The Present Truth

Against Trinity

(Author's original title: Paganistic False Views of God)

by P.S.L. Johnson

The final false view of God that we desire to consider is the trinity, which is a view held in most denominations. Because of the many details involved in this subject, our discussion of it must be terse and pointed, otherwise it would become entirely out of proportion with the rest of our s~subject. The word trinity is a compound of two Latin words, tres=three, and unitas=unity; the idea being three in unity or three in one. In the compounding of these words they have been made to amalgamate and assimilate into one another. Hence the words tres and unitas have in Latin been amalgamated by assimilation into the word trinitas; and it has been taken over into English with the change of the last syllable, tas, into ty, as is usually


done with the Latin nouns ending in tas, if taken over into English, e. g., libertas=liberty, amitas=amity, qualitas=quality, etc. The idea actually expressed by the word trinity is, three gods are one God, though the proponents of the trinity doctrine would not so express it. Rather they put it as follows:three persons are one God. Yet as they say of each of their three persons that he is God, their doctrine actually implies that three Gods are one God. They further claim that these three persons are the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and these are by them meant by the term trinity. They admit that they can neither understand nor explain it, but claim that it must be believed on pain of eternal torment. The fact that it is ununderstandable and unexp~ainable, yea, self-'contradictory, is, they claim, to be expected on the ground that it is a mystery, which is an expression that they use of the trinity and other teachings to mean an actually ununderstandable, unexplainable and self contradicting idea, e. g., three are one and one are three. Of course in our arithmetic we learned better, i. e., that three are three times one, not one. But they claim that this is a Bible mystery; hence must be received with blank unquestioning minds. To this we reply that the word mystery as used in the Bible and profane Greek never means self-contradictory, unreasonable, ununderstandable and unexplainable things; but in the Bible it is used to mean a secret not understood by the uninitiated, but understood by the initiated.
The following are all the passages in which the Creek word mysterion occurs in the New Testament: Matt. 13:11; Mark 4: 11; Luke 8: 10; Rom. 11:25; 16:25 1 Cor. 2:1, 7; 4:1;13:2; 14:2;15:51; Eph. 1:9; 3:3; 4, 9; 5:32; 6: 19; Col. 1:26, 27; 2:2; 4: 3; 2 Thes. 2:7; 1 Tim. 3:9, 16; Rev. 1:20; 10: 7; 17: 5, 7. Let the reader look up each of these references, and he will find in none of them the thought that Bible mysteries are unreasonable,, unexplainable or self-contradictory things. Every-


where he will find our definition true, that Bible mysteries are secrets not understood by the uninitiated, but understood by the initiated. In proof we will comment on a few of the plainer of the cited passages. That Matt. 13:11; Mark 4:11; Luke 8: 10 use the word as we have defined it is evident from the contrast that Jesus makes between the disciples' being given to understand the mysteries and the multitude, who heard them, not being given to understand them. The secret that St. Paul tells in Rom. 11:25--that Israel would be in blindness until the full number of the Elect would be completed and then would be recovered from that blindness- is certainly an understandable thing and by no means a self-contradictory or unreasonable thing. The secret that St. Paul explained in 1Cor. 15:51 -that the last part of the Church, those alive at our Lord's Second Advent, would not sleep in death-- is certainly not an ununderstandable thing; for we understand it. The secret that St. Paul told us--that Adam and Eve are a type of Jesus and the Church (Eph. 5:32)--is certainly not an ununderstandable, unreasonable or self-contradicting thing; for we understand it. That God made clear the hidden mystery to the saints (Col. 1:26, 27) proves that it is not an ununderstandable thing, since we understand it--that the Christ is not one person, but a company of persons. St. Paul directly tells us that he understood the mystery of God (Col. 2:2); hence it is not an understandable thing. We certainly understand the mystery of lawlessness (2 Thes. 2:7) for it is the Papacy as the counterfeit of the mystery of God, Christ and the Church as the one new man consisting of many members (Eph. 2:15; 1 Cor. 12:12-14, 20, 27). So, too, do we understand the mystery of the seven stars (Rev. 1:20) as representing the seven composite messengers that God has sent, one for each stage of the Church, even as we understand the mystery of seven candlesticks as representing the seven stages of the Church.

