of the Trinity is misunderstood by many people today. Below is an
aritcle I wrote a few years back dealing with some of the most prominent
misunderstandings and misconceptions about this important teaching.
A very good supplementary article is called "Loving
the Trinity" by Dr. James White.
Weak Arguments Against the Trinity
and the Deity of Jesus
Arthur Daniels, Jr.
Over the years,
many people who do not understand the doctrine of the Trinity and
the correlative teaching on the Deity or Godhood of Jesus have come
up with weak and faulty arguments which they think refute these
teachings. Some of these arguments appear stronger and more valid
than others. Many of them are riddled with logical and theological
flaws that are very easy to expose if you know Scripture and logic
Bare in mind,
however, that the primary flaw in most arguments against the doctrine
of the Trinity is the fact that the people trying to refute it do
not truly understand it but yet try to argue from their misunderstanding.
I will begin with a prime example.
Argument # 1:
“There is only ONE God” Read Deuteronomy 6:4 which says: “Hear O
Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!”
response: Amen! The doctrine of the Trinity teaches that
there is only ONE God. Using Deut. 6:4 exposes the fact that you
do not understand what we teach. We teach that God is ONE God, but
that He eternally self-exists in nature as Father, Son, and Holy
Spirit, according to the Scriptures (Matt. 3:16, 17; 28:19; Philippians
2:11; John 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1 [in Greek and more accurate translations],
Acts 5:3,4). This is by no means an exhaustive list. For a more
complete list, see The
Biblical Basis of the Doctrine of the Trinity.
(Father, Son, Holy Spirit) are all called "God" and have
ONE (singular) name according to Matthew 28:19, and that “name”
is Yahweh. Thus we have the term Trinity, which simply means tri-unity,
or three in ONE.
context, Deuteronomy 6:4 is not an indictment against trinitarianism
but against polytheism, since that is what Israel was surrounded
by. Their God was just "one" as opposed to the many gods
that the other nations worshipped. Using Deuteronomy 6:4 proves
that although you may know of the doctrine of the Trinity, you apparently
do not accurately understand what this doctrine teaches. It is the
height of folly trying to disprove something that you don't even
understand to begin with. Begin again with a better understanding
and THEN try to refute the doctrine.
Now, a cousin
to this faulty argument goes like this: "Deuteronomy 6:4 does
not say that God is one God in three persons, therefore the Trinity
doctrine must be false." The problem with arguing this way
is that you make the illegitimate assumption that if one text does
not explain all there is to know about the nature of God, then that
aspect of God's nature must be untrue. This is clearly a non sequitur
logical fallacy, as well as an example of flawed Biblical interpretation
(i.e., bad hermeneutics).
But when you
apply that same reasoning to the other attributes of God, you find
a curious problem. You find out that the reasoning is fatally flawed
quickly because we can also argue that because Deuteronomy 6:4 does
not tell us that God is merciful, just, forgiving, longsuffering,
kind, and loving, then that must mean He is not all those things.
Like many doctrines
found in the Bible about the nature and attributes of God, the doctrine
of the Trinity is derived from the logical implications of a number
of passages found from Genesis to Revelation. If it can be called
a "construct," as I have heard it called, then it is a
wholly Biblical construct that takes much rationalization and misreading
to attempt to disprove, since the evidence in Scripture for the
doctrine is manifold and not taken from one or two verses barely
understood and taken out of context.
This next one
is my all-time favorite weak argument used against the Deity of
Jesus. Keep in mind that most who deny the Deity of Jesus will also
deny the doctrine of the Trinity because the two doctrines are interrelated.
Argument # 2:
"God says He is not a man in Numbers 23:19. Jesus was a man.
Therefore Jesus cannot be God."
response: This is a classic example of the fallacy of taking
a verse out of context. This is like someone trying to teach atheism
from Psalm 14:1 by saying "See, even the Bible says 'There
is no God.'" Numbers 23:19 is not about God saying He's not
a man. God is saying, in context, that He is not a liar
like humans and He stands by His spoken word. But people
still try to use this verse out of context, pretending that the
verse stops at "God is not a man," when it continues on
to say "...that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should
repent." Your argument started out wrong and therefore ends
wrong. You cannot use Numbers 23:19 taken out of context to prove
Jesus is not God, just like you cannot prove the Bible teaches atheism
by misquoting Psalm 14:1. Take a course in Biblical hermeneutics...that
should help. :-)
This next one
is my second favorite weak argument used against the Deity of Jesus.
