In my last video on the Trinity, we examined the role of Holy Spirit and determined that whatever it actually is, it is not a person, and so could not be the third leg in our three-legged Trinity stool. I got a lot of staunch defenders of the Trinity doctrine attacking me, or specifically my reasoning and Scriptural findings. There was a common accusation which I found to be revealing. I was often accused of not understanding the Trinity doctrine. They seemed to feel that I was creating a strawman argument, but that if I really understood the Trinity, then I would see the flaw in my reasoning. What I find interesting is that this accusation is never accompanied by a clear, concise explanation of what these ones feel the Trinity really is. The Trinity doctrine is a known quantity. Its definition has been a matter of public record for 1640 years, so I can only conclude that they have their own personal definition of the Trinity which differs from the official one first published by the Bishops of Rome. It’s either that or unable to defeat the reasoning, they are just resorting to mud slinging.
When I first decided to do this video series on the Trinity doctrine, it was with the intention of helping Christians to see that they are being misled by a false teaching. Having spent the bulk of my life following the teachings of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, only to realize in my senior years that I had been deceived, has given me powerful motivation to unmask falsehood wherever I find it. I know from personal experience just how hurtful such lies can be.
However, when I learned that four out of five American Evangelists believe that ”Jesus was the first and greatest being created by God the Father” and that 6 out of 10 think the Holy Spirit is a force and not a person, I began to think that maybe I was beating a dead horse. After all, Jesus cannot be a created being and also be fully God and if the Holy Spirit is not a person, then there is no trinity of three persons in one god. (I’m putting a link in the description of this video to the resource material for that data. It’s the same link that I put in the previous video.)
The realization that the majority of Christians may be labelling themselves Trinitarian so as to be accepted by other members of their particular denomination, while at the same time not accepting the core tenets of trinitarianism, made me realize that a different approach is called for.
I’d like to think that many Christians share my desire to fully and accurately know our Heavenly Father. Of course, that is the goal of a lifetime—an eternal lifetime based on what John 17:3 tells us—but we want to make a good start of it, and that means beginning on a solid foundation of truth.
So, I will still be looking at the Scriptures that hardcore Trinitarians use to support their belief, but not just with a view to showing the flaw in their reasoning, but more than that, with a view to helping us better understand the true relationship that exists between the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.
If we are going to do this, let’s do it right. Let’s start with a foundation that we can all agree upon, one that fits the facts of Scripture and nature.
To do that, we have to strip away all our bias and preconceptions. Let us start with the terms “monotheism”, “henotheism”, and “polytheism”. A Trinitarian will consider himself to be a monotheist because he believes in only one God, albeit a God made up of three persons. He will allege that the nation of Israel was also monotheistic. In his eyes, monotheism is good, while henotheism and polytheism are bad.
Just in case we are not clear on the meaning of these terms:
Monotheism is defined as “the doctrine or belief that there is only one God”.
Henotheism is defined as “the worship of one god without denying the existence of other gods.”
Polytheism is defined as “the belief in or worship of more than one god.”
I want us to throw these terms out. Get rid of them. Why? Simply because if we pigeon-hole our position even before we start our research, we will be closing our minds to the possibility that there is something more out there, something that none of these terms adequately encompasses. How can we be sure that any one of these terms accurately describes the true nature and worship of God? Maybe none of them do. Maybe they all miss the mark. Perhaps, when we finish our research, we’ll need to invent a whole new term to accurately represent our findings.
Let us start out with a clean slate, because entering any research with a preconception exposes us to the danger of “confirmation bias”. We could easily, even unwittingly, overlook evidence that contradicts our preconception and give undue weight to evidence that may seem to support it. In doing so, we could well miss out on finding a greater truth that we had hitherto never even considered.
Okay, so here we go. Where should we start? You probably think that a good place to start is at the beginning, in this case, the beginning of the universe.
The first book of the Bible opens with this statement: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1 King James Bible)
However, there’s a better place to start. If we are going to understand something of the nature of God, we will have to go back to before the beginning.
I’m going to tell you something now, and what I’m going to tell you is false. See if you can pick up on it.
“God existed at a moment in time before the universe came into existence.”