We likewise understand the mystery of the woman (Rev. 17:5, 7) as representing the Roman Catholic Church. These clearer examples of the cited passages enable us to see that all of them use the Greek word mysterion as we have defined it. Hence the use of the word mystery as a Bible proof that the trinity doctrine is to be accepted with blank unquestioning minds as a Biblical doctrine is wrong. Such use of the word is a Satanic counterfeit employed to deceive the guileless, in which it also succeeded.

We offer a second line of argument against this doctrine. It is contrary to the seven axioms for Biblical interpretation. These axioms are as follows: An interpretation of a Scripture or a doctrine to be true must be (1) harmonious with itself; (2) with every Bible passage; (3) with every Bible doctrine; (4) with God's Character; (5) with the Ransom; (6) with facts; (7) with the designs of the Bible, i. e., glorify God as Supreme, honor Christ as the Executive and Mouthpiece of God, and contribute to the outworking of God's plan for the Church and the world. If any interpretation or doctrine is in harmony with all these seven axioms, it gives us prima facie evidence of being true; but if it in any way impinges against any one of these axioms, it gives us prima facie evidence of being false. The trinitarian doctrine violently impinges against every one of these seven axioms, and is evidently, therefore, false. Let us now compare it with these seven axioms: (1) Being self-contradictory-3 x 1 =1, 1=3 and 3 = 1 -it is evidently false. Other self-contradictions we will bring out under axioms (3) and (5).

(2) It contradicts many Scriptures, e. g., (a) those that teach that the Father in contrast with all others is God alone; and that He in contrast with all others is the Supreme Being (John 17:3; 1 Cor. 8:4, 6; 1 Tim. 2: 5, compared with Gal. 3:20; Jude 25, A. R. V.). These contrasting the Father and the Son, call the Father alone the One God, therefore


imply that He alone is the Supreme Being. Here belong the passages that teach the Father's sole supremacy (John 14:28; 10:29; 1 Cor. 3:23; 11:3; 15:28; 1 Pet 1:3 Ps. 45:6, 7; Is. 42:8). All of these passages teaching the superiority of the Father to the Son, who is, next to God, the highest Being in the Universe, God, His Father, must exclusively hold the place of supremacy. (b) All the passages that treat of God's unity treat of Him as but one person or Being, none ever mentioning Him as being three persons in one being. These passages, therefore, prove that the Father alone is the Supreme Being (Deut. 6:4, compare with Mark 12:29; 1 Kings 8:60; Zech. 14:9, A. R. V.; 1 Cor. 8:4; Gal. 3:20; 1 Tim. 197, A.R. V.; Jas. 2: 19). Please, on this point (b), see also the passages under (a). These passages most explicitly teach that there is but one God; and neither they nor any other Scripture intimates in the slightest degree that there are three persons that are and constitute the one God.
The only passage that seems to give some color to such a doctrine is 1 John 5:7, 8; but this passage is now universally recognized by the students of the original, the Greek text, to be an interpolation. It first crept into the Greek text in the fourteenth century. Nor do any translations made before that century contain it; but some late Latin, Vulgate MSS., copied not more than five centuries before, contain it. This interpolation was first inserted into some Vulgate MSS. and was therefrom in the fourteenth century translated into the first Greek text having it. Had this text been in the Bible when the trinitarian controversies were going on, in the fourth to the eighth centuries, certainly the trinitarians who were hard pressed by their opponents to produce such a text, would~d have used it as a proof text; but none of them ever so used it, for the good reason that it was then not in the Bible. It doubtless crept into the Latin


