The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Trying to understand non-Trinitarians. (Present your cases?)

Hey there. I have a question I hope you can answer.

I have come to notice that many Universalists do not agree with the doctrine of the Trinity. As a Christian, I admit I have just come to assume this position without SERIOUSLY delving into it. Don’t get me wrong, I have done some research into affirming it, but never have come at it from the opposing view.

Now before you tell me to use the search function, my question gets a touch deeper. As an Orthodox Christian, I do not believe in Sola Scriptura. I also take into account the writings of much of the Early Church Fathers (Not all mind you but that is where things get iffy). I know that the concept of the Trinity is plainly taught in much of the ECF’s but did they indeed have a leg to stand on?

I know I am automatically biased and it is realistically impossible for me to come at this with a clean slate, but for any non-Trinitarians here (or Trinitarians playing devil’s-advocate), using the bible AND the ECF’s, can you show me how the Trinity is false?

I am not looking for a debate or to prove you wrong. I am looking for your perspective on this and why you dismiss this view. I am not a close-minded Christian and am more than happy to consider contrasting views to my own. Could I become non-Trinitarian? I don’t know. I want to say no, but then again… I didn’t think I could be a Univeralist either.

Thank you for your time.

[Admin note: member RedHotMagma has set up another thread for response to non-trinitarian arguments and claims presented by our non-trin members in this thread. [url=]It can be found here. I am also adding the link below in various places.]

“All Shall Be Well” goes into this a little bit in the “II. Seventeenth to Nineteenth Centuries” chapters. Basically from memory, somewhere there, a strongly Unitarian movement took on universalism and became the UUs (see It’s still quite large but unfortunately it’s also slid into pluralism :frowning:

Anyway, one of the things I love about Evangelical Universalism (at least as defined by Robin Parry’s book) is it’s strong emphasis on orthodoxy, including the Trinity. I hope this will actually help us avoid slipping into pluralism… If you look at the poll I did on this site, you’ll notice we are mostly Trinitarian :sunglasses:

Jason Pratt is actually a proper Trinitarian Theologian, so I’m sure he will write you an essay in reply :wink:

I think it’s important to realise that I don’t think we require a perfect understanding of the Trinity to believe in the idea. We should expect God to be more complex than we can fully understand, however I think the Trinity is the most helpful way to hold many of the passages which talk about God being the Father, Son & Holy Spirit.

Excitingly there’s a growing number of Christians (e.g. who see Trinitarianism at least strongly suggesting Evangelical Universalism.

Oh yeah, I am very familiar with Unitarian Universalists. In fact, before I learned of EU, I thought UU’s were the only type of Universalists out there, and since I was against the pluralism… I simply discarded UU as an option.

As for your poll, I had noticed it recently. What I had been referring to is the few individuals who are not Trinitarians. Plus off this site, I am coming across more and more Universalists that are very opposed to the concept of the Trinity. I do suppose it may not be a non-issue considering the bigger picture.

Thank you for responding to my inquiry. Greatly appreciated. :smiley:

I suspect that once someone discovers that most of the church, throughout history, has been wrong about ECT, they start to question all it’s other doctrines… particularly if they’ve been rejected by their local church (which many of us have been, if not personally, by the Christian media), it’s harder to continue to respect them or see them as authoritative in any sense.

Please don’t misunderstand me, I do think we should continue to try to respect other Christians (both in Church History & those around us now). I’m certainly still learning and I do think they have much to offer (so long as we test it to the best of our abilities).

I completely agree with you. And as far as I am concerned, I respect most Christians with very few exceptions. However that doesn’t mean I am going to agree with them on all points. A good example is while being Orthodox, I do a bible study with Seventh-Day Adventists and used to do one with Jehovah’s Witnesses. I have quite a few disagreements with them, especially the JW’s, but I do respect them. We simply focus on what we do have in common and if the differences come up, we agree to disagree.

Again, I thank you for your input and am very glad I have come here for sound advice and information.

