Eric: Hello, my name is Eric Wilson. The video you are about to see was recorded several weeks ago, but due to illness, I was not able to complete it until now. It will be the first of several videos analyzing the doctrine of the Trinity.
I’m doing the video with Dr. James Penton who is a professor of history, renown author of several scholarly tomes, a Bible scholar and an expert in religious studies. We felt it was time to pool our resources and examine a doctrine which for the great majority is the hallmark of Christianity. Do you feel that way? Does a person have to accept the Trinity to be counted by God as a Christian? This fellow certainly is of that opinion.
When did belief in the Trinity become the touchstone of Christianity? Jesus said that people would recognize true Christianity by the love Christians would show each other. Do Trinitarians have a long history of showing love for those who do not agree with them? We will let history answer that question.
Now others will say that it doesn’t really matter what we believe. You can believe what you want to believe, and I can believe what I want to believe. Jesus loves us all as long as we love him and each other.
If that were the case, then why did he tell the woman at the well, “an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23, 24 Christian Standard Bible)
God is looking for people who worship him in spirit and in truth. So, truth is vital.
But no one has all the truth. We all get things wrong.
True, but what spirit guides us? What motivates us to keep seeking truth and to not be satisfied with whatever pet theory is appealing at the moment?
Paul told the Thessalonians about those who lose out on salvation: “They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.” (2 Thessalonians 2:10)
Love, specifically, love of truth, must motivate us if we are to find favor with God.
Of course, when asked, everybody claims to love the truth. But let’s be brutally honest here. How many really do love it? If you’re a parent, do you love your children? I’m sure you do. Would you die for your children? I think most parents really would give up their own life to save their child.
Now, let me ask you this: Do you love truth? Yes. Would you die for it? Would you be willing to give up your life rather than sacrifice the truth?
Jesus did. Many Christians have done so. Yet, how many of those who call themselves Christian today would die for the truth?
Jim and I come from a belief system that describes itself as “the Truth”. A Jehovah’s Witness will routinely ask another JW whom they’ve only just met, “How long have you been in the Truth?”, or, “When did you learn the truth?” What they really mean to ask is how long that person has been a member of the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
They confuse loyalty to the organization with a love of truth. But put their love of truth to the test and, in my fairly extensive experience, the truth loses. Speak the truth to them and you get slander, insults and shunning in return. In short, persecution.
Persecuting those who speak the truth is hardly unique to Jehovah’s Witnesses. In fact, persecuting anyone because they disagree with your belief is a big, red flag, isn’t it? I mean, if you have the truth, if you’re in the right, doesn’t that speak for itself? No need to attack the person who disagrees. No need to burn them at the stake.
Now there are various versions of the Trinity doctrine and we’ll be looking at them all in this series of videos, but we’ll concentrate most of our attention on the one most commonly accepted across the broad range of Christian churches active today.
To be up front, Jim and I do not accept the Trinity, though we do accept that Jesus is divine. That means, in part, that we accept Jesus as a God based on our understanding of a variety of Scriptures which we’ll get into along the way. People will try to pigeonhole us, dismissing us disparagingly as Arians or Unitarians or even closet Jehovah’s Witnesses—out, but still in. None of that would be accurate.
I have found from experience that Trinitarians have a nifty little way to dismiss any attack on their belief. It is a sort of “thought-terminating cliché”. It goes like this: “Oh, you think the Father and the Son are separate Gods, do you? Isn’t that polytheism?”
Since polytheism is the form of worship associated with paganism, they attempt to end all discussion by putting anyone who doesn’t accept their teaching on the defensive.
But you might object that Trinitarians also polytheistic with their three-in-one version of God? Actually, no. They claim to be monotheists, like the Jews. You see, they only believe in one God. Three distinct and separate persons, but only one God.
They use this graphic to explain the doctrine: [Triangle from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinity]
This gives them only one being, yet that being isn’t a person, but three persons. How can one single being also be three persons? How do you wrap your mind around such a paradox. They recognize this as more that a human mind can grasp, but explain it as a divine mystery.
Now for those of us who put faith in God, we have no problem with mysteries we cannot understand as long as they are clearly stated in Scripture. We are not so arrogant as to suggest that if we cannot understand something then it cannot be true. If God tells us something is so, then it is so.