Argument # 3:
"Scripture says no man has seen God (John 1:18). People saw
Jesus the man. Therefore Jesus cannot be God."
response: You fail to understand John 1:18 and what it
means within the context of a holistic view of the Bible. Moses
did see God's "back" according to Scripture (Exodus 33:20-23).
Others have "seen" God in the Old Testament times (Exodus
24:11). Therefore, this passage cannot mean God was never seen at
all or in any sense.
But the main
point that is overlooked is the fact that this passage does not
say "no one has seen God in human flesh at any time."
The first premise of the anti-trinitarian argument is based on a
misinterpretation of the verse and an addition to the verse, i.e.,
the idea that the passage refers to "God in human flesh."
Jesus is revealed as God manifested in the flesh in John 1:1, 14
and 1 Timothy 3:16. John 1:18 simply means no one has seen God in
the totality of His being as a Spirit, or His "face,"
if you will. You need to clearly understand a text before trying
to quote it to disprove the Deity of Jesus. Your argument fails
logically and theologically.
This next one
gets the prestigious "weakest argument in the universe"
award for being so logically fallacious that it boggles the mind
that people still try to use it as if it proved anything:
Argument # 4:
"The word 'Trinity' isn't even in the Bible. Therefore, the
doctrine cannot be true or biblical."
response: By that same faulty logic the doctrine of monotheism
cannot be true or biblical either, since that specific English word
does not appear in the Bible. The English word "Bible"
doesn't appear in the Bible either. The word "ethics"
doesn't appear in the Bible either. But doesn't the Bible teach
ethics? The word "morals" isn't in the Bible. But doesn't
the Bible teach morals? There are many more examples to prove this
point, but I think this is enough.
use this argument they are committing the classic logical fallacy
known as the non sequitur, which simply means that their conclusion
does not logically follow from their premise. Just because the term
"Trinity" isn't in the Bible, this, in and of itself,
does not prove that the doctrine is not systematically laid out
in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. It clearly is, and that's
why the doctrine exists.
if I wanted to get technical and a little bit semantical, the word
"Trinity" is in the Bible, just not in combined form.
The Greek word we get our English "tri" from is found
in the Bible many times in the New Testament (Matthew 26:34; Acts
11:10). And the word "unity" can also be found in Ephesians
4:13, translated from the Greek "henoteta." But I digress...
Unitarian Arguments Refuted:
A group known
as "Biblical Unitarians" have a website with arguments
pretending to refute the doctrines of the Trinity and the Deity
of Jesus. The website here
specifically tries to argue that "If Jesus is God, the Bible
has many contradictions." The stated purpose of the website
article is "To show that in order for the doctrine of the Trinity
to be true, the Bible will have to contradict itself many, many
times." But are such claims valid? Let's examine carefully
each claim, except for alleged contradiction #1, which has already
been refuted above in "Weak Argument #2."
Argument # 5:
Unitarian: "Contradiction # 2: God cannot be tempted
(James 1:13). Jesus was tempted in every way (Hebrews 4:15). Therefore
Jesus cannot be God."
Response: This alleged contradiction has many flaws and
is partially based on the same invalid assumption as alleged contradiction
#1. First, the assumption here is that the text in James refers
to "God in human flesh." But the text nor the context
makes a reference to God incarnate.
text in Hebrews is speaking about Jesus, who has been revealed in
Scripture as God incarnate, in His high priestly ministry before
the Father. While Jesus was God incarnate on earth it would seem
reasonable to understand that He could be "tempted" and
suffer as we are tempted and suffer. This makes Him a better high
priest who can "sympathize" with us, as Hebrews 4:15 points
finally, Jesus is recognized in Scripture (John 3:16) as the only
unique (monogenes in Greek) "Son" of God (meaning He had
the unique nature of God) and the "Son" of man (meaning
He had the nature of a sin-free human). Therefore, Jesus was both
God and man while on earth. Jesus in His humanity could be "tempted,"
but the essence of His Deity within did not allow such temptation
to have any real power because He was also God. This is why this
apparently normal human being, born of sinful humanity, could live
an entire life without sin. This also serves to prove His Deity
because it is widely recognized that only God is perfect and sinless.
And the sinless life of Jesus is what you would expect of God who
became man. This alleged contradiction is fatally flawed and fails
to prove anything except that people can make up imaginative arguments
based on their assumptions and misunderstandings of Scripture.
