Bible Contradictions to the Trinity

Bible Contradictions to the Trinity June 14, 2013

Let’s remember the key traits of the Trinity. According to the Athanasian Creed,

The Father unlimited; the Son unlimited; and the Holy Ghost unlimited. …

So likewise the Father is Almighty; the Son Almighty; and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties; but one Almighty. So the Father is God; the Son is God; and the Holy Ghost is God. …

And in this Trinity none is before, or after another; none is greater, or less than another. …

About Jesus, it says:

Perfect God; and perfect Man …

Who although he is God and Man; yet he is not two, but one Christ.

Okay, okay, I get it. Three persons, all equal. None greater than another. Jesus is unlimited, almighty, and perfect.

But does the Bible agree? Remember that, unlike the clear definition of monotheism in the Koran, the doctrine of the Trinity is not clear. It took almost four centuries to congeal.

Consider some Bible verses that challenge the Trinitarian concept as defined in the creed above. First, verses that portray Jesus as an ordinary person who didn’t know everything, who wasn’t 100% with the program, and who spoke to God as you or I would.

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed (Matt. 8:10)

[Jesus] turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” (Mark 5:30)

[Jesus prayed,] “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matt. 26:39)

Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34)

Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. (Luke 5:16)

You are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. (John 8:40)

[Jesus said,] “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” (John 20:17)

Verses that state that only God has certain traits or abilities.

No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (Matt. 24:36)

[Jesus said,] “The most important [commandment is:] The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” (Mark 12:29)

God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light (1 Tim. 6:15–16)

Verses that portray Jesus as inferior to God.

“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good.” (Matt. 19:17)

[Jesus said,] “the Father is greater than I” (John 14:28)

The head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. (1 Cor. 11:3)

The Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all (1 Cor. 15:28)

You have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (Col. 3:1, see also 1 Peter 3:22)

There is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 2:5)

Ever-nimble Christian apologists have had 2000 years to find responses to many of these. Perhaps they’ll argue that we’re seeing the limited Man side of Jesus here, not the God side. Or that other verses can be brought in to bolster the Christian position. Nevertheless, the simplest explanation is that the Bible is a collection of books from authors (many unknown) who had similar but not identical religious beliefs, which has been modified in unknown ways over the centuries, and which has no more accuracy in its depiction of the supernatural than the Iliad.

See also: The Long, Strange Story of the Trinity.”

It ain’t supposed to make sense; it’s faith.
Faith is something that you believe
that nobody in his right mind would believe.
— Archie Bunker

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  • Y. A. Warren

    If we see the scriptures as allegory, perhaps we’ll see these “persons” as parts of our own Sacred Spirit’s path in our lives to enlightenment and peace on earth.

    • RichardSRussell

      And if we see them as folk tales; brag stories; self-justifications for misogyny, slavery, and genocide; and the first faltering attempts of primitives at a kind of scientific explanation for the world they found themselves living in, we could get away from blathery feel-good notions like “Sacred Spirits” and similar superstitions.

      • Y. A. Warren

        While they may be consistent with the beliefs of those who wrote them, we must stop referring back to them as if they have all that we need for understanding of our universe today. Each of our stories may be sacred to some, but none of them are universally true.

        • Norbert O.

          Ooo I like this guy.

        • Y. A. Warren


    • Reginald Selkirk

      Yay, Peace On Earth. And Purity Of Essence, too.

      • Y. A. Warren

        Which posits a large question: How do each of us define the essence of humanity as superior to the rest of creation?

        • Kodie

          We do?

        • Y. A. Warren

          Some do. I believe we have something different that makes us capable of making decisions that much of creation cannot make.

        • Greg G.

          How about the relative size of the human brain? That accounts for the ability to collect information and apply it to situations. The fact that we’re prone to making certain types of bad decisions shows it’s a modified monkey brain.

        • Y. A. Warren

          Some more modified than others. We do now have the technology (fMRI and PET scan) to see whether the center of judgement (in the frontal lobe) is functional. It seems that those without capacity for judgement and those who turn off their judgement (with fear, anger, drugs, crowd-think, etc) all revert to their most base animal instincts.

          When humans have been treated as expendable animals by abusive care givers, PTSD shuts down judgement. One generation of abused animals follows the example of the one before it, and the system continues until we define what we will and will not tolerate as a society.

        • peter

          “Which posits a large question: How do each of us define the essence of humanity as superior to the rest of creation?”

          We are not. Maybe we are already on the road to extinction.
          The dino’s too thought they were superior. They at least lasted for almost 200 million years. We have just been around for 1/100 of the time and already our impact is quite devastating. Superior in destruction of ecosystems maybe.

        • JohnH2

          How much did the dinos think about such things? Did they even have a well defined concept of self and other?

          As far as we know the smartest dinosaurs weren’t intelligent enough for much of anything. Which isn’t to say that it might not be possible for there to have been highly intelligent dinosaurs with complex civilization (who knows maybe they discovered warp drive and in 400 years or so we will find them in distant star systems? (ST:Voyager)), we just have found no evidence of that being a possibility.

        • I think Peter’s point might’ve been: How do you define success? Our species is pretty recent. If it burns itself out–perhaps our intelligence is just too much for us to handle–then our couple of million years will be just an unfortunate infection from the planet’s standpoint, and the longevity of other species might make them more “successful.”

