Take the 2-minute tour ×
Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

In related form to a previous question on the basis for the Trinity, what is the Biblical basis for disbelief of the doctrine?

Not all Christians (and perhaps not all branches of Christendom) hold to a Trinitarian view - how are those views justified from the Bible?

Specifically, what verses do non-Trinitarians cite to support their views / contradict the doctrine of the Trinity?


note - I am a very committed Trinitarian, personally; this question should not be a platform to rail again non-Trinitarian beliefs

share|improve this question
    
What is the Biblical basis for disbelief in Moses' horns? Unitarians don't disbelieve in the Trinity due to the Bible specifically addressesing it. They do so because they don't think the Bible teaches the Trinity in the first place. Since God clearly states that He is "one", they would say that the burden-of-proof is on the Trinitarians to prove otherwise. Is there some specific passage you have a question about? Or is there a more specific Unitarian teaching that you are asking about? (I'm using the term Unitarian in the classic sense, not the denominational sense) –  Steven Doggart Aug 1 '13 at 15:42
6  
Perhaps a better way to word your question would be, "What verses, if any, do non-trinitarians believe specifically contradict the doctrine of the Trinity." –  Steven Doggart Aug 1 '13 at 15:48
1  
possible duplicate of Is there Biblical basis for unitarianism? –  Steven Doggart Aug 1 '13 at 20:09
add comment

4 Answers 4

up vote 4 down vote accepted

First of all the word Trinity does not exist in the Bible. Second, the Trinity is an invention in the third century in Nicene Creed:

QUICK FACTS: “The Nicene Creed is actually not the product of the First Council of Nicea (325) . . . but of the First Council of Constantinople (381),” says The New Westminster Dictionary of Church History. “The Council of Nicea in 325 stated the crucial formula for [the yet future Trinity] doctrine in its confession that the Son is ‘of the same substance . . . as the Father.’”—Encyclopædia Britannica.

Reference: http://www.jw.org/en/publications/magazines/g201308/trinity

The Athanasian Creed mentions : "the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and yet there are not three Gods but one God." In this Trinity of Persons the Son is begotten of the Father by an eternal generation, and the Holy Spirit proceeds by an eternal procession from the Father and the Son"

Reference: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15047a.htm - catholic encyclopedia

SCRIPTURES

Jesus is not God, he has a God:

  • “I [Jesus] ascend unto my Father, and your Father, and to my God, and your God.”—John 20:17.
  • “To us there is but one God, the Father.”—1 Corinthians 8:6.
  • “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”—1 Peter 1:3.

Jesus has a beginning while God has not

  • “These things saith the Amen [Jesus], . . . the beginning of the creation of God.”—Revelation 3:14.

  • "He[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation." _ Colossians 1:15

Jesus is not co-equal to God

  • “My Father is greater than I [Jesus].”—John 14:28.

  • “I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.” _ 1 Cor. 11:3

  • “‘God has put all things in subjection under his [Jesus’] feet.’ But when it says, ‘All things are put in subjection under him,’ it is plain that he is excepted who put all things under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be
    subjected to him who put all things under him, that God may be
    everything to every one.” _ 1 Cor. 15:27, 28

  • Jesus said in prayer: “Father, . . . this is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:1-3). [Think: who is Jesus praying to?]

Holy Spirit is not a person

The Holy Scriptures tell us the personal name of the Father—Jehovah. They inform us that the Son is Jesus Christ. But nowhere in the Scriptures is a personal name applied to the holy spirit.

The New Catholic Encyclopedia admits: “The majority of N[ew] T[estament] texts reveal God’s spirit as something, not someone; this is especially seen in the parallelism between the spirit and the power of God.” (1967, Vol. XIII, p. 575) It also reports: “The Apologists [Greek Christian writers of the second century] spoke too haltingly of the Spirit; with a measure of anticipation, one might say too impersonally.”—Vol. XIV, p. 296.

Source for below information: http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1101989240 and http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1101989276

Does John 1:1 prove that Jesus is God?

John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God [also KJ, JB, Dy, Kx, NAB].” NE reads “what God was, the Word was.” Mo says “the Logos was divine.”

