Do you really know what you believe?
Many Christians today aren’t truly aware of what they actually believe. We attend our local church, sing songs, and listen to the pastor preach from the word of God. These are wonderful things, however, ask yourself this question:
“Am I living off of my own faith, or off of the faith of others and what they tell me is true?”
Are you able to defend your faith? Do you have the knowledge to defend the inerrancy of the Bible? Are you able to defend the Trinity? Are you able to defend the deity of Jesus? Are you truly familiar with the accusations against Trinitarianism and do you have a reasonable argument for it? Or… Do you subconsciously throw those accusations out the window whenever you don’t have an answer or feel uncomfortable? I say “subconsciously” because it feels better if we tend to ignore problems rather than face them. In other words, it’s easier to justify our lack of defense if we simply forget about the accusation or even create our own answer while coincidentally being unaware that our answer might possibly contradict other passages of scripture.
For instance, Matthew 24:26 says, “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” IF JESUS IS GOD, WHY DOESN’T HE KNOW THE DAY OR THE HOUR? Although it’s not a bad response, most Christians will give a response such as, “Well, when Jesus became man, he gave up some of his divine attributes. In this instance, he gave up this knowledge.” This seems fair, but many Christians will immediately accept that teaching without doing any research for themselves. Would you want Muslims, Mormons, and Jehovah Witnesses to use this sort of criteria? If they came across a question that contradicted their faith, would you want them to accept the first justifiable answer they hear, or would you want them to be encouraged to seek truth? What gives us the right then, to demand a seeking for truth, but not really search for it for ourselves? We all need to realize that everyone has their own worldview, and most believe that they have the real truth. Therefore, my question regarding Matthew 24:26 is, “if the Son doesn’t know the day or the hour simply because He gave up that knowledge when He became a man, then why doesn’t the Holy Spirit know the day or the hour?” The verse says that ONLY the Father knows. If you believe the Holy Spirit is also God, then why doesn’t He know? He didn’t give up any divine attributes. Again, if Jesus doesn’t know the day or the hour simply because he gave that up divine attribute, why doesn’t the Holy Spirit know? We must be consistent with our explanations. This is just one of many of examples.
In this article, my intention is NOT to answer the accusations that I show; rather, it is to show the accusations and encourage you to seek the answers to these questions by looking at reliable sources, asking questions, and knowing the Word of God. I will be happy to answer these questions personally as well, and I plan on developing answers in future articles. With that said, there are an overwhelming amount of arguments FOR the deity of Jesus and for the Trinity. However, there are also many somewhat convincing arguments against them as well. I say, “somewhat convincing” because – if you don’t KNOW your Bible – these arguments will sound convincing and may cause much doubt.
Before moving on, please understand that I hardly even give a defense to the supposable accusations and contradictions because each topic deserves it’s own article. People have written books on these topics. My goal is to familiarize you with these claims and provide for you a Reality Check regarding the Bible that we have today. With that said, I provided a few links that touch on each topic.
Reality Check #1: The Bible is filled with many “errors”
Many Christians will immediately respond by saying something like, “that’s false!” However, what causes you to say that this is false? Is it because you know your pastor would say that it’s false? Is it because you have been taught that it doesn’t have any errors? Or… Is it because you have truly searched the scriptures with an unwavering desire to know truth and have come to the conclusion that there are no errors? In the most charitable way possible, if you are unaware that the Bible has some errors, then I’m not sure if you truly know the Bible. If you passionately read the Bible, you will obviously see that it is filled with several errors. But what is meant by “errors?”
Although the original manuscripts were most definitely flawless, the Bible that we have today is filled with dozens of “copyist errors”. While scribes were making copies of scripture, sometimes they would misread a number or word, and write that number or word down. Then those manuscripts would be copied by another scribe and would eventually be carried through from scribe to scribe. Therefore, you will see that there are differences in some of the manuscripts. In fact, you will even see differences between chapters that explain the same event. For instance,
How many fighting men were found in Judah?
- Five hundred thousand (2 Samuel 24:9)
- Four hundred and seventy thousand (I Chronicles 21:5)
How old was Ahaziah when he began to rule over Jerusalem?
- Twenty-two (2 Kings 8:26)
- Forty-two (2 Chronicles 22:2)
Apart from Jesus did anyone else ascend to heaven?
- No (John 3:13)
- Yes. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven (2 Kings 2:11)
***And many, many more…
Source: 101 Bible Contradictions
***With that said, there is not one copyist error that changes anything about the Bible, the Gospel, or who Jesus was. The copyist weren’t the inspired writers. They were people who believed the word of God to be sacred, and did their best to copy thousands of manuscripts by hand. Today, we still make erors in our writing… and we have Spellcheck!