That seems like a perfectly logical statement, doesn’t it? It is not, and here’s why. Time is such an intrinsic part of life that we give its nature little to no thought. It simply is. But what exactly is time? For us, time is a constant, a slave master that propels us relentlessly forward. We are like objects floating in a river, carried downstream by the speed of the current, unable to slow it down or speed it up. We all exist at one fixed moment in time. The “me” that exists now as I utter each word ceases to exist with each passing moment to be replaced by the present “me”. The “me” that existed at the start of this video is gone never to be replaced. We cannot go back in time, we are carried forward with it at the movement of time. We all exist from moment to moment, only at one instant of time. We think that we are all caught up in the same stream of time. That each second that passes for me is the same one that passes for you.
Einstein came along and suggested that time wasn’t this unchangeable thing. He theorized that both gravity and speed can slow time down- that if a man were to take a journey out to the nearest star and back again travelling very close to the speed of light, time would slow down for him. Time would continue for all those he left behind and they would age ten years, but he’d return having aged only a few weeks or months depending on the speed of his travel.
I know that seems too strange to be true, but scientists have since conducted experiments to confirm that time does indeed slow down based on gravitational attraction and speed. (I’ll put some references to this research in the description of this video for those of a scientific bent who want to go further into it.)
My point in all this is that contrary to what we would consider to be ‘common sense’, time is not a constant of the universe. Time is mutable or alterable. The speed at which time moves can change. This indicates that time, mass, and speed are all interrelated. They are all relative to each other, hence the name of Einstein’s theory, the Theory of Relativity. We’ve all heard of the Time-Space Continuum. To put this another way: no physical universe, no time. Time is a created thing, just as matter is a created thing.
So, when I said, “God existed at a moment in time before the universe came into existence”, I laid a false premise. There was no such thing as time before the universe, because the flow of time is part of the universe. It is not separate from the universe. Outside of the universe there is no matter and there is no time. Outside, there is only God.
You and I exist inside of time. We cannot exist outside of time. We are bound by it. Angels also exist within the restraints of time. They are different from us in ways we don’t understand, but it seems they too are part of the creation of the universe, that the physical universe is only part of creation, the part we can perceive, and that they are bound by time and space as well. At Daniel 10:13 we read about an angel sent in response to Daniel’s prayer. He came to Daniel from wherever he was, but he was held up for 21 days by an opposing angel, and was only freed when Michael, one of the foremost angels came to his aid.
So the laws of the created universe govern all created beings that were created in the beginning of which Genesis 1:1 refers.
God, on the other hand, exists outside of the universe, outside of time, outside of all things. He is subject to no thing and no one, but all things are subject to him. When we say that God exists, we are not speaking about living forever in time. We are referring to a state of being. God…simply…is. He is. He exists. He doesn’t exist from moment to moment as you and I do. He simply is.
You may have difficulty understanding how God can exist outside of time, but understanding is not required. Accepting that fact is all that is required. As I said in the previous video of this series, we are like a man born blind who has never seen a ray of light. How can a blind man like that understand that there are colors like red, yellow, and blue? He cannot understand them, nor can we describe those colors to him in any way that will allow him to grasp their reality. He must simply take our word that they exist.
What name would a being or entity who exists outside of time take for himself? What name would be unique enough that no other intelligence would have a right to it? God himself gives us the answer. Turn please to Exodus 3:13. I’ll read from World English Bible.
Moses said to God, “Behold, when I come to the children of Israel, and tell them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you;’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ What should I tell them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM,” and he said, “You shall tell the children of Israel this: ‘I AM has sent me to you.'” God said moreover to Moses, “You shall tell the children of Israel this, ‘Yahweh, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and this is my memorial to all generations.” (Exodus 3:13-15 WEB)
Here he gives his name twice. The first is “I am” which is ehyeh in Hebrew for “I exist” or “I am”. Then he tells Moses that his forefathers knew Him by the Name YHWH, which we translate as “Yahweh” or “Jehovah” or possibly, “Yehowah”. Both these words in Hebrew are verbs and are expressed as verb tenses. This is a very interesting study and merits our attention, however others have done an excellent job of explaining this, so I won’t reinvent the wheel here. Instead, I’ll put a link in the description of this video to two videos that will provide you with the information you need to better understand the meaning of God’s name.
Suffice it to say that for our purposes today, only God can hold the name, “I exist” or “I am”. What right does any human have to such a name? Job says:
“Man, born of woman,
Is short-lived and filled with trouble.
He comes up like a blossom and then withers away;
He flees like a shadow and disappears.”
(Job 14:1, 2 NWT)
Our existence is far too ephemeral to warrant such a name. Only God has always existed, and will always exist. Only God exists beyond time.
