It’s been a few months now since my debate with Joshua Lovell on the trinity. I’ve now re-listened to the debate in full about 3 times and pieces of it many more times since its upload on both of our youtube channels. You can view, listen, or download that debate on the trinity from my other post which is here.
I figured it’s time to start giving some more full responses to issues that I perceive from the trinitarian perspective in this debate. After much time and listening you get to analyze the arguments of each of us much more clearly given that there’s no timer on your responses.
I’m not talking about addressing word mishaps either. I want to address actual given arguments that were fairly clear. I’m not perfect in speech–I know I made word mistakes in my debate with Josh. There’s even times you could piece together a couple of my responses from various areas and make it look like I contradicted myself. If I can catch that in myself, I’m sure others can. We were both nervous and trying to do our best to articulate our positions I believe. But those aren’t strong arguments against either position. This is sort of the issue with debate because it usually becomes more about winning rather than the truth. I don’t believe our debate fell into that trap, but even when analyzing one another’s words during and after debate I don’t want to fall into that trap now by nitpicking what were likely just words jumbling rather than clearer arguments from my opponent.
So, part one. What did I wish to address that I think was a clear problem with my opponent’s position? My first thought was irrelevancy. This is usually the basic nature of most fallacies, answering irrelevantly to an argument. I believe this occurred right off the bat in my opponent’s first rebuttal. After our openings Josh stated in his first rebuttal:
“I affirm as a trinitarian and one hundred percent agree that the Father is God, no problem with that. [I] have no problem saying that Jesus has a God. No problem with that either… Of course Jesus, being a perfect man would have a God. Would you expect Jesus to be [an] atheist?. Of course not.”
The problem with this response is it is irrelevant to the points from my opening and only restates my argument. It does not answer the argument. Josh and I of course both agree that the Father is God. That was never my argument in my opening nor the entirety of the debate. My argument was that the Father is God exclusively. That last word is key and I gave many texts where the context clearly defines that one God as the Father exclusively in my opening.
Our debate subject was regarding “Is God a trinity?” So the debate should focus on whether or not that word “God” is defined as a trinity from the Bible from my understanding. I gave many texts in my opening that showed how the word “god” is defined from beginning to end with reference to angels, rulers/kings and even at times God’s own people in other authority positions. My position was clearly defined in my opening and my opponent did not deal with the exclusivity texts of the capital “G” word “God” clearly referring to the Father alone as the Almighty and Supreme God who alone created everything and everything lives and moves by His will. That can be read in Acts 17 in Paul’s preaching in the Areopagus. My opponents response was only to affirm that the Father is God, which was irrelevant to my arguments from the Scripture.
Next my opponent stated “Would you expect Jesus to be [an] atheist? Of course not” I’ve heard this from James White too in his debates. This is not an argument, it’s just a restatement of my argument itself and again an irrelevant response. If we break it down it can clearly be seen. Well, what is an atheist? An atheist is someone who lacks a belief in God, and clearly by that position does not submit himself/herself to a God. In other words, the atheist does not have a God. So to say Jesus isn’t an atheist is to say Jesus has a God. That’s just a restatement of my argument but it avoids answering the argument. The argument was not that Jesus was not perfect, the argument was that Jesus’ God was one person[using trinitarian terminology]. The argument was that the God of Jesus is the Father alone. The God of Jesus is not a tri-une God. My opponent only restated my argument and avoided answering it directly. Implicitly my opponent also admitted that within his own trinitarian doctrine he has at least two different gods. Jesus has a God within his doctrine who is not triune, and at the same time there is also a triune God who is *not* the God of Jesus. Let me make that clear again, there are two different gods within the trinitarian doctrine by my opponent’s admission: 1) the Father alone who is the God of Jesus and 2) the triune God which is Father, Son and Spirit. That’s two different gods, they are not each other. This should be more obvious since #1 is my biblical unitarian position and #2 is Josh’s trinitarian position. We wouldn’t have even been debating if this weren’t an admitted difference between our positions on how to define “God” biblically.
I plan to make this continual responses series from now on to try to address my own responses and my opponent’s responses in our debate. I hope others will continue to study and search out these issues as I try to elaborate the issues in the trinitarian position and also clarify my position for readers and listeners of the debate.
“You’re assuming unitarianism!”
This is a common claim by trinitarians, but most commonly made by apologist James White. I kind of wish I had all the clips where he’s said this because it could be a small montage by now. Maybe I just might do it…
So is it true? Lets break down the claim. Well, what is “unitarianism” in this context since we’re talking about biblical unitarianism? “Unitarianism” breaks down to “single person” in this context in reference to God. A “single person” God. It’s only used to have a contradistinction between itself and trinitarianism(three person), the triune God. Simply put it’s the belief that God is the Father alone, a single identity when it comes to the Bible.