I’m sort of agnostic on the issue, but I lean away from the trinity. I don’t hold a firm stance at all. God is way bigger than we can grasp. With that said, I have a couple thoughts. (btw I started doubting the trinity long before I became a full blown heretic :laughing: )

The pagan trinity has been around long before the NT. Could it be a corruption? yes. It seems like God would have revealed it to the “good guys” first. Not everything is revealed to the angels, like the gospel for instance (assuming fallen angels are where the pagan version would come from, fallen angels is a whole other ball of wax, especially satan/lucifer which I definitely don’t hold to)

John 17:3 "This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

John 20:17 Jesus replied, “Do not touch me, for I have not yet ascended to my Father. Go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

Rom 1:8 First of all, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed throughout the whole world.

John 8:42 Jesus replied, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for Ihave come from God and am now here. I have not come on my own initiative, but he sent me.

1 John 2:1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;

Here are the other usages of begotten(monogenes) besides of Jesus:

[Luk 7:12 ESV] - As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her.
[Luk 8:42 ESV] - for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying. As Jesus went, the people pressed around him.
[Luk 9:38 ESV] - And behold, a man from the crowd cried out, "Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child.
[Hbr 11:17 ESV] - By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son,

Jn 17:11 Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. (are believers a trinity together?)

John 14:28"You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.

John 5:30 "I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

Col 1:9 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him

1 Co 15:28And when all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all.

The trinity is not in the bible anywhere.

I don’t believe Jesus was created, because all things that have been created were created through Him, I see it that He was born from the father, birthed, kind of like a clone, He is the image (icon) of God, He reveals the Father, He is the seen that leads to the unseen. I also believe that most/all? of the time we see YHWH in the OT it is the son. No man has seen the Father at any time. He is DabarYHWH, and the word of the Lord came to me, He touched me, He spoke to me etc.

Again, this is one of those issues I don’t really take a firm stance on, but these thoughts above are what lead me to my soft conclusions.

That being the case, let’s keep the ortho-trin defensing to a minimum for this thread, please.

(I say this, being the person who has almost certainly written more apologetics for the Trinity on this forum than anyone. :smiley: But rebutting any Arian or modalist variants who show up will distract from the purpose of “1Cor1522”, which is to try to understand anti-trinitarians.)

Also, I have retitled the thread so as to better catch the attention of our non-trinitarian members for your purpose, 1Cor. (If you’d like further alterations, let me know, assuming the editing window has closed for you to make your own alterations.)

Aaron has made some extensive arguments for the non-Trinitarian position that I think are probably the most comprehensive. You can look up some of his posts on it; but I’m sure he’ll be around eventually to drop some links to those posts in here. I also lean away from Trinitarianism for the reasons that redhotmagma has posted. The clearest scriptural evidence seems to be against it.
Granted, I don’t think that there is no scriptural evidence for Trinitarianism, but it seems to be quite a bit more of a stretch to get to it, as well as counter-intuitive in some respects.

Jason, you have captured the spirit of this thread perfectly. Thank you!

redhotmagma, thank you for your well thought out comment! I am certainly going to think
on those verses you provided. :smiley:

Now, this question may seem a bit defensive which it really is not meant to be but,
what about the Early Church Fathers? I know of some Christians (most vocal being the
Jehovah’s Witnesses) which are able to look at the bible AND the ECF’s and say:

“Look at what the earliest Christians taught. We can see that the earliest mention of
anything close to the trinity came about in the fourth century. It was a pagan
corruption so we have good reason based on the earliest teachings the Trinity is false.”
At which point they take out their trusty booklet which has all their answers and read off
writings by some of the earliest ECF’s.

Of course Trinitarians could argue the above information for JW’s is possibly inaccurate.
I do understand that the vast majority of users here believe in Sola Scriptura but CAN
the argument AGAINST the Trinity be argued using the bible AND the ECF’s?
I.E., do the JW’s have a good argument?

Remember, I am someone who takes the bible AND tradition into account.

I am sorry if I sound like I am asking too much. I just want to be able to get others
input on this issue. Kind of a “two heads (or more) are better than one”. I want to be
sure I have a firm grasp of the situation.
From what I have seen here, redhotmagma makes some good points, and if the JW’s weren’t
falsifying info… they do as well. This weighs heavily in favor of non-trinitarianism.

