Ligon Duncan on the Non-Negotiables of the Gospel

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  • Tuesday, October 07, 2008

    Oneness heresy & the Trinity - a Christian Skeptics discussion

    Extracted this from the comments section of another thread:

    Blogger Vagabond Recon777

    One question I have for you that deeply concerns me, around my area their are a lot of Pentecostal non-trinitarian churches. Now, how can they even be classified as churches in any real sense and 2) how do you deal with them? I am not the least concerned with the emotional aspects of these churches but I am concerned with churches that MIGHT not be churches when friends and family are influenced by them. Can you talk a little on Jesus-only Churches that consider other churches to be worshipping 3 gods??

    5:57 AM

    Blogger panta dokimazete said...

    glad we could help be of help :)

    I have been mulling a "Skeptical of Oneness Theology" post - may have to get to it, now!

    Bottom line - the doctrine of the Trinity is core to orthodox belief and while we may not go so far as to say that this teaching is damnable, we may certainly say that it is gross error, as even a cursory examination of the Scripture reveals.

    My personal opinion of Oneness churches are that they are not a part of the church visible, although there may be members of the church invisible among them.

    6:53 AM

    Blogger Vagabond Recon777 said...

    Well, please post more and in-depth on these "churches". I have family memebers and close friends that consider the rest of us to be worshiping multi-gods.

    Now, it seems that here in Tennessee they are seen as the church visible.

    6:56 AM

    Blogger swordbearer said...

    vagabond recon777,

    You raise a good issue. As with others, the solution begins by dealing with the authority of Scripture and the fact that it speaks to this issue. (i.e., you first must get others to take a stand on whether Scripture is our "final authority in matters of faith and practice." As Berkhof puts it "The doctrine of the Trinity is very decidedly a doctrine of revelation. It is true that human reason may suggest some thoughts to substantiate the doctrine, and that men have sometimes on purely philosophical grounds abandoed the idea of a bare unity in God."

    Then, if they are willing to study (or discuss) these matters:

    Arm yourself with the following(taken also from Berhkof):
    1. Passages where God speaks of himself in the plural (Gen 1:26, 11:7)
    2. Passages which refer to the Angel of Jehovah, who is on the one hand identified with Jehovah, and on the other hand distinguished from Him (Gen 16:7-13; 18:1-21; 19:1-28; Mal 3:1)
    3. Passages in which the Word or Wisdom of God is personified (Ps 33:4, 6; Prov 8:12-31. (In some cases more than one person is mentioned and in others God is the speaker, and mentions both the Messiah and the Spirit, or the Messiah is the speaker who mentions both God and the Spirit, Isa 48:16, 61:1, 63:9, 10)

    New Testament
    4. In the O.T. Jehovah is represented as the Redeemer & Savior of His people (Job 19:25; Ps 19:14;, 78:35, 106:21, etc., in the N.T. the Son of God clearly stands out in that capacity (Mt 1:21; Lk 1:76-79; 2:17, Jn 4:2 etc.
    5. In the O.T. Jehovah dwells among Israel in the hearts of those who fear him; in the N.T. it is the H.S. that dwells in the Church (Acts 2:4, Rom 8:9-11; 1 Cor 3:16, Gal 4:6, Eph 2:22, Js 4:5
    6. The N.T. offers the clear revelation of God sending His Son into the world (Jn 3:16; Gal 4:4; Heb 1:6, 1 Jn 4:9), & of both the Father and the Son sending the Spirit (Jn 14:26, 15:26, 16:7, etc.)
    7. We find the father addressing the Son (Mk 1:11, Lk 3:22), the Son communing with the Father (Mt 11:25-26, 26:39, Jn 11:41) and the H.S. praying to God in the hearts of
    8. In the great commission, Jesus mentions the three persons "...baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy spirit (Mt 28:19
    9. Tri-unity is referred to in 1 Jn 5:7

    ... or more practically, over lunch, one might simply discuss:

    1. Baptism in the Great Commission: in the "ONE" name of the "THREE" persons
    2. The names, functions, holiness, attributes, and references to the deity of each of the three persons.
    3. The necessity of each person in the trinity being divine for the accomplishment and guarantee of full redemption.

    7:40 AM

    thanks for all the scriptures, i'm solid in my trinity beliefs but this should help...

    one interesting point to me is that as far as baptism is concerned they (as far as I can tell) were only baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ in scripture, other than that all of your refs look fine...

    so far, when I've talked to these oneness people they are not very rational with regards to obvious trinitarian scriptures just as Mormons or Jeh Witness are not...

    a lot of the members remain in a fuzzy zone, however, with the clergy it is extremely important...

    it's sort of like when I talk to non-instrumental church of christ...

    the extreme minors can become the major thrust of whole denominations...


    8:20 AM

    Blogger Puritan Lad said...

    Vagabond Recon777,

    Might I recommend John Owen's excellent treatment of the Trinity. You can find it online below.

    A Brief Declaration and Vindication of The Doctrine of the Trinity

    And there is my short article here.

    The Orthodox Doctrine of the Trinity

    I would agree with Panta. Oneness churches are not Churches of Jesus Christ.

    11:03 AM

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