2

Many Christians believe that Jesus is God (it's just a matter of realizing how widespread trinitarianism is, for example). However, there are Christians that go one step further and act on this belief, treating Jesus for all practical purposes as God almighty. They pray to Jesus, they talk about Jesus all the time, and they even worship Him as God (for some good illustrative examples, please see this and this).

Likewise, there are Christians who do pretty much the same with the Holy Spirit. A very good example is Benny Hinn's best-selling book Good Morning, Holy Spirit, which has been read and cherished by thousands, if not millions of Christians around the world. In this video clip you can see Benny Hinn leading a whole stadium to worship the Holy Spirit.

Question: According to Biblical Unitarians: Does worshiping either Jesus or the Holy Spirit as God entail committing the sin of idolatry? When Christians worship Jesus or the Holy Spirit as God, are they sinning? If the answer is yes, then what happens to those Christians who have systematically committed this sin throughout their lives and die never repenting? Will they go to Hell as unrepentant idolaters, or does the answer depend on other conditions?


Answering to the comments: why would idolaters go to Hell? 1 Cor 6:9: Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men

3
  • This is a really tricky question. Do you have a scriptural basis in mind for the idea of going to Hell because of idolatry? – One God the Father Mar 16 at 5:39
  • @AnthonyBurg - 1 Cor 6:9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men – Spirit Realm Investigator Mar 16 at 14:51
  • @NigelJ "The OP does not have to give a scriptural basis." It can help inform the answer - I realize this isn't H.SE. – One God the Father Mar 16 at 17:32
1

There are a few components here. 1. Holy Spirit. 2. Worship. 3. Idolatry. 4. Jesus.

First, the Holy Spirit. Biblical Unitarians typically view the Holy Spirit (capitalized) as another name for God. See Appendix 11: What is the Holy Spirit?

"In the Bible, “HOLY SPIRIT” is primarily used in two very different ways: One way is to refer to God Himself, and the other way is referring to God’s nature that He gives to people. [...] “the Holy Spirit” (capital “H” and “S”) is one of the many “names,” or designations, for God"

So worshipping the Holy Spirit as another 'person' (whatever that means exactly) but still God is conceptually confused, but not idolatry - you're still worshipping God.

Second, worship is something that applies to God, yes, but also to Kings. To worship is, essentially, to 'honour and respect'. Jesus is a King. So worship of Jesus is not only OK but appropriate. See, for example, Should we 'worship' Jesus Christ?, which explores the topic of 'worship' in the Bible from a Biblical Unitarian perspective.

The question here, though, is whether worshipping Jesus as God is OK, but that's really to ask whether Jesus is God. Since the answer from a Biblical Unitarian perspective is 'no', it's incorrect, that leads to the next point.

Third, idolatry isn't just worshipping something other than God - again, that is done repeatedly in the Bible and is fine in certain contexts (Jesus is a King and can be worshipped). Rather, idolatry - as mentioned in 1 Corinthians 6:9 - is about worshipping other gods. See the article Destroying "the High Places" for a Biblical Unitarian perspective on idolatry. So the question for our purposes is whether Jesus is being treated as 'another god' and worshipped as that.

So fourth, Jesus according to Biblical Unitarians is the Son of God, God's representative, the mediator between humanity and God, he rules at the right hand of God, all authority in Heaven and on Earth has been given to him, we can pray 'in his name' and to him (John 14:14), we baptize in his name, and (as noted above) we can worship him. All these are scriptural, and so supported by Biblical Unitarians. So, this is nothing like the other gods we are told not to worship. Jesus occupies a place extremely close to God.

Given all this, my conclusion is that a Biblical Unitarian ought to view thinking of Jesus as God as a conceptual error, not idolatry in the sense condemned by the Bible. So the trinitarian is still worshipping God, but their concept 'God' has significant errors in it (Holy Spirit is just another name for God, not another 'person' in God, and Jesus is at the right hand of God, not another 'person' in God). God's admonition re idolatry was about things leading away from Him, but a Biblical Unitarian would hold that Jesus is "the way" to God.

1

Biblical Unitarians consider trinitarianISM idolatry (point 8). In reality, all humans are guilty of some form of idolatry - this is covered under Christ's sacrifice, but God holds the teachers of error accountable.

There is only one God (the Father), so He deserves our worship. God also directs worship to as His exalted son, the Lamb, who co-rules with Him, sharing the throne of God. Rev. is explicitly clear - the Lamb is not God. So nothing has changed - there is still one God, He now has a son who has exceedingly fulfilled all expectations and is now honoured and given a place at the highest - but he is a man and still not God. To modify the clear biblical teaching on this is to create our own god which is idolatry. To make Jesus equal with God is to diminish His GODliness - also idolatry. No scripture places Jesus equal with God - that is man's doing.

That millions of Christians have died believing some kind of error - even about God Himself, is irrelevant to God's salvation plan.

That error largely took over the church within a few centuries is irrelevant to God's salvation plan.

Believing that Jesus is God might be 'common' sense, but this is not what the bible teaches.

The Holy Spirit is simply God - His presence, His power and His wisdom and love. The apostles understood this. The link explains extensively the riches of correctly understanding what God's Spirit is and does.

for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say." Luke 12:12 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Matthew 10:20.

Speaking or praying to the Spirit is really addressing God (the Father) There is no 'person' Holy Spirit and in no text of Scripture is the Holy Spirit worshipped or prayed to, send greetings or other basic relationship essentials. The New Testament nowhere represents the Spirit, any more than the 'wisdom' of God, as having independent personality.

The other questions about 'sinning and 'going to hell' are of no value - should we judge one another in matters that concern God's judgement through His son? All are covered under the one sacrifice and will be called to account of the lives we have lived - none can stand alone, but depend wholly on Jesus.

God has provided His word for all men to read and enquire of the one true God mentioned since the beginning. If we choose to believe other messages about who God is, that is for each to decide. Deception is a beast that no one can defeat unless God grants the victory and resultant clarity of truth and wisdom.

Either we are so blessed or we may ask. Or we must wait until the truth is revealed to all.

13
  • When I said "commonsensically obvious", I meant the fact that many Christians believe that Jesus is God, not the belief itself. Maybe that lent itself to confusion. My bad if that was the case. – Spirit Realm Investigator Mar 16 at 2:59
  • So, based on your second paragraph, you are basically saying "Yes, worshipping Jesus as God is in fact idolatry". Correct? – Spirit Realm Investigator Mar 16 at 3:47
  • You asked for the BU view - that's what I am providing But yes. I copied, "one God (the Father)",further up to clarify. – user47952 Mar 16 at 5:23
  • Your link is to what appears to be a single individual (despite multiple websites, one of which calls itself 'international'). This is not a definitive link to a widespread body of thought. – Nigel J Mar 16 at 8:07
  • @NigelJ I don't know what you mean - which link? They all work as intended to the BU site. – user47952 Mar 16 at 9:22

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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