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DrewM

Trinity Proof-Texts Refuted

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Latter-day Saints have long been criticized for our rejection of the post-Biblical concepts of the Trinity. One such post-Biblical concept is the idea that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are ontologically one Being who is three persons. In contrast, LDS believe that the the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three persons and three distinct beings. While mainstream/traditional Christians maintain that the three persons of the Trinity are in reality only one Being and one God, LDS Christians affirm that there are in fact three Beings who are one in glory, power, might, dominion, mind, will, knowledge, attributes, etc. In LDS thought the three persons of the Trinity are one in every conceivable way except their identity or being.

Over the years some of my non-LDS Christian friends have listed a few different New Testament passages in support of their concept of the Trinity. I will here quote them and then comment on why they do not reflect post-Biblical Trinitarian notions and show how they often are more congruous with the LDS concept of the Godhead.

John 10:30

"I and my Father are one."

This verse does not say that they are "same being." This text does not say how they are one at all. Fortunately for us, John later records Jesus' teaching on how He and his Father are one. "And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as (kathos) we are...Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as (kathos) thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as (kathos) we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me" (John 17:11, 20-23).

Jesus here makes clear that his disciples can be one even as (kathos) He and his Father are one. The Greek kathos means just as or how (See Strong's). In other words, Jesus prayed that they may be one just as He and his Father are one. If Jesus and his Father are one being manifest in two persons, for Jesus' prayer to be fulfilled his disciples must loose their identity and become absorbed into the Trinity! Assuming that a Billion or more will be saved (just for fun)--what will that make? A "Billinity"?

So how are Jesus and his Father one, according to Jesus? The key is in verse 22: "And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that(hina) they may be one, even as we are one." The Greek word hina translated "that" literally means in order that (See Strong's). Jesus and his Father share the same glory and are thus one. Jesus prayed that his disciples may receive Their glory in order that they may be one with Them.

There is no other passage of scripture in the Bible that defines how Jesus and his Father are one. The later post-Biblical doctrine that define the Trinity as one being in three persons is not derived from the Bible but is added to it.

John 14:10-11

"Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake."

As seen above, Jesus prayed that his disciples "all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee," but one need not go to a different sermon of Jesus to find this. He refers to this very concept in the same sermon. In verse 20 he said, "At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you" (John 14:20). If Jesus meant for us to interpret "the Father [...] dwelleth in me" and "I am in the Father, and the Father in me" as "My Father and I are the same Being," did He also intend for us to interpret "I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you" that we, He, and His Father are all one ontological being? This, of course, is absurd.

To complicate the issue further, Jesus concludes his sermon by saying "my Father is greater than I" (John 14:28). Such talk is nonsense if He and His Father are the same being.

Colossians 2:9

"For in [Christ] dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily."

Some have interpreted this scripture as meaning that all of the Trinity somehow dwelt in the person of Jesus in an ontological union of being as defined in the post-Biblical creeds. We'll now investigate that.

First, one must understand that "Godhead" in 16th century English means "deity" or "godhood." The Greek word is theotes which means "divinity." This passage would better be rendered for our modern readers as "For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily" (ESV). The scripture, therefore, is not stating that all of the members of the Trinity dwelt in Christ, but that Christ was fully and completely divine.

Something else the critics overlook is the following verse. "And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power." The word translated as "complete" is the adjective form of the noun translated as "fullness" in the previous verse. For this reason, it is better translated "And you have a fullness in him..." This verse, understood this way, teaches that the fullness of divinity that was in Jesus can also be in us. This fullness was not reserved for Jesus only, but for all. Therefore, this scripture cannot be rightly interpreted to support the idea that God is three persons yet one being.

The doctrine of the saints receiving a fullness of God is reflected in another scripture authored by Paul. "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God." (Ephesians 3:14-19).

1 John 5:7

"For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one."

This one is the most fascinating. Why? Because it is almost universally recognized as being an interpolation (addition) to scripture that wasn't actually written by the original author (See Metzger, Bruce. A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 647-649).

Even if the text were authentic, which it probably is not, it does not define how the Father, Word, and Holy Ghost are one. For such a definition one must turn to John 17 which clearly shows they are not ontologically one being, but one in glory.

Any other proof texts for the Trinity or comments are welcome. Thanks!

