Thursday, August 19, 2010

Doctrine of the Trinity-Part 3

With regards to the trinity it is important to see the result of denying any of the three pillars of the doctrine, which are:

1) Monotheism: There is only one God
2) There are three Divine persons - All being God
-    The three do not make up God
-    As a friend of mine shared in relating an analogy from Dr. Moorcroft: God is not like a cake mix. In that God is not made up of 1/3 the Father, 1/3 the Son and 1/3 the Holy Spirit. But He is all three at all time and all are equally divine
3) The three persons are all coequal and coeternal

The diagram below shows in a pretty basic way that if you deny any one of the three pillars mentioned above it will point you to one of three heresies. By drawing an arrow from the doctrine denied you will see the corresponding doctrinal error.

Explanation of above views:

Modalism (or Sabellianism 3rd Century):
One form of Modalism existing today is “Oneness Pentecostalism” which consists today of the United Pentecostals and United Apostolic Church. They may not word things the same historically as Modalist have but would still fit into the Modalist camp by their denial of the coexistence of three “distinct” yet equal persons. Historically Modalism stresses that the three parts of the Trinity are merely three manifestations, or as I have been told in a comment – “simultaneous aspects of the nature of God”. Modalism, again this may not be how all would relate this, has spoken of God as such:

- God is one and He has manifested Himself in the mode of the Father in the OT
- He then manifested Himself in the mode of the Son at the incarnation
- Then on Jesus departure He manifested Himself as the Holy Spirit

Key is that all never exist at the same time and thus do not coexist. Modalists will claim equality but again they will not agree to not coexistence.

Subordinationism (late 2nd to early 3rd Century):
This is a view of the relationship of the Father to the Son which subordinates the Son to the Father in essence and status. This is not denying the Son is subordinate to the father in way of submission, which is biblical as in 1 Cor 15:28:

“When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.”

The issue to the Subordinationist is that Jesus’ nature is different than the Father. They see Christ as eternal, not created, and divine but not equal to the Father. While the Trinitarian view speaks to all three being equal in power and glory

Polytheism simply says that there are more than one God. This is the claim that anti-Trinitarians often make towards those who hold a Trinitarian view of God.

Some Historical Heresies

Marcionism (144):
Marcionism claims that Christ came at the Baptism and left at the crucifixion and they believed that the wrathful Hebrew God was a separate and lower entity than the all-forgiving God of the New Testament. This is a dualistic view of God that, even if they do not realize it, many professing believers hold today. The Marcionites held that Jesus came to liberate man from the God of the Old Testament.

Arianism (modern day Jehovah’s Witnesses) 4th Century:
Arians deny the deity of Christ and personhood of the Holy Spirit. They see Christ as created being with Jehovah’s Witnesses seeing Christ as Michael the Archangel. As we have already seen this heresy was condemned at the Council of Nicea (325)

Apollinarianism – 4th Century:
This view held that Christ had no human spirit. And that the divine Logos replaced it thus making Christ a “third thing”, a middle being between God and man. Being one part divine (spirit) and two parts (body and soul) human fused into a new nature. Apollonarius was against Arianism but probably fell more into the homoiousians (similar natures) camp. This view was declared a heresy by the First Council of Constantinople in 381 as it denied what is known as the Hypostatic Union: That Jesus is completely man and completely God (John 1:1, 14 & Col 2:9)

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Jn 1:1

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Jn 1:14

"For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily," Col 2:9

Nestorianism – 5th Century:
Nestorius held that there were two distinct persons in Christ; one human and one Divine. Making Christ a God-bearing man (double personality) rather than the God-man (theanthropos) and thus got the natures correct but had Christ having two personalities. Nestorius distinguished the human Jesus, who died, from the Divine son who cannot die. This view was condemned at the Synod of Ephesus (431) where it was confirmed that Jesus was one person in two distinct and inseparable natures.

Eutychianism – 5th Century:
This view began as a reaction to Nestorius’ dual personalities view of Christ. This view made the Divine nature absorb the human nature and thus Christ only had one nature. A nature that was not like ours as He had one nature, divine. They sought to elevate the divine nature by minimizing the humanity of Christ. This too was condemned, at the Council of Chalcedon (451)

I list these heresies because I pray you hear the many explanations that people give to explain the Trinity so it conforms to what they feel comfortable with. Also, these heresies show that the arguments and human reasoning used to deny the Trinity are not new. We do not stand alone in the fight to defend what is true.

