Israel, Hear! Jehovah is One!
By Gordon G. Mallory
The Jewish home is identified at the door by the “Mezzuzah” fastened to the door post. The Mezzuzah is a small case of metal or wood which contains a parchment roll called the “Shema,” written in Hebrew script. The Shema contains the verses of Deuteronomy 6:4-9, affirming that God is One. Upon leaving or entering his house, the pious Jew touches his fingers to the Mezzuzah and then to his lips. He then repeats the words, “Hear, 0 Israel, Jehovah our God is one Jehovah” (American Standard Version).
We would particularly note that Jehovah’s injunction to love Him “with all thine heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy might” is preceded by the revelation of (1) I-Es Name, and (2) the revelation that He is One Jehovah. Thus God establishes the foundation of man’s relationship to his Creator upon his knowledge and understanding of the One True God, as contrasted with the many gods of the heathen people and nations whose names were called upon by their worshippers.
The “Incomprehensible” Trinity
For 2000 years Jesus has been the most controversial figure in the history of the human race.
After three and a half years of earthly ministry, the religious leaders of His day demanded that He be crucified. Pilate testified to the Jews, “I find in him no fault at all” (John 18:38). Though Pilate “knew that for envy they had delivered him” (Matthew 27:18), his greater concern for his own political prestige caused him to appeal to the mob with the question, ” “at shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?” (Matthew 27:22). That ringing question has met every man within hearing of the Gospel message.
History records that the Church moved steadily toward apostasy and confusion after the passing of the original apostles. Typical of that confusion was the controversy regarding baptism, which manifested itself in baptism being administered with one dip or three dips in the water, in still or in running water, face first or back first into the water, by immersion or sprinkling, and finally as infant baptism. This controversy remains with us today.
The most critical and significant issue of that day centered upon the historic question, “What shall we do with Jesus?” The importance of the issue lies in the fact that Jesus is the “key” to the understanding and acceptance of the message of the Name of the One True God.
As is true today, there were those who accepted Jesus only as a man. Those who reject Jesus as God are not involved with the plural-God teaching. The Unitarians, Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Jews have two things in common: they reject Jesus’ divinity and they worship one God. A major obstacle to the conversion of the Jews is the doctrine of the trinity which the Jewish people treat as plural-God worship. It is unfortunate that many Christians believe that a Jew must be converted to the Trinity to be saved. Rather, a Jew, as is true of all men, must believe that Jesus was “God manifest in the flesh.” When Jesus asked the Jews, ‘for which of those works do ye stone me?” They answered, “For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God”(John 10:32-33).
A second crowd made Jesus to be a kind of intermediary between God and man – a demi-god, Their position was knows as “Arianism.” To them Jesus was neither very God nor very man.
Then there were the fundamentalists of that day who acknowledged Jesus as God. Within that body of believers were those who could not reconcile the Deity of Christ with the truth of the One God. To break through that barrier and to refute the Arian philosophy, the Nicene Creed was put forth in its earliest form by what was knows as the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. A significant problem of the Nicene Creed was that its proponents could not state their conclusions in Scriptural terms or language. That difficulty was resolved by the formulation of a peculiar vocabulary which was ordained to be used by the churches who adopted the Creed.
It is apparent that the Creed was conceived as a means to better understand the One True God. That that purpose was not achieved is evidenced by the confession that the trinity is incomprehensible and cannot be explained. Prominent religious leaders have asserted that God is a trinity, while admitting they cannot explain it. Supporters of the historic Creed have commonly described it as the “Incomprehensible Trinity.”
The Creed presents its followers with the following unsolvable riddle: Is the trinity one Divinity with three heads, three Divinities or persons with one head, or three Spirits or Divinities with three heads? The contradictory nature of the doctrine is attributed to the premise that it is a Divine mystery and therefore cannot be humanly explained.
A Split Decision Is No Decision
The amazing phenomenon of the Trinitarian Creed is that it cannot be used successfully to answer any question or solve any problem. This is true because the attempt on the part of the fourth century Church to harmonize the truth of the Divinity of Christ with the message of the One God resulted in a split decision. And a split decision is, in fact, no decision.
To illustrate, we shall cite a case in which one party,
the plaintiff, brings suit against another party, the defendant, to recover damages sustained in an automobile accident. At the conclusion of the court trial, the jury has decided for the plaintiff, while the remaining part of the jury has decided for the defendant. The administrators of the law have no alternative but to treat the split decision as no decision. In such cases the trial judge declares a “hung jury” and the case may be dropped from further consideration, or the plaintiff may elect to have the case tried a second time.
No attempt is made to implement a split decision, for it is impossible to do so. To apply one part of the divided verdict is to ignore or violate the other part. Such a decision solves nothing because only one-half of such a decision can be applied to the particular case being considered.
It must, of course, be acknowledged that man cannot fully comprehend the profound nature and attributes of an omniscient God whose presence fills the universe, a God whose wisdom is so great that He knows the end from the beginning, and a God who has no birth or origin because He is eternal. But, these are not the qualities of the One True God that confuse the trinitarian.
