4 Jul 2004

Confused by my ideas on the Trinity

Submitted by theshovel
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Hello Brian,

I hope you didn't automatically assume that I was "calling you one of them;" (i.e. cult groups)

No, no, you did not come across as suggesting any such thing toward me. My short reply to you was simply in view of my suspicion that you had not read much of the Trinity Q&A ... or if you had, that you had skimmed over it and missed my main concerns Actually, I'm still wondering how much of it you have read based upon what you've written in this email. I'm not being critical, only curious. Hey, I easily get a little brain-dead from reading lots of material.

I do happen to believe in the Trinity of G-d. I DON'T believe that believing it makes me better than you. :) And that's really the problem you describe with "doctrine," isn't it?

This statement from your first email let me know that you picked up on one of my issues with the institutional framework or mindset of "Doctrine" (yeah, I capitalized it to emphasize its religious formality). The word or meaning of 'doctrine' is really not the problem as I see it, for it simply means 'teaching', and as you pointed out the simple reality of Christ can also be considered a teaching. By the way, I'm glad you don't think you're better than me because of what you believe. :)

In truth, we're looking at the difference between the teaching of God and the teaching of man ... though what has happened down the line is the reestablishment of the teaching of man under the premise of the teaching of God. I say reestablishment because this is exactly what Jesus was confronted with as he faced the religious leaders of the day. They had the 'right' or perhaps the proper wording, but it was nevertheless the wording as taught by the world. It made no difference that they quoted men who had been led by the spirit of God for their mind was still in tune with the spirit of the world. The spirit of God doesn't care which Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek or even English words we use for he can speak living truth with any ignorant languages of man.

Though you did catch the particular issue I've made regarding the superiority many stand upon under the premise of an adherence to having the CORRECT teachings (not necessarily living ones), it seems to me that you may have skimmed over why I've made an issue of the Trinity doctrine in particular ... and it's pretty well stated in the first sub-heading that says, "Read this first :)". haha! Now you may have read it, but it doesn't seem to come across as if you have really understood this most important consideration.

Here's a statement I made in "What are your thoughts of the Trinity?": "You are right, the doctrine got added into the mix of 'Christian' teachings. I have lots of problems with it ... mostly because it is the attempt of the natural mind of man to make God make sense, and in so doing, we have made God more like us than letting God be God. It has the APPEARANCE of giving God His full due, but it actually 'short-circuits' any true understanding of God."

I imagine you have the idea that if I just had some better information on the Trinity position I would not have a problem with it. However, I am well familiar with the doctrine. Also let me add that I have read some very excellent articles and realities of God, of the Spirit of God, and of Christ found under the systematic headings of Theology, Pneumatology, and Christology.

You see, it's not necessarily the points or discussions brought up in the course of the doctrine that I take issue with, rather is it the formulation of God that is woven into those things. For God is not a system, nor is the true understanding of God systematic. I don't deny something because it can be worded in a systematic theology but I sure as heck have to question the concept that we can know God by knowing doctrine. We know God through Jesus Christ because he has given us his spirit for this very reason.

The "doctrine" of Christ that amazed the people was not any kind of an organized set of teachings (as we mostly think of them) but it was the authority from which he spoke because his words DID something. They were the words of one who knew the one of whom he spoke, and not as those 'proper' words of their leaders as they quoted Moses, David, Isaiah, etc. Their arguments were built around logic and systems, that is, around the formulation of the knowledge of God. The reason they were always caught up over Scriptural discrepancies is that their boxes of understanding - or should I say, MIS-understanding? - could not hold it all together. This is merely the logic of man trying to ascertain the logic of God.

What you point out in regard to Jesus/Yeshua being "The Word," in my opinion, doesn't do anything against the idea of trinity...

You've got that backwards, for what I pointed out regarding the Trinity doctrine is that IT does something against the very reality of The Word. For even in quoting verses regarding "the Word" it ultimately steers the attention toward the formulation of God - that is, toward an end result of gaining a better grasp on the "Godhead" - and mostly away from what it really means TO US.

I've talked to numerous folks who hold to the basic premise of the Trinity and have found most to struggle and strain over the simple reality of the Word of God - and of the Word made flesh - because of a seeming bondage to the formulaic demands of the Trinity doctrine.

