Islam views the Trinity as polytheistic.
Islam views the Trinity as polytheistic.
Best Explanation of the Trinity
Trinitarian doctrine declares the following three things:
1. There is only one God.
2. The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God.
3. These three persons are eternally distinct.
Monotheism, according to the Mirriam-Webster dictionary, is defined as "the doctrine or belief that there is but one god". As can be seen from the first plank of Trinitarian doctrine listed above, Trinitarians insist upon the fact that there is only one God, making Trinitarianism a true form of monotheism in every sense of the words.
Unitarianism, again according to the Mirriam-Webster dictionary, is the belief that "deity exists only in one person". Trinitarians are not Unitarians.
Unitarians include Muslims, Jehovah's Witnesses, Arians, and Socinians. Trinitarians consider Unitarian doctrine to be heresy -- a doctrine contrary to the truth.
The Trinity Scripturally Supported
Monotheism: the doctrine of belief that there is but one God.
Polytheism: belief in or worship of more than one god.
According to the first plank of the doctrine of the trinity, it is Monotheistic in every sense of the word, as Tim says. However, according to the second and third plank, the trinity is Polytheistic in every sense of the word (Father god, Son god, Holy Spirit god. Each distinct.) That is three. Three is more than one.
To accept Christianity is to accept the trinity. To accept the trinity is to accept Polytheism and Monotheism, at the same time, which is to reject Polytheism and Monotheism at the same time. To accept the trinity is to reject the trinity. To accept Christianity is to reject Christianity at the same time.
If you don't mind, would you contact me directly?
The Son obeys the Father (Philippians 2:8); the Son asks the Father for things (John 14:16); the Father loves the Son and gives Him all things (John 3:35; Luke 22:29); the Son honors the Father (John 8:49); the Son prays to the Father (John 17:1); the Father sends the Son (John 5:37, 10:36); the Son sends the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit testifies of the Son (John 15:26), the Spirit reminds Christ's followers of what the Son said (John 14:26), etc.
Call them "manifestations" if you like. They are still each uniquely personal.
A point which has been demonstrated to me by my apolostolic Pentecostal friends (who do not accept the trinity, but rather refer to themselves as "oneness"), you are correct when you say the manifestations speak amongst themselves and communicate as if they are separate beings, but this is explained by the son ship of Jesus. Jesus is the son of God according to the flesh. Jesus did not exist, except in God's plan for redemption (logos), until his birth. Jesus was all man and all God. As a man, he had to eat, drink and sleep, as well as all other functions of a human body.
If I understand correctly, those who hold to a oneness doctrine, like Muslims, are strict unitarians, meaning that divinity is not shared in any way within the godhead. However, this seems to me to be unscriptural and also to lead to irrationality.
What is God's ultimate reason for doing what He does? Ultimately, He Himself is the reason He does what He does. No other answer is rational. If God is rational, He knows that His reason is Himself. If God is not rational, there can be no rational justification for human thought, making it too irrational. When our rational God considers Himself (and since He is unchanging He must do so eternally), that which is eternally conceived in His mind is a perfect representation of Himself, the very image of Himself, identical in all respects except in those respects in which the pondered reason is of necessity distinct from the one reasoning.
Since His reason (or logos) is both Himself in one sense, yet distinct from Himself in another, divinity is shared, making unitarianism false out of rational necessity. In the beginning, the logos was both with God, and the logos was God (John 1:1). This is not unitarianism.
Thanks for the question.
Thank you for your reply. I'm not so certain that the term Unitarianism applies to this particular denomination. They use the term "oneness". They do believe that Jesus was God, but that he was not a realized being, except in God's plan, until his birth on earth. In other words, he (Jesus) was not a person in a trinity, but was a flesh and blood human, in whom dwelled all the fullness of the godhead.
I'm probably not giving their belief justice, so I've linked to their page. The official church is the United Pentecostal Church. While I do not believe in the glossalia portion of their faith, I am quite intrigued by their take on the nature of God, and why they do not believe in a Trinitarian God. I can not find any fault in their scriptural basis, but I'm certainly not an authority. Thank you for your input.
The page you linked to does not, in my view, necessarily contradict trinitarian thinking with respect to the nature of God. I can affirm everything stated in the "An Appreciation of God's Identity" section as it is currently written. I may mean different things than they do as they state them, and I suspect I do, but I could state those same words and be comfortable that I have not intentionally misrepresented my view.
I also took a look at this page:
The "About God" section again agrees with trinitarian theology from my perspective, though I bet those who authored it think it does not.
Your statements about their beliefs make them more clearly opposed to trinitarian theology, so I will try again to deal with your statements rather than what I see on their website. You said "They do believe that Jesus was God, but that he was not a realized being, except in God's plan, until his birth on earth." It seems to me that if, in the beginning, the Logos was both God in some sense and with God (therefore not God) in some other sense, then you have a scriptural disproof of the logos not being a "realized being". He was God, so He was realized. He was with God, so He was not God in a different sense. In one sense in John 1:1 there is only the one God, fully realized, identified as the logos, but in another sense there is God and there is also something else, the logos.
From what you said about their views, it sounds like they would say that the logos was not God in any sense, thereby rejecting John 1:1, but rather the logos was merely an idea that God had for the creation of a particular man in whom He would dwell. Since He dwelt in Jesus the created man, in their minds, Jesus the created man could be called God. However, Jesus the created man is not the logos in the beginning, rather Jesus is the result of the logos in the beginning, because Jesus the created man did not exist in the beginning, while the logos did.
Again, based on what you have said, it sounds like a denial that the logos both is God in one sense and is not God in another sense as John 1:1 claims. Rather, it is merely an acceptance that the logos is not God in any sense.
Going back to your statement, "They do believe that Jesus was God, but that he was not a realized being, except in God's plan, until his birth on earth." This additionally makes it sound like they believe that Jesus was at best a created god, not the Creator God. This sounds like Twoness rather than Oneness. God, the one God, is an eternally realized being. If Jesus is God, the one God, then in whatever sense He is God He is also an eternally realized being. If they say He is not an eternally realized being in any sense at all, then they appear to deny that He is the one God in any sense at all. He may contain or be indwelt by the one God in their minds, much in the same way they believe that they also contain or are indwelt with the one God, but He is not the one God any more than they themselves are.
It is difficult to analyze something without a clear notion of what is being analyzed. So I apologize if I have missed the boat.
As I indicated previously, my understanding of oneness theology is that the Father is the Son who is the Holy Spirit (a form of unitarianism), not that the Son was created and completely began to exist when Jesus was born, having been an unrealized being, merely a plan or intention, in the Father's mind prior to that, making him wholly and completely distinct from the Father in every way. That has not been my understanding of oneness.
Perhaps one of your acquaintances could clear this up for me?
Thank you again! I apologize for so clumsily explaining the UPCI, but I'm second hand on the information. I did read a book by a UPCI author on the sonship of Jesus, which is where I got most of my information. I can't remember the name of the book or the author (it's been twenty years ago). At any rate, I've linked to another site below that seems to take on the oneness theology, referring to them as modalists, and in some parts Nestorian heresy, but I fail to understand the objections raised in the site. Hopefully it clears up my muddied attempt at explaining.
After reviewing the site you linked to, I have the following observations or thoughts. Hopefully, some are helpful.
Oneness does seem to be a form of unitarianism with a little "u", not Unitarianism with a big "U". Big-U-Unitarianism is a proper name for a specific group. Little-u-unitarianism is a description of any religion that holds that there is one god who eternally exists as one person and only one person (as opposed to trinitarians who hold that one god exists as three eternal persons). Little-u-unitarianism includes Islam, as well as Jehovah's Witnesses, and Oneness Pentecostals. My first argument was against little-u-unitarians, so I think it does apply to Oneness. This page you linked to differentiates between Oneness and big-U-Unitarians, but my argument was against little-u-unitarians, so it works for Oneness believers.
In Oneness, it seems one God exists in the beginning, and only in one person. In the incarnation, that one person takes on a created human nature, a second nature. After the ascension of that human nature, the one person of God chooses to indwell believers. The name "Jesus" is the name of that one person who is the one God. "The Father" is a title for the original divine nature of the person. Jesus is thus the Father's proper name. "The Son" appears to be the title of the human nature taken on during the incarnation, so "the Son" is not eternal but rather created. The Holy Ghost is perhaps a description of the divine nature when He indwells believers after the ascension. God is the person Jesus, and only the person Jesus, all the time.