What is it that these translators are seeing in the Greek text that moves some of them to refrain from saying “the Word was God”? The definite article (the) appears before the first occurrence of the·os′ (God) but not before the second. The articular (when the article appears) construction of the noun points to an identity, a personality, whereas a singular anarthrous (without the article) predicate noun before the verb (as the sentence is constructed in Greek) points to a quality about someone. So the text is not saying that the Word (Jesus) was the same as the God with whom he was but, rather, that the Word was godlike, divine, a god.

*What did the apostle John mean when he wrote John 1:1? Did he mean that Jesus is himself God or perhaps that Jesus is one God with the Father? In the same chapter, Joh 1 verse 18, John wrote:

“No one [“no man,” KJ, Dy] has ever seen God; the only Son [“the only-begotten god,” NW], who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.”

(RS) Had any human seen Jesus Christ, the Son? Of course! So, then, was John saying that Jesus was God? Obviously not. Toward the end of his Gospel, John summarized matters, saying: “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, [not God, but] the Son of God.”—John 20:31, RS.

Does Thomas’ exclamation at John 20:28 prove that Jesus is truly God?

There is no objection to referring to Jesus as “God,” if this is what Thomas had in mind. Such would be in harmony with Jesus’ own quotation from the Psalms in which powerful men, judges, were addressed as “gods.” (John 10:34, 35, RS; Ps. 82:1-6) Of course, Christ occupies a position far higher than such men. Because of the uniqueness of his position in relation to Jehovah, at John 1:18 (NW) Jesus is referred to as “the only-begotten god.” (See also Ro, By.) Isaiah 9:6 (RS) also prophetically describes Jesus as “Mighty God,” but not as the Almighty God. All of this is in harmony with Jesus’ being described as “a god,” or “divine,” at John 1:1 (NW, AT). The context helps us to draw the right conclusion from this. Shortly before Jesus’ death, Thomas had heard Jesus’ prayer in which he addressed his Father as “the only true God.” (John 17:3, RS) After Jesus’ resurrection Jesus had sent a message to his apostles, including Thomas, in which he had said: “I am ascending . . . to my God and your God.” (John 20:17, RS) After recording what Thomas said when he actually saw and touched the resurrected Christ, the apostle John stated: “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31, RS) So, if anyone has concluded from Thomas’ exclamation that Jesus is himself “the only true God” or that Jesus is a Trinitarian “God the Son,” he needs to look again at what Jesus himself said (Joh 20 vs. 17) and at the conclusion that is clearly stated by the apostle John (Joh 20 vs. 31).

Do the miracles performed by Jesus prove that he is God?

Acts 10:34, 38, RS: “Peter opened his mouth and said: ‘ . . . God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; . . . he went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.’” (So Peter did not conclude from the miracles that he observed that Jesus was God but, rather, that God was with Jesus. Compare Matthew 16:16, 17.)

Is Jehovah in the “Old Testament” Jesus Christ in the “New Testament”?

No.

Ps. 110:1: “The utterance of Jehovah to my [David’s] Lord is: ‘Sit at my right hand until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet.’” (At Matthew 22:41-45, Jesus explained that he himself was David’s “Lord,” referred to in this psalm. So Jesus is not Jehovah but is the one to whom Jehovah’s words were here directed.) Phil. 2:9-11: “For this very reason also God exalted him [Jesus Christ] to a superior position and kindly gave him the name that is above every other name, so that in the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven and those on earth and those under the ground, and every tongue should openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. [Dy reads: “ . . . every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father.” Kx and CC read similarly, but a footnote in Kx acknowledges: “ . . . the Greek is perhaps more naturally rendered ‘to the glory,’” and NAB and JB render it that way.]” (Notice that Jesus Christ is here shown to be different from God the Father and subject to Him.)

What is the meaning of John 5:18?

John 5:18, RS: “This was why the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the sabbath but also called God his Father, making himself equal with God.” It was the unbelieving Jews who reasoned that Jesus was attempting to make himself equal with God by claiming God as his Father. While properly referring to God as his Father, Jesus never claimed equality with God. He straightforwardly answered the Jews: “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing.” (John 5:19, RS; see also John 14:28; John 10:36.) It was those unbelieving Jews, too, who claimed that Jesus broke the Sabbath, but they were wrong also about that. Jesus kept the Law perfectly, and he declared: “It is lawful to do good on the sabbath.”—Matt. 12:10-12, RS.

