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Is God a Trinity?

by Darris McNeely, Steve Myers, Gary PettyDownload MP3
Although this is a core mainstream Christian belief, discover why it’s a false concept that hinders your relationship with God.

Transcript

[Steve] More than two billion people claim to be Christian and belong to churches that teach the doctrine of the Trinity. That’s the idea that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit together form the three in one God. But, does it add up?

Have you ever wondered if the teaching agrees with the Bible? How did the Trinity become an official doctrine anyway? More importantly, should you believe it? Believe it or not, your eternal life could be at stake!

Now let me tell you this: I am a Christian. I believe in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, but I don’t believe in the Trinity. Today, I’ll explain why.

So stay tuned to Beyond Today as we answer the question: Is God a Trinity?

[Announcer] Join our host, Steve Myers, and his guests, as they help you understand your future on Beyond Today!

[Steve] You may think the whole Christian world professes the Trinity. But, many Christians throughout history have not accepted it.

Let’s think about that: Do you know when the Bible was written? Now if you thought about it, you’d probably say it was in the first century—and you’d be right.

Now when did teachings that led to the development of the Trinity begin? Well you might think the Old Testament—no. Well then, you might think, must be the New Testament.

It actually began at a Catholic Church council meeting in the city of Nicaea—that’s what led to the development of the Trinity doctrine. Now that wasn’t just 50 years after the New Testament; or a hundred years, not even 150 years later after the New Testament but it was actually in 325 A.D. That’s more than two centuries after the completion of the Bible.

A statement of belief that’s accredited to that Council, established the first official definition of God and Christ according to The New Catholic Encyclopedia. But there’s a problem: the Trinity doctrine is hopelessly flawed and unbiblical.

Why was it necessary to try to define God and Jesus Christ centuries after the Bible was completed? Do you think the Bible was hazy on the concept of the Father and Jesus? No, it’s not. There is no doubt that both God the Father and His Son, Jesus are both eternal.

So let’s notice a bit of history for just a moment: The original apostles had long been martyred. Now to avoid being fed to the lions, Christians went underground for much of that time. The Roman Empire was declining. Christianity—it was splintered and broken.

So with that background, Roman Emperor Constantine ordered, led and in the end, approved of what developed into the formula of “three persons in one being”—that’s the basis of the Trinity doctrine. Now, why?

Because factions of Christianity couldn’t agree. And it had become so hostile that it erupted into disunity in his empire. Now in spite of the fact that Constantine didn’t even believe in the Trinity, it became part of his political campaign to unite the factions under one state religion in order to strengthen his Empire.

Now, few dispute the facts. There’s really no evidence to “spiritualize” history by pretending that Constantine was some holy man who was led by God to do what he did. That just is not true. It was just four years before Nicaea that Constantine declared Sunday to be an Empire-wide day of rest in honor of the sun god—that’s certainly not Christian.

So he wasn’t seeking religious truth—he was going to be sure that religion wouldn’t divide his empire. So the reasons are plentiful to believe that he formed the Nicean Council strictly for political purposes.

Imagine if that happened today. That would be like the President of the United States inviting representatives from all the assorted Christian denominations out there. Next, he would have a conference to mix together all of their various, different beliefs. Then, he would tell them to come up with a consensus—work out the differences and come to an agreement. Now, can you imagine that? But don’t stop there. Finally, they’re told to form a unified church—a single religion for the entire country!

Now, if that wasn’t enough, it would be sanctioned and led—not by some great religious leader—but a political leader—the President himself! Now that’s about what it was like.

So what actually happened? Just like in politics, the views of the majority were accepted, approved and implemented. So Constantine got what he wanted—a more unified empire—but not true biblical teaching.

In the big debate God, Christ—the definitions were won by the majority. They won the argument. So what happened to the losing belief? Well, it was criticized. It was condemned and denounced as heresy. It was unorthodox.

What if spiritual teachings were decided like that today? Can you imagine if your beliefs had to be approved by the majority? How would that change Bible teachings?