The two most significant variants: Mark 16:9-20 & John 7:53-8:11
These verses are among the most controversial verses that I have found. The reason being because they are in our current Bibles, but are NOT found in our earliest manuscripts (Codex Vaticanus & Codex Sanaiticus).
(Understanding manuscripts and textual variants would require an entirely new article. In fact, many scholars have written books on this topic alone. I would recommend listening to Daniel Wallace, James White, Bruce Metzger, and perhaps Sam Shamoun. These are Trinitarian Christians who take the approach that these verses were NOT in the originals, and explain why they think there were added. However there are many other scholars who believe that they are still inspired and give good explanations as to why they aren’t in the two earliest manuscripts.)
Speaking of Manuscripts, it is important to realize that we do NOT have any of the original manuscripts of the Bible. With the exception of a couple fragments, al we have are copies of copies of copies. However, we DO have over 20,000 fragment copies of scripture which can all be put side by side and gather a pretty good idea of what the originals must have said. (Again, this is something many scholars have written books about. So, we are just scratching the surface.)
Another controversial passage: 1 John 5:7
This verse is viewed as one of the most highly controversial because the KJV gives a verse representing the Trinity that would close every case. However, historical manuscript evidence shows that it was possibly forced into the text by a scribe in order to defend the Trinity. The scribe also could have possibly believed that it was marginal note explaining the true verse of 1 John 5:7 but regardless, it has still become very controversial. Notice the difference between each version.
“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” – KJV
“7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.” – ESV
***There are some scholars, including Sam Shamoun, who believe that 1 John 5:7 from the KJV version could very well be inspired.
Reality Check #2: The Bible does NOT directly mention the Trinity.
Before I share a variety of Bible verses, I want to remind you that there are explanations for all of these. The intention is to familiarize you with the accusations thrown at Christianity that are considered legit. The atheists (God bless them) who may be reading this are probably loving what has been said so far, but notice how I have hardly given any explanations to any of these accusations. With that said, the atheist is going to appreciate the following material that I have to share as well. So, bear with me.
The following includes a list of verses that Non-Trinitarians like to throw at Trinitarians. Unless you are very familiar with these accusations, don’t expect them to have easy answers. You may have even been taught how to answer some of these questions, but as asked before, are your arguments based on your own seeking of truth, or the dogmatic answers that your pastor or parents have shown you? Now, some of their answers may be true, but I am simply emphasizing the importance of seeking each answer in-depth rather than accepting an answer that only reaches surface level.
1. It is written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. I am one who bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me,” John 8:17, 18.
2. “This is life eternal, that they might know Thee [Father], the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent,” John 17:3. (How is Jesus God when he says that the Father is the ONLY true God?)
3. “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power,” Acts 10:38. Is he who anoints the same with him who is anointed?
4. “For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” 1 Tim. 2:5. (How is Jesus God if he is the Mediator?)
5. Because, in the same sense in which we are said to belong to Christ, Christ is said to belong to God. “And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s,” 1 Cor. 3:23. (How is He God’s if he is God?)
6. “My Father is greater than I,” John 14:28
7. “Why callest thou me Good? There is none good but one, that is God,” Matt. 19:17.
8. “Jesus saith unto her, ….Go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father; and to my God and your God,” John 20:17.
(How does Jesus have a God if he is God?)
9. Because an Apostle says of God, in distinction from the “Lord Jesus Christ,” that He is the “only Potentate,” and that He “only hath immortality,” 1 Tim. 6:15, 16.
10. “Though there be that are called Gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) yet to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things,” 1 Cor. 8:5, 6.
11. Because the power which Christ possessed was, as he affirmed, given to him. “All power is given unto me,” (How is Jesus God, if he was GIVEN all power?)
12. Because he distinctly states, that these works bear witness, not to his own power, but that the Father had sent him, John 5:36.
13. Because he expressly affirms that the works were done, not in his own, but in his Father’s name, John 10:25.
14. Because he declares that he is not the author of his own doctrine. “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me,” John 7:16, 17.
15. Because he represents himself as having been instructed by the Father. “As my Father hath taught me, I speak these things,” John 8:28.
16. Because he declares, “I am not come of myself” into the world, “for I proceeded forth and came from God,” John 8:42; 7:28. Jesus knowing… that he came from God, and went to God,” &c., John 13:3.