I do have some difficulty understanding why you think the idea of trinity "emphasizes that G-d is G-d and man is man." The Bible does not say that Jesus was "the union of G-d with the creation" (the creation being under a curse since the sin of Adam, this is a statement with some theological difficulties);

This is partly what I mean when I refer to the struggle over the simplicity of Christ. In other words, you're saying that because there is no specific Bible verse to support what I've said then the truth of it must be questioned under the premise of "theological difficulties"? You assume that since the creation was subjected to the curse that it would imply an actual discrepancy? What about the reality that Jesus has removed the curse in himself ... the NEW creation?

however: if G-d and His Word are one (a unity, John 1:1 ), then how does the Word becoming flesh ( John 1:14, 1 Timothy 3:16 ) demonstrate a "separation" between man and G-d?

Unless that is not what I said. The word becoming flesh is exactly what I have referred to in highlighting the UNION of God and man - not the separation. It is the formulation of God inherent in the doctrine that has helped to convince most Trinitarian believers that God is still far from man ... in spite of the fact that contained within the structure are the verses that would demand otherwise.

Consider the fact that although you might think a firm belief of the Trinity would help ensure that those believing it will recognize one's UNION with God in Christ, it more times than not produces the same sense of separation outside of Christ. What I'm saying is that despite the many living realities of God contained in the framework of the doctrine it's bottom-line-demand may very well be something else.

I do have some difficulty understanding why you think the idea of trinity "emphasizes that G-d is G-d and man is man."

I'm not totally sure if your stated difficulty has to do with why I think it emphasizes that, or why I'd have a problem with such an emphasis. haha! :) If you're asking why I think it would emphasize such a thing, I can tell you that I have sat under "grace" teachers who demanded it using that exact phrase based upon their knowledge of God via the Trinity and the "whole council of God" premise. Somehow, all the amazing realities of the union we have in Christ were quickly swept under the theological rug in the attempt to hold it all together according to the hard and fast rules of a formula.

Truthfully, I am always amazed at how easily it seems to happen. And this is what caused me to begin questioning that something else that might be posing as a "Christian" teaching. Well, enough for now. :)

Jim Minker

Comments

I have read your postings and your right, I am confused in regard to your ideas on the Trinity, primarily due to the lack of references to scripture. I have posted some additional “ideas” below: The development of orthodox doctrine of the Trinity A. Encountered through experiencing the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit at work in salvation: 1. The baptism of Jesus; transfiguration; upper room after the resurrection (Jn 20:22) 2. The temptation: God’s son overcomes where previous sons (Adam, Israel) failed; ministry in the Holy Spirit (the Holy Spirit as director of the battle with the spiritual realm; Mt 12:28, Luke 4, etc) 3. Pentecost: the Spirit inspires praise to God, testimony to Jesus. Acts 16:6,7, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus; Acts 5:32 God gives the Spirit to those who obey, and Acts 2:17 (citing Joel) God pours out the Spirit, and Acts 2:33 Jesus poured out the Spirit. As in Acts 9:17-20, the Father offers the Holy Spirit to those who embrace the Son in faith. 4. God experienced as the economic Trinity (that is, God at work in our lives and revealing himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is the basis for our understanding of the immanent Trinity, which is God as he is eternally in himself, because God’s revelation of himself in human history is true to his essential being. B. Based on Scripture 1. The OT is like a room well furnished, but dimly lit relative to the doctrine of the Trinity; it is there all along, but until the NT revelation comes we see it only dimly or not at all. But there is a hint of plurality in God even in the OT. (Plural noun elohim with singular verb, ‘us’ passages in Genesis 1-2 and Isaiah 6, etc) 2. NT witness Jn 17:3; 1 Cor 12:4-6; Eph 3:5-7, 4:4-6; 2 Thess 2:13-14; 1 Peter 1:2; 1 Jn 5:5-6; Heb 9:14; Mt 28:19; Rom 16:27; 2 Cor 13:14; 1 Cor 8:4-6; Rom 15:30 C. Defined through historical controversy, church councils, and creeds: Arians denied that the Son and the Spirit were deity, claiming they were creatures. The church was pressed by them and other heresies to declare what the faith really was, and to mark the boundaries. Creeds (which were many, but alike in content) were ultimately drawn from baptismal confessions of faith based on Mt 28:19. D. Understood as a mutual indwelling, in mutual eternal love (The doctrine of coinherence): God is eternally one divine being, with three persons who mutually indwell each other in eternal love and communication. This mutual indwelling is something that is active, not static. It is the basis for our own experience of what it means to be a person. God’s eternal purpose for humanity is to share in that eternal relationship of love enjoyed by the Father and the Son (also the Holy Spirit, but it is less clearly articulated in the NT). I appreciate the opportunity to post these “ideas” relateed to scripture. Thannks. Harry
theshovel's picture