        • JohnH2

          Success in that case would be going to the stars.

        • Reginald Selkirk

          How much did the dinos think about such things? Did they even have a well defined concept of self and other

          Ignoring the obstacle that “well defined” is a weasel term, I would have to say yes. Most animals, including the dumbest birds*, know enough not to eat themself even though they may eat other critters. That requires a concept of “self.”

          * The closest modern equivalent, since birds are dinosaurs. When scientists say a particular variety of dino was very intelligent, they mean it was not as smart as an ostrich.

        • JohnH2

          Magpies are the only birds that have shown self-awareness, or a concept of self; every other creature that has been identified as self-aware is a mammal (primarily Dolphins, Apes, Elephants).

        • Greg G.

          The tests used to determine self-awareness also includes mirror-awareness, rather than a minimum level of self-awareness. I think my little brother was self-aware at age 2 but when we stood a full-length mirror against the wall, he went into the room behind it to find the other boy.

        • Y. A. Warren

          Maybe we are using our ability to make decisions to destroy. This doesn’t mean we don’t have the ability to make decisions not based on pure instinct. I’d like us to define and honor with responsible compassion whatever we call that ability. Perhaps then we’d actually use it in planet protecting manners.

        • Pattrsn

          Sorry to nitpick but I doubt the dinosaurs thought they were superior, and they’re still around in the form of birds.

  • JohnH2

    The Creeds aren’t in the Bible and the Bible says nothing about a Trinity. Arguing against the Trinity does more to argue against the Creeds then it does anything to the Bible. (Which I am perfectly fine with because I don’t believe in the Creeds as being products of God, but rather philosophical statements of men who never had any revelations and thought more highly of Aristotle, who also never had any revelations, than scripture (which contains records of revelations).

    • Ask humans to interpret any complicated religious text and you’ll get conflicting answers. Makes you wonder about those who say they’ve got it all figured out, doesn’t it?

  • Norbert O.

    Is there a reason you read the Bible like a fundamentalist?

    • I could twist it to lampoon it, but that wouldn’t be fair. I try to let the Bible speak for itself, and it’s not too hard find some pretty embarrassing stuff in just about every corner we shine a light. Yes, I realize that not all Christians interpret the Bible that way, but of course it’s impossible for anyone to write a summary of Christianity and have all Christians give it a thumbs up.

      If you’re saying that many Christians tone it down (they don’t point to the OT’s support for genocide or slavery, for example), yeah, I get it. Would that they take that to the logical extreme.

      • Norbert O.

        You’ve successfully debunked a fundamentalist reading of the Bible.


        You’re only about 90 years late to the party, since fundamentalism was invented in the 1920s, and theologians immediately pointed out the flaws of trying to “let the Bible speak for itself.” Anyone who affirms a belief in the trinity, for instance, is affirming something extra-scriptural and reading the Bible through that lens.

        So yes, welcome to 1921: letting the Bible speak for itself is a failed and worthless endeavor.

        • Kodie

          There’s not a lot else going for the bible. People who don’t believe all of it literally still believe things without thinking them through. If there is something about this belief that actually does make people better than everyone else, I haven’t seen it.

          I like Bob’s blog – he is not going to give you a full critique of Christian belief in one post. He’s not even critiquing the trinity concept in one single post. You think fundamentalism has been sufficiently debunked – great. Go tell that to the fundies. Don’t tell Bob there’s no reason to bother. If you don’t like this post, try a different one.

        • Discarding the sarcasm, it looks like there’s nothing here. Did I miss something of substance?

        • Kodie

          I think I figured it out. Norbert believes what he believes, but in doing so easily rejects all other claims. Why are you working so hard on one he dismisses so easily, and he challenges you to address what he personally believes is the real true religion.

        • What I keep missing (I’m surely naïve here) is for a Christian like Norbert who believes something that I’m not addressing (or who believes a variant that is immune to whatever argument I’m using at the moment) to give me an attaboy. Not because I want the pat on the back, but just to make sense of the situation.

          There’s a subset of Christian thought that we both reject. I’m on the front lines, trying to beat that nutty thinking into submission (some nutty Christian thinking that might make his religion look bad), and he can’t even agree with me? Instead, it always seems to be, “Ha! You missed me!”

        • Kodie

          He is an atheist of all religions except one. He didn’t have to, and no believer has to, reason themselves out of religion like an atheist does. All it is wrong because it’s not his. It is like being born in Boston – you don’t have to come up with a valid reason to hate the Yankees, you just do. What you are doing is the equivalent of critique of a baseball team’s season stats and Norbert is doing the equivalent of “yeah, everyone already knows they suck!” because he’s a fan of the rival team, without really joining the conversation.

        • Norbert O.

          I’d give you an attaboy if you

          a) weren’t delusionally thinking you’re undermining all religious belief (as your tag quotes always imply) when you’re merely finding inconsistencies in a self-defined anti-intellectual variant of modern American protestantism.

          b) said anything new, that theologians haven’t been saying for centuries. Oh Scripture has inconsistencies on the trinity? That might be why you could fill a football stadium with the number of books written on the topic. How many of those did you pick up before writing this?

          You’re the equivalent of a bible college graduate “disproving” atheism by showing how much smarter he/she is than 14-year-old atheists on 4chan. It’s when the bible college graduate reads Nietzsche or Hume that things get interesting.