As an aside, let me state that I use the name Jehovah to refer to YHWH. I prefer Yehowah because I think it is closer to the original pronunciation, but a friend helped me to see that if I use Yehowah, then for the sake of consistency, I should refer to Jesus as Yeshua, since his name contains the divine name in the form of an abbreviation. So, for the sake of consistency rather than accuracy of pronunciation in line with the original languages, I’ll use “Jehovah” and “Jesus”. In any case, I don’t believe that the precise pronunciation is an issue. There are those who raise a great fuss over the proper pronunciation, but in my opinion many of those people are really trying to get us to not use the name at all, and quibbling over the pronunciation is a ruse. After all, even if we knew the exact pronunciation in ancient Hebrew, the vast majority of the world’s population could not use it. My name is Eric but when I go to a Latin American country, few are the people who can pronounce it correctly. The final “C” sound is dropped or sometimes substituted with an “S”. It will sound like “Eree” or “Erees”. It is foolish to think that the proper pronunciation is what really matters to God. What matters to him is that we understand what the name represents. All names in Hebrew have meaning.
Now I want to pause for a moment. You may think all this talk about time, and names, and existence is academic and not really critical to your salvation. I would suggest otherwise. Sometimes the most profound truth is hidden in plain sight. It has been there all along, in full view, but we never understood it for what it really was. That is what we are dealing with here, in my opinion.
I will explain by restating the principles we’ve just discussed in point form:
- Jehovah is eternal.
- Jehovah has no beginning.
- Jehovah exists before time and outside of time.
- The heavens and the earth of Genesis 1:1 had a beginning.
- Time was part of the creation of the heavens and the earth.
- All things are subject to God.
- God cannot be subject to anything, including time.
Would you agree with these seven statements? Take a moment, ponder them and consider it. Would you consider them to be axiomatic, that is to say, self-evident, unquestionable truths?
If so, then you have all you need to dismiss the Trinity doctrine as false. You have all you need also to dismiss the Socinian teaching as false. Given that these seven statements are axioms, God cannot exist as a Trinity nor can we say that Jesus Christ only came into existence in the womb of Mary as Socinians do.
How is it that I can say that accepting these seven axioms eliminates the possibility of those widespread teachings? I’m sure the Trinitarians out there will accept the axioms just stated while at the same time stating that they in no way impact the Godhead as they perceive it.
Fair enough. I’ve made an assertion, so I now need to prove it. Let’s start with the full implication of point 7: “God cannot be subject to anything, including time.”
The idea that may be clouding our perception is the misunderstanding about what is possible for Jehovah God. We usually think that all things are possible for God. After all, doesn’t the Bible actually teach that?
“Looking them in the face, Jesus said to them: “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”” (Matthew 19:26)
Yet, in another place, we have this apparently contradictory statement:
“…it is impossible for God to lie…” (Hebrews 6:18)
We should be happy that it is impossible for God to lie, because if he can lie, then he can also do other evil things. Imagine an all-powerful God who can commit immoral acts like, oh, I don’t know, torturing people by burning them alive, then using his power to keep them alive while he burns them over and over again, never allowing them any escape forever and ever. Yikes! What a nightmare scenario!
Of course, the god of this world, Satan the Devil, is evil and if he were all-powerful, he would likely relish such a scenario, but Jehovah? No way. Jehovah is just and righteous and good and more than anything, God is love. So, he cannot lie because that would make him immoral, wicked, and evil. God cannot do anything that corrupts his character, limits him in any way, nor makes him subject to anyone or anything. In short, Jehovah God cannot do anything that would diminish him.
Yet, Jesus words about all things being possible for God are also true. Look at the context. What Jesus is saying is that nothing God wants to accomplish is beyond his ability to accomplish. No one can set a limit on God because for him all things are possible. Therefore a God of love who wants to be with his creation, as he was with Adam and Eve, will create a means of doing that, that in no way limits his divine nature by subjecting himself in any way to anything.
So, there you have it. The last piece of the puzzle. Do you see it now?
I didn’t. For many years I failed to see it. Yet like so many universal truths, it is quite simple and quite obvious once the blinders of institutional preconception and bias are removed –be they from the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses, or from the Catholic Church or any other institution that teaches false teachings about God.
The question is: How can Jehovah God who exists beyond time and who cannot be subject to anything enter into his creation and subject himself to the stream of time? He cannot be diminished, yet, if he comes into the universe to be with his children, then, like us, he must exist from moment to moment, subject to the very time he created. Almighty God cannot be subject to anything. For example, consider this account:
“. . .Later they heard the voice of Jehovah God as he was walking in the garden about the breezy part of the day, and the man and his wife hid from the face of Jehovah God among the trees of the garden.” (Genesis 3:8 NWT)
They heard his voice and saw his face. How can that be?
