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The Trinity - A Purely Scriptural Concept?


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#1 Evangelion

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Posted 11 January 2003 - 02:46 PM

  • Cardinal Newman, Roman Catholic:

    It may startle those who are but acquainted with the popular writing of this day, yet, I believe, the most accurate consideration of the subject will lead us to acquiesce in the statement as a general truth, that the doctrines in question (viz., the Trinity and the Incarnation) have never been learned merely from Scripture.

    Surely the sacred volume was never intended, and is not adapted to teach us our creed; however certain it is that we can prove our creed from it, when it has once been taught us. . . . From the very first, the rule has been, as a matter of fact, for the Church to teach the truth, and then appeal to Scripture in vindication of its own teaching.
    Arians of the Fourth Century (1833.)

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  • Bishop Beverage, Anglican:

    We are to consider the order of those persons in the Trinity described in the words before us in Matthew 28:19. First the Father and then the Son and then the Holy Ghost; everyone one of which is truly God. This is a mystery which we are all bound to believe, but yet must exercise great care in how we speak of it, it being both easy and dangerous to err in expressing so great a truth as this is. If we think of it, how hard it is to imagine one numerically divine nature in more than one and the same divine person. Or three divine persons in no more than one and the same divine nature. If we speak of it, how hard it is to express it.

    If I say, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost be three, and everyone a distinct God, it is false. I may say, God the Father is one God and the Son is one God, and the Holy Ghost is one God, but I cannot say that the Father is one God and the Son is another God and the Holy Ghost is a third God. I may say that the Father begat another who is God; yet I cannot say that He begat another God.

    I may say that from the Father and Son proceeds another who is God; yet I cannot say that from the Father and Son proceeds another God. For though their nature be the same their persons are distinct; and though their persons be distinct, yet still their nature is the same. So that, though the Father be the first person in the Godhead, the Son the second and the Holy Ghost the third, yet the Father is not the first, the Son the second and the Holy Ghost a third God.

    So hard it is to word so great a mystery aright; or to fit so high a truth with expressions suitable and proper to it, without going one way or another from it.
    Bishop Beverage, Private Thoughts, Part 2, 48, 49, cited by Charles Morgridge (1837), The True Believers Defence Against Charges Preferred by Trinitarians for Not Believing in the Deity of Christ. (Publisher: Boston: B. Greene.)

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  • J. L. Mosheim (D.D.), Lutheran:

    The subject of this fatal controversy, which kindled such deplorable divisions throughout the Christian world, was the doctrine of three Persons in the Godhead, a doctrine which in the three preceding centuries had happily escaped the vain curiosity of human researches, and have been left undefined and undetermined by any particular set of ideas.
    Ecclesiastical History (1863), from the translation by Murdock and Soames.

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  • Reverend T. Mozeley, brother-in-law to Cardinal Newman:

    I ask with all humbleness where the idea of Threeness is expressed in the New Testament with a doctrinal sense and force? Where is the Triune God held up to be worshipped, loved, and obeyed? Where is He preached and proclaimed in that threefold character?

    We read 'God is one,' as too, 'I and the Father are one;' but nowhere do we read that Three are one, unless it be in a text long since known to be interpolated. . . .

    To me the whole matter is most painful and perplexing, and I should not even speak as I now do, did I not feel on the threshold of the grave, soon to appear before the Throne of all truth. . . . .

    Certainly not in Scripture do we find the expression 'God the Son,' or 'God the Holy Ghost.' Whenever I pronounce the name of God, simply, and first, I mean God the Father, and I cannot help meaning that, if I am meaning anything.
    As quoted by H. A. Stannus (1882), in A History of the Doctrine of the Trinity in the Early Church.

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  • Rev. James Hughes, Roman Catholic Priest:

    My belief in the Trinity is based on the authority of the Church: no other authority is sufficient.

    I will now show from reason, that the Athanasian Creed and the Scripture are opposed to one another.


    The doctrine of the Trinity is this:

    -- There is one God in three persons; Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The Father is God, the Son is God: and the Holy Ghost is God. Mind, the Father is one person, the Son is another person, and the Holy Ghost is another person. Now, according to every principle of mathematics, arithmetic, human wisdom, and policy, there must be three Gods; for no one could say that there are three persons and three Gods, and yet only one God. . . .

    The Athanasian Creed gives the universal opinion of the Church, that the Father is uncreated, the Son uncreated: and the Holy Ghost uncreated -- that they existed from all eternity. Now, the Son was born of the Father; and, if born, must have been created. The Holy Ghost must also have been created, as he came from the Father and the Son. And, if so, there must have been a time when they did not exist.

    If they did not exist, they must have been created; and therefore to assert that they are eternal is absurd, and bangs nonsense. Each has his distinct personality: each has his own essence. How, then, can they be one Eternal? How can they all be God? Absurd.

    The Athanasian Creed says, that they are three persons, and still only one God. Absurd; extravagant! This is rejected by Arians, Socinians, Presbyterians, and every man following human reason. The Creed further says, that our Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God and of man, 'not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of the manhood into God.' Now, I ask you, Did the Divinity absorb the manhood? He could not be at the same time one person and two persons. I have now proved the Trinity opposed to human reason.

    As quoted in Percy White's The Doctrine of the Trinity (1913.)

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  • Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, Paragraph 237:

    The Trinity is a mystery of faith in the strict sense, one of the “mysteries that are hidden in God, which can never be known unless they are revealed by God” (Dei Filius 4: DS 3015). To be sure, God has left traces of his Trinitarian being in his work of creation and in his Revelation throughout the Old Testament. But his inmost Being as Holy Trinity is a mystery that is inaccessible to reason alone or even to Israel’s faith before the Incarnation of God’s Son and the sending of the Holy Spirit.