Again, thank you all for this discussion. This has been quite a challenging line of
thought for me.

God bless you all.

EDIT: Thank you Jason for pointing out my typing error. I still had intended this for NON-Trinitarian input. Edited to reflect my original intent.

Excuse me–but this seems to be running against the spirit of the thread already. :wink:

If you want to understand Trinitarians, I recommend you start a separate thread for that. This thread was for trying to understand non-Trinitarians, and allowing them to make their case(s), without having to worry about rebuttals distracting you from trying to understand them. If any of us tried to answer whether the argument for the Trinity could be based using whatever (such as the Bible AND the ECFs), we would be voiding the spirit of your original request for the purpose of the thread.

(Edited to add: besides, member RedHotMagma has set up a thread for that purpose now over here. :mrgreen:)

Having said that, and not arguing the point either way: I respect the Fathers, but they were working from the same material we have (or somewhat moreso insofar as Western and Eastern Catholics accept a few more texts–but these are rarely appealed to for theological purposes even by them. The further Eastern church areas, also trinitarian, worked from a few less texts than the Protestants eventually agreed to.) As indeed were the early non-trinitarian apologists, whether modalistic or unitarian in various varieties thereof.

I would rather stick with the deposit of the faith, and go from there. If the later-early Fathers (4th century onward) were overtheologizing, the earlier-early Fathers (ante-Nicene) might not have been theologizing enough on a tough set of theological issues and a tough set of scriptural data. Suspicion of incompetency could, in principle, be leveled either way.

I have edited my post to reflect what I had intended. Thank you for pointing out my error.

As a non-Trinitarian (I used to be a Trinitarian) and non-modalist, I wish to state that I believe in the deity of Christ. The early Christian writers AS WELL AS, the first Trinitarians of the fourth century, affirmed that the Son was “begotten before all ages.” He was the ONLY begotten Son (Indeed John 1:18 as written in pre-300 NT manuscripts state that He was the “only-begotten God”. Early Christian writers also say so, adding that the Father of all was UNBEGOTTEN.

The Son was Another exactly like the Father, so that Jesus was able to truly say, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.”
To make an analogy, if I take out of my pocket a photo of myself and show you, and then pull out another printed from the same negative, I could say, “If you’ve seen the first picture, you’ve seen the second.”

Hebrews 1:3 indicates that the Son is the exact imprint of the Father’s essence. John 1:1 affirms that the Word was with the God. “With” in the sense of being of the same mind, and “God” with the article always meaning the Father (if there are no other modifiers of “God”). This is followed by “The Word was God”, where there is no modifier of “God”, and thus The Word is not being identified with the Father. Secondly the word order “God was the Word” indicates that the word “God” is being used as indicating the kind of thing the Word was. A similar word order is used where it is said, “God is love”. The order is “God love is.”

I hope this is within the parameters of this thread. (If it isn’t, please feel free – anyone who can – to delete it.)

What is the view of non-Trinitarians, exactly? Having read some of Paidion’s posts, I’d have to say that I don’t see where he and I disagree. I suppose non-Trinitarians vary, but I’m puzzled as to what their beliefs actually are. I believe that God is basically a community; three persons in unity, so united that they are, together, one God. Likewise, Jesus prayed that we (the ekklesia) would be one as He and the Father are One – that we should regain that aspect of the image of God, of being one with one another. Is that considered Trinitarian or not Trinitarian?

I’ll add another scripture to RHM’s post: James 1:13-14 “When tempted, no one should say, God is tempting me. For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted, when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.”

Jesus was tempted just as we are, but without sinning. Now logically, that means that he cannot be God.

As Paidion has pointed out, Christ (which means, “the anointed”) is divine though. He was begotten before all ages; “taken out” of God as just as Eve was taken out of Adam. (We have the same picture of begetting in the creation of Eve).