Abraham also saw Jehovah, ate with him, talked with him.
“. . .Then the men left from there and went toward Sodom, but Jehovah remained with Abraham….When Jehovah finished speaking to Abraham, he went his way and Abraham returned to his place.” (Genesis 18:22, 33)
All things are possible with God, so obviously, Jehovah God found a way to express his love for his children by being with them and guiding them without limiting or diminishing himself in any way. How did he accomplish this?
The answer was given in one of the last books written in the Bible in a parallel account of Genesis 1:1. Here, the apostle John expands on the Genesis account revealing hitherto hidden knowledge.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being.” (John 1:1-3 New American Standard Bible)
There are a number of translations that render the latter part of verse one as “the Word was a god”. There are also translations that render it as “the Word was divine”.
Grammatically, there is justification to be found for each rendering. When there is ambiguity in any text, the true meaning is revealed by determining which rendering is harmonious with the rest of Scripture. So, let us put any disputes about grammar aside for the moment and focus on the Word or Logos himself.
Who is the Word, and of equal importance, why is the Word?
The “why” is explained in verse 18 of the same chapter.
“No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” (John 1:18 NASB 1995) [See also, Tim 6:16 and John 6:46]
The Logos is a begotten God. John 1:18 tells us that no one has ever seen Jehovah God which is precisely why God created the Logos. The Logos or Word is divine, existing in the form of God as Philippians 2:6 tells us. He is a God, the visible God, who explains the Father. Adam, Eve, and Abraham didn’t see Jehovah God. No man has seen God at any time, the Bible says. They saw the Word of God, the Logos. The Logos was created or begotten so that he could bridge the gap between Almighty God and his universal creation. The Word or Logos can enter into creation but he can also be with God.
Since Jehovah begat the Logos before the creation of the universe, both the spiritual universe and the physical one, the Logos existed before time itself. He is therefore eternal like God.
How can a being who is born or begotten not have a beginning? Well, without time there can be no beginning and no ending. Eternity is not linear.
To understand that, you and I would have to understand aspects of time and the absence of time which are beyond our ability at present to comprehend. Again, we are like blind people trying to understand color. There are some things we have to accept because they are clearly stated in Scripture, because they are simply beyond our poor mental capacity to comprehend. Jehovah tells us:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:8-11 ESV)
Suffice it to say that the Logos is eternal, but was begotten by God, and so is subordinate to God. In trying to help us comprehend the incomprehensible, Jehovah uses the analogy of a father and child, yet the Logos wasn’t born as a human baby is born. Perhaps we could understand it this way. Eve was not born, nor was she created as was Adam, but she was taken from his flesh, his nature. So, she was flesh, the same nature as Adam, but not the same being as Adam. The Word is divine because he is made from God—unique in all creation by being the only one begotten of God. Yet, like any son, he is distinct from the Father. He is not God, but a divine being unto himself. A distinct entity, a God, yes, but the Son of Almighty God. If he were God himself, then he could not enter into creation to be with the sons of men, because God cannot be diminished.
Let me explain it to you this way. At the core of our solar system lies the sun. At the core of the sun, matter is so hot that it radiates at 27 million degrees. If you could teleport a piece of the core of the sun the size of a marble into New York City, you would instantly obliterate the city for miles around. There are billions of suns, within billions of galaxies, and the one who created them all is greater than them all. If he came inside of time, he would obliterate time. If he came inside of the universe, he would obliterate the universe.
His solution to the problem was to beget a Son who can manifest himself to men, as he did in the form of Jesus. We might say then that Jehovah is the invisible God, while the Logos is the visible God. But they are not the same being. When the Son of God, the Word, speaks for God, he is for all intents and purposes, God. Yet, the reverse is not true. When the Father speaks, he is not speaking for the Son. The Father does what he wills. The Son, however, does what the Father wills. He says,
“Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son is able to do nothing of Himself, if not anything He may see the Father doing; for whatever He does, these things also the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows to Him all things that He does. And He will show Him greater works than these, so that you may marvel.
For even as the Father raises up the dead and gives life, thus also the Son gives life to whom He will. For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, so that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who is not honoring the Son is not honoring the Father, the One having sent Him…. I do not seek My will, but the will of the One having sent Me.
