From Trinitarianism to [Biblical] Unitarianism: My testimony

I made a short video testimony back in March 2014 regarding my change of mind and a few of the objections that caused me great stir in my own beliefs as a trinitarian.  But I said in that video that I wanted to eventually make another video with a more full testimony of my repentance from the false idol of trinitarianism to the one true and living God YHWH, the Father of our lord Jesus Messiah(Jer 10:10, Matt 16:16, 1 Thess 1:9-10).  This will be the beginning of this testimony in text that will be recorded in a video/audio soon with as much as I can remember regarding all the events that caused me to change my mind.  And be assured, this was no easy change of mind in all the time I took to study out this issue(and continue to study)….  it caused me great grief over time as I began to learn more and more regarding all the deception of trinitarian songs, translations, bias, and outright lies spread to uphold the trinitarian idol.  It caused me great grief in the deception of my close friends and fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who were likely not even studying the doctrine in the manner of depth which I was giving to it.  I fought it, I wanted it to be true, I tried to make it work… and in the end it did not work.  Here is the story of the truth of my testimony from as much detail as I can recall. I started to write this over a year ago and put it off.  It has been a long time since I originally planned to make a testimony, so it is quite fuzzy now.  Some dialogue recollections are likely not perfect, but the general context is there.

I do not recall the exact time this occurred(sometime in the summer/fall 2012), but my first sort of “ah-ha” moment that caused me to give a second thought was a small debate I got into with a fellow brother regarding Isaiah 14 being about satan or a wicked king based on the context.  But one verse in particular was regarding the fact that this “being” who fell was called a “man.”(Isaiah 14:16)  Going into the full discussion is irrelevant, but my brother brought the argument of the trinity and the meaning of “person” into the discussion for some reason to attempt to back up his view that it was regarding a past fall of satan.  As I began to think about his claims more and more…  I eventually admitted openly both to myself(and in my objection to him) that the trinity and ideal of “person” was not founded on the Bible, but a man made description to understand a concept that (I thought at that time) was taught in the Bible.  I realized that God is not really a “person,” and that word didn’t really seem to fit because that would make each of the “persons” of the trinity into clearly individuals who are each separately God in their own right, and 3 Gods.  That was my first stir moment, but it didn’t really cause me tons of unrest.  It was just categorized and put away in my thoughts not to really arise again until many months later.

Then around the time of December 2012 – January 2013 I had been reading the Bible and some verses caught my eye that had not before despite my usage of them in speaking with other people regarding the Gospel.  The main verse I remember is John 17:3 “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (NKJV).  It’s fairly straight-forward in the verse. Jesus is speaking and praying to the Father(v.1) and claims in regards to eternal life one must know the only true God and himself.  Obviously Jesus is not aligning himself with being the only true God in this text. He’s naming only one person (in trinitarian terms) as that God, his Father.  So that was another moment that caught my attention, yet it was still not enough to make me change my mind or cause me any larger concern.  It was also filed away as “interesting, but I’ll look into it another time.”

As February/March of 2013 rolled around, our elders of Refining Fire Fellowship said they were going to begin doing a “foundations” series with roughly 10 major topics.  They wanted to give newer believers a good start with contextual attempts to explain and found themselves in major topics regarding the Scriptures. “Awesome!” I thought at the time. They were also going to start with God and go in deeper on the trinity.  I was ready and I wanted to see their defense of it from Scripture because I hadn’t studied it in great depth.  I just knew some basics and how to defend it against Jehovah’s Witnesses for the most part.  I knew the verses that “proved” Jesus was God, but I wanted more.  Kevin Lovell was going to be the main teacher of this first major topic.  In my personal opinion, I loved Kevin a lot. I knew he knew the Bible pretty well–but I wasn’t truly wanting him to teach it. I would have rather had Kerrigan Skelly teach it.  Kevin is not the same type of teacher as Kerrigan, so I wasn’t sure if I’d get the same amount of “meat” from the Bible as Kerrigan might draw out in teaching the trinity.  You can actually view that trinity series teaching(in 3 parts) on skellys3 (Kerrigan) youtube channel still.  Here is a link to the playlist. Refining Fire Foundations playlist

So we get into it, finally!  And while I’m not going to go through all the teachings of Kevin right now to pull out every text I could show he mis-used now… I will go through what texts and teachings caught my attention back then.  We soon started with one of the main texts, Deuteronomy 6:4, the Sh’ma!  So Kevin goes over the idea that Hebrew word “echad” is not the Hebrew word “yachid.”  That God specifically used this special word “echad,” and it can refer to a “compound unity.”  He then goes to a few specific verses like Genesis 1:5 referring to an evening and a morning in ONE day. Guess what, that word is “echad.” There are two parts, evening and morning … in one day! Amazing, a compound unity he declares.  Then onto Numbers 13:23 wherein “echad” refers to “one bunch of grapes.” Again, another compound unity.  I believe there was one more example in the video–but I cannot remember right now.  So there we have it, the Sh’ma itself holds the truth of the trinity within it… those foolish blind Hebrews couldn’t even read their own language.  God is “echad,” a compound unity.  I specifically remember Kevin being a bit foolish in his own blind pride by claiming the Hebrews were blind to their own language in not seeing the trinity right there.  I know Kevin did NOT know Hebrew well… I suspect (though I do not know for sure) he got this from Michael Brown.  Now I grieve because this is not only ignorance of Hebrew, but basic linguistics on a grade level understanding.

At the end of one of the teachings from Kevin on the trinity I also remember some slight juggling of obvious texts in Hebrews 1.  It had to do with the fact that Jesus became the son of God in a timely manner “Today, I have begotten you” and “I will be a Father to him and He shall be my son.”  Both of these are in verse 5 and quite clearly dealing with a time sense, not an eternal sonship of some sort.  I don’t remember the answers, but this was also a bit questionable when I was listening to the men in the fellowship go back and forth on this subject in Hebrews 1.

What mainly caused me to question was the claim regarding “echad” by our elder whom I knew did not know Hebrew well.  I was also a bit questioning of it because I was learning Greek at that time.  Language was becoming very prioritized in my understanding lately, and something seemed off by Kevin’s claim about “echad.”  I also recognized later that our elders had avoided Mark 12:29-34 which is an entire exposition of the Sh’ma in Deuteronomy 6:4 by Jesus himself [Mark 12:29-37 is the greater context I discovered later, wherein Jesus explains he is the “my lord” next to the one YHWH–my video on the subject is here]. This was concerning since the I learned from the elders that the Sh’ma is very important to Jews(really, Israelites–but that’s another matter).  So, why don’t we recite it? It’s one of the GREATEST commandments according to Jesus.  But trinitarians really do avoid it like the plague.  Only when it comes to defending the trinity does it come up.  It’s the only reason it came up for me in the past!

