Saturday, January 19, 2008

Proof Texts on the Trinity Refuted

Latter-day Saints have long been criticized for our rejection of the post-Biblical concepts of the Trinity. One such post-Biblical concept is the idea that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are ontologically one Being who is three persons. In contrast, LDS believe that the the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three persons and three distinct beings. While mainstream/traditional Christians maintain that the three persons of the Trinity are in reality only one Being and one God, LDS Christians affirm that there are in fact three Beings who are one in glory, power, might, dominion, mind, will, knowledge, attributes, etc. In LDS thought the three persons of the Trinity are one in every conceivable way except their identity or being.

Over the years some of my non-LDS Christian friends have listed a few different New Testament passages in support of their concept of the Trinity. I will here quote them and then comment on why they do not reflect post-Biblical Trinitarian notions and show how they often are more congruous with the LDS concept of the Godhead.


John 10:30

"I and my Father are one."

This verse does not say that they are "same being." This text does not say how they are one at all. Fortunately for us, John later records Jesus' teaching on how He and his Father are one. "And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as (kathos) we are...Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as (kathos) thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as (kathos) we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me" (John 17:11, 20-23).

Jesus here makes clear that his disciples can be one even as (kathos) He and his Father are one. The Greek kathos means just as or how (See Strong's). In other words, Jesus prayed that they may be one just as He and his Father are one. If Jesus and his Father are one being manifest in two persons, for Jesus' prayer to be fulfilled his disciples must loose their identity and become absorbed into the Trinity! Assuming that a Billion or more will be saved (just for fun)--what will that make? A "Billinity"?

So how are Jesus and his Father one, according to Jesus? The key is in verse 22: "And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that(hina) they may be one, even as we are one." The Greek word hina translated "that" literally means in order that (See Strong's). Jesus and his Father share the same glory and are thus one. Jesus prayed that his disciples may receive Their glory in order that they may be one with Them.

There is no other passage of scripture in the Bible that defines how Jesus and his Father are one. The later post-Biblical doctrine that define the Trinity as one being in three persons is not derived from the Bible but is added to it.

John 14:10-11

"Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake."

As seen above, Jesus prayed that his disciples "all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee," but one need not go to a different sermon of Jesus to find this. He refers to this very concept in the same sermon. In verse 20 he said, "At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you" (John 14:20). If Jesus meant for us to interpret "the Father [...] dwelleth in me" and "I am in the Father, and the Father in me" as "My Father and I are the same Being," did He also intend for us to interpret "I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you" that we, He, and His Father are all one ontological being? This, of course, is absurd.

To complicate the issue further, Jesus concludes his sermon by saying "my Father is greater than I" (John 14:28). Such talk is nonsense if He and His Father are the same being.

Colossians 2:9

"For in [Christ] dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily."

Some have interpreted this scripture as meaning that all of the Trinity somehow dwelt in the person of Jesus in an ontological union of being as defined in the post-Biblical creeds. We'll now investigate that.

First, one must understand that "Godhead" in 16th century English means "deity" or "godhood." The Greek word is theotes which means "divinity." This passage would better be rendered for our modern readers as "For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily" (ESV). The scripture, therefore, is not stating that all of the members of the Trinity dwelt in Christ, but that Christ was fully and completely divine.

Something else the critics overlook is the following verse. "And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power." The word translated as "complete" is the adjective form of the noun translated as "fullness" in the previous verse. For this reason, it is better translated "And you have a fullness in him..." This verse, understood this way, teaches that the fullness of divinity that was in Jesus can also be in us. This fullness was not reserved for Jesus only, but for all. Therefore, this scripture cannot be rightly interpreted to support the idea that God is three persons yet one being.

The doctrine of the saints receiving a fullness of God is reflected in another scripture authored by Paul. "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God." (Ephesians 3:14-19).

1 John 5:7

"For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one."

This one is the most fascinating. Why? Because it is almost universally recognized as being an interpolation (addition) to scripture that wasn't actually written by the original author (See Metzger, Bruce. A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 647-649).

Even if the text were authentic, which it probably is not, it does not define how the Father, Word, and Holy Ghost are one. For such a definition one must turn to John 17 which clearly shows they are not ontologically one being, but one in glory.



Any other proof texts for the Trinity or comments are welcome. Thanks!

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Andrew.

My favorite part about 1 John 5:7, besides the fact that it is an 'addition' to the Bible (like the Book of Mormon), is that the very next verse refutes any Trinitarian notions that might be wrenched out of it.

1Jo 5:8 And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.

The author compares the unity of the Trinity to the unity of spirit, water, and blood. These three things are each completely separate bodies yet are one.

James

Andrew Miller said...

Hey! Great insight. I hadn't caught that. I appreciate it.

Ken Cook said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ken Cook said...

Hmm...

I think that there is a lot to go over here, because you really really don't seem to understand the biblical basics of the trinity. If you are willing, I would enjoy to have a discussion with you on the topic.

Here is the biggest basic of the trinity to think on - How many God's does the bible say are in existence?

