Conclusions about the Doctrine of the Trinity and Identity Christology
So, does the Bible ever unequivocally say God is three Persons/persons? No! Does the word “Trinity/trinity” ever appear in the Bible? No! In the NT gospel sayings of Jesus, does he ever state expressly that he is God? No! In all of the more than twenty evangelistic sermons or summaries of such in the book of Acts, do those early Christians ever say God is three Persons/persons, or God came from heaven to earth to become a man (Incarnation), or Jesus is God? No! On the contrary, the NT indicates first-century Christians believed none of these things. And Jude, Jesus’ brother, had written as scripture, “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3). Instead, Gentile church fathers later changed this gospel (“good news”) which the early Jewish Christians had been proclaiming throughout much of the world in the first century.
The first Christians were Jews who believed in one God and that this God is “one,” not three. The Apostle Peter affirmed that only the Father is God and Jesus is “both Lord and Christ/Messiah” (Acts 2.36). The Apostle Paul defines the Christian gospel in 1 Cor. 15.3-5 by saying, “For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas [Peter], then the twelve [apostles]” (NRSV). This definition of the gospel does not say Jesus is God or God is three Persons. According to Jude and Paul, later Gentile Christians had no authority to change the gospel that had been handed down to them by the first Christians, who were monotheistic Jews.
Yet, starting in the early second century, Gentile church fathers began to depart from this simple gospel by declaring Jesus is God and eventually that God is a Trinity. There are several reasons for this departure from the NT gospel. Many church fathers were influenced by Greek philosophy largely due to living in Hellenistic lands. They did not know Hebrew and therefore could not read the Hebrew Bible. Some became somewhat anti-Semitic, which further enabled them to reject the Jews’ monotheistic belief that God is a single person. So, they departed from the clear and simple NT teaching about the Father as God and Jesus as Savior and Lord. They substituted for it their complex doctrine of the Trinity that included the Incarnation of a preexistent Jesus as God. The Catholic Church made this Trinity doctrine official at its Second Ecumenical Council held at Constantinople in 381. The Church thereafter required that people must believe in this doctrine of the Trinity to be a Christian. And over 1,000 years later, Protestant Church leaders endorsed this non-biblical teaching due to their failure to scrutinize it.
In contrast, the Apostle Peter had preached to thousands of Jews on the Day of Pentecost, saying “Jesus of Nazareth” was “a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him” (Acts 2.22), indicating Jesus’ dependence upon, and subordination to, God. Peter later declared similarly to others, saying “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power,” so that “God was with him” (Acts 10.38). If Jesus had been God, he would not have needed to depend upon God his Father for such powers. The NT declares repeatedly that Jesus is the Christ-Messiah of Israel, that he was a virgin-born, sinless man who died on the cross for our sins, that God vindicated him by raising him from the dead on the third day, that he ascended to heaven forty days later to sit down with God on God’s throne, and that in the future he will return to earth as “King of kings and Lord of lords” Rev. 19.16) to establish his God-given, worldwide kingdom of peace which will never end.
To summarize, I had been a Trinitarian Christian for twenty-two years, from eighteen years of age to age forty. Then, in 1980 I began my investigation into whether or not Jesus is God. It lasted for about the next fourteen years. It occurred in three stages as follows: (1) in 1982, I decided God is not three co-equal and co-eternal Persons and that Jesus is God, but to a lesser extent than the Father is God; (2) in about 1987, I changed to believing the Bible nowhere says Jesus is God because I now understood that the two biblical texts that previously hindered me from so believing—John 1.1c and 20.20—do not say Jesus is God; (3) in the early 1990s, I became convinced that the Bible nowhere says Jesus literally preexisted.
To conclude this account of My Christological Journey, I will now quote something from the last two chapters of the preface of my Restitution book that is very important to me as a caution to Trinitarians and non-Trinitarians who are professing Christians:
“we have inherited a tradition of anathemas pronounced by church officials upon dissident, non-traditionalist, yet professing Christians. Such adversity still continues unabated in many church communities today, bolstered by some traditionalist scholars [believing Jesus is God]. . . . in 1999 a doctrinal declaration was issued and signed by over a hundred evangelical Christian leaders, mostly Americans, which includes the following article: ‘We deny that any view of Jesus Christ which reduces or rejects his full deity is Gospel faith or will avail to salvation.’ I could react as contrarily by charging that anyone who believes in the doctrine of the Trinity worships three gods and thereby violates the First Commandment, as Sir Isaac Newton alleged and the Koran states (Quran 5:72-73), and thus cannot be a true Christian. But I reject such allegations.
“In conclusion, I contend that that the NT verifies that anyone who (1) truly believes Jesus is the Christ, who died for their sins and arose bodily from the dead, and (2) confesses Him as Lord, manifesting evidence in their life to that effect, is indeed a genuine Christian believer and should be accepted as such.”
To see a list of titles of 130+ posts (2-3 pages) that are about Jesus not being God in the Bible, with a few about God not being a Trinity, at Kermit Zarley Blog click “Chistology” in the header bar. Most are condensations of my book, The Restitution of Jesus Christ. See my website servetustheevangelical.com, which is all about this book, with reviews, etc. Learn about my books and purchase them at kermitzarley.com. My books are: The Gospels Interwoven (1987); Palestine Is Coming: The Revival of Ancient Philistia (1990); The Third Day Bible Code (2006); The Restitution of Jesus Christ (2008); Warrior from Heaven (2009); Solving the Samaritan Riddle: Peter’s Kingdom Keys Explain Early Spirit Baptism (2015).