By: Elder Ross Drysdale
Can Non-Biblical Vocabulary Adequately Convey The Truth? What Is The “Added Vocabulary” Of Trinitarianism And Why Can’t The Trinity Stand Without It? Who Is Really Using “Bible Language”
USING CORRECT TERMINOLOGY
The words we use to express our thoughts and ideas are important; they are our “logos” or expression of Reason. When dealing with the subject of God and his divine nature we are faced with a dilemma. We wish to convey what we feel is an adequate exposition of the deposit of Faith concerning the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; yet we do not wish to inject human terms in our zeal that may subvert or pervert that Truth. Now the apparent solution would be to use (as often as possible) Bible terminology; for this was given under divine inspiration. We could not go wrong doing this. In addition, we, should not try to define and probe areas that the Bible has specifically left undefined. This will only result in speculation, and its usual fruit, heresy. And thirdly, when there is an adequate term found in the Scriptures, we should not attempt to substitute another one for it. Failure to adhere to these principles has resulted in the doctrinal monstrosities gathered together under Trinitarianism.
A DEBT TO THE “FATHERS”?
Carl Brumback in his Book “God in Three Persons” says we owe a great debt to those early Fathers who so carefully defined the Trinity for us (Carl Brumback, God in Three Persons, p. 197).Gregory Boyd is also appreciative of their efforts when he writes: “This is what ultimately produced the fully developed doctrine of the Trinity in the early Fourth Century” (Boyd, p.122). Notice that the “fully developed” doctrine doesn’t arrive until the Fourth Century! Does this mean that He who said “I am the Way, The Truth, and the Life” only brought a partially developed Truth? Jesus said in John 8:40,”But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the Truth, which I have heard of God That ought to be enough for anyone. What need of four centuries of “ironing out” what was never “wrinkled” in the first place? Clever Paul is said to have arrived at the “essence of this doctrine”(p.122), but not “all the implications of this belief,” which would require another 300 years. Of course Paul has another opinion of that: “For I have not shunned to declare to you all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).
One can almost see in this word picture of Dr. Boyd’s the Apostle Paul humbly seated and taking notes as the monks and Fathers, beads in hand, explain such new found “implications” as “Perichoresis of the three persons,” “the eternal generation of the Son,” “Plato’s Tinaeus Trinity,” the “Meotokos of Mary,” “the homoousion concept of Christ,” “Philo’s Logos,” “three hypostacies in one substance,” ad nauseam! How sad Paul missed all this! All he had to work with were such “essential” and “unimplicated” concepts as was in Christ,” “God was manifest in the flesh,” and In Christ dwelt “all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (I Con 5:18, I Tim. 3:16, Col. 2:9).
REASON FOR THE TRINITY
The real reason this so called “full development” of the Godhead teaching didn’t arrive until the Fourth Century has nothing to do with discovering more Truth. The real reason is the Early Fathers, “to whom we owe such a debt,” were busy trying to “marry” Christian doctrine with Greek Philosophy and culture. And it was a very unwilling bride. Vows had to be exchanged twice at Nicea, in addition to Constantinople, Ephesus, Alexandria, and Chalcedon. Boyd touches on this briefly on p. 161 when he writes: “To be sure the language and categories that Athenagoras and the other Apologists utilized to communicate the Christian Community’s faith to their surrounding milieu was borrowed, as it had to be, from that milieu. Hence they employed Stoic and Platonic Categories when possible to help express their faith.” By the code word “Categories” and references to Stoicism and Plato, we may understand “doctrine”- a marrying of Platonic and Stoic doctrine to the original Faith. And this of course would call for a whole host of new words and terms, not found in the Bible, to explain their newly fanned Trinity. And I might add, words and terms that are still with us in the Shibboleth of Trinitarianism, because they cannot talk without them. Thus they became “wiser above what was written.” Boyd and other Neo-Trinitarians would love to dispense with such embarrassing and anti-biblical terminology as “persons” and “Trinity” but they can’t bring themselves to. For the elimination of the “added” vocabulary would immediately collapse the Trinity and leave its proponents stuttering. If they were shut up to the use of Bible terminology only, they would emerge Oneness every time!
