A CHANGING THEOLOGY : Arianism Today

When we see the need for change it’s usually when we find an error or the loss of usability of an item. For example when we get our tires changed it’s usually because we notice something about the tire that indicates the need to change.

The same is true for a windshield if we see a crack although the window is still usable it will eventually get bigger and need to be addressed. When we examine doctrines in the church are there indications that something may need to change? I do believe that there are small cracks in the doctrine of the Trinity. Signs that there may need to be a time of re-examination.

Biblical theologians study the word as deeply as they can. Theologians have a drive and a desire to seek out what the Bible truly teaches. One of the things I like about theologians is they like to follow the evidence, and they are very thorough. Non-Catholic churches have grown and expanded throughout the United States. Seminaries and Bible schools have proliferated around the world. The study of the Bible is no longer limited to just a few.

Android OS is open source meaning anyone can look at the source code and modified in any way shape or form. And people regularly develop the software to improve the capabilities. There are forums where thousands upon thousands of people work together to solve problems in software.

And I believe that the church is coming to the point where the entire church can join the discussion on doctrine. As we allow the many viewpoints and input of members of the church our biblical doctrine will be formed into what GOD had intended.

Theologians previously were the only ones involved in doctrine formation, what is going to happen is that everyone in the church is going to participate, every Christian has a right to contribute to doctrine.

Hints from Theologians

Theologians today may be intentionally or unintentionally revealing the cracks in the doctrine of the Trinity. What I would like to reveal to you now are theologians that are making interesting statements about the doctrine of the Trinity. Please keep in mind that these are Trinitarian scholars, these men believe that the Trinity is valid but they also have made these admissions.

What Noted Trinitarian Scholars Have Said Concerning the Doctrine of the Trinity

•  Trinitarian Millard J. Erickson – (Research Professor of Theology at S.W. Baptist Theological Seminary (Southern Baptist) in his book on the Trinity, “God In Three Persons”):

“This doctrine in many ways presents strange paradoxes…It was the very first doctrine dealt with systematically by the church, yet is still one of the most misunderstood and disputed doctrines. Further, it is not clearly or explicitly taught anywhere in Scripture , yet it is widely regarded as a central doctrine, indispensable to the Christian faith” (p. 11-12).

•  Professor Shirley C. Guthrie, Jr. – (Trinitarian scholar, in his best selling book, “Christian Doctrine”):

” The Bible does not teach the doctrine of the Trinity . Neither the word “trinity” itself nor such language as ‘one-in-three,’ ‘three in one,’ one ‘essence’ (or “substance”), and three ‘persons’ is biblical language. The language of the doctrine is the language of the ancient church taken from classical Greek philosophy ” (p. 76-77).

•  Trinitarians Roger Olson and Christopher Hall – (In their book, “The Trinity”):

“It is understandable that the importance placed on this doctrine is perplexing to many lay Christians and students. Nowhere is it clearly and unequivocally stated in Scripture. “The doctrine of the Trinity developed gradually after the completion of the N.T. in the heat of controversy. The full-blown doctrine of the Trinity was spelled out in the fourth century at two great ecumenical councils: Nicea (325 A.D.) and Constantinople (381 A.D.)” (p. 1-2) .

•  Professor Charles C. Ryrie – (Respected Trinitarian Evangelical Biblical scholar, in his well known work “Basic Theology” ):

“In the second half of the fourth century , three theologians from the province of Cappadocia in eastern Asia Minor gave definitive shape to the doctrine of the Trinity ” (p. 65). “But many doctrines are accepted by evangelicals as being clearly taught in the Scripture for which there are no proof texts . The doctrine of the Trinity furnishes the best example of this. It is fair to say that the Bible does not clearly teach the doctrine of the Trinity . In fact, there is not even one proof text , if by proof text we mean a verse or passage that ‘clearly’ states that there is one God who exists in three persons” (p. 89). “The above illustrations prove the fallacy of concluding that if something is not proof texted in the Bible we cannot clearly teach the results… If that were so, I could never teach the doctrine of the Trinity or the deity of Christ or the deity of the Holy Spirit ” (p. 90).

•  Graham Greene – (Noted Catholic scholar):

“Our opponents sometime claim that no belief should be held dogmatically which is not explicitly stated in Scripture…but the Protestant churches have themselves accepted such dogmas as the Trinity , for which there is no such precise authority in the Gospels .”