However, is the Trinity doctrine clearly expressed in Scripture in such a way that, though I do not understand it, I must accept it as true? I have heard Trinitarians make this assertion. Oddly enough, they don’t follow it up with a clear reference to such a scriptural declaration. Instead, what follows is a line of very human deductive reason. That doesn’t mean they are wrong about their deductions, but a clear statement in the Bible is one thing, while human interpretation is quite another.
Nevertheless, for Trinitarians there are only two possibilities, polytheism and monotheism with the former being pagan and the latter Christian.
However, that is a hasty generalization. You see, we do not get to set the terms of our worship. God does. God tells us how we are to worship him, and then we must find words to define what he says. As it turns out, neither “monotheism” nor “polytheism” adequately describes worship of Yehovah or Yahweh as proscribed in Scripture. I’m going to cut into a discussion that I had with Jim about this subject. I’ll lead into it by asking Jim this question:
“Jim, can you tell us whether someone has come up with a term that more accurately describes the relationship between the Father and the Son and our worship of them?
Jim: Yes I can.
There was a new term coined in 1860, the year before the American Civil War broke out by a man by the name of Max Muller. Now what he came up with was the term “henotheistic”. Now what does that mean? Heno, well, one God, but the idea basically is this: There was one and is one chief, supreme God, the God over all, and that God is usually called Yahweh or in an older form, Jehovah. But besides Yahweh or Jehovah, there were other beings who were known as gods, elohim. Now the word for God in Hebrew is elohim, but ordinarily when first looking at it would say hey, that is a plural God. In other words, it means more than one God. But when it’s supplied with singular verbs, it means one God, and this is a case of the system which is called the plural of Majesty. It’s like Queen Victoria used to say, “we are not amused”. Well, she was one but because she was a sovereign ruler, she used the plural for herself; and in the Scriptures, Yahweh or Jehovah usually is referred to as Elohim, God in the plural, but with verbs which are in the singular.
Now, when the word Elohim is used with plural verbs, that means Gods, and so, we’ll take a look at this as to whether it exists in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.
Eric: Thank you. So, the plurality is not determined by the noun, but by the verb tense.
Jim: That’s right.
Eric: Okay, so I actually found an example of that. To further prove the point, I’m going to show that now.
There are two things we need to consider regarding Elohim in Hebrew. The first is whether what Jim says is correct—that it is a grammatical construct, not indicating the plural, but rather a quality such as excellence or Majesty; and to determine that we need to go elsewhere in the Bible where we can find proof that is pretty much incontestable, and I think we can find that at 1 Kings 11:33. If we go to 1 Kings 11:33, we will find here in the BibleHub, which is an excellent resource for researching the Bible in multiple versions. Looking at 1 Kings 11:33 in the NIV Bible we have: “I will do this because they have forsaken me and worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess [singular] of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god [singular] of the Moabites, and Molek the god [singular] of the Ammonites…”
Okay, let’s look at how those singular nouns translated into English were placed in the original, and in the interlinear we find that each time the god or goddess is mentioned we have Elohim—430[e]. Again, “goddess” 430, Elohim, and here, “the god”, Elohim 430. Just to confirm—the Strong’s concordance—and we find that Elohim here is the word that is used in those three places. So, it seems pretty clear that we are dealing with a grammatical construct. However, the irony of it all is when someone who believes in the Trinity tries to promote the idea that the Godhead or the plurality of Yahweh—the three persons in one—was known, or at least hinted at in the Hebrew Scriptures by using Elohim, they’re actually giving the henotheists, such as Jim and I, an excellent foundation for our position, because trinitarianism is based on the whole premise that there is only one God. It is monotheistic; one God, three persons in one God. So, if Yahweh referred to as Elohim, Yahweh Elohim, Jehovah God, or Yahweh God is speaking about multiple gods, it follows that it’s speaking about henotheism, as Jim and I both accept and many as well like us, that Yahweh or YHWH is the creator, the Almighty God and under him his only begotten son is also a God. The “word is a God” and so Elohim works very nicely to support henotheist thought, and so, the next time someone is going to advance that to me, I think instead of making the grammatical argument, I’ll just say, “Yes, that’s wonderful. I accept that, and that proves our point—henotheism.” Anyways, just having a little fun there.