In describing Christ’s divine nature Trinitarians would only be able to say that the deity dwelling in him was the “Father” (John 14:10). They could not find their “second person” or “God the Son” anywhere in the Scriptures, let alone dwelling in Christ. In explaining the unity of God, the only word they would find would be “one” (Deut. 6:4, Isa. 41:14, Mal. 2:10, Eph. 4:6). The “Trinity in Unity” would be more of a phantom ship than the “Flying Dutchman.” The divine nature is never defined as three. And as far as what they refer to as “essence” or “substance” of God, “Spirit” would emerge as the Scriptural definition of God. Trinitarianism would come to an abrupt end! And they know it. For this reason they cling to their “added” vocabulary as if it had thundered out of Sinai.
ONENESS OR TRINITY TERMS?
The Oneness Revelation of the Godhead came about almost entirely by simply returning to Apostolic forms and letting the Bible speak for itself. We are very happy and satisfied to use only Bible language, if Trinitarians will agree to the same. In such a case their would be no debate, for there would be nothing to debate. Let’s examine the respective categories of words and phrases and see:
“ONENESS” vs. “TRTNITY”
The Bible says God is one (Deut. 6:4f. Malachi 2:10, James 2:19; Eph. 4:6, Isa. 41:14). He is called the Holy One over 50 times. Oneness is simply the noun form of the adjective “one” and is certainly acceptable. The “Godhead is never referred to as three ; if there was a “threeness” to it, surely at least once this would have been stated in all the many passages that qualify God by number. Trinity means “Three-in-One” or “Threeness” but where is it? No where! Gregory Boyd talks about the Threeness; Augustine talks about it; Aquinas talks about it; Plato talks about it; but where does the Bible talk about it? The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. II, p. 70, in trying to explain this absence of “Threeness” in God’s revelation to Israel offers this excuse”…God did not reveal the Trinity to them. Until monotheism was rooted, the idea of three persons in God would have sounded like three gods.” Is that why in Isa. 44:24 God says that He is the Lord that “stretches forth the heavens alone” and “spreadeth abroad the earth by myself,” Just so we would never suspect there were two other persons with him? Not only is the term Trinity unscriptural, but it is anti-scriptural and must be eliminated.
“BEGOTTEN SON” vs. “ETERNAL SON”
The Bible says repeatedly that Jesus was a begotten Son (John 3:16, john 3:14, John 3:18, I John 4:9). The Bible tells us where he was begotten the womb of Virgin Mary (Matt. 1:20); by whom he was begotten -the Holy Ghost (Luke 1:35); When he was begotten, —“this day” (Heb. 1:5); and why he was begotten, —that we might live through him.(I John 4:9). This is the origin of the Son of God and the Bible knows no other. A “son” is a male child born of a woman, according to the definition of the word in every language of the human race. This definition fits Christ: “But when the Fullness of Time was Come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law” (Gal. 4:4).The parallelism here is real clear, he was made a begotten Son, that we might become “adopted Sons” of God (Gal. 4:5). Boyd and most Trinitarians are uncomfortable with this because it negates their unbiblical idea of “eternal” Son (which of course is the opposite of “begotten Son”), so he writes: “Jesus is, therefore, not God’s only born he is, as the NTV rightly translates it, God’s ‘one and only’ Son” (Boyd, p.113). Of course if this proves anything, it proves too much. For if Jesus is God’s “one and only” Son, then what about those adopted Sons we read about in Gal. 4:5. This teaching not only robs Christ of his begotten status, but it robs Christians of their sonship status! All of this linguistic sleight of hand is done for the sole purpose of adding the unscriptural term “eternal Son” to the Godhead discussion. Remove it, and let’s go on.
