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If a Christian considers that the burden of proof has not been adequately met by any known theological doctrines about God's nature, including mainstream ones such as Trinitarianism, Binitarianism, Unitarianism and Modalism, and in the absence of sufficient evidence they decide to withhold judgement and declare themselves to lack a definite position, would any official label apply to them?

Candidate labels I have in mind at the moment include "neutral", "undecided", "uncertain", "still researching", "skeptical but open-minded", and even "agnostic with respect to God's nature", but I'm curious to know if there is anything close to an "official" label out there.


Appendix: examples of questions evidencing the existing debate

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    'Not quite sure' could mean 'unbelief', in which case 'unbeliever' might be appropriate. I think you need to define the condition more clearly, myself.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 24 at 15:40
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    'Not quite sure' relates (in your question) to the Deity. And I am saying that such uncertainty may well fall into the category of unbelief. Your comment about 100 years makes no sense to me and I am not responding to it.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 24 at 17:06
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    An agnostic is a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God. Would such a person worship, obey and call themself a Christian when they do not know who or what they worship and obey?
    – Lesley
    Sep 25 at 8:04
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    @SpiritRealmInvestigator All those links are what people do in the armchair / ivory tower, or in my terminology, in the academic track. But in life, there is always a working definition of God's nature behind every one of our decision, which in turn is a moral situation. In life, saying one is "agnostic" is a lie, a self deception. Better be honest saying "I'm a Catholic", "I'm a Mormon", "I'm some "Christian" that I have yet to clarify since I'm not well versed in theology", "I am a new Trinitarian Christian who still need to understand the full implication of Trinity in my life", etc. Sep 25 at 13:07
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    @SpiritRealmInvestigator I would refer you to their own writings :-) Isn't the oldest refer to themselves as "followers of the way", as "slave of Christ", etc? If I'm right, the original meaning of "Christian" is follower of Christ, isn't it? So the later Nicene definition was merely a communal clarification of what's implicitly already in the back of their consciousness, not a new revelation. They do this to battle rival definitions of God's nature. But outside the council deliberations, they act out their trinitarianism. Sep 25 at 13:19
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Christians have been around for 2000 years. We would think surely there is already a label out there that answers your question?

Short answer: Deist is the closest, with Thomas Jefferson as a famous practitioner. No doubt to himself and others, Thomas Jefferson refer to himself as a "Christian", but because this conception of God is detached from day to day Christian practice of love, Deists are not truly Christians.

Answer

There is no such label, since someone who has that skeptical state of mind cannot practice a Christian life worthy of its name, since fundamentally the true Christian life is a costly yet life-saving response to a powerful yet loving being who offers a passage to heaven (salvation). Without being sure of God's nature how can a Christian trusts his life on this being called God? Therefore, skepticism about the nature of God cannot coexist with a flourishing faith life.

Two tracks: Academic vs. Life

One can definitely engage in the academic discipline of theology and philosophy to discuss the merits of various conceptions of God's nature: what are the Scriptural data, the early church fathers writings, the experience of saints, various councils, philosophical terms appropriate to define it, how God's attributes are affected by a definition of God's nature, etc. But this exercise is on a completely different track.

Consider the parallel track of LIFE. When this theologian stands up from the theologian's "arm chair" and deals with his wife, kids, work colleagues, bills, politics, his health, culture, etc. he needs to presume with full confidence a certain understanding of God's nature so he can interface with the people around him as a Christian.

Christian life presumes certainty of the nature of God

Why is it that in this track one cannot be skeptical? Because underlying the love he has for his wife, kids, and neighbors, as a Christian he has to embody (or to image) God's nature in a human form just as Jesus incarnated God's nature as a perfect Adam: a loving, generous, self-sacrificing, uplifting, servant-leader person. That's what it means fundamentally to be a Christian.

God is love. Christianity is all about love. Mormons practice love, although their understanding of God is not standard Trinitarian, because they don't believe that the 3 Persons of the Trinity as one substance. But they are NOT skeptical, and they CANNOT be skeptical in their LIFE track. They are known for their active mission and community support and what undergirds this is their faith in their concept of God.