Before going on, you raised something that I think are our viewers are going to wonder about. You mentioned that Yahweh was a newer form and Jehovah was the older form of the translation of YHWH. Is that the case? Is Yahweh a more recent form?
Jim: Yes, it’s…and it is a form which is disputed, but it’s been generally accepted by the academic community as reflecting what the name must’ve been. But nobody knows, in reality. That’s only one good guess.
Eric: Right. I do know there’s a lot of debate about Jehovah. There’s a lot of people who think it was a false name, but really it maybe isn’t as close to the original pronunciation now as it was when it was first coined back to the 12th century. Or was it the 13th century? 1260, I think. I’m going from memory. You’d know better than I. But “J” at that time had a yah sound so.
Jim: Yes, As it does in German and Scandinavian languages, and probably Dutch to this very day. The “J” has “Y” sound. And of course that gets into the history of the use of “J” which we won’t do here.
Eric: Right. Very good. Thank you. Just wanted to cover that. I know we are going to get comments along that line, if we don’t address it now.
So, was there anything else you want to add about, I think there was something from Psalm 82 that you mentioned to me earlier that relates to this.
Jim: Yes, I’m glad that you raised that because that is a perfect example of henotheism as Max Muller would’ve explained it. It’s, ”I said ye are gods, and all of you are sons of the Most High.” That’s the actually not Psalm 82 verse 1 but going on to 6 and 7. It tells about God sitting in the congregation of God. He judges among the gods—”I said ye are gods and all of you are sons of the Most High.”
So, here is God sitting in the assembly of the gods; and there are a number of cases of this in the Psalms. I won’t bother to detail it here, but this gives the picture and sometimes, of course, gods may be false gods or righteous angels. Apparently, the term is applied to angels, and in some cases it’s applied to pagan gods or a pagan goddess—there’s one case is that in the Old Testament—and then it’s applied to angels, and even to men under certain circumstances.
Eric: Excellent. Thank you. Actually, there’s quite a list of Scriptures you put together. More than we can cover here. So, I’ve put them in a document and anyone who is interested in seeing the whole list…I’ll put a link in the description of this video so they can download the document and review it at their leisure.
Jim: That will be good.
Eric: Thank you. Given that all that you just said, is there any indication in the pre-Christian Scriptures, or what most people call the Old Testament, of Jesus as a God within the henotheistic arrangement?
Jim: Well, first let me say that as far back as in Genesis, there are two occasions where this principle of henotheism is very clear. One is in the pre-Noah account where the Scripture talks about the sons of God coming down and marrying the daughters of men. That’s one of the cases, the sons of God. Hence, they become gods in themselves or are seen as gods. These must be fallen angels according to the explanation in the apocryphal book of Enoch, and in 2 Peter. And so you have that, but the other very important one is in the book of Proverbs where it deals with the subject of wisdom. Now a lot of scholars will simply say, ‘Well, this…these are the characteristics of Yahweh and should not be indicative of a person or hypostasis”. But in point of fact as time went by, and particularly in the area of the New Testament, at the very beginning, and perhaps I should say even before, you get the some study of the whole matter of wisdom becoming personified, and this is in the book of wisdom, and also in the works of the Alexandrian Jew, Philo, who was a contemporary of Jesus Christ and he dealt with the term logos, which would indicate something the same as wisdom in the book of Proverbs and in the book of wisdom. Now why about this, or what about this, I should say? Well, the fact of the matter is that the word logos or logos, depending on whether you want to pronounce it as short or long O—the Jews or the Greeks in Christ’s day mix the two of them up all the time, so I guess I’m liberal to…at liberty to…do the same thing—and in any case, the term is in our English word “logic”, “logical” from logos or logos, and it carried the concept of rationality as well and therefore was very much like wisdom, and Philo down in Alexandria of Egypt saw wisdom and the logos as pretty much the same thing, and as a personality.
Many people have pointed to the fact that wisdom in Proverbs is feminine gender, but that didn’t bother Philo at all. He said, “Yes and that’s the case, but it could be understood as a masculine as well. Or at least as logos is masculine; so wisdom could be indicative of a masculine person or hypostasis.