•  Professor Cyril C. Richardson – (“The Doctrine of The Trinity: A clarification of what it attempts to express”):

“I cannot but think that the doctrine of the Trinity, far from being established, is open to serious criticism , because of both the modern understanding of the Scripture, and inherent confusions in its expression. It is not a doctrine specifically to be found in the New Testament. It is a creation of the fourth century Church ” (p. 17). ” But Philo (20 B.C. – 50 A.D.) introduces a second theme derived from Greek thinking , that GOD creates by his Word or Logos. From these observations it becomes clear that there is an essential ambiguity in Philo’s thought , an ambiguity which we shall find running though trinitarian thinking ” (p. 31-33). ” The idea that the Logos is begotten by God, is his ‘first born’, his ‘invisible image’ and so on, plays an important role in Philo , and whether directly from him or not, comes into Christian thinking . The Word is for Philo the intermediary between God and his action” (p. 34). Please note: Philo was a Hellenistic (Greek) Jewish philosopher and writer who taught the “divine Logos” doctrine. He mentions the Logos over 1400 times in his writings and refers to it as “a second God” and calls it ” the mediating Logos .” He was born some twenty years before Yehoshua (Jesus) and was a famous writer before Yehoshua (Jesus) began his ministry. Philo lived in Alexandria, Egypt and there is no indication that he ever heard of Yehoshua (Jesus) . He got his idea of the “divine Logos – second God” from Greek philosophy and mostly the Greek philosopher Plato (428-348 B.C.). Professor Richardson says, “From our brief study of the New Testament material it becomes apparent that the symbols Father, Son, and Spirit do not constitute a genuine Trinity . In fact, there is no way to overcome the paradox that we must think of God both as one and as a society . There simply is no way in human thought to compose this paradox (p. 95). ” My conclusion then, about the doctrine of the Trinity is that is is an artificial construct . It produces confusion rather than clarification; and while the problems with which it deals are real ones, the solutions if offers are not illuminating. It has posed for many Christians dark and mysterious statements , which are ultimately meaningless , because it does not sufficiently discriminate in its use of terms. Christian theology might be aided by abandoning such a procedure and by making clear the inadequacy both of the ambiguous terms and of the threeness into which its doctrines have been traditionally forced . There is no necessary threeness in the Godhead ” (p. 148-149). Professor Richardson is writing as a dedicated Trinitarian but he admits, “much of the defense of the Trinity as a ‘revealed’ doctrine, is really an evasion of the objections that can be brought against it” (p. 16).

What Credible Sources Say Concerning

The Doctrine of the Trinity

•  Harper-Collins Bible Dictionary – (1996 Edition):

“It is only with the Fathers of the church in the third and fourth centuries , that a full-fledged theory of the Incarnation develops. Attempts to trace the origins still earlier to the Old Testament literature cannot be supported by historical-critical scholarship. The formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great Church Councils of the fourth and fifth centuries is not to be found in the New Testament .”

•  Harper-Collins Bible Encyclopedia of Catholicism – (1995 Edition):

“Today, however, scholars generally agree that there is no doctrine of the Trinity as such in either the Old Testament or the New Testament …It would go far beyond the intention and thought-forms of the Old Testament to suppose that a late-fourth century or thirteenth century Christian doctrine can be found there. Likewise, the New Testament does not contain an explicit doctrine of the Trinity .”

•  Encyclopedia International – (1982 Ed.; Vol. 18; p. 226):

“The doctrine of the Trinity did not form part of the apostles preaching as this is reported in the N.T.”

•  New International Encyclopedia – (Vol. 23; p. 47, 477):

” The Trinity doctrine; the Catholic Faith is this: We worship one in trinity, but there is one person of the Father, another of the Son and another of the Holy Ghost – the Glory equal; the Majesty co-eternal. The doctrine is not found in its fully developed form in the Scriptures. Modern theology does not seek to find it in the O.T . At the time of the Reformation the Protestant Church took over the doctrine of the Trinity, without serious examination .” [7]

• “Because the Trinity is such an important part of later Christian doctrine, it is striking that the term does not appear in the New Testament. Likewise, the developed concept of three co-equal partners in the Godhead found in later creedal formulations cannot be clearly detected within the confines of the canon” (Oxford Companion to the Bible, 1993, p. 782).

• “The Bible does not teach the doctrine of the Trinity. Neither the word ‘trinity’ itself nor such language as ‘one-in-three,’ ‘three in one,’ one ‘essence’ (or ‘substance’), and three ‘persons,’ is biblical language. The language of the doctrine is the language of the ancient church taken from classical Greek philosophy” (Christian Doctrine, Shirley Guthrie, Jr., 1994, pp. 76-77). It’s important to observe here that the author attributes the notion of the Trinity not to Scripture, but to influence from Greek philosophy.

• “This is not itself a Biblical term, but was a term coined by Tertullian to refer to this whole concept under one word” (Classic Bible Dictionary, Jay P. Green, p. 483). Tertullian was a Christian author and apologist who lived from 160 CE to 225 CE. Before Tertullian the word trinity did not exist in Christian writing.

