Response to “Critical Questions”

Questions for Trinitarians

Things to Think About

Logic/Reason

In this article, Kel asks various questions which I will attempt to answer.  I have numbered the questions for easier reference.

1       QUESTION “If the doctrine of the Trinity is so fundamental to Christianity, as Trinitarians claim, why is there a complete failure on the part of Jesus or his apostles to articulate it anywhere?”

ANSWER There is no such failure.  Although the Trinity doctrine is never explicitly articulated, it is clearly implied by Jesus and his apostles.  However, Kel doesn’t believe that (for example) when John 1:1 says “the Word was God” it means that Jesus is God, he doesn’t believe that Jesus really was equal to God despite the fact that Scripture says he made himself equal to God by calling God his Father (John 5:18) and he doesn’t believe that the Holy Spirit is really a Person despite the fact that Scripture says he will hear about Jesus and what he hears he will tell us (John 16:13).  Because of this he is blind to all the Scriptural evidence that supports the Trinity, and that is why he doesn’t see it anywhere.

2       QUESTION  “What do you honestly think the New Testament would look like if today’s Trinitarians wrote these books? Would it look any different? Would they say some things the apostles did not say?”

ANSWER The vast majority of today’s Trinitarians if not all of them believe that the New Testament is perfect the way it is.

3       QUESTION  “Since the one God is the main character in the Bible, where can anyone find even a single mention of a three person God in the Bible without asking them to imagine preconceived Trinitarian doctrine into the text?”

ANSWER  This question is predicated on Kel’s belief that such texts as I have mentioned in answering the first question do not mean what Trinitarians think they mean.  For a more detailed refutation of Kel’s interpretation of these passages, see the answers to Kel’s articles on those passages.

4       QUESTION  “Have you ever noticed that you are expected to “discover” God is three persons? Why is this three person being so elusive about His true identity?”

ANSWER Because “Truly, You are a God who hides Himself, O God of Israel, Savior” (Isaiah 45:15) and yet “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter” (Proverbs 25:2).

5       QUESTION  “Do you actually think Jesus should have, or could have, told Nicodemus that he was the second person of the Jews’ Triune God?”

ANSWER  He could have, because it is true, but he shouldn’t have, because he didn’t and we know that Jesus always said only as much or as little as he should have.

6       QUESTION  “When the ancient Israelites prayed or heard the words, “Hear O Israel, the LORD our God the LORD is one”, don’t you think they were expected to understand these words? If so, how could they be expected to think it means, “the Lord is one divine ousia”? If not, why would they be expected to believe something which they did not know?”

ANSWER  God expected them to understand but not necessarily completely understand, just as even now we don’t completely understand everything, for “now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

7       QUESTION  “Was Moses a Trinitarian?”

ANSWER No, the Trinity doctrine was not revealed until the New Testament.

8       QUESTION  “If the one true God was fully aware that his choice of language and imagery would most definitely lead people to conclude he is one person, when He was not one person but was actually three persons all along, wouldn’t that make God a deceiver?”

ANSWER Where did Kel get the idea that God’s choice of language and imagery leads people to conclude he is one person?  God’s choice of language and imagery has obviously led people to many conclusions, the majority conclusion being the Trinity doctrine.  Unless, of course, you believe that only one conclusion is “obvious” and anyone who thinks otherwise is either lying or stupid.

9       QUESTION  “Is the word hypostasis synonymous with the English word ‘person’? If not, why are you using the word “person” to describe your doctrine? If so, please define the word ‘person.’”

ANSWER This “question” is actually two questions and a request.  The first question (whether ‘hypostasis’ is synonymous ‘person’) I will defer to the Greek scholars.  My answer to the second question is that I did not derive my idea that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are distinct persons from the Greek word “hypostasis” but from the personal attributes ascribed to each of them in the New Testament.  As for his request for my definition of the word “person,” I offer this: A person is a “self”(as in “the Father himself loves you” – John 16:27).  A person is a single individual with a mind, will, and desires, who is aware of himself as distinct from others.

10     QUESTION  “Is it true to say that for Christians the one God is the Triune God or the one God is the Father?”

ANSWER Both are true.

11     QUESTION  “How do you know the Father is in fact a person? What quality or characteristic defines the Father as a person?”

ANSWER It is so obvious from Scripture that the Father is self-aware and does all the things that prove one is a person that I won’t reproduce all the evidence here, except for that above – that Jesus said “the Father himself loves you,” and that the Father has a will etc.

