Lets Debate the Trinity

by UnDisfellowshipped 124 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • jonathan dough
    jonathan dough

    “If the pivotal assertion of the New Testament, “The Word was made flesh” (Jn 1.14), means anything, it signifies that two, the divine and the human, became somehow uniquely one in Jesus of Nazareth; that in Him was achieved a union, elsewhere unparalleled of God with man” (ibid., 918).

    The Church believes that Jesus Christ is true God, Son of God made man, the Second person of the Trinity, who took unto Himself a human nature and so exists not only in the divine but also in a human nature: one divine Person in two natures. The man who in His earthly life was known as Jesus of Nazareth was not a human person made one, as Nestorius said, in a unique way of moral unity, with the Person of the Son of God. He was God, Son of the Father, made man for men’s salvation. (ibid., 932)

    “His human nature, perfect and complete, was not a human person distinct from the Divine person of the Word … it was the human nature of a Divine Person. This point of our faith enwraps the humanity of Christ in full mystery. … His human life included true human knowledge and a human will distinct from the divine will” (ibid., 936).

    Our faith in Christ, the God-man, supposes that his humanity is not a human person (the mystery). For if it were, and if there were a duality of persons in Christ, then the Divine Person would not really be man but only united with a man; Christ would not be what our faith says he is.” (ibid., 937)

    “Christ is one Person, that of the Logos, in two complete and integral natures” (Council of Chalcedon in 451) (ibid., 921), but “U]nion of the human nature with the divine self in no way diminishes the human nature” (Constantinople III in 681) (ibid.,). “[T]he human nature of Christ had its foundation in the divine self, the Second person of the Blessed Trinity,” (794 AD, A synod at Frankfurt) (ibid.).


  • jonathan dough
    jonathan dough

    Jesus’ ignorance of the Last Day - Christ knew the Last Day in His vision knowledge which is inexpressible in human concepts, not His infused knowledge. But did the Holy Spirit know the day and hour of the Last Day?

    At Mark 13:32 Jesus stated “But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” “Son” in this context does not refer to the “God” of the God-man Jesus but the man and His human knowledge. St. Augustine offered a solution to the question of Christ’s limited knowledge that today is universally accepted, namely, that “Christ had no communicable knowledge of the Last Day because it did not pertain to His mission to reveal it.” “[One] could say that Christ knew the Last Day in His vision knowledge, not in His infused knowledge” (Catholic Encyclopedia, 939) (emphasis added).

    Augustine said this in the context of the question about human infirmities taken on by Christ; his solution here too has prevailed: Christ took all of these infirmities, except ignorance, which is not only a consequence but also a principle of sin. (ibid.)

    Roch A. Kereszty explains “The Word has known man and the fullness of human experience from all eternity through his divine knowledge. But in the process of the Incarnation, he empties himself of his divine “status,” renounces, it seems, the direct use of his divine consciousness and knowledge, and becomes aware of himself as man and learns as man gradually about God, himself, people and the world. He consummates his human experience in all these dimensions only in dying and rising to a new, definitive form of human existence (Fundamentals of Christology, 317).

    There are also practical considerations regarding Christ’s limited knowledge of the Last Day. Not only was it not necessary in order to fulfill His mission, but mankind’s awareness of the exact day and hour has the propensity for unrepentant man, subject to death at any moment, to put off repentance and salvation until the last possible minute. This would countermand Christ’s command to be constantly vigilant (Matthew 25: 1-13).

    The Jehovah's Witnesses contend further that even if, “as some suggest, the Son was limited by his human nature from knowing, the question remains, Why did the Holy Spirit not know?” (Reasoning, 409). The answer is that the Holy Spirit did know because He is one of the Hypostases or Persons of the Holy Trinity. Remember, usually “Father is not a title for the first person of the Trinity but a synonym for God” (Encyclopedia of Religion, 54). God is by nature triune and one of those Persons is the Holy Spirit. Therefore, when Jesus stated that only the Father knows exactly when the Last Day shall be, his reference to the Father, the triune God, by definition included the Person of the Holy Spirit.


  • Deputy Dog
    Deputy Dog

    jonathan dough

    First of all, it is the Catholic and Protestant churches who claim this; it is a direct quote from the Encyclopedia, and I didn't come up with this idea.

    Maybe the liberal wing of some churches (and I don't think you or they, have the authority to speak for all of Christendom). And I agree "you" didn't come up with it. My guess some of it may have come from the authors of The Myth of God Incarnate.

    Are you claiming that they are wrong?


    Do you deny the hypostatic union?

    No. I affirm it. I believe Christ to be God Incarnate, Fully God and Fully Man.

    ...then whatever version of the Trinity you ascribe to is not one recognized by the vast majority of Christendom.

