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My Notes on the Trinity


Compiled By Devin Willis

What Should I Believe About Trinity...?

I found it very interesting that the Fundamentalist Christian Preacher Jimmy Swaggart Wrote that "the term" 'one,' as applied to the Godhead, "means one in unity." "The three are one in the sense that they are always in perfectly agreed; with never any disharmony between them {Sic.}." Yet, he continues, the blessed souls in heaven will actually see three distinct divine beings upon their arrival there. (Swaggart, from his paper entitled "What is meant by the Trinity?" And When We Get To Heaven Will We See Three Gods?" as cited by Peterson, Ricks p. 68)

Or is the Trinity:

-The Catholic Encyclopedia states: " Trinity is the term employed to signify the central doctrine of the Christian religion. Thus, in the words of the Athanasian Creed: 'the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and yet there are not three Gods but one God.' In this Trinity .the Persons are co-eternal and co-equal: all alike are uncreated and omnipotent."

Many other churches in Christianity agree. For instance, the Greek Orthodox Church also calls the Trinity "the fundamental doctrine of Christianity," even saying: "Christians are those who accept Christ as God." In the book Our Orthodox Christian Faith, the same church declares: "God is triune. The Father is totally God. The Son is totally God. The Holy Spirit is totally God." the Trinity is considered by many to be "one God in three Persons." Each is said to be without beginning, having existed for eternity. Each is said to be almighty, with each neither greater nor lesser than the others.

A Little History

In 311 AD Christianity was powerful and growing. Constantine, Struggling to become the Roman Emperor saw an opportunity to get Christian Support, and made the decision to supposedly become a convert to Christianity, in his successful effort to win the Roman Civil War and gain complete control of the empire. The Roman government, under Constantine Absorbed the Christian Church just as the earlier Roman Empires had absorbed other religions.

The Christian Church was large, but had been fractionalized by persecution and doctrinal disputes. Constantine's acceptance of Christianity put an end to the persecutions. He also held he first ecumenical council to resolve Doctrinal conflicts.

Under Constantine's supervision, the first ecumenical council was held at Nicea in 325 AD, and settled a doctrinal dispute by ruling that Jesus Christ was equal with the Father. Which Christ never claimed! Constantine was not a Christian. Supposedly, he converted later in life, but he was not baptized until he lay dying. Regarding him, Henry Chadwick says in The Early Church: "Constantine, like his father, worshipped the Unconquered Sun; his conversion should not be interpreted as an inward experience of grace. It was a military matter. His comprehension of Christian doctrine was never very clear, but he was sure that victory in battle lay in the gift of the God of the Christians."

A second council held in 381 AD, decided that the Godhead (nature of God) was a trinity of three parts, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This concept of the Trinity was first put forth by Tertullian in his "Treatise Against Praxeus" in about 210 AD The orthodox doctrine of the Trinity is not to be found in the teachings of the First Century Church, but rather evolved in the second, third and forth centuries.

"Does the Bible support this belief?" Questioning traditional Trinity Christian doctrine is nothing new. As the Protestants broke from the Roman Catholic Church, they believed came to realize that the idea of a progressive revelation of God guaranteed by an infallible council or papal decisions were incorrect. Doctrines decreed within the Roman Catholic Church are subject to question. One such Protestant and scholar who questioned the doctrine of the Trinity was none other than Sir Isaac Newton. He came to the same conclusion others were coming to -- namely; that this doctrine was false.

Until 200 AD, no one ever spoke of God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost as a three-in-one deity. Furthermore, there was no formal doctrine of Trinitarianism (the teaching of the three-in-one God) until the fourth century. Alvan Lamson, a writer of history, documented this: "The modern doctrine of the Trinity is not found in any document or relic belonging to the Church of the first three centuries... It was of later origin".

Even the New Catholic Encyclopedia admits that Trinitarianism did not become a part of the Christian doctrine until the fourth century. A passage from the encyclopedia reads, "When one does speak of an unqualified Trinitarianism, one has moved from the period of Christian origins to, say, the last quadrant of the 4th century... The dogmatic formula 'God in three Persons' was the product of 3 centuries of doctrinal development”. In Buzzard and Hunting pg, 73). This doctrine did not develop as a result of biblical study.