His frustration is the result of an attempt on his part to reconcile the two contrary poles of a split decision, for this the human intellect is incapable of doing. Thus, the mind of the trinitarian is continually vascillating between the premise that he worships three Divine beings, and his sincere desire to uphold Him as the One supreme God. And so, out of his confusion and frustration he testifies that “God is a trinity, but don’t ask me to explain it,” or, “Brethren, I must confess to you that I cannot understand the trinity.”
Water is composed of oxygen and hydrogen. Remove either of these, or separate one from the other, and we no longer have water. Either of water’s two components, whether oxygen or hydrogen, may be separated from the other and used for a specific purpose, but that substance alone is not water, nor can it be used as water.
Similarly, the traditional trinity consists of two affirmations, which together are declared to be the triune or three-in-one God, When one of the two parts of the Creed is separated from the other, to be applied to a particular portion of Scripture or to a specific situation, there is no longer a trinity. Instead, by the process of taking the one without the other, either we have One God, or we have a plurality of persons or beings.
The Creed of the trinity is incomprehensible, not because it is a Divine mystery, as commonly supposed, but because it is a contradiction, and therefore cannot be successfully implemented to shed light on any Scripture. Let us cite illustrations. We have earlier referred to the text from Deuteronomy 6:4 (ASV), “Hear, 0 Israel: Jehovah our God is one Jehovah. ” Turning to the basic trinitarian statement of the “one God consisting of three Persons,” only the first part of the split verdict agrees with this text. No application can be made of the latter part of this traditional tenet of faith.
If we cite the verse in Genesis 1: 26, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:” the trinitarian applies the latter part of the split decision to the plural pronouns of the text, which he affirms as “evidence” that God is plural, while he ignores the first part of the statement which declares that God is One.
When the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan is presented as evidence of a plural God, the latter part of the divided verdict is applied, while the opposite or first part of the trinitarian statement is disregarded.
A bit of serious thinking in this area reveals the obvious fact that by trinitarian logic, the same kind of split decision could be devised to solve every situation in the Bible where various and conflicting views exist among scholars concerning the correct understanding and interpretation of Scripture.
A unique kind of split decision was pronounced by King Solomon to determine the true mother of the child who was claimed by two women. The decision was declared by the King because he did not know the solution of the case brought before him. Solomon’s edict that a sword be used to divide the child in two parts would have destroyed the child and solved nothing. But Solomon correctly assumed that his proposed edict would reveal the true mother and his verdict would never be implemented (I Kings 3:16-28).
Students of the Bible are aware that there are seeming or apparent contradictions in the Scriptures, some of which we shall note later in this study. Bible scholars have generally studied to bring harmony into their teaching from the Scriptures. Many of the comments by Dr. C.E. Scofield in the well-known Scofield Bible are directed toward harmonizing and clearing up apparent or seeming inconsistencies.
What Does The Creed Say?
A further obstacle to applying the Creed of the Trinity is seen in the inability of proponents of the creed to adhere to the several claims which comprise the trinitarian dogma, consisting of a series of affirmations intended to reconcile the two opposite poles of the split decision. We cite some examples.
It is taught that man is a trinity because he consists of body, soul and spirit. What does the Creed say?
The Creed of the Trinity affirms that God is three divinities or persons. A person represents a center of intelligence. A rock is not a person because it has no center of intelligence. Since the Creed in question teaches God as three Divine persons, three centers of intelligence are presumed to comprise the trinity. Further, the three persons are claimed to be of the same substance or essence.
Three centers of intelligence do not reside in a man. Nor is a man’s soul of the same substance as his body, neither is a man’s body of the same essence as his spirit. Man therefore is not a trinity. Moreover, no form of life throughout the universe corresponds to the theory of the trinity.
The incident of the baptism of Jesus in the river Jordan is cited as a manifestation of the trinity. What does the Creed say?
The trinity is taught as consisting of three “inseparable’ or “indivisible” persons, whereas, by locating the Father in heaven, the Son in the water, and the Spirit as coming down from heaven to earth, the trinitarian has unwittingly divided the three “inseparable” persons into three separate and distinct beings.
Here we shall digress briefly to note that nowhere was God seen during Jesus’ baptism, for “No man hath seen God at any time; ” (John 1: 18). The Son standing in the Jordan River was “God manifest in the flesh. ” The “bodily shape like a dove” likewise was God in a visible manifestation, while the “voice from heaven” was an audible manifestation of the One True God. The manifestations of God are further dealt with in Chapter 7 under the title, “God Is Spirit. ”
Prayer by the Son to the Father is often cited as evidence of plural God. What does the Creed say?
The traditional Creed teaches God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. So then, does the prayer of the Son represent God the Son praying to God the Father, and therefore Deity praying to Deity? An omniscient, omnipotent and eternal God does not pray, for He is complete and all-sufficient in Himself Only man prays to seek aid and direction from a Higher Power than himself
Thus, it is seen that the controversial and fanciful nature of the tenets of the Creed in question prevents men from adhering to its claims when the attempt is made to apply the dogma to any given situation, biblical or otherwise.
Why This Strange Language?