So later on that very night I looked into the Lexicons online for the word “echad.”  I ran through Gesenius’ Lexicon and found nothing regarding a definition of “plural unity” or “compound unity” within the term itself.  What I found, was that the Hebrew word “echad” is exactly like the English word “one.”  When you ask a Hebrew speaker to count, they will start with “echad.” It means ONE, one means ONE… not more than one!  That would be a breaking of the law of contradiction to say ONE itself is more than one!  So that caused me a bit of unrest. So I began “Googling” around the discussion regarding the Sh’ma and “echad.”  I found tons of debates, but mainly found a website and youtube page by a user called “TheTrinityDelusion.”  He and many others I read said the “echad” claim by trinitarians was a complete falsehood and a ridiculous fallacy of linguistics. Incidentally, since then I’ve found a few trinitarians who were candid enough to admit that this argument is a sham and they cannot believe it even exists in the trinitarian academic world.  It is truly as I said, a fallacy of grammar.  As per the example above “one day” means “one day”–not more than one day.  “One” is an adjective describing how many “days”–not what is within that “day.” “Evening and morning” are descriptions of what is within the word “day”–and has nothing to do with the word “one”(echad in this case).  There is something called “semantic domain” in language. In this case it refers to the semantic domain of the words “one” and “day.”  When you think of the word “day” you can think of it’s semantic domain in multiple manners.  “Day” can bring all sorts of things to mind: it has 24 hours, morning, evening, afternoon… are just a few examples.  “One” however, means only “one.”  To say it’s more than one, is to deny the word’s definition itself.  Even if “one” is used to describe a word with a semantic domain that includes multiples—such as “one bunch of grapes.”  There’s only ONE bunch, one is describing how many bunches there are… there’s not 2, 3, 4 etc … bunches.  “Bunch [of grapes]” is the word with the semantic domain that includes multiples because that’s what the word brings to mind itself.  I hope this is clear enough to explain and understand–but it is clearly a fallacy to claim “echad” is plural unity and can refer to the trinity within the Sh’ma, and thus it is a deception.

Then I looked more at the Sh’ma in the context of Mark 12:28-34 since it was also a clear place wherein it was spoken about.  I realized Jesus was speaking with a fellow Israelite and he came to an agreement with this man in regards to the one God.  I also had the quite obvious self-revelation that Jews, that Israelites… are not trinitarians by any means.  So what gives, wouldn’t this be the perfect place for Jesus to begin explaining this entire 3-in-1 God thing?  But instead he didn’t, he posited this one God as his God also.  The one God of the Sh’ma, the one YHWH of the Sh’ma… is Jesus’ God too!  Jesus has a God, what revelation!  Such an obvious revelation! Jesus has a God, and his God is one… his Father and no one else. Is that because such clear verses exist wherein the Jews refer to the Father as the only God(Malach 2:10)? So that led me to search a bit more about this fact that Jesus has a God.  I realized it was all over Scripture, and then I stumbled upon a number of “Trinity challenge” questions by the youtube user I mentioned above. So I figured, I’ll take some of these questionnaires.  I took one on 1 Corinthians 8:6… and found myself a bit stumbled as a trinitarian. Then I took another one, the one on whether or not Jesus is a trinitarian. The original video appears to be gone, but with his permission I still have it available on my own youtube site now [link to that video here].  I took that challenge, and realized in answering these questions I necessarily condemned Jesus as an idolator and God the Father as that idol!  That was it!  I answered those questions and it was like someone struck me with a bat to my chest.

Now I had an issue. I had to make sure what I was reading wasn’t just nonsense.  I wanted to study these topics of “echad” and Mark 12…and study it well before I ever brought it before my elders.  I didn’t want to waste their time with any frivolous questions.  I mean, it was the trinity!  Who questions this?  So I took the next 4 months and studied this until I had gathered enough research to present a serious objection to their teaching.  I wanted to questionably object to the mis-use of “echad” and also ask why we avoided Mark 12 when it was very pertinent to understanding who is God.  I gathered a couple pages worth of information and figured I was ready by August 2013.  So I asked the elders(who at that time were only Kerrigan Skelly and Kevin Lovell) to sit down with me and speak about my questions.  They were willing.

So one afternoon after a gathering in our church, they sat down with me for about 3 hours as I asked them further questions regarding their studies on the trinity.  Both admitted they had not given it truly a full study–but more of a continuous cursory assumption while reading the Bible.  They just saw the trinity as they read along through all the years of other studies.  I got to ask my couple main objections regarding the “echad” and Mark 12, and they had no answers at that time.  They asked what I was thinking about, and I told them when I searched my views it was appearing to be something like “biblical unitarianism” even though I still had many disagreements with this view at that time.  Though with the knowledge I have now, I know my views were leaning more towards the Eastern Orthodox version of the trinity.  It is not the same as the West’s trinity today.  The major difference I may have had at that time is I was wondering if Jesus had truly completely given up “godhood” upon his incarnation.  That way he could be truly and fully man with no additions to his nature.  Either way, the elders then began to try to question me while not answering my objections.  And I admit I sounded fairly ignorant and admitted I had not studied a plethora of other texts often used to support the trinity. I had not fully studied this topic–it’s a huge topic.  This is not something you figure out in a couple months even!  After our minor debate and dialogue for 2-3 hours, they asked me to email them my objections in a more detailed format and they would get back to me.  So I took out another couple hours to type out the issues and emailed them, excited to hear more.  I’ll link that email here and copy it to another wordpress so it can be read separately.  Sadly, this email was never answered.

I didn’t hear any more from them about the subject until around September/October 2013 even though I continued studying the subject.  Tracy Bays was made an elder in between those months and was filled in on the objections I had.  Then the elders asked me to stay behind and speak with them further after another fellowship gathering about where I was at in this study.  Tracy had a few objections I admitted I did not have answers for(even though I do now, he never got to hear my answers)… but I was still in a limbo at this point.  I had placed myself outside the trinity at this point, but I wasn’t fully committed to any position yet[I was leaning more towards Arianism at this point]. I just wanted a more objective view from the outside of the trinity.  All this time in those past months I’d been on youtube videos regarding the trinity and asking questions and having dialogue with other trinitarians. I didn’t want to bother the elders with every question and objection I would find(we’d have been talking for hours every other week after church!). The majority of those online in different forums would outright get angry at me for even questioning it! I think I can count on one hand today the number of humble trinitarians who would have dialogue about this subject in a respectful manner after 2 years of changing my mind… and 3 years in study of it.  Anyways, this conversation between myself and the elders lasted another 2-3 hours with the elders wherein more questions and objections were asked… but mainly from them to me.  I had studied a number of texts in support of the trinity at that time, but was still nowhere near tackling them all.  I answered a few of their objections and finally got to ask some of my own objections.  Their answers were either very bad(regarding the hypostatic union question I remember) or they continued to ignore my initial objections regarding “echad” and Mark 12.  I still had not received an email response or a direct response from them on these two major issues.  In the end the debate got a bit more heated even though it was controlled.  The elders suggested I watch the debate between Anthony Buzzard and Michael Brown/James White… and they also gave me a copy of Michael Brown’s book Jewish Objections to Jesus: Theological Objections. They also asked that I avoid any other websites or books regarding the subject and to just read and watch these sources and study the Bible.  I internally found that a bit unreasonable to only look at one side of the argument without being able to test it, but I agreed.

