (Heb 11:6)
Believing that He exists and is a rewarded of those seeking him is a far cry from knowing every detail about his transcendent nature.
I don't see any conclusive proof of this, although do I feel pity for those who cannot see the absolute perfection of the scriptural narrative about the Son of God.But if you believe in the Trinity and I don’t, doesn’t that really mean that one of us doesn’t know God?
Perhaps it is a salvation issue. Perhaps it isn't. All I can say is that there is no proof either way in this article.Is one of us in danger of losing out on the prize of eternal life with Jesus in the kingdom of the heavens? It would seem so.
Points that probably should have been acknowledged from the outset, rather than changing tack half way through.Well, let’s review. We’ve established that we can’t figure God out by sheer intellect. In fact, he hides things from the intellectuals and reveals them to childlike ones as we saw at Matthew 11:25.
I agree that Spirit and truth go hand in hand.God has adopted children and, like any loving father, he shares intimacies with his children that he doesn’t share with strangers. We’ve also established the way he reveals things to his children is through the holy spirit. That spirit guides us into all the truth. So, if we have the Spirit, we have the truth. If we don’t have the truth, then we don’t have the Spirit.
Does that mean that anyone who has the Spirit also has 100% truth. It would be hubris to suggest it, and yet many ex-JWs who have maintained a Christian stance unfortunately say things like "now that we have the REAL Truth". Talk about "out of the frying pan and into the fire".
Nothing to disagree with here.That brings us to what Jesus told the Samaritan woman:
“But a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father is seeking such as these to worship Him. God is Spirit, and His worshipers must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23, 24 BSB)
So, Jehovah God is looking for a particular type of individual, one who will worship him in spirit and in truth. We must therefore love truth and be guided by God’s spirit into all the truth that we earnestly seek. The key to gaining that knowledge, that truth, isn’t by our intellect. It is through love. If our heart is filled with love, the spirit can guide us right through. However, if we are motivated by pride, the spirit will be hindered, even blocked altogether.
I would only be repeating myself if I were to comment on this.“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-19 NIV)
What this represents is huge; it is no trivial matter. If the Trinity is true, then we must accept it if we are going to be among those worshipping the Father in Spirit and in truth and if we are going to be the ones he favors with eternal life. But if it is not true, we must reject it for the same reason. Our eternal lives hang in the balance.
I strongly agree.What we’ve said before, bears repeating. If the Trinity is a revelation from God, then the only evidence of it is to be found in Scripture. If the spirit has guided men to the truth and that truth is that God is a Trinity, then all we need is childlike trust and humility to see God for what he truly is, three persons in one God. While our feeble human minds may not be able to grasp the manner in which this triune God can be, that is of little consequence. It would be sufficient that he reveals himself to be such a God, such a divine, three-in-one being. We do not need to understand how this works, but only that it is so.
This implies that the recipient is prepared to act as a child would. It's easy to say, but certainly not easy to do, especially if you've built a very public theological persona that strongly rejects such a concept.Surely, those who have already been led by the Spirit of God to this truth can now explain it to us in a simple way, a way that little children can understand.
I can say from experience that you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink. I have spent time recommending study materials, drawing up points of agreement to demonstrate how close a person of the author's persuasion is to my own point of view in a spirit of unity, and generally pursued peace on the topic. I have only ever found that the recipient is "too busy" to read, or claims they find discussion fruitless, or only wants to argue strawmen and never take on the weightier arguments. Whether these are subconscious attempts to avoid cognitive dissonance, or something more willful is going on, I cannot say.
The same seed is being planted here as it is for those who undermine Christians because there are so many "versions" of the Bible. They argue that if there is variation, then none of it can be trusted. If you agree with that then you possibly also agree with the author. I do not.So, before we look at the evidence in Scripture used to support the Trinity, let us first examine it as defined by those who would claim to have had it revealed to them by God’s holy spirit.
We will start with the ontological Trinity.
“Wait a minute,” you might say. Why are you putting an adjective like “ontological” in front the noun “Trinity”? If there is only one Trinity, why do you need to qualify it? Well, I wouldn’t, if there were only one trinity, but in fact there are many definitions. If you care to look at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, you’ll find “‘rational reconstructions’ of the Trinity doctrine, which employ concepts from contemporary analytic metaphysics, logic, and epistemology” like “One-self Theories”, “Three-self Theories”, “Four-self, No-self, and Indeterminate Self Theories”, “Mysterianism”, and “Beyond Coherence”. All these things are guaranteed to bring the mind of the wise and intellectual endless delight. As for the childlike, ah, not so much. In any case, we won’t get muddled down by all these many theories. Let’s just stick to the two main theories: The ontological Trinity and the economic Trinity.