So we’re assuming it? Well, I suppose that’s an admitted assumption in this context. I hope it is anyways. I mean, when I say “I, me, my, myself”[singular personal pronouns] no one assumes I am more than one person, do they? Is the assumption while reading this article that I am more than one person? Am I possibly bi-personal or tri-personal?
This is just basic grammar on an everyday level. In fact, any other belief would likely be the illogical assumption wouldn’t it? If I wanted to refer to more than one person it would be simple to say “We, us” over and over in my article but I don’t speak that way. So if the Bible really supports God being “tri-personal” wouldn’t it be full of “We, us” statements from Genesis to Revelation? I would accept that if it did, but it’s not. I have no problem admitting there’s the 3-4 debatable texts where a “we, us” occurs but there’s way better answers to those texts consistent with the larger picture of “I, me, myself” texts littered throughout the entire Bible.
James White and other trinitarians would rather I overthrow the basic everyday grammar used by us all in conversation and reading than assume single personal pronouns refer to single persons. Some will go so far as to say this basic grammar cannot be applied to God, but I have no biblical nor logical reason to believe it cannot be done. In fact, I find that his and other’s belief that “assuming unitarianism” is incorrect as quite audacious. But nothing should surprise me when you assume trinitarianism.
You tell me…you read this text as objectively as possible and tell me who is the one and only God Paul preached among the Greeks at the Areopagus. Highlights will be done by me for clarity, that’s it. And trust me, there’s tons more I could say and cross-reference.
22 Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; 23 for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:
TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.
Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: 24 “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ 29 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. 30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He 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.”
So *who* is the one God, the one He, the one Him according to this one block of text preaching by Paul?
I’ve had this thought on my mind recently and decided to finally put it into words. I try my best to work with what is in common when talking with other professing believers whether they be trinitarians or the occasional oneness(modalist). I have a video on this subject already in some form regarding looking at the larger picture of the term “o theos”(God) in the New Testament–but I want to highlight the main difference in understanding that flows from a true larger picture of this word “God.”
The main difference between these three positions is consistency ultimately. Consistency in definitions and simple grammar. I would presume most all Scripture believers would agree that we should use clear verses to interpret difficult verses. Otherwise it would seem rather ludicrous to take the more difficult, obscure statements/phrases in the Scripture and overthrow the clearer verses wherein there’s not much to debate about. It’s even worse when that larger set of verses are so clear and abundant yet overthrown or skewed by the more difficult ones. Sadly while many profess this, many do not actually follow it and that’s what I wish to show in the difference between these 3 views on God.
The main agreement between all of us is that there are around 1356 some odd times[KJV search] that the term “o theos”(God) appears in the New Testament alone. That does depends on which manuscripts are used and such, but it’s a round figure. That’s still a lot of instances to use the word “God” just for the small set of writings which make up the New Testament. The facts between us all no matter which position you hold is that over 1317+ of these usages of “God” in the New Testament are that they refer to the Father alone. I want to repeat that and make it clear—over 1317 are agreeably defined as the Father alone no matter which camp you’re in. You’re welcome to go through your own Bible’s New Testament one by one and write them all down if you’d like to test this out in more detail. I did it a long time ago–but I don’t recall it all as well. Go through and each time you come to the word “God” write down to WHOM this word “God” is referring to. You should come up with a pretty large clear picture which agrees with this claim. In my video I only came up with about 9 openly debated verses wherein the term “God” appears to refer to Jesus. If there’s more you wish to try to come up with, that’s fine—but they will be few and far between. These are the facts that we have to deal with no matter which camp.
Trinitarians, being the largest professing group of Christians believe in a triune “God.” So if they take the above facts and work their views—they must by definition begin to redefine the word “God.” There is no instance in existence that I’ve ever seen which can exegetically be shown to define “God” as all three persons at once, triune, or any other such meaning in general agreement with those two terms. Such when they come to the term “God” where they seem to apply to Jesus, they accept those at face value(and the few claims regarding the holy spirit) and will necessarily overthrow the larger facts[1317+ usages] that appear in the New Testament in how “God” is defined as the Father alone. That is not my opinion, that is their position. “God” as an ousia/essence is also not an exegetical definition that appears in the New Testament–but this is also redefined and added into the mix. They admit this in all their books, but will not admit redefinition. This position overthrows the larger foundation of clear verses where “God” refers to the Father alone. If you think you have exegetical definitions of these two meanings of “God,” then please by all means show them.