          For you, that will be the day you realize religion is more than whatever beliefs you dig up among low-educated red-state Americans, a group which you seem to have inflated to represent all religion everywhere. There’s really no prize waiting for you when you finally intellectually debunk these beliefs, as again, theologians far smarter than you debunked all of these decades ago. And they did it far more effectively than you ever will. And sadly for you, they kept their faith after doing it. Puzzling, eh?

        • Kodie

          They kept their faith after debunking their faith?

        • Norbert O.

          It’s almost like these arguments aren’t actually “debunking” arguments at all…

        • a) weren’t delusionally thinking you’re undermining all religious belief (as your tag quotes always imply)

          Gimme a chance, bro! This is just one post. I’m working on it.

          No, I don’t pretend to undermine all religious belief.

          b) said anything new, that theologians haven’t been saying for centuries.

          And all this ancient history—this is all well known by the lay Christians? Catholics know it, Fundamentalists know it, Lutherans, Presbyterians, they all know it? If not, then perhaps you can get a glimmer of what I’m trying to do.

          You’re the equivalent of a bible college graduate “disproving” atheism by showing how much smarter he/she is than 14-year-old atheists on 4chan.

          Dang. I can count on one fewer Christmas cards, I guess.

          Are you saying my stuff is old hat or that it’s wrong? If it’s wrong, correct it. If it’s old hat, surely you can’t object to my making this material available to the millions of Christians who aren’t as wise as you are. And since your position is invulnerable to my arguments, it still seems to me that, from your standpoint, I’m fighting the good fight.

          For you, that will be the day you realize religion is more than whatever beliefs you dig up among low-educated red-state Americans, a group which you seem to have inflated to represent all religion everywhere.

          The only one confused here seems to be you. Yeah, I realize that Christianity isn’t monolithic.

          And they did it far more effectively than you ever will. And sadly for you, they kept their faith after doing it. Puzzling, eh?

          With that loving and winsome attitude, I’m cursing our bad luck that you’re not on our team.

          On the topic of theologians being invulnerable to sophomoric arguments like mine, consider this post.

        • Norbert O.

          You may be confused: theologians aren’t “invulnerable” to arguments like yours, that’s an understatement. They CREATED the very arguments you’re making, long before you’ve made them.

          So your arguments may not be wrong, but they are poorly presented–as one would expect of a lay person working in a field where he has no formal training–and presented with an inflated sense of both originality and faith-destroying significance.

          You will one day have successfully indexed al the logical inconsistencies of what poor low-educated Americans believe about the Christian faith. Perhaps you will feel good about this accomplishment. But the challenge you don’t seem brave enough to take on is figuring out how early church theologians raised all your arguments centuries before you, articulated them far more effectively than you, and yet are now the figures you see painted on stain glass windows in churches all over the world. This will create quite a bit of cognitive dissonance for people who think religion squashes intellectual inquiry, I know, but history doesn’t always align with the myths our ideologies require.

          We can all take on only so many challenges in our lives, but I can already see that you’re a “small challenge” guy. Hopefully you’ll feel good about your accomplishments in the end. Here’s an “attaboy” for being smarter than low-educated poor fundamentalists. Carry on.

        • Pattrsn

          “But the challenge you don’t seem brave enough to take on is figuring out how early church theologians raised all your arguments centuries before you, articulated them far more effectively than you”

          So how did we end up with such absurdities like the trinity or hell or evil, or salvation through human sacrifice? Or do only low-educated poor fundamentalists believe in these things. And if this is supposed to be only allegorical or mythological then what is the point of Christian mythology when it’s indistinguishable from any other collection of stories

          “and yet are now the figures you see painted on stain glass windows in churches all over the world.”

          Of course the argument of authority through stained glassedness.

        • the argument of authority through stained glassedness.


        • theologians aren’t “invulnerable” to arguments like yours, that’s an understatement.

          I was referring to your position, not theologians’.

          They CREATED the very arguments you’re making, long before you’ve made them.

          I doubt it, but whatever. Let me understand your point. You’re saying that everything here has been said before? That it’s old hat? Sure, let’s accept that. Is this just an interesting aside? Or are you recommending a course of action for me?

          Perhaps you’re telling me to keep giving popular interpretations of this old wisdom because modern Christians don’t understand it, and I’m doing an important service by making this more available to modern Christians? If not, then I’m at a loss here.

          So your arguments may not be wrong, but they are poorly presented–as one would expect of a lay person working in a field where he has no formal training–and presented with an inflated sense of both originality and faith-destroying significance.

          So this is just a drive-by? This is just an unbiased reaction from a someone encouraging me to improve my game and make my Christian attacks more pointed? OK—I appreciate the feedback. Thanks for the encouragement.

          If I’ve missed your point, then your argument is poorly presented. Please restate.

          But the challenge you don’t seem brave enough …

          Ah, that’s always the difficulty, isn’t it? Those of us in Satan’s Service® aren’t especially well prepared. We can only dream of the Christian’s belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, and chaps of leather.

          … to take on is figuring out how early church theologians raised all your arguments centuries before you, articulated them far more effectively than you, and yet are now the figures you see painted on stain glass windows in churches all over the world.

          Whoa—I’m a lot more ignorant than I expected! Thanks for pointing this out.

