An examination of the doctrine of the Trinity
To Trinitarian Apologists: An Open Letter and Personal Request
Dear Trinitarian Apologists:
As a long-time student of your doctrine, the doctrine of the Trinity, I have accumulated a number of questions which do not seem to have readily available answers which are clear, concise, and unambiguous. If you think that you are an informed Trinitarian Apologist, would you kindly provide answers to all of the following questions:
1. Definition of the "Trinity"
As you are aware, Trinitarian apologists suggest to others that Trinitarians throughout history have been in agreement concerning this doctrine. That being the case, can you provide me the definitive explanation of the Trinity used by all Trinitarians and your source for this information. The Athanasian Creed seems to be lacking many important features which Trinitarians claim they believe.
2. Definition of the Word "Person."
As you are aware, it is common practice to use the word "person" or "persons" when you express your doctrine, or when you attempt to explain your doctrine. I do believe that you would agree that your doctrine is completely meaningless without a willingness to define the terms used in your doctrine. Allow me to expand on the difficulty here.
May I assume that the word "person" is a synonym of the word "hypostasis"? Are each of these words intended to mean equivalent things? If not, what is different about a person and a hypostasis? What is the definitive quality about something which makes it, or defines it, as a person? What distinctive quality tells you that the Father and/or the Holy Spirit is a single person? Is this distinctive quality also true of the one God of Israel? Why is a singular "who" or "he" or "him" not necessarily a person when the purpose of singular personal pronouns is to signify that a single person is under discussion? Do you deny that a "person" is defined by the fact that something is a singular "I", "Who" and "He"? If so, then could you explain what the purpose of singular personal pronouns would be?
To give your doctrine meaning, would you please define the word "person" in clear, concise and unambiguous terms?
3. Definition of the Word "Being."
As you are aware, the one God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is a singular "I", "Me", "He", and "Him." These are terms which would lead most common sense people to understand that the one God of Israel is one person. So when you say that the one God is one "I", "Me", "He", and "Him" not because God is one person, but because the one God is one "being", I have never been clear what you mean by the word "being." Since the word "being" is used in Trinitarian doctrine as a synonym for the divine nature, it sounds like you are saying that the one God is one "I", "Me", "He", and "Him" because the one God is one divine nature. If that is what you are saying, could you please elaborate on how that could possibly make any sense?
If that is not what you mean by the word "being," then please define the word "being" as you are using it in when you say, "the one God is one 'I', 'Me', 'He', and 'Him' because the one God is one being", or some similar expression to the same effect. To give your statement meaning, would you please define the word "being" as you are using it in this statement and why you are using that particular definition.
4. Confusing or Conflating "Person and Being."
As you are aware, it is common practice for Trinitarians to insist that we should never mix up or confuse or conflate "person" and "being." For example, Trinitarian Apologist James White writes that we should not mix up or confuse the who's and the whats. Can you definitively tell me if the "what" is ever also a "who"? Is the "being" ever a "Who" in Trinitarian doctrine? If yes, how is this not mixing up, confusing, or conflating person and being, the who's and the what? The reason I ask this question is that I see Trinitarian apologists suggestively implying the one divine nature of the Trinity is a who. So can you assure me, and everyone else, that the divine nature is a what and the divine nature is never ever a who?
5. Three Who's Yet One Who
As you are aware, Trinitarian doctrine indicates that the threeness of God is that God is three persons but the oneness of God is that God is one divine nature. Would it also be correct to say that the oneness of God is that God is one "Who" and one "He"? Do you believe that the three Who's are one Who, the three He's are one He? If yes, can we say the oneness of God is that God is three "I"'s who are also altogether one "I"? If no, would you please then identify exactly who is saying things like "there is none besides me" and there is none like me" in the Scriptures and if the three "I"'s are also that this one "I"?
6. The Trinity is an "Incomprehensible Mystery"
As you are aware, it is common practice among Trinitarians to insist that the Trinity is an unfathomable or incomprehensible mystery? Since the Bible does not state the doctrine anywhere, and you must come up with this conclusion by reasoning out the implications of various Scripture verses according to your own interpretations, do you think it makes any sense whatsoever to claim that you reasoned out a conclusion which you yourself cannot comprehend?