“GOD IN CHRIST” vs. “GOD IN THREE PERSONS”
Oneness believers are proud to proclaim their doctrine as “God in Christ,” sometimes adding the adjective Mighty (Isa. 9:6) hence, “Mighty God in Christ.” Our literature constantly refers to our doctrine as that. It is a most scriptural term. We do not constantly banter about a belief in God in three modes, or God in three roles, as we are so often accused. Even if those ideas are in conformity with Scripture, they are not necessary. God in Christ says it all. Paul used it in II Cor. 5:19: “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself.” He used it three other times also: I Thess. 5:18, II Cor. 12:19, Phillip. 3:14. He never used “God in Three Persons.” It was prophesied in Isaiah concerning the messiah: “I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives…Thus saith the Lord…they shall make supplication unto thee saying Surely God is in Thee, and there is none else, there is no God. Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself O God of Israel, the Savior” (Isa. 45:13-15). God was in the Messiah; “hiding” under a veil of flesh. Jesus fulfilled this scripture in John 8:58- 59 when he announced he was the “‘I Am” or Jehovah and the Jews took up stones to stone him, “but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the Temple, going thru the midst of them, and so passed by.” Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel! Paul also referred to the same truth when he said: “God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit…”(I Tim. 3:16). Jesus said it: “The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works”(John 14:10). Everywhere and anywhere it is “God in Christ”. Isaiah said it, Paul said it, John said it, and Jesus said it. Why do Trinitarians insist on saying something else? They sing their “Holy, Holy, Holy” and that’s fine. They refrain with “Merciful and Mighty” and it’s still fine. Then they pay their dues to Platonic Greek philosophy with “God in Three Persons, Blessed Trinity” And that’s not fine! Apostle Paul says its “spoiled” (Col. 2:8), and he’s right.
Nowhere in the Bible does the expression “God in Three Persons” occur. It is a heretical substitute for “God in Christ.” Paul got along without it, Peter managed; John who wrote almost exclusively on the deity of Christ never dreamed of using it. Never came close. Surely if it is the touch stone of Christianity, the sine que non, they would have used it and used it often. They didn’t and they wouldn’t.
Boyd says on Page 173,”In his work ‘On the Trinity’ Augustine admitted that he used the word ‘person’ to speak of God’s threeness ‘not that it might be spoken, but that it might not be left unspoken.” They invent a “threeness” that isn’t there, and then coin unapostolic words like “person’, not to describe it, but so it doesn’t remain undescribed! If it’s such a poor word for the job, let’s get rid of it and hire something else! But no–“There is simply no better term available,” Dr. Boyd bemoans. He is so personally ashamed of it that he consistently puts it in quotes, lest his readers interpret it with a “radically individualistic connotation:” In other words he doesn’t want them to think of persons, when he says “persons.” He reminds us of Humpty Dumpty when he told Alice: “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean.” We have no such problem with “God in Christ” We want people to think of Christ. If Neo-Trinitarians do not want people to think of the persons as “individuals” then why do they present them as such-‑ Fellowshipping together throughout eternity; “bursting” in love, passionate love, one to the other; and having “I-Thou” relationships, “loving communion,” triune love celebrations, sending each other, and enjoying genuine personal “otherness” (Boyd, pgs. 189-192).
In fact Boyd says: “…the notion that God is in his essence alone, that apart from and before creation God exists in total solitude, is completely incompatible with the Christian understanding that God is essentially love or even .essentially personal” (Boyd,p.191). If all this is not teaching that the “persons” of the Trinity are three divine inter-acting individuals with their own minds, then what is it? The idea of God being “alone” is not compatible with “Christian understanding,” Trinitarian understanding is what he means! God must also have a “personal otherness.” That’s just a fifty cent way of saying God needs another Person (“personal otherness”) to keep Him company! Well, God’s “aloneness” and “solitude” may not be “compatible” with them, but it is certainly compatible with God himself, for he informs us: “Thus saith the Lord, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the Lord that maketh all things; that stretches forth the heavens alone, that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself”(Isa. 44:24). That verse alone removes the entire rationale for maintaining the use or “God in three persons,” whether in quotation marks or not! God in Christ is enough! Let us return to New Testament phraseology. “Persons,” even with quotation marks, boils down to the same thing and is totally unacceptable. “He will surely reprove you if you do secretly accept persons” (Job 13:10).