(John 5:19-23, 30 Berean Literal Bible)
In another place he says, “He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39 NKJV)
As an individual, a sentient being made in God’s image, the Son has his own will, but that will is subservient to God’s, so when he acts as the Word of God, the Logos, the visible God sent by Jehovah, it is the Father’s will he represents.
That really is the point of John 1:18.
The Logos or Word can be with God because he exists in the form of God. That is something that cannot be said about any other sentient being.
“For let this mind be in you that [is] also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, thought [it] not something to be seized to be equal to God, but emptied Himself, having taken the form of a servant, having been made in the likeness of men, and having been found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself, having become obedient to death—even death of a cross, for this reason, also, God highly exalted Him, and gave to Him a Name that [is] above every name, that in the Name of Jesus every knee may bow—of heavenlies, and earthlies, and what are under the earth— and every tongue may confess that Jesus Christ [is] LORD, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5-9 Young’s Literal Translation)
Here we can really appreciate the subordinate nature of the Son of God. He was with God, existing in timeless eternity in the form of God or the eternal essence of Jehovah for lack of a better term.
But the Son cannot lay claim to the name YHWH, “I am” or “I exist”, because God cannot die or cease to exist, yet the Son can and did, for three days. He emptied himself, becoming a human being, subject to all the limitations of humanity, even death on a cross. Jehovah God could not do this. God cannot die, nor suffer the indignities that Jesus suffered.
Without a pre-existing Jesus as the Logos, without a subordinate Jesus, also known as the Word of God in Revelation 19:13, there could be no way for God to interact with his creation. Jesus is the bridge joining eternity with time. If Jesus only came into existence in the womb of Mary as some contend, then how did Jehovah God interact with his creation, both angelic and human? If Jesus is fully God as trinitarians suggest, then we are right back where we started with God not being able to reduce himself to the status of a created being, and subject himself to time.
When Isaiah 55:11, which we just considered, says that God sends forth his word, it is not speaking metaphorically. The pre-existent Jesus was and is the embodiment of God’s word. Consider Proverbs 8:
The LORD created me as His first course,
before His works of old.
From everlasting I was established,
from the beginning, before the earth began.
When there were no watery depths, I was brought forth,
when no springs were overflowing with water.
Before the mountains were settled,
before the hills, I was brought forth,
before He made the land or fields,
or any of the dust of the earth.
I was there when He established the heavens,
when He inscribed a circle on the face of the deep,
when He established the clouds above,
when the fountains of the deep gushed forth,
when He set a boundary for the sea,
so that the waters would not surpass His command,
when He marked out the foundations of the earth.
Then I was a skilled craftsman at His side,
and His delight day by day,
rejoicing always in His presence.
I was rejoicing in His whole world,
delighting together in the sons of men.
(Proverbs 8:22-31 BSB)
Wisdom is the practical application of knowledge. Essentially, wisdom is knowledge in action. God knows all things. His knowledge is infinite. But only when he applies that knowledge is there wisdom.
This proverb is not speaking about God creating wisdom as if that quality didn’t already exist in him. He is speaking about creating the means by which God’s knowledge was applied. The practical application of God’s knowledge was accomplished by his Word, the Son he begat through whom, by whom, and for whom the creation of the universe was accomplished.
There are several Scriptures in the pre-Christian Scriptures, also known as the Old Testament, which clearly speak of Jehovah doing something and for which we find a counterpart in the Christian Scriptures (or the New Testament) where Jesus is the one spoken of as fulfilling the prophecy. This has led Trinitarians to conclude that Jesus is God, that the Father and Son are two persons in one being. However, this conclusion creates many problems with countless other passages indicating that Jesus is subordinate to the Father. I believe that understanding the true purpose for which God Almighty begat a divine son, a god in his likeness, but not his equivalent- a god who could traverse between the eternal and timeless Father and His creation allows us to harmonize all the verses and arrive at an understanding that lays a firm foundation for our eternal purpose of knowing both the Father and the Son, just as John tells us:
“Eternal life is to know you, the only true God, and to know Jesus Christ, the one you sent.” (John 17:3 Conservative English Version)
We can only know the Father through the Son, because it is the Son who interacts with us. There is no need to consider the Son as equivalent to the Father in all aspects, to believe in him as fully God. In fact, such a belief will hinder our understanding of the Father.
In forthcoming videos, I will examine the proof texts which Trinitarians utilize to support their teaching and demonstrate how in each case, the understanding we’ve just examined fits without us having to create an artificial triad of persons forming a Godhead.
In the mean time, I would like to thank you for watching and for your ongoing support.