          But help me by summarizing just a point or two that I’m missing so I can see that this is a lot more than the hot air that it appears to be.

          This will create quite a bit of cognitive dissonance for people who think religion squashes intellectual inquiry, I know

          Faith is the key to the Christian PR problem, methinks.

          … but history doesn’t always align with the myths our ideologies require. We can all take on only so many challenges in our lives, but I can already see that you’re a “small challenge” guy.

          Thanks for raining on my atheist parade, bro. That cold splash of reality I didn’t need.

        • JohnH2

          Norbert Q,

          Given that there are Fundamentalists that do reject the trinity and do practice polygamy (but oddly still attack Mormons) then clearly you place way too much emphasis on the word of theologians.

          For Fundamentalists the Bible is the word of God is an axiom which is given a much higher value than the writings of Plato or Aristotle (and there intellectual descendants). They are actually more intellectually honest and stable than your position, assuming you are not Roman Catholic/Orthodox/Church of England.

          Why do you believe in the Trinity? Why is affirming the Trinity important and where do you consider the idea of the Trinity to have come from?

        • Greg G.

          Do you think there are more sophisticated theologies? Here are some Search Results for: sophisticated theology from Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution is True website.

          From John Haught on the hidden God:

          “It is essential to religious experience, after all, that ultimate reality be beyond our grasp. If we could grasp it, it would not be ultimate.” {Deeper Than Darwin, p. 68}.

          From Brian Davies on rationalizing evil:

          The evil in evil suffered is not an existent entity. It is not identifiable substance or positive quality. Evil suffered occurs as existing things fail to be as good as they could be. In that case, however, I immediately conclude that the evil in evil suffered cannot be caused by God. For God, as I’ve argued, is the cause of the being of all that is real apart from himself, and the evil in evil suffered is not something with being, not something actual, and therefore, not something created by him. . . There are blind people. But blindness has no independent existence. There are blind people only because there are people who cannot see. In a similar way, evil suffered has no independent existence. . . it is still parasitic on goodness. . . the evil in evil suffered, I am saying, does not actually exist. . . The badness in a diseased cat is nothing real in the cat. {original source is pp. 177-181 The Reality of God and the Problem of Evil, this quote taken from p. 222 of Why I am an Atheist by John Loftus}

          How about this from Alvin Plantinga on why animals suffer:

          God wanted to create a really good world; among all the possible worlds, he wanted to choose one of very great goodness. But what sorts of properties make for a good world? What are the good-making properties for worlds? Many and various: containing rational creatures who live together in harmony, containing happy creatures, containing creatures who know and love God, and many more. Among good-making properties for worlds, however, there is one of special, transcendent importance, and it is a property that according to Christians characterizes our world. For according to the Christian story, God, the almighty first being of the universe and creator of everything else, was willing to undergo enormous suffering in order to redeem creatures who had turned their backs on him. He created human beings; they rebelled against him and constantly go contrary to his will. Instead of treating them as some Oriental monarch would, he sent his Son, the Word, the second person of the Trinity into the world. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. He was subjected to ridicule, rejection, and finally the cruel and humiliating death of the cross. Horrifying as that is, Jesus, the Word, the son of God, suffered something vastly more horrifying: abandonment by God, exclusion from his love and affection: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” This overwhelming display of love and mercy is not merely the greatest story ever told; it is the greatest story that could be told. No other great-making property of a world can match this one.

          If so, however, perhaps all the best possible worlds contain incarnation and atonement, or at any rate atonement. But any world that contains atonement will contain sin and evil and consequent suffering and pain. Furthermore, if the remedy is to be proportionate to the sickness, such a world will contain a great deal of sin and a great deal of suffering and pain. Still further, it may very well contain sin and suffering, not just on the part of human beings but perhaps also on the part of other creatures as well. Indeed, some of these other creatures might be vastly more powerful than human beings, and some of them—Satan and his minions, for example—may have been permitted to play a role in the evolution of life on earth, steering it in the direction of predation, waste and pain. (Some may snort with disdain at this suggestion; it is none the worse for that.) {pp. 58-59 of Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism (2011, Oxford University Press)}

          Theology doesn’t improve when it is tries to make sense of the Bible as allegory and metaphor.

    • Deus Ex Lasagna

      Probably because it’s handy, entertaining, and extremely efficient to let the Bible itself depreciate the arguments of fundamentalists by pointing out its innate contradictions – and like Legion, there are many. 😛 At the very least, it may prevent apologists from skirting around these verses in future topics or attempted proselytizing with the readers of this blog; certainly, I appreciate having this around to reference now. In manufacturing, we call this “preventative maintenance.”

    • Reginald Selkirk

      Is there a reason some Christians admit that the Bible contains fiction, historical errors, scientific errors, moral errors and contradictions, and yet still believe that it has any worth at all as a guide to living or understanding the world around us?