12     QUESTION  “How do you know the Son is in fact a person? What quality or characteristic defines the Father as a person?”

ANSWER The evidence for the personhood of the Son is as overwhelming as it is for the personhood of the Father.

13     QUESTION  “When Trinitarians claim that the Bible never indicates that the one God is a person, why do they fail to notice the Bible never indicates the Holy Spirit is a person either?”

ANSWER Kel is wrong because Trinitarians do not claim that the Bible never indicates that the one God is a person, only that it doesn’t indicate the one God is only one person.  Further, the Bible does indicate the Holy Spirit is a person, but it is not as obvious as it is in the case of the Father and the Son.  Evidence includes the following: the Holy Spirit searches all things and knows the mind of God (1 Corinthians 2:10-11) speaks what he hears (John 16:13) and can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30).  Aren’t searching, knowing, hearing, speaking, and grieving things that only a person can do?

14     QUESTION  “Why do Trinitarians insist that the Holy Spirit is one distinct person because singular personal pronouns are used of the Holy Spirit, but deny the one God is one distinct person when the same thing is true of the one God?”

ANSWER Trinitarians do not insist that the only reason the Holy Spirit is a distinct person is because singular personal pronouns are used of him.  Rather, it is because only singular personal pronouns are used of him.  Often in the Bible, groups of people are also described by singular personal pronouns.  My reasoning is that if an entity is referred to only by singular personal pronouns, that entity is only one person.  But if an entity is referred to by both singular and plural pronouns, that entity is a group of several persons.  The Holy Spirit is never referred to in the plural, but the one God sometimes is.  Additionally, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all referred to as God and yet can be seen personally interacting with one another.

15     QUESTION  “Why do Trinitarians insist that the Holy Spirit is one distinct person because Biblical language shows the Holy Spirit has the attributes of a single person, but deny the one God is one distinct person when the same thing is true of the one true God?”

ANSWER The answer is much the same as the previous question.  Both the Holy Spirit and the one God have the attributes of a person, but only God also has the attributes of more than one person; the Holy Spirit is never in the Bible given the attributes of more than one person.

16     QUESTION  “Is Jesus the Son, the second person of the Trinity, a “being” or a “person”?”

ANSWER Both. “Being” is just a reverent way of saying “Thing” or “Entity” – “a thing with distinct and independent existence.”  “Being” is a more general term than “person.”  So, a being can sometimes be a person.

17     QUESTION  “If Jesus is not a being then is it wrong to say he is a human being?’

ANSWER It is not wrong to say he is a human being as long as it is admitted he is also a divine being.

18     QUESTION  “If the one true God is one divine being and Jesus is not a divine being then shall we conclude he is not the one true divine being, the one true God? Or, If the one true God is one divine being and Jesus is the one true God must we conclude he is the one divine being?”

ANSWER These are actually two different questions.  The answer to the first is that if Jesus is not a divine being he is not God.  The answer to the second question is that Jesus is indeed the one divine being, but he is not the only person in that one divine being.

19     QUESTION  “If the one true God is a Triune Being then shall we conclude that Jesus is that one true God? If not, is Jesus then a different God? If so, can you explain how Jesus is the one Triune God?”

ANSWER Jesus is the one Triune God, but not all by himself.  Let’s use an analogy.  If there a tree in a park, I could go up to it and grab a branch and say, “this is the tree.”  Then I could lean on the trunk and say, “this is the tree.”  Then I could point to the root, and say, “this is the tree also.”  Each statement would be correct, yet each of what I identified are different parts of the same tree.

Each of the three divine persons is the one true God, but none of them are the one true God separate from the others.  Because they are one being, they cannot be divided or put into competition with one another, as three human beings can be.

20     QUESTION  “If the Triune Being is the one true God then shall we conclude that Jesus is that one true God? If not, is Jesus then a different God? If so, can you explain how Jesus is the one Triune God?”

ANSWER As far as I can tell this question simply repeats the last question, reversing only the order of “Triune Being” and “one true God” in its first sentence.  The answer is therefore the same.

21     QUESTION  “Is it true to say that for Christians the one God is the Triune God or is it true that for Christians the one God is the Father?”

ANSWER Both are true.

22     QUESTION  “If both are true, then can we say that the one true God is either three persons or that the one true God is one person?”