Would the majority of society today say it’s wrong to look at a woman with lust? (Matthew 5:28But I say to you, That whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.×). Would a majority approve biblical marriage or adultery? What if it were put up for a vote? How many Commandments would we have? Seven? Maybe three? Certainly, not the best way to determine biblical truth—let alone define the nature of God.

Even the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “In order to articulate the dogma of the Trinity, the [Catholic] Church had to develop her own terminology with the help of certain notions of philosophical origin.”

So by the end of the fourth century, and other Councils, the Trinity had essentially taken the form it has today—three persons in one god. But this wasn’t the New Testament Church’s teaching. Notice this quote: “The doctrine of the Trinity … is not a product of the earliest Christian period…”( Gods and the One God (Library of Early Christianity) by Robert M. Grant).

So it becomes clear: the doctrine of the Trinity is a man made idea. It’s a compromise of religious ideas. Now before you change the channel—let me say again that the Bible clearly portrays God the Father and Jesus Christ as full-fledged eternal members of the Godhead.

But let me challenge you.

Biblical scholars are well aware of the problems and history of the three in one Trinity—the so called triune god. Two prominent theology professors wrote: “It is understandable that the importance placed on this doctrine is perplexing to many lay Christians and students. Nowhere is it clearly and unequivocally stated in Scripture…How can it be so important if it is not explicitly stated in Scripture?…The doctrine of the Trinity developed gradually after the completion of the New Testament…” (Roger Olson & Christopher Hall, The Trinity , Eerdmans Pub. 2002, pp. 1-2)

It is a fact. The Trinitarian dogma was invented hundreds of years after Christ. By 451, with the approval of the Pope, debate on the matter was no longer tolerated. To speak against the Trinity was now blasphemy. If you did, you could be sentenced to mutilation or even death. People turned on each other. Thousands were maimed and slaughtered because of a difference of opinion. But even that didn’t stop the controversy over the doctrine of the Trinity and that controversy continues even today.

Exactly how could God be the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—supposedly existing in three distinct but equal persons? The late New York archbishop, Cardinal John O’Connor said: “We know that it is a very profound mystery, which we don’t begin to understand.”

But should it be that way? That you can’t even understand God? Does it even matter?

Absolutely! It impacts your eternal life! The idea of the Trinity is a core teaching of mainstream Christianity but do you realize that it obstructs your understanding and relationship with the Father and your Savior Jesus Christ.

One Christian website presented the question: “Can you become a Christian if you deny the Trinity?” They answered: “No. If you don’t believe in the Trinity, then you don’t understand who God is…Second, you couldn’t possibly understand who Christ is…To deny the Trinity is…to wrongly understand the true gospel.” (gty.org)

Now by that standard, since Cardinal O’Connor said he didn’t begin to understand [the Trinity], he wouldn’t be a Christian. Even more shocking? Jesus Himself wouldn’t be considered a Christian. He said “the hour is coming, and now is, when [the] true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.” (John 4:23But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him.×) He didn’t say worship the three in one triune god. In fact, Christ said “My Father is greater than I”—not equal (John 14:28You have heard how I said to you, I go away, and come again to you. If you loved me, you would rejoice, because I said, I go to the Father: for my Father is greater than I.×).

Well how could that be—if they are co-equal? If they are one, yet somehow distinct? Well how can I know the true God if the Trinity is such a mystery that I can’t even begin to understand but I have to accept?

Is understanding who God is that important anyway? Yes. Your worship, your salvation, even your eternal life depends on it. Jesus emphasized the significance, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:2As you have given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as you have given him.×).

Realizing the truth is critical to your relationship with God and your future. Don’t be deceived by a false notion that says you can’t understand. There is so much to say about this subject and this erroneous doctrine of the Trinity—much more than I can possibly cover today. But you can understand. Call us today and get our free study aid, Is God a Trinity? Read this free helpful guide with your Bible open right next to it. It will give you insight into the true nature of God and His purpose for you.

Call us toll free: 1-888-886-8632. That’s 1-888-886-8632. Or, you can read Is God a Trinity? online at BeyondToday.tv.

You’ll learn how God is revealed in your Bible. You’ll understand the origins of the Trinity doctrine ; how God and Jesus Christ are One, and what exactly is the Holy Spirit . You’ll appreciate being able to read your Bible with greater understanding. This is something you can’t afford to take for granted.

