(Be warned, tonight’s entry is looooooooooooooong)
I have read had numerous discussions with Jehovah’s Witnesses. I have talked to Arians in various other places in various other forms. I have read a number of arguments against the Trinity. I do not think I have seen anything as profoundly ignorant, and I honestly mean that, as Tim Spiess of JesusFamilies.org on the Trinity.
The above is a link to the article on the website. The website was brought to my attention by a new member on the theology forum that I belong to. Now when I first read some of the writer’s stuff, I thought he was just crazy. However, I then read this article. I take the Trinity quite seriously and I must remember not to eat and drink while reading such stuff again for I thought I would choke a few times. The arguments were that bad. Spiess shows no understanding whatsoever of the Trinity. He does not address Trinitarian arguments and he does not show Trinitarian sources. Let’s start with this line he uses.
“Clearly one of Jesus’ main missions on his first coming was to reveal his Father as well as himself as the Messiah. If this be so, how can confusion and contradiction remain regarding knowing who Jesus is and who his Father is? We are not talking about an infinite aspect of God’s nature, but rather the issue of who God is. In the above sayings of Jesus, he CLEARLY distinguishes between his Father and himself.”
Bad news Tim. Trinitarians agree! Jesus is not the Father! He has fallen into the first major error that it seems all anti-Trinitarians make. They tend to always assume unipersonalism. By that, I mean that they assume that if God exists, he must be one person so that if you have one person referring to another as God, then the Trinity is refuted, or if Jesus distinguishes himself from the Father, which he does, then the Trinity is refuted.
This is simply begging the question. It cannot be held as an argument against Trinitarianism that more than one person is called God when Trinitarians agree. It cannot be called an argument against Trinitarianism when Jesus distinguishes himself from the Father. Trinitarians agree. Tim goes on though:
The most common version of the trinity doctrine states that “God is three separate persons yet is one Person; there is one God, yet this God is manifest in three Persons – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.” Here is Dallas Theological Seminary’s definition of the trinity, “We believe that the Godhead eternally exists in three persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—and that these three are one God, having precisely the same nature, attributes, and perfections, and worthy of precisely the same homage, confidence, and obedience (Matt. 28:18–19; Mark 12:29; John 1:14; Acts 5:3–4; 2 Cor. 13:14; Heb. 1:1–3; Rev. 1:4–6).”
I don’t know which version of the Trinity he’s reading, but it’s not one that I’ve heard of. I do not know any Trinitarian who knows what they’re talking about (I hate to say that for the church has lacked embracing the doctrine of the Trinity and many churchgoers are unaware of the proper idea of the doctrine and if pressed, would probably hold a more modalist view.) who would use that definition. He then brings up the DTS statement, which I would agree with. How can he say the contradictory view is the common view then? It is just horrendous to think that he says that we think three persons are one person. He continues this nonsense further.
Obviously the phrase “that these three [persons] are one God” is contradictory, in terms of reasoning and logic – 1 is 1, not 3. How can God be three Persons and those three persons also be one Person? A mild equivocation on this would be, “God is three persons yet one God”. Well, does God have the attributes of a Person e.g. communicates in a rational language; can reason, knows right from wrong, etc.? If the answer is “yes”, then you are right back at a pure contradiction instead of a guised contradiction. If you don’t like the term “person”, it does not change the basic contradiction, for it remains in statements like, “God is three, and yet these three beings are one being”; or, “God is three, yet He is also one.” No matter how you state it, what is being said is that three equals one.
“I am willing to believe that which I cannot see,
but I am not willing to believe that one equals three.”
I would that if Tim were going to write against us, he would just take one obvious idea. We are not equals. Arius was wrong, but he was educated and I do not think we could say he was an idiot. Most JWs I meet are intelligent people. They’ve just been duped into believing something false. However, it’s not contradictory. Just wrong. (It does contradict Scripture of course though.)
Trinitarians do not say 1 = 3. For Tim to say the Trinity is an obvious contradiction is not for Tim to reveal the Trinity doctrine as much as it is for him to reveal himself. We say that there are three persons and one being. We do not say three persons and one person or three beings and one being. Tim should at least check his sources. Does he not think anyone in church history ever stood up and said “Hey guys! I’ve just come to a conclusion! 1 is not equal to 3!” He would have been laughed at for his misunderstanding. Tim continues with a light idea of Trinitarian texting that shows that he most likely has not read any real book on the Trinity. (Pick up a copy of Robert Morey’s “The Trinity: Evidence and Issues.”)