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  • F. F. Bruce (M.A., D.D.), Evangelical Protestant:

    People who adhere to sola scriptura (as they believe) often adhere in fact to a traditional school of interpretation of sola scriptura. Evangelical Protestants can be as much servants of tradition as Roman Catholics or Greek Orthodox Christians; only they don't realise that it is "tradition."
    From Bruce's personal correspondence.

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  • Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, Paragraph 237:

    The Trinity is a mystery of faith in the strict sense, one of the “mysteries that are hidden in God, which can never be known unless they are revealed by God” (Dei Filius 4: DS 3015). To be sure, God has left traces of his Trinitarian being in his work of creation and in his Revelation throughout the Old Testament. But his inmost Being as Holy Trinity is a mystery that is inaccessible to reason alone or even to Israel’s faith before the Incarnation of God’s Son and the sending of the Holy Spirit.
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The point of this exercise is not to say "There, the Trinity is false because these men have declared it false" (which they clearly have not), nor "The Trinity is false because the word itself does not appear in Scripture" (which is irrelevant), but to demonstrate that nobody can profess a belief in the Trinity on the basis of Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone.)

Modern Protestants have yet to resolve this epistemological dilemma.

Edited by Evangelion, 18 October 2006 - 03:00 PM.

'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#2 echad_*

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Posted 14 January 2003 - 10:56 AM

What never ceases to amaze me is the ample archive of quotes available from Trinitarian scholars/authors who have seriously questioned the doctrine they espouse in general. There are also highly respected Trin. sources who have dismissed significant portions of Trin. argumentation (or "sub-categories" of the doctrine) as being weak or altogether unfounded. (some examples being Gregory Boyd on the issue of "echad/elohim" and Adam Clarke and Walter Martin's rejection of the "eternal Sonship") I may be creeping out onto a conjectural "limb" here, but I really wonder how many Trin. theologians might not have abandoned the doctrine altogether if their position and/or support from "mainstream organizations" were not at risk? <_<


Chris

#3 Evangelion

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Posted 14 January 2003 - 12:14 PM

You have an excellent point here, of course. :)

What never ceases to amaze me is the ample archive of quotes available from Trinitarian scholars/authors who have seriously questioned the doctrine they espouse in general. There are also highly respected Trin. sources who have dismissed significant portions of Trin. argumentation (or "sub-categories" of the doctrine) as being weak or altogether unfounded. (some examples being Gregory Boyd on the issue of "echad/elohim" and Adam Clarke and Walter Martin's rejection of the "eternal Sonship")


Indeed. If only they would go further, and realise that if you can legitimately question one aspect of the Trinity, other aspects might also be challenged!

I may be creeping out onto a conjectural "limb" here, but I really wonder how many Trin. theologians might not have abandoned the doctrine altogether if their position and/or support from "mainstream organizations" were not at risk?


Good question.

I would say that it's not so much an issue of losing their "position" or "support", but more a case of losing their entire religion. (With apologies to REM.) :) Remember that the Trinity is now an essential part of the mainstream Christian message. Without it, they lose their entire house of theological cards.

I believe that the modern adherence to Trinitarianism is - for the most part - little more than a consequence of the same "herd mentality" which has led in the past to such comparable follies as a blind adherence to Communism, Nazism, Facism, or militant Islam. Its followers are not actually required to think for themselves - all the "hard work" has already been done by others.

When we read some of the pitiful examples of "Trinitarian exegesis" (such as the ridiculous Genesis 1:26 argument, for example), we find that they consist of little more than logical fallacies and fanciful anachronisms. Indeed, they are little better than the arguments which Catholics use to "prove" the "perpetual virginity" or "assumption" of Mary.

Again, when we come to examine the more outlandish arguments (such as the age-old echad nonsense), we find a similar disregard for (1) logic, and (2) honesty. As you have so rightly observed in a previous exchange...

I have explained the truth and then referred them to Trinitarian websites which I pointed out make the BLATANTLY DECEPTIVE claim that echad ALWAYS (by itself) intends a compound unity - then these sites simply quote the "two will be one flesh" and the "one cluster of grapes" and ignore the other 900 times where echad denotes a singular item.


A quick search on Google will show that there are countless Trinitarian Websites which use the echad argument (1) without referencing sources, (2) without providing any of the OT examples which clearly demonstrate an alternative application, and (3) without citing a concordance or lexicon. This is because Trinitarians are in the habit of believing whatever they're told, and not questioning it, nor even researching it for themselves! (And to think that they have the gall to accuse us of being "cultists"?!) :rolleyes:

The echad counter-argument is a personal favourite of mine because it proves beyond any shadow of a doubt that many of the "standard" Trinitarian arguments are based on the same kind of misdirection and eisegesis for which alleged "cults" (such as the JWs) are so often lampooned. Indeed, I have even seen a Trinitarian Website which lied! It claimed to present a quote from Rabbi Tovia Singer (a passionately anti-Trinitarian Jew), but when I wrote to Rabbi Singer myself and asked about this alleged quote, he was outraged! Why? Because the "quote" turned out to be a complete fabrication!

I see this kind of thing all too often in Trinitarian circles. That's one of the reasons why I'm rarely impressed by references to Trinitarian academics - because Trinitarian academics cannot always be trusted. Some of them will deliberately misrepresent an argument (or a definition, or a person...) in order to "prove" their point.
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.




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