Jim: Now, a lot of this is dealt with very clearly in the writings of the famous early Christian scholar Origin, and he deals with this at length. So, what you have here is something that existed specifically in and around the time of Jesus, and although the Pharisees accused Jesus of committing blasphemy for saying he was the son of God, he quoted directly from the Psalms and pointed out that gods were spoken of, numerous gods, and consequently he said, ‘It’s there. It’s written. You can’t doubt it. I’m not blaspheming at all. So, the idea was very much present in Christ’s time.
Eric: Right. Thank you. Actually, I’ve always thought that it was fitting to personify Christ and the pre-Christian or pre-existing Jesus as logos because, as wisdom, I mean, because as I understand it, wisdom can be defined as the practical application of knowledge. You know, I might know something but if I don’t do anything with the knowledge, I’m not wise; if I apply my knowledge, then I’m wise. And the creation of the universe through Jesus, by Jesus, and for Jesus, was the greatest manifestation of the practical application of knowledge there has ever been. So, wisdom personified fits perfectly with his role as God’s foremost worker, if you will, to use a term that comes from our old faith.
But was there something else you wanted add about that regarding…that you were taking from Philippians 2:5-8? You mentioned that to me earlier regarding the preexistence of Christ; cause there are those who doubt his preexistence, who think he came into existence only as a man, and before had never existed.
Jim: Yes. That position is taken up by a variety of groups, non-Trinitarian groups, and there are quite a few of them, and their argument is that Christ did not exist before his human existence. He didn’t exist in heaven, but the text in Philippians the second chapter says very specifically—and Paul is giving you the example of humility there where he’s writing about this—and he says that he did not attempt in effect—I’m paraphrasing here rather than quoting—he did not attempt to seize the position of the Father but humbled himself and took on the form of a man, even though he was in God; God’s form, in the form of the father. He didn’t attempt to usurp the position of God as Satan is held to have attempted, but rather accepted God’s plan and gave up his spiritual nature and came down to earth in the form of a man. This is very clear. If anyone wants to read the second chapter of Philippians. So, this clearly indicates preexistence to me, and I can’t find it very difficult to get around that.
And of course, there are other, many other scriptures that could be brought to bear. I have a book that was published by a couple of gentlemen who belong to the Church of God, Faith of Abraham, and they each try to do away with the idea of preexistence, saying, ‘Well this…this doesn’t fit Jewish thought, and I think that’s a terrible fallacy when you talk about Jewish thought or Greek thought or anybody else’s thought, because there are different points of view within any community and to suggest that no Hebrew ever thought of preexistence is simply nonsense. Certainly, Philo down in Egypt did, and he was a contemporary of Jesus Christ.
Jim: And they simply like to say that, ‘Well, this is God’s foretelling what would happen in the future’. And they don’t even wrestle with these passages that show preexistence.
Eric: Yeah. They are far too difficult to deal with so they ignore them. I wonder if what we’re seeing on the community that supports preexistence is similar to what we see in Jehovah’s Witnesses trying so hard to get away from the Trinity that they go to the other extreme. Witnesses make Jesus into just an angel, albeit an archangel, and these other groups make him into a human, never having preexisted. both are necessary…well, not necessary…but both are reactions to, I think, the Trinity doctrine, but overreacting; going too far the other way.
Jim: That’s right, and the Witnesses had done something over a period of time. Now, when I was young man in the Jehovah’s Witnesses. There was no doubt that there was great respect for Christ and for a long time, the witnesses would pray to Christ and give thanks to Christ; and in late years, of course, they’ve done away with that, and say you shouldn’t pray to Christ, you shouldn’t worship Christ. You should only worship the Father; and they’ve taken an extreme Jewish position. Now I’m referring to the Pharisees and the Jews who opposed Christ in taking that position, because there are lots of passages in the New Testament where it indicates, particularly in Hebrews, that the early Christians worshipped Christ as the son of the Father. So, they’ve moved too far in the other direction, and it seems to me that they were…that they are very much out of harmony with the New Testament.
Eric: They’ve gone so far as just last week’s Watchtower study, there was a statement that we shouldn’t love Christ too little and we shouldn’t love him too much. What a remarkably stupid statement to make; but it shows how they have relegated Christ to a kind of role-model status rather than his true position. And you and I have come to understand that he is divine. So, the idea that he’s not divine or not of God’s nature is not something we reject by any means, but there’s a difference between being divine and being God himself, and I think we get to that sticky Scripture now of John 1:1. So would you like to address that with us?