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Drew,

I'm sure you post was offered with the best of intentions. However as it currently stands, I would rather tackle a leviathan bare handed then take you up on the challenge you have set, as I see the following occurring....

Given the 150+ years that have proceeded your question, I'm pretty sure that every text someone would post, the LDS will have an answer for. I'm also fairly sure that everyone of the LDS answer has a trinitarian answer to it, and those answers will have further answers ad infinitum. After several hundred posts have been posted on the thread and all the answers and counter answers have been given, we will be left with each side saying rougly:

Trinitarians: The church universal meet and in ecumenical council decided what scripture actually meant. The same church who set the canon of scripture and can be traced back to the apsotles.

LDS: Our prohpet has revealed to us that your councils weren't God inspired and we have the true meaning as revealed in modern revelation.

Whereupon the trinitarians will set out to descredit you prophet and his revelations. Whilst the LDS set out to decredit the councils and their theological decisions.

Leaving both sides frustated that the other side is unable to see the clear and obvious meaning of the various scriptures and there interpretations that both sides present.

Leaving ample opportunity at some stage in the thread for one or both sides to slip into un-Christ-like behaviour.

I would love to hear what LDS thought about the Shema, the great cry of monotheism in Deut 6:4 and Paul's use of it in the NT to include simultanousely God the Father and Jesus. However to look for text proofs when both sides are so entrenched is not something that I think will lead to any further understanding just both sides digging in further were they already are.

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I find it quite interesting that some people who are under the impression that they believe in 'the Trinity' actually don't. What they believe in is three separate personages of the Godhead and they think this is what is meant by 'the Trinity'. I don't think that there are any scriptures which support the idea that three people can be one person in the very literal sense, any more than a man and wife when they marry can cease to be two separate individuals and yet they are declared to have become one.

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I read the Ensign article on it in the Gospel library

'Is the LSD view consistent with the Bible' and the water, steam and ice explanation of one divinity is unacceptable and the nature of Father, Son and Spirit is too different. While I've kind of picked up the teaching of 'one God' as a foundation belief, because that's what everyone said, I've actually never understood or believed that...in that way. One in divinity and purpose I can agree to. I'm a bit surprised...I didn't realise that I wasn't believing the same thing everyone else was.

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Well, when I was seven I dragged my family of to the Presbyterian church, then off to the Roman Catholic church (where I was confirmed etc...my mother went to talk to the nuns, she had no idea what to do about me and then to the archbishop?) and my Grandmother cried because she was a protestant...it was my Mum that decided to start taking us to a pentecostal church.

But of course as a Catholic...the creed is pretty explicit...it's the first line...how could I have said that and not believed it at all.

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In regard's to Deut 6:4 Jewish apologist's see the idea of the three and one as heresy.

Paul basically expanded on the idea of Deut. 6:4 to make allowance for the Father and Son as God. The New Testament treat's the Father and Son as person's which sound's close to the idea they are two God's who are one God. The creedal writer's avoided that understanding by adopting the latin word persona. Basically the person's of God are no more person's than the person's of an actor in a play. So the creed's do not mean the three are person's as three men are person's. God alone is the only person who is God in the creed's.

The word they adopted was misleading because the creed's do not say the three are mere rol's of God. The three are aware of each other which i see tri-theistic like. Tri-theism is the idea of three self aware God's. Without the latin word persona i see the creed's blending mono-theism with aspect's closer to tri-theism than the three unaware person's an ancient actor play's in a play via face mask's. The person's of an actor in a play are dumb.

I think Jesus in John 17:21,22 meant he thought of himself and the Father as two person's. I doubt he meant it figuratively. I doubt he meant anythink like him and his Father were one God who were like the person's an actor played in a play. To be one in purpose with another you have to be a person yourself.

I think the Trinity idea fit's scripture closely at time's, but at other time's not so clearly.

With LDS and the poly-theism charge. The idea does include the idea of more than one God. But without that persona word the creedal writer's would have been without the ability to explain how the Father and Son were not two God's like individual's.

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While not explicitly pointing the finger at any religion in particular (but probably getting a fair few in the line-up) I've been taught that polytheism is pagan. I guess while thinking of them as three separate entities and persons I've just avoided confronting the issue. Cause as an evangelical faith is, perhaps conveniently, the substance of things not seen or understood. I just accepted that it was so, even if my beliefs didn't seem systematic or logical I guess.