Texts in which the plural form of nouns is applied to God in the Hebrew Scriptures

At Genesis 1:1 the title “God” is translated from ’Elo·him′, which is plural in Hebrew. Trinitarians construe this to be an indication of the Trinity. They also explain Deuteronomy 6:4 to imply the unity of members of the Trinity when it says, “The LORD our God [from ’Elo·him′] is one LORD.” The plural form of the noun here in Hebrew is the plural of majesty or excellence. (See NAB, St. Joseph Edition, Bible Dictionary, p. 330; also, New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1967, Vol. V, p. 287.) It conveys no thought of plurality of persons within a godhead. In similar fashion, at Judges 16:23 when reference is made to the false god Dagon, a form of the title ’elo·him′ is used; the accompanying verb is singular, showing that reference is to just the one god. At Genesis 42:30, Joseph is spoken of as the “lord” (’adho·neh′, the plural of excellence) of Egypt. The Greek language does not have a ‘plural of majesty or excellence.’ So, at Genesis 1:1 the translators of LXX used ho The·os′ (God, singular) as the equivalent of ’Elo·him′. At Mark 12:29, where a reply of Jesus is reproduced in which he quoted Deuteronomy 6:4, the Greek singular ho The·os′ is similarly used. At Deuteronomy 6:4, the Hebrew text contains the Tetragrammaton twice, and so should more properly read: “Jehovah our God is one Jehovah.” (NW) The nation of Israel, to whom that was stated, did not believe in the Trinity. The Babylonians and the Egyptians worshiped triads of gods, but it was made clear to Israel that Jehovah is different.

1 John 5:7, 8:

KJ reads: “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.” (Dy also includes this Trinitarian passage.) However, NW does not include the words “in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth.” (RS, NE, TEV, JB, NAB also leave out the Trinitarian passage.) Regarding this Trinitarian passage, textual critic F. H. A. Scrivener wrote: “We need not hesitate to declare our conviction that the disputed words were not written by St. John: that they were originally brought into Latin copies in Africa from the margin, where they had been placed as a pious and orthodox gloss on ver. 8: that from the Latin they crept into two or three late Greek codices, and thence into the printed Greek text, a place to which they had no rightful claim.”—A Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament (Cambridge, 1883, third ed.), p. 654.

It is sad to see how Trinitarians were desperate to alter the scripture above to prove prove their doctrine that is clearly not Biblical.

John 10:30:

When saying, “I and the Father are one,” did Jesus mean that they were equal? Some Trinitarians say that he did. But at John 17:21, 22, Jesus prayed regarding his followers: “That they may all be one,” and he added, “that they may be one even as we are one.” He used the same Greek word (hen) for “one” in all these instances. Obviously, Jesus’ disciples do not all become part of the Trinity. But they do come to share a oneness of purpose with the Father and the Son, the same sort of oneness that unites God and Christ.

Note:

Since Jesus was a Jew by birth, he was instructed to follow this same command. After his baptism, when tempted by the Devil, he said: “Go away, Satan! For it is written, ‘It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.’” (Matthew 4:10; Deuteronomy 6:13) We can learn at least two things from this incident. First, Satan was trying to entice Jesus to worship someone other than Jehovah, an attempt that would have been absurd if Jesus were part of the same God. Second, Jesus made it clear that there is just one God who must be worshiped when he said “him alone,” not “us,” which he would have said if he were part of a Trinity.

CONCLUSION:

What the Bible teaches about God and Jesus is clear and simple. It is not difficult to understand. Neither the word “Trinity” nor the concept is found in God’s Word. The Bible clearly states that Jesus Christ is God’s firstborn Son. (Colossians 1:15) It also points to Jesus as being the “mediator between God and men.” (1 Timothy 2:5) About the Father, the Bible says: “You, whose name is Jehovah, you alone are the Most High over all the earth.”—Psalm 83:18.