17. “As the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself,” John 5:30. (If Jesus is God, shouldn’t he already have life?)
18. “I can of mine own self do nothing,” John 5:30.
19.“But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but my Father only,” Matt.24:36, Mark 13:32.
20. Because Christ is said in the Scriptures to have been “tempted of the devil,” Matt. 4:1. But “God can not be tempted with evil.” James 1:13.
21. Because he implored that, if it were possible, the bitter cup might pass from him, adding, “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt,” Matt. 26:39. (Shouldn’t Jesus’s Will be the exact same of the Father if they are One in the same God?)
22. Because he said, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Matt 27:46
23. “I thank God through Jesus Christ,” Rom. 7:25. “To God only wise, be glory through Christ,” Rom. 16:27. “I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” Eph. 3:14.
24. Christ glorified not himself to be made a high priest, but He (glorified him) who said unto him, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee,” Heb. 5:5. (How is Jesus God if he was begotten on “this day?”)
25. Because he speaks of himself as one who had received commands from the Father. “The Father, who sent me, he gave me a commandment,” John 12:49.
26. Because he is represented as obeying the Father, and as having been “obedient unto death,” Phil 2:8. “Even as the Father said unto me, so I speak,” John 12:50. “I have kept my Father’s commandments,” John 15:10.
27. Because Christ “Learned obedience by the things he suffered,” and through sufferings was made perfect by God, Heb. 5:8.
28. Because God made that same Jesus, who was crucified, both Lord and Christ, Acts 2: (If Jesus is God, how did God make him Lord and Christ?)
29. Because God gave him a name which is above every name, Phil.2:9.
30. “If I judge, my judgment is true; for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me,” John 8:16.
31. he “sat on the right hand of God,” Mark 16:19.
32. Because it is affirmed of Christ, that “when all things shall be subdued under him then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all,” 1 Cor. 15:28. (If Jesus is God, why does he give everything back to the Father?)
*** The verses may be out of context, but are made to challenge your thinking and to dig you deeper into scripture.***
Additionally, many Christians will attempt to defend the Trinity by referencing Genesis 1:26: “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” Christians will point to the word, “us” as an attempt to prove the Trinity. However, many will argue that this was merely a “majestic” form of communication.
Throughout history, when someone was regarding with a high form of authority, he or she would often speak on behalf of themselves in plural form. For example, a queen could refer to herself as “we.” – (With that said, most scholars believe that this “Majestic Plural” wasn’t really used in that form until centuries after the Bible was completed. If the “Plural of Majesty” is a common thing in the Bible, we should be able to find other examples of it. We cannot.)
Furthermore, the NIV study bible even claims that the “us” in Genesis 1:26 could refer to the angels. However, nowhere in scripture does it say that Angels create anything.
Reality Check #3: Many people make the accusation that some of the authors of the Bible weren’t actually the authors.
In short, there are differences in writing styles between 1 Peter and 2 Peter. There are also extreme similarities between Peter and Jude which force many to believe that Jude wrote for Peter or vice versa. Lastly, no one is entirely sure who the author of Hebrews is, and some accuse Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John of copying from each other without actually witnessing anything.
Reality Check #4: There are other faiths that have the same practices and beliefs.
No, I’m not talking about just Jehovah Witness, Mormonism, Islam, Unitarian Universalists, Hinduism, Buddhism, Ba’hai, etc… Although, it would be interesting to see how many Christians are actually familiar with their beliefs and know the errors within rather than accusing them of being false without any actual proof. However, I will say that the Ba’hai faith is a new and very interesting faith which holds the belief that brings all religions together. A couple of the beliefs within Christianity that I want to focus on and briefly mention are Biblical Unitarianism and Oneness Pentecostalism.
Biblical Unitarians actually believe in (almost) the same Gospel as Trinitarians. They believe that…
- Jesus is the Son of God
- Jesus died for our sins
- Jesus was raised from the dead
- Jesus was sinless
- The Holy Spirit guides believers
Some BU’s also believe that tongues and prophecy are for today just like many Trinitarians. If they practice the gift of tongues and have interpretation, is it truly from God, or are they just making it all up? The Bible says that the Holy Spirit dwells in all believers. If they feel conviction from the Holy Spirit and obey and worship God, is it truly from God, and what’s the difference between the conviction and leading they feel from the Holy Spirit – and the conviction and leading Trinitarians feel? Is one really from God and the other making it all up? I know some BU’s who love God and are missional, spreading the Gospel and baptizing thousands of people in third world countries. Are they working for God? Or would you say that they are working against God?