    LOL! If by the "vast majority of Christendom" you mean the "Roman" Catholic church. That carries no weight with me, your "Roman" Catholic church anathamatized me many years ago in 16th-century at the Council of Trent.

    If you are saying that the churches are wrong and that the humanity of Christ is not a creature, and is God Almighty, then there is no need for the hypostatic union, no need for it to refer to God-man. There would be no God-man, but even the Chalcedonean confession concedes the hypostatic union.

    I can see why a Cathlic would feel that way. I suppose you see your church as your mediator, between God and man. Where as I see Christ, as the Apostle Paul did, as mediator.

    1Ti 2:5

    For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.

    It looks like we just don't agree on this, but at least I think I understand you a little better.

  • wobble

    I really appreciate this thread and all who have contributed to it, it has given me a much broader understanding of the Trinity Doctrine and of the divinity of Christ.

    It is interesting to see the various scriptures going back and forth on both sides of the issue,as they have for close on two thousand years, and probably will in millenniums to come.

    Thank you all for adding to my education.

    I have to agree with Joseph Malik's point, that as the Trinity was not taught by Jesus and the Apostles it is plain WRONG to teach it as "truth" today.

    The doctrine was not really fully formed until the joint work between Basil of Caesarea, his brother, Gregory of Nyssa, and their friend, Gregory of Nazianus,in the late 4th. century, although debate had been raging for years.

    In the light of what Paul says in Galatians 1v8 ".....even if we, or an angel out of heaven were to declare to you as good news something beyond what we declared to you as good news, let him be accursed. "

    So to my mind, debate such as this thread, study and meditation on the subject is fine, but to TEACH it as truth is a no-no.



  • jonathan dough
    jonathan dough

    Wobble, did you read this? Don't you agee that the light gets brighter?

    The Trinity in the New Testament

    a) Matthew 28:19 ----------------------------------------------------------

    The most explicit reference to the Trinity in the Gospels is Christ’s baptismal formula found at Matthew 28:19: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit …” (NAB). “This is perhaps the clearest expression in the New Testament of the Trinitarian belief” (NAB notes, Matthew 28:19).

    Not surprisingly, the Jehovah's Witnesses don’t see it that way, stating: “Do these verses say that God, Christ and the holy spirit constitute a Trinitarian godhead, that the three are equal in substance, power and eternity? No, they do not, no more than listing three people, such as Tom, Dick, and Harry, means that they are three in one” (Should You Believe, Chapter 9).

    The Jehovah's Witnesses have missed the point entirely. No credible scholar claims that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one just because they are numerated like Tom, Dick and Harry. That’s silly. The unity of the three Persons or hypostases - the oneness of the three and singleness of essence - is indicated by the singular use of “name” by which all three Persons are referred to, not their plural “names.” If, for instance, the Son were merely a separate subordinate creature as the Jehovah's Witnesses falsely teach, Jesus would have them baptizing in the “names” of the Father and Son, at a minimum. But he did not. Having all the same “name” puts Father, Son and Holy Spirit on par, on an equal plane with all which this connotes.

    “Name” (Greek Onoma), “… as a noun, is used in general of the “name” by which a person or thing is called ….” It also stands “for all that a “name” implies, of authority, character, rank, majesty, power, excellence, etc., of everything that a name covers” (Strong and Vine’s, 178). The phrase “in the name” may represent the “authority of Christ” … or “in the power of” … or “in recognition of the authority of …. (MT 18:20; cf 28:19; …” (ibid.).

    Under either scenario a Trinitarian formula is patently obvious. If the “name” into which believers are to be baptized is that by which a person or thing is called then Father, Son and Holy Spirit share the same name, that of God, and all three are called by God’s name; three Persons in unity sharing the divine essence, yet distinct. It equates the three Persons, and ascribes to them essence, power and eternity equally.

    The Jehovah's Witnesses reject the conventional application of “name” at Matthew 28:19 and argue that “name” does not mean a personal name at all, that “God” is not a name like Jehovah, but means “power or authority” (Should You Believe, Chapter 8). So, “‘baptism in the name of the holy spirit recognizes the authority of the spirit, that it is from God and functions by divine will” (ibid.).

    Actually, “I AM” can’t be considered a name in the conventional English sense either, but that is what Jehovah said His name is. A name can have wide application, as Isaiah attests about Jesus, whose name is “God.”

    And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 NWT)

    Another weakness in their approach is that baptism under the Jehovah's Witnesses’ interpretation would be into three separate and unequal powers and authorities, with the Son possessing less than the Father because they believe Father and Son are not equal, since their Jesus is nothing more than a man, always inferior (Should You Believe, Chapter 7). This would conceivably require at least two separate baptisms but that would contravene Ephesians 4:5 which says that there is only “one baptism.”