“MANIFESTATIONS vs. PERSONS”
How shall we refer to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, if “persons” is unacceptable? Why not use the Bible term “manifestation”? The Bible refers to God as a manifestation in I Tim. 3:16, “God was manifest in the flesh.” The Son of God is referred to as a manifestation in I John 3:8: “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested…” –also I Peter 1:19-20, I John 3:5. And finally the Spirit of God is referred to as a manifestation in I Con 12:7, “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to everyman…” (Also John 14:21). The incarnation is described as a manifestation of God’s life as well as love (I John 1:2; I John 4:9). “Manifestation” is a Bible word; it’s used in connection with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and the incarnation, and it is flexible enough to avoid the hairsplitting controversies that have plagued the church for centuries. It is an infinitely better choice than “persons” because it has no tritheistic and individualistic overtones. In the end it seems to be the final definition that even Dr. Boyd leaves us with, for he writes on page 196: “For when all is said and done the doctrine of the Trinity simply means that God is a God of eternal love, a God of grace, and a God who is unconditionally and authentically open and revealed in the manifested activity of the Father, in the Son, through the Holy Spirit” Where Biblical and only Biblical terminology is adhered to, there is unity. When “added vocabulary” appears there is disunity.’ Instead of wasting so much time in his book justifying a God of three “persons,” “ways,” “fashions,” “aspects,” “modes,” or “manners,” why didn’t he simply adhere to “three manifestations.” At least that word is in the Bible!
“SPIRIT OF CHRIST” vs. “THIRD PERSON OF THE GODHEAD”
The Holy Spirit is referred to in the Bible as the “Spirit of Christ” (Rom. 8:9, I Peter 1:11)1 “Christ in you” (Rom.8:10, Col. 1:27), “Spirit of the Lord” (II Cor. 3:17),”Spirit of Jesus Christ”(Phillip 1:19)1 “Spirit of His Son” (Gal. 4:6). What could be clearer by these oft repeated utterances? The Holy Spirit is actually Christ in his Spirit nature. Jesus testified to this also in unmistaken terms. Three times in John 14 he referred to the Spirit Coming to believers as himself coming to them. “I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you” (John 14:18). “I will love him and will manifest myself to him” (John 14:21).”…And I in you” (John 14:20). The Holy Spirit is Christ in his Spirit nature as God, manifesting himself to us, coming to us, and living in us–“I in them” (John l7:26).
But this is not good enough for Trinitarians. They have to call him something else! So they invent a term, Third Person of the Godhead and foist this on all Christendom as the litmus test of orthodoxy. They do not even stop to apologize for this verbal innovation, or attempt to give scripture reference. Their purpose is to separate Christ from the Holy Spirit, for this would help them mesh their Platonic Trinity more smoothly with their “Christian Trinity.” But, by what authority do they label the Spirit of Christ with this new title? Who authorized them to divide the Godhead up into three persons, and rank them first, second, and third? While they clamor for us to produce a reference calling Christ Father (and we do), or one calling Christ the Spirit (and we do), it never occurs to them that they might be called upon for a reference calling the Holy Spirit “the third person the Godhead.” Dr. Boyd has in bold titles on page 117 “The Holy Spirit as the Third Person.” He never attempts to provide one text which refers to him as such. However earlier in his book he prepared his readers for this mystery when he stated “Fourth, there are two very good reasons as distinct personhood of the Holy Spirit is a bit more obscure than that Father and the Son…”(p.53-54). Why not say “opaque”? The first reason is, “it was not necessary or expedient, for the ‘third person of the Trinity’ to be revealed as such until just prior to the beginning of the church age ” (Boyd, p.54). Well that takes care of the Old Testament. NO third person there! And as for the New Testament: “Even more significant, however, is the relatively obscure (though no less important) role the Holy Spirit has within God’s plan of redemption” (Boyd, p.54). Well, this completes his “obscurity.” Now this “distinctness” is “obscure” in the New Testament also! Jesus was “born of the Spirit,” “filled with the Spirit,” “led of the Spirit,” offered himself “thru the Spirit,” and was resurrected “by the Spirit.” That’s hardly “obscure” in the Plan of Redemption to me! And he claims that Jesus “succinctly summarizes this theme, found throughout the New Testament” by His statements in John 16:13-14! I do not recall the Holy Spirit as being so “obscure” on the Day of Pentecost either, when he arrived as a “rushing mighty wind’ He was not so “obscure” in Acts 8 also, when Simon the Sorcerer offered money for the ability to impart Him by laying on of hands. His “obscure role within God’s plan of redemption” didn’t seem to be on Peter’s mind when he told the multitude in Acts the second Chapter to Repent and be baptized in Jesus name for remission of sins, for the express purpose of receiving “the Gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). Paul didn’t think his “role in the plan of redemption” was so “obscure” when his first question to the Ephesian disciples was, “Have you received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?” (Acts 19:2).