Jim: Yes, I would. This is a key Trinitarian Scripture and also a key non-Trinitarian Scripture. And if you look at biblical translations, there are many which referred to Jesus as God and others who…which referred to him as a God, and the particular Scripture is, in Greek is: En archē ēn ho Logos kai ho Logos ēn pros ton Theon kai Theos ēn ho Logos. And I can give you my own translation of that, and I think it reads: “in beginning was the Logos—the word, that is, because Logos does mean that among various other things—and the Logos was facing the God and God or a god was the word”.
Why do I translate to this as the Logos was facing God? Well, rather than the Logos was with God? Well, simply because the preposition in this case, pros, in Koine Greek doesn’t need exactly what “with” does in English, where you get the idea of “along with” or “in association with”. But the term means something less than that, or perhaps more than that.
And Helen Barrett Montgomery in her translation of John 1 through 3, and I’m reading some of this, is that she writes: “In the beginning was the word and the word was face to face with God and the Word was God.”
Now that’s a curious one. Pros means like face-to-face or apart from God and indicative of the fact that there were 2 persons there and not of the same substance and I’ll get into that later.
And interestingly, this was a publication, or came to be a publication of the American Baptist publication Society, so she was riding as a Trinitarian. And so was Charles B. Williams, and he has the word or the Logos saying face-to-face with God and like her, he’s, it’s quite evident, just quite evident that he’s a Trinitarian. A private translation in the language of the people in 1949 was assigned to the Moody Bible Institute for publication, and certainly those people were and are Trinitarians. So we’ve got all sorts of translations in English and in other languages, particularly German, that are…that say, well, “the Word was God”, and just about as many say, “and the word was a God”, or “the word was divine”.
A lot of scholars have been nervous and the reason for this is that in Greek when a word takes the definite article, and the definite article in English is “the”, and so we say “the god”, but in Greek, there was no “a god” in a literal sense. And the way they handled this…
Eric: No indefinite article.
Jim: That’s right, and the way they handled this was that there was no word for an indefinite article such as “a” or “an” in English and so often, when you see a noun without an article, without the definite article, you assume that in an English translation, it should be indefinite rather than definite. So when it says ”the Logos” earlier on in the Scripture with a definite article and yet but it goes on to say that the Logos was God, then there’s no definite article in front of that that term, “god”, and so you can assume from that in point of fact, you should translate this passage is “a God” rather than “the God”. And there are many translations that do that, but one has to be careful. One has to be careful. You can’t say that dogmatically because grammarians have shown that there are many instances where nouns without the definite article are still definite. And this argument goes on ad absurdum. And if you happen to be a Trinitarian, you’ll pound the desk and say, “Well, it’s a definite fact that when the Logos is referred to as God, it means he is one of the three persons of the Trinity, and therefore he is the God.” There are others who say, “Not at all”.
Well, if you looked at the writings of Origin, who is one of the greatest of the early Christian scholars, he would’ve lined up with the people who said, “a god” was correct, and he would be a supporter of the Jehovah’s Witness translation in which they have that “the word was a God”.
Jim: and…but we cann’t be dogmatic about that. It’s, it’s impossible to be dogmatic about it, and if you look at the Unitarians on one side and the Trinitarians on the other, they’ll fight about this and present all sorts of arguments, and the arguments go on ad absurdum. And you wonder about the various sides: If the postmodernists are correct when they say, “Well, it’s what the reader takes out of a written document rather than what the person who wrote the document intended”. Well, we can’t go that far.
But I would, I would suggest then that arguing over the grammatical nature of this text to John 1:1-3, it’s better to apply another means of studying this whole matter, and I suppose that’s because I particularly come at these things on the basis of my own academic training. I’m fundamentally a historian; my PhD was in history. Although I had a minor in religious studies at the time and have spent a great deal of time in studying not one religion, but many religions, and certainly the Scriptures; but I would argue that the way of approaching this is historical.