All of this is a lot of verbiage that avoids the real question. Is Jesus truly God or not? I personally accept that Jesus is subordinate to his Father. Equality can take on many forms. A husband and wife are equal as to their humanity, and yet the Bible teaches that the husband is the loving head of his wife, but in that role is bound to serve her best interests. To some that may seem like a paradox. Nevertheless it is what the Bible teaches, and once we understand it both husband and wife can live by it.So again, we will start with the ontological Trinity.
“Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being. The “ontological Trinity” refers to the being or nature of each member of the Trinity. In nature, essence, and attributes, each Person of the Trinity is equal. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit share the same divine nature and thus comprise an ontological Trinity. The teaching of the ontological Trinity says that all three Persons of the Godhead are equal in power, glory, wisdom, etc.” (Source: gotquestions.org)
Of course, that creates a problem because there are so many places in the Bible where the “power, glory, [and] wisdom” of one member of the Trinity—the Son—is shown to be subordinate or inferior to the “power, glory, [and] wisdom”, of another member—the Father (not to mention that there is never any exhortation to worship the holy spirit).
In an attempt to solve that, we have the second definition: the economic Trinity.
“The economic Trinity is often discussed in conjunction with the “ontological Trinity,” a term that refers to the co-equal nature of the Persons of the Trinity. The term “economic Trinity” focuses on what God does; “ontological Trinity” focuses on who God is. Taken together, these two terms present the paradox of the Trinity: The Father, Son, and Spirit share one nature, but they are different Persons and have different roles. The Trinity is both united and distinct.” (Source: gotquestions.org)
All of this is presented as a paradox. The definition of a paradox is: A seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded or true. (Source: lexico.com)
The only way you can legitimately call the Trinity a paradox is if this “seemingly absurd” doctrine is proved to be true. If you cannot prove it to be true, then it isn’t a paradox, it’s just an absurd teaching. The only possible source for evidence to prove that the ontological/economic trinity is true, is the Bible. There is no other source.
Now that the scriptures have been used to focus on the various differences between the Father, Son and Spirit, the author wants to know why equality isn't mentioned. Well, if you're challenging that, then perhaps it's better to pick on an article that deals with it, rather than this one that has a different purpose. If I listed all the unaddressed scriptures in the series of articles/videos so far created by the author of the BP article, I would likely be met with the claim that those were not the focus of the articles.How does CARM, the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, prove the teaching is true?
(Just to warn you, this is pretty long, but we really have to read it all to get the full height, and breadth, and depth of this kind of Trinitarian thought. I’ve left the Scriptural references but removed the actual quotations in the interest of brevity, but you can access the full text by using a link which I’ll put in the description field of this video.
Now remember that the ontological trinity, which the economic Trinity supports, states that “all three Persons of the Godhead are equal in power, glory, wisdom, etc.” The et cetera represents everything else. So, reading all the above, where do we find equality in power, glory, wisdom, knowledge, authority, or anything else? If you read all those bible verses without any preconceived ideas, without anyone telling you in advance what they mean, would you believe God is revealing himself to you by holy spirit as a Trinity? As three distinct persons making up one being?
I have already made my points about equality above. I believe that (from our point of view - the only one we have) the Father and Son are equal in some regards, but not others. This would also be true of husbands and wives, so it's not a difficult concept to grasp.
If the author truly wants to argue against equality, then perhaps the audience would be better served if he selected an opposing article that actually does address it rather than finding one that doesn't.
That seems reasonable to me.What conclusion does the writer of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry article draw from all this:
Without these distinctions, there can’t be any distinctions between the persons of the Trinity and if there are no distinctions, there is no Trinity.
JWs hear the words "three distinct persons", but the words go in one ear and out of the other. It's why so many times in the door-to-door ministry we found ourselves arguing a Trinitarian and sometimes thinking "hold up, isn't he saying what I'm saying?" It's because the JW argues against a strawman. They hear Trinity and then proceed to argue against "modalism" (a topic for another day perhaps).
This would be true if the Trinity depended on absolute equality and nothing else, but it doesn't.Huh? I would look at all those distinctions to prove there isn’t a trinity, because they prove the three are not equal at all, but the writer of this article is turning all the evidence against there being a Trinity on its head and claiming that the evidence proves the Trinity after all.