Call us toll free: 1-888-886-8632 or write to us at the address on your screen for your free study aid: Is God a Trinity? Or, go online at BeyondToday.tv [Beyond Today, PO Box 541027, Cincinnati, OH 45254].

We’ve seen how Emperor Constantine orchestrated the Trinity doctrine to unite his Roman Empire. The Illustrated Bible Dictionary admits: “It is not a biblical doctrine in the sense that any formulation of it can be found in the Bible… ” (pg. 1597) A council of men concocted it and came to consensus—and if you follow biblical teachings, they brand you a heretic.

Teachers of the Trinity ignore critical information that you should know when it comes to this false idea. Don’t let them fool you. It may sound religious, but it doesn’t originate in the Bible.

Now here’s something startling found in the introduction of the book, History of Christianity : “If Paganism was conquered by Christianity, it is equally true that Christianity was corrupted by Paganism.”—That’s false religion. The author goes on to say that the authentic Christianity of Jesus’ disciples, “…was changed, by the Church of Rome, into the incomprehensible dogma of the Trinity.” So imaginary ideas and counterfeit concepts that were made up by the ancient Egyptians and then idealized by the philosopher Plato, became the religious standard.

Could it be possible that unchristian Greek philosophy influenced the adoption of the Trinity doctrine? Well history reveals, it’s undeniable.

The connection between the teachings of pagan Greek philosophers and the Trinity is so strong that historian Edward Gibbon said in his masterwork, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire —He referred to Plato as the one “who had thus marvelously anticipated one of the most surprising discoveries of the Christian revelation”— the Trinity (1890, Vol. 1, p. 574).

So it’s clear that the doctrine of the Trinity owes much, much more to the speculations of Plato and other unchristian Greek philosophers than it does to the Bible.

So no wonder the apostle Paul wrote to us, beware of “hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of [the] world rather than on Christ”! (Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.×, NIV).

Does your church teach a deceptive idea based on something other than the Bible? Don’t believe that story. The apostle Peter faced similar fables: “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:16For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.×, NRSV).

False philosophy was already around at the time of the apostles, but Peter reminds us that it cannot rival the simple and comforting truth of the Bible.

The truth is: You can know and understand God.

The Trinity is impossible to understand. Honest pastors, ministers and priests will even admit that there is no way to comprehend it. If theologians know it’s beyond the understanding of men, then how can they know for sure that they got it right in the first place?

Knowing God—understanding our relationship to Him is central to the true gospel and eternal life. What kind of God would give us no way of understanding His character and nature?

The God of the Bible knows you. He loves you. He cares for you and He wants a real relationship with you. He wants you to know Him. In fact, He tells us His desire: “Thus says the Lord…But let him who glories glory in this: that he understands and knows Me [personally and practically, directly discerning and recognizing My character], that I am the Lord, Who practices loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight, says the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:23-24 23 Thus said the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: 24 But let him that glories glory in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD which exercise loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, said the LORD. ×, AMP).

Christianity.com says that you are not a Christian if you don’t believe in the doctrine of the Trinity. But then it goes on to say that no one fully understands it. It’s a mystery and a paradox. It also quotes a saying: “If you try to explain the Trinity, you will lose your mind…”.

What really becomes clear is the fact that the Trinity is incredibly confusing. The Bible itself tells us there is no godly connection. “For God is not the author of confusion” (1 Corinthians 14: 33).

In fact, the apostle Paul wrote that you need to understand God. And not only understand Him, but that you can have a special personal relationship with the Father and with Christ. “[For I always pray to] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insight into mysteries and secrets] in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him” (Ephesians 1:17That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:×, AMP).

Did you know there’s another problem you should understand? It’s a quandary that undermines those who want to believe the Trinity. It’s this: Why didn’t the apostle Peter, the apostle Paul or Jesus Himself mention the Holy Spirit as a divine third person?

Well let’s start with Paul. Notice the greetings in the letters that he wrote. It’s the same salutation—only minor variations. Did you know these appear in every single epistle that he wrote? Did you notice the amazing part? He never includes the Holy Spirit.

Whether its a letter to the Romans (Romans 1:7To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.×), Corinthians (1 Corinthians 1:3Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.×), Galatians (Galatians 1:3Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,×), or even a personal letter to Timothy (1 Timothy 1:2To Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.×)—he mentions God the Father and Jesus Christ our Lord in his opening salutation—but he never mentions the Spirit as a separate being or personage. Now think about that for a moment. If God were a Trinity, certainly Paul—the one who wrote most of the New Testament would have understood this and taught the concept of a triune God. But the Holy Spirit is always left out of his greetings. What an oversight if the Spirit was actually a co-equal with God the Father and Christ! How could he leave that out? Because there is no Trinity.

In fact, Peter did exactly the same in his greetings. The same omission. Neither of them attempts to explain the Trinity or the Holy Spirit. Why? They didn’t consider the Holy Spirit a divine, separate being equal with the Father and Jesus Christ. They followed Jesus. He taught them.

Did you know, Christ Himself never spoke of the Holy Spirit as a divine, third person. Instead, over and over again, He spoke only of the relationship between Himself and God the Father. He never made a similar statement about Himself and the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 26:39And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as you will.×; Mark 13:32But of that day and that hour knows no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.×; 15:34; John 5:18Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.×, John 5:22For the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son:×).

No wonder Scripture plainly tells us, “Truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3That which we have seen and heard declare we to you, that you also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.×).

Don’t be taken in by false philosophies and wrong teachings. Be sure your worship is the authentic Christianity that Jesus taught.

Just because the Trinity is the most widely accepted and revered doctrine of traditional Christianity, it doesn’t mean that you should blindly accept it. It just isn’t scriptural. Now I can’t cover all the aspects today, so I’d like to help you discover the real truth about the Trinity doctrine. Order your personal copy of: Is God a Trinity? Read this free helpful guide with your Bible open right next to it. It will give you insight into the true nature of God and His purpose for you. Call us, toll free: 1-888-886-8632. Or you can read Is God a Trinity? online at BeyondToday.tv.

You’ll learn how God is revealed in your Bible. You’ll understand the origins of the Trinity doctrine; how God and Jesus Christ are One, and what exactly is the Holy Spirit. This is something you can’t afford to take for granted. Call us, toll free: 1-888-886-8632.Or you can go online to BeyondToday.tv to read or download your free copy.

When you order Is God a Trinity? we’ll also send you a free subscription to our bi-monthly magazine, The Good News . This publication is filled with articles that will open your eyes to other remarkable truths revealed in the pages of your Bible.

To order The Good News and our study aid, Is God a Trinity? call: 1-888-886-8632. Or, write to us at the address shown on your screen. Of course, you can read Is God a Trinity? and The Good News online at BeyondToday.tv.

Now we’ve been discussing the authenticity of the Trinity and we have found that it’s not a biblical teaching. It’s critical to what you believe and who you worship.

Now to continue our discussion, here are fellow hosts, Darris McNeely and Gary Petty.

Now, one of the things and maybe a specific passage that Trinitarians will often use, is found back in the Old Testament, in Deuteronomy 6:4Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD. And in that passage it says, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” And so they use it as an idea to point toward this triune god. But I thought it might be helpful just to discuss why this isn’t a scripture that supports the Trinity and what it really means when it talks about this nature of God.

[Darris] Well the word in that verse is a Hebrew word that does mean “one” but it is one in terms of a grouping, such as a team, such as an organization or a family.

[Steve] So, just for clarity, it could mean the number one in a different context…

[Darris] Right…

[Steve] …but here it is pointing to something else all together.

[Darris] If you only limit it to one Being you are reading into the verse what the word does not say. And this is a problem that even within the Jewish faith has occurred because they have limited it to just one Being in their efforts to deal with the plurality of God which is at the heart of the confusion and the issue of how the Trinity teaching came to be, as you explained earlier, Steve.

But, when you take the entire Scriptures in context, you understand that this includes more than one and in fact there are two Beings in that family of God. So when you understand the family concept, you then begin to open up an understanding as to what God is and what God is doing to bring many members into that family.