Oneness modalists on the other hand are rather simple. They accept the fact that “o theos” refers to the Father alone over 1317+ times without debate and then apply the times it appears to refer to Jesus as him being the Father. They recognize no true distinction between the Father and Jesus, and ultimately make them the one God. They don’t overthrow the larger foundation, but they overthrow other simple grammar rules and verses which clearly draw a personal distinction between the Father and the son.
Biblical unitarians take this larger picture and work with it to create a more consistent picture with the entirety of the New Testament. No matter which position you take within biblical unitarianism(because there are minor differences)—we recognize that “God” refers to the Father alone overwhelmingly and then start with that foundation. So when it comes to places where “God” seemingly refers to Jesus in the 9 or so verses we take the position that “o theos” means either “god” as in ruler/king, or look for manners in which it actually refers to the Father literally or within Jesus. We try to keep within basic hermeneutic of using clearer verses to interpret difficult verses and not redefine the terms beyond what the Scripture does.
These are simply the basic facts of agreement of how “God” is defined in the New Testament and the admitted position differences. I’m a proponent of gathering as much evidence available to give the best possible option to interpret the texts consistently. Part of the reason I personally left trinitarianism was because of this overwhelming factual position detailed above. I admit I began to start with presupposition that “God” referred to the Father so clearly that I had to start seeing if there were other consistent manners to deal with the difficult verses that kept within that framework. Ultimately I believe answers were found for all difficult verses to be interpreted clearly within that framework whether you agree with me or not. I’m just telling you my experience. What is your experience? Do you admit the facts? are the facts incorrect? or do you think your position should be represented differently? Let me know.
I’ve decided to do a direct Scriptural criticism of the statement of faith of my former church in two parts. The real point of this is not to just openly reveal the errors and bring attention to them… but to hopefully reach my former brothers and sisters in Christ with the truth if they’re actually willing to “test all things”(1 Thess 5:21) as the Scripture teaches. From here on out, I can only hope that they will test what I am saying and the Scriptures compared to their own statement of faith and see the clear errors. If you are really seeking God’s truth and words on the issue, you will see what I am saying, seek more and study more… and repent… if you’re not, you’re only further deluding yourself and risk complete apostasy. This …this is your chance to repent and search out the truth as I did. Read on, or stop and continue your delusion… your choice.
If you go to this website, you can see the current statement of faith. http://refiningfirefellowship.com/our-beliefs/
The next below quote is from the current page as it is now defining their belief in the doctrine of the trinity.
* We believe that there is only one true and living God, eternally existing in three “persons”: the Father, Son (Also called “The Word”) and Holy Spirit (Genesis 1:1, Deuteronomy 6:4, Matthew 28:19, John 10:30, John 1:1-2, 1 John 5:6-8).
So lets start with the statement itself regarding the words “only one true and living God.” Because this is that which they believe is the one and only God, the tri-une God. If that were true, we should find many texts showing that the Father, Son and spirit are the true and living God(or part of it, or something along those lines). So lets find some Scriptures that are clear to determine if the “one true and living God” is truly the *one* tri-une God in context. Again, there are many references, but lets start with “living God” in exactly that word order with clear verses since clear contextual verses should be used to understand any unclear verses.
10 “Yet the number of the children of Israel
Shall be as the sand of the sea,
Which cannot be measured or numbered.
And it shall come to pass
In the place where it was said to them,
‘You are not My people,’[d]
There it shall be said to them,
‘You are sons of the living God.’
So… if you are a “son” of the living God? Who then is the living God? This one’s only clear by implication since we are sons of God, and the living God would then be our Father. This is also quoted in Romans 9:26 Lets find a clearer one.
15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
This one is a bit more clear. This is a defining verse where Jesus is asking who he is to his apostles, and Peter gives this profound answer to which Jesus praises Peter. So, in context… who is the living God if Jesus is the “son” of the living God? None other than the Father. The tri-une God does not have a son… that’s saying the Father, Son and Spirit has a Son… that doesn’t work.
Matthew 26:63 But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, “I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!”
This one again is quite clear if the high priest is correct in his objection. Who then is the living God that Christ was put under oath by? None other than the Father. Jews are not trinitarians, so to even attempt to eisegetically input “tri-une God” into that text would be nonsense.
John 6:69 Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Are we beginning to see a pattern now? If Jesus is the son of the living God, who is it other than the Father?
2 Corinthians 3:3 clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.
4 And we have such trust through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God,6 who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit;[a] for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
This one’s a little more difficult, but I figured it would give it mention since Christ is also mentioned in the same context. This text is more directly referencing the spirit of the living God, but it is clear that God is the Father who GAVE his spirit to them to minister the covenant. We can see this by a clear cross-reference in Acts 2:17-33 that the Father poured out the spirit given to Jesus, and Jesus gave it to his followers. Or we can look at the baptism, to see that God the Father conferred the authority to His son when he baptized Jesus in the spirit by John the Baptist. The living God is the Father, not a tri-une God.