In fact, after examining the whole New Testament, Fortman concludes that the classical Trinity doctrine is not to be found there, only a foundation for the future development of that doctrine:

There is no formal doctrine of the Trinity in the New Testament writers, if this means an explicit teaching that in one God there are three co-equal divine persons. But the three are there, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and a triadic ground plan is there, and triadic formulas are there . . .. The Biblical witness to God, as we have seen, did not contain any formal or formulated doctrine of the Trinity, any explicit teaching that in one God there are three co-equal divine persons. (Fortman, pp. 22-23, as cited by Robinson, p. 74)

In the New Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 14, p. 299, R. L. Richard writes, "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" (as cited by Robinson, p. 121).

The non-LDS scholar J.N.D. Kelly noted the absence of the doctrine of the Trinity in the early writings of the Church.

"The Church had to wait for more than three hundred years for a final synthesis, for not until the Council of Constantinople (381) was the formula of one God existing in three coequal persons formally ratified" (Early Christian Doctrines Harper, New York, 1978, pp. 87-88, as cited by Robinson, p. 76).

Interesting, The New Testament, refers to Jesus Christ as God's Son 68 Times, and the word Trinity is not in the Bible. Not only does the Bible denies of the Trinity (the traditional view) and calls Jesus Christ the Son of God, but it also distinguishes the differences between God (The Father) and Christ.

For final and the best resource anyone could use, I must turn to the TRUE authority on the Trinity doctrine, Jesus Christ himself! NEVER said, "I am God one God, one Being who is God and only God; yet that one God has three different Persons, separate personas, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit."

Lets look at what Jesus asks and says on this very important subject:

 Matt. 16:13-20- 13 “When Jesus came into the coasts of Cęsarea Philippi. (Compare Mark 8:27-38; Luke 9:18-22.) This city was located near the base of Mt. Hermon, at a source of the Jordan, and in the northeast extremity of Palestine. It was called Cęsarea Philippi by Herod Philip, who rebuilt it in honor of Tiberius Cęsar, and added Philippi after his own name, to distinguish it from Cęsarea on the Mediterranean coast. It has now about fifty houses, many ruins of columns, towers, temples, a bridge, and a remarkable castle. Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? The original Greek is more specific, and means, "Who do the common people say that I am?" He does not ask for the opinion of the scribes, Pharisees, or priests, but of the people.

14. Some say that thou art John the Baptist. Who had been killed by Herod a few months before. That was one popular notion regarding him, circulating, no doubt, chiefly among those who had never seen him. Herod Antipas entertained it (chap. 14:1). Elias. It was very generally expected that Elijah was to return to the earth in connection with the Messiah's advent (Mal. 4:5). One of the prophets. The Jews believed that at the coming of the Messiah the prophets were to rise again.

15. But whom say ye that I am? This is the great and smaller catechism, the one great and essential question. Christ is the one object of the Christian's faith. We say we believe in him; but in whom do we believe? The hour had not come for the settlement of what should constitute the Christian confession.

 16. And Peter answered. With the impetuosity and impulsiveness that were ever manifest in him, Peter replied at once and expressed the faith of all the apostolic band. Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. This confession not only sees in Jesus the promised Messiah, but in the Messiah recognizes the divine nature. The confession of Peter is the one Christian confession of the New Testament and of the apostolic age, and the very foundation of the church, into which all saints are built as living stones of the temple.

 17. Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona. Happy are all lips that make this confession, for such shall be confessed before the Father in heaven. For flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father. This holy and blessed confession no one can make from the heart unless he is moved by the Spirit. “                            (The People's New Testament, 1891 )

Our dearest Jesus seems to clear up the relationship he has with his Father in the passages above.

Many well meaning Christians have shared John 10:30, John 17:20-22 to prove their thoughts on the Trinity. Christ did teach that He and His Father are one (John 10:30), but He explained what this unity meant. One in perfect agreement

In John 17:20-22, However this does not mean that we will no longer be individuals or that we will be dissolved into one substance, but that we can be of one heart and mind, united with the will of God, in perfect agreement and unity. This same teaching occurs in other passages, where Christ explains that the oneness and unity between the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost is what we should have with each other or what we can also have with them in heaven.