I read the trinity relevant portions of Michael Brown’s book many times over and found them very wanting.  Sometimes he was even admitting the biblical unitarian position within his book.  He also differs from other trinitarians in his explanation. [I have a video showing Michael Brown’s clear semi-oneness claim in his book, linked here.]   I watched the debate (I’d already seen it once–and I admit Buzzard appeared to lose)… but I was sitting there yelling at the screen for all the things Anthony didn’t press White and Brown on.  Brown was equivocating and self-contradicting like crazy in one of his answers and Anthony didn’t say a thing to point it out.  I know it’s difficult when you’re in the thick of things… so I began to write down my every question and objection to White/Brown’s answers in the debate.  I got about half-way through the debate again and had page upon page.  I also wrote down my issues with Brown’s book.  I continued to study the Scriptures and look for every relevant text I could regarding the trinity and the who the one true and living God is…  I found tons of texts, tons of clear texts and cross-references.  I found many biases in translations favoring the trinity.  I found many seemingly clear texts that I thought supported the trinity actually DID NOT AT ALL support it when I looked more closely and cross-referenced words/phrases in the verses.  I started writing all this down.  I tried working the 3-in-1 God thing out multiple times during my hour lunches at work and time at home.  I could not figure out how to do it without equivocating or contradicting Scripture.  I found later that there were many candid trinitarian apologists who admitted this cannot be logically made to work.  It leads to tri-theism or a clear contradiction within itself, and especially to Scripture. There is not one place “God” can be shown in the entirety of Scripture to mean “triune God.” It must be read into the Bible.  “O theos”[God] in the NT alone refers to the Father only 1,300 times without debate.  There’s only roughly 1317 usages depending on the manuscripts used(meaning some more, some less).  That’s over 99% without debate.  That was pretty clear.

Then around late December 2013 I was at work on a night shift.  I was heavily burdened for many months studying all regarding this subject and facing the clearer Scriptures.  I was listening to Acts in my audio Bible—and hearing the first preaching of the apostles.  Over and over they were calling the God of Israel, the God of our fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob….our Father!  The one God is the Father and Jesus is now lord! Acts 2 and Psalm 110:1.  Paul gives his famous speech to the Greeks at the Areopagus in Acts 17 and makes it clear in no uncertain terms that-that one God who created everything, gives everything life, made the nations, doesn’t dwell in temple(Acts 7:48-50), is the reason YOU LIVE….that one God “Acts 17:31…will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”  That “He,” that “God” is the Father!  Not a tri-une god!  Jesus said “our” in the Sh’ma, Jesus is under the Torah… including that Sh’ma as one of the greatest commandments.  That God is his God. Jesus is not a trinitarian, he’s a unitarian.  I cried out in repentance at work… I cried out for forgiveness…. I cried out for strength, and the burden was gone.

So now we had an issue.  I had faced what was burdening me for so long, and now I had to face my elders.  I called and finally reached Kerrigan by phone on a Saturday late afternoon in January 2014 right after the new year.  I told him that I had repented and become a biblical unitarian.  I told him we would not be joining the fellowship again until I could speak with the elders in private to confront them.  We are to have 2 witnesses in an accusation, so I needed my wife also.  He was understandably upset and angry. He told me that I was not welcome back to the fellowship.  I asked him when we could speak and he said to give the elders a couple weeks to prepare for the talk and then we’d all speak.  In the middle of the conversation he tried to ask me questions(and I honestly don’t remember them now)…so I also pressed him on who the one and only true God is according to Jesus, regarding John 17:3.  He acted as if he did not know the verse and that I was putting him under pressure when he wasn’t ready or studied.  I find it hard to believe he didn’t know John 17:3!  He refused to answer.

I heard nothing for a few days from anyone until Kerrigan called to ask if Tina(my wife) was going to join the fellowship at all the next week and needed a ride.  But I told him no, she was with me and had changed her mind also.  Tina had been studying on her own and been dialoguing with me about the issues as I brought text by text to her from the Scriptures.

So I took Kerrigan’s response to my question about meeting with all the elders very seriously.  I took the next 3-4 weeks preparing and studying.  I studied and compiled verse after clear verse.  Fact after fact, logical argument in writing after another to expose the trinity explanations for what they were both in the minds of the elders and the mis-uses of Scripture.  I wrote about 20-30 pages worth of information.  I prepared everything I could find.  I probably would have gone longer–but with my wife at my side and almost 4 weeks passing… we agreed if I kept going I would never stop.  So I had to just cut it off and admit I had enough information to present and leave it at that.  Since then, I’ve only found more verses and cross-references so clearly in the Scriptures.  I admit I do not know everything and did not at that time, but I had to finally make a plan to meet with them.  So I sent an email to Kerrigan with a detailed pre-examination of the trinity and asking for my objections to be answered. I considered these pre-exam questions very important because I wanted answers to these questions.  I will link that email here that I sent.  And then I waited.  I waited 2-3 days… I waited a week.  No response, no call from them.  I waited a whole 2 weeks for my request to meet with the elders, and then I finally decided to email again and ask a very patient and calm question regarding why I had not been contacted at all back to set up a meeting. I’ll link that email here.  Kerrigan finally responded in email.  I will link that email here.  Essentially, he said they knew enough and there was nothing I could say to convince them.  So they “prayed” and decided not to meet with me and we were just cut off, false teachers etc…

So, where is that response in Matthew 18?  Do the elders now just get to claim they have enough of the answers that they don’t have to answer objections?  Are my wife and I not able to make legitimate accusations and be heard out?  Is that not what Matthew 18 is about? Confronting sin?  I was livid at that time to be forward when I read that email response.  I almost answered immediately then… but Tina held me back and told me to wait a day.  It was better… I’m glad I waited. I was still angry, but it was a more controlled email response.  I will link that email here.

I want it to be known that I never received a response from the elders to my initial main issues back from the fall of 2013.  I never received my Matthew 18 confrontation in full against myself or towards the elders from my standpoint, especially in front of the entire church per Jesus’ command.  I was never given the opportunity to go through with my counter-accusation in front of the church.  I had my wife and I as witnesses to charge them with false teaching in the email, yet no one was willing to hear us out.

So we pretty much had to accept that without anyone being willing to contact us since the elders cut off our contact.  We had no contact with the rest of the fellowship. We began to make plans to move away and sell our house.  I received a job transfer within my company to a much better paying position in another state nearer to family… so I took it. The only contact we had to have then was to trade items back with those whom we had borrowed them from in the fellowship.  The emails between us all did stay in context regarding trading also… so there’s no reason to really copy these over.  We finally set up a meeting to trade stuff off.  The 3 elders, Tracy Bays, Kerrigan Skelly and Kevin Lovell decided they were going to drive over to our house and trade off the items with us.

Our last meeting finally came one evening right before we were about to move.  They arrived and we traded back items.  I sincerely wish now I’d have just cut it off and went back inside our house now—because they did not have ears to hear what the Scripture and Jesus had to say.  But I remained outside with my wife and Kevin initiated conversation.  It started out fine, but Kevin mainly spoke about how my views were “overthrowing history” and going against the entire church for the last couple thousand years.  Completely irrelevant honestly–our church was already against the mainstream last couple thousand years in doctrine.  I mean, Roman Catholicism ruled… and very few people had full Bibles in hand like we do today… nor could most even READ!  There were [biblical] unitarians that came out of the reformation though. Namely an anabaptist leader named Adam Pastor who actually split from Menno Simons.  Then later John Biddle, who was very well known as a [biblical] unitarian in the times after the reformation.  This is also ignorant of the fact that the majority of the early church prior to Nicea was Arian-like in their views of God and Jesus.  You can see this if you more closely study the ante-nicene writers in context.  Anyways, point still is… history has nothing to do with what the Scriptures actually say and our church was already against it en masse.

