clarity of scripture doesn't uphold the Trinity

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21centpilgrim
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clarity of scripture doesn't uphold the Trinity

Post by 21centpilgrim » Sun May 19, 2019 3:36 pm

the protestant doctrine of the perspicuity of scripture is stated in the Westminsterperspicuity confession of faith as follows

“All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all. Yet, those things that are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or another, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them” (1.7)

By this very standard, you would have to conclude that the Trinity is not necessary for salvation.

So how do you protestants who are Trinitarians, uphold the necessity of the Trinity as a measure of orthodoxy whole still maintaining the doctrine of the clarity of scripture?
Thanks
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Paidion
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Re: clarity of scripture doesn't uphold the Trinity

Post by Paidion » Mon May 20, 2019 12:08 pm

21¢ wrote:So how do you protestants who are Trinitarians, uphold the necessity of the Trinity as a measure of orthodoxy whole still maintaining the doctrine of the clarity of scripture?
Thanks
The Trinitarian passage in 1 John 5:7 as found in the AV, NKJV, JB2013, and yes even in the Catholic Douay, is clearly Trinitarian:

For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one (1 John 5:7 NKJV).

This translation is based on the Greek of Textus Receptus. However, most translations, based on different Greek manuscripts have (as in the ESV):

For there are three that testify:the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. (1 John 5:7,8 ESV)

The passage is not contained in any extant Greek manuscripts which have been dated prior to A.D. 300.
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mattrose
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Re: clarity of scripture doesn't uphold the Trinity

Post by mattrose » Fri May 24, 2019 7:15 am

I am not really fit to answer the question, since I don't feel any real need to abide by westminster or that particular doctrine

Nor do I believe my particular understanding of how the Father, Son & Spirit relate to one another is essential Christian doctrine

But I will say that I do believe it is clear in Scripture that there is a Father, Son & Spirit. And I do believe they are in perfect unity. Additionally, I take great comfort in recognizing that some sort of trinitarian belief is part of an ancient faith as reflected in the creeds. Furthermore, I personally don't really see how salvation works if Jesus Christ is not the divine Son of God and I don't see how Jesus isn't a liar if the Spirit is not His distinct equal.

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Paidion
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Re: clarity of scripture doesn't uphold the Trinity

Post by Paidion » Fri May 24, 2019 7:57 pm

Thank you for you response, Matt.
You wrote:But I will say that I do believe it is clear in Scripture that there is a Father, Son & Spirit.
Absolutely clear. But I don't think you can find any clear passage that affirms that the Spirit is a divine Individual who is distinct from the Father and the Son.

I believe the Spirit to be the very Persons of the Father and the Son. Though the Father and the Son dwell in heaven in some special way, they can extend their Persons anywhere in the Universe, and especially into the hearts and minds of the faithful. Jesus promised His disciples that when He went away, He and the Father would come and make their dwelling with them. How did They do that? Was that not Their Spirit that dwelt in them?
And I do believe they are in perfect unity.
What does that mean? Is this something different from saying that some husbands and wives are in perfect unity?
Additionally, I take great comfort in recognizing that some sort of trinitarian belief is part of an ancient faith as reflected in the creeds.
Again true. But it wasn't a common Christian belief until A.D. 325. For example, Ignatius (A.D. 30-107) stated that "Christ was begotten by the Father before all ages." (Letter to the Magnesians, Ch XI, final paragraph). Other early Christians said that the begetting of the Son was the first of God's acts.

In his Dialogue with Trypho (which lasted several days) Justin Martyr (A.D. 110-165) compares the begetting of the Son with starting a small fire by lighting it from a large fire. The small fire is of the same essence as the large one, and yet is a distinct fire. In the same way, the Son, through a single act was begotten (generated) by the Father. Though the Son is of the same essence as the Father, He is distinct from Him.
Furthermore, I personally don't really see how salvation works if Jesus Christ is not the divine Son of God ...
I trust you are aware that subscribers of some forms of non-Trinitarian thought do NOT deny that Jesus is the divine Son of God. Indeed as far as I know, only modern Unitarians deny it. I certainly affirm His total divinity. He is just as divine as the Father and is affirmed to be God in John 1:1. That is not to say that He is the same divine Individual as the Father, but rather in virtue of having been begotten by God, and is therefore of the same essence of God, He is God. In a similar sense you are man in virtue of having been begotten by man.

However, Jesus addressed the Father as "the only true God" (John 17:3)
and I don't see how Jesus isn't a liar if the Spirit is not His distinct equal.
If the Spirit is the very Persons of the Father and the Son, I don't think the "equality" factor applies. In the case of a human being, what would it mean to say that his mind is or is not equal to himself?
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Re: clarity of scripture doesn't uphold the Trinity

Post by 21centpilgrim » Mon May 27, 2019 11:53 am

mattrose wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 7:15 am
I am not really fit to answer the question since I don't feel any real need to abide by westminster or that particular doctrine

Nor do I believe my particular understanding of how the Father, Son & Spirit relate to one another is essential Christian doctrine

But I will say that I do believe it is clear in Scripture that there is a Father, Son & Spirit. And I do believe they are in perfect unity. Additionally, I take great comfort in recognizing that some sort of trinitarian belief is part of an ancient faith as reflected in the creeds. Furthermore, I personally don't really see how salvation works if Jesus Christ is not the divine Son of God and I don't see how Jesus isn't a liar if the Spirit is not His distinct equal.
The Westminister quote carries no special weight I just referenced it as just a more in-depth version, imo, of the common phrase 'the main things are the plain things and the plain things are the main things.' again, not a binding statement or anything often helpful to recall.

That the Father, Son and Spirit exist and work together in unison is agreed to be all that I am aware of- Trinitarians and non-trinitarians.

Matt why, in your opinion, must Jesus be fully divine in order for salvation to work?
thanks
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Re: clarity of scripture doesn't uphold the Trinity

Post by darinhouston » Mon May 27, 2019 2:22 pm

mattrose wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 7:15 am
Furthermore, I personally don't really see how salvation works if Jesus Christ is not the divine Son of God
This one really bothers me. I don't see how this follows. Can you elaborate? To the contrary, if He was truly God then I don't see how salvation works - salvation seems to have depended on His being truly a fully tempted yet perfectly obedient man (though God could have saved differently, this was His plan and pleasure). For those who resort to kenosis theories, then that undermines the cause since He would have emptied Himself of all prerogatives that would have been relevant to such a requirement (that salvation required the sacrifice of God Himself).

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Re: clarity of scripture doesn't uphold the Trinity

Post by BrotherAlan » Fri May 31, 2019 1:16 am

While I will allow mattrose to respond for himself as to HIS reason for the statement he made, I will say that I agree with the statement made by mattrose for the reason that "nobody can give what he does not have." And, so, if Christ gives salvation, and salvation is nothing less than eternal life (and, by that, we mean a true entering into a share in the Divine Life of God), He Himself must possess in Himself this eternal, divine life. Which means He must be God.

In Christ, the Son of God,
BrotherAlan
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as it was in the beginning, is now, and always, and unto the ages of ages. Amen."

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mattrose
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Re: clarity of scripture doesn't uphold the Trinity

Post by mattrose » Sat Jun 01, 2019 9:08 am

darinhouston wrote:
Mon May 27, 2019 2:22 pm
This one really bothers me. I don't see how this follows. Can you elaborate? To the contrary, if He was truly God then I don't see how salvation works - salvation seems to have depended on His being truly a fully tempted yet perfectly obedient man (though God could have saved differently, this was His plan and pleasure).
Hi Darin :)

I'd like to write something more extensive on this at some point, but I'm going through a lot of transitioning right now in life right now.

Of course, I agree with what you have affirmed in your statement. Jesus did have to be fully human.

I'm more intrigued by what you said next...
For those who resort to kenosis theories, then that undermines the cause since He would have emptied Himself of all prerogatives that would have been relevant to such a requirement (that salvation required the sacrifice of God Himself).
First of all, I'm not sure why you used the word 'resort'... I don't feel like those who adhere to kenosis theories 'resort' to them (as if trying to protect some pet doctrine). They simply recognize kenosis from the scriptures.

Second, no... I disagree with you that "He would have emptied himself of all prerogatives that would have been relevant to such a requirement". I believe the nature of "God is love" (which, as I've argued before... is yet another reason why I affirm plurality within the Godhead). Attributes such as omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, etc. are not essential to God in my view. The Son emptied Himself, as we sing, of 'all but love'. He never ceased to be God in regards to essential nature.

Third, I do not believe, personally, that "salvation required the sacrifice of God Himself". I believe that salvation required the incarnation (unless that's all you mean by 'sacrifice' here), but the bloody death of Jesus was simply something that we and sin did to HIm, which the Father, in His wisdom was able to bring great good out of.

We are saved because the Savior swooped down to lift us up into the divine realm. I'm not trying to say you have to believe things exactly the way I believe them. I recognize that trinitarian theology is complex. I am simply saying that my overall, big-picture understanding of the Gospel is that someone 'from heaven' came 'to earth' to save us... and the way that, for me, makes the most sense to understand all that is that Jesus is fully God.

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Re: clarity of scripture doesn't uphold the Trinity

Post by 21centpilgrim » Sat Jun 01, 2019 2:59 pm

BrotherAlan wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 1:16 am
the reason that "nobody can give what he does not have." And, so, if Christ gives salvation, and salvation is nothing less than eternal life (and, by that, we mean a true entering into a share in the Divine Life of God), He Himself must possess in Himself this eternal, divine life. Which means He must be God.

In Christ, the Son of God,
BrotherAlan
Christ gave what was given to him, so yes he had it but he had it because the Father gave it to him, it was not 'in himself' inherently but granted to him by the Father.

John 5:26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.

This verse seems to directly challenge your statement.

Also the same with authority

John 5:27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.
Matt 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore .......
Then those who feared the LORD spoke with each other, and the LORD listened to what they said. In his presence, a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared him and loved to think about him.

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Re: clarity of scripture doesn't uphold the Trinity

Post by mattrose » Sat Jun 01, 2019 5:08 pm

21centpilgrim wrote:
Sat Jun 01, 2019 2:59 pm

Christ gave what was given to him, so yes he had it but he had it because the Father gave it to him, it was not 'in himself' inherently but granted to him by the Father.

John 5:26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.

This verse seems to directly challenge your statement.

Also the same with authority

John 5:27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.
Matt 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore .......
Christ emptied himself of all but love

He was given back what was His before the beginning of time, for example

"And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began"
~ John 17:5

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