I ask this because they deny the deity of Jesus. They do NOT believe that Jesus IS God, yet they have most of the same practices and beliefs as Trinitarians. Can one be saved and believe the Jesus is NOT God – even if they believe that Jesus died for their sins and are covered by grace? (I’m not necessarily asking for an opinionated answer; rather, a biblical one).
Oneness Pentecostals believe that Jesus is God. Wonderful, right!? Not so fast… They deny the eternal Sonship. They believe that the Father manifests himself in different modes. This is known as “Modalism”. This emphasizes how the Father manifested himself as Jesus and as the Holy Spirit and therefore deny that there are three separate persons and the eternal relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
To be honest, most Trinitarians are unawarely more Modalist than they are Trinitarian. I say this because the most common analogies that Trinitarians give don’t really support the Trinity, but rather give support for the Oneness/Modalist God. For instance, I’ve heard the analogy of the Trinity represented as the three forms of water: water/ice/vapor. These are three different forms of water but still the same substance. Seems like a reasonable explanation, right? Unfortunately, that doesn’t work for the Triune God because the Triune God doesn’t take on three different modes. The Triune God is NOT water taking on the form of ice and vapor just like the Triune God is not The Father taking on the form of the Son and the Holy Spirit. Rather, the Triune God are three coequal and coeternal persons.
This may sound confusing (if you don’t read the Bible as a whole and let scripture interpret scripture), which is why many leave the Trinitarian faith and begin believing in something that is more understandable. In order to have faith, they need to be able to understand who God is and how he works.
With all of that said, if you were to walk into a Trinitarian Pentecostal church and then a Oneness Pentecostal church, you would most likely be UNABLE to tell the difference. They both…
- Worship the Father
- Worship Jesus as God
- Worship Jesus as Son
- Obey the Holy Spirit
- Speak in tongues
- Practice spiritual gifts
The following are couple verses that they use for support of their doctrine:
John 17:3 – And this is eternal life, that they know you [Father], the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
Isaiah 9:6 – For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
***Would you be able to give a defense?***
— It’s important to know that even when you give a defense, there will always be a loophole and a rabbit-trail to another argument. For instance, if I wanted to prove that Jesus was God, I could go to John 1: 1-3
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”
This sounds like a closed case, right? Wrong! Again, there can be a case made about anything, and if you don’t know your Bible, it will sound overwhelmingly convincing. The argument that is made is that the word “Word” (Logos in Greek) has many different meanings such as a “thought” or “plan” or “idea.” In short, The “Word” was just a thought or plan that was with God. But scripture refers the “Word” as a “He.” Doesn’t that prove wrong the idea of the Word was a thought? Again, not so fast. The word “He” is only a pronoun, and some translations refer to the Word as an “it.” (Again, this is their argument).
The following is a quote from a non-Trinitarian source:
“The pronoun in verse 3 can legitimately be translated as “it.” It does not have to be translated as “him,” and it does not have to refer to a “person” in any way. A primary reason why people get the idea that “the Word” is a person is that the pronoun “he” is used with it. The Greek text does, of course, have the masculine pronoun, because like many languages, including Spanish, French, German, Latin, Hebrew, etc., the Greek language assigns a gender to all nouns, and the gender of the pronoun must agree with the gender of the noun. In French, for example, a table is feminine, la table, while a desk is masculine, le bureau, and feminine and masculine pronouns are required to agree with the gender of the noun. In translating from French to English, however, we would never translate “the table, she,” or “the desk, he.” And we would never insist that a table or desk was somehow a person just because it had a masculine or feminine pronoun. We would use the English designation “it” for the table and the desk, in spite of the fact that in the original language the table and desk have a masculine or feminine gender.
[…] A Greek feminine noun is “anchor” (agkura), and literally it would demand a feminine pronoun. Yet no English translator would write “I accidentally dropped the anchor, and she fell through the bottom of the boat.” We would write, “it” fell through the bottom of the boat. In Greek, “wind” (anemos) is masculine, but we would not translate it into English that way. We would say, “The wind was blowing so hard it blew the trash cans over,” not “the wind, he blew the trash cans over.” When translating from another language into English, we have to use the English language properly. Students who are studying Greek, Hebrew, Spanish, French, German, etc., quickly discover that one of the difficult things about learning the language is memorizing the gender of each noun—something we do not have in the English language[…]
Once we clearly understand that [in Greek] the gender of a pronoun is determined by the gender of the noun, we can see why one cