Posts Tagged ‘doctrine of the Trinity’

World population as of 2014 is 7.2 billion and growing. Out of that, there are a total of over 3 billion churches. There is no official directory for all the congregations in the county, because sociologists of religion have to rely on statistical estimates from surveys. These are often disputed, and to complicate matters even more, thousands of new churches open each year while thousands of others close. The Hartford Institute estimates there are roughly 350,000 religious congregations in the United States with millions of members in each congregation.

So if we are all members of the “Body of Christ” why is there so much disagreement between different congregations?

Several hundred years ago in many countries there was only one church that was tolerated. But when people began to immigrate to the United States, they were free to bring their own religious beliefs and practices with them—and they did. Many of our major denominations trace their beginnings back to their European roots—Lutherans from Scandinavia, for example, or Presbyterians from Scotland.
In spite of the differences in religious practices, all Christians should agree on the central truths of the Gospel:
• That we are all sinners in need of God’s forgiveness.
• That Jesus was born in the flesh, was crucified, died for our sins and was resurrected after three days.
• If we confess our sins God will forgive us of our sins and give us eternal life.

What do you believe?
Beyond these core beliefs, most Christians believe in one God that exists in three persons—the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit. They believe that Jesus Christ walked this earth, fully God, and yet fully man and after his death he was buried, rose again and now lives at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for the believers forever. They believe that in order to be saved and be granted entrance into heaven after death, one must place one’s faith entirely in this doctrine.

Many Christians from mainstream Christianity consider denominations with non-Trinitarian beliefs to be cults and will not inherit eternal life in heaven; but are condemned to the everlasting fires of hell. But is this really biblically factual?

I have had many stimulating conversations with Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons as well as other Christians. I have to say that most of their doctrinal beliefs are based on Scripture. But the ones that aren’t, do not condemn them either.

In Acts 15 we read that while Paul and Barnabas were in Syria, some men from Judea arrived and began to teach the Gentile believers that unless they were circumcised they couldn’t be saved. The church sent them to Jerusalem to meet together with the other apostles to resolve this issue. At the meeting, after a long discussion, Peter stood and addressed them as follows: “Brothers, you all know that God chose me from among you some time ago to preach to the Gentiles so that they could hear the Good News and believe. God knows people’s hearts, and he confirmed that he accepts Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for he cleansed their hearts through faith. So why are you now challenging God by burdening the Gentile believers with a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors were able to bear? We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.” In the end they concluded, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to lay no greater burden on the Gentiles than to abstain from eating food offered to idols, from consuming blood or the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality. Isn’t it interesting that neither Paul nor any of the apostles mentioned observing God’s feast days, keeping Kosher, or even mentioned the Trinity doctrine as a condition for salvation?

Again we read in Acts 16:25-31, that after an earthquake had released Paul and Silas from jail, the jailer rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Again, there was no mention of following doctrinal beliefs in order to be saved. He only said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”

We need to keep in mind that God’s plan for His Church was to bring unity to His followers—while denominations, by their very design, brings division and dissension.

If we are truly “One Body in Christ” then we should put away division and  judgment and focus on what’s really important—that we are all sinners in need of God’s forgiveness.

For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. (1Cor. 12:12)

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. (Rom 12:3-5)

…“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself… Do this and you will live.”
Luke 10:25-28

I don’t want you to misunderstand the meaning of this article. I am not trying to put forth a debate for or against the Trinity, but I have heard many times over the years, (from pastors as well as laypeople) that one has to believe in the Trinity in order to be fully saved. According to orthodox Trinitarian doctrine, if a person claims to be a Christian but does not believe in the Trinity, he is not saved. Is that really the truth? Not from the evidence I have found in the Bible. In fact, the evidence in Scripture is that a person can be saved without even knowing about the Trinity. In Acts 10:1-4 we read: ‘While Apollos was at Corinth; Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied.’

In Acts 16:30-31, the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas: “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” As a result of the jailor’s conversion, his entire family also believed and was saved! In both cases people were saved solely on the result of believing on the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus and NOT on their belief in the Trinity!

The doctrine of the Trinity is that the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God, and together these “three Persons” make one God; and these three are co-equal and co-eternal, the Son having been “eternally begotten” of the Father, and Jesus being simultaneously 100% God and 100% man. This goes against the Jewish belief that God is one, based on Deuteronomy 6:4.

For two millennia, Jews and Judaism has been subjected to contempt because of supersessionism theology. (Also called fulfillment theology or replacement theology) Loosely, this means that whatever God once had promised to the Jews was no longer relevant and that the Jews had been replaced by the New Israel. (i.e.; Christians) Many still believe that by rejecting Jesus (and the belief in the Holy Trinity) God’s promises to the Jews were transferred to the New Testament Christians.

After Auschwitz, Catholics undid supersessionism with Vatican II and Nostra Aetate that says in part: “The Church, therefore, cannot forget that she received the revelation of the Old Testament through the people with whom God in His inexpressible mercy concluded the Ancient Covenant. Nor can she forget that she draws sustenance from the root of that well-cultivated olive tree onto which have been grafted the wild shoots, the Gentiles. Indeed, the Church believes that by His cross Christ, Our Peace, reconciled Jews and Gentiles making both one in Himself.”

Although protestant denominations have never completely disavowed replacement theology, it was effectively shelved in the wake of the Holocaust and led some to a new era of understanding and mutual respect of the Jewish people. Calling Jews Christ killers or rejected of God means that the leaders of that church respect nothing about Jewish striving, and have not changed their attitudes toward Jews a bit since their founder, Martin Luther, called for the burning of synagogues.

Years ago I enjoyed being involved in a Bible study until a woman, after a short discussion with one of the people there, found out that they didn’t believe in the Trinity. She then shouted out, “Who doesn’t believe in the Trinity?” After an uncomfortable pause a few hands slowly went up. “The Trinity is the foundation of our faith!” She exclaimed. I then replied, “I thought that believing that Jesus is the son of God, who was crucified for our sins, was resurrected from the dead and sits at the right hand of God and will one day return and rule over the earth was the foundation of our faith.” Sadly, that Bible study group ended soon after.

In discussing God’s wonderful plan of salvation in Ephesians 2:8-10, the apostle Paul sums it up in three verses, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”

We need to get back to the basics of God’s Word. We need to teach others to simply just take God at His word and claim His salvation by faith and God will work out all the other things for each individual. Simply believe, and you will be saved. No church, no lodge, no good works and no Church Doctrine can save you. Remember, God does the saving… All of it!