    • Carol

      There is dogmatic literalism just as there is biblical literalism; but believing in the Trinitarian and Christological Mysteres and finding wisdom in the Sacred Text does not necessarily make one a fundamentalist:

      “The blustering televangelists, and the atheists who rant about the evils
      of religion, are little more than carnival barkers. They are in show
      business, and those in show business know complexity does not sell.
      They trade clichés and insults like cartoon characters. They don
      masks. One wears the mask of religion, the other wears the mask of
      science. They banter back and forth in predictable sound bites. They
      promise, like all advertisers, simple and seductive dreams. This
      debate engages two bizarre subsets who are well suited to the
      television culture because of the crudeness of their arguments. One
      distorts the scientific theory of evolution to explain the behavior
      and rules for complex social, economic and political systems. The
      other insists that the six-day story of creation in Genesis is fact
      and Jesus will descend format the sky to create the kingdom of God on
      Earth. These antagonists each claim to have discovered an absolute
      truth. They trade absurdity for absurdity. They show that the danger
      is not religion or science. The danger is fundamentalism.” ~Chris
      Hedges, (I Don’t Believe in Atheists)

      • Pattrsn

        Chris’s argument against rants and cliches might be a little more compelling if it wasn’t entirely composed of both.

      • Don’t think much of atheists? Don’t tell us so, tell us why. Pick a post and show the errors.

    • MNb

      Is there a reason you don’t bother to explain the non-literal meaning of the Trinity? If no, why don’t you provide it? Then we can react.

  • KarlUdy

    Have you heard of kenosis?

    • “the relinquishment of divine attributes by Jesus Christ in becoming human”

      I had to look it up, but I am aware of the concept.

      Now that we have that common vocabulary, what’s your point? Does that resolve all the confusion?

      • KarlUdy

        It resolves a lot of it

        • The early church fathers didn’t seem to be so convinced. It took them 400 years to come up with the concept.
          Good reason to be envious of the Muslims, whose monotheism is quite plain. I can’t imagine that it was even debated.

        • KarlUdy

          Not envious of of the Unitarian theology of Muslims at all. And it is not as if the early church fathers rejected, or even debated the concept for 400 years.

        • busterggi

          Ah, but even they have angels & demons who are just as immortal as Allah.

        • SparklingMoon-

          Ah, but even they have angels & demons who are just as immortal as Allah.
          In Islam nothing is immortal except God Almighty and the writings of the Quran has confirmed that all prophets of other religions also had delivered the same message. Some Muslims may be have invented some fairy tales about angels otherwise ”the Quranic law does not denote that these Angels have authority and an independent will of their own. On the contrary, their relationship to God is quite like the relationship of a lifeless object in the hands of a person who is alive and uses it as he wishes.That is why at places, every material particle is described in the Qur’an as an angel because all particles hearken to the call of their Gracious Lord and do exactly what they are asked to do. For instance, changes in the human organism make for either health or illness. Each and every particle tasting such changes moves backwards and forwards in keeping with the Divine Will.

          According to the Law of Islam the characteristic qualities of Angels are not any greater than the characteristic qualities of humans. Rather, the qualities of man are superior to those of Angels. That Angels are appointed to function as agents in the physical and spiritual order of existence and it does not prove their superiority.

          If the royal courier delivers dispatches from the reigning monarch to a provincial chief or governor, will this show that the emissary, who is the link between the monarch and the Governor General, is superior to the addressee. Exactly similar is the case of the emissaries, who in the physical and spiritual realms communicate the commands of the Almighty to earth and are engaged in their implementation. (Elucidation Of Objectives by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad India.P37-39)

        • Norbert O.

          Ah, so we dismiss Christian theology for being too complex in thinking its way through the problems you raise.

          Later we’ll probably dismiss Christian theology for being far too simple and ignoring problems you raise.

          This is good stuff. Good stuff.

        • MNb

          “It resolves a lot of it”
          How does putting a label on something resolve anything?

  • Carol

    Christians in the Apostolic Age were not explicitly trinitarian. They were triadic. Many spiritual traditions are triadic, Wicca has its “Law of Three.”

    An explicitly trinitarian faith did not begin to emerge until the Patristic Age the implications of the Trinitarian Mystery for human community are just beginning to be theologically discerned:

    Unfortunately, many Christians do not appreciate the gift of the revelation of the
    Trinity. Christian laymen often seem to engage in the many ritual gestures devoted to the Trinity with little understanding of the centrality of the Trinity to the faith. Clergy in the West are famous for being befuddled when it comes to preaching the sermon on Trinity Sunday. Indeed, the prominent twentieth-century Catholic theologian Karl Rahner could lament the absence of the Trinity in the
    intellectual and devotional life of the modern Church. Although recent history demonstrates a new found interest in the Trinity, it still seem that most Christians do not recognize or have somehow forgotten that the doctrine of the Trinity contains* the “pearl of great price” the ne plus ultra of metaphysical wisdom.