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I'm afraid I get bogged down when I try to use fancy words and I'm not always good at explaining what I mean but I'll try.

The Bible tells us to have no other Gods but the One. He is Our Father and our God. We are to worship only him. That doesn't say there are no others. It says that we are to have nothing to do with worshipping any others.

Now I have taken this to mean that we shouldn't be worshipping pagan gods like the sun and the moon and nature such as imaginary gods of volcanoes or whatever - imaginary beings of man's own creation. However, it could be equally true that we should not be worshipping Jesus Christ or the Holy Ghost in the same way that we should be worshipping Heavenly Father. They too are his children just as we are. Jesus himself told us not to worship him. Now that does not mean that he is not divine. It means that although he is divine he too worships/reveres/obeys his Father. I hope that makes sense.

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In Matthew 4:10 he said “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and him only shalt thou serve.”

And you don't believe that Jesus is "the Lord thy God"?

M.

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yes, there are scriptures that could be read to mean that the father son and holy spirit are one in purpose, because, of course they are. it's a hard thing to grasp and it makes it an even more difficult task since the bible has been translated so many times and because of that mormons don't believe it is fully the word of God(article of faith... one of them :)). i'm not saying that the bible is full of errors, i'm just saying it allows for us to go to those other languages as you're doing and reinterpret the words used. wouldn't it just be more simple to look in the book of mormon and see what it says? the book of mormon wasn't translated by men, was it? yes, it was written by men, but would God have given j. smith a translation that was full of errors? it was translated by God and is the word of God(same article of faith). in the book of mormon, it says there is only one God. there are verses that don't just say that the 'father, son and holy spirit are one,' because that could be read in the same manner as a man and his wife are 'one.' no, the book of mormon takes it a step further in several places. the book of mormon says there is only one God. it says that the father, son, and holy ghost are one God, without end. it says 'one God.' that there is a true and living God and none else beside him. the testimony of the three witnesses(oliver cowdery, david whitmer, and martin harris) ends thus: "And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen."

if either the three witness or the book of mormon really meant father, son, and holy spirit are three Gods, wouldn't they have said so?

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Jesus is worshipped in the New Testament. Thomas bowed to him and declared, "My Lord and my God!" after the resurrection. Further, God the Father commands the angels to worship him in Hebrews 1. In fact, the Father even call Jesus God in that same passage (see especially verses 6 & 8). I believe it's Colossians chapter one that waxes very eloquent about the glory of Christ.

It is true that some Christians have a vague notion of the Godhead, that borders on tri-theism. And, with that error, comes the question "But who do I worship?" Trinitarians, on the other hand, seeing God as one being, one essence, do not tarry on dangerous ground when they give glory to the Son.

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Not mentioning seeing the Father is resolved in an article by Bob Bobbitt entitled First Vision: Another Perspective.

Restoration Apologetics

FAIR Wiki also deal's with various First Vision Issues. Go down until you find Specific First Vision Issues.

First Vision accounts - FAIRMormon

But at FAIR's wiki i see the problem of the number of person's he mentioned seeing in the 1832 account resolved. The difficulty of the angel's mentioned in the 1835 account was resolved.

I never read an account of the vision By Joseph Smith himself that said Moroni appeared in the vision. The FAIR Wiki page has a number of statement's made by other men that mention Joseph Smith saw an angel.

If he decided people would object to seeing the Father based on John 1:18 i could see him intentionally not mentioning the detail. It does not mean he lied in later account's though. I am not certain mentioning seeing the Father is a true contradiction. To me it's unfair to accuse a guy of lying just because he contradicted himself if that's what he did.

Jesus may have indicated in Luke 24:30 that his spirit body resembled other spirit's. If Jesus had form the Father can also be either a personage of spirit, or of spirit and flesh like the resurrected Jesus. Ether 3:15 has men's mortal bodies created after the image of Jesus pre-mortal spirit. Yet it describe's him and the Father, and Holy Spirit as one God anyway.

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willow, in which version of the first vision? in one version it was jesus only, in another it was angels and in another it was moroni.

Well, I'm inclined to go with the 'version' which is included in my set of scriptures.

When it comes to differing accounts of the same thing I think I probably do that myself depending on if I'm giving a brief outline or an in depth description of something. Then if someone else repeats to a third party what I have said they may emphasise one point more than another, or even misunderstand something and unintentionally put their own interpretation on it.