Jim: That puts these Scriptures, these passages in the context of what was going on in the 1st century, when Jesus Christ was alive and shortly after he had died; and the fact of this is that the doctrine of the Trinity did not come into existence, either full-blown or not full-blown, in the centuries after Christ died, and most scholars know this today. And random number of a number of good Catholic, outstanding Catholic scholars have recognized this.
Jim: I think it’s outstanding.
Eric: So, before moving into that—cause that’s really the main focus of this video, the history—just to clarify for everyone who gets kind of mired down in the John 1:1 discussion, I think is a widely accepted principle among those who study the Bible exegetically that if there is a passage which is ambiguous, which can be reasonably taken one way or another, then that passage cannot serve as proof but rather can only serve as support, once you’ve established a firm proof elsewhere.
So, John 1:1 would support a Trinitarian doctrine, if you can prove the Trinity elsewhere. It would support a henotheistic understanding, if we can prove that elsewhere. That’s what we’re going to do… well, we’re going to take three methods. This is part 1. We’ll probably have at least 2 more videos. One will examine the proof texts that Trinitarian’s use; another one will examine the proof texts that Aryans have used, but for now I think history is a very valuable way of establishing the foundation or the lack thereof of the Trinity doctrine. So, I’ll leave the floor open to you.
Jim: Let’s very good. I think it’s very clear that there was no doctrine of the Trinity in the first couple of centuries, not in the form at least that it exists today. Trinitarianism didn’t even come at the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. as many Trinitarians would have it. Actually, what we have at Nicaea is the acceptance of the doctrine of a…
Jim: Yes, 2 persons rather than 3. And the reason for this was they were concerned primarily about the relationship of the father and the son. The Holy Spirit wasn’t mentioned at this time at all, and so you had a binatarian doctrine developed there, not a Trinitarian, and that they arrived at this by the use of a particular term, “hamaucious”, which means of the same substance, and they argued that the father and the son were of the same substance.
Now this was introduced by the Emperor Constantine, and he was only a partial Christian, if you would say that. He wasn’t baptized until he was about ready to die. And that he committed many serious crimes, but he became someone who was positive towards Christianity, but he wanted it to be orderly, and so he decided that he’d have to put an end to the arguments that were going on. And he introduced this word and this was to the satisfaction of the Trinitarian party or the binatarian party as they were then, because they wanted to declare Arius, who was the person who didn’t want to accept this idea, as a heretic. And this was about the only way that they could declare him a heretic. And so they introduced this term which has become part of Catholic theology ever since at least from the standpoint of one party.
So, the Trinity is very late late. It comes in much later when they declared the Holy Spirit to be the 3rd person of the Trinity. And that’s 381.
Eric: And another Emperor was involved and that was, wasn’t he?
Jim: That’s right. Theodosius the Great.
Eric: So, he not only outlawed paganism but your outlawed Arianism or any non-Trinitarian…so, it was now against the law to believe that God wasn’t a Trinity.
Jim: That’s right, that’s right. It became illegal to be either a pagan or an Arian Christian and all of these positions were outlawed and persecuted, although Arianism remained out in the wilds of the Germanic tribes because the Arians that sent the missionaries out and converted most of the Germanic tribes that were conquering western Europe and the western portion of the Roman Empire.
Eric: Right, so let me get this straight, you got an idea that is not explicitly stated in Scripture and from historical writings was virtually unknown in first and second century Christianity; comes into being in a dispute in the church; was ruled on by a pagan emperor who wasn’t baptized at the time; and then you had Christians who didn’t believe it, he persecuted; and we are to believe that God didn’t use Jesus Christ nor the apostles to reveal this but rather used a pagan emperor who would then persecute those who disagreed.
Jim: That’s right, although later on he returned, he turned around and fell under the influence of an Arian Bishop and he was baptized ultimately by the Arians rather than by the Trinitarians.
Eric: Okay. The irony is this dripping.
Jim: Well, when we get for into this farther, you’ll discover that virtually all of the decisions that were made in theological councils were made with the support of the secular authorities, Roman emperors, and finally one of them was largely determined by one of the popes, and that dealt with the question of the incarnate Christ, who was to be seen and worshiped as wholly God and wholly man.
So, the determination of doctrine was not done by a united church at all. It was done by what came to be a united church or nearly united church under the auspices of secular authorities.