    *I say “contains” rather than “is” because I wish to distinguish between mere notional knowledge and genuine sapiential knowledge of the Trinity. Sapiential comes from sapience, “taste” as in “Taste and see the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). Sapiential knowledge is transformative. –Timothy A Mahoney

    Current Trinitarian thought:

    Sometimes poets are better theologians than philosophers:


    teaches us to say yes

    allows us to be both-and

    keeps us from either-or

    teaches us to be patient and long suffering

    is willing to wait for insight and integration

    keeps us from dualistic thinking

    does not divide the field of the moment

    helps us to live in the always imperfect now

    keeps us inclusive and compassionate toward everything

    demands that our contemplation become action

    insists that our action is also contemplative

    heals our racism, our sexism, heterosexism, and our classism

    keeps us from the false choice of liberal or conservative

    allows us to critique both sides of things

    allows us to enjoy both sides of things

    is far beyond any one nation or political party

    helps us face and accept our own dark side

    allows us to ask for forgiveness and to apologize

    is the mystery of paradox in all things

    is the way of mercy

    makes daily, practical love possible

    does not trust love if it is not also justice

    does not trust justice if it is not also love

    is far beyond my religion versus your religion

    allows us to be both distinct and yet united

    is the very Mystery of Trinity

    Fr. Richard
    Rohr, OFM

    “Community is that place where the person you least want to live with always
    lives. And when that person moves away, someone else arises to take his or her place.” ~ Parker J. Palmer

    Innumerable times a whole Christian community has broken down because it has
    sprung from a wish dream. The serious Christian, set down for the first time in a Christian community, is likely to bring with him a very definite idea of what Christian life together should be and try to realize it. But God’s grace speedily shatters such dreams. Just as surely as God desires to lead us to a knowledge of genuine Christian fellowship, so surely must we be overwhelmed by a great
    disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and, if we are fortunate, with ourselves. ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

    One can try to recreate the world, to build in its stead another world in which its most unbearable features are eliminated and replaced by others that are in conformity with one’s own wishes. But whoever, in desperate defiance, sets out upon this path to happiness will, as a rule, obtain nothing. Reality is too strong for him. He becomes a madman who, for the most part, finds no one to help him in carrying through his delusion.–Sigmund Freud

  • SparklingMoon-

    Consider some Bible verses that challenge the Trinitarian concept as defined in the creed above.
    There is no description about Trinity in Mosaic Law also for Jesus was sent to maintain among the people of Israel.’If it had contained such a teaching the Jews could never have forgotten it, for they were enjoined to stick to the teaching of the Unity of God to the extent that each and every Jew was commanded to memorize it, to inscribe it on the door of his house, and to teach it to his children.
    In addition, Prophets of God continued appear among the Israelites and gave them the same teaching. It is, therefore, inconceivable that, despite such great emphasis and coming of so many Prophets, the Jews could have forgotten the teaching of Trinity and replaced it with the teaching of the Oneness of God, which they continued to teach their children and which continued to be reiterated by hundreds of Prophets. This would go against all reason and logic.

    A doctrine that is to be found neither in the Torah, nor in the Holy Quran, nor even in the Gospels! Nowhere do the Gospels even hint at the Trinity, they only speak of the One God Who is without peer. Some eminent and even hostile clergymen have had to admit that the Gospels do not teach the doctrine of the Trinity. ( Fountain of Christianity Mirza by Ghulam Ahmad of India P-49-51)

  • Monotheism is a many splintered thing.

  • SparklingMoon-

    And in this Trinity …. ” none is greater, or less than another.”

    No doubt, it is described in the faith of Trinity; ”the Father is God; the Son is God; and the Holy Ghost is God,” and these three are equal ”as none is greater,or less than another” but in practice these three are not behaved equally.

    As almost Songs and Sermons talk about the person of Jesus and his miracles. God Almighty is described sometimes but only in reference of Jesus. Jesus is described like an Almighty God and no description about the attributes of God Almighty. The very fundamental message of the teachings of Jesus was about God Almighty. He always converted people towards God Almighty and honored Him :”How Can you believe when you accept honor from one another, and care nothing for the honor that comes from him who alone is God.”(John 5:44)

    In the light of his sayings, true followers of Jesus should follow his steps and should be careful about their explanations and descriptions. They should not break the boundaries that Jesus had maintained for his self: ”I can of my own self do nothing, as I hear I judge and my judgement is just; because I seek not my own will, but the will of the Father which has sent me.” (John 5:30) His all praise was for God Almighty and He never presented himself as equal to Him: ”But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the son, but the Father. ”(Mark 13:32)

  • DavidalBarron

    Are we arguing details of fan fiction now? …this never ends well.

    • DavidalBarron

      [Note: not trolling, this is just what I think when we cite chapter and verse to prove or disprove a pointless theological point. Let’s feed the hungry, &c.]

    • Maybe if Christians can be encouraged to see their mythology as that, we can get them focused on the actual problems in the world rather than what other people are doing in their bedrooms.

      • Carol

        Perhaps we should understand what mythology is. Mythology is not something that never happened,it is a story of something that happens all the time, the story of archetypal people and events. Mythology is more about meaning than historical *facts.*

        Man is a moral animal with a hunger for meaningful values that separates our species from the other sentient animals whose only concern is physical survival. Of course, we have survivalist concerns also, we are not angels, we are embodied with legitimate physical needs and desires. But “man cannot live by bread alone.” We are finite creatures with infinite aspirations. To be human is to be conflicted. Our myths, both the noble and the dark myths, are evidence of our need for something more than hedonistic pleasures.

        I don’t think it is coincidental that the industrialized Western nations, where the work of liberal theologians has attempted to demythologize the dominant religion we have seen the mythologization of money.