Luke 1:32: He will be great and will be called the Son (huios) of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David

share|improve this answer
    
I think this is a good answer, but I wonder if it would be also a good idea to state how the people who follow this view approach the texts that indicate that Jesus is God? –  DJClayworth Aug 7 '13 at 15:56
    
I added an edit. Not sure if you can see it yet. –  Saher Aug 8 '13 at 7:51
1  
You missed a few. And since You're getting a chance to write an answer from your own point of view unopposed, I'd be grateful if you could remove the gross insult against Trinitarians in general. –  DJClayworth Aug 8 '13 at 16:44
1  
I couldn't put an answer to every single scripture but the links I provide talk about them all. I tried to include the common ones. There is no insult when speaking the truth, can you argue against the fact that the scripture was manipulated. You know what happens to people who try to change God's Word (Read Rev 22:18,19). As a result new Bibles now have the correct rendering of that Scripture. God preserves his word. –  Saher Aug 8 '13 at 18:46
1  
the Trinity was not an invention of the Nicene Council, though it is there it was first formalized :) –  warren Aug 23 '13 at 17:55
add comment

In order to understand the evidence against the Trinity, you first need to understand the nature of the Trinity - that God is three persons who make up one God. You also need to understand the biblical basis FOR the Trinity. It is founded on a number of clear pieces of evidence:

  1. There is clear biblical evidence that Jesus is God.
  2. There is clear biblical evidence that Jesus and God the father are separate persons
  3. There is abundant biblical evidence that God is One.

It is the reconciliation of these pieces of evidence that gives us the Trinity.

But taken in isolation, many of these things can be taken as evidence against the Trinity. If you look only at items 1 and 2, and not the third, then you get Polytheism. If you look at 2 and 3, and not the first, you end up with the belief that Jesus was only a prophet. If you look at 1 and 3 and not 2 then you end up believing that Jesus was merely a manifestation of God.

To be fair, the groups that deny the Trinity have alternate explanations or interpretations of one of the three groups of passages. It's not that they are deliberately ignoring parts of the Bible.

This is very tricky stuff. The Trinity is a hard concept to understand, and most Trinitarian Christians would have trouble explaining it exactly. (Arguably, since it is about the Nature of God, we will never understand it fully). And many people think that evidence showing that (e.g.) Jesus and God are separate people is a denial of the Trinity, whereas in fact it is incorporated into the Trinity.

TL;DR When a non-Trinitarian produces Biblical evidence that Jesus and God are separate persons, the Trinitarian says "Yes, I agree". When a non-Trinitarian produces evidence that there is only one God, the Trinitarian says "Yes, I agree".

share|improve this answer
    
This sounds like a mention and quick dismissal of non-trinitarian perspectives from a convinced trinitarian perspective. I don't think you answered the question from the right perspective. I don't think you answered the question at all. –  fredsbend Aug 5 '13 at 18:24
    
The trouble is, you have to examine the biblical basis for believing in the Trinity. Otherwise it becomes like asking "What is the biblical basis for disbelieving in flying unicorns". –  DJClayworth Aug 6 '13 at 0:15
    
I see what you are saying. It is a problem with the question. The question should be "what is the basis for non-trinitarianism". –  fredsbend Aug 6 '13 at 3:13
    
I'm pretty sure that would have got the same answer. You might like to wonder why there haven't been any different answers here. It's not like we don't have non-Trinitarians. –  DJClayworth Aug 6 '13 at 13:13
add comment

The relationship between the Father and Son must be grasped spiritually. Jehovah's Witnesses have a materialistic view, that is, they must have an answer for everything and it must make sense in the physical world. Many things they say make sense until you see the underlying false premise that leads them to their conclusion.

In some of their latest literature they say " “The Council of Nicea in 325 stated the crucial formula for [the yet future Trinity] doctrine in its confession that the Son is ‘of the same substance . . . as the Father.’”—Encyclopædia Britannica."

The Bible says that in the beginning, GOD and THE WORD existed and the WORD was GOD. Some say " A GOD " or Divine. Jws say that GOD, YHWH, which they pronounce as Jehovah in agreement with Raymudus Martini, created THE WORD. GOD was alone, then from his very being or essence he created THE WORD. Then Jws turn around and say that the SON is not of the same substance as the Father. Imagine if humans were neither male nor female, but a complete being unto themselves. If you begat life to a unique being [ not a clone ], that being would be from you, and of you, but not you. It would be of the same substance. Also, as correctly brought out by DJClayworth, the Trinity does not teach that Jesus and GOD were the same person. Jws do not know what the Trinity is, they only know what they have been told it means, and they are forbidden to question dogma within their own religion.