So during the incarnation, there are two natures to contend with: the divine nature (the Father) and the human nature (the Son). They do not appear to have any essential problem with the doctrine of the hypostatic union: that Jesus had two natures. Thus, in their minds, when He prays, it is His human nature (the Son) praying to His divine nature (the Father).
If I understand all this right, this brings me back to John 1:1-3. In Oneness, it seems that either the logos was with God, or the logos was God, but not both. The plain reading of the text, in my mind, is that the logos both IS God in one sense, and IS NOT God in another sense, and that this was true from the very beginning. But, according to Oneness, there is nothing in the beginning that can be said to both be and not be God. During the incarnation, they would agree that the Christ could be said to both be and not be God in different senses, but John 1:1-3 is not referring to the incarnation -- it is referring to the beginning.
Now this matches trinitarian theology perfectly -- the logos is God in the sense that He has a divine nature (THE divine nature), but He is not God in the sense that He is not the Father (1 Corinthians 8:6). But it does not seem to match Oneness theology as far as I can tell. Under Oneness, what is there that was in the beginning, through which all things were made (John 1:3), that can, in some sense, be said to NOT be God? For them, there seems to be nothing that fits that description. So John 1:1-3 seem to be false in Oneness theology.
The page you linked to also points out Philippians 2:5-9. The one that God exalts in Philippians 2:9 is the same one in the form of God in Philippians 2:6 before taking on the likeness of man in Philippians 2:7. In Oneness theology, I assume the entity in verse 9 that gets exalted would have to be the human nature of the Son, since in verse 9 that entity appears to be distinct from God, since God exalts it. But, then, according to the text, the human nature that God exalted in verse 9 existed in the form of God in verse 6... before being created in verse 7! It appears as though under Oneness, the Son exists before it exists!
But this same text is not a problem for trinitarians. In a trinitarian view, in 2:6, the logos is in the form of God, meaning He has a divine nature (THE divine nature), then in verse 7 He takes on a second nature, that of man, then in verse 9 the logos is highly exalted by the Father, a separate person in the triune Godhead (1 Corinthians 8:6). This is why trinitarian doctrine (as confusing as it is to so many people) was developed to begin with -- to make sense of the text. It isn't imposed on the text but derived from it. Notice that Trinitarianism requires that the word "God" sometimes refers to the divine nature shared by the three persons, and sometimes refers to the one person of the Father (1 Corinthians 8:6). Indeed, sometimes the word god has other meanings as well, like being a reference to false gods (Deuteronomy 12:30), or a reference to humans made in the image of god (John 10:34).
But again, perhaps an actual Oneness believer, one of your friends, could shed some light on where my reasoning fails in their mind, and how they can accept John 1 and Philippians 2 as-written?
All the best to you!
No problem. I hope I have been a little helpful at least. Another passage that I would love to know their take on would be Hebrews 1:2, where God creates through the Son. In their view, if I understand correctly, during the creation, the Son did not yet exist.
On the Trinity, you may find the thoughts of Jonathan Edwards to be of some clarifying help. Or maybe not. Dunno. But here he is:
He explains his ideas on what it means for there to be a Son and a Spirit. I mildly modified his thoughts on the Son to make the argument against unitarianism that I first presented in our conversation:
In my mind there isn't any kind of logical problem with the Trinity, though I agree it is difficult to try to delve into. Personally, I first think on the concepts of a nature versus person. We as trinitarians claim these are distinct things. But are they?
A rock has a nature but no personhood.
A human has both personhood and a nature.
Christ, even according to Oneness thought, is a person with two natures (divine and human, the hypostatic union).
So it seems from observation of the world around us, and also from things we agree on with Oneness believers, that nature and person are not the same thing. There can be this without that, or multiples of this while only one of that. So they aren't equivalent. This means, at least hypothetically, there is nothing illogical about one nature and three persons joined in some manner, like the Trinity.
The question that always puzzles me is which attributes belong to the nature, and which to the person?