Ask a Trinitarian for all the verses that plainly and clearly support the Trinitarian view. At the most, you will get maybe ten verses, and in fact there is not one verse in the entire bible that plainly states that God is three yet One [unless you point to 1 John 5:7, which is not found in ANY Greek manuscript before 1,000 AD...shouldn't this fact cause one to ponder a bit?]. If you take away the 5 or so inferential verses, then there are about 3 or 4 verses that are used to establish the Trinitarian doctrine. Yet how many verses clearly contradict the Trinitarian view? There are hundreds. This is not a matter of a few verses clarifying or modifying a scriptural precept. Rather, it is a matter of hundreds of verses contradicting less than half a dozen. The burning question that needs to be answered is why do people cling to the half dozen or so, and reject the hundreds?
Tim needs to read church history some and realize how exegetical the Fathers were. They would have been amazed at the idea that there were hundreds of verses against the Trinity. I find the mention of 1 John 5:7 amazing. (Hardly any of us are surprised to hear that it’s most likely an add-on by a later author. Someone who doesn’t realize we study textual criticism though will jump up and down like they’ve found our achilles’ heel.)
God is either One, or not – this is a very simple and clear proposition. Should we rely on non-scriptural philosophies and psychological theories about the divided nature of God? When the Son says, “‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?‘” (Matt. 27:46), why can’t we receive the plain meaning? Why must we instead run to strange psycho-philosophical, “dual nature” explanations? Perhaps because we are hanging onto a tradition of men?
Sorry Tim. While multiple persons share the nature of God, they are not divided so that one person is 33.3% God any more than human nature is “divided” whenever anyone is born. I can also take the Scripture plainly as it is. When read plainly, it does not contradict Trinitarianism. Jesus calls the Father God and refers to him as his God. No joke! Jesus was a servant. Was he supposed to serve another besides YHWH?!
Please consider the following three syllogisms:
1. The trinity doctrine is contradictory, and if we believe it, we accept contradictions in the scripture about who God is. If we can accept contradictions in the scripture about who God is – a seemingly very important matter – then we should be able to accept contradictions about “lesser” doctrine.
For the record, this is not a syllogism in anyway that I can see. A syllogism has three propositions and only three terms that are each used twice. Tim is simply arguing from his mistaken assumption that his attempt to back was miserable.
2. God is infinite, thus we cannot really understand Him. Yet, we can know at some level, that He is infinite because we have language to express and communicate this truth – if this were not so, you could not comprehend what I just wrote. If we have language to have some understanding about even His infinite characteristics, should we not also be able to understand His revelation to us in His Son about Himself, and who He is?
If this is true, then His revealing of Himself should not contain contradictions, just like any other “major” doctrine in the scriptures.
While this is true, he has yet to show the view is contradictory.
3. The trinity doctrine is inherently contradictory e.g. God is Three yet One; and causes many scriptural contradictions. If the scripture teaches the trinity doctrine, then the scripture has contradictions about the most basic of things, who God is. Thus, either the trinity doctrine is wrong, or the scripture has contradictions about who God is.
Believing the trinity doctrine causes the person sincerely seeking truth to either accede that the scripture has contradictions regarding a self-professed “major” doctrine regarding God’s Person; or to conclude that the trinity doctrine is error; or both.
If this was true, he’d have a point, but the Trinity does not contradict itself or Scripture.
Now let’s turn to his use of Scripture.
The Trinitarian view is that while they (the Father and the Son) are separate persons, yet they are the same God. This view is irrational and contradictory and there are many hundreds of verses that plainly state that Jesus and his Father are not the same person. These verses, when using one step of deduction, contradict the trinity. In addition to these hundreds of verses, there are dozens of verses that without deduction plainly and positively contradict the Trinitarian concept of Jesus being the Most High God.
Does Tim even read what he says? He said earlier that the Trinitarian view is that God is three persons and one and he is now saying that the view says that Jesus and the Father are separate persons. He then says there are many verses that state Jesus and his Father are not the same person! Of course there are! That’s what we argue against! It’s modalism! I really find it saddening when someone rejects a doctrine and they’re just clueless on it, especially one that their soul rests on like the Trinity.
So what verses does he use?
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit up into the wilderness, to be tempted by the Devil.” (Matthew 4:1)
James 1:13, says in part, “for God cannot be tempted by evil”. Jesus was tempted by the devil to do evil, so Jesus cannot be God the Most High.
Check the wording on this one. The word for tempted refers to temptations from within. Jesus was tempted from without. Five minutes with a Vine’s would have cleared this up.
“Jesus said to them, “
You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.” (Matthew 20:23)
So Jesus, being God, has not the authority to grant places of honor for his servants? Doesn’t it seem fairly obvious that this “Father”, that Jesus speaks of is “greater than” Jesus? And if Jesus is the Most High God, how could that be?
It’s quite simple. Jesus is the servant and while he is equal in essence, he does subject himself to the authority of the Father. Yet 1 Cor. 15:28 says there will be a time when the Son himself will be subject. (Which means he isn’t subject now. How does Tim explain that?)