Then Tracy Bays accused me of believing Jesus was still dead!  How foolish!  I wish I had recorded this conversation.  Of all things!… I was told in the email that the elders would not be wiling to hear me out since they wouldn’t be convinced… and I get accused of such a ridiculous thing that has absolutely nothing to do with [biblical] unitarianism!  Tracy had no clue what my position even was!  Yet they had nothing to learn from me? I objected to that claim that “Jesus was dead” clearly and he was quiet for the moment.  Kevin was still talking about objections… and then he brought up John 1. I went into speaking about the “memra”  of the Aramaic targums as I learned a bit more from Michael Brown(and studied more later)… and then I was accused of sounding gnostic! Again, these crazy foolish accusations!  And these men had nothing to learn from my position or the Bible?  I learned about the “Memra” from the VERY BOOK THEY GAVE ME in the first place from Michael Brown!  I only studied it more than that which Michael Brown presented and found it to be a dead end for trinitarianism.

The last major accusation I remember hearing from Tracy Bays was something along the lines of “Why don’t I go to the pope? since he’s a man, he can be your mediator.”  I immediately responded with 1 Timothy 2:5 ” ‘For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,’ and the pope is not the sinless lamb of God!”  He stood there and said nothing.  Nevermind the complete foolishness of the claim shows that Tracy is denying Jesus is a man implicitly!  I hear this all the time from trinitarians now in double-talk when trying to deal with the contradiction of the hypostatic union.

Kerrigan was quiet in the background the entire time walking around in my yard and on my driveway.  I presume he was praying.  The only thing he said was “it’s time to go” before they drove off and un-audibly he said that I was a sinner. I didn’t hear it, Tina had told me later.

And that’s pretty much it from that point…  we packed, we moved and we live in another state now.  I tried emailing a couple objections to some things I saw come out from Kerrigan–but he nor others did not respond. He made a video mis-using the Greek grammar in Titus 2 and I left a full contextual response comment… and he blocked me off the video. That was pretty much it.  I continued to study the trinity, mainly listening to James White’s explanations of it since he’s the main proponent.  I haven’t kept up with what I wished to regarding making videos and objections… and a lot of it has already been done truly.  I haven’t been studying the topic as thoroughly lately because other topics took my interest… but I’m still willing to dialogue about it with anyone who will.

Overall this study and experience with the elders taught me great humility.  I realized how foolish I had been in not listening to other’s positions in the past which could also very securely be grounded in the Bible.  I realized how my elders had abandoned their original position as leaders and listeners… which had initially drawn me to them and this fellowship in the first place.  I thought they had the openness to talk about major biblical issues, but in the end I found I was wrong about them.  Ever since then I’ve felt more free to study other major biblical issues, and I’ve found I was wrong on other major positions in my opinion.  All of this has only humbled me further, but it’s difficult.  We miss everyone. We’re upset we did not get a full meeting and get to say good-bye to the fellowship.  They were our family for over 2 years …and despite whatever has happened between us… that time and all that I learned in the company of Refining Fire Fellowship for those few years will not be forgotten.

-Sean


Refining Fire Fellowship: Email copy 12 Mar 2014

This is my last email sent to Kerrigan in response to his denial of a meeting.