[Gary] You know, Jesus even helps us understand the meaning of the relationship between Him and the Father when in John 17:21 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 have sent me.×where He prays, and He says the Father and I are one. But He is talking about a relationship. He doesn’t say, I am the Father because He is praying to Him. And He doesn’t say the Father is Me, but He says We are one.

He then goes on to explain that He is asking God to help all the disciples to come into a relationship of oneness with Them that is like the relationship They have. Which is very important. It shows us this oneness is a relationship. Now that’s not like a human relationship, it is in the spirit world. So it is a type of oneness that’s even more profound than anything we can experience now. But it is a relationship between the Father and the One that we know as Jesus Christ.

[Darris] And in fact, Gary, that one verse in chapter 17 of John, Jesus did say to the Father, this is eternal life that they may know You, the one true God and Jesus Christ whom you sent. And right there you have the entire picture of the Father and Jesus Christ. And Christ is explaining it—it is wrapped up in one verse right there.

[Steve] So you see the unity of the Father and the Son.

[Darris] Yes.

[Steve] He includes us in that unity. We are supposed to have that. So you begin to kind of get the idea, we are looking at a grouping. We are looking at maybe a congregation. We’re looking at a church. We’re looking at really a family. The family really defines what God is all about. So why is it then that when we introduce the Trinity doctrine, if we miss this concept of the family, how does that change everything?

[Darris] Because the Trinity teaching, when you do understand it—and admittedly it is hard to understand with the wording that has come down to us—but when you do understand what it is saying, it is a closed system.

There is no entry of anyone into it. You have the teaching in the Trinity of the Father, Son, the Holy Spirit. It is a closed triune Godhead that is incomprehensible to understand, much less explain. And salvation, which the Scriptures plainly speak to, is a process of bringing many sons to glory. And with the Trinity teaching, those sons cannot share in the glory in the family relationship with the Father and the Son having the same glory the Scriptures describe.

[Gary] And you know, the apostle Paul talks about receiving the Holy Spirit. So God’s Spirit comes out from Him. He says it’s the spirit of love, power and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.×). Well who’s power? Who’s love and who’s mind? It is God. God pours out Himself—He is spirit—into human beings that makes this relationship, this oneness, this eternal oneness in His Kingdom possible.

[Steve] So if you can understand family, then you can really understand what God is all about.

Now in fact, there is so much to learn about this biblical truth. For an in-depth study, remember our free offers today. Be sure to order your free copy of, Is God a Trinity? and of course, a free subscription to The Good News magazine. Call us toll free: 1-888-886-8632. Or, you can read both, The Good News and Is God a Trinity? online at BeyondToday.tv. Of course our literature is always free of charge and your name will not be given to anyone else.

Now if you’d like to discover even more about the genuine truths of the Bible, we invite you to join us for our live, bi-weekly, Wednesday night Beyond Today Bible studies . Join us as we dig deeper into important biblical topics that you won’t want to miss. Our Wednesday night Bible studies are webcast live from the home office of the United Church of God every other week. To find them, simply go to the Beyond Today website and click on the “Bible Study” graphic on the top right of the page.

And of course, the United Church of God has hundreds of Sabbath-keeping congregations meeting on Saturday across the United States and around the world. Go to BeyondToday.tv—click on the “Contact” tab, to find a congregation near you. We hope you’ll come and worship with us together in truth.

I hope you’ve come to see that the Trinity is a deceitful counterfeit that hinders your relationship with the Father and with Jesus Christ.

If not, don’t you owe it to yourself to look into the numerous critical questions surrounding the Trinity?

Remember—it’s God’s will for you to truly understand Him and to know Him. May God bless you as you seek the truth.

Well thanks for joining us today. Don’t forget our free offers and be sure to tell your family and friends about us. Tune in again next week for another edition of Beyond Today and join us in praying, “Thy Kingdom come.” For Beyond Today I’m Steve Myers. Thanks for watching.

[Announcer] For the free literature offered on today’s program, go online to BeyondToday.tv. Please join us again next week on Beyond Today!

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