7. The Father and the Triune Being
As you are aware, the Scriptures say that the Father is above all (Ephesians 4:6). Since the Father is not the Trinity (for that would be saying the Father is three persons), and since the Father is above all, should we assume that the Triune Being, that singular "I", is positionally beneath the Father or positionally lateral to the Father? Also, if the Father is the first hypostasis of the Triune Being, does this not imply that the Father is a subset of the Triune Being? Would that not also imply the Father is inferior to the Triune Being, subordinate to this Supreme "I", ?
8. Jesus The Divine Being
As you are aware, it is common practice for Trinitarians to insist that the Father is the only true God, Jesus is the only true God, and the Holy Spirit is the only true God. Since the only way in which these three are one in Trinitarian doctrine is the one divine nature, or "being", may I conclude that the statement, "Jesus is the only true God," effectively means "Jesus is the one divine being"? And if so, may I conclude Jesus is a divine being known as "God", the same divine being as the Father?
9. The Two Being Jesus
As you are aware, the word "being" is commonly used as a synonym for the word "ousia" in Trinitarian doctrine where the expression, "three persons, one being" mean "three persons, one ousia" or "three persons, one [divine] nature." May I conclude that, if the possession of a single divine nature means the one God is three persons yet one being, that it is therefore consistently true that the possession of two natures by Jesus means that he is one person yet two beings? Further to the point, may I conclude that Jesus is two beings: a divine being and a human being? And if so, may I conclude that since Jesus is one person and his divine nature is one and human nature is another, that the divine being is one and the human being is another?
10. The God of Jesus
As you are aware, in Trinitarian doctrine, Jesus according to his divine nature is God and does not have a God but Jesus according to his human nature does have a God. Does this mean that Jesus according to his human nature is NOT God and that's the reason he can have a God? Is the person Jesus both God and NOT God at the same time? And would you say that the human being has a God but the other divine being does not have a God?
11. The God of God
As you are aware, in Trinitarian doctrine, "God the Son" is a name for the second person of the Trinity. As you are also aware, "Jesus" is another name for the very same second person of the Trinity such that Jesus and God the Son are not two different persons but the one and same identical equivalent person. Therefore, since Jesus had/has a God, may I conclude that God the Son had/has a God?
12. The Dead Man on the Cross
As you are aware, Jesus was dead on a cross and was laid dead in a tomb. May I conclude the Second Person of the Trinity was dead on the cross? If not, may I conclude someone else was dead? Shall I perhaps conclude the human being was dead but someone else, the divine being, was not dead but still alive? Or, if nobody was hanging dead on the cross, who then was dead for your sins?
13. Is the Definition of "God the Son" fixed or not?
As you are aware, "God the Son" is a name which refers to the second person of the Trinity. May I ask if you ever shift the definition of this term, "God the Son" to mean not a person but "the divine nature" for convenience's sake? If so, why would you confuse person and being when you tell everyone else they are not to do that type of thing? If not, then can you again explain who was dead on the cross if it was not God the Son?
14. The Spirit who Fathered Jesus
As you are aware, Trinitarian translators have translated the word gennao as "fathered" in some translations where the words "Abraham fathered Isaac" means the same thing as "Abraham begat Isaac." Do you agree that the person who begets someone is the father and not someone else? If so, do you agree that the Third Person of the Trinity who begat Jesus is Jesus' Father? If not, wherever did you get the idea that one person conceives a son but another person turns out to be the father?
15. The God of the Lord
For us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
As you are aware, it is common Trinitarian practice to insist that the word "Lord" is used of Jesus to imply deity. May I conclude that the "one Lord" mentioned at 1 Corinthians 8:6 means there is only one Lord in existence and that the Father is also this Lord? If so, may I conclude that the following verses of Scripture indicate that this one Lord, who the Father also is, has a God?
the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 15:6).
the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor 1:3).
The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor 11:31).
the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Eph 1:3).
the God of our Lord Jesus Christ (Eph 1:17).
the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Col 1:3).
the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Pet 1:3).
Or shall we conclude that the Lord in the above verses is a different Lord than the one Lord mentioned at 1 Corinthians 8:6 Or shall we conclude the Father is a different Lord than this Lord who has a God?
