Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Arguments against the Trinity, part 1

As I said earlier, I was mainly thinking about Arians (particularly, Jehovah's Witnesses) when I did this outline, so most of these objections aren't the sort of objections a modalist would have.

A large majority of the arguments Jehovah's Witnesses make are basically all the same. They go something like this:

1. The Father is God.
2. Jesus is not the Father.
3. Therefore, Jesus is not God.

Several scriptures are cited in order to prove the same point--that Jesus is not the Father, and is therefore not God. The problem with all of these arguments is that they all beg the question. That is, they assume in the premises what they are trying to prove. The first premise (that the Father is God) is really meant to say that only the Father is God, which is the issue under dispute.

You can answer each of these arguments the same way--by showing that the scriptures are consistent with the Trinity. Here are some examples of how removing the unitarian assumption renders the Trinity logically consistent:

I. Jesus prays to the Father, not to himself, so Jesus is not God. One example might be Matthew 27:46 (Psalm 22:1) where Jesus says, "My God, my God, why have your forsaken me?" Since Jesus didn't mean, "Myself, myself, why have I forsaken myself?" he's obviously talking to somebody else. Jesus, then, is being distinguished from God, and this supposedly means that Jesus is not God. But that argument only works if you assume God is one person. If God is one person, and Jesus is distinguished from God, then Jesus is not God. But whether God is one person is the issue under dispute. It can be shown that this scripture is consistent with the Trinity by removing the unitarian assumption like so:

1. Both the Father and the Son are God (trinitarian assumption).
2. The Son prays to the Father.
3. Therefore, the Son prays to God.

II. Jesus is the son of God, not God himself. Again, this argument only works if you assume God is one person. If only the Father is God, and Jesus is not the Father, then Jesus is not God. Here's how you show that it's consistent for Jesus to be both God and the son of God.

1. Both the Father and the Son are God.
2. Jesus is the Son of the Father.
3. Therefore, Jesus is the Son of God.

III. Jesus is the mediator between God and man, so Jesus is not God himself (1 Timothy 2:5). The same thing applies here. Since Jesus is mediator, he is distinguished from God, and is therefore not God. But this argument only works if you beg the question by assuming that God is only one person. If only the Father is God, and Jesus mediates between the Father and man, then Jesus is not the Father, and is therefore not God. But remove the unitarian assumption, and the passage is consistent with the Trinity.

1. Both the Father and the Son are God.
2. Jesus is the mediator between man and the Father.
3. Therefore, Jesus is the mediator between man and God.

IV. The Father is the only true God, so Jesus is not God (John 17:3). Jehovah's Witnesses often just don't read this passage carefully enough. The passage says that the Father is the only true God. It does not say that only the Father is God. Witnesses beg the question by assuming that since the Father is the only true God, that only the Father is the true God.

1. There is only one true God.
2. Both the Father and the Son are God.
3. Therefore, the Father is the only true God, and the Son is also the only true God.

Once you see the pattern, this takes care a the majority of arguments against the Trinity that Arians raise. They all assume that only the Father is God (and therefore beg the question) in order to prove that the Son is not God. All these passages show is that the Father and the Son are not the same person, which is consistent with the Trinity.

Question-begging arguments are the most common arguments against the Trinity, but there are a few other kinds, and I'll cover those in my next blog.

Against the Trinity, part 2


At 10/25/2006 8:30 PM , Blogger drRic said...