Profile of a Deist

Yes, I can perfectly see how a skepticism bred by seeing too much uncertainties in the theological academic track can leak into the life track. I have been there. One can be paralyzed into taking no action. But taking no action ITSELF is an action. One cannot be neutral. Let's say this academic speculation insinuates so deeply into REAL life that when interfacing with a being that cannot be turned off, that one cannot run away from, one has to shout in one's head: "I refuse to pray, to ask for your help, to serve you, to carry out your will for the world, etc. until I can satisfactorily define you in my mind. In the meantime I just run my life as if your nature does NOT matter." In that case, maybe the best label for that person is that he is a DEIST, a child of the enlightenment philosophy. I think it's safe to say that all Christian denominations say that a Deist is NOT a Christian. They will be more willing to call a Mormon / or a Jehovah Witness a Christian than a Deist.

Dealing with the two tracks as a Christian

(to be continued)

Another way to answer the question

@NigelJ and @Lesley comments point us to the right direction. My longer answer attempts to show that the label doesn't exist because:

  1. The question itself runs counter to the most fundamental logic in how Christians approach the question "who is God".
  2. Language such as "insufficient burden of proof" causing one to "withhold judgment about God's nature" betrays the questioner's holding an enlightenment philosophy of thinking that eventually one can have certain knowledge about God's nature according to the dictates of reason alone.
  3. The question blithely disregards the purpose of why Christians hold a Trinitarian proposition as a given, which is still a rational act even though it's a given! Understanding the purpose makes one understand why one cannot be a Christian in that state of mind, and thus the question itself becomes irrelevant.

(I decide not to elaborate on this answer, unless there is interest)

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    @SpiritRealmInvestigator Because when you start to investigate "what is this God's love" then you cannot avoid bringing God's nature into the answer. Please read the paper I suggested in my other recent answer. I frame this answer in that you can be Unitarian / LDS / Modalist and loving, but in order to be loving you cannot be a skeptic. You can be a skeptic while in the theologian's arm chair but while you're in that arm chair you are not practicing love. You can also practice love as a non-Christian, but that may not be Christian love. Sep 25 at 11:25
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    @SpiritRealmInvestigator From a Trinitarian standpoint, trinitarian love is the BEST love, the way the perfect human nature is wired, the way to live our full potential, as participating in the God's own inner Trinitarian love. Thus it's very easy to see how defects in understanding God's nature can lead to defects of understanding true love. But it's better to practice a defective conception of love than not at all. I purposely use LDS as an example because they have great reputation to love and I do admire them. The two tracks apply here as well: understanding and practice are different. Sep 25 at 11:41
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    @SpiritRealmInvestigator It's not a matter of capability. Every human is capable of love. Every human needs God's grace to love well. Does God give grace based on our understanding of God's nature or our willingness to accept it? If one's concept of God's nature is defective but the heart is willing, do you think God will withhold his grace? In this answer I argued that the label "Christian" is a sociological one, so it's not connected to capability nor willingness. But sooner or later, one's understanding of love can affect it. Sep 25 at 11:45
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    @SpiritRealmInvestigator, Just an interjection into this: The Lord knows who are His. A whole company from both "tracks" are going to get "I never knew you" from Jesus because they were never born again. That, and that alone, is what makes a Christian. Without that one cannot even see the kingdom. One cannot know the Father unless one receives the Son. It is the Spirit within that guides into all truth and when our intellects get involved we need fear and trembling. Sep 25 at 12:20
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    @SpiritRealmInvestigator I agree that character and nature are different, and yes, we can be a lot more certain of God's character which flows from His nature. We have faith in God's character. The early church debate on God's nature doesn't dispute God's character as loving, just, faithful, etc. So for practical purposes on the "life" track, I recommend focusing on God's character. We need to remember that God does not reveal his full nature to us. That's why this goal of "certainty as philosophical proof" needs to be discarded. What we need is "certainty as trust" which is faith. Sep 25 at 12:31

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