• “Many doctrines are accepted by evangelicals as being clearly taught in the Scripture for which there are no proof texts. The doctrine of the Trinity furnishes the best example of this. It is fair to say that the Bible does not clearly teach the doctrine of the Trinity” (Basic Theology, Professor Charles Ryrie, 1999, p. 89).

• “It is indeed true that the name ‘Trinity’ is nowhere to be found in the Holy Scriptures, but has been conceived and invented by man” (The Sermons of Martin Luther, John Lenker, Vol. 3, 1988, p. 406). Even though Martin Luther was an avid supporter of the Trinity, he correctly recognized that the doctrine was derived from man and not from the Bible.

• “The term ‘Trinity’ is not a biblical term…In point of fact, the doctrine of the Trinity is a purely revealed doctrine…As the doctrine of the Trinity is indiscoverable by reason, so it is incapable of proof from reason” (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia , vol. 5, p. 3012, “Trinity”).

• “It is admitted by all who thoughtfully deal with this subject that the Scripture revelation here leads us into the presence of a deep mystery; and that all human attempts at expression are of necessity imperfect” (New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, 1988, p. 1308, “Trinity”). Should we rest our entire faith on a belief that is a “deep mystery?”

• “Respecting the manner in which the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit make one God, the Scripture teaches nothing, since the subject is of such a nature as not to admit of its being explained to us” (Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, p. 553, “Trinity”).

• “Precisely what that doctrine is, or rather precisely how it is to be explained, Trinitarians are not agreed among themselves” (A Dictionary of Religious Knowledge, 1885, “Trinitarians”). Disagreements abounded through the centuries even among those who advocate this doctrine. Should not a belief so critical and indispensable be not only plainly and clearly taught in the Scriptures, but at least be understood and agreed upon by its very proponents?

• “The doctrine developed gradually over several centuries and through many controversies… The council of Nicea in 325 stated the crucial formula for that doctrine in its confession that the ‘Son is of the same substance…as the Father,’ even though it said very little about the Holy Spirit…By the end of the 4th century…the doctrine of the Trinity took substantially the form it has maintained ever since” (Encyclopedia Britannica, “Trinity”).

• “…primitive Christianity did not have an explicit doctrine of the Trinity such as was subsequently elaborated in the creeds of the early church” (New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. 2, 1976, p. 84, “God”).

• “The formulation ‘one God in three Persons’ was not solidly established, certainly not fully assimilated into Christian life and its profession of faith, prior to the end of the 4th century… Among the Apostolic Fathers, there had been nothing even remotely approaching such a mentality or perspective” (New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1967, Vol. 14).[1]

Cracks

So here in these words of theologians we see a gentle revealing of cracks in the doctrine. Some theologians may be intimidated with what could happen to them if they do not teach according to their leadership. Or the loss of friendships and credibility in their congregations and relationships they have. What I believe we are reading is the desire of Christian theologians to reveal findings on the subject that is extremely sensitive. And I also believe that this was a tactfully calculated attempt at introducing cracks in the theology in the hopes that someday someone may venture out and examine them. Whatever the reason may be whether it be these or others. I believe that this is an attempt at dropping hints regarding adherence to the doctrine of the Trinity.

And as we’ve seen before it is not beyond the church to persecute and excommunicate an individual who is attempting to teach true doctrine in the face of church leaders inaccurately interpreting the Bible. So to those and many other theologians all I can say is thank you for revealing the tiny cracks in the doctrine, and as we the church of the world examine these cracks. We may be able to understand why it was important enough for you to reveal the crack in your books about the doctrine of the Trinity.

Our job now as Christians is to rightfully examine the claims of these theologians, and to objectively examine the adherence of the Trinity in our churches. Although this may not be an easy task we must attempt to unify the congregations of the church of Yehoshua (Jesus) together on all matters of doctrine. Whether it is through online conversations and debates or church discussion. Everyone should be involved in church doctrine.

We must acknowledge that historically the church has supported unbiblical doctrine[2], largely due to ignorance on the part of the congregation. John Wycliffe and many others remedied ignorance in the church through providing Bibles in their languages.[3] Thereby revealing inconsistencies in church doctrine and the Bible.

Today the problem with the church congregations is the lack of desire to critically examine the biblical support for all doctrines in our churches. Until we as the body of Christ decide to study the supportability of our doctrines in the Bible. We will continue to understand GOD inaccurately. I will attempt to reveal to you what I see concerning the Trinity.


[1] http://trumpetcallbooks.com/trinitarian.html

[2] http://www.luther.de/en/95thesen.html

[3] http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Wycliffe-Bible-WYC

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