For instance, in John 14:10,11, Christ says that the Father is in Christ and Christ is in the Father. Does this mean they are the same person? No, for in verse 20 He explains that in heaven, we will know that Christ is in the Father and we are in Christ and He is in us. Clearly, something other than oneness of substance and person is meant here.

As for John 10:30, the much esteemed and non-LDS F.F. Bruce in his International Bible Commentary States:

"The neuter gender [used in the Greek] rules out any thought of meaning 'one Person'. This is not a comment on the nature of the Godhead. Rather, having spoken of the sheep's security in both Himself and the Father, Jesus underlines what He has said by indicating that in action the Father and He can be regarded as a single entity, because their wills are one." (F.F. Bruce, The International Bible Commentary, Marshall Pickering/Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1986, p. 1249).

Selected Bible Passages:

Matthew 3:15-17; 17:5; Mark 1:10-11;Mark 1:10-11; Luke 3:21-23;When Jesus is baptized, the Spirit of God descends on him like a dove and the voice of the Father is heard to say, "This in my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

Matthew 10:33-36 "But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven

Matthew 12:31-32: "And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven, neither in this world, neither in the world to come."

Matthew 18:10: Jesus says that the angels of little children "do always behold the face of my Father, which is in heaven."

Matthew 20:23: Jesus cannot designate who will sit on his right hand and who will not. This is for the Father alone to decide.

Matthew 22:36: Jesus does not know the exact time of the second coming. Only the Father possesses this information.

Matthew 26:39 "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me! nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt."

Matthew 27:46; "And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying "Eli,Eli,Lama Sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?"(NAS)

Matthew 28:18: After the resurrection, Jesus declares that "all power" has been "given" to him.

Matthew 28:19: Baptism to be performed in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

Luke 23:35: the Christ of God.

1 John 2:1 Christ is our advocate with the Father.

John 5:17-23,36-37 "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work."

John 5:19: The Son can do nothing of himself. He can only do what he sees the Father do.

John 8:28: Jesus says, "I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things."

John 8:29: Jesus always does those things which please the Father.

John 8:42 "For I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but He sent me."

John 12:28-29; 17:1-5 The Father speaks to the Son from heaven, "The people therefore that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said An angel spoke to him."

John 12:49-50 "I speak therefore, even s the Father said unto me, so I speak."

John 14:26: The Father will be send the Holy Ghost in Christ's name.

John 14:28 "I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I."

John 17; Matthew 26:39-42: Jesus prays and submits to the Father.

John 20:17 "Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brethren, and say until them, I ascend to my Father and your Father; and to my God, and your God."

Acts 2:32-33; 10:38 "This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we are all witnesses. Therefore, being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear."

Acts 7:55-56:"...Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit. He looked toward heaven where he saw our glorious God and Jesus standing at his right side. Then Stephen said, "I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right side of God" (CEV bible)

1 Corinthians 8:4-6: There are many Gods and many Lords, both pagan ones and true ones. However, to us there is one God, the Father, and one Lord, Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:24-28: When the Father has totally established his power over earth, the son himself shall also be subject unto the Father, that God may be all in all."

2 Corinthians 4:4;

Colossians 1:12-15 "In whom the god of this world hath binded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them."

2 Corinthians 11:31; "The God and Father of the Lord Jesus"(NAS)

2 Corinthians 13:14: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all."

Ephesians 1:3,17; Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places...(NAS)

Philippians 2:5-11: In his pre-mortal life, Jesus did not think it was robbery to be equal with God. The Father has highly exalted Christ and has

Colossians 1:19: It pleased the Father that all fulness should dwell in Christ.

Hebrews 1:2: The Father appointed Christ "heir of all things."

1 Peter 1:3; "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus" (NAS)

Revelation 3:21 There are two thrones in heaven, one for the Father and one for the Savior. Jesus will allow the faithful to sit on his throne just as the Father permitted him to sit on his (the Father's) throne.

I know this is a sensitive area for many other Christians who have accepted the doctrine of the Trinity. I cannot embrace this doctrine as a LDS Christian I accept all biblical teachings on the nature of God, but I do reject the Nicene doctrine of the Trinity doctrine. In my humble opinion, the modern doctrine of the Trinity is not taught in the Bible. I respect those who believe otherwise and would never say someone is not a Christian for differing in their belief on this intense topic, but I believe the Bible does not support that doctrine.

