Major Problems with the Trinity?
Here I am going to respond to selections of Kel’s article. The selections I have chosen are the ones I regard as embodying Kel’s main arguments; I have left out what I regard as repetitious or off the point. If I have missed or misunderstood Kel’s arguments, anyone who reads this – including Kel – is welcome to bring that to my attention.
. . .
“1. The One True God is Identified in the Bible as a singular “I”, “Me”, “He”, “Him” and “Who.”
In Hebrew, Greek, or English, the very purpose of singular personal prounouns is to signify a person is being identified. However, Trinitarians must resort to outright denial of this plain and obvious fact and insist rather that the one true God is three plural persons rather than one singular person. And because the one true God identifies himself with singular personal pronouns (see examples below) they must further insist that the one true God of the Bible is a singular “I”, “Me”, “He”, “Him” and “Who” not because God is one person but because the one true God is one “being.”
To you it was shown that you might know that YAHWEH, HE is God and there is no other besides HIM. (Deuteronomy 4:35; see Mark 12:32).
I, I am HE, And there is no God besides ME. (Deuteronomy 32:9).
Thus says YAHWEH, your Redeemer, and The One who formed you from the womb, “I, YAHWEH, am the maker of all things, stretching out the heavens by MYSELFAnd spreading out the earth all alone.” (Isaiah 44:24).
While singular personal pronouns have the express purpose of signifying and identifying a single person, Trinitarians must deny this fact and insist rather the above verses do not refer to a single person. HOWEVER, in total contradiction to these claims, Trinitarians also insist that one much conclude that the Holy Spirit is indeed one distinct third PERSON because singular personal pronouns are used of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit has the “attributes” of a PERSON and while both of these things are true of the one true God which they hypocritically deny is one person.”
Having already dealt with the beginning of this argument in my article God identifies himself as one Person? and Genesis 1:26 I will pass over most of it here. Suffice it to say that in that article it is shown that singular personal pronouns sometimes do signify a plurality of persons, including a nation that says “I was left alone” (Isaiah 49:21), and that God sometimes does refer to himself with plural pronouns. Also, this Trinitarian does not insist that God is a singular “I” simply because he is one Being, since it may also be because the persons can speak in unison or one is speaking for all.
As to the last paragraph of this argument, Kel is wrong in saying that the evidence that the Holy Spirit is only one person is the same as the evidence that God is only one person and that Trinitarians must contradict themselves to argue otherwise. This is because Scripture uses both singular and plural pronouns to describe God, but only singular pronouns to describe the Holy Spirit. Also, the Scripture is clear that there is only one God and yet it identifies more than one person as God, but no Scripture identifies more than one person who is the Holy Spirit. Thus there is no contradiction in logic when Trinitarians say that God is three persons but the Holy Spirit is only one person.
“2. The Identity of Jesus’ One and Only God was not a Triune God . . . . 3. Jesus Identifies Our God for Us and it is not a Triune God.”
“For Jesus, the one and only God was the Father alone and he alone was Jesus’ God. Trinitarians do not have the same God as Jesus. A one person God is not the same God as a three person God and God the Father is not by himself a distinct God in Trinitarian doctrine but only one hypostasis/person of the Triune God. Yet, this one person is was, and is, indeed for Jesus the one true God.”
“Jesus never indicates he is our God or that three persons are our God. Jesus tells us who our God is and our God turns out to be the same God as his God: his Father. ‘I ascend to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ (John 20:17).”
That Jesus indicated he is our God is clear in places like John 5:18, where Jesus by calling God his own Father made himself equal to God, and John 20:28, where Jesus accepted the title of “my Lord and my God” from Thomas (see the articles dealing with those passages).
Also, the argument that since Jesus had a God he could not be God is not backed by Scripture. In Hebrews 1:8, we see God speaking to God, calling him God: the speaker is God the Father, who says to the Son, “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever.” If the God the Father can call his Son God without ceasing to be God, then surely the Son can do the same in return without ceasing to be God (see the article Hebrews 1:1-10).
Also bear in mind the fact that just because Jesus did not proclaim his divinity to Mary Magdalene in John 20:17 does not mean he didn’t proclaim it elsewhere, which I believe he did in places like John 8:58 and 20:28.
“3. Jesus Identifies Our God for Us and it is not a Triune God . . . .
Father…. this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. (John 17:3).”
John 17:3 clearly affirms that the Father is the one true God, but it does not deny that Jesus is as well.
Jesus Christ is that aspect of God who reveals and explains the otherwise invisible God. God the Son was sent by God the Father to become the man Jesus Christ – without ceasing to be God the Son. He is both God and also the Son whom God the Father has sent.
To help understand this, think of a password to an encrypted computer program. The password is at once part of the program, and at the same time is the key that unlocks the program and gives you access to it. Or think of this sentence: “This is how you pass the test, by thoroughly mastering the subject, and by studying hard every night.” Studying every night is not really a separate thing from mastering the subject; instead, it is the means by which the subject is mastered.
Some large buildings have a map of the building built into the wall. You can know the building by studying the map and by exploring the building. Is the map separate from the building it describes? No, it is part of the building, built right into the wall. And yet we can still say that you can know the building by exploring it and by studying the map. Jesus is both the sign who points to God and at the same time a manifestation of the God he represents.
It is as if God waved His arm to get our attention, and then pointed at Himself and said, “This is the only true God.” The hand and the finger that did the pointing is no less the only true God than the one being pointed at, but it is the hand that got our attention. The incarnate Son of God, the man Jesus Christ, is that hand and that finger of God.
“And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one,’ and ‘you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that HE is one, and there is no other but HE and to love HIM with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” (Mark 12:28-34).
Who did Jesus and this Jewish scribe have in mind? What one God were these two men talking about? Who was the one God of these two Jewish men? Jesus makes it quite clear that our God is his God, the same God as his God. Keep in mind that Trinitarians insist they do not believe in three Gods. This necessarily means that there is no such thing for them as the Father being a God all by Himself. Hence, the Father is not a God but only one hypostasis (person) of the one God. But for Jesus, his Father was indeed a God, his God, and the only true God.”
First let me point out that the man did not ask Jesus “Who is God?” but “Which commandment is the first of all?” Also note that when Jesus said “’Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one . . .“ and the man agreed with that by saying “you have truly said that HE is one, and there is no other but HE and to love HIM with all the heart . . .” Jesus answered by saying “you are not far from the Kingdom of God.” By this Jesus indicated that the man was almost right but still missing something.
To determine whether Jesus is God I would rather start with someone whose answer received a 100% endorsement from Jesus than a qualified “you are not far from being right” answer. Thomas said to Jesus, “My Lord and my God” and got a 100% agreement. Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” and got a 100% agreement. When Peter said this he was surely aware that Jesus made himself equal to God by the way in which Jesus called God his Father.
In the Trinity, the Father is God all by himself but he is not “a” God all by himself. When a man says “my God” he is referring to someone superior to himself. But if God says “my God” (which I believe the Father said to the Son in Hebrews 1:9).
“4. Paul Identifies the One God of Christians as One Person
Trinitarians insist that the one God is not one person but three persons. However, at 1 Corinthians 8:6, Paul identifies the one God as one person. At 1 Corinthians 8:4 Paul declares “there is no God but one” and then he goes on to say that “for us there is one God” and he then identifies the one God as one person: the Father. If Paul believed in a three person God whatever then could be his point? Why identify
….there is no God but one….. for us there is one God, the Father. (1 Corinthians 8:6).”
The short version is that one of the definitions of God found in this passage is the Father, and the other is the Lord Jesus Christ. I hold “God” and “Lord” to be referring to one and the same Divinity, the Lord God, even though here the Father is identified as God and Jesus as Lord. My full response to this argument is found in my article on 1 Corinthians 8:6.
“5. The First Person of the Trinity is Jesus’ Father but the Third Person of the Trinity Fathered Jesus . . . The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you, therefore the child to be begotten (gennao) will be called holy, the Son of God. (Luke 1:35).”
My response is twofold.
(1) In the Trinity doctrine Jesus is not the Son of the Father because the Holy
Spirit overshadowed Mary — instead he was already the Son, not by being born, but by having an eternal filial relationship with the Father.
(2) Even if we think of Jesus’ human sonship only, remember that if a woman is impregnated by the sperm of a man, that man is still the father of the child even if his sperm was stored and later implanted in the woman by a doctor. The action of the doctor was in that case required to make the pregnancy happen but that doesn’t make the doctor the baby’s father. Similarly, just because the action of the Holy Spirit made Mary’s pregnancy happen doesn’t make the Holy Spirit the Father of the baby Jesus.
“6. The Risen Jesus is the Holy Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:17-18) Yet in the Trinity the Holy Spirit is definitely not the same person as Jesus, so the Trinity doctrine is refuted by this passage.
My two main responses to this argument are that (A) 1 Corinthians 6:17 and Ephesians 4:4-5 show that there can be more than one person in one spirit, and that therefore the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the same Spirit though not the same person, and (B) that argument number 6 actually refutes Kel’s position even more thoroughly than it does the Trinity doctrine, since in the Trinity at least the Son and the Holy Spirit are one and the same divine being, while in Kel’s doctrine they are two separate beings, one human and one divine.
“7. Jesus declared that ONLY the Father Knows the Day and Hour
Jesus declared that only the Father knows the day and hour of Jesus’ return. This not only excludes Jesus the second person of the Trinity, it also excludes the Holy Spirit defined as the third person of the Trinity. Hence, two persons of the Trinity are not omniscient by definition while at the same time Trinitarians insist that all three persons are omniscient (all knowing).
But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but ONLY the Father. (Matthew 24:36).”
The only ones who were on Jesus’ list of those who did not know the day or the hour of Jesus’ return are the angels in heaven, the Son, and all other men (not specifically mentioned but implied by the phrase “no one . . . not even the angels”). Since the Holy Spirit is not on the list of people who did not know the hour of his return, the passage does not deny that the Holy Spirit knows this; and, since 1 Corinthians 2:11 says the Spirit does know the thoughts of God, we can safely conclude that the Spirit knows the hour of Jesus’ return.
Kel could certainly argue that “no one” includes all other persons except the Father, but the Trinitarian could argue back that “no one knows” sometimes means that no one within a certain group of people know. For example, Deuteronomy 34:5-6 says that “Moses the servant of the Lord died there in Moab, as the Lord had said. 6 He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is.” Obviously, this refers to no men; God and perhaps some angels knew where Moses was buried. In Revelation 9:12 we see a picture of Jesus who “has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself.” Does that mean the Father doesn’t know it? The conclusion of this point is that while Jesus’ words that no one knows the hour of his return but the Father only could mean that the Spirit doesn’t know either, it doesn’t necessarily mean that, for it could simply mean that no other men know.
As for the Son not knowing the hour of his own return, that is explained by the fact that the only knowledge he had access to at the time was limited by his human nature and whatever the Father showed him, and that even though he did know it in his divine nature, the only person under discussion who knew it at that time was the Father alone.
Strange as it may seem, there is nothing extraordinary about the idea that the Son knew things in his divinity that he did not know in his humanity. Even we mere mortals do the same (though in our case, we can’t help it). In dreams we may find ourselves ignorant of facts about ourselves that we know when we are awake, and if in the dream we confront a question about one of these things we could honestly say “I don’t know” even though the knowledge is buried within us. Even in waking life we might say “I don’t know” with complete veracity because we have forgotten it and may have even forgotten that we once knew it.
Maybe when Jesus said “of that day and hour no one knows,” “no one” didn’t mean “no other persons” but “no other beings.” Every human person is both a separate person from all other humans, and also a separate being from all other humans. Each of us has our own nature; Roger’s nature is different from John’s nature. Further, each of us has our own separate mind. But in the Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are the same being and all have one and the same mind, which is shared by all of them. If when Jesus said “no one” he meant “no personal being” than the Father rather than “no person” other than the Father, then the Spirit, who is part of the Father’s being, would be included along with the Father and the lack of mention of the Spirit would not exclude him from knowing the time of Jesus’ return.
And as with the previous possibility, the fact that the Son didn’t know the time of his return is explained by the fact that at that time the only knowledge he had access to was that possessed by his human nature.