    For the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Holy Spirit is only a power similar to electrical current flowing from God (Should You Believe, Chapter 8). But if that were the case, baptizing into the names of God and the Holy Spirit would be redundant, ascribing the same authority twice; it ascribes an authority and power of the Holy Spirit distinct from God, but that’s not what Jesus meant.

    The expression “in the name of” (literally, ‘into the name’), indicates a dedication or consecration to the one named. Thus Christian Baptism is a dedication or consecration to God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Since the Son and the Holy Spirit are mentioned here on a par with the Father, the passage clearly teaches that they are equally divine with the Father, who is obviously God. (Catholic Encyclopedia, 306)

    “From the vocabulary and grammar of the Greek original, the intention of the hagiographer to communicate singleness of essence in three distinct Persons was easily derived” (ibid., 299).

    b) 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 ----------------------------------------------- [Top]

    Likewise, 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 does not attempt to prove equality and unity simply by listing “Spirit,” “Lord” and “God.” Rather, the three are put on a par, thus indicating their divine nature, and consequently, their omnipotence, omniscience and eternal existence. In speaking of the spiritual gifts or charisms that are bestowed upon Christians, Paul says:

    There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. (NAB)

    This passage witnesses to the doctrine of the Trinity by ascribing the various charisms, viz, gifts, ministries, and workings, to the Spirit, the Lord (the Son), and God (the Father), respectively. Since all these charisms of their very nature demand a divine source, the three Persons are put on a par, thus clearly indicating their divine nature while at the same time maintaining the distinction of Persons (Catholic Encyclopedia, 306).

    The Spirit is the donor in each instance and each gift contributes to the corporate life of the body of Christ, the Church. The one Spirit, Lord or God, is at work in the body; the embryonic Trinitarian formula is to be noted, ….” (C.S.C. Williams, Peake’s Commentary on the Bible [London: Nelson and Sons, Ltd., 1964], 961) (Peake’s Commentary)

    c) 2 Corinthians 13:13 (14) ----------------------------------------------- [Top]

    2 Corinthians 13:13 (14) provides “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the charity (love) of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” “[This] is one of the clearest Trinitarian passages in the New Testament” (NAB notes 13, 11-13). What makes Paul’s “use of these terms so significant is that they appear against a strictly monotheistic background” (Catholic Encyclopedia, 306).

    This blessing is perhaps a quotation from the early Christian liturgy. The grammatical usage in this blessing, especially the subjective genitives …. gives us a basis not only for the distinction of persons, but also for their equality in as much as all the benefits are to flow from the one Godhead.” (ibid.)

    2 Corinthians 13:13(14) “not only sums up the apostolic teaching, but it interprets the deeper meaning of the Trinity in Christian experience, the saving grace of the Son as that which gives access to the love of the Father and the communion of the Spirit” (New Bible Dictionary, 1299).

    d) Romans 8:9-11------------------------------------------------------------- [Top]

    Romans 8:9-11 also makes a strong statement that the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ both dwell in the believer, and accordingly the Spirit of God is the Spirit of Christ since there is only one Spirit (Ephesians 4:4), an indwelling exemplified in a true Trinitarian fashion: God is in you, Christ is in you, and the Holy Spirit which proceeds from both (in the Latin Western tradition) is in you the true believer, all existing as one principle ultimately.

    But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if the Sprit of God really dwells in you. Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you. (Romans 9:8-11 RSV)

    Jehovah is the spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:17 NWT; “the Lord is the Spirit” RSV)

    “[T]here are many other implicit references, for example at Jesus’ baptism, where the Father speaks from the cloud and the Spirit descends as a dove upon the Son (Matthew 3.16-17). In Paul’s letters there are many examples of Father, Son and Spirit being closely linked in their activity. [I]n Ephesians he speaks of ‘one Spirit …one Lord … one God and Father’ (4.4-6). In 2 Corinthians he speaks of God establishing us in Christ and giving us the Spirit as a first installment (1.21-2). He said to the Galatians that ‘God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ (4.6)” (Oxford, 1208).


  • jonathan dough
    jonathan dough

    Or this?

    The Trinity in the Bible: Elemental Trinitarianism is evident throughout the Bible

    While the Jehovah's Witnesses are correct in stating that the word “Trinity” is not found in the Bible, neither is the word “monotheism” so its absence has no bearing on whether the underlying basis for Trinitarianism exists in the Bible. Careful objective study of the Bible reveals strong scriptural support for recognizing by logical necessity the existence of a triune God - not three Gods, but one God Almighty existing in three hypostasis (Persons) who share the one divine essence. Jesus Christ was sent in part to reveal and explain this threefold nature of God.

    Early theologians who strove for a deeper understanding of the doctrine, as well as those of the Middle Ages and modernists, whether Catholic, Protestant or independent, recognize in Scripture an elemental Trinitarianism (Catholic Encyclopedia, 295).