16. The Identity of the One Lord
As you are aware, Trinitarians respond to 1 Corinthians 8:6 by insisting anyone who suggests this verse indicates Jesus is not the one God must also consistently indicate that the Father is not the one Lord who Paul identifies. And as you know, Trinitarians are suggesting here that the Father is also the "one Lord" just as Jesus is also the "one God" whom Paul identifies. Since you demand consistency, if I could demonstrate to you that the Father is NOT the "one Lord" being identified in this verse, would you allow me then to consistently conclude Jesus is not the one God?
As you are aware, it has been common for Trinitarians to suggest that the Hebrew word Elohim is plural because this is how you would refer to a multi-personal being in Hebrew. Since (1) this word is also used to refer to the Father exclusively and to refer to the Son exclusively, in Trinitarian interpretations of Scripture, may we conclude the person of the Father and the person of the Son are each multi-personal beings?
18. They shall look upon ME WHOM they have pierced
As you are aware, it has been common for Trinitarians to quote Zechariah 12:10 to attempt to demonstrate Jesus is YAHWEH. Can you explain why Trinitarians usually make sure they cherry-pick the KJV of this verse for the occasion? Also, do you think it makes any rational sense for the people to look upon ME but mourn for HIM? Why do you adopt a translation that says one identity is pierced but the people mourn for someone else? And why do you completely ignore John's testimony for this verse where he quotes it not as "they shall look upon ME" but "they shall look upon "HIM", especially given the fact that we know some manuscripts do read HIM and not ME?
19. I Will Not Give My Glory to Another
As you are aware, it has been common for Trinitarians to quote Isaiah 42:8, "I will not give my glory to another," to try and demonstrate that Jesus is YAHWEH. Can you explain how this makes any sense whatsoever when Matthew indicates to us that it is the Father speaking in this passage? Aren't you even aware that you are unwittingly excluding everyone but the Father from identity as the one God?
20. John 20:28
As you are aware, Trinitarians love to insist that Granville Sharp's First Rule indicates how we can tell when only one person is in view. Would you agree that this rule is meaningless unless it is also demonstrated how a Greek speaker would speak differently if he intended to refer to two persons (GS Sixth Rule)? If Thomas had intended to refer to two persons, what would the sentence structure look like in Greek? Would it just happen to look exactly like what Thomas said? Also, since the context of this verse is about seeing and believing, why would I want to deny that Thomas was affirming Jesus' teaching at John 12:44-45 and John 14:9 where he teaches about seeing two persons in him, the Father and the Son, and not one?
21. Romans 9:5
As you are aware, Jesus is not God according to his human nature but according to his divine nature and that is the reason Jesus according to the human nature can have a God. He is not God according to his human nature. As you are also aware, it is commonplace for Trinitarians to suggest Paul is referring to Jesus as "God" at Romans 9:5. Since Paul is talking about "Christ according to the flesh" and Christ "according to the flesh" is most certainly NOT God in Trinitarian doctrine, but someone who has a God, were you just hoping nobody would notice?
22. Titus 2:13
As you are aware, it is common for Trinitarians to insist that Paul is identifying Jesus as "our great God and Savior" along with an appeal to the Granville Sharp Rule (1st Rule). Since Paul actually said, "the appearing of the glory of the great God and Savior of us Jesus Christ," why do you suppose Trinitarian apologists almost always conveniently ignore this fact? And why do they refuse to interpret Paul as saying Jesus Christ is the glory OF our great God and Savior, that is, the glory OF the Father, where the words "our great God and Savior," refer only to one person: the Father? And since the Scriptures do say the risen Jesus is bodily glorified and is indeed the glory of the Father and that he will return in the glory of the Father, and Jesus' return is what this verse is also about, why do you reject this interpretation, which is the natural reading of the text and it does not break the beloved Granville Sharp rule either? On what grounds are you denying that the words "our great God and Savior" refer to one person and that one person is the Father?
23. Hebrews 1:8
As you are aware, Trinitarians insist that Hebrews 1:8 must be translated as "Your throne O God"? That being the case, shall we conclude that God has a God?
Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever, the righteous scepter is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness, therefore God, your God, has anointed you.
Don't you find it the least bit bizarre to adopt a translation which results in God having a God? Also, is this God who has a God also the same God who became superior to the angels in verse 4?