I'll give you a hint, Deu. 32:39 and Isa 43-46. There are within just these two, 12 referances to there being only one God, I think that there are something like 32 within the whole biblical text. Which I could post here, but I think that this will be enough. For starters. You seem like a Smart Fellow, and I enjoyed talking to you on CARM

GB said...

Ken,

How many cities does the bible say are in existence?


I'll give you a hint, Isa 47:7-10, Zeph 2:15.

Ken Cook said...

well lets see -

Zep 2:15 This is the exultant city that lived securely, that said in her heart, "I am, and there is no one else." What a desolation she has become, a lair for wild beasts! Everyone who passes by her hisses and shakes his fist.

Isa 47:7 You said, "I shall be mistress forever," so that you did not lay these things to heart or remember their end.
Isa 47:8 Now therefore hear this, you lover of pleasures, who sit securely, who say in your heart, "I am, and there is no one besides me; I shall not sit as a widow or know the loss of children":
Isa 47:9 These two things shall come to you in a moment, in one day; the loss of children and widowhood shall come upon you in full measure, in spite of your many sorceries and the great power of your enchantments.
Isa 47:10 You felt secure in your wickedness, you said, "No one sees me"; your wisdom and your knowledge led you astray, and you said in your heart, "I am, and there is no one besides me."


It sounds like two cities who are very prideful, but I fail to see your point... These are statements of Israel and Cush... Not God.

So why don't you deal with the Biblical Text, eh?

Anonymous said...

Ramban in one of his major works went through the Jewish Bible, basically the OT, and refuted quite carefully more than 300 theophanies.

I've run across several places that site his work, but never have been able to find it.

Anyway, at least according to one of the greatest Rabbi's there are more than 300 places in the OT where the physicality of god needed to be refuted..

GB said...

Ken,

I did deal with the text. LOL. You just don't want to see it.

OBVIOUSLY!!!

In the Bible, the phrase "there is no (insert whatever) besides me" is a statement of importance, NOT a statement of exclusion.

GB said...

Ken,
What sort of praise is it to say God is above all gods if no other gods exist?

Gen 1: 26 Let us make man in our image, after our likeness
Gen 3: 5 ye shall be as gods
Gen 3: 22 the man is become as one of us
Gen 11: 6-7 let us go down
Exo 15: 11 Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods?
Deut 10:17 the LORD(yehvah) your God is God of gods
Josh 22: 22 The LORD(yehvah) God of gods, the LORD(yehvah) God of gods
2 Chron 2: 5 our God above all gods.
Psalm 82: 1 GOD standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.
Psalm 82: 6 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.
Psalm 86: 8 Among the gods
Psalm 95: 3 above all gods
Psalm 135: 5 above all gods
psalm 136: 2 the God of gods
Psalm 138: 1 before the gods
Isa 14: 13 above the stars of God… upon the mount of the congregation
Daniel 2: 47 God is a God of gods
Dan 5: 14 spirit of the gods
Daniel 11: 36 against the God of gods

Can you deal with those text?

Ken Cook said...

GB - I don't think you deal with the Text... Here is why - You said - "In the Bible, the phrase "there is no (insert whatever) besides me" is a statement of importance, NOT a statement of exclusion."

What would be a statement of Exclusion?

Deu 32:39 "'See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; [...]

Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: "I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god. Who is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and set it before me, since I appointed an ancient people. Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen. Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any." (Isaiah 44:6-8 ESV)

"Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me,
(Isaiah 46:8-9 ESV)

If Other Gods Existed these statements would be false, so why are they in the text?

Now as to the list of verses that you posted...

God is always Greater then False Gods, isn't he? Isn't God greater then an Idol?

The Us is best explained by having the Trinity.. You really have supported the Orthodox Christian Belief here.

Ken

GB said...

Ken,

Statements of exclusion? OK!

Ex. 34:14 For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:

Deut. 8:19 And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the Lord thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish.

Neh. 8:6 And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground.

The exclusion is in the God we are to worship, He is of most importance. He is the Highest. Although the Bible clearly shows that others exist, worship and veneration is to be exclusive to Him.

Still waiting for you to address the many scriptures I posted.

GB said...

Ken,

A statement of importance and exclusion!

1 Cor 8:5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)
6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

Can there be false gods "in heaven"?

gb said...

Ken,

Even some evangelical scholars disagree with you.

http://www.thedivinecouncil.com/MonotheismProblem.pdf

gb said...

Ken,

Shall we look at NT scriptures that separate God the Father from the Lord Jesus Christ? Here are 31 of them.

Eph. 1:2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
• • •
17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:

1 Thes. 1:1 Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
• • •
3 Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;

2 Cor. 1: 2 Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;

Col. 1: 2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,

1 Thes. 3:11 Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you.
• • •
13 To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.

2 Thes. 1:1 Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, aunto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
2 Grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Rom. 1: 7 To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Rom. 15: 6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Cor. 1:3 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Cor. 8:6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

2 Cor. 11:31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not.

Gal. 1: 3 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,

Eph. 5:20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

Eph. 6:23 Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Philip. 1:2 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Philip. 2:11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Col. 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

2 Thes. 2:16 Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,

1 Tim. 1:2 Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.

2 Tim. 1:2 To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

Titus 1:4 To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Philem. 1:3 Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Pet. 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

2 Jn. 1:3 Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.