An issue that has greatly interested me as of late, though I had extensively studied it as an early Christian, is the doctrine of the Trinity. The mystery of this truth is marvelous to my soul.
The doctrine of the Trinity is something God has been revealing ever since the beginning of when He started writing the bible. For example, scriptures like, “And God said, Let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness” (Gen. 1:26) and also, “And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of US, to know good and evil.” (Gen. 3:22) This all reveals the internal plurality of the one God!
I don’t think that Trinitarians are aware that this verse is no longer used by serious theologians to prove the Trinity doctrine. They have rejected the notion that Genesis 1:26 implies a plurality of persons in one God. For example, Gordon J. Wenham, who wrote the “Word Biblical Commentary on Genesis” says on page 27 concerning Gen. 1:26
Christians have traditionally seen [Genesis 1:26] as adumbrating [foreshadowing] the Trinity. It is now universally admitted that this was not what the plural meant to the original author.
The New International Version Study Bible confirms in its commentary,
Us… Our… Our. God speaks as the Creator-king, announcing His crowning work to the members of His heavenly court (see 3:22; 11:7; Isaiah 6:8; I Kings 22:19-23; Job 15:8; Jeremiah 23:18).
Charles Caldwell Ryrie (The Ryrie Study Bible) writes his short and to-the-point annotation on Genesis 1:26,
Us…Our. Plurals of majesty.
Jerry Falwell remarks,
The plural pronoun “Us” is most likely a majestic plural from the standpoint of Hebrew grammar and syntax. (Liberty Annotated Study Bible, Lynchburg: Liberty University, 1988, p. 8)
Aside from what these handful of theologians say, let’s get back to scripture and ask some honest questions. A sincere student of scripture, if taking context into consideration, cannot at this point dispense names or titles to “Us” in Genesis 1:26. Furthermore, how does a trinitarian assume the “Us” consists of only three individuals? Why just the number three? The immediate CONTEXT of Genesis chapter one does not reveal who the “Us” is.
Another thing to consider is the following verse:
Genesis 1:27 So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.
How does a trinitarian explain the fact that the personal pronouns in verse 27 are all SINGULAR? Genesis 1:27 shows only one individual is doing the creating, God! Even Jesus tells us that. He says,
“And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,” (Matt. 19:4)
Why didn’t Jesus say, “…that WE which made them at the beginning made them male and female?” Jesus attributes the creating to God Almighty alone. Even God (Yahweh) says,
Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens ALONE; that spreadeth abroad the earth BY MYSELF” (Isa_44:24).
When it comes to Genesis 1:26, I believe, as others, that in the Hebrew scripture God Almighty is addressing His ministering angels or angelic hosts when he says “us” or “our.” Two chapters later (chapter 3) God still uses the pronoun “us” when speaking to His angelic hosts about Adam and Eve eating from the tree. The Creator instructs the Cherubim to stand at the gate of the Garden of Eden, with a flaming sword, to prevent them entering the garden and eating from the tree of life.
Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever” – therefore the Lord God sent him out of the Garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the Garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life. (Genesis 3:22-24)
There is nothing in Genesis one that proves the Creator was talking to Jesus the Messiah or that there are three persons who supposedly make up one God. To say, “The doctrine of the Trinity is something God has been revealing ever since the beginning of when He started writing the bible,” is not true at all and no evidence to support such a suggestion.
Trinitarians declaring that Genesis 1:26 is talking about three personalities in one God would have to ignore the fact that just one verse later we have the SINGULAR pronouns “he” and “him.” For that matter, how does a trinitarian explain that over 11,000 times the singular pronouns tell us God is a single person? How do they explain that whenever the Bible speaks of God in the third person it reads “He” or “Him” or “His?” These facts and questions are simply ignored by Trinitarians. As someone has well stated,
The idea that God is speaking to Himself (allegedly as two different persons of Himself) has to be imagined, assumed, added to, and read into what the scripture actually says, and such has to be assumed only to conform to preconceived doctrine, which also has to be imagined, assumed, added to, and read into, each and every scripture that is used to allegedly support the extra-Biblical doctrine.
In the book “The Nature & Character of God” Winkie Pratney dedicated a large portion of his book to the Trinity, (pages 255-429)
Here is a section from his book that I read last night which I thoroughly enjoyed:
Response: There are many things we can “thoroughly enjoy,” but that does not make it truth. It would do us well to test what authors and preachers are trying to indoctrinate in us. We are to test the spirits.
Continuing Jesse’s article:
God is dinstictly called ‘one Lord’ (Duet. 6:4, Mark 12:29), but we must examine closely as to how the word one is being used. There are two kinds of unity or ‘onenesss’ both English and Hebrew; an absolute unity and compound unity. Absolute unity is that of singularity; I give you one apple, and you get a single apple. But if you ask for ‘one’ bunch of grapes, you don’t simply get one grape! ‘One’ in this case is a word of compound unity, the many in the one.
Yachead is the OT word for absolute unity; a mathematical or numerical one. It is used about 12 times in the OT, but never to describe the unity of God (Gen. 22:2, 12; Zech. 12:10)
Echad however speaks of a compound or collective unity. In marriage “the two shall be one flesh” (Gen. 2:24); a crowd can gather together ‘as one’ (Ezek. 3:1); or be of one mind or heart: “All the rest of Israel were of one heart to make David king” (1Chron 12:38). This is the compound plural always used of God when He is called “one” Lord.
Response: The Hebrew word “echad” is simply rendered as “one.” A common-sense understanding of the Sh’ma (Duet.6:4) tells us that echad is only one person and that one person is our Father, Yahweh.