As far as the Holy Spirit’s identity in the Old Testament is concerned, it is still Christ. For Peter writes concerning the Spirit that spoke through Old Testament prophets: “Searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify when it testified before hand the suffering of Christ “l Peter 1:11. So instead of the Holy Spirit being revealed as the “3rd Person of the Godhead” in the Old Testament, He was the Spirit of Christ!
All this talk of “obscurity” and not being “revealed as such” is a convenient shelter to hide in when pressed for a “um identifying the Holy Spirit as “the third Person of the Godhead:. Then on page 119 “the Pot begins to call the kettle black.” There we oneness are accused of teaching a “secret identity” of the Holy Spirit! If it’s a secret, it’s an open one! We have maintained, along with Christ and the New Testament writers, that the Holy Spirit is “Christ in You.” We are the ones who openly proclaim, and provide Bible reference, that “The Lord is that Spirit” (II Con 3:17). We don’t hide behind “obscurity” and lack of “revelation”, for we learned the identity of the Spirit from the Spirit Himself when He said, “T in you.” The Trinitarian identity of the Holy Spirit as the 3rd Person is so “secret” that they themselves cannot even find it, though they search diligently amidst the “obscurity.”
In order to maintain the unscriptural title “third Person,” Dr. Boyd is forced to contradict himself. On page 53 he denies, (based on “triadically structured verses) that “the Holy Spirit is simply another name for the presence or power of God as oneness theology maintains…” Yet he has no qualms, (when denying the Spirit’s identity as Christ) in saying:” The Spirit is indeed the presence of Christ himself…”(Boyd p.128), and “Rather, He (Christ) is simply teaching that all that He is shall be present in the ‘person’ of the Holy Spirit” (Boyd, p. 129). Apparently the Holy Spirit can substitute as the “presence” of the “Second divine Person” when “Trinitarian theology” finds it expedient, but not the First Person! And why would the Holy Spirit have to substitute for the presence of Christ, when according to this Perichoresis doctrine “whatever ‘person’ of the Godhead one is referring to, the other two are fully present” (Boyd, p.64)? Christ the 2nd Person is as much present as the 3rd Person, who is substituting for his presence! The arguments advanced to maintain the separate identity theory of the Holy Spirit are not only contradictory; they are in many cases, degrading to Christ the Spirit. We are not authorized to relegate the Spirit of Christ to “obscurity” or rank him “third” in a Triad of “three divine Persons.” And all of this is done to keep in vogue the 4th Century title “third Person” of the Godhead, a title designed to keep distinct what is repeatedly declared to be identical! Why not lay the axe to the root of the tree and eliminate this Christ dishonoring and anti-scriptural term. Paul didn’t need it, Peter didn’t need it, Christ didn’t need it –all of whom described amply the role of the Holy Spirit without this “Crutch!’ For what reason do Trinitarians of today need it? Do they have something more to say than Christ?
Some Trinitarians are beginning to see the problems that this “added vocabulary” has produced.
Walter Martin, distinguished founder of Christian Research Institute, and a man with whom I was personally acquainted, writes concerning the “eternal son” usage: “The doctrine of ‘eternal generation’ or the eternal Sonship of Christ, which springs from the Roman conceived by Origin in AD 230, is a theory which theologically to the Arian and Sabellian heresies which today still plague the Christian Church in the realms of Christology. The Scripture nowhere calls Jesus Christ the eternal Son of God, and He is never called Son at all prior to the incarnation, except in the prophetic passages of the Old Testament. The term Son itself is a functional term, and has no meaning apart from time…Many heresies Confusion created by the illogical ‘eternal Sonship’ or eternal generation theory of Roman Catholic theology, unfortunately carried over to some aspects of Protestant theology. Finally, there cannot be any such thing as eternal Sonship, for there is a logical contradiction of terminology due to the fact that the word Son predicates time and the involvement of creativity. Christ, the Scripture tells us, as the Logos, is timeless. “The Word was in the beginning’, not the Son” (Walter Martin, Jehovah of the Watchtower, P. 160-161).And this from a man who has labored to defend Trinitarianism for years!