Hello Harry :)

I am familiar with the approach to the Trinity doctrine that you posted. At one time, I also gave more weight to an argument that contained a number of scriptural references. It just seemed more valid. However, if something is true, it is true whether there are Bible verses attached to it or not. You say you are confused primarily due to the lack of scriptural references. I have to wonder if what you didn't see (lots of references) caused you to just reject it without really reading it, because you didn't touch on anything I wrote. By the way, the reason I put the word "ideas" in quotes is because that was how it was stated in the email I responded to.

Hoping to hear back!
Jim

My dearest brother Jim. I have to stand in support of your statements here with or without my agreement on the Trinity formulas you are coming against in this older article here.

 

The fact is, God has very much shown me in times past that though you and I may stand out as a total heretic for it, we have realized that there simply is a mind that we are drawing from that can NOT be formulated according to a book! The book is GOOD, It's just not Jesus. Jesus is a living being or He is a person of history belonging to a book.

 

Thanks for sticking your neck out there on this, I have considered doing the same thing many years before this was written but, was probably discouraged by the prospect that no one would understand.

 

Love.

Adam

“What about the reality that Jesus has removed the curse in himself … the NEW creation? <~Jim

That is the priceless question with the priceless answer, isn't it!!?!

Christ Himself being the New Adam and we the New Creation is like one of the most important and most basic things for us to know, isn't it?  The religious mind has a major problem with understanding what NEW CREATION is!  It simply can not know, because it is sourced in the old mind that it is hopelessly STUCK in!!  It is sourced in death and can not know Life.  That requires the miracle of GOD … a NEW BIRTH CREATIONOUT with the OLD by death/IN with the NEW by LIFE!  :)  The New Creation has a New Mind!  That Mind is as miraculous as the New Creation itself!  :)  And that Mind is not bound by the doctrines of man.  :)

It has been my experience that by NOT knowing who I was and had been made to GOD in Christ Jesus,  I spent most of my early 'christian' life in confusion and insecurity concerning me and GOD.  All that insecurity and confusion was bred and fed by all the fear, shame and guilt that was created by many manipulative lies.  It became nothing more than vicious-cycle deception.

Religion has always been one of the biggest and guiltiest leaders in this treacherous manipulation game!  :(  It  uses the fear, guilt and shame stirred by law to ensnare/entrap us to convince us that we are something different than what/who we have been made.  We take on a completely false identity to function with as we walk this place that is not even our Home.  Can deception be so deep that we can even live-out this false identity all the way to the grave? 

YET … the New Creation is the New Creation!  It is a miraculous Life that is Sourced out of GOD HIMself and it is maintained and sustained by His very Spirit/Life/Essence forever more!  :)   Just because we may be deceived about things, does not mean that He is not at work in us!  There are no formulas to recognize the work of GOD.  Sometimes it is revealed and sometimes it is not.  But ultimately, His work in us is Jesus Christ Himself.  Our lives are hid with GOD in Christ Jesus.  Sometimes we think we know what that means, and other times we are convinced that we do no have a clue.  It is truly a Miraculous Life!!  :)

There is a reason why we do not feel 'at home' as we walk this land.  There is a reason why we long for the 'something more', as we know this is not it!  There is a reason why we have true Hope and Peace and Confidence despite it all, in the midst of it all and through it all.  It is not found or sourced in this world but vey much in Another … Another One Who IS our Hope, Peace and Confidence!  :)  The Person of Christ Jesus Who has joined us together as One with Him and the FATHER.   :)

I will ramble.  I will stop now.  blush

heart

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I discovered that the Bible was not the life, but that it declared the life. I used to be in bondage to a book, but the book tells me that I am not in bondage to anything! I also discovered that Jesus is The Word of God.   source