    It is clear on one side that the dogma of the Trinity in the stricter sense of the word was a late arrival, a product of centuries’ reflection and debate, it is just as clear on the opposite side that confession of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - and hence an elemental Trinitarianism - went back to the period of Christian origins. Contemporary studies on the ancient Christian creeds have done much to bring this out.” (ibid., 300)

    J.N.D. Kelly attests that “[s]trictly triadic formulas and the triadic frame of mind so clearly mark at least later NT compositions, that the exegete and the historian must recognize a quasi-independent Trinitarianism coexisting with the purer and simpler forms of NT Christology” (ibid., 300). Among the earliest Christians there was “… consistent worship of God in a Trinitarian pattern and the practice of baptism into the threefold name of God” (Encyclopedia of Religion, 54).

    18) The Trinity in the Old Testament [Top]

    While some downplay references to the Trinity in the Old Testament, many Bible scholars find implicit evidence and foreshadowing of God’s triune nature even if the early Israelites failed to pick up on it. The fact that such evidence is limited is immaterial because the triune God was subsequently and intentionally revealed to man by and through Christ, and better understood in the centuries that followed. This progressive revelation was the Almighty’s prerogative, and reasonable in light of the polytheistic pagan nations surrounding Israel at that time. It was necessary to contrast Israel’s polytheistic, many-god worshipping neighbors with a monotheistic God rather than a triune-natured God which could be confused with tritheism, the worship of three Gods. It was Jehovah’s intent to distinguish Himself from false pagan idols.

    Though the doctrine is not developed in the Old Testament, it is implicit in the divine self-disclosure from the very beginning, …in a very rudimentary form. This is found not only in isolated passages but interwoven in the entire organism of the Old Testament Revelation. (New Bible Dictionary, 1298)

    The mystery of the Holy Trinity was not revealed to the Chosen People of the OT. On account of the polytheistic religions of Israel’s pagan neighbors it was necessary for the teachers of Israel to stress the oneness of God. In many places of the OT, however, expressions are used in which some of the Fathers of the Church saw references or foreshadowing of the Trinity. The personified use of such terms as the Word of God [Ps 32(33.6] and the Spirit of God (Is 63.14) is merely by way of poetic license, though it shows that the minds of God’s people were being prepared for the concepts that would be involved in the forthcoming revelation of the doctrine of the Trinity. (Catholic Encyclopedia, 306)

    Early theologians saw semblances of the triune activities of God - wisdom, word and spirit - embryonic members of the Trinity, and disclosure of the Trinity in the appearance of the three men to Abraham (Genesis 18) (Oxford, 1207).

    The earliest foreshadowing is contained in the narrative of the creation, where Elohim is seen to create by means of Word and Spirit (Gn. i. 3). Here we are for the first time introduced to the Word put forth as a personal creative power, and to the Spirit as the bringer of life and order to the creation. There is revealed thus early a threefold centre of activity. God as Creator thought out the universe, expressed His thought in a Word, and made His Spirit its animating principle, thus indicating that the universe was not to have a separate existence apart from God or opposed to Him.

    It is thought that Gn. I. 26 (‘And God said, Let us make man in our image and after our likeness’) implies that a revelation of the Triune God had been given to man when first created, in as much as he was to be given the divine fellowship, but that the consciousness was afterwards lost with the loss of his original righteousness. (New Bible Dictionary, 1298)


  • koolaid-man
  • wobble

    Thanks Jonathan for drawing my attention to these arguments. I do feel that in my case, thanks to you and others on here, the light does indeed get brighter !

    I think too that it is important for all of us to continue to try to get greater understanding, but I still hold to what I said in my post above that I feel it is wrong to add to the simple Pauline method of teaching " Christ Risen " and Jesus as what he DID claim for Himself, that He is "THE way, THE truth and THE life" as far as what we teach as Biblical truth. or rather The Good News.

    Personal exegesis of scripture is a good thing, but as you know ,going beyond what Jesus and the canonical writers actually said, has led to many an error, just look at the WT !

    Thanks again,



  • jonathan dough
    jonathan dough
    Personal exegesis of scripture is a good thing, but as you know ,going beyond what Jesus and the canonical writers actually said, has led to many an error, just look at the WT !

    But that would disqualify every Christian religion because in some way or another they go beyond what is written. Light getting brighter and going beyond what is written are not necessarily the same thing. Jesus also said he was sending the Spirit of the Truth, AFTER he left, who would lead us to a better understanding. Paul even went "beyond" what Jesus taught and it wasn't wrong unless it contradicted Christ.

  • jonathan dough
    jonathan dough

    So, are you saying you don't believe in the hypostatic union, that he was God-man? If Jesus is the way, what is the way? It necessarily requires economic trinity.

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