Obviously the CARM author is not offering evidence that disproves the Trinity by his or her definitions. They would only disprove the Trinity by the author's definitions. Redefining the arguments of your opponent is another form of "straw manning".Imagine if the police were to come to your door one night and say, “Your neighbor was found murdered. We found your gun at the scene with your fingerprints on it. We found your DNA under the victim’s fingernails. We have three Witnesses who saw you enter the house minutes before the gunshot was heard and who saw you running out afterwards. We have also found his blood on your clothes. Finally, before he died, he wrote your name in blood on the floor. All this evidence proves conclusively that you didn’t murder him. In fact, if it were not for this evidence, you would be our prime suspect.”
I know. That is an absurd scenario, yet that is essentially the scenario of this CARM article. We are expected to believe that all the Biblical evidence that disproves the Trinity, doesn’t disprove it at all. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Have these scholars lost their ability to think rationally, or do they just think the rest of us are fools. You know, sometimes there are no words…
I'm not sure how the author concludes that the purpose of the "theory" is to avoid scriptural evidence, when the quoted article contains so many scriptures.It would appear that the purpose of the economic Trinity theory is to try to get around the mountain of scriptural evidence that demonstrates that the three members of the trinity are not equal to each other in any way. The economic trinity tries to shift the focus from the nature of the Father, Son and holy spirit to the roles each plays.
For multiple reasons, using Kent Hovind as a source is an easy argument to win. Research him and watch him for yourself if you want to find out why. I personally agree with Hovind on very little.This is a cute trick. Let me show you how it works. I’m going to play a video for you. I have not been able to ascertain the source of this video, but it is evidently an excerpt from a debate between an atheist and a Christian Creationist. The atheist asks what he obviously believes is a gotcha question, but the Christian shuts him down quite effectively. His answer reveals some real insight into the nature of God. But that Christian is undoubtedly a Trinitarian. The irony is that his answer actually disproves the Trinity. Then, to conclude, he ironically engages in a nifty little piece of fallacious reasoning. Let’s listen:
Reinhold Schlieter: I’m confused. Being philosophically consistent and being very honest person, I’m sure you can tell me where God came from. And in addition, in addition, once you have told me where God comes from, please try to clarify how you can figure that a spiritual force can have an impact on a material universe to create it.
Dr. Kent Hovind: Alright, your question, “Where did God come from?” assumes that your thinking of the wrong—obviously, it displays—that your thinking of the wrong god. Because the God of the Bible is not affected by time, space, or matter. If He’s affected by time, space, or matter, he’s not God. Time, space and matter is what we call a continuum. All of them have to come into existence at the same instant. Because it there were matter, but no space, where would you put it? If there were matter and space, but no time, when would you put it? You cannot have time, space, or matter independently. They have to come into existence simultaneously. The Bible answers that in ten words: “In the beginning [there’s time], God created the heaven [there’s space], and the earth [there’s matter].
So you have time, space, matter created; a trinity of trinities there; you know time is past, present, future; space is height, length, width; matter is solid, liquid, gas. You have a trinity of trinities created instantaneously, and the God who created them has to be outside of them. If he’s limited by time, He’s not God.
The god who created this computer is not in the computer. He’s not running around in there changing the numbers on the screen, okay? The God who created this universe is outside of the universe. He’s above it, beyond it, in it, through it. He’s unaffected by it. So, for…and the concept that a spiritual force cannot have any effect on a material body…well then, I guess you’d have to explain to me things like emotions and love and hatred and envy and jealousy and rationality. I mean if your brain is just a random collection of chemicals that formed by chance over billions of years, how on earth can you trust your own reasoning processes and the thoughts that you think, okay?
So, ah…your question: “Where did God come from?” is assuming a limited god, and that’s your problem. The God that I worship is not limited by time, space, or matter. If I could fit the infinite God in my three-pound brain, He would not be worth worshipping, that’s for certain. So that’s the God that I worship. Thank you.
But there is one point here that I would like to pick up on. Are the Son and Spirit of God inside or outside of our temporal and spacial boundaries? Please see an older article of mine here if you're interested in my personal thoughts: articles/2018/07/01/ever-time-son-not-exist/ . If the Father, Son and Spirit did indeed exist already as our universe came into existence, then I would suggest that it is not a trivial fact in the context of this exchange.