Hello,

Yes we all have busy lives, us included.  The point was not to assume anything—that’s why I emailed you.  The thing I find grieving is that you did not take the time to even respond back to let me know your decision.  I had to seek again to find out.  For knowing someone for 2-1/2 years and not to even respond when your last words I knew were “I’ll hear you out” on the phone, shows little respect to your own words and to us.  That was my last known response–so, what else am I to presume except that we’re going to set up a time to meet?
I find it rather grieving also, if the truth is what you think you have—you should have the ability to stand on it for that truth should have nothing to fear.  I care about you guys enough to confront you. Sadly it appears you do not really care enough about me and my wife to say anything other than arbitrary accusations(like asserting that the trinity is equal to God’s word) to condemn us.  You haven’t yet responded to even some of my simplest objections from last summer, yet I’m supposed to just submit to your beliefs without answer?  Tell me, would you do that?  You say you “saw it coming”? Yes because I don’t submit to lies or to false teachings about the one true God, our Father(the actual list for clear unambiguous Scripture references for this would fill page upon page).  I actually test things(as commanded by Scripture), and I hope others in the church will do the same.  In my mind, the beginning of the death of the trinity was when you guys taught it—you all have partial blame also for not substantiating it with truth, but lies and weak proof-texts mostly based on inferences.  My wife and I have no problem openly saying now(since we aren’t going to meet formally)—you are all in idolatry(as were we).  You have an idol, a false god, and with such you are in the lineup of 1 Cor 6:9-10 as those who will not inherit the Kingdom of God.  This is, and was your wake up call to come to the knowledge of the truth that there is one God, the Father, one God and one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.  I believe God is being patient with those as He was me, but the burden will remain, you are in sin now that you have been confronted fully.  I’ll share this with the entire church via email if I must if you won’t allow me to declare it openly because I actually care about you guys and want you out of sin.
The simple truth has not hit you, that you cannot declare me an idolator for having the same God as Jesus. Jesus was a unitarian(for lack of a better word), not a trinitarian.  Jesus had a one person God, His Father(John 17:1-3, John 20:17).  That is replete through the obvious Scriptures which somehow I also was blind to for so long—and you now are also.  Jesus did not have a 3 person God(b/c that would include himself as his own god, nonsense), so you have a different God than Jesus… so unless you’re going to declare Jesus an idolator, you cannot call me one without associating him into the same camp.  I know where I stand, and I’m in the faith and of the faith of the Lord Jesus and out of sin now.  That trinity doctrine was a burden for the last year, and I cannot truly explain the depth of the freedom I received when I let it go and repented.
You guys have 3 gods… you’re tri-theists, not mono-theists.  You don’t seem to recognize you have to claim 3 persons is 1 person, which is nonsense–like claiming 3 cars is 1 car.  It’s hidden by equivocation because you’re claiming the 3 person share 1 nature, and then you fallaciously title that 1 nature “God” with a capital “G.”  This is a deception, as English readers we’re trained to recognize capital letter proper nouns of titles as “identities” in this case, since ‘God’ is a title of a person.  But then, you cannot say that 1 God is a person, because then you’d have directly 3 persons=1 person, so instead it’s called a nature(a WHAT according to trinitarian apologists), and then give it a singular person pronoun “Him.”  This is a deception.  You have to claim that because you have to somehow get back to 1 person, because it’s clear–the Scripture shows God speaks as a single individual, a single person in grammatical terms(Deut 32:39…and v.6 shows it’s clearly the Father speaking). You cannot avoid this, even your own teaching from many years back you showed you have 3 gods by analogy when you used your son Malachi and yourself as an example regarding the trinity.  You said you each were 2 persons, sharing 1 human nature.  By that simple logic, you are also 2 humans, not 1 human(unless you’re oneness).  Taking that analogy straight over to the Father and Jesus, you have 2 persons sharing 1 divine nature, 2 gods… not 1.  Your own analogy shows you’re not a monotheist.   And this isn’t just your own analogy—I’ve seen the same analogy on other trinitarian websites trying to claim Adam, Eve and Cain are all 3 person sharing 1 human nature and trying to compare that to the trinity.  But no one in their right mind would conclude Adam, Eve, and Cain are 1 human, they are 3 humans.  This whole entire doctrine is built on equivocation.  I found that out because I forced myself to define terms, and that’s why I forced you to—there is no definition of “o theos” meaning “nature/essence/ousia”–this is outright unbiblical and clearly forced into the Scriptures.  The one God is not a “what,” but a “who”–a person, an individual.  Your one god is an “it”–an idol.  I spent the last year trying to make this work, it won’t.  There are even trinitarians who admit this verbally in their own books, and then they fall back into calling it a “mystery” and saying we shouldn’t try to figure it out. Sounds like self-delusion, I wouldn’t do that to myself. It reminds me a lot of calvinism’s double predestination contradictions.
I also found when you read the Apostles creed–you read into it that it’s trinitarian.  That’s some eisegesis if I’ve ever seen it… the trinity is not just have 3 persons, but saying those 3 person are 1 God.   The Apostles creed says no such thing, it says “One God, the Father…”  not “One God, the Father, Son and Spirit” as you somehow read into that creed because you think you see 3 persons.  It’s interesting even the Nicene creed begins with the same statement “One God, the Father…” yet no trinitarian affirms that.  There’s a lot of false history surrounding this topic also, “Arius” was not a new view… he was likely actually the majority view in the church at that time.  Not even 10 years later after Nicea(roughly 250 bishops), the Rimini-Seluecia council with more representation from both east and west, and estimated 400-500 bishops, denounced Nicea.  Athanasius was on the run and banished for many years after that council while Arius was constantly re-instated, but you aren’t hearing about those councils in between 325 and 381.. it just skips all of them to point out the ones that affirm Athanasius(and then the arm of Roman law was behind it, and killed dissenters).  Justin Martyr in his Dialogue with Trypho in Chp. 56 says Jesus is another God, a lesser God than the one true God. That’s either obvious polytheism, or a claim that Jesus is just a lesser ruler, judge, angel, or representative of God.  Tertullian says there was “a time when the son was not” in Hermogenes… so he had no concept of the trinity today as it exists.  This all continues to prove this doctrine was formulated over time, not handed down(and there’s more to it than this).  I doubt you would affirm those things though even while they’re facts of history.
Emma will learn the truth both about simple English grammar and math, both of which I’m rather concerned for you when you claim somehow the godhead is 3 persons that speak as a single person.  You admitted to me a long time back that your English grammar was not the greatest, and this is where most of the deceptions in this doctrine are found.  When you teach your children what a singular personal pronoun is, hopefully you’ll see you’re denying grammar to uphold your trinity.  You’re certainly going to confuse your children, it’s cognitive-dissonance.  Emma is not being led astray in the least, and will learn the Shema that our Messiah taught from a young age to know that our God is one, not three in one.  Jesus says YHWH is our God, including Himself… I noticed both in the teachings of yours from years ago, and last summer with Kevin’s… and in any dialogue afterward, this text of Mark 12:28-34 was avoided every time and still hasyet to receive a response.  It’s completely damaging to the trinity, showing it’s a lie.  “Our” in English grammar denotes himself(Jesus) and others(Jews).  So Jesus’ God is 1 YHWH, not 3 in 1.  And that one YHWH, is the Father(John 8:41, Mal 2:10, 1 Cor 8:6 etc…)  Why in the world are you expecting me to submit to objections you didn’t answer either in the teachings, in the last 2 meetings, and yet still have no response?  Don’t you see you’re holding me to a double-standard?  Would you submit to a teaching that didn’t answer any objections? I hope not.
You guys have also been singing oneness songs for the last year… where has your discernment been?  In Matt Redman’s “Holy”(sung to Jesus)—where in the entirety of Scripture is Jesus directly called “God Most High,” or the “living God”?   Those terms are always clearly in reference to the Father.  Jesus is the son of the Most High God, and the son of the living God(Luke 1:32-35, Matt 16:16).  Or the Kari Jobe song where in reference to Jesus, it is sung “You are God alone, from before time began”… uh? That’s not trinitarian, that’s oneness… I’ve even spoken with a few oneness people lately who clearly loved that song.  Where has your discernment been?
Overall, I could show you so many clear irrefutable proofs from God’s own mouth that He(the Father) is the one and only God and there is no one else but Him–but in reality it is you and the other elders who do not want to submit to the clear Scriptures and have rather made a god of your own mind and imposed it upon the Scriptures.   I’ve actually already given you many objections and verses, and you’ve yet to respond to any of them.  I find that really astounding that you think I should submit to a teaching from you that cannot respond to objections and recognize its errors.  Would you do that? At least, you guys don’t use that god to suit your sinful desires—most people use the trinity and deity of Jesus to claim they really can’t follow/obey Jesus.  But the problem still lies in the fact that… since you’re not submitting to love the one true God YHWH, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength according to the greatest commandment—you aren’t keeping the commandments, and thus do not know Jesus(Mark 12:28-34, John 15, 1 John 2:3-4).  Your one YHWH is a nature, an ousia, an essence… an it.  So your preaching will all be self-condemnation until you repent.  Such is one of the main reasons I did not go preach while I searched this out for this last year.
How would you suggest we trade back the items that others have of ours and we of yours?  I have some of John’s items to return… and we also have children’s clothes that are yours/Angela’s and also Lauren/Vons.  We need to give back clothes, and so do others to us since these are traded items.
I hope you do understand that we are both very grateful for everything you have taught us, and have learned much from you.  You have built us up in the Scriptures on the Kingdom of God, the truth regarding righteousness and holiness, and loving obedience among many other things.  We grew much here under this church body, and experienced many great things in the giving, sharing, and graciousness from the church.  We both clearly appreciate this, but that does not exclude you from being in error and also from proper rebuke.  You personally, used to be somewhat calvinist–and you were rejected by others for going into what they straw-man as “pelagian.” So likewise you now do to me for submitting the contextual Scriptures and rejecting the Roman catholic doctrine of the trinity.  Much of it lies in the same mis-use of Romans 9 by calvinists because they don’t know the OT Scriptures in which Paul is referring to, and that’s part of the problem with the trinity.
-Sean and Tina Holbrook, both according to 1 Tim 5:19, as two witnesses to this letter of rebuke to the elders.

Refining Fire Fellowship: Email copy March 11, 2014

This is my email sent to Kerrigan after not receiving a response for a couple weeks.


Hello,

It’s been two weeks since I emailed you… and you haven’t yet responded to even set up a meeting?
Did you not receive my email?  Or is there something going on currently that this must wait…?
I would appreciate an update at least, I don’t mind waiting…. but some word so I can be aware and not think wrongly of the situation.
If you’ve decided you don’t even want to dialogue, I’d find that grieving… but at least let me know.  This is quite important, and is tied directly to salvation(John 17:1-3). So I do have concern for you all, just as much as you likely have a concern for me and Tina.  I’m not going to pick up and leave without at least attempting to change your minds.
Thank you
Sean

Refining Fire Fellowship: Email copy 11 Mar 2014

This was Kerrigan’s response to my email requesting why I had not heard from them.