A thought from Joseph Smith:

". Wherein do you differ from others in your religious views? In reality and Essence we do not differ so far in our religious views but that we could drink into one principle of love... If I esteem mankind to be in error, shall I bear them down? No, I will lift them up and each in and each in his own way if I cannot persuade him my way is better! I will ask no man to believe as I do. Do you believe in Jesus Christ? So do I. Christians should cultivate friendships with others" (Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W Cook, eds,) (The Words of Joseph Smith, Provo: Religious Studies Center, 1980 pg 229,July 9,1843)


Works Cited and Researched /Recommended Reading

Daniel C. Peterson, and Stephen D. Ricks Offenders For A Word: Aspen Books, Salt Lake City, and Utah  

Stephen E. Robinson: Are Mormons Christians? Bookcraft, Salt Lake City, Utah 1996

Buzzard, Anthony F., and Charles F. Hunting. The Doctrine of the Trinity: Christianity's Self-Inflicted Wound
. Morrow: Atlanta Bible College, 1994.

Encyclopedia Britannica. Vol 16. USA: Benton, 1961. 24 vols.

Lamson, Alvan. The Church of the First Three Centuries. Boston: Walker Fuller and Co., 1865.

B. W. Johnson  The People's New Testament.   Vol. I. The Four Gospels and Acts of Apostles. St. Louis, MO: Christian Board of Publications, 1891.

Victor P. Wierwille. Jesus Christ is Not God. New Knoxville: American Christian Press, 1981.


Internet Pages that I Researched /Recommended Reading

LDS Links

 Teachings About the Godhead - This is from an LDS view point from the All About Mormons web site.

Trinity and the Bible - by Marc Schindler. Discusses whether the mainstream "Trinity" doctrine can be found in the Bible. Located on Kerry A. Shirts' "Mormonism Researched" Page. .

The Trinity and the Nature of God - by Stephen E. Robinson. This is a chapter out of Robinson's book, Are Mormons Christians?

Trinity or Godhead?- This page is from  Kevin Graham's LDS Q&A Site. He does a great job covering the Trinity 

The Trinity: History & Refutation and The Trinity: Nonsense Or Good Sense ? - The following essays were written by Chris Bolton located at Chris Bolton's LDS Page:  and are from the LDS point of view.

About Heavenly Father:  This was written by Wade Englund  at this site he covers such issues as: Are Heavenly Father and Christ One God and/or Two Separate Gods?; Does Heavenly Father Have a Body?  , Heavenly Father Differentiated from the Omnipresent Spirit Essence?, Is Heavenly Father a Spirit Personage?  And  How did Heavenly Father Come to be God, and Our God?


Non-LDS Links

IPBE LIBRARY OWEN The Trinity Institute of Practical Bible Education The Electronic Public Library John Owen Doctrine of The Trinity A Brief Declaration and Vindication of the Doctrine of the Trinity and also of the Person and Satisfaction of Christ..., by John Owen.

Mystery of the Ages: Who and What is God? - This Attempts to answer the question’s“ Who and What Is God? Chapter 1 Why Does God Seem Unreal?

Jehovah's Witnesses Official Web Site: Should You Believe in the Trinity?  It shares Their Answers to such questions as: What is the Trinity? Does the Bible

Biblical Monotheism Examined Trinitian or Henothistic in Nature?  By Sam Shamoun This is from the CR&E web site.

Scriptural Comparisons That Prove Jesus is God - By George Z. This is from the Just A Christian Ministries, International Website

The Scriptural Doctrine of the Holy Trinity - by the Rev. T. H. Brown from Trinitarian Bible Society.

Creeds and ConfessionsThis is from the Chalcedon home page

 Catholic Encyclopedia  - This is from the New Advent website.

 The People's New Testament. Vol. I. The Four Gospels and Acts of Apostles St. Louis, MO: Christian Board of Publications, 1891. Vol. I. The Four Gospels and Acts of Apostles St. Louis, MO: Christian Board of Publications, 1891.

Jesus and the Trinity by Mark M. Mattison this is from Oneness vs The Trinity Website

 

 




 

 

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