What Noted Trinitarian Scholars Have Said Concerning The Doctrine of the Trinity
Trinitarian Millard J. Erickson - (Research Professor of Theology at S.W. Baptist Theological Seminary (Southern Baptist) in his book on the Trinity, "God In Three Persons"):
"This doctrine in many ways presents strange paradoxes...It was the very first doctrine dealt with systematically by the church, yet is still one of the most misunderstood and disputed doctrines. Further, it is not clearly or explicitly taught anywhere in Scripture , yet it is widely regarded as a central doctrine, indispensable to the Christian faith" (p. 11-12).
Professor Shirley C. Guthrie, Jr. - (Trinitarian scholar, in his best selling book, "Christian Doctrine"):
" The Bible does not teach the doctrine of the Trinity . Neither the word "trinity" itself nor such language as 'one-in-three,' 'three-in-one,' one 'essence' (or "substance"), and three 'persons' is biblical language. The language of the doctrine is the language of the ancient church taken from classical Greek philosophy " (p. 76-77).
Trinitarians Roger Olson and Christopher Hall - (In their book, "The Trinity"):
"It is understandable that the importance placed on this doctrine is perplexing to many lay Christians and students. Nowhere is it clearly and unequivocally stated in Scripture. "The doctrine of the Trinity developed gradually after the completion of the N.T. in the heat of controversy. The full-blown doctrine of the Trinity was spelled out in the fourth century at two great ecumenical councils: Nicea (325 A.D.) and Constantinople (381 A.D.)" (p. 1-2) .
Professor Charles C. Ryrie - (Respected Trinitarian Evangelical Biblical scholar, in his well known work "Basic Theology" ):
"In the second half of the fourth century , three theologians from the province of Cappadocia in eastern Asia Minor gave definitive shape to the doctrine of the Trinity " (p. 65). "But many doctrines are accepted by evangelicals as being clearly taught in the Scripture for which there are no proof texts . The doctrine of the Trinity furnishes the best example of this. It is fair to say that the Bible does not clearly teach the doctrine of the Trinity . In fact, there is not even one proof text , if by proof text we mean a verse or passage that 'clearly' states that there is one God who exists in three persons" (p. 89). "The above illustrations prove the fallacy of concluding that if something is not proof texted in the Bible we cannot clearly teach the results... If that were so, I could never teach the doctrine of the Trinity or the deity of Christ or the deity of the Holy Spirit " (p. 90).
Graham Greene - (Noted Catholic scholar):
"Our opponents sometime claim that no belief should be held dogmatically which is not explicitly stated in Scripture...but the Protestant churches have themselves accepted such dogmas as the Trinity , for which there is no such precise authority in the Gospels ."
Professor Cyril C. Richardson - ("The Doctrine of The Trinity: A clarification of what it attempts to express"):
"I cannot but think that the doctrine of the Trinity, far from being established, is open to serious criticism , because of both the modern understanding of the Scripture, and inherent confusions in its expression. It is not a doctrine specifically to be found in the New Testament. It is a creation of the fourth-century Church " (p. 17). " But Philo (20 B.C. - 50 A.D.) introduces a second theme derived from Greek thinking , that God creates by his Word or Logos. From these observations it becomes clear that there is an essential ambiguity in Philo's thought , an ambiguity which we shall find running though trinitarian thinking " (p. 31-33). " The idea that the Logos is begotten by God, is his 'first-born', his 'invisible image' and so on, plays an important role in Philo , and whether directly from him or not, comes into Christian thinking . The Word is for Philo the intermediary between God and his action" (p. 34). Please note: Philo was a Hellenistic (Greek) Jewish philosopher and writer who taught the "divine Logos" doctrine. He mentions the Logos over 1400 times in his writings and refers to it as "a second God" and calls it " the mediating Logos ." He was born some twenty years before Jesus and was a famous writer before Jesus began his ministry. Philo lived in Alexandria, Egypt and there is no indication that he ever heard of Jesus . He got his idea of the "divine Logos - second God" from Greek philosophy and mostly the Greek philosopher Plato (428-348 B.C.). Professor Richardson says, "From our brief study of the New Testament material it becomes apparent that the symbols Father, Son, and Spirit do not constitute a genuine Trinity . In fact, there is no way to overcome the paradox that we must think of God both as one and as a society . There simply is no way in human thought to compose this paradox (p. 95). " My conclusion then, about the doctrine of the Trinity is that is is an artificial construct . It produces confusion rather than clarification; and while the problems with which it deals are real ones, the solutions if offers are not illuminating. It has posed for many Christians dark and mysterious statements , which are ultimately meaningless , because it does not sufficiently discriminate in its use of terms. Christian theology might be aided by abandoning such a procedure and by making clear the inadequacy both of the ambiguous terms and of the threeness into which its doctrines have been traditionally forced . There is no necessary threeness in the Godhead " (p. 148-149). Professor Richardson is writing as a dedicated Trinitarian but he admits, "much of the defense of the Trinity as a 'revealed' doctrine, is really an evasion of the objections that can be brought against it" (p. 16).
What Credible Sources Say Concerning
The Doctrine of the Trinity
Harper-Collins Bible Dictionary - (1996 Edition):
"It is only with the fathers of the church in the third and fourth centuries , that a full-fledged theory of the Incarnation develops. Attempts to trace the origins still earlier to the Old Testament literature cannot be supported by historical-critical scholarship. The formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great Church Councils of the fourth and fifth centuries is not to be found in the New Testament ."
Harper-Collins Bible Encyclopedia of Catholicism - (1995 Edition):
"Today, however, scholars generally agree that there is no doctrine of the Trinity as such in either the Old Testament or the New Testament ...It would go far beyond the intention and thought-forms of the Old Testament to suppose that a late-fourth century or thirteenth century Christian doctrine can be found there. Likewise, the New Testament does not contain an explicit doctrine of the Trinity ."
Encyclopedia International - (1982 Ed.; Vol. 18; p. 226):
"The doctrine of the Trinity did not form part of the apostles preaching as this is reported in the N.T."
New International Encyclopedia - (Vol. 23; p. 47, 477):
" The Trinity doctrine; the Catholic Faith is this: We worship one in trinity, but there is one person of the Father, another of the Son and another of the Holy Ghost - the Glory equal; the Majesty coeternal. The doctrine is not found in its fully developed form in the Scriptures. Modern theology does not seek to find it in the O.T . At the time of the Reformation the Protestant Church took over the doctrine of the Trinity, without serious examination ."
Please note: I (Joel Hemphill) do not teach Oneness or Trinitarian doctrine. They cannot both be right and I believe both present a mistaken view of the God of the Bible.
"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord" (not three) (Deut. 6:4; Mark 12:29).
" Father ...this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God , and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (Jesus speaking) (John 17:1, 3).
"But to us there is but one God, the Father ...and one Lord Jesus Christ" (Paul speaking) (I Cor. 8:6).
" One God and Father of all, who is above all ..." (Paul speaking) (Eph. 4:6).
"My Father is greater than I" (Jesus speaking) (John 14:28).
"Have we not all one father ? Hath not one God created us?" (Mal. 2:10).
"For there is one God , and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (I Tim. 2:5).
"Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one " (Gal. 3:20).