Hello all,

Sorry I have not been posting responses in a bit. I have been thinking and praying about all the information presented to me as well as studying the book What The Hell? by Jackson Baer. Forgive the plug, but you all really should read it!!! I was so into it, I literally read it in a period of 6-7 hours of receiving it. Going through it again a touch slower now. But enough of that.

As I mentioned in my initial post, I have been finding more and more non-Trinitarians. Especially after finding the book “God’s Plan For All” by David and Zoë Sulem. Has anyone read this yet? I am just about to start it but I have seen other things by them where they are very emphatically non-Trinitarians. No, they are not the only example of this as can be seen by the posts in this thread and other websites by Christian Universalists.

I guess I am struggling with this because I see the arguments against the Trinity very convincing. I am worried because I don’t want to be like most Christians and affirm the Trinity in the same way that many Christians affirm ECT and just taking tradition or passages which may promote the Trinity for granted. I am just very conflicted right now and feeling a touch disillusioned with my church so I apologize if I am not very eloquent.

God bless you all.

1 Co

When I first came to UR, I found the same thing. I put it aside in my mind though. For me I could only take one major change at a time. I didn’t want to get mixed up, so I would just avoid anything on the trinity. But the more I read, and prayed, well…
Its funny because it seemed so essential before to me, many would say you’re not worshipping the same God if you didn’t believe in the trinity. Which I guess technically is true, but functionally I don’t believe that to be the case. I just don’t think it matters that much any more, because I don’t have that thought of “you better be right or you might go to hell”.

Theres so much ambiguity on the issue. Ambiguity is one of the best arguments for UR I believe. God would be pretty cruel, if He just left us with some old books, that are set of hundreds of “sacred texts”, of thousands of “ways”. I’m not a unitarian by any means, Its just that if faith is what we’re judged on, thats a pretty tough road, knowing the human heart (since He made it). If I were God and I wanted my kids to find me or else they get eternal fire, I’d have regular daily manifestations in the sky with giant signs saying you must believe in me or else.

It is funny you mention this as before Universalism, the only groups (I had any personal contact with) that were not Trinitarian were JW’s and Christadelphians. And I saw this as a HUGE issue. Until recently there was no way the Trinity could not be that I figured they worshiped a false God and are going to suffer for it in hell and they likely thought the same of me… at least I know the Christadelphians do.

Now though, while still “somewhat” still convinced of the Trinity, I can say I am no longer Dogmatic about such things. On the other hand I am not certain to say it doesn’t matter any more as a Universalist. I think issues like this DO matter but in a different way. Being Universalists, we often get charged as believing “it doesn’t matter how much we sin 'cause we are getting into heaven anyway.” I know that it really isn’t like that, and we should live our lives in a way that reflects honor and glory to God and Christ. In that same way, if the Trinity is true, I want to worship appropriately to God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, if there Trinity is false then I do not want to be worshiping a false God. While Jesus may be divine, I do not want to put him on the same level as God if he is not God. I may not burn in Hell for it if I do worship Jesus as God, but I will be held accountable.

I realize there are some things I just cannot be certain of and some things I have to take on faith. But I believe this can be known if we are diligent enough and pray that we are shown the truth of the matter. This is why the issue is sticking with me.

I really thank you for all you have submitted to this thread and am grateful to all others as well. Thank you all and God bless.

I believe its important and should be sought after. I just don’t think that with the evidence given it would cause us to be punished for coming to a wrong conclusion. God is so much bigger than we understand. He may very well be trinity, or a binity, or a unity, but those are likely limiting Him, I say He’s an infinity :ugeek:

Our finite minds cannot grasp the infinite, although the mind of Christ is a whole other matter.

Keep in mind, just because I’m restraining myself for this thread, doesn’t mean I have (and have had) nothing to say on these matters, here on the forum or elsewhere. :wink:

(As indeed the various non-Trinitarians have also written in more detail elsewhere on the forum. :slight_smile: )

Well, I would be more than interested in your thoughts on this. I know you said I may want to make a new thread for Trinitarians so I think I shall do so. :slight_smile: I certainly do need to hear both sides of this issue.