Sean, we all have busy lives.  You ought to know that by now.  There’s no reason to assume things about us or jump to conclusions.
The Elders have met, prayed about and discussed this situation, thoroughly.  We have decided not to discuss this further with you.  There really seems to be no reason for us to do so.  You seem to not be open to submitting to the truth of God’s Word (the Trinity) and we are definitely not going to be convinced by unitarianism.  You’d be wasting your time, trying to convince us, that’s for sure.
We will, however, keep praying for you, as well as for your wife and Emma, whom you are leading astray.  We pray that you’ll come to your senses, repent and give up your false teachings, before you end up in Hell.  It really is sad that you have chosen to turn aside to this.  I can’t say that I didn’t see something like this coming, when it comes to you…but we are all saddened by it, nonetheless.
Kerrigan Skelly

Refining Fire Fellowship: Email copy 24 Feb 2014

This is my first email sent to the elders after my call to Kerrigan Skelly via phone to set up a meeting. I wanted initial objections answered.  I wanted them to understand my deepest objections and give them good answers because they had not done so.  I had many answers prepared for them and wanted the same to be in kind so my questions wouldn’t sound like they’re coming out of left field.


Hello,

I have spent the last month just compiling and writing out diagrams… but I realized I’m going to end up having a book by the time I’m done, and it would be months down the line.  While this is important and I wish I could have every single objection answered, it’s just not possible in this amount of time… so I’ve decided to email now.
I would personally rather just speak to one of you, preferably you Kerrigan(and that doesn’t mean there cannot be another witness).  Not due to any dis-respect to Kevin or Tracy, but because of the nature of 3 persons trying to have a conversation with one person at the same time being rather overwhelming.  I’ve dealt with it the last time we talked—and most of the time spent back then in the fall was me only attempting to answer objections.  This time we dialogue—will not be that way.  I’m going to ask you a number of simple, logical questions in which I will press for answers without letting you move on.  We cannot have dialogue if there’s no give and take, you need to answer objections also because there are a number of them.  I didn’t receive many answers last time we spoke.  Most trinitarians I’ve spoken with in the past month won’t answer questions, I trust to expect much more from you guys.  I’ve gained much more understanding of the trinity explanations down now both from Brown, White, and others—and I will press you for consistency in explaining how 3 WHOs are 1 WHAT(and not only because “o theos” is never defined as “essence/nature”).  Because I’ve yet to find anyone who can explain the trinity without committing the fallacy of equivocation, or contradicting clear Scripture that the one God is not a WHAT but a WHO… that gap cannot be reached without equivocating.  This is not to be taken as an arrogant statement, it’s just the nature of the problem I found with the trinity and no theologian I’ve read with whole books on this topic can get by it.  So I will be writing down your responses, and I’ll need time to show you with written text if I must, the issues in your own responses.
Can I show a few examples of this exact issue so you might see it and prepare?
We must remind ourselves that Christian theology does not believe God to be a person.  It believes Him to be such that in Him a trinity of persons is consistent with a unity of Deity” – C.S. Lewis, Christian Reflections, pg.79
Do you agree with this statement?
Or Mr. Fred Sanders, of Biola University who wrote a book entitled Embracing the Trinity,
Who said in a debate, and I quote…
…I don’t know anyone who is one being in three persons, except for God
Do you agree with this?
If you don’t see a problem, go back… notice C.S. Lewis says the [one] God is not a person, but then says “It believes Him such that in Him a trinity of persons…”  That “Him” is a personal pronoun.  Mr. Lewis contradicted himself… he said the one God is not a person(which means he should grammatically say “IT“), then used a personal pronoun to denote the one God.  He equivocated, or he’s claiming the one God is a person, but then you have 3 persons in 1 person–which is an outright contradiction, 3=1.
Mr. Sanders has the same problem.  He said “I don’t know anyone who…”  He called the one being, an ANYONE and a WHO.  He mixed up the WHOs and the WHATs.  That’s a contradiction, especially since only seconds before in the debate Sanders said:
“If God is one person and three persons, at the same time and in the same sense… that’s just irrational, it doesn’t make any sense. Or if the doctrine of the trinity said God is simultaneously 1 being and yet 3 beings, that doesn’t make sense.


What the doctrine of the trinity teaches is, the 1 God is 3 Persons. The 3 Persons are the 1 God. God is 1 Being, 3 Persons.”

This is clearly a problem if you take the time to analyze their words.  They’re trying to bridge the gap, because the Scripture is clear the one God… is a person, a WHO, a He, a Him. (Deut 32:6,39, Mark 12:32).  You cannot have 3 persons in 1 person.
This doesn’t get any better when you turn to Michael Brown… who, while he may be very knowledgeable in Jewish matters–he is not arguing the same trinity as most major promoters of this doctrine.
Michael Brown says in the Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus: Theological Objections on pg.11
“Yes, Jesus himself taught that his Father was the one and only true God!”
But then tries to say on pg.12
“The only true God[Father from above quote] is one, and yet his oneness is complex, unique, and beyond human understanding.”
Brown is saying the Father is a tri-une being…  this isn’t the trinity, and it’s a contradiction.  The Father is not the tri-une being.  The tri-une being is all 3 persons–not one person(the Father).  Not to mention, it’s an outright admission that Brown is claiming 3 persons is 1 person.  That’s like saying Matthew, Mark and Luke are 1 person.  This is illogical.
Brown fumbled over this same issue in the debate when asked if the trinity teaches 1 YHWH or 3 YHWHs in his words calling the one God a “His”(WHO) which consists of 3 persons.  Grammar is of utmost importance in dialogue, and this reveals Brown’s not even teaching the same trinity as White sitting next to him.
If you can prepare a consistent answer in writing for that major issue, I would appreciate it.  Because I’ve yet to see it–every trinitarian ends up with 3 WHOs in 1 WHO, 3 He’s in 1 He, 3 YHWHs in 1 YHWH by the end of their argument unless they avoid it completely.  I did, that’s part of the reason I gave it up.
I hope you all understand.  This was not some just swift, “Oh, I changed my mind.”  I spent almost the last year on/off looking into these things and thinking deeply about it.  I just made it a complete forefront issue again back in December and was faced with many clear Scriptures showing the Father is the only God time and again–I had to repent.  Brown’s book only led me to look into more because he doesn’t really do well in explaining the trinity, and he even led me on to search more into the Aramaic Memra, which is also a dead end for him.  Other trinitarians have already gone there and recognized the Memra is only an anthropomorphism and a metonym for YHWH(the Father).  The Aramaic Targums input “Memra” as a metonym to get around speaking of YHWH’s name when reading, so they spoke of the Word instead.   That was the only thing in Brown’s book that really had me tripped up–because I didn’t know Aramaic.  But others have done much more research than the 5-10 pages Brown gave to the topic, including trinitarians who revealed it’s not a second person.   There really wasn’t much Scriptures left to bolster this doctrine, so the tree had to come down.  There was no reason to uphold it, so I let it go, cried out to God, and determined to let you all know.
I am willing to wait another couple weeks if you would like to speak, but we can set up a time to speak any time I have available from work.  Right now, I would have Tuesday or Friday afternoon, or Saturday late afternoon/evening.  Next week I would only have Tuesday, as we have family visiting the 7th-9th of March.  So if you want to wait until Tuesday the 10th of March or soon after, that’s fine.  I ask that you would come to our house, since I need my wife to watch Emma.  She will only be there initially to stand as a witness… we can record the rest of the conversation if you’d like for witness.  I’m hoping you will see some of these issues and be willing to talk more than once because I doubt this will go over in a couple of hours.  I’ll leave open an entire afternoon/evening.
I have no problem if you wish to forward this on to the Kevin and Tracy.  I just wanted to send it to you first as you asked me to contact you.
-Sean

Refining Fire Fellowship: Email copy 5 Aug 2013

This is my initial email sent to the elders after their request from our first meeting in August.  My email is below and Kevin Lovell’s response is above.