text by a copyist taking it from the margin, where it was written by somebody as his comment on the text, and inserting It into the Latin text itself, whence, as just said, it was first translated into a Greek MS. in the fourteenth century. The next Greek MS. that contains it is from the fifteenth century. But even assuming that this text were genuine, it would not prove that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one God; for the Greek word for "one" here is "hen," and is neuter; and the masculine word Theos (Greek, God) cannot be supplied after it; for the Greek word for one in that case would have to be heis (masculine for one).Nor can the Greek word for being (ousia) be supplied after it, because ousia is feminine~ , which would require the feminine of one, mia. If the passage were genuine we would have to supply a neuter noun, e, g., like pneuma (disposition), after hen in this text even as we have to do in John 10:30: "My Father and I are one" (hen) disposition. It could not be Theos (God) nor ousia (Being), which would respectively require the masculine heis and the feminine mia. We agree that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one in disposition, one in heart, mind and will; but not one God. Nowhere, as the trinitarian doctrine requires, does the Bible distinguish between three persons in one Being, as God. Nor does it ever teach that there is a being who is more than one person; for one person is one personal being, and one personal being is one person always, and not more than one in the Bible. It was Satan who, in producing a counterfeit for everything in the Bible in the dark ages, counterfeited the true God as one Being composed of three persons. Let us avoid this unbiblical, unreasonable and unfactual distinction between the words person and being when referring to a personal being; for it surely is an error invented by Satan to deceive--a work of darkness, a self-contradiction,


which no one can understand or explain, while Bible doctrines are all explainable and understandable.

(c) This trinitarian doctrine contradicts the fact that in the Bible God's Name, Jehovah, applies to the Father alone, and is never used as the personal name of the Son, who repeatedly in contrasted passages is shown not to be Jehovah; for He is in them distinguished from the Father, who by contrast is alone called Jehovah. In Is. 42:6-8, not only is the name Jehovah applied to the Supreme Being as His exclusive name; but as Jehovah he is shown not to be the Son, who is here represented as being called, held, kept, given by Jehovah, which is the Hebrew word used in the text always where we have the word LORD written entirely in capitals in the A. V., as is the case with the word LORD used in Is. 42:6-8. Jer. 23:6, when properly translated, markedly distinguishes between God as Jehovah exclusively, and Christ. Trinitarians have grossly mistranslated and miscapitalized this passage to read their trinitarianism into it, as they have done in other cases. The proper translation shows that Christ is not Jehovah: "This is the name which Jehovah shall call Him [Christ], Our Righteousness. Please compare this with 1 Cor. 1:30. Thus He is Jehovah's appointed Savior for the world, not Jehovah Himself. See the literal translation of Dr. Young, who, though a trinitarian, translates it substantially as we do. While mistranslating Jer. 33:16, they have not miscapitalized it, and that because they doubtless feared that the same kind of capitalization would suggest that the Church was also Jehovah, which their translation actually makes her, if their procedure in Jer. 23:5, 6, be allowed to rule as a parallel case. Here the proper translation is: This is the name that Jehovah shall call her, Our Righteousness. The following are the violations of grammar committed in almost all trinitarian translations in rendering these two closely resembling passages: They have rendered


an active verb, shall call, as a passive verb- shall be called; they have made the subject of this active verb, Jehovah, an attributive object, hence one of its objects, and they have made the object of this verb, him, its subject, he shall be called; so greatly did their error on the trinity blind the translators to these elementary matters of Hebrew syntax. Rightly translated, the first passage proves that Jesus is not Jehovah, while the false translation of both passages makes Jesus and the Church, Jehovah, which on trinitarian principles would give us 144,003 in one! Rightly translated, how clearly Jer. 23:6 distinguishes between Jehovah and Christ, and Jer. 33:16 between Jehovah and the Church ! This passage proves our point.

Ps 110: 1 demonstrates that Jesus is not Jehovah: "The LORD [Jehovah, in the Hebrew] said unto my [David's] Lord (adon, not Jehovah, in the Hebrew), sit thou at my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool." Here they are clearly distinguished from one another; and our Lord is shown not to be Jehovah. Is. 6: 1, 3, 5, 8, 11, 12, treats of our Lord Jesus and of Jehovah as separate and distinct Beings. In vs. 1, 8, 11 our Lord Jesus is referred to under the Hebrew word adonai, which is indicated to the English readers as such by the translation of the word adonai by the word Lord being written with only an initial capital letter, while in vs. 3, 5, 12 Jehovah is the Hebrew word, as indicated by its translation LORD being written entirely in capitals. Both of them are in v. 8 indicated by the word "us" in the sentence, "Who will go for us" Jesus here asks: "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" The fact that these two words Adonai and Jehovah are used in this chapter, the former to designate Jesus and the latter to designate God, proves that Jesus is not Jehovah, which proves that He is Jehovah's Vicegerent, not Jehovah Himself, and which disproves the trinity doctrine, since it proves that the Father alone is the Su-