Why do you call me good? No one is good but One, that is, God“. (Mark 10:18)
Jesus, sinless, yet in his humility, flatly denied that he was the Most High God. As always, he honored his Father above himself.
He did not deny it. He asked the man to see his own assumptions. He’s calling Jesus good and saying “That’s the title for God. Are you willing to give me that devotion?” Furthermore, if Jesus isn’t God, then he isn’t good. If he isn’t good, why trust him with my salvation?
Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” (Mark 14:36).
It is possible for the One Perfect God’s will to be divided?
The Trinitarian view is that Christ had a human nature and that nature was not looking forward to the cross, but it did willingly submit. Without a human will, he would not be fully human. If this is what Trinitarianism teaches, it cannot be an argument against it.
“‘My God, My God, why have your forsaken Me?‘” (Matt. 27:46)
God the Most High, has a God? The Most High God can forsake Himself?
Assumption of unipersonalism again. One person who is God talked with another person who is. This is what Trinitarianism teaches again, so it cannot be an argument against it.
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father“. (Mark 13:32)
Jesus is the Most High God, but does not know something that his Father knows? A Trinitarian will cite verses to try and prove that Jesus is omniscient, yet how does the truth in this verse fit into that belief?
I will grant that this one I could understand someone having a hard time with. However, based on Philippians 2, we understand that Jesus being the servant forsook divine prerogative to use his attributes. He would not be privy to such knowledge as a human. Note though that if there are verses that say Jesus knows all things, which there are, then Tim needs to explain those.
“And Jesus answered and said to him, ‘It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God‘” (Luke 4:12)
Jesus resisted Satan’s temptation by saying that it would be sinful for him to tempt his Father. God can tempt Himself?
Again, Tim has the assumption of unipersonalism. Jesus came as a servant and he lived as a servant.
“Now it came to pass in those days that He (Jesus) went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God” (Luke 6:12).
The Most High God prays to Himself? The verse does not say, ‘Jesus talked with his Father’, but rather that he prayed to his God.
Which Trinitarians agree with. Jesus prayed to the Father because he is not the Father.
“Jesus asked him, saying, ‘What is your name?‘ And he said, ‘Legion,’ because many demons had entered him.” (Luke 8:30)
God can ask questions to elicit confessions from sinful men (“Adam, where are you?”) But what is the purpose of God asking a demon his name if he cannot repent of anything? In this instance, Jesus did not know his name, and yet the Most High God knows all things.
This one is just inane. What was the purpose of God asking Job questions if he could not answer them?
“And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as my Father bestowed one upon me“. (Luke 22:29)
The Most High God bestowed a kingdom upon Himself? Didn’t God already have control over all Kingdoms?
Nope. Jesus came as the servant and by living as a servant earned the right to be called Lord as Acts 2:36 declares. Again, the assumption of unipersonalism is intense.
“And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, he said, ‘Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit‘”. Having said this, he breathed his last.” (Luke 23:46)
God is spirit. The Holy Spirit is God’s spirit. Whose spirit was committed into the hands of the Father? If it was Jesus’, then there is division even in the spirit of God?
This is speaking of Jesus as a human. He was offering himself up to the Father as a perfect sacrifice and trusting himself to him.
“No one has seen God at any time.” (John 1:18 & 1 John 4:12)
What more can be said?
Isaiah 6, Exodus 24: 9-11, The Angel of the Lord passages, etc. There are numerous times in the Scripture that someone saw God. I would suggest he look at Spiros Zodhiates in “Was Christ God?” I’d also recommend a good commentary. (That follows on all of these verses)
“God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24)
Jesus teaches that, “God is spirit”, not that God is flesh, and thus the truth that “No one has seen God at any time”.
Trintiarians say that Jesus is God. They do not say that the body of Jesus is God.
If you loved me, you would rejoice because I said, ‘I am going to the Father’, for my Father is greater than I.” (John 14:28)
If Jesus is truly the Most High God, equal with his Father, than how can his Father be “greater” than he, in any respect? This is especially true in this context, as the context speaks nothing about physical things or his physical nature.
This greater is in function and not in nature. It’s the same way a husband is greater than his wife. In fact, there has to be some idea of comparison in mind even for the need to be said. Why do I need to say the Father is greater than I? It’s obvious. Jesus has shown great similarities just now though such as John 14:1 and John 14:9.
“But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break his legs.” (John 19:33)
The Almighty God, God the Most High, the Eternal One, died?
Yes. Death does not mean the cessation of existence. (If it does, Tim needs to explain Col. 1:17 and Hebrews 1:2.) The soul of Jesus was separated from the body of Jesus. What’s the problem?
I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.” (John 20:17)
Jesus is ascending to his “God”. How can the Most High God have a God?