Pratney, as many other Trinitarians, would have us believe that ‘echad’ really refers to a “compound unity.” If I told you, “We have one baseball team coming to town,” you would automatically think of one baseball teams as opposed to 2 or more of them. However, within that one baseball team, there are many baseball players within that one team, I believe twenty-five of them. Now, if we are to understand the word ‘echad’ as Pratney and other Trinitarians would have us believe, then the passage should be translated like this:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is a compound unity.”
Of course there must be an alternate understanding of ‘echad’ in order to endorse the Trinity doctrine! The word ‘echad’ is used over 970 times and in a vast majority of places it explicitly refers to the simple numerical digit one, both in Hebrew and English.
Pratney wants to use grapes to try and prove a compound unity of the word ‘echad’. The deception is a clever one. Let’s put this to the test:
Does “one baseball team” mean that “one” means twenty-five?
Does “one tripod” mean that “one” means three?
Does “one quartet” mean that “one” means four?
Does “one centipede” mean that “one” means 100?
As Raymond C. Faircloth has well stated:
The Hebrew word echad occurs 970 times in the Hebrew Scriptures. It is an adjective meaning “one single” i.e. a numerical absolute. Yet a few Trinitarians have tried to redefine it as meaning one in unity – a compound one. By so doing they attempt to restate the shema regarding the one God of Israel as allowing for the Trinity. However, this is false because all reputable lexicons show that echad is used in exactly the same way the English word one is used. When used with a collective noun, that is, a noun containing the idea of plurality e.g. one herd of cattle, the one still means “one single” i.e. one single herd of cattle. Whatever number of cows constitute the herd is not relevant. Nowhere in Scripture is there any Hebrew or Greek word that refers to a One that encompasses three divine eternal persons.
‘Echad’ means “one single,” “one only,” and not more. One cluster of grapes does not mean two clusters or three clusters. One family is still one family, not two families, not four or five families.
There is only one God, not three. Even in 1 Cor. 8:6 Paul tells us, “There is one God, THE FATHER.” Jesus is not God the Father.
Jesus, while praying to his Father says,
“And this is everlasting life, that they may KNOW YOU, THE ONLY TRUE GOD, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.” (John 17:3)
Jesus said his Father is the only true God. Jesus has a God and this ONLY true God is his God and our God, his Father and our Father.
Jesus said unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. (John 20:17)
He that overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. (Rev. 3:12)
Jesse continues quoting Pratney or making his own comment:
So “Yachead” is the Hebrew word of absolute unity and it is NEVER used for God. But “Echad” is the Hebrew word of collective or compound unity and is ABUNDANTLY used for God.
“Elohim” is the plural term for the singular “El”. “El” = God but “Elohim” God’s. (not that there are many Gods, but that there is a plurality of personalities which make up one God).
“Adonai” is the plural version for the singular “Adon”. “Adon” = Master while “Adonai” = Master’s. (Again, not to suggest any polytheism, but rather to teach a plurality of personalities in God.”
Response: He states, “Not that there are many Gods…” What happened to 1 Cor. 8:5 where we are told “there are many gods, and many lords?” Of course there is only one true God, which is the Father.
The word “elohim” can mean either plural “gods” or singular “god.” There is nothing in the word elohim that means a “plurality of individuals or personalities,” anymore than its use of Moses in Exodus 7:1 where God said to Moses: “See, I have made thee a god [ELOHIM] to Pharaoh.” No one would say Moses is a plurality of individuals or personalities.
Please also note that ‘elohim’ in the plural means “gods” — not persons. The argument that its plural usage means a Trinity would mean that there are three gods (or more), not three persons in one God, as claimed for the Trinity doctrine.
The creed of the Jews and what Jesus confirmed is this,
“Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God, the Lord is one.”
Not three or a compound unity.
Jesse writes in his response following the post:
Also, Jesus prayed ‘that they may be one, even as we are one’ (John 17:22).
Now, if Christians are to be One just like the Father and the Son is one, this poses a problem for Unitarians. Because if the Father and the Son are One in personhood or consciousness, that would mean that Christians are supposed to be one personhood or consciousness. But that is absurd as we are distinct persons.
The obvious meaning is that the Father and the Son are in perfect harmony being of one mind. In the same way the Church is meant to be of one mind. So the Father and the Son being One by no means denies the Trinity, it requires it.
Response to Jesse:
Actually, the verse poses a problem for Trinitarians.
1. If you want to say that Jesus and the Father are of the same substance or nature (metaphysical unity) or one in personhood or consciousness to try and prove the trinity doctrine, then that is exactly what Jesus is praying for! All of us would eventually become God – be of one substance or nature with God! And I agree, that is absurd.
2. Those who are biblical monotheist have no problem with Jesus’ prayer because Jesus is praying for his disciples and future disciples who will believe through their Gospel message that they may be one in mind and purpose. Paul requests the same unity in 1 Cor. 1:10.
The verse is not talking about the Trinity and does not demand it. It’s about future glory given to Christ and his immediate disciples and future disciples. When Jesus was praying he was not yet glorified (John 7:39). He is simply praying about his future glorification as if he currently has it. Jesus was glorified when God raised him from the dead.
Luke 24:26 says,
“Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?”
Acts 3:13 says,
“The God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His son Jesus, whom you delivered up, denying Him in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to let Him go.”
Trinitarians fail to see that when Jesus was praying in chapter 17, he was also praying in verses 20-22 for his disciples and future disciples who do not yet exist, but yet Jesus has given future disciple, past tense, this same glory.
And I have given them the glory which You have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.
This glory is the future resurrection to a life of immortality in the future Messianic Kingdom on earth. This is glory in prospect and promise as in 17:5, which does not teach a literal preexistence of Jesus the Messiah. If John 17:5 is to mean that Jesus literally existed before the world was, then all the disciples at the time and future disciples existed before the world was, before they were born, but Trinitarians ignore their own inconsistencies of interpretation.