While traveling on a Greyhound bus, our attention was directed to a young lady seated nearby, who manifested an outgoing and fun-loving personality. We engaged her in conversation, and having noted her distinct Eastern accent, she responded by asking the reason for our question. When we commented on her obvious New York “brogue,” she replied, “Oh, no, I don’t have a brogue. It is you who have a “brogue.”
We laughed with her as we saw both the humor and logic of her reply. She had an Eastern brogue and we a Western one, and who is to say that one is more correct than the other? Nor was our different speech divisive to our relationship; rather, it contributed to a pleasant atmosphere of fellowship between us.
However, it is sad that the “trinitarian brogue” has been adopted when it has no biblical or historic significance. Years ago we faced the stark realization that the doctrine of the trinity cannot be spoken of or taught in biblical terms or language. It is evident, therefore, that the trinitarian vocabulary was created, not as an option, nor for reasons of convenience, but as a matter of pure necessity. The vocabulary is the lifeline of the doctrine, without which the doctrine cannot survive. Undoubtedly this explains the fierce loyalty of the trinitarian believers to their peculiar language, which they place, practically speaking, on an equal plane with the Bible itself
It is not surprising then that trinitarian believers seriously question the capacity or capability of nontrinitarians to correctly interpret Scripture without the use of this non-biblical terminology. It is, however, an historical fact that both the Old and the New Testament prophets proclaimed the truths concerning the One True God and Ms Name with unction, with clarity, and without compromise. Certainly the apostles and prophets of the early Church did very well for themselves in articulating the great doctrines of the gospel message without relying upon the trinitarian “brogue,” a vocabulary created in the pitfalls and confusion of after years.
We choose to abide by the rule that if a message cannot be told in biblical language, the message is obviously false, since words are the vehicle whereby God’s Word is communicated. This, then, is our next logical objection to the Creed of the Trinity.
We recall from the past a biblical translation which was widely criticized because it was charged that the language of the Virgin Birth was improperly rendered to compromise the message. We have not had occasion to examine this particular version to prove nor disprove the charges. However, it is a matter of common knowledge that the Virgin Birth of God’s Son is rejected by the unbelieving world, and has been under attack by some of the liberal clergy. We subject that the message of the Virgin Birth would be unsupportable if the language of the Bible did not clearly declare the supernatural birth of the Christ Child.
Our confidence in the message of the Virgin Birth rests upon such clear and unmistakable texts as these: “A virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son,” (Matthew 1:23) and, “That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost, ” (Matthew 1:20) and, “The virgin’s name was Mary” (Luke 1:27). In the face of all attacks upon this truth, we declare this message with a firm and unshakable ” Thus saith the Lord. ”
Traditional Church authorities have commonly required acceptance of the trinitarian “brogue” or language as a necessary qualification for recognition as a member of the Body of Christ. Such a standard would have disqualified the apostles of the primitive Church from membership! Why have Church leaders imposed that vocabulary upon their followers? We suggest the answer is not hard to find.
A study of the peculiar language of the trinity reveals that the various trinitarian terms used are for the purpose of emphasizing the numeral “three.” Such terminology as “trinity,” “triune,” “triunity,” “compound unity,” “plurality in unity,” and “unity in plurality,” “three persons,” “first, second and third persons,” “three-in-one” – all were designed to teach a plural God.
In contrast, the language of the Bible is confined to the numeral “one” when speaking of God. “One” is the only numeral authentically associated with the True God of the Bible. The message of the trinity is therefore totally dependent upon a vocabulary that is foreign to the Scriptures.
One verse is found in the Authorized Version using the numeral “three” in relation to God, and it reads, “there are three that bear record in heaven … and these three are one. ” (I John 5:7).
The Scofield Reference Bible offers this comment on the verse in question: “It is generally agreed that verse 7 has no real authority, and has been inserted.” Adam Clark’s Commentary concurs: “It is likely that this verse is not genuine. It is wanting in every M.S.,” (manuscript) “one excepted.” The text is omitted from the following versions: The American Standard, Moffat’s Bible, The New International Version and The New American Standard. The Amplified Bible gives the verse in italics, thus signifying it is in the authorized version, but is not accepted as valid by scholars. And so with this verse removed from consideration, the Bible is unanimous in declaring God as One.
It should further be noted that every Scripture that deals particularly or specifically with the question of whether God is one or plural affirms God to be One. This is to say then, that every text used to teach God as plural is centered on another subject and is therefore taken out of context to support the concept of the trinity.
To illustrate: The account of Jesus’ transfiguration (Mark 9:2-8), the great commission as recorded in Matthew 28:18-20, Stephen’s vision of heaven, and Jesus standing on the right hand (Acts 7:55-56), and Jesus’ promise to send “another Comforter” (John 14:16) – these and other incidents are often taught as “suggesting” or “intimating” the existence of the trinity. In fact, these Scriptures are not recorded to provide answers to the question of whether God is one or plural. Nevertheless, these are typical of the kind of evidence offered to support the concept of a plural God.
It is not the strange language of the trinity, but rather it is the simple word “one” that is the universal language of the Bible when related to God.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY REACH PUBLICATIONS INC., 1996, PAGES, 7-21. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSED ONLY.