At the end of the day this all shows that Ecc 1:9 is so true:

“The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.”

In Part 4 we will begin to look at a few arguments against the Doctrine of the Trinity as well as look at what I feel is often a key issue and that is the understanding of the difference between “apprehending” the Doctrine of the Thirty and “comprehending “ it.

(Updated 8/20/10 - Due to a comment I wanted to be more clear above on Modalism)
Doctrine of the Trinity Series:

Sermon Series on The Doctrine of the Trinity:  Part 1   and   Part 2

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10

(all verses used are from the ESV unless stated otherwise)


imtellinchuck said...

In your definition of Oneness Theology you are vastly incorrect. You seem to think that Oneness believers consider the terms Father, Son and Holy Ghost to be phases that God has passed through in time. The reality is much different. Father, Son and Holy Ghost are simultaneous aspects of the nature of God. Much as Queen Elizabeth is Queen of England, Queen of Scotland and Queen of Wales SIMULTANEOUSLY yet each title delineating a much DIFFERENT role she fills and yet the same PERSON filling those roles AT THE SAME TIME. As to his Fatherhood, Jesus is the EVERLASTING or ETERNAL Father, always was always will be, as to the sonship it DOES refer to the incarnation, eternally recognized in the plan of God, and Jesus Role as the SPIRIT that is "Christ IN us the Hope of Glory" does NOT take away from either his position as creator of every thing that is made (FATHERHOOD) OR his role as the God Manifest in the flesh, The Son of God.

Tony said...

While you may disagree with my definition I would say that the definition I have given is an agreed upon one by others but I do realize that definitions change and morph so your comment is appreciated.

However, at the end of the day you would still disagree with the orthodox view of the Godhead as you do not see the three persons as distinct but all the same person with basically different titles, as seen in your illustration of the Queen.. So, again, while you may disagree with my description of Modalism as it shows itself in “Oneness Theology”, your own definition of it does set it apart from orthodox Trinitarianism.

imtellinchuck said...

Obviously the definition is agreed upon by OTHERS but certainly NOT by the people who hold a Oneness view of God. If you are going to refute a doctrine at least paint it honestly, not relying on the detractors of a particular view point to define it, but rather those who HOLD said viewpoint.

Of course a Oneness view is apart from Trinitarianism, however when you either inadvertently or deliberately give an erroneous definition of anothers beliefs nothing will ever be gained by it, you certainly do yourself no favours in laying a foundation for rebuttal in again an either inadvertent or deliberate distorion and misrepresentation of the clearly stated belief of your opponent.

As to "Orthodoxy" WHO establishes that? The Bible or the prevailing mindset of men in each era? For example In Calvins day was he viewed as "ORTHODOX" by the vast majority of professing European Christians who were of the Roman Catholic persuasion?

Were the anabaptists viewed as "ORTHODOX" by the Calvinists? So on and so on.

But to get back to the main point you have demonstrably misrepresented the Oneness View of the Godhead , readily available in any of the Articles of Faith Statements of the MANY Oneness groups including but not limmited to the United Pentecostal Church, The Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, The Assemblies of the Lord Jesus Christ, The Apostolic Assemblies of the Lord Jesus Christ NOT ONE OF WHOM hold a view of the Position of Father, Son Or Holy Spirit as being TRANSITIONAL one at a time phases that God "Passed Through"

Anyway , Your definition of Onenss Theology on the Godhead is manifestly erroneous, What you DO with that is certainly up to you.

It's just that it would be nice to see a dialogue or discussion or even rebuttal on this subject based in a Trinitarian TRUTHFUL representation of what Oneness Pentecost believes and teaches rather than what seems to be the constant FALSE depiction of our beliefs.

Tony said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tony said...

I am not denying your definition of "Oneness Theology" and I will definitely look up what I can, not only for the definition you give, but also to see if it has changed over time. I will even add your definition to my series. There was no effort to be “untruthful” or “deliberately “ misrepresent a particular view but even with your view as you have shared it stands outside of what the bible clearly shows God’s nature to be.