I greet you brothers and sisters in Christ and may the peace of God continue to be upon each of you. I just want say that we must be honest with ourselves about the trinity doctrine. Now while the majority of Christendom accepts this doctrine, I think we need to address a few questions: Did the Apostles ever point-blankly teach this doctrine of the trinity or was it ever explicitly explained in detail or is this the creation of man? We need to be honest here. I read and study the scriptures a whole lot and I'm sure it is the same for most that judging by what is explicitly shown in the scriptures, it is rather insulting to refer to our Great GOD as existing "in three persons". Scripture shows us that God does not exist, first of all, "in the Father" because GOD IS THE FATHER, THE GOD AND FATHER of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Yes, our GOD and our Savior's GOD(John 20:17,14:28, I Cor.15:28, 2Cor.1:3,13:4, Ephes.1:3,14,17, I Pet.1:3, see John 13:3,14:10, Rev.1:6). We must also take into mind that all was GIVEN to Christ by the Father GOD. We must also take into account that even the glorified Son of GOD still called GOD,His GOD and Father(Rev.3:12 and on). Jesus did not even take glory to Himself(John 7:16-19, Heb.5:5). Let's look at Micah 5:4. What can we say of that? I don't mean to come down on anyone, but we just want reason with ourselves in love and honesty before our loving and merciful GOD. We have totally missed a few things in scripture. Take for instance, GOD's self-introduction in Exodus3:5,6, Gen.46:3 of HIMSELF. Now let's see if we can agree on something: HE introduced HIMSELF as the GOD of our fathers(Abraham, Isaac and Jacob). Now let's skip over to Acts 3:13-26. We learn explicitly that it was the GOD of our fathers that glorified HIS Servant, Jesus Christ. Have we figured this out yet? Moreover, Hebrews 1:1,2 tells us explicitly that GOD spoke through the prophets,and now speaks through HIS Son. I'm trying to fit Christ into GOD, but it appears GOD and Christ are two separate individuals. Scripture also points out that GOD is SPIRIT and INVISIBLE(Col.1:15,I Tim.1:17). Okay, it's okay when we read John 1:1 which tells us about the Word. Let's notice that it says twice that the Word was WITH GOD(v.1,2). But then an uneasy feeling comes when we read John 1:18, and instead of saying Jesus is GOD, it says that Jesus has EXPLAINED or DECLARED HIM. Yes, we can bypass this and say whatever but we run into this similar verse in I John 4:12, this being after the resurrection and glorification of our Lord, and even after John declared what he had seen, touched, handled concerning the Word (Jesus Christ), and said not that Jesus is GOD, but that our fellowship is with GOD, AND HIS Son. (If we have time,we can also review Exodus 33:20,22,23). In addition to this, what can we say of Jesus' explicit(sorry for using this word so much,forgive me)references to GOD? What did Jesus say?(John 8:54, Matt.11:25, Luke 10:21, Matt.22:31,32, John 17:3, Mark 12:28-34). Jesus also pointed out that the one who exalts himself will be abased or put down. Are we now saying that Jesus broke that law and exalted Himself and gave Himself the name which is above every name? Our Lord warned about those who add to and take away from GOD's Word. We've had many bible translations pass our way, and there are many translations that conflict with one another simply because man has become capable of inserting, changing, or at least,trying to change, original scriptures to suit man-made doctrines. This is very true because I have had my hands on a few of these. "Trinity" seems to sound more like it was snuck in the more I get deep into the scripture of GOD(Look at 2 Pet.1:20,21, and then look at 2 Pet 2:1-32,2 Thessal.2:9-12 and mark those who try to insert their own doctrines and those who follow their destructive ways). We have looked at references to GOD and Christ: I just have a few questions to ask concerning the Holy Spirit by careful study of the scriptures: Is the Spirit GOD different from the Holy Spirit? Do we serve two Spirits in ONE GOD? Let's also look at the true scriptural doctrine( I Cor.8:6, I Tim.2:5). Where is the Holy Spirit mentioned? Does scripture ever mention an intimate relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit? Does scripture ever mention an intimate relationship between Christ and the Holy Spirit? Let's talk about this. I love you all in Jesus' name.

At 9/14/2008 3:41 PM , Blogger paul said...


I agree 100% I am a Jesus believing Christain and believe Jesus died for my sins. But I also belive that Jesus is who JESUS said He was. NOT what Christian's have made Him into. God.

The above argument does not hold water! To simply say
"The Father and Son are God"
and believe this is somehow proof that Jesus is God is just pure stubborness if not brainwashing. The evidence is overwhelming as this brother has pointed out that Jesus and His Father GOD are not only two people, but that God is God and Jesus is God's Son, not, God. And where is the argument supporting the Holy Spirit for being God Too? The Bible just does not support either assumption. We, who do not belive the Bible to support Jesus to be God base our argument on what the Bible actually says, where the Trinity people base their teachings on the teaching of man. Reading drric's Biblical evidence and weighing it against the argument for three people in one God is an argument that does not support itself. If this were a court of law you could not prove your case against the overwhelming evidence against Jesus being just who Jesus claimed himself to be, and just who God claimed him to be. Why is it so important to trinity Christians to make Jesus into God anyway? Isn't it enough to just believe what Jesus told us?

Paul S

At 9/15/2008 3:00 PM , Blogger Sam said...

Paul, it's customary that when you disagree with an argument that somebody makes that you point out specifically where the flaw in the argument is and why you disagree with it. As far as whether the Trinity is Biblical or not, this is just one post in a whole series about the Trinity. If you're interested in why I believe in the Trinity, you should read the whole thing, starting with "The Logic of the Trinity," then with parts 1-4 of "Arguments for the Trinity" and then parts 1-4 of "Arguments against the Trinity."