Thanks brother. I will not be able to dig into this until next week, but I will be responding to you in a couple weeks for sure.

Lord bless you as you seek Him

Kevin
On Aug 5, 2013, at 9:38 PM, Sean Holbrook <ltawesome16@hotmail.com> wrote:

Hey brothers,

You said you wanted the information I had researched and why I questioned it.  This is long, but I want to try to be thorough with questions regarding this verse in the Shema.  I tried to cover everything I looked at and I have questioned so far.  I’m going to get more thorough in cataloging my studies and questions here soon.
From the beginning, these are the link sources I have and used.
http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/hebrew/kjv/echad.html   BDBG Lexicon Definitions with KJV translation.
http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H259&t=KJV  BLB with Gesenuis’ Lexicon Below if you click to show more entry.  This also includes strong’s outline of usage.
I will be the first to admit, I cannot read Hebrew… so in this, I’m at the mercy of translators and just knowing Hebrew reads from right to left.  From the basic definitions of all links(even though two are alike)–you can see this word “echad” functions much like our numeral word “one.”
We use “one” to denote “numeral,” “a”(indefinite article), “certain”(meaning specific),” “first,” and “one after…” and “once,” or “only.”
“each” or “every” I don’t believe we use “one” as far as I can think in English. If I’m wrong, show me I’d definitely look at it in example.
Gesenius’ Lexicon is not the easiest for me to understand because he also quotes many other languages, such as German, Latin, and Arabic.  I went through each of his verse references for any definition of “echad” that seemed to imply a plurality—but plurality was denoted in other words in the sentence’s context or had a different form.  Again, I don’t know Hebrew–it is just a different form.  This form, fits the first form given by Gesenius’ Lexicon from Deuteronomy 6:4
אֶחָֽד  is the form used in Deuteronomy 6:4 at the end of the very for “one.”
In Gesenius’ Lexicon, definition number (7) gives “as one man. i.e. together” as a definition, but again this is a different form כְּאֶחָד and the context shows from the verses he quotes the plurality is not denoted from “echad,” but “congregation” from Ezra 2:64 and “sons” in Ezra 3:9.  “alike” is a translation within this same definition, but “they both” from the word before denotes the plurality from the example of Ecclesiastes 11:6  From here on in this definition the form of “echad” matches Deut 6:4 usage from what I read.  Then he quotes Isaiah 65:25, which “wolf and the lamb” denotes the plurality.  Judges 20:8, has “the people” which denotes the plurality.  1 Samuel 11:7 quoted gives “they” as the plurality had “one” consent.
In Gesenius’ Lexicon, definition number (9) gives “altogether” as a definition from Jeremiah 10:8.  This is a different form seen here וּבְאַחַת The context implies “they” as a plurality were “as one” together from the English I read.
At the very bottom Gesenius gives a completely different form and a second set of definitions starting again with (1), (2) and (3).  the “Pl.” may denote plurality… I don’t know.  Usually I would *think* it does, but I looked around for what the “i.q.” meant in his lexicon and it was a latin phrase(it looked latin) that meant “the same as.”
(2) and (3) are the only two implying possibly a plurality.
(2) gives the quote from Ezekiel 37:17, but this is used completely different showing the plurality since “echad” is said 3 times in a row.   I would think he’s making a distinction between this and definition (6) above where he mentions if “echad” is said repeatedly or 3 times in a row.  But again, I’m no expert… I’m just trying to figure that out.
Looking at the quote from Ezek 37:17 I see the plurality does not come from the third “echad”, but “them” since it’s repeatedly saying “echad.”
(3) is quite interesting.  It is a different form  אֲחָדִים , but it is the only one that seems to denote a plurality within itself combined with “days”.  Genesis 27:44 and Gen 29:20 both translate “echad” as “few” or “some” depending on the translation. “Few” fits, but so does “some.”  You can read the context of those for yourself as it’s talking about staying “a few days” or “some days” in Gen 27:44 and Gen 29:20 is Issac making a comparison about his 7 year servitude for Rachel as “some days” or “few days.”
That’s all I have looking at those lexicons—but I will quote a few verses below to show other usage in the same form denoting one and only one still, but the “one” comes from the word “echad” is modifying.
If there’s something you think I missed or a clear plurality denoted within the Hebrew “echad” or a sentence quoted by those I used that denotes plurality within the “one” itself, show me.   Also if you know Hebrew much better than me and can explain the forms better—I’m all ears brothers.  I’m sticking with Greek for now mainly : )
I’m going to go back to my original issue, because it’s the strongest objection I think I have—and that is that I believe this is not really about the word “echad” having some special meaning, but rather it’s a grammatical issue or fallacy.  Because I’ve been studying Greek, I’ve been also refining my English grammar to make sure I understand the Greek.  I’m finding out its very important in my studies.
From the examples given in the teaching even in the English I see error based on grammatical fallacies of applying the plurality to the wrong word.   I think it’s a type of “composition” fallacy.  But I have to look at it more closely to make sure I’m not straw-manning that.
Genesis 1:5 was your first example.
God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day
The problem I have is “evening and morning”(the plurality, or two in this case) are not referring to the “first”—but to “day.”  “First” is only a numerical adjective of the ultimately 7 days of creation(6 technically) which is modifying “day.”
If that wasn’t the case in this example, then what would we do with Gen 1:8 about the “second” day and “evening and morning.”  Is second a plurality within itself? Yes it can be in context, but in this case it’s about numeral order of days.  “evening and morning” are still referring to “day,” not to second.. or this error could be multiplied in now applying 2 parts of a “day”(evening and morning” to the third, then fourth etc… days.
The next example you gave was Genesis 2:24
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
This is the same type of issue I believe, as “they” is the plurality referring back to “man…his wife.”  The two, they become one, singular flesh.  Obviously this is some sort of spiritual truth I think we all agree, but also represented in the union of husband and wife.  “one” is not denoting the plurality though in this context, “one” is modifying “flesh.”
This can be shown by substituting in the English “a,” for example.  “a” does not denote a plurality, even if the word “one” is removed.  “they” still denotes the plurality into “a flesh.”
The last example given was Numbers 23:13
23 Then they came to the Valley of Eshcol, and there cut down a branch with one cluster of grapes;
I believe again, that “one” is the adjective modifying the word “cluster” which is made of “grapes.”  Both of those words denote the plurality.  I cannot see how “one” would denote the plurality, it’s denoting one–cluster of grapes. I still have one cluster.  One still means one even if there are many parts within that cluster.
Overall, “echad” is used over 950 times in the Scriptures.  “yachid” is only used 12.  I don’t see this as a strong argument for it’s usage since “yachid” in it’s context is not being used like we might use the phrase “absolute oneness” and to say this word could have been used in Deut 6:4  According to Gesenius’ Lexicon you can see the definitions here and usage. http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H3173&t=KJV
It is used as “only” in regards to children/begotten, “solitary” meaning “forsaken” and “only” meaning dear, or precious.  The last definition within the 3rd is poetic for “life.”  The way this adjective is used just does not fit the way the teaching seems to imply it should if it was used.  YHWH is not an “only” child, “forsaken” or “solitary” in the sense of being alone(feeling), nor “precious” in that context of Deuteronomy 6:4.
אֶחָֽד is used many other places in the same form where the context is clearly “one.” For example:
Genesis 11:1 “And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.”
1 language and 1 speech is implied by context of all the earth, not pluralities within that one.  I think the second “one” is a different form though, the first is the same.
Deuteronomy 1:23 “And the saying pleased me well: and I took twelve men of you, one of a tribe:”
1 person is only implied in the one, from the twelve men—one of each tribe.  One is not implying plurality within itself, but “twelve” and “tribe.”
Deuteronomy 17:6  “”Whoever is deserving of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses; he shall not be put to death on the testimony of one witness.”
1 singular witness.
Exodus 9:6 “So the LORD did this thing on the next day, and all the livestock of Egypt died; but of the livestock of the children of Israel, not one died”
1 singular animal out of many implied by “livestock”
I think there are many more examples but this is already long enough.  This is just what I’ve found.
Now I haven’t at all studied the word “elohim” used for God and many other words.  That is another study I have yet to even look at–but I can pre-emptively know an objection will be “elohim” is plural, so the plural is within that.  That’s a possibility. The issue I have at the offset of that is that if plurality was really there in the context of Deut 6:4, then it would be translated “gods” based on the context.  I don’t believe it is, since it’s outright trying to point out the one YHWH as one God.  I cannot see how any Jew would have understood this as a plurality of persons within one God either… which gives a kind of twist on how Jesus quoted this verse and applauded another Jewish man for understanding it.
In Mark 12:28-34 If Jesus only meant His Father as the one God(YHWH) by quoting the shema, and that’s how Jews understood it–it *implies* Jesus would have been mis-leading the man by applauding that man for being close to the Kingdom of God.  He applauded the man for claiming “He is one and there is no other than He.” and said He answered wisely.  Jesus meant His Father in quoting the shema as far as I can logically tell—otherwise, it implies Jesus would be worshiping Himself in the trinity.  That doesn’t make sense to me.  If you can make sense of that, I will listen to an explanation though.  This is something else that boggles me in the trinity internally.
I’ve got to go, this took me a long time to type out and to make sure I had the links.   Hopefully it’s not overwhelming.  Also please let me know if I came across in any way arrogantly or anything.  I know my motives in explaining and typing this were nothing of that sort—but sometimes I get accused of it.  I want to be sure my attitude doesn’t come across harshly or authoritatively, and text can be easily mis-understood.  I don’t want to be blind to something I might be doing in text without even noticing it.
Thank you guys again for the talk and sit down last night.  I really appreciate it.  It felt very good to speak with you both about it and it gave me great peace now that I know you know I’m studying this deeply.  I have been looking and questioning things for so long and it was causing me much unrest in not having anyone to really speak with about it.  I love you guys and very grateful to God for your humility in listening to me and hearing me out and being willing to look at it again.  Most people wouldn’t even allow me to question online without just dismissing me for no reason.
God bless,
Sean