We could create a computer program that we are outside of and yet still be affected by it. While a poor analogue of our universe and Jesus' relationship to it we do know that 1) he created all things (Col 1:16) and 2) he took on a form that permitted him to be affected by it (Phil 2:7). So this part is not even up for debate.I agree that God is infinite and cannot be affected by the universe. On that point, I am in agreement with this fellow. But he fails to see the impact of his words on his own belief system. How can Jesus who is God according to Trinitarian theory be affected by the universe?
God cannot be limited by time. God does not need to eat. God cannot be nailed to a cross. God cannot be killed. Yet, he will have us believe that Jesus is God.
As far as the "how", who can say except God Himself? Is knowledge of this "how" also essential for salvation according to the author? Some have struggled with this to the point of Unitarianism that leads to a disbelief even in the pre-human existence of the Son, so strong is the desire to explain everything in very human terms. It's dangerous ground indeed.
Yes. Some Trinitarians see threes in everything. That's a matter for them. It's not mainstream belief.So here you have a wonderful explanation of the infinite intelligence and power and nature of God that doesn’t fit with Trinitarian theory. But did you notice how he still tried to introduce the Trinity into his argument when he quoted Genesis 1:1? He refers to time, space and matter as a Trinity. In other words, all creation, the entire universe, is a Trinity. Then he subdivides each element of this universe into its own trinity. Time has past, present, and future; space has height, width, and depth; matter exists as a solid, liquid, or gas. A Trinity of Trinities, he called it.
You can’t just call something that exists in three states, like matter, a trinity. (Actually, matter can also exist as plasma, which is a fourth state, but let’s not confuse the issue further.) The point is that we are seeing a common technique here. The logical fallacy of false equivalence. By playing fast and loose with the meaning of the word, trinity, he is trying to get us to accept the concept on his terms. Once we do, he can then apply it to the real meaning he wants to convey.
There is nothing earthly that is the equivalent of a divine Trinity, but what does that prove. We use analogies all the time to convey ideas, even when they are far from perfect. They can be helpful, as long as their limits are understood. This all or nothing approach by the author is unfounded in my opinion.Do I accept that Jehovah, Jesus, and the holy spirit all have different roles? Yes. There you have it, the economic Trinity. No, you don’t.
Do you agree that in a family you have a father, a mother and a child that all have different roles? Yes. Can you define them as a family? Yes. But that is not equivalent to the Trinity. Is the father the family? Is the mother, the family? Is the child, the family? No. But is the Father, God? Yes, says the Trinitarian. Is the Holy Spirit, God? Yes, again. Is the Son, God? Yes.
This is an assumption that may or may not have some truth to it. But even if true, so what? Refining ones theology to better fit with scripture is something we should all try to do.You see, the economic Trinity is just a way to try to take the evidence that disproves the ontological Trinity, and explain it away.
This is somewhat silly. I could equally well accuse the author of hanging onto JW beliefs, and just modifying them where he won't let them go. But in good faith I believe he is at least actually striving for truth rather than shedding as few beliefs as possible. I like to think well of people rather than infer bad motive as the author seems to be doing.But in reality, most of those who use the economic Trinity to explain away the evidence against the ontological Trinity still believe in the ontological definition of three distinct persons in one being, who are all equal in all things. This is a magician’s trick. One hand distracts you while the other hand performs the trick. Look here: In my left hand, I hold the economic trinity. Everything the Bible says about the different roles performed by the Father, Son, and holy spirit is true. Do you accept that? Yes. Let’s call it a Trinity, okay? Okay. Now in the right hand, “abracadabra,” we have the real trinity. But it’s still called the Trinity, right? And you accept the Trinity, right? Oh. Yeah. Okay, I get it.
My honest suggestion is that the author expose himself to a few Christian churches. That's a very hard thing for an ex-JW to do, but it's really the only way to shed your preconceptions about this JW boogieman - the "club" of mainstream Christianity. Any new movement that maintains the "us" vs "them of Christendom" is doomed to repeat JW history. It may take as long as it did from Russell to Rutherford, or it may happen quicker, but it will happen.Now to be fair, not everyone who is a Trinitarian accepts the ontological trinity. Many these days have developed their own definitions. But they still use the term, Trinity. That’s a very important fact. It’s the key to explain the compulsion people have to accept the Trinity.
For most people, the definition doesn’t really matter so much. It used to matter. In fact, there was a time that you’d be tied to a stake and burned alive if you didn’t agree with it. But nowadays, not so much. You can come up with your own definition and that’s okay. Just as long as you use the term, Trinity. It’s like the password to gain entry to an exclusive club.