Eric: Right, thank you. So, just to kind of sum up our discussion today, I was watching a video of a Trinitarian explaining the doctrine, and he admitted that it was very difficult to understand, but he said “it doesn’t matter that I don’t understand it. It’s clearly stated in the Bible, so I just have to accept on faith what is completely stated.”
But from what you’re telling me, there is no evidence in the Bible, nor in the history of the nation of Israel prior to Christ, nor any community of Christianity up to the 3rd century of any clear indication of a Trinity.
Jim: That’s right, that’s right; and there is no clear support for it by councils of the church until 381. Pretty late. Pretty late. And in the Middle Ages, of course, the Eastern churches and the Western Roman church split, in part, over issues involving the Trinity. So, there never has been a united position on many things. We have groups like the Coptic Christians in Egypt and the Nestorians and so forth who were around throughout the Middle Ages who didn’t accept some of the ideas of the last council that dealt with the nature of Christ.
Eric: Right. There are some who will say, “Well, it doesn’t really matter whether you believe the Trinity are not. We’re all believers in Christ. It’s all good.”
I can see the point of view, but on the other hand, I’m thinking of John 17:3 that says that really the purpose of life, everlasting life, is to know God and to know the son of God, Jesus Christ, and if we are starting off our journey of knowledge on a false premise, on a weak and faulty craft foundation, we’re not going to get what we want to get. It’s better to start from a truth and then extend it.
So, this discussion is, I think, vital because knowing Jehovah God or Yahweh or YHWH, as you wish to call him, and knowing his son, Yeshua or Jesus, is fundamental really to our ultimate goal of being one with God in purpose and in mind and in heart and being the children of God.
Jim: Let me say this in closing, Eric: When you stop and think of the number of people over the centuries that have been put to death by Catholics, Roman Catholics, Greek orthodox, Calvinist Christians, followers of John Calvin’s the reformed movement, the Lutherans and the Anglicans, over the years that so many people have been put to death for refusing to accept the doctrine of the Trinity. It’s shocking! Of course, the best known case is that of the burning at the stake of Servetus in the 16th century, because of his denial of the Trinity; and although John Calvin didn’t want him burned at the stake, he wanted to be headed, and it was the Council or the secular group in control at Geneva that decided he had to be burned at the stake. And there were many others who…Jews who were forced to convert to Catholicism in Spain and then relapsed and went back to Judaism—some of them actually were practicing Jews and Jewish rabbis—but in order to protect themselves outwardly, they became Catholic priests, which was a real strange one, and many of these persons, if they were caught, they were executed. It was a terrible thing. Unitarians whether they—there were various types of them—but who denied the Trinity, they were prosecuted in England and were outlawed until the 19th century; and a number of very outstanding scholars were anti-Trinitarians: John Milton, Sir Isaac Newton, John Locke, and later on in the 19th century, the man who discovered oxygen—his home and library were destroyed by a mob and he had to flee to the United States where he was taken in by Thomas Jefferson.
So, what you have is a doctrine which all kinds of people have questioned and the unloving actions of Trinitarians have been outrageous. Now, that isn’t to say that some Unitarians have been less than Christian in their behavior, as we well know. But the fact is, it is been a doctrine which is been defended often by the stake, burning at the stake. And this is the horrible thing because the fact is that when you look at modern day churchgoers. The average person going to church, whether it’s a Catholic, an Anglican, a reformed church goer… many, many others…they don’t understand, the people don’t understand the doctrine and I have had a number of clergy tell me that on Trinity Sunday, which is part of the church calendar, they don’t know what to do with it because they don’t understand it either.
Very difficult, very difficult doctrine to get your head around.
Eric: So, I get to hear the truth, we need go no further than Jesus’ words in Matthew 7 where he says, “By their works you will know these men.” They can talk a good talk, but their works reveal their true spirit. Is it the spirit of God guiding them to love or is the spirit of Satan guiding them to hate? That perhaps is the biggest determining factor for anyone truly seeking knowledge and wisdom in this regard.
Jim: Well, the history of this particular doctrine has been awful.
Eric: Yes, so it has.
Jim: Is really has.
Eric: Well, thank you so much Jim appreciate your time and I thank everyone for watching. We will be back again in part 2 of this series as soon as we can put all our research together. So, I’ll say goodbye for now.
Jim: And good evening