If I give an account of my own conversion story it can come across in several different ways but that doesn't mean I'm not a convert.

I joined the church because I was seeking the truth.

I joined the church because I worked with someone who was a member.

I joined the church because I met missionaries who had accounts at the bank where I worked.

All are true and yet if you just heard one single point from three different independant sources they could sound like contradictions.

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so, what if i or someone else were to take each account and put them side by side and add it all up and we were to see what we believe to be contradictions and inconsistancies? somebody earlier mentioned the fair site and this bobbitt guy who explains it. i read thoses and i still think, at least for me, they are pretty big inconsistancies. i saw a show hosted by a guy named shawn mccraney and he does a great job comparing the different first vision accounts. but, if you don't want to believe him, then don't. but i didn't see anybody comment on the book of mormon references from earlier.

"the book of mormon wasn't translated by men, was it? yes, it was written by men, but would God have given j. smith a translation that was full of errors? it was translated by God and is the word of God(same article of faith). in the book of mormon, it says there is only one God. there are verses that don't just say that the 'father, son and holy spirit are one,' because that could be read in the same manner as a man and his wife are 'one.' no, the book of mormon takes it a step further in several places. the book of mormon says there is only one God. it says that the father, son, and holy ghost are one God, without end. it says 'one God.' that there is a true and living God and none else beside him. the testimony of the three witnesses(oliver cowdery, david whitmer, and martin harris) ends thus: "And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen."

if either the three witness or the book of mormon really meant father, son, and holy spirit are three Gods, wouldn't they have said so?"

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wouldn't it just be more simple to look in the book of mormon and see what it says? the book of mormon wasn't translated by men, was it? yes, it was written by men, but would God have given j. smith a translation that was full of errors?

"full of errors"? Care to explain a bit more? What do you think? Grammar? Spelling? Doctrine? What did Moroni (or was it Mormon) say about errors in the Book of Mormon?

it was translated by God and is the word of God(same article of faith). in the book of mormon, it says there is only one God. there are verses that don't just say that the 'father, son and holy spirit are one,' because that could be read in the same manner as a man and his wife are 'one.' no, the book of mormon takes it a step further in several places. the book of mormon says there is only one God. it says that the father, son, and holy ghost are one God, without end. it says 'one God.' that there is a true and living God and none else beside him. the testimony of the three witnesses(oliver cowdery, david whitmer, and martin harris) ends thus: "And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen."

if either the three witness or the book of mormon really meant father, son, and holy spirit are three Gods, wouldn't they have said so?

Sheesh. Talk about an offender for a word. The three are One god. So there. Straight from an active Mormon in 2008.

HiJolly

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so, what if i or someone else were to take each account and put them side by side and add it all up and we were to see what we believe to be contradictions and inconsistancies? somebody earlier mentioned the fair site and this bobbitt guy who explains it. i read thoses and i still think, at least for me, they are pretty big inconsistancies. i saw a show hosted by a guy named shawn mccraney and he does a great job comparing the different first vision accounts. but, if you don't want to believe him, then don't. but i didn't see anybody comment on the book of mormon references from earlier.

Ok, done. Now you don't have to feel ignored. ;) *I* don't think 'shawn' does a great job, but then, you might expect that, from a faithful LDS point-of-view, eh? BTW, I do consider myself a 'born-again' Mormon, though I didn't get ex'd for it...

HiJolly

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I find it quite interesting that some people who are under the impression that they believe in 'the Trinity' actually don't. What they believe in is three separate personages of the Godhead and they think this is what is meant by 'the Trinity'. I don't think that there are any scriptures which support the idea that three people can be one person in the very literal sense, any more than a man and wife when they marry can cease to be two separate individuals and yet they are declared to have become one.

Willow,

Sorry for the delay in respoding to this post, I wanted to wait until I had an answer to what LDS mean by "personage" on another thread. I think the concensus was that personage means important person. (Since LDS use it of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.) Certainly trinitarians think that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are persons, and since they are clearly important, under that definition, the term personage could be applied to them. In trinitarian thought therefore, the 3 personages are not believed to be 1 person but 1 being. The problem being that LDS seem not to be able to imagine or believe it possible for a single being to have multiplie personages. I think LDS reason that since all persons they have ever meet where 1 person in 1 being then that is the only type of being possible.

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