        “We are the first civilisation to treat monetary accumulation as an
        absolute goal, and it has obscured the whole of our discourse about shared well-being, or the ‘common good’.” ~Rowan Williams, the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury

        I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are
        so unlike your Christ. The materialism of affluent Christian
        countries appears to contradict the claims of Jesus Christ that says it’s not possible to worship both Mammon and God at the same time.–Mahatma Gandhi

        “Perhaps the most revolting character that the United States ever produced was the Christian businessman.” –H.L. Mencken

        In the beginning the church was a fellowship of men and women centering on the living Christ. Then the church moved to Greece where it became a philosophy. Then it moved to Rome where it became an institution. Next, it moved to Europe , where it became a culture. And, finally, it moved to America where it became an enterprise. –Richard Halverson, former chaplain of the United States Senate

        • MNb

          “that separates”
          Questionable. It’s very conceivable that other species have developed meaningful values as well and that they are not entirely the same as ours.

        • Yes, it is quite embarrassing that American theologians invented the Prosperity Gospel. What Would Jesus Say?

  • Eusebius made this trinity because he made Jesus a historical person. Before that the gnostic christian had Jesus as a hierofant like Dionysos. Eusebius also made the creed from Nikea. Everybody who did not agreed with this must go home and was later killed. All this was made after order from emperor Constantine. One emperor, one country, one god and one belief. So was the christianity made. One emperor and his loyal writer. Gods word?

    • Dan F.

      omg, go read a real history book and stop getting your “facts” from /r/atheism or 4chan…

      Bob, as a Catholic I enjoy poking holes in fundamentalist beliefs as much as the next guy so here’s an “attaboy.”

      Every once in a while I check in here to see if you’ve written something substantive about any of these questions and I’m strangely disappointed to find that you haven’t. Ah well, till next time….

      • Dan: I don’t really expect much praise from Christians. It’s just that when a Christian is outraged that I’m outraged at the same nutty Fundamentalist stuff that he’s outraged at, I point out the inconsistency.

        Since you’ve had a chance to see this blog over some time, tell me what you think. What do you want to see, and why is what I’m putting out there uninteresting to you? if you’re saying that attacking Bible literalism isn’t interesting because you’re a Bible literalist, I get that. But surely you don’t agree with many of my posts, right? Nothing substantial there?

        • Dan F.

          I think that your conclusions typically suffer from the same weakness as the positions you are arguing against – in particular a Bible literalism that has no substantive historical basis. As a Catholic, my reading of the Bible is based on a history of apostolic teaching that I can trace through their writings and other historical accounts back to the disciples of Jesus. Hence we agree about the foolishness of a Bible literalism (endemic in our country to be sure) but for different reasons.

          Perhaps Norbert is new? or maybe an Anglican with the insecurities inherent in a church based on a King’s desire for (another) divorce?

          Anyway, I’d be more interested in an argument about the Trinity if we were arguing from a historic understanding of how the doctrine was articulated over time – perhaps we could debate the merits of that process, the actual Biblical roots used by the early church, how much trust we can give to historical accounts, etc. – those are interesting questions inasmuch as they are engaged in honestly.

          Ye olde “fundamentalists believe A=not A” is rather boring after the first few times.

        • I take the Bible literally to show the unacknowledged consequences of doing so.

          And if you have no use for taking the Bible literally, that’s great. But surely there’s lots of content here that is aimed at you—no? Page through at the top level. Nothing that engages you?

        • Dan F.

          Like I said, I usually drop by every now and then but I haven’t really seen anything where the contra arguments are being taken seriously.

          It’s not a great example but in this post in particular you poked all the right holes in any Bible literalist believing in the Trinity (I’ve done the same on many an occasion) but then you conclude with

          the simplest explanation is that the Bible is a collection of books from authors (many unknown) who had similar but not identical religious beliefs, which has been modified in unknown ways over the centuries, and which has no more accuracy in its depiction of the supernatural than the Iliad.

          I would move the argument to “therefore Bishops/Magisterium/Tradition” which seems to be the next logical step unless you have a priori rejected “Bishops/Magisterium/Tradition” as hogwash (which you seem to have done so). That a priori rejection is uninteresting to me. Much more interesting would be an engagement of the question of “Bishops/Magisterium/Tradition” since I think some (most, perhaps all?) of the questions you are asking have their answer contained (somewhere) in “Bishops/Magisterium/Tradition”.

          EDIT: go me for getting the blockquote right for once. 😉

        • (Yeah–user editing is pretty cool.)

          To some extent, I have rejected tradition a priori as a means to truth about the supernatural. If God told people a supernatural truth or directed people somehow so that their writings were correct, that’d be one thing. But without God’s input, I have little trust that humans will get a supernatural story correct.

          But to respond to the meta issue: every post’s conclusion is to some extent drawing on all the posts that have come prior, so I can see how a single conclusion may seem terse or unsupported.

          But this post may not be a good fit for you. Check out future ones (or browse some prior ones) and, if you still think that there’s nothing here but attacks on Fundamentalists, let me know. I’d like to hear your reasoning on that. Thanks.

        • Dan F.

          Sure and I can appreciate the lack of trust in humans getting a supernatural story correct – at what point do you trust that humans are even getting a natural story correct? Particularly when it comes to historical accounts how would you distinguish between (relatively) accurate accounts and false ones?

          I think what I’m looking for is a starting off point, something that we can agree on (other than the foolishness of American fundamentalism) which can provide the basic ground on which to build our arguments. What basic premise can we both agree is true (rather than just stipulate is true) or is is perhaps the idea that something could be “true” perhaps not even a point of agreement?

