“Can One Be a Christian and Deny the Trinity?” Tri-Pres Daily- 10-13-2020

“Trigger Warning”

On a community Facebook page, someone recently claimed that Jehovah’s Witnesses are a Christian church. Is this true? It raises an interesting question: What must a Christian/church believe in order to be classified as “Christian?” For what Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs) believe, see this link, particularly section 3. https://www.jw.org/en/jehovahs-witnesses/faq/jehovah-witness-beliefs/ They state that Jesus is Son of God in section 1 and then explicitly deny that he is God. This is out of accord with what the scripture and the church have consistently taught for centuries- the doctrine of the Trinity. Now, I know it may seem unneighborly and uncharitable to call a group of people a sub-Christian cult, but that is what I am saying. Far worse and intolerant things are said daily on Twitter. This post is not an attack on people, but it is an attack on harmful ideas. So “trigger warning,” if you are easily offended by a straightforward exposition of biblical theology and plain identification of heresy, and that makes you feel unsafe, it would be best to move along to youtube and watch cat videos (while you’re there if you are faint of heart and want to maintain an illusion of the decency of humanity, then I suggest you never ever read a comment section on a youtube video). But if you are interested in knowing what Christians believe and why they believe it, read on.

Jesus “Believed in” The Trinity, so you should too

As a member of the Trinity, Jesus, himself, taught the disciples that he was God and that He was with God in the beginning (see John 1). It is for this reason, that we all should conclude that JWs teaching is full of statements that intentionally mislead the reader by not being sufficiently nuanced. It is embarrassing how they highlight verses that appear to support their case while completely ignoring the implications of other verses that would challenge their beliefs. They are left teaching that the bible is contradictory or setting up a rival authority above the scripture-their “Watchtower.” The JWs are the ones who intentionally part company with the church, not on a minor point, but upon the essence of Christianity that has been seen throughout the Old Testament in shadow (Genesis 1; Deuteronomy 6:4) and revealed more fully in the New Testament (Matthew 28:18-19; 2 Corinthians 13:14). Christians have been meditating upon the doctrine of the trinity in the Bible for centuries and debated the scriptures’ teaching in early church history, particularly in the writings of Tertullian and Irenaeus and at the councils in the fourth century. This is currently a very non-controversial doctrine. Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Episcopals, non-denoms, etc all say they believe this. For a concise summary of what the bible teaches about God with scripture references, check this out: https://www.blueletterbible.org/study/ccc/westminster/Of_God_And_Of_The_Holy_Trinity.cfm

We must conclude that while one might be religious, he or she is simply not a Christian if he or she is not Trinitarian. While we cannot fully comprehend the Trinity, it is important because it is how God reveals himself in scripture to his people and it is good news. One particularly important reason you should not scoff at God as Trinity even though it is not easy to understand is that only if God is Trinity can love be basic to his nature. If God was ever alone, then there was a time in which he did not know love because according to the JWs there was a time in which Jesus was not created. Love requires a plurality of persons. The Trinity alone maintains monotheism (one God) but also the foundation of love being basic to God (a plurality of eternal persons in the “Godhead”). The bible teaches that God is love (1 John 4:8) precisely because the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are eternal and have eternally expressed love and charity toward one another before anything was created.

The Trinity is something we can’t afford to lose

So then, to lose the Trinity from a church’s theology would be a devastating loss! Because God is love and never changes, you and I can rely upon God’s love, only if God truly is Trinity. In contrast, if love is not basic to who he is, then God changes throughout history, and that is not something you want because it completely annihilates our foundation for life and certainty. If God is subject to change then I have no basis that the next moment or day can be assumed to be like the ones before it or that the laws of logic might suddenly change. We rely upon God’s unchanging nature all the time. God’s nature is like the operating system of our lives.

God’s nature is like the operating system of our lives.

Thankfully, many who deny the Trinity will live inconsistently to their beliefs, and even non-believers will presume that reason and life are intelligible even while denying the basis of all intelligibility for reasoning (God’s existence and character as revealed in scripture). I could write books on why the Trinity is not just some dry and irrelevant theology. I’d bet my life and soul and family and future upon the relevance of the Trinity. After all, I named our church plant: Trinity Church. I believe because our church is a church for Norman that there will be better days ahead in Norman, Oklahoma. Change is coming. But this change won’t be politically driven. Positive changes here will undoubtedly be theologically driven. If you have hung in there this long, I hope this post brings clarity where there may have been confusion and misinformation, not only about JWs but also about life, theology, and our purpose. We exist to glorify God and enjoy him, and we certainly can’t glorify and enjoy a God that we don’t know or deny. The key issue is will we conform our theology and lives to the scriptures of the Old and New Testament or will we attempt to conform truth to that which we prefer. “Blessed is the man who walks in the way of the LORD (Psalm 119).” If anyone has an interest in hearing more about the Trinity then just post a question, and I’ll be glad to dialogue with you or point you to more helpful resources.

An Invitation

If you want more info about our church, just download the app by searching “a church for Norman” in your app store. You can hear more about Christian doctrine by visiting our pastor’s youtube page and following the “Christian Life” playlist. Our services are posted weekly on there to be watched and reviewed. Nothing, however, can surpass bodily in-person participation in corporate worship, so if you are in the Norman area, we extend a warm invitation to you to join us on Sundays at 10:30 at the OU Wesley Building, 428 W. Lindsey.