THE DOCTRINE of the Trinity is generally accepted in the Christian world, even though it is neither Scriptural nor reasonable. Therefore, in an effort to honor God and Christ and to assist other Christians, we should reaffirm and defend the Scriptural teachings, and examine and refute the Trinity error.
The word trinity is not found anywhere in the Scriptures. It is compounded from two Latin words – tres, meaning three, and unitas, meaning unity, the idea being three in unity or three in one. The idea expressed by the word trinity is three gods in one God (which would illogically mean 3 x 1 = 1, and not 3), though the supporters of the Trinity would state it as three persons are the one God, that there are three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, in the one God, all of the same substance – co-equal, co-existent and co-eternal.
Trinitarians generally admit that they can neither understand nor explain the Trinity clearly. But most of them claim that it must be believed in by all who profess repentance, faith in Jesus as Savior and consecration to God – or else such are not true Christians. Some even state that if any Christian believer denies the Trinity he will be lost eternally, which to many of them means eternal torment. Groups of Christian believers who deny the Trinity are classified by them as “cultists,” and not Christians.
Bible Mysteries are Understandable
Some have claimed that the Trinity is not clearly understandable and explainable because it is a mystery, and Bible mysteries must be accepted with unquestioning minds. We reply that the word mystery as used in the Bible and secular Greek never means self-contradictory, unreasonable, ununderstandable and unexplainable things; but in the Bible it is used to mean a secret not understood by the uninitiated, but understood by the initiated, as can be seen from a study of all the New Testament passages in which the Greek mysterion occurs.
For example, the following Scriptures use the word mystery as we have defined it: (Matthew 13: 11) (Mark 4: 11) (Luke 8: 10). In these passages Jesus makes a contrast between the disciples’ being given to understand the mysteries, and the multitude, who also heard them, but did not understand them. The secret that the Apostle Paul tells – that Israel would be in blindness in part until the full number of the Elect would be completed, and then would be recovered from that blindness (Romans 11: 25) – is certainly understandable.
The secret that the Apostle Paul explained – that the last part of the Church, those alive at our Lord’s Second Advent, would not sleep in death (1 Corinthians 15: 51) – is certainly not ununderstandable; for we understand it. The secret that the Apostle Paul told us – that Adam and Eve are a type of Jesus and the Church (Ephesians 5: 32) – is certainly understandable. That God made clear the hidden mystery to the saints (Colossians 1: 26, 27) proves that it is not ununderstandable, since we understand it – that the Christ, Head and Body, is not one person, but a company of persons (1 Corinthians 12: 12).
The Apostle Paul tells us that he understood the mystery of God (Colossians 2: 2); hence it is not ununderstandable. We certainly understand the mystery of God, Christ and the Church as the one new man consisting of many members (Ephesians 2: 15) (1 Corinthians 12: 12-14, 20, 27). We understand the mystery of godliness as being Christ (1 Timothy 3: 16). We also understand the mystery of the seven stars (Revelation 1: 20) as representing the seven composite messengers that God has sent, one for each stage of the Church, even as we understand the mystery of seven candlesticks as representing the seven stages of the Church.
From the above we see that the use of the word mystery as a Bible proof that the Trinity doctrine is to be accepted with unquestioning minds as a Biblical doctrine is erroneous.
Trinity a Heathen Teaching
The Trinity as the conception of God is found in all the ancient and practically all modern heathen religions. Confucius said: “Tao (God) is by nature one; the first begat the second; both together brought forth the third; these three made all things.” The Japanese had a three-headed divinity called Sao Pao Fuh. The trinity of India (Trimurte), Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, is worshipped as three persons, though originally the Divine principle Brahma was but one. One of the sacred writings declares: “The great Unity is to be distinctively recognized as three gods in one person.” One of its hymns reads: “There are three deities; but there is only one Godhead, the great soul.”
The Chaldean Oracle declares: “The Unity brought forth the Duality, which dwells with it and shines in intellectual light; from these proceed the trinity.” The names of the Chaldean trinity are Anos, Illinos and Aos. The Babylonian trinity is shown in the three images in the temple of Belus; the Phoenician trinity was Ulomus, Ulosuros and Elium; that of the Egyptians was Kneph or Ammun, Phthas and Osiris. That of the Greeks was Zeus, Poseidon and Pluton. That of the Romans was Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto.
The money of the Dalai Lama (Tibet) is stamped with a picture of a threefold Deity. A Tartar coin is stamped with a human figure with three heads, which, according to the superscription on the reverse side, represents their trinity. The trinity of the Irish was Kriosan, Biosena and Siva; of the heathen Scandinavians, Thor, Wodan and Fricco; and of the heathen Germans, Odin, Thor and Freya. The ancient Indians of North and South America called their three in one God, Tangalanga (one in three and three in one) and Trinimaaka (trinity). Accordingly we see that the supreme God of practically all heathen nations is a trinity.
Trinitarianism a Gradual Development
Unlike the heathen, God’s Old Testament people did not believe in a trinity. Despite the claims of Trinitarians, the Trinity doctrine is not taught in the Old or the New Testament. Especially after the Apostles died, many converts were made from among the pagans and they, particularly educated ones among them, did not abandon their trinitarian beliefs, but transferred their trinitarian ideas to Jehovah, Jesus and the holy spirit.
That the Father and Son are equal, however, was at first denied by all Christian believers. Early Church leaders and writers, such as Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, Novatian, Arnobius, Eusebius, etc., were very explicit in affirming that the Heavenly Father alone is the Supreme God and that Jesus is completely subordinate to God’s authority and will.
By 230 A.D. the first steps toward Trinitarian error in the Church in Christ’s relation to the Father had begun to be taken. From about 262 A.D. onward, great controversy broke out in the Church on the subject and increased. In 318 A.D. the Arian controversy began, with Arius upholding the Truth on the Father and the Son being separate persons and Beings, with the Father greater and the Son less great. He was opposed by Athanasius, who contended that the Father and the Son were two beings in one Being, co-equal and co-eternal.
Constantine, the Trinity Maker
The Roman Emperor Constantine saw a vision and as a consequence recognized Christianity as the religion of his empire in 313 A.D. His influence in church affairs became great. Fearing that the Arian-Athanasian controversy and the division it caused was threatening the unity of the empire, he called the approximately 1,000 bishops to come at his expense to the Council of Nice. But only 384 came, the majority abstaining because of fear that they would be under the control of the Bishop of Rome, who held Trinitarian views. But despite months of arguing, this bishop could not bring the majority of the 384 bishops to acknowledge the Trinity.
Finally, Constantine himself decided the matter in 325 A.D., and the Nicene Creed (Trinitarian) was declared to be the Christian faith and anything contrary to it heresy. Arius and other anti-Trinitarian bishops were excommunicated and anti-Trinitarians were banished from the empire. Thus Constantine, even though not even a churchman nor baptized, decided the issue, and therefore was and is considered by many as the Trinity maker.
Trinitarianism was not completed, however, until the first Council of Constantinople, 381 A.D., when the personality and deity of the holy spirit were decreed, although the historian Harnack asserts that in the third century the majority of Christians believed the holy spirit was merely a Divine power. Trinitarianism was now established.
At the Councils of Ephesus, in 431 A.D., and Chalcedon, in 450 A.D., Jesus was asserted to be a union of the human and Divine natures. Incidentally, the latter added Mary as a supplement to the Trinity, declaring that she should be received and honored as Theotokos, “Mother of God.”
(to be continued)