Unitarian: "Contradiction #3: God is Spirit (John
4:24). But Jesus is not a Spirit, but flesh and blood (Luke 24:39)."
Response: Here we have several problems. First, there is
that sneaky assumption again that John 4:24 speaks of "God"
in every sense for all time, including speaking of God incarnate.
We have already seen that such an assumption is not valid.
passage, in context, is not so much making an ontological statement
about the "physical" nature of God as a spiritual Being
but a statement about the proper form of worshipping the Father
(see verses 20-23). Jesus was making the point that true worship
is not about the place of worship but about the quality and character
of the one worshipping, i.e., in spirit and in truth.
as God incarnate, Jesus did have "a spirit" cloaked in
His flesh and bones according to Luke 23:46. We also know that Jesus
had "glory" as a spiritual Being with the Father before
the world was created (John 17:5). Therefore we cannot pretend that
Jesus had no "spirit" or that He had not long before creation
been united with the Father as Spirit.
finally, the text in Luke 24:39, if you notice carefully, says "flesh
and bones" not "flesh and blood," as the Unitarian
argument misstates. Jesus gave up His blood for the atonement but
could live in a physical body which contained no blood! That is
the power of the resurrection! There is no true contradiction here.
The Unitarians have simply manufactured a contradiction out of their
own minds because they continue to make invalid assumptions and
do not apply proper interpretation skills (hermeneutics) when reading
two passages no more proves that Jesus is not God than combining
John 4:24 and Psalm 18:2 proves that the Father is not Spirit but
"rock." :-D You just gotta laugh at some of this childish
stuff pretending to be serious arguments against orthodox Christian
Argument # 7:
Unitarian: "Contradiction # 4: God does not change
according to James 1:17 in the NIV. But Luke 2:52 shows how Jesus
changed and grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and
men. Therefore, Jesus cannot be God."
Response: First, again we have the same problem with this
alleged contradiction as with the last two: the assumption that
when a text uses the word "God" that it must refer to
God in every sense and every way.
text in James is speaking in the context of God not changing in
terms of being stable in His character. Humans can be unstable and
changing, as well as natural elements and lights of creation (see
verses 6-17). But with God, there is no variation or "shadow
of turning." This text is not saying that God cannot take on
human flesh and "change" in this manner, nor is it saying
that God has not done this in Jesus. You have to interpret that
kind of reasoning into the text, which is called eisegesis (pronounced
eye-se-gee-sis). But the best way to interpret Scripture is to do
exegesis, which is to interpret out of a text what is there, not
read into it what is not there.
finally, the fact that Jesus in His incarnate state as a human had
to "grow" in stature and in favor with God and men proves
nothing against His Deity. If God becomes human and takes on human,
fleshly limitations (like needing sleep, food, etc), then it is
reasonable to presume that such limitations do not involve a change
in character or essence for God. To argue otherwise would violate
both the context of James 1:17 and the message of Scripture as a
whole regarding the character of God. Therefore, since physical
growth and growing in wisdom and "in favor" have nothing
to do with inner character and essence, this alleged contradiction
fails to prove anything against the Deity of Jesus or the doctrine
of the Trinity.
Argument # 8:
Unitarian: "Contradiction # 5: God cannot die according
to 1 Timothy 1:17. Jesus died for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3).
Therefore, Jesus cannot be God."
Response: Here again is an example of bad hermeneutics
finding a contradiction where none truly exists. The text says that
God is the King eternal, immortal, and invisible. So does this mean
that under no circumstances, even ones under God's control, that
God cannot die in any sense or cannot be seen? Think very carefully
on this because Scripture will reveal the weakness of such an argument
if God is said to be invisible that means He cannot be seen. Correct?
Yet why is it recorded that God has been "seen" in passages
like Exodus 33:20-23 and 24:11? Is this a contradiction, or is it
an example of God manifesting His power by doing what we would consider
"impossible" under normal circumstances? Normally, God
is invisible. But that does not preclude the fact that God can manifest
and make Himself visible at will.