preme Being, and Jesus is His subordinate, as His Vicegerent. Mal. 3:1 is an illustration of the same facts, while Josh. 5:14, with some variation in form, makes similar distinctions to the above.
In many other places Jesus is distinguished from Jehovah, and is thus proven not to be Jehovah, e. g., as the Servant of Jehovah, not Jehovah Himself (Is. 42:1, 6, 19; 52: 13; 53:11). He is Jehovah's Arm, Agent, not Jehovah Himself (Is. 53:1). He is Jehovah's Son, not Jehovah Himself (Ps. 89:27; 2:7, 12, compare with Acts 13:33; Heb. 1:5; 5:5). He is Jehovah's Angel, not Jehovah Himself (Gen. 22: 11, 15; Ex. 3:2; Num. 22: 22-27, 31, 34, 35; Ps. 34:7). He is Jehovah's Companion, not Jehovah Himself (Zech. 13:7; Prov. 8:30). In another connection we will discuss the passages that are alleged to prove that Christ is called Jehovah, and will show that in them Christ acts as God's Representative, speaks, is spoken to and spoken of as Jehovah, because in that representative relation Jehovah speaks, is spoken to and is spoken of representatively in Christ. Thus the lines of thought given in these last two paragraphs prove that the name Jehovah belongs exclusively to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and prove Him to be the only Supreme Being. In this part of our subject we have proven that the trinitarian doctrine, contradicting the second axiom for Biblical interpretation, i, e., a doctrine to be true must be in harmony with all Scriptural passages, must be false.

(3) The trinity doctrine contracts numerous Bible doctrines, which is a violation of the third axiom of Biblical interpretation. We have already seen this as to the doctrines of God's unity and also the subordination of the Son of God, for the trinity doctrine teaches His equality with the Father. It also contradicts the doctrine of Christ's being the firstborn of all God's creatures (Col. 1:15; Rev. 3:14, claiming His coeternity with the Father. It also contradicts

the Bible doctrine that first in His resurrection Christ attained the Divine nature (Heb. 1:3-k Phil. 2:7-11; Eph. 1: 19-21; 1 Cor. 15:42, 49, compared with 2 Pet. 1:4; John 5:26 and 1 Tim. 6: 16, compared with John 6:53 and 1 Cor. 15:53, 54), whereas it teaches that from eternity He had the Divine nature. Consequently it contradicts the; Bible teaching that His pre-human nature was lower than the Divine, proven among other ways by the fact that He emptied [divested Himself of that pre-human nature (Phil. 2:7), which could not have been done had it been Dlvine, since the Divine nature is unchangeable into another nature. It contradicts the Bible doctrine that Christ, emptying Himself of His pre-human nature, became flesh, i. e., the doctrine of Christ's carnation (John 1:14; Phil. 2:6, 7; 2 Cor. 8:9; Heb. 2:9, 14, 16). It contradicts the functions of all of Christ's offices, since in them He has acted and still acts as God's Agent, not as His equal. It contradicts the nature and offices of the Holy Spirit, as we will show later on. It contradicts the creative work, inasmuch as it denies Christ's agency therein for the Father. It contradicts the Ransom; for if the trinity doctrine be true, some one outside the trinity would have to be the Ransomer, since under the theory the trinity's justice would have to be satisfied before it would deal with man; hence somebody outside of the trinity would have to bring the Ransom merit to the trinity to satisfy its justice.' It contradicts the Ransom from another standpoint, i. e., a member of the trinity could not die; hence could not furnish the Ransom. Nor could such a being as the second person of the trinity furnish the exact equivalent of Adam's debt, since a Divine being does not correspond in value to a perfect human being. The trinity doctrine violates not only the doctrines of Creation and Ransom as executed by an Agent of Jehovah, not by Jehovah Himself, but for the same reason contradicts the Bible doctrines of


providence, revelation, instruction, justification, sanctification and deliverance, all of which are Biblically represented as being performed for God by an Agent (1 Cor. 1:30; 8:6). Indeed it is difficult to point out any Biblical doctrine that is not in some way or other impinged against by the doctrine of the trinity. Hence it cannot be a Biblical doctrine.