Assumption of unipersonalism again.
“Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.” (1 Cor. 15:28)
Jesus will be made subject to God in the final consummation. How can the Most High God be made subject to Himself?
Will be. How does Tim explain that he is not now. Again, this assumes unipersonalism also.
“But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, ‘Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” (Acts 7:55-56)
How is it that the Most High God is either seated or standing next to Himself?
Can we all say it together now? Assumption of unipersonalism.
“…having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” (Heb. 1:4)
What does the Most High God need to inherit? Doesn’t He already own all things? The Most High God needed to obtain a more excellent name than the angels?
Jesus showed his right to be rule on this Earth by living the perfect life in submission to the Father. He has not just flaunted himself for all eternity as it were. His divine life and teaching show that he can rightly sit on the throne of David.
“Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions.” (Heb. 1:9)
Again, God the Most High has a God? Would it not be more reasonable to say that there is the Most High God, the Father, and His God-like Son?
No it wouldn’t. Notice also before this that the Son IS called God. There is a logos doctrine implicit throughout Hebrews. (The same doctrine in the Johannine prologue)
“…though He was a Son, yet he learned obedience by the things which he suffered. And having been perfected…” (Heb. 5:8-9)
The Most High God needed to learn obedience? To whom? The Most High God needed to be perfected?
As a man, Jesus fully lived the human experience. Jesus never needed to experience obedience in Heaven as he did on Earth or learn in Heaven as he did on Earth.
“Then he (Jesus, the Lamb OF God) came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him (God the Father) who sat on the throne.” (Rev. 5:7)
The Most High God is taking a scroll from the Most High God?
All together now. We can all say it. (Note also that in Rev. 5:13-14, all creation worships him who sits on the throne and the lamb. The lamb is not included in the creation.)
Tim is done with Scripture so he then concludes:
This author has had quite a few people respond to this article who try to defend the trinity doctrine. Their main argument is that I can’t see that Jesus is both man and God, and if I would just see this ‘truth’, then I could see the trinity doctrine. My first response is that I was a trinitarian for 10 years and I had accepted that belief without questioning it.
Not only without questioning it, but without thinking about it. All of these are basic arguments really. Tim has not done any real study on the subject and he’s revealed that greatly.
The philosophy-teachings of the dual nature works quite well in defending the trinity doctrine, for one just switches back and forth between Jesus being man and God, depending upon the scripture passage being looked at. Unfortunately for the trinitarian, Jesus does NOT teach the dual nature concept. For the above citations of scripture, the trinitarian says that those passages refer to Jesus as man, not as God. The trinitarian just assumes the dual nature teaching and then fits the scripture into this teaching. Again, the problem with this is that the dual nature teaching/philosophy is not only NOT taught by Jesus, but in fact has no scriptural basis, but rather has contemporary psychological philosophy as its roots. Jesus nowhere says that he and his Father are the same person, and in fact, Jesus repeatedly – hundreds of times – distinguishes between himself and his Father as two separate people. As Jesus taught in John 4:24, God is spirit, and he no where qualified this to say that God as some point would also be flesh. John taught that Jesus manifest the Father, NOT THAT JESUS WAS THE FATHER. “God is spirit” is Jesus’ teaching regarding the nature of his Father, the Most High God. Only men wanting to justify their pet doctrines and nullify that truth say, ‘no, God is not just spirit, he is also flesh for he has a dual nature’.
Contemporary psychological philosophy? Where does he get this? This has been going on since the start of Christianity. It’s hardly anything contemporary. Again, Tim wants to stress that Jesus is not the Father. WE AGREE! (People. Someone who wants to say he’s making a case against the Trinity when he is clearly ignorant of it needs to be ashamed at this point.)
After much other nonsense that is the same-old, same-old, Tim makes this plea:
This author will fellowship with those who believe the Trinitarian view, and will not look at it as a high priority to convince them otherwise. Does this attitude extend the other way? In other words, will those who hold to the Trinitarian belief accept this author as a brother in the Lord when they find out that this author rejects the Trinitarian view? If they will not accept this author, but rather condemn him as a heretic or some other nasty label – and this in spite of the fact that this author has hundreds of scripture verses that support his belief – then what does that say about the Trinitarian belief and those who hold it so tightly?
Tim. I would be a friend, but I would NOT worship with you. Why? It’s simple. You do not worship the same Jesus I do. You do not worship the same God I do. I say Jesus is my Lord and God and you do not. How can there be any point of contact between us? You have zero verses to support your belief and it’s a shame.
Are you a heretic? Yes. You are. I make no bones about it. Why? Because Jesus came and said who he was and you deny him. Thus, you make the Son out to be a liar. What does it say about people like myself who hold that belief so tightly? It says that we value the Son and who he is and will do all we can in support of that.