At 10/01/2008 2:12 AM , Blogger Bladerun said...

There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit: and these three are one.
—1 John 5:7

27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and see my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and put it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. 28 Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.
John 20:27-28

30 I and the Father are one.
John 10:30

I just finished debating with my gf about whether the doctrine of the trinity was true, and was beginning to wonder. After finding these I think I just reaffirmed myself. Thanks!

At 10/02/2008 2:41 PM , Blogger Bob said...

"There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit: and these three are one.
—1 John 5:7"

This is actually only in later manuscripts and was probably inserted by an unscrupulous scribe.

"27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and see my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and put it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. 28 Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.
John 20:27-28"

This could be interpreted an exclamation. Along the lines of: "Oh my gosh!"

For the most part, if you remove John as a source for the argument for the trinity, you don't have much left to stand on.

At 12/12/2008 1:08 PM , Blogger hvjgbhg said...

drRic looks at John 1 and points out "that it says twice that the Word was WITH GOD" But does not point out that it says "the Word WAS God" John 1:1 is pretty clear that the Word was in the beginning, that it is with God and that it was God. But who is the Word? Well John 1:14 (same text, same context) tells us who the Word is: "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14 clearly says the Word become flesh (human). And so John 1 tells us:

The Word was from the Start
The Word was with God
The Word was God
The Son was from the Start
The Son With God
The Son is God
Jesus is the Son

I will also point out that God is unchanging. (Mal. 3:6, Ps. 119:89, Ec. 3:14, Heb. 6:17, Jas. 1:17) Also Jesus is unchanging (Heb. 13:8)

If God is unchaining than how He WAS is how He IS and how He will BE.

If Jesus WAS God than He IS God and HE will BE God.

The fact is Jesus existed as two natures, the nature of man (separate from God) and the nature of God. Jesus was fully man and fully God at the same time. God's nature did to not merged with man's nature and so God's nature did not change. The two natures existed together but separate in one man. Man and God are not the same but are in communication with each other manifested through Jesus.

In John 17:5 Jesus says "And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began."

Jesus is laying claim to the existence he had with God. Since God does not change, that claim, as Jesus existing as God, also has never changed and was there when Jesus prayed it and is there now. This can only be if Jesus himself was still that existed state as God and as man at the same time.

The Bible also teaches us His Spirit or "Holy Spirit" is God Acts 5:3-4 uses Holy Spirit and God interchangeably. Throughout the Bible we see "God's Spirit" being used. The Spirit is separate from the Father and the Son. My Body is my body and my spirit is my spirit but they are all "Me" yet all distinct. God is a being of 3 persons in one. To say "God" means Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in One. To say "Jesus" means God the Son and to say Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost or Spirit of God means God the Holy Spirit, and to say Father (in context to God) means God the Father.

The trinity is also through out the old testament with the usage of plural forms, and different pronouns referring to God in the same verse. There are passages that suggest more than one being as God yet still there is One God. There is a singular usage of the word "God" in hebrew "Eloah". But its plural "Elohim" is used on the vast majority. The old testament talks of God as One in the same context as it talks as "Two people become one flesh". There are many "God the Son" passages Isaiah 9:6 is quite familiar and I will highlight it: "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given ... And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God"

The word "trinity" is man made but the idea is not. Words are issues of semantics and it "trinity" just means "three in one". There are verses that use the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as they are one such as the Jesus giving "The Great Commission" and says to "baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit". The Trinity is a doctrine that is from systematically looking through the whole bible not just one verse to get it conclusions.

If you choose not to believe in certain books or in other verses then that means there is no verse that you will believe in as you will, just the same, choose not to believe in that verse or book to support your argument. We cannot base our arguments on what we like and leave out what we do not like claiming it is not valid. We need to first agree the that we believe in the Bible. If you don't believe in some passages of the Bible and remove them than it is no longer the Bible but instead your modified version of it which is complete. The Bible is a collection of all verses and books from Genesis to Revelations and if you remove a book like John it is not the Bible it is a collection of books and that's it.

At 5/01/2009 7:42 PM , Blogger molly said...

Um, I would like to refer to what Bob said. He claims that
"For the most part, if you remove John as a source for the argument for the trinity, you don't have much left to stand on."

My argument is, "If one cuts parts out of the Bible, can the rest be honestly taken seriously?"
For all scripture is God breathed and useful in teaching rebuking correcting and training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3: 16). If the books written by John are in the Bible, then they must be God breathed. If you believe otherwise, the real question is, "do you believe in the God of the bible at all?"

At 7/31/2009 6:04 PM , Blogger omnisciency said...