The idea that "a Trinitarian" somehow represents ALL Trinitarians is obviously without merit. The author doesn't represent all non-Trinitarians. The pope doesn't represent all Christianity. We have to face the fact that Christianity is diverse. Even within small groups there are differences with regards to when certain resurrections occur, the role of women in the congregation, the partaking of the Lord's meal, etc, etc. What does any of this prove?The analogy I just used of a family actually fits with some definitions of the Trinity now in circulation.
If the only child in a family dies, it is no longer a family. All that remains is a couple. I asked a Trinitarian what happened when Jesus died for three days. His answer was that God was dead for those three days.
This is telling. The author feels that he has an argument that should be won, even if he does not feel it's achievable by him. It's pretty hard to change your viewpoint when you are on a crusade, as we will see in the following.That is not the Trinity, but again, what matters is that the term itself is used. Why?
I have a theory, but before I explain it, I should state that with this series of videos, I’m not trying to convince Trinitarians that they are wrong. This argument has been going on for over 15 centuries, and I’m not going to win it. Jesus will win it when he comes.
Again this implies the author understands the motivations of people who believe differently to him. He could be right in some cases, and perhaps in his circle of contacts it's all he's ever perceived. Nevertheless, this is still JW thinking and is far from universally correct.I’m trying to help those who are awakening from the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses not to fall prey to another false doctrine. I don’t want them jumping from the frying pan of false JW theology into the fire of mainstream Christian dogma.
I know the appeal to belong to some group of Christians can be very strong. Some will reason that if they have to bend a little, if they have to accept another false doctrine, it is a price that they are willing to pay.
JW's teach that anyone who leaves the organization does so out of selfish motive. They are depicted as wanting to be independent and to life an uncontrolled lifestyle. Again, in some cases this may be true. But to tar everyone with that brush would clearly be very narrow-minded. Doing so serves the organization, just as the author is here using this depiction of ex-JW Trinitarians to serve his own arguments. If he can convince you that every believing person has bad motivation (i.e. wanting to belong to a group over and above pleasing God) then he has won your mind and heart. My advice is to find out for yourself how true or misleading that really is.
Speaking personally I came to believe that Jesus can indeed be scripturally called God to us way before I finally stopped attending JW meetings. I had formed a habit of simply doing Bible reading to pass the time during the meetings, and the conclusions I came to were using the New World Translation only, and with no outside input from any group, or any motivation to join such a group.
Even now I am in no hurry to join a group, whether Trinitarian or not. I simply have Christian friends, and that suffices for me personally. This persona created by the author - the Christian who compromises to belong - simply does not exist within the sphere of people I know.
Adding to, or replacing words in scripture, should be anathema to Christians (Deut 4:2; Prov 30:5,6; Rev 22:18,19). I am genuinely taken aback that the author thinks it's okay to do this to advance a personal opinion.Peer pressure and the need to belong is what drove first century Christians, at least some of them, to try to get the Gentiles to get circumcised.
Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. (Galatians 6:12 NIV)
I believe it is a valid argument to apply that to our current situation and re-read the verse thus:
Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to believe God is a Trinity. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. (Galatians 6:12 NIV)
I think I've said my piece about this POV enough already.The need to belong to a group means that the person is still trapped by the indoctrination of the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses. “Where else will I go?” is the question most commonly asked by all who start to wake up to the falsehood and hypocrisy of JW.org. I know of one Jehovah’s Witness who is trying to get reinstated even though he knows about all the false teachings and the UN affiliation hypocrisy and the child sexual abuse coverups. His reasoning is that it is the best of all the false religions. His need to belong to a religion has clouded his mind to the fact that the chosen of God, the children of God, belong only to the Christ. We do not belong anymore to men.
So then let no one boast in men. For all things belong to you, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you, and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God. (1 Corinthians 3:21-23)
I don't personally make such a claim. Rather I would claim that on balance the Bible supports the concept. I find it easier to harmonize the scriptures that seem to be proof texts against it, than I do to ignore the scriptures that reveal who Jesus really is.Of course, Trinitarians hearing this will claim they do have proof.
I guess we'll see what that brings.They will claim that the proof for the Trinity exists throughout the Bible. They have many “proof texts”. From this point forward, I’ll be examining these proof texts one by one to see if they do indeed provide the scriptural evidence for the doctrine, or if it is all smoke and mirrors.
The author certainly got my attention, even if not my support.For now, we’ll end and I’d like to thank you for your kind attention and, again, express my appreciation for your support.