THE WORD is not a created angel. THE WORD is not Michael the Archangel as JWs teach. There is no scriptural proof that Jesus is Michael. What the WTBTS does is to teach dogma that disrespects and dishonors the SON. Is this intentional? Perhaps. Christ is pushed to the background while physical human leaders are elevated. At the same time, JEHOVAH, which is not even as accurate as Yahweh [ by the WTBTS's own admission ] is a brand name used to set the Witnesses apart from other Adventist movements.

Just as YHWH did not see fit to record the exact pronunciation of his name, he also did not see fit to exactly describe the relationship between himself and THE WORD. The fact remain that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are intrinsically linked to one another. A legalistic view of the scriptures is divisive, and a materialistic view causes humans to try and invent an answer when YHWH gave none. To teach dogma, or even persecute others for not believing dogma, and human ideas as JWs and other have done and still do, is very wrong in my opinion.

The exact relationship between the Father and the Son, nailed down and cataloged in a legal and Pharisaic manner, is NOT a salvation issue, just as the exact pronunciation of YHWH is NOT a salvation issue. If they were, we would be explicitly told what to believe by our Father. God's word really does show who we are.

If we would stop judging one another [ which we are NOT authorized to do ] on the basis of theories, and on matters on which God's word is silent, then we could focus more on actually living as Christians. We do not know everything. Even Jesus said that some slaves would be faithful and discreet, some would fail because of not understanding the Master's will, and some would know it, but refuse to do it. I am content to let Christ do the judging. The more we judge on another based on dogma, the more we prove ourselves spiritual infants. We should all help Christ to be fully formed in each other, that is the ultimate goal after all.

Peace be with you.

share|improve this answer
1  
Welcome to C.SE, and +1. This is a good summarization of the JW position. By scoping it as a JW response, you answered accurately for that tradition. I'm hoping that others will follow my lead in not voting for the content (b/c truthfully, we don't have a lot of JW's, and personally, I do disagree with the position), but your answer does a good hob of explaining how JWs deal with the objection. –  Affable Geek Sep 24 '13 at 19:11
    
When you get the chance, please check out our tour and specifically How we are different than other sites. –  Affable Geek Sep 24 '13 at 19:12
    
It is my first post. I am having trouble knowing what is directed at me. Sorry if I said something that is not allowed. As far as a scriptural disbelief of the trinity is concerned, one would need to have a common ground to start from. The answer you receive will stem from the premise of the person you ask. He who controls the terms, controls the argument. Knowing what the concept of the Trinity is NOT, will lend to finding out whether or not there is a scriptural basis for disbelief, or belief. –  JOJO Sep 24 '13 at 19:19
    
The +1 means I voted your post UP. I think its good. The "I may not personally agree, but I think it's a good write-up" is for others who may read this and be tempted to vote it down because they disagree with it. Very, very few of us are Jehovah's Witness. Most of us are trinitarian. But that is and should be irrelevant. If you check out the link I gave you, you'll see that what we do here is not supposed to be about whether we agree with you or not, but rather if you are accurately describing the beliefs of the people you are presuming to write for. –  Affable Geek Sep 24 '13 at 19:25
add comment

Mark 15:34:

And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)

If Jesus and God were the same person, it wouldn’t make sense ask himself a question.


John 11:41-42:

So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.
I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

Jesus wouldn’t send himself.

share|improve this answer
2  
Horribly wrong, because the according to the doctrine of the Trinity Jesus and God the Father are NOT the same person. –  DJClayworth Aug 2 '13 at 13:41
1  
@DJClayworth but the fact that Jesus calls God as "my God" destroys the whole concept of Trinity. –  Saher Aug 7 '13 at 7:39
1  
This is not the place to argue about the rightness and wrongness of specific doctrines. –  DJClayworth Aug 7 '13 at 13:35
1  
@DJClayworth I know but I mean that makes his first scripture valid for answering the question. –  Saher Aug 7 '13 at 15:42
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.