It seems that the argument that The father is God and that this does not exclude Jesus from Being God only works in an argument.
After all The Bible constantly refers to the God as Father and The Father as The God but does not do the same of Jesus.
Jesus is constantly referred to as the Messiah( Christ) (Anointed) and and also as the Son of The God or the son of the Father God.
So it appears clear that the attempt to make Jesus God and the Father God by this logical process avails very little.
What does the scripture text say?
It says that The Word Became Flesh..
It says that This man Jesus came to die.
And that the God was in him.
That he was in the God The Father.
The scriptures also point out(Jesus) that Anyone who represented The Eternal God was Carried divine authority and was also referred to as God.This is noted by Jesus in John and about Judges..
Jesus only ever claimed subjection to The God and Father of the scriptures.That this God and Father was indeed Greater..
He clearly distinguished himself as distinct from The eternal God.
No matter how you like to use the Word God its root Theos is not used in the same way and neither is the word Elohim of the Hebrew.
A better rendition for the Greek Theos would be "Divine one"
And a better rendition of the Hebrew Elohim would be Mighty One (used of angels, Judges and warriors).
So simply the text of of the bible does not lead us to logical conclusions about The Eternal God being a trinity but that The Eternal God is distinct from the Son of God..The only Born son of God, The unique son of God.
This son comes to the world by intervention into the life and body of a woman Mary

At 7/31/2009 10:03 PM , Blogger Sam said...

It seems that the argument that The father is God and that this does not exclude Jesus from Being God only works in an argument.

If it works in an argument and the argument is sound, then it's true.

After all The Bible constantly refers to the God as Father and The Father as The God but does not do the same of Jesus.

Yes it does. See Arguments for the Trinity, part 2 Nothing else you said amounts to an argument against the Trinity, so there's no much to respond to.

At 12/21/2010 8:19 PM , Blogger Jpie said...

"Man was created in God's image" - everything in our natural world is singular in nature. Nothing has the triune property to their being. THe very nature of God would be completely different from anything he created.

"The Son of God" - Adam was given the same title (Luke 3:38) - this title implies one thing, that Jesus and Adam were both created by God, he was their direct Fathers.

Man's craving to see God - The Bible has endless accounts of people who want to see and touch God. Those that had to "see it to believe it" well they worshiped Baal, or other physical gods.

Jesus did not know things that his Father knew (Matt 24:36) -

Jesus prayed to the Father - Yes, certainly, two "persons" in the trinity could pray to each other. For this to be true, we would need to identify where the Father and where the Holy Spirit prayed.

Terminology: Persons, Trinity, Father of God, God-man - these are not in scripture. They should not be used to define God. If they were accurate, someone would have said it in the Bible. We instead must insert them, like at 1 John 5:7.

Jesus is important w/o being God - He had an assignment, fulfilled it, and saved a lot of people. Now he's King, like he said the role would be given to him. We should give him credit for what he's done and doing.

The relationship was beautiful - Everything supports the Father/Son relationship. Jesus is certainly divine and special, at his Fathers right hand (Acts 7:54-56) and on the throne with him.

Visions - They show Jesus in a subordinate role. This one at Daniel 7:13,14 is incredibly clear:

“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

How could Jesus be "given" authority if he was always the Almighty? He was in heaven in this vision, this was not referring to his being in a physical state.

At 10/17/2011 8:12 PM , Blogger Richard W 4Christ said...

Well I'm trying to understand something with the trinitarian followers. Let's look at something here. If John 1:1 is suppose to prove that God is a trinity, it sure isn't helping that much when we consider that it's only The Word and God that is mentioned. If the Word is God, wouldn't that mean the Father Jehovah isn't God since The Word is the primary subject of the text? You can look at it two ways. God the Father is the Word. Jesus is the Word so Jesus is God the Father. Or, you can look at it this way. Jesus is the Word. God is the Word. God is Jesus Himself. Now let's look at it from a trinitarion view.....The Holy Spirit is not even mentioned at all. Is that a casual mistake on the writer's part? If the writer leaves the Spirit out to varify that Jesus is the subject of the text, that means that Jesus is actually the person that he's with. This would sound like a bad case of schitzophrena!

At 10/17/2011 8:26 PM , Blogger Sam said...

Richard, this blog post doesn't even mention John 1:1. I don't claim that John 1:1, by itself, proves the Trinity.

At 2/11/2013 12:16 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice post. Have you seen this recent post on an argument from the Father's never being seen versus YHWH's being seen? Tis interesting: http://jesusforum [dot] wordpress [dot] com/2013/02/11/no-one-has-seen-the-father/


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