The same is
also true for His eternality. If God has the power to manifest in
human, mortal flesh then it stands to reason that under such circumstances
that He could "die" (at least the physical manifestation
could). Thus under normal conditions, unchanged by God Himself,
God cannot die, but the doctrine of the incarnation spoken of in
John 1:1-14 is manifestly abnormal. Therefore, Jesus, as God incarnate,
can die for our sins without any alleged contradiction with the
nature of God as an eternal Being.
is actually a slap in the face of God's omnipotence, since it ultimately
seeks to argue that God cannot become human and yet remain God because
He was essentially God from eternity. The Unitarian "god"
is thus revealed as impotent and a far cry from the God of Biblical
revelation who is said to be able to do what we would think to be
"impossible" (Luke 1:37; Jeremiah 32:17). Consequently,
this argument also fails to prove Jesus cannot be God. (another
one bites the dust)
Argument # 9:
Unitarian: "Contradiction # 6: God knows everything
there is to know (Isaiah 46:10). But Jesus did not know everything
there is to know (Mark 13:32; Luke 2:52). Therefore, Jesus cannot
Response: Although this argument would seem on its face
quite strong and formidable, it is actually rather weak and can
be exposed as such very easily. All you have to do is produce a
parody of the Unitarian argument to show how fallacious it is.
Using the same
faulty reasoning of the Unitarian website, I could also argue that
even God the Father didn't know "everything" there is
to know, since Scripture says in Genesis 3:9 that God did not know
where Adam was and had to ask "Where are you?" So we have
Jesus in the Gospels apparently not knowing ONE thing, and we have
God the Father, the Yahweh of the Old Testment, apparently not knowing
ONE thing. This about makes them even, or equal, wouldn't you say?
Ok, that was
fun, but let's use this little analogy to segway into a more serious
point about the flawed hermeneutic behind the Unitarian argument.
I find that some people are often so focused on trying desperately
to hold onto ad hoc assumptions against orthodox Christian teaching
that they don't really stop and think critically about what's being
said in a given text they are trying to argue from.
on trying to disprove the doctrine of the Deity of Jesus, Unitarians
and others have never bothered to ask important questions as to
WHY it is said that Jesus apparently didn't know ONE thing prior
to His resurrection and glorification, and yet we also have Peter
confessing in John 21:17, "...Lord, You know all things..."
(also see John 2:24,25; 16:30).
with too many anti-trinitarians is that they become so consumed
with the effort to disprove our doctrines in their hermeneutic that
they forget to take the time to fully understand what a text is
saying in context. Instead of finding out why Jesus is said to know
"all things" except ONE, anti-trinitarians like the Unitarians
are simply content to believe that passages like Mark 13:32 prove
that Jesus is not God.
All that matters
to them is that they appear to have a half-way plausible argument
that seems to be supported by the Bible. The problem with this faulty
method of interpretation is easily exposed by the analogy I created
above using Isaiah 46:10 and Genesis 3:9. If all I care about is
having an argument against the Father that "proves" He
doesn't know everything there is to know, and if I don't take the
time to fully understand Genesis 3:9 in its context, then I am bound
to create an erroneous interpretation that blinds me to the whole
truth of this matter. And this is where the anti-trinitarian of
every shade and color makes his or her greatest error.
So what are
we to make of what Jesus said in Mark 13:32 and Matthew 24:36? Does
it even make logical sense that Jesus would not know the day or
hour of His own return? How is He supposed to accomplish this at
its appointed time if He didn't truly know? These are important
questions that we all must ponder, especially the anti-trinitarians.
So the question
remains: Do these passages, in light of other facts, prove that
Jesus cannot be God because He apparently didn't know on earth ONE
specific thing? The answer to this is simple. If Jesus must be denied
Deity by what can easily be shown from Scripture to be a self-imposed
limitation, then the fact that He needed food and sleep can also
be used to argue He was not God. Although this too has been argued,
the fact remains that an omnipotent God surely has no problem taking
on humanity and yet remaining who He was in essence, which was God
also has no validity because it assumes that if God becomes human
and takes on human limitations that this necessarily means He cannot
be God. Christian theology proper has no problem with Jesus being
God and needing sleep and food, and it certainly has no problem
with this same Jesus choosing not to know ONE specific thing on
earth, prior to His resurrection and glorification, for whatever
purpose He had in mind.
As one final
note on this weak argument, for those of you who may think that
it was somehow impossible or implausible for Jesus to have somehow
chosen to limit His knowledge while on earth prior to His resurrection
and glorification, please remember the lesson of John chapter 11.