Dr. W.T. Conner, the eminent Baptist theologian, in his monumental work “Christian Doctrine,” has this to say about the term “three persons”—If the Word ‘person’ as applied to the distinctions within the Godhead is to be taken in this individualistic and external sense, then we had better not use the word person in this connection. If to call these inner distinctions of the Godhead ‘persons’ is going to be taken to mean that God is one, only in the external and generic sense, then we had better speak of God as only one person rather than as three” (Christian Doctrine, W.T. Conner, p. 124).
Robert Bowman recognizes the same problem that “added vocabulary” tends to produce in popular concepts, namely that God is three individuals. Therefore he issues this disclaimer: “If ‘person’ is used to mean a separate individual being, then in that sense trinitarians frankly would confess to believing that God is one ‘person'” (Robert Bowman, Why You Should Believe in the Trinity”, p. 13). If all this “added vocabulary” is ricocheting off the walls and producing so much confusion, why keep firing it? There is certainly no New Testament mandate, nor precedent, for using such “persons,” “:person,” “eternal Son,” “God the Son,” “God in three persons,” or “Trinity.” Let’s get rid of them and clear the air!
“Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain,
God is his own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.”
REAL REASON FOR “ADDED VOCABULARY”
What is the real reason Trinitarians have added this extra-biblical (and anti-biblical) vocabulary? It has nothing to do with expanding or clarifying our knowledge of God. Christ and his inspired Apostles brought all the revelation we need, and they never packaged it in these unscriptural terms. Neither is it to eliminate heresies, because it spawned more than it ever stifled. In the end it was the sword, and not the Creeds, the “heretics” so called. The real reason is that the early theologians were enamored with Greek philosophy and speculation and were determined to integrate it with the Christian Concept of God. Greek speculation was intensely concerned with analyzing “substance” and “essence” and “modes of existence.” This is why such Greek philosophical word-tools
began appearing in Christian discussions. Words like “hypostasis” (substance), “ousia” (essence), “homoosusios” (consubstantial) and “prosopon” (person). The ancient Hebrews, from whom we received the oracles of God, never attempted the arrogant blasphemy of analyzing God’s substance or essence. The thought would never have crossed their mind for mortal man to try and determine such things as God’s inner substance. The Hebrew method concentrated on what did, not so much what he “is”. More is to be learned of God or Christ by observing the actions or works, rather than attempting to probe the essence. This is why Christ, speaking from a Jewish background, said: “or else believe me for the very works sake” (John 14:11). He had just announced that he was the Father embodied (“the Father that dwelleth in me,” “The Father in me,”verses 10 &11). He knew some wouldn’t understand this perfectly. He did not recommend that they have “councils” and “debates” to probe the inner “substance” of the Father and the Son to see if they were “homoousious” (of “same” substance) or “homoiousious” (of “similar” substance). He simply pointed to the “works” that he did, works that only the Father could do, as proof of his deity. “If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in Him” (John 10:37-38). If they had done this there would have been no need for Nicea, Constantinople, Chalcedon, Ephesus and all the other squabble sessions that were held in the first five centuries of Christianity.
GREEK PHILOSOPHY HAS ITS SAY
But Greek “philosophy” which Paul condemned as a “spoiler” and “vain deceit,” was at work here: “In the days of the Fathers, from Origin to Augustine, the world of intellect was dominated in the main by a phase of Platonic philosophy. And into this world of philosophy the leaders of Christian thought advanced with bold freedom, and, on the whole, successfully established a synthesis between the tradition and the higher thought of their age” (Charles Gore, D.D., “The Reconstruction of Belief”, p. 809).
With all this “synthesizing” with “higher thought” of Greek philosophy is it any wonder they would need additional non-biblical terms to produce their new synthesized Greek Godhead!