I would like to add that it is good to hear you plainly deny the “orthodox” view of the Trinity as many who do not hold to the doctrine skirt the issue so that at least there can be dialogue instead of obfuscation.

Adam Pastor said...

Greetings Tony

On the subject of the Trinity,
I recommend this video:
The Human Jesus

Take a couple of hours to watch it; and prayerfully it will aid you in your quest for truth.

Yours In Messiah
Adam Pastor

Tony said...

I watched most of the video and saw little truth when scripture is looked at a whole, as that is how we are to interpret scripture. I have heard all of these arguments before but they all seem to hinge on peoples trying to reconcile what they cannot comprehend. But the issue is the Trinity can be apprehended, comprehension is a different things as God’s ways are not our way.

There also is a decidedly ecumenical bent that is evident and if one is to reconcile non-Christian beliefs then one will seek to jettison that which sets Christianity apart from other beliefs so that you can achieve “ecumenicalism.” Thus it would appear that a motive, at least in some part, of ecumenicalism led the makers of this video to include a Jew and a Muslim since the Christian view of Jesus is decidedly different from these other religions. The people in this video have seen fit to mold Jesus to be more palatable to all, except I would hope true believers.

I do not hold to the Trinity because of any council but because it is clearly apprehended in scripture. Do I have to comprehend something for it to exist, no. We are held to what we see in scripture. I heard a speaker in the video claim it was human reason that created a certain belief, a common argument against the Trinity, but all of the men in this video use reason so it is a false argument to chalk up what you do not hold to as a product of man’s reason. It may be incorrect reason but we all use reason to discern scripture.

Sorry, this video was lacking, but I would say that it sadly could confuse many as ignorance abounds in today’s church. I would add that simply referring to people as scholars does not make them right, or for that matter a scholar. The Jesus seminar members, which is basically made up of a group of essentially heretics, are often referred to as scholars but their teachings are far from scholarly, from a biblical perspective. It is interesting that they did not seek to interact with any “scholars” of note that hold to the trinity, but I would not have expected them to do so.

Grace and Peace,

Adam Pastor said...

Greetings Tony

Thanks for taking the time to watch the video, and thanks for your comments.

Its a shame you never finished the video, because the subject of "ecumenicalism" is indeed addressed, in the latter parts of the video.

Without doubt, there is a theme to at least bring together christians, moslems, and jews; under the banner of "belief in solely one God" i.e. monotheism.
But that's it!!

There is no agenda to bring together everyone in some kind of interfaith "ecumenical" mix.

NO! Both Jews and Moslems need to come to the saving knowledge of Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah, the Son of the living GOD.
[Matt 16.16]

Whilst "orthodox" christians need to come to the knowledge of
the man Christ Jesus,
the one mediator between the ONE GOD (the Father) and mankind;
[1 Tim 2.5]
Such "christians" need to know that solely and only Jesus' Father is GOD;
[John 17.3; 1 Cor 8.4,6]
whilst Jesus is solely who he claimed to be:
the Messiah, the Son of GOD!
John 4.25-26, 10.36, 20.31

That's the "bent" of the video.

There is therefore, no desire to be "ecumenical" at all.
"Ecumenicalism" is most definitely not the aim.

Rather the truth of:
"who the ONE GOD is and who His Son is", is the aim.
[John 17.3]

Thanks again Tony for taking the time to watch the video.

Yours In Messiah
Adam Pastor

Tony said...

Adam, I did watch much of the video and by ecumenicalism I was reefing to including Jews and Muslim’s as while you may disagree they do see God differently than the Old and New Testament speak of Him. Yes this does hinge on the nature of Christ and while I would see Christ as human he is also divine, known as the hypostatic union, and both the Jews and Muslims, among others, do not see it this way. Our goal is not to take down lines of “hostility” but to be true to scripture and the video is not true to scripture in that it has a desired a direction, a presupposition, it is going and it makes sure that all it showed and spoke of supported their view.

I will show this to others but to reveal the ways that those that deny the Trinitarian God of the Bible use scripture to say what they desire it to say.

I pray God will open your eyes to His true nature as I pray for others that deny who scripture clearly shows He is.

Grace and Peace