There Jesus CHOSE to allow Lazarus to die. But allowing Lazarus
to die didn't prove that Jesus had no power to heal Lazarus or raise
him from the dead. Right? If Jesus can choose to limit Himself there,
why can't He do the same in regards to Mark 13:32? Something to
think about. Next...
Argument # 10:
Unitarian: "Contradiction #7: God does not grow weary
or tired (Isaiah 40:28, NASB). Jesus became weary in John 4:6. Therefore
Jesus cannot be God."
Response: Here again we have a confusion based in a flawed
assumption. Where in Isaiah does it even suggest that we are talking
about God as manifested in human flesh? Once again, if God takes
on human nature, including limitations that have nothing to do with
sin (like needing to eat, rest, etc), then it stands to reason that
in this form God would become weary.
of this flawed argument tries to use passages like Psalm 121:3,4
to argue that since God says He neither slumbers nor sleeps and
Jesus is recorded as sleeping in Matthew 8:24, that this must mean
Jesus cannot be God. But once again, where do we find the Psalmist
demonstrating that God in human form does not sleep? You can't find
this assumption in the text because it is added into the text to
create an argument against the Godhood of Jesus.
argument from the "Biblical" Unitarian website fails to
prove anything because it makes invalid assumptions and is also
based in the logical fallacy of the straw man argument. The straw
man fallacy comes in because although orthodox Christian teaching
says Jesus is both God and sinless man, the argument put forth pretends
that we only argue Jesus is God. But since this is NOT our argument,
the straw man fallacy should be evident to all who are familar with
logic (or common sense with fancy labels attached to it).
Unitarian Illogical Conclusion
Unitarian website wants to conclude from this spurious attempt at
refuting the doctrine of the Trinity and the Deity of Jesus by saying
that either Jesus is God and the Bible is full of contradictions,
or "Jesus is not God, but the Son of God; He is a human being
with freedom of choice..." But the problem here again is that
they have created another logical fallacy known as the false dilemma.
The very evident third alternative is that perhaps they have made
critical errors in reasoning and Biblical exegesis, thus creating
contradictions where none truly exist. Why this alternative was
not even considered speaks volumes about how "Biblical"
Unitarians approach the Bible and its proper interpretation.
on "Biblical" Unitarian arguments refuted above:
It seems that
since the obvious weaknesses of the Unitarian arguments above have
been exposed, the creator(s) of the original arguments changed the
webpage so that the arguments are now different (see it here).
That is interesting. It seems that instead of realizing their error
and coming to the knowledge of the truth, people would rather make
up other erroneous arguments to replace the ones already refuted.
So be it. Once again into the breach...
Unitarian Arguments Refuted 2:
Unitarian website now wants to ask a series of 10 "logical
questions that need answers" under the heading "Is Jesus
God?" But for the most part, these so-called logical questions
are nothing more than the same old anti-trinitarian assertions dressed
up as questions. In fact, the questions themselves are based on
many illogical assumptions, as we will see. So the following is
an analysis of these questions from a Biblical and logical perspective:
Unitarian: "Question # 1: If Jesus is God, how could
he die for our sins? ...God cannot die, yet Jesus was killed and
then resurrected (Acts 5:30). The Bible does not say that only his
'human nature' died; it says that Jesus died, which would include
all of Jesus (100%). "
Response: This question is just a restatement of what was
already refuted in "Weak Argument # 8" above. The Bible
does not have to literally say "only His human nature"
died because that is a given if you understand what it means to
be human. That kind of argument is akin to an argument from silence.
The Bible also
does not say that Jesus ever went to the bathroom either, but can
we assume that He didn't just because it is never said in Scripture?
Does human nature include eating and digesting food and then getting
rid of waste?
is also a form of the logical fallacy called petitio principii,
or begging the question. In other words, you have to assume that
Jesus cannot be both God and man in a trinitarian sense in order
to even pose the question to begin with. Thus this invalid question
has been answered sufficiently and logically, but people simply
refuse to accept the answer. This is still a weak argument, and
the original critique in "Weak Argument # 8" stands. Next...
Unitarian: "Question 2: How can Jesus be 'God' and
have a 'God' at the same time?...Jesus Christ cannot be 'God' if
he says that our heavenly Father is his 'God.' You cannot be the
'Most High God' and be in submission to the 'Most High God' (1 Cor.15:28)
and say that He is your God. This makes no sense. If words truly
have meaning, then one cannot be 'God' and have a 'God' at the same
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article is incomplete and is constantly being updated, so check
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