Why I am not a Trinitarian
The following are our reasons for believing that Jesus was both son of God (through God being his father) and son of man (through Mary being his mother). He therefore was a specially equipped man who, though possessing the potential to commit sin, obtained from God his father the capacity to completely resist sin.
Jesus declared that his relationship with God was as a son to his father in as natural a way as other men speak of their respective fathers. Yet if Jesus were God this is incorrect.
“He who has my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and will disclose myself to him.”
When Jesus was accused of claiming that he was God, he corrected his accusers by claiming
That he was ‘god’ in the same sense that other men have been called ‘god’. That is, when a person represents God they are called “God”;
That he was the son of God.
Yet, if the accusation that Jesus claimed he was God was correct, Jesus should have commended his accusers for their insight.
“The Jews answered him, ‘For a good work we do not stone you, but for blasphemy; and because you, being a man, make yourself out to be God’.
Jesus answered them ‘If he called them gods to whom the word of God came … do you say of him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world ‘You are blaspheming’ because I said, I am the son of God’?”
Paul and other New Testament writers declare that Jesus relationship with God was as a son to a father in a similar way that other men are spoken of as sons to their respective fathers. Yet if Jesus were God this would be incorrect
“… you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.”
1 Thessalonians 1:9, 10
Jesus needed God’s intervention to save him from death. Yet if he were God this would be unnecessary.
“In the days of his flesh, he offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his piety’”
The synoptic gospels present Jesus as the son of God (his father), and the son of Mary (his mother). Yet if Jesus were God there should be an account of a pre-existent member of the Godhead becoming incarnate.
“Do not be afraid Mary, … you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. … the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy child shall be called the son of God”
Luke 1:31, 35
Jesus is presented as a man who is a mediator between man and God. He cannot therefore be God anymore than he can be a man needing an advocate with God.
“For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus
1 Timothy 2:5
“… If anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous”
1 John 2:1
Jesus was tempted to sin. If Jesus were God this temptation to sin was not real because it is impossible for God to yield to temptation
“We have a great high priest … Jesus, the son of God … we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathise with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin’
Hebrews 4:14, 15
God cannot be tempted. Jesus was tempted, so he cannot be God
“God cannot be tempted by evil”
God cannot die. Jesus died, so he cannot be God
“God alone possesses immortality”
1 Timothy 6:16
Jesus is always presented as being subordinate to God. Yet if he were God then he cannot be subordinate to himself or another supposed co-equal in the Godhead.
“Then the end will come, when [Jesus] hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. …Now when it says that ‘everything’ has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.”
1 Corinthians 15: 24-28
The resurrected Jesus declared that he was as distinct from God in his being as Jesus’ disciples are as distinct from God.
“I ascend to my Father and your Father; and to my God, and your God”
Luke, after careful investigation of everything concerning Jesus, wrote his gospel to Theophilus. It was designed to give an orderly account of the “exact truth” concerning Jesus. Yet the doctrine of the Trinity is absent from this carefully investigated account of the exact truth concerning Jesus.
“ … it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.”
Luke 1:3, 4
Jesus had a separate will to God that needed to be subordinated to God’s will. If he were identically God then they would have had identical wills.
“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done”
The Holy Spirit is never worshipped as are God and Jesus. There is no scripture that commands such worship. This is strange if the Holy Spirit is part of a triune God
The writers of each New Testament epistle identify themselves at the commencement of each epistle with God and Jesus. Not one identifies with the Holy Spirit.
Paul is a name-dropper in his epistles. He regularly sends greetings from “God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” as well as others. No greetings are ever sent from the Holy Spirit. This omission seems strange if the Holy Spirit were part of a triune God.
In Revelation 22:1 Jesus and God are enthroned but not the Holy Spirit. This omission is strange if the Holy Spirit is part of a triune God
Objection: But doesn’t John 1:1, 2 show that Jesus is God?
John 1: 1, 2 states
In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God
He was in the beginning with God.
Trinitarians claim that these verses should be translated as:
In the beginning was Jesus and Jesus was with God and Jesus was God.
Jesus was in the beginning with God.
- These verses would then require that Jesus was alongside himself. This is not a mystery but a contradiction.
- The Greek for word is logos which can mean more than an utterance. It has the idea of word, speech, matter, reason (Young’s Concordance). It refers then to abstract qualities of God that attend God’s actions as well as characterise Him.
- Imagine if we substituted logos in John 1 with related abstract characteristics of God, for example, love, faithfulness, wisdom, purpose, way, truth or gospel (God’s utterances concerning His plan for man and the earth). The verses would then read (with, for example, gospel as the substituted word):
In the beginning was the gospel,
the gospel was with God [its author] and
the gospel was [about] God.
The gospel was in the beginning with God.
No one would think that such a substitution equates to the gospel being a person called God. Significantly Proverbs 8:22-31 has a similar substitution for the word wisdom in a passage that John 1 could have been modelled on. It reads:
The LORD possessed me [wisdom 8:1] at the beginning of His way, before His works of old.
From everlasting I was established, from the beginning, from the earliest times of the earth …
When He established the heavens I was there …
Then I was beside Him as a master workman; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him.
Wisdom therefore in Proverbs 8 is personified – no one equates wisdom with another person in the Godhead. Wisdom is simply a characteristic of God that He deploys in everything He does – God and His wisdom cannot be separated.
- The personification of the word in John 1:3 is a relatively recent phenomenon in translations. All eight English translations before the King James Version translate John 1:3 as “All things were made through it”, that is, the word. A number of translations today retain the neuter it in John 1 when referring to the word.
- John introduces Jesus in regard to the word as “the word became flesh” (John 1:14). Jesus therefore was God’s logos (purpose) perfectly expressed in a human which came about according to God’s pre-ordained plan and purpose about 2000 years ago. It follows that Jesus, God’s word made flesh, represented God’s glory “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14, 17).
- BeDuhn (not a Christadelphian), in Truth in Translation [University Press of America, chapter 11] argues that the best translation of the expression “the word was God” (John 1:1) is “the word was divine”. He contends that John 1:1 emphasises the elevated status of God’s word.
- If John is headlining his gospel with the claim that Jesus is actually God, why does John declare that his aim in writing his gospel was to prove the lesser claim that Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of God (John 20:31).
Article supplied by Bruce Bates (NZ)
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