        • at what point do you trust that humans are even getting a natural story correct?

          In the first place, nothing much rides on history. If Julius Caesar actually never crossed the Rubicon with his army, who cares? I appreciate accurate history as much as the next guy, but you’re right that we can’t be sure. But no one really cares much.

          In the second place, historians scrub supernatural stories from history. Suetonius reports that a supernatural being appeared at the Rubicon and encouraged Julius to cross. Yes, it’s history that that story was told; no, it’s not history that the spirit actually appeared.

          What basic premise can we both agree is true (rather than just stipulate is true)

          I’d imagine that we’d be on the same page for almost everything except your religious beliefs.

        • Dan F.

          Quite possibly but the issue is that the in the fundamental sense, my religious beliefs are not something that I have per se, but something that I do and something that I am.

          The fact that we accidentally agree about a great many moral issues, perhaps like similar philosophers or sports teams or any number of other things means we could be friends but likely couldn’t do more than beat around the edges of any significant religious or moral disagreement.

          I’m looking for what basic premise about existence/the moral life/etc. could we agree on as a starting point for resolving that sort of disagreement.

          To pick a polarizing example: abortion. Based on other things you’ve written, I think that you see the issue as primarily about a “woman’s right to choose” – about autonomy or freedom while I see the issue as primarily about the defense and dignity of human life regardless of developmental stage or physical location. I’m not sure what basic premise we could both agree on (rather than just stipulate to) which could resolve the question (hence the ongoing culture war which seems more responsive to slogans and opinion polls than actual arguments).

        • Well, bravo for actually asking the questions of what might be common ground.

          Actually, my main point on abortion isn’t “it should be legal”; rather, it’s “personhood is a spectrum.” Abortion is a big topic, of course, but you can look up my spectrum argument on this blog for more. I’m naïve enough to think that we could agree on this basic point. If you’ve got the time, read it and tell me what you think.

        • Dan F.

          I haven’t the time at the moment but I will try to in the relatively near future.

          Without reading the argument at all my immediate question would be “on what grounds”( ! ) can we say objectively or authoritatively or in anyway not arbitrarily that personhood is a spectrum? I’m looking forward to reading the argument. 🙂


        • On the same grounds that we can say that the spectrum between blue and green is a spectrum. It’s pretty much by definition.

          If you’re quibbling about the label “personhood” for the spectrum, that’s fine. Give me another word for that property that a single cell doesn’t have but a newborn does.

        • Dan F.

          hmm, not sure I’m understanding the analogy but I haven’t actually read the argument yet (end of the first half for my business). I will try to get to it in the next couple of weeks because I’m intrigued.

  • arkenaten

    @ Norbert.

    Whether Bob is writing about things that have been dragged through the mill a thousand times is irrelevant. Such things NEED to be brought out into the light for there is always a new crop of unfortunates who are inculcated into one obscene religion or another every day.

    And if something Bob, or any other critical thinking writer posts that attracts the attention of a religious person that causes pause for thought then he can post such stuff all day every day until we finally reach a point as a species where we can flip the middle finger to the last few idiots who genuflect to the absurdities of god belief and the insidious doctrines it spawns.

    And if it pisses off idiots like you then this is a bonus. So, post away Bob, post away!

    The ridiculous should be ridiculed.

  • A nice listing. It certainly serves as an effective foil to fundamentalism.

    Of course, non-fundamentalists won’t be particularly impressed.

    Omniscience has never been an official part of concepts of the Incarnation, so there’s no contradiction in a non-omniscient Jesus. The omniscience of Jesus is, in fact, explicitly denied by statements that Jesus gained wisdom and knowledge over time (not to mention by most of what you listed).

    I’m always endlessly amused when people cite Matthew 19:17 as evidence that Jesus denied divinity. Tremendously funny.

    • arkenaten

      Naturally, otherwise you would be an atheist.

      • Oh, I’m sure atheists can chortle about it just as much as anybody else.

        • arkenaten

          Actually we just chortle at you…

    • Cool! A guy for whom this all makes sense.

      Explain the Trinity to us.

    • Roder51

      In the beginning was the 1st piece of BULLSHIT. From that page on it just gets higher and higher and higher with it.

  • Frankie Tanner

    I am a husband, father and son, all in one. What’s so hard to understand?

    • hector_jones

      Are you your own father and your own son and your own husband all at the same time? You guys are really scraping the bottom of the barrel for arguments.

      • Pofarmer

        I wonder if he gave birth to himself to make himself a sacrifice to himself?

    • MNb

      Do your wife, kids and parents form a holy trinity?

    • adam

      What IS so hard to understand?

    • That’s Modalism, a heresy. What’s so hard to understand?

  • bonobo

    The translation from an ancient language to a modern one e.g the king james bible, lost many words and is not in parts translatable at all.

  • Mazen

    an interesting point that i saw before.. if jesus was killed and resurrected after 3 days, does that mean that there was no god for three days since jesus the father and the holy spirit are one?

    • Nah–it’s just a tag team. Jesus went to his corner and God and the Holy Spirit tagged in to continue the fight.,

      Or something.

      • Mazen

        hahahaha i never looked at it like that!!

    • Dresden Faulkner

      he split

  • Roder51

    Father, Son and Holy Ghost: A con artist from ancient times with multiple personalities.