2 Corinthians 6:16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you[b] are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will dwell in them
And walk among them.
I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.”[c]
“Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you.”[d]
18 “I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and daughters,
Says the LORD Almighty.”[e]
This one’s about as crystal clear as it can get also. Who is the living God, the Father… and it says “LORD” meaning “YHWH” at the end to clarify who is the YHWH Almighty. It’s the Father, not a tri-une God. We are not sons and daughters of Jesus, we are sons and daughters of God the Father.
There are many other mentions of “living God” that you’re welcome to look up, and I believe in context it’s clear they refer to the Father if you follow “whos who” through the text, but none of them refer to Jesus in any direct fashion and some are less clear. Jesus is clearly the son of the living God, the son of the Father, his God.
Lets move onto the next phrase, “true God.”
There are not as many direct exact quotations of this phrase, but enough to clearly show who it is… take a look for yourself.
John 17:1 Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, 2 as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
This one is about as clear as it can get. Jesus is praying to his Father, and called him “the only true God.” Notice that, an article “THE”—not “a” or just “only true God” as many trinitarian apologists try to twist this passage and mis-represent it. The only true God is the Father, obviously. And be careful, because this is a prayer about exactly how one gains eternal life… are you sure you know the only true God?…or are you in idolatry?
1 Thessalonians 1:9 For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead,even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
This one even has the last phrase of “living..God” as part of the description of who the true God is… this really should seal it, the “living and true God” is the Father. But we will do one more often considered a bit confusing. But do remember that John wrote his gospel before his letters… the clarity of the Gospel should govern the confusing grammar of this next verse.
1 John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.
21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.
The Son of God came why? To give us an understanding of the one who is true, his Father(as stated in John 17:3). And if we are in Jesus Christ, then we are IN the Father..the true God… his God. The Father is the true God, and eternal life is given by being in his son and thus in the Father. See clearly in more context of John 17
John 17:20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will[ believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
Don’t let the grammar confuse you, this is only re-stating John’s teachings from his Gospel…. the true God is the Father.
This will be the end of the first criticism of the Refining Fire Fellowship statement of faith used to support the trinity. The next part will criticize the mis-use of the Scripture proof-texts listed in the statement of faith.
I barely had to say much, this much should be clear that the statement of faith is a lie and un-Scriptural. The “one and only true and living God” is not a tri-une being…. the one and only true God is the FATHER. I beg you, I spent over a year(almost 2 now) heavily studying this issue and cross-referencing verse after verse. Take the time and look over it again. The only true God is the Father. I pray that God grants you repentance and at least the willingness to take a look at the next post made to deal with the verses used …rather than avoiding it and making arguments irrelevant to the clear texts given.
Figured I should update this again and make a short explanation. I will likely link another video in here again soon with a fuller update as to how I came out of trinitarianism to actually FOLLOWING Jesus and becoming a (biblical) unitarian. I must make that distinction because in the USA, “unitarianism” is almost automatically linked to the “unitarian universalism” church(meaning that all believers are united in one faith and all have salvation)… if you can even call it that. This type of “unitarianism” I believe is false, yet the biblical unitarianism is strongly founded upon the Scriptures and believing in them. Bibilical unitarian is only used in contradistinction between trinitarians (and binitarians).
So what does a biblical unitarian believe in general? Well for starters, that “one” actually MEANS “one.” It’s quite simple, they believe the same Sh’ma that Jesus quoted in Mark 12:28-34 coming from Deuternomy 6:4.
“Hear O Israel, The LORD our God, the LORD is one” – Jesus, Mark 12:29
Notice that “our”—it should be pretty important to know that Jesus was under the Law of Moses, not just quoting it for giggles as some might like to say. But more on that another time.
We can get into other discussions and explanations later as to why no other possible view other than biblical unitarianism fulfills this text in its historical and immediate context. That means that trinitarians, oneness, and binitarians all must vacuum this verse out of it’s historical and immediate context to uphold their view and eisegetically interpret it.
But on to the simplicity, the biblical unitarian stands on the whole of Scripture and tons of clear contextual verses that show that the Father alone… alone… is the one and only true and living God. No one else, “One” truly means “one.”
Hopefully that’s enough to begin explaining what I believe and why I came to believe it. I hope to make more posts and explanations why soon enough.
And remember, your Messiah, Jesus(Yeshua) is a Jewish unitarian. Don’t condemn him with your doctrine, or your doctrine is surely wrong!