AQUINAS THE FORGER
There was a lull in this worship of Greek philosophy for a time during the Medieval period, but with the dawn of the Renaissance a “new synthesis established itself of which St. Thomas Aquinas was the Master-builder” (Gore, p. 810). You will recall that this Master-builder of Greek Synthesis, Thomas Aquinas, is a favorite of Neo-Trinitarians like Dr. Boyd, who praises him for his understanding of the Trinity. This marvelous Trinitarian, whom Dr. Boyd classifies as “one of the great saints of the church” (Boyd, p.212), also produced with the help of forged documents, a defense of the Pope’s claim to supremacy: “So St. Thomas incorporated these forgeries into the structure of his defense of the papal claim, and they remained there to deceive students down to Sir Thomas Moore.” (Gore, p. 811, also see “The Pope and the Council” by Janus p. 264ff.) No wonder Oneness believers prefer to adhere to Christ and the Apostles for our Godhead teaching instead of “Ancient” forgers.
AUGUSTINE THE BORROWER
Augustine, another Great synthesizer of Greek Paganism, goes even further in his obsession with Greek philosophy. In “De Doctrina Christiana” Chapters 40 and 41, he compares this borrowing from the “Greek philosophers” with the incident from Exodus where the Jews “borrowed” jewels of silver and gold, and raiment, from the Egyptians. He says the pagan Platonists of Greek Philosophy had some “true things” about the worship of “the only true God” which they did not invent (He says!). But dug as it were, “gold and silver” from the “mines of God’s providence. “And this can be ‘borrowed” and furthermore, Christians can “convey”-it to good uses. Now the only “mines” that Jesus ever recommended we dig in are the Old and New Testaments. Out of this “treasure” comes forth “things new and old” (Matt. 13:52). Oneness people, unlike Trinitarians, do not care to prospect anywhere else; we have already staked “our claim” and it’s not on the “Mine Fields” of Greek Philosophy!
MORE “GOLD DIGGERS”
It might be added that Augustine was not alone in borrowing from Greek Philosophy: “Such borrowing Augustine attributes to innumerable Greek Christian Authors and among the Western to Cyprian, Lactantius, Victorinus, Optatus, and Hilary” (Gore, 652). Augustine even out did Origin in this for “Origin appears to restrict what may be ‘borrowed’ with more caution than Augustine” (Gore, P. 652).
And what was the main Jewel that attracted so much “borrowing” from the Greeks? A jewel, they couldn’t seem to find in the Oracles of God, and therefore went prospecting elsewhere? It was the neo-Platonic Trinity. Gore describes it as: “A Trinity in the later Greek (Neo-Platonist) Philosophy –The One, Reason, and Soul” (Gore, p. 527). And there is more: “So it is with Thomas Aquinas. He, too, begins from the divine unity. He, too, like Augustine, derives his philosophy of God partly through Neo-Platonist channels-In article after article of his Summa, he asserts like Augustine, that the divine being subsists in three eternal and co-equal persons” (Gore, p.543).
JUSTIN MARTYR-ANOTHER GREEK MINER
Justin Martyr another “great Trinitarian” was also digging around in the rubbish of Greek speculation for more jewels on the Godhead. Of him Gore writes: “Justin Martyr, who had been ‘a philosopher’ before he became a Christian, and remained so afterwards, recognized…in Socrates and Heracleitus…’friends of Christ’ and ‘Christians’ before their time. Like Justin, so also Augustine, two centuries later, knew that in his own case the Platonic philosophy had brought him to Christ. And not only so, but also Augustine, like Origin before him, deliberately approved of Christianity ‘borrowing’ from Hellenism” (Gore, p. 638). Drawn to Christ by Platonic philosophy! No wonder they never arrived! “NO man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44). And, its also no wonder they had to invent new “added vocabulary” (substance, essence, person, persons, Trinity) with which to deck out their new Platonic Godhead. Remove the vocabulary, strip off the “raiment borrowed from the Greeks,’ open your eyes to the “emperor’s new clothes,” and you will see what is really there- nothing!. I must concur with the wise old sage of Troy, “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.” The consequences of accepting these philosophical gifts from the Greeks was just as tragic for the church as the wooden horse was for the Trojans!
This article “Acceptable Words” written by Elder Ross Drysdale is excerpted from the book Enter the Neo-Trinitarians.