Clear verses in light of unclear verses… err, wait is it?

Something many of us were taught when it came to biblical hermeneutics(the manners and methods in which we interpret the Bible) that we should interpret unclear verses in light of clearer verses.  Many of us when we were trinitarians especially, had this entirely backwards.

I know for many of those who read(and/or listen) to this and have come out of the trinity–you hopefully have recognized the massive amounts of texts which clearly point to the Father being the one who alone is God.  We know in the New Testament alone, that over 1,300 places in which “o theos” is used by the writers… it refers to the Father alone without debate.  That’s over 99% without debate, no matter which view you hold.  That’s a massively clear starting point to go with when it comes to looking at other less clear or difficult verses wherein “o theos” appears it may be describing the Messiah Jesus or any other person.  So basically, that clear point should mean when you see “God” in the New Testament–you should assume it means the Father to start with and figure it out more based on the context if it warrants a different “person” or meaning.  That should be a fairly healthy presupposition, but it does not mean it should never be challenged either.

I hope you understand what I’m trying to get at though… unclear verses should be best explained by starting with the most clear verses we can find.  That gives us a clear starting point, though I admit it does not mean it is not possibly incorrect.  I had this issue when it came to the Torah. If you start with the presupposition that the Torah has been abolished(or “fulfilled” with a definition that has the exact same meaning as “abolished”)… you will read the Bible differently than someone who does not have this presupposition or holds the opposite.

So I plan to start with some very clear verses, those in Acts.  I know there are multitudes I could go to—but lets start in Acts because this was the main beginning of the preaching of Jesus as the resurrected Messiah now ascended to heaven.  There was a lot going on after his resurrection, and a lot of presuppositions are tied up into this act and the preaching that followed it.  So one oft heard statements is that the disciples were preaching in some form against Moses now that Jesus has finished his main purpose on the cross.  Jesus now “fulfilled” the Torah and it’s gone or going to be gone.

Lets start with Stephen in Acts 6:8-15. I know this entire context continues into Acts 7, but I want to point out this first to keep this fairly short.  In Acts 6 Stephen begins to do wonders and signs, then he enters into disputation with those from a certain Synagogue, that of the Freedmen.  I do not personally know what the beliefs of that Synagogue are through historical texts at this point–but that’s not my aim in this message(unless you know something about them, I am welcome to hear it).  The point is in verse 11 it is clearly shown these men from the synagogue began to secretly induce men to say “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.”  The men from the synagogue stirred up the crowds, the elders and brought him to council.  Then it says in verse 13 they “set up false witnesses who said ‘This man does not cease to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law; 14 for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us.”

Ohh… so now we have something interesting to look at… were these accusations against Stephen true or false?  True and false? Both? Possibly.  Maybe Stephen was speaking of the future destruction of the temple, as he does clearly point out the temple and the Law in his later speech in Acts 7… but why would it say “false witnesses” if all these things were true in their accusations?  Why would the synagogue have to induce men secretly to say things like this against Stephen?   If the disciples were clearly recognizing the end of the Torah from Moses, would this not be true?  And if Stephen was preaching the destruction of the temple from the prophets, would this not also be true?  The temple was destroyed decades later.  This leaves us an issue, which part of the accusations are true and which are false?  If it’s all true accusations, then the text is wrong to call them “false accusers” and if it’s all false then historically we know there may be an issue with the future destruction.

My current solution with this clearer text is that one accusation may be true and one is false to best judge the accusations in context.  I believe the accusation about the destruction of the temple may be true, but I cannot even know that for it doesn’t say he was preaching it’s destruction in Acts 6.  So the other one is likely the false one, the accusation that he was speaking against Moses and God, and the Law—changing the customs that Moses gave them from God.

If you care to contend more on this text, that’s fine.  It’s not set in stone from my observation, but it’s a clear text regarding false accusers.  This is just something that was pointed out to me a long time ago based on my presuppositions and caused me to sit back and question a bit more.  If the disciples were truly recognizing the end of the Law of Moses, then why false accusers? What is the need of false accusers?

Can we begin to interpret more unclear verses in light of clearer verses?  I hope so, because there’s more I would love to talk about in the future.