(4) The trinity doctrine is false, because it contradicts the character of God and thus violates the fourth axiom for Biblical interpretation--a doctrine or Scriptural interpretation to be true must be in harmony with God's character, since the Bible teachings are an outflow of God's character (Ps. 45:1). Any doctrine that contradicts that character must be false. God's character blends in perfect harmony His wisdom, justice, love and power. Job 37:23 Jer. 4:2; 9:24, show that these are attributes of God's character, and that they also characterize all His acts. This thought is symbolized by the four living creatures of Ezek. 1 and Rev. 4. Ps. 45:1 shows that every feature of the Bible Plan is an outflow of God's character. And since God's being and character are harmonious, any teaching that would introduce a contradiction between it and God's being and character must be false. But the trinity doctrine does this very thing; for it reduces God, who is supreme in every attribute of His being and character, and who therefore is, among other things, more wise, just, loving and powerful than any one else, to equality with Christ, a subordinate of God, or to put it another way, it exalts God's Son, who is God's inferior, to equality with God in all His attributes of being and character. Hence the trinity doctrine, which does this, must be false, and cannot be a Bible doctrine. That the Son is in every way inferior to the Father is evident from John 14: 10; 10: 29. That He is inferior to the Father in knowledge is manifest from Mark 13:32;Acts 1: 7. That He is inferior to the Father in justice and love


appears from John 3:16, 17. That He is inferior to the Father in power is shown by the fact that His power is that of God's Vicegerent, as is seen in John 5:.30; Matt. 28:18. Hence the trinitarian doctrine is false, since it makes Him the Father's equal in these, as well as in other attributes. No creature can be the Creator's equal; and the Son is a Creature of the Father (Col. 1: 15; Rev. 3: 14). Hence He can in no way be God's equal, though He is as great as it is possible for a creature of God to become.

(5) The trinity doctrine is false, because it contradicts the Ransom, the central doctrine of the Bible: The Ransom doctrine is this: "The Man,” Jesus, is the corresponding price for Adam, and Adam's race condemned in his loins (Matt. 20:28; 1 Tim. 2:6). This doctrine is the hub of the plan of God. It conditions every Bible teaching, and assigns to each its place and function in God's plan, as it is also the support of all of them. Any doctrine, therefore, that does not fit in with it, or any doctrine that contradicts it, cannot be true. This the trinity doctrine does, as the following things clearly prove. It makes it impossible that Christ could become a ransom--a corresponding price, a price equal in value to Adam's value as a perfect man--because it makes Him a God-man who must be as much more valuable than a perfect man as God is valuable. Hence a God-man was more than the corresponding price. God's justice must forbid receiving more than the corresponding price, just as much as it must forbid accepting less than the corresponding price. Again, the trinity doctrine makes the Ransom impossible from the standpoint that it makes the death of Christ factually impossible; for the trinity doctrine teaches that Christ, as the God-man, had two natures, Divine and human (a thing that actually makes Him a hybrid), and that the personality of the God-man was that of His Divine nature, not that of His human nature. This it teaches to escape the thought that the God-man is


two persons, and to hold to the thought that He is but one person. But this makes it impossible for the person to have died, since God cannot die. Hence the trinitarian doctrine makes the Ransom impossible, i. e., that a perfect human person died for the perfect human person Adam. Thus we see that the trinity doctrine makes it impossible for Christ to become the Ransom and also to give the Ransom. But, thirdly, the trinity doctrine makes it impossible from another standpoint for Christ to give the Ransom; because if God is a trinity the entire trinity's justice must be satisfied, not simply a part of it. Hence the Son, as a part of the trinity, would have to have His justice satisfied. Hence He could not give the Ransom; He must receive it. The Ransomer would have to be someone outside of the trinity. Hence this point proves that the Ransom could not be received, since it could not satisfy the entire God; and it also proves that a member of the trinity could not bring it. Thus it is apparent that from many vital standpoints the trinity doctrine is in most violent opposition to the Ransom, the central and dominating doctrine of the Bible. Hence it cannot be a true Bible doctrine.

Part II - next

Return to Directory