Monday, 23 August 2010


Post by Ian.

The trinity is a doctrine that was established in the 2nd Century and was first given written form by Tertullian in his statement of the trinity: three beings (hypostases) in one substance (homoousios). The trinity is not consistent with Jewish belief, that of one God, and inconsistent with Jesus' own belief. Paul, also, did not write of a trinity. The early Christians in Jerusalem did not believe in a trinity. The first hints of a Trinitarian doctrine being formed are at the end of the 1st Century, as there are some hints in John. However, even that gospel is not Trinitarian.

The bible does not teach the concept of a triune God. The bible teaches that God is God, Jesus is the potential messiah who will bring about God's kingdom, God's power on Earth (the Holy Spirit) is within us for the asking.

Perhaps the most heavily used verses in support of the Trinity are John 1:1 and John 10:30.

John 1:1 has translated Logos as "Word" since Jerome's Latin Vulgate's use of "Verbum". However, this does not accurately translate the Greek. Logos is a complex construct in English giving the idea of: reason, meaning, dialogue. So, John 1:1 can as easily be translated as "In the beginning was reason", or "In the beginning was meaning". The attributing of a person to the "Word" is as bad as the Gnostics attributing a person to the "Wisdom" (Sophia) of God. Jesus is being described as God-sent, but not God. God's purpose (the establishment of God's kingdom) made flesh, i.e. the coming of the messiah.

In John 10:30 it states: I and my Father are one. However, could this phrasing not also mean “one” as in “of one mind”. In the Bible, Jesus also states that he and his disciples are “one” and that all nations will become “one”. Does this mean that Jesus and his disciples are one essence? Of course not. Is everything one essence? Well, perhaps – if one is inclined toward pantheism.

Another favourite is the "I am" in John 8. Jesus was not claiming to be God, he was claiming to be the messiah (the one sent by God) who Abraham foresaw the coming of.

There are many Biblical verses supporting Unity. John 8:17-18 states that there are two witnesses: Jesus and God (who sent him). If they were the same essence, there would only be the one witness – not valid in Jewish law. Jesus himself states that there is only one God (Matthew 19:17) and that God is greater than he (John 14:28). That Jesus was anointed by God (Acts 10:38) and given power by God (Matt. 28:18) to be the mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5) and a doer of God's will (John 6:38). Paul wrote that Jesus interceded on our behalf, as an intermediary not as a direct appeal (1 Corinthians 8:6, Romans 16:27, Romans 7:25). In Hebrews, Jesus is described as being our High Priest.

In Matthew 19:17, Jesus asks why they call him good when there is but one who is good. The implication in this statement, especially when going on to the commandments in the next verse, is the one is God. Jesus is differentiating himself from God, as he does in many other verses (e.g. John 5:30, John 7:16-18, John 14:10, Mark 13:32). Jesus states that God works through him and that he does God's works. He doesn't state that he is God or equal to God.

In short, to support Unity one only has to show the Bible. In order to support Trinity, one has to understand an unfathomable mystery and accept it with faith. Why not just accept the mystery as unfathomable and learnt to accept that the path we're on is one we follow by ourselves. We can only learn through Jesus' example and hope to meet our Father along the way.


  1. A clearly written explanation of the non-biblical nature of the Trinity doctrine.

  2. I think the concept of the trinity was devised by the clerical hierarchy to enable GOD to be portrayed in a manner which could be embraced by common humanity.
    In other words, JESUS was that part of the trinity to which people could relate to on a personal level, whereas GOD the Father was unapproachable and could only be reached through the medium of the SON.
    The HOLY SPIRIT could be understood as that part of GOD which permeates all our lives.

    Personally, I think that TRINITY is confusing and prefer to hold to the idea of a divine unity

  3. A great biblical exposition of the Trinity, Ian, but perhaps it might surprise you that this unbelief in the Trinity is the last thing that attracted me to Unitarianism. Quite frankly, I don't think it matters whether you believe it or not. Like Nogood Boyo in 'Under Milkwood' I am inclined to say: 'I don't know who's up there and I don't care'.

  4. My personal thoughts on the aspects of the trinity are as follows. I'm a Unitarian, obviously, and believe that God is separate and distinct. I also follow Deist thinking regarding God. Like the old joke of the man in the flood, I think we take responsibility for ourselves. I agree with you when you say that God is unfathomable to humanity, and is a concept beyond expression. I see the holy spirit as the manifestation of God's power on Earth. It is not God, but a part of God. Jesus, to me, is a teacher and prophet, who has the potential to become the messiah if he returns to herald God's kingdom and to rule it. He is not yet the promised messiah as God's kingdom has not yet arrived. I do not accept his being raised to divinity was ever his intention whilst teaching, or within the message that he taught. In the end, we don't know and can only take our own learning and interpretation of the Bible as a guide. That result of that learning and interpretation is between us and God.