24. Matthew 24:36
As you unaware, Jesus declared that the Son does not know the day and hour. But he went even further and also declared that ONLY the Father knows the day and hour. If the Son does not know, and only the Father knows, does it make any rational sense whatsoever to claim that the Son also knows the day and hour? Could you also explain how it is that God the Son grew in wisdom and knowledge if he was omniscient? Are you actually trying to claim this person did know and did not know things at the same time?
25. Conflating Identity and Nature
As you are aware, it is a Trinitarian premise that you have the divine nature of God then you are God. If having God's divine nature means someone is God by identity, may I also conclude that having Adam's human nature makes me the first man Adam by identity?
26. What is Begotten of God is God
As you are aware, it has been a common Trinitarian expression to say, "what is begotten of God is God." Since, all Christians are born of God, begotten again from above by the Spirit, may we conclude these begotten sons are God too?
As you are aware, it is common practice among Trinitarians in recent times to insist that monogenes does not mean "only-begotten" but means "one of a kind." Upon what Scriptural basis then do Trinitarians claim that the Son was "begotten" before all ages? Psalm 2:7 just doesn't pan out when Acts 13:30-33 and Hebrews 1:5 are considered. So where are you getting the idea that the Son was begotten before all ages?
28. Definitions of the word "God"
As you are aware, Trinitarians have more than one definition of the word "God." I am sure that you would agree that in most cases in Scripture it means the Father, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. But in other cases, you define the same word differently. For example, at John 1:1 it does not mean "the Father" or "the Son" or "the Holy Spirit" or "the Triune Being" in your theology. Rather, it means "the divine nature." Would you agree that the following list of 5 Definitions accurately reflects all the different definitions of the word "God" used in your doctrine of the Trinity?
The word "God" is defined as One Person: the Father (Numerous examples)
The word "God" is defined as a second Person, the Son (Ex. Hebrews 1:8).
The word "God" is defined as a third Person, a the Holy Spirit (Ex. Acts 5:3-4).
The word "God" is defined as that singular identity known as The Triune Being (Ex. Deut 4:35: 32:39)
The word "God" is defined as a "divine nature", not a who but a WHAT. (John 1:1).
29. Defining God as One Person
As you are aware, Trinitarians commonly insist that the one God is not one person but is three persons. However, at 1 Corinthians 8:6, Paul defines the one God as one person, the Father. Since your doctrines insists that the Father is one person, why do you continue to tell others it is wrong to define God as one person when Paul did define the one God as one person?
30. John 17:3
At John 17:3, would you agree that Jesus intends the word "YOU" to be an equal identity to "the only true God"? If so, please unambiguously define the word "God" as you are interpreting it in this verse. If you deny that "YOU" and "the only true God" are to be understood as equivalent identities in this verse, on what grounds are you insisting "YOU" is not equivalent to "the only true God"?
31. Definitions of the one God
If someone defined the "one God" differently from one moment to the next, would you agree that different definitions of God, where each defintion intends to describe something different, results in different Gods? For example, is a one person God the same God as a three person God? And is your definition of the one God fixed or not? Is your definition of the one God fixed or do you change your definition of the one God to suit the occasion? If you do change your definition of the one God, do you then have different Gods for different occasions? If your definition of the one God is fixed, please provide your one fixed definition of the one God and answer the following three simple questions:
1. Jesus is that one God which I just defined. True or False.
2. That One God which I just defined is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. True or False.
3. Jesus is the Son of that One God which I just defined. True or False.
If you think you are an informed Trinitarian Apologist, I have a lot more questions just like these which I will add as I think of them. But for now I would appreciate clear, concise, and unambigous answers to these particular questions. Clear and unambiguous answers are extremely hard to come by in Trinitarian apologetics and I am sure that a knowledgeable person such as yourself should be able answer these questions without any trouble whatsoever.
This letter is not an invitation to debate my beliefs versus your beliefs. This letter requests you to clarify YOUR beliefs. What I believe, or don't believe, does not affect the veracity of your doctrine. This letter is not about my beliefs but about the doctrine of the Trinity. It is an invitation for Trinitarian apologists to have an opportunity to clarify the claims made about doctrine of the Trinity so that the veracity of this doctrine can be open to examination without any ambiguity. I would expect that all Trinitarians would desire that their position is made absolutely clear. This is your invitation to do just that.