ANSWER If this question is taken to mean “can we say that the one true God is either three persons or that the one true God is ONLY one person?” then the answer would be no.  But if this question is taken to mean “can it be truly said that the Triune God is three persons and also that each of the persons is the Triune God?” then the answer would be yes, since all the persons co-inhere and are in fact aspects of one and the same being (See my answer to question 19).

I also think that all the persons of the one true God (Father, Son, and Spirit) are together Father to us all and yet within the one God only one of those persons relates as Father to the Son and the Spirit.  Each of these persons is the only true God and in one sense Father to us, but only one of them relates as a Father to the others.

23     QUESTION  “Is it ever okay to identify the one God as one person? If not why does Paul do it? If so, why do Trinitarians object to identifying God as one person?”

ANSWER No, it is not correct to identify God as only one person.  Also Paul does not do it (see my refutation of Kels article on 1 Corinthians 8:6, which he thinks proves that Paul identifies God as only one person).  I think the Scripture is clear that God has the attributes we associate with one person but he also has attributes we associate with more than one person.

24     QUESTION  “If God the Father is the first hypostasis OF the Trinity, then may we conclude there is something antecedent to God? Is the Father the Triune God’s first person? If so, then does this mean the Father belongs to the Triune God?”

ANSWER Nothing is antecedent to God, and this question (or group of questions) suggests no reason why there should be (in the Trinity doctrine).

25     QUESTION  “What would be the quality or characteristic feature that would determine that multiple identities are not one God but multiple gods?”

ANSWER If they were separate beings with independent existences, they would multiple gods.

26     QUESTION  “If three persons having one nature are deemed to be one being, then should you consistently say that one person having two natures is deemed to be two beings?”

ANSWER The answer would be yes if nature equals being, but I don’t think it does.  A “being” is something that exists, a living entity, and a “nature” is what something is like, its essential characteristics.

With this in mind, lets reword Kels question by replacing the idea of “being” with “house,” “nature” with “material,” and “person” with “room.”  The reworded question: If three rooms made of one material (like bricks) are deemed to be one house, then should you consistently say that one room made of two materials (say, bricks and wood) is deemed to be two houses?  The answer is obviously no, for such a room could be a one-room house (or one room in a house) made out of two kinds of materials.

Likewise, simply because three persons can have one nature (one defining characteristic) and therefore be one being, one person with two natures (two defining characteristics) is not therefore two beings.

27     QUESTION  “When Jesus told Mary Magdalene that he was ascending to “my Father and your Father and to my God and your God” do you think he really meant he was ascending to, “my Father and your Father and to my God and the first hypostasis of your God”?”

ANSWER When Jesus said that to Mary, he was not acknowledging his divinity as he was to Thomas in John 20:28.  But he did not deny it either.  An earthly analogy would be if a congressman came back from Washington to visit his wife and when he was about to return to the capital, he said “I am going back to my President and your President, and to my government and your government.”  His wife is neither the president nor part of the government; however, though the congressman is not the president, he is part of the government he is returning to.

28     QUESTION  “Was God the Son, the Second Person of the Trinity, that dead flesh hanging on the cross and laying dead in the tomb? If not, who was? If so, was God the Son half dead and half alive?”

ANSWER The body of Jesus (God the Son) was dead on the cross in the sense that a dead body is still called the person although the person isn’t really there anymore.  This is called a metonym, a word used as a stand-in for something else with which it is closely associated. But Jesus was not the dead body any more than the corpse of any dead person “is” the person.

29     QUESTION  “Are God the Son and Jesus the same person?”

ANSWER Yes.

30     QUESTION  “If Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, how did the first person of the Trinity turn out to be Jesus’ Father?”

ANSWER The first person of the Trinity is not Jesus human father.  The action of the Holy Spirit took the place of the action normally performed by a human father, but that does not make the Holy Spirit a human father either.

31     QUESTION  “Have you ever noticed that Paul said that the risen Jesus IS the Spirit? Don’t you find that troubling since Jesus most definitely IS NOT the Spirit in Trinitarian doctrine?”

ANSWER No I don’t find it troubling because I understand that oneness of Spirit does not mean oneness of person.  This is obvious when one examines relevant passages of Scripture, which I do in my response to Kel’s article on 2 Corinthians 3:17.  Kel’s doctrine also logically results in the assertion that Jesus is not the Spirit, despite the fact that he states the contrary many times over.

32     QUESTION  “Was Jesus a Trinitarian? If not, why are you? If so, are you actually claiming that his one and only God was a three person being?”

ANSWER Jesus’ words are the foundation of the Trinity doctrine.  As the originator of the basis of the doctrine, he cannot be classified as “a” Trinitarian because “a” Trinitarian is by definition a follower of the doctrine.  Jesus understood the mysteries that the Trinity doctrine only begins to fathom.  And yes, I am actually claiming that the one and only God IS a three person being.

33     QUESTION  “Are you a child of God or a child of the first hypostasis of the Triune God or both?”

ANSWER This question is an example of substituting technical terminology for simple terminology and is a game I won’t play (See my response to Holy Spirit Absurdities).

34     QUESTION  “If God is a God of the living and not the dead, and we have died and it is no longer us who live but Christ who lives in us, then who is the one true God of Christ who lives in us?”

ANSWER I will only attempt to answer this question when Kel specifies what passage of Scripture refers to “the one true God of Christ who lives in us.”

35     QUESTION  “If Peter had asked Jesus the question, ‘Who is your God?’, do you think he would have gotten a Trinitarian answer? Or do you think Jesus would have said, ‘My Father alone’?”

ANSWER Jesus was asked something similar when Philip said “Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? (John 14:8-9).  Guessing what Jesus would have said is a dangerous exercise, but if Peter had asked Jesus “who is your God,” Jesus may have given Peter the same answer: “Do you not know me, Peter?  He who has seen me has seen God.”

36     QUESTION  “When John said no one has ever seen God but the Son expresses the Father, does it honestly sound to you like John meant, “no one has ever seen the first hypostasis but the second hypostasis expresses the first hypostasis”?”

ANSWER This question is an example of substituting technical terminology for simple terminology and is a game I won’t play (See my response to Holy Spirit Absurdities).

37     QUESTION  “If Jesus had said, “I am not God,” do you think Trinitarians would simply say, “Jesus meant he was not the Father,” and still claim Jesus is God?”

ANSWER If Jesus had said things like that there wouldn’t be any Trinitarians to begin with.

Scripture

38     QUESTION  “Why do suppose Trinitarians simply read their doctrine into the text at Genesis 1:26?”

ANSWER  This question assumes that Trinitarians are reading their doctrine into the text and not drawing their doctrine from this and other texts.  As such Kel is committing the fallacy of “complex question” and so does not deserve a response.  Notice also that the premise of this question almost contradicts the premise of the next question.  See also my response to Kel’s article on Genesis 1:26.

39     QUESTION  “Why do suppose Trinitarian scholars have so many other interpretations of Genesis 1:26?”

ANSWER As one can see in reading my response to Kel’s article on Genesis 1:26, the nuances of the plural forms of speech in ancient Hebrew is something that is not well understood today, and so many scholars (not just Trinitarian ones) have come up with many different explanations for these kinds of passages.  My interpretation is that when God said “Let us create man in our image,” he was implying a plurality of person within himself.  To me that is simpler than any other theory.

40     QUESTION  “Did you know that a singular versus plural interplay occurs at Genesis 1:26 concerning man as well as God?”

ANSWER I think Kel means that both man and God are referred to in both singular and plural terms.  If that is what he means, I agree that such is the case.

41     QUESTION  “Don’t you suppose the natural reading of Genesis 1:26-27 would be to see that the image and likeness of ‘us’ and ‘our’ in this verse is ‘male and female.’”

ANSWER Not necessarily, but if so, note that “male and female” are at least two persons, and if what Kel suggests is “the natural reading” of the text, then the conclusion contradicts his own doctrine of a one-person God.  Further, man was not created to be only one male and only one female; although the children were born later they were inherent in the creation of man – meaning at least three people – even though the third person did not appear on the same creation day as Adam and Eve.

42     QUESTION  “Did you know that the Hebrew word EL, which is usually translated as “God” at Isaiah 9:6, is not equivalent to our English word God and this word EL is used to refer to men, mountains and trees?”

ANSWER The Hebrew word EL is not an exact equivalent to the English word God but it can often mean God anyway and is translated God in many other passages than Isaiah 9:6.  Besides, while Isaiah 9:6 is an Old Testament verse often associated with the Deity of Christ, it is not a primary proof for the Trinity doctrine.  All the primary evidence of the Trinity doctrine is found in the New Testament.

43     QUESTION  “Have you ever noticed that the Trinitarian translation of Zechariah 12:10 doesn’t even makes sense? People will look upon ‘ME’ whom they pierced but they will mourn for ‘HIM.’”

ANSWER  Another “complex question” fallacy – this question assumes that there is a “Trinitarian” translation of Zechariah 12:10, which he has not proven.  Almost all Christian Bible translations say something along the lines of they will look upon “me” whom they have pierced and they will mourn over “him.”  Whether the Trinity is true or not has no bearing on the translation of this verse; it could go either way regardless of whether or not Jesus is God.  And it makes sense either way.

If Jesus is not God, the passage could still say “they will look upon me whom they have pierced” and make sense, because it could be that just as in Luke 2:35 which says that Mary’s soul would pierced by a sword (though not literally), so the Father’s soul was pierced when his Son was crucified.  And since to see Jesus is to see the Father, in this sense they were looking upon the Father when they crucified Jesus.

If Jesus is God, the passage could still say “they will look upon him whom they have pierced” and it would make sense because it might simply a prophecy of the coming Messiah, which is completely consistent with the idea that God the Son already existed, just not yet as the human messiah.

In other words, there is no Trinitarian or non-Trinitarian translation of this verse; no matter how it is translated it is still reasonably consistent with either position.

44     QUESTION  “Have you noticed that when Yahweh says He will not give His glory to another at Isaiah 42:8, that it is necessarily the Father speaking?”

ANSWER How does Kel know that this is not the Father speaking through his Word?  If the Word of God is a person, his very function is to speak whatever the Father wants to say to us.  Further, if it is the Father speaking, that doesn’t mean he will not give his glory to another person — it could be another god, or (as Kel himself says elsewhere) another nation than Israel.

45     QUESTION  “When you read Isaiah 43:11, “there is no Savior besides Me,” do you forget that Scripture says that Jesus is God’s salvation and it is God who raised up this Savior?”

ANSWER That God raised up the man Jesus does not mean that Jesus as the Word did not exist before he became flesh.  This question is probably a reaction to the argument that since God is the only savior, and Jesus is the savior, that Jesus must be God.  Since I do not use that argument in my response to the Trinity Delusion website I will not comment further.

46     QUESTION  “Did you know that the early Christians rarely quoted the “only begotten God” variant of John 1:18?”

ANSWER If they quoted it at all that means that they believed it was not out of harmony with the rest of the other texts they quoted.  And early quotations weren’t exactly “rare;” Christians who quoted this passage include Valentinus, Irenaeus, Clement, Origen, Eusebius, Serapion, Basil, Didymus, Gregory of Nyssa, and Epiphanius.  The reading “God, the only begotten” has earlier actual documentary testimony than “the only begotten Son.” (Early Manuscripts & Modern Translations of the New Testament, Philip W. Comfort 1990, p. 106)

47     QUESTION  “Did you know that the Greek text at John 10:33 is how an ancient Greek speaker would say, “make yourself a god”?”

ANSWER What is the point of this question?  John 10:33 is not a primary Trinitarian proof text because it only shows what the Jews were accusing him of.  But for the record let me point out that making yourself out to be a god or a mighty one was not an offense worthy of death under the Law; but making yourself out to be the one true God was such an offense, and the Jews in John 10 were desiring to put Jesus to death.

48     QUESTION  “Did you know that important manuscripts read “church of the Lord” at Acts 20:28 and not “church of God”?”

ANSWER The answer to this is similar to the one I gave on John 1:18.  The fact that both readings are found in early texts proves that the early Christians regarded them as compatible.  They did not fight over which one was “right.”

49     QUESTION  “Did you know that Codex Sinaiticus, one of our most important manuscripts, reads “righteousness of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ” at 2 Peter 1:1 and not “righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ”?”

ANSWER As with the previous question, if both readings were current in the early church and they didn’t fight over which one was right, that means they believed they were both equivalent in meaning, or if not that, at least that both versions conveyed the truth.  The Codex Sinaiticus was one of the earliest complete copies of the New Testament, but it was by far not the earliest manuscript from the New Testament.

50     QUESTION  “Did you know that 1 John 5:7 is not in modern translations for a very good reason?”

ANSWER Yes, the reason is that there is no early documentary evidence for this verse.  And that is why I don’t use that passage in my analysis of the Trinity doctrine.

Conclusion

None of the questions Kel asks in Critical Questions cast any doubt upon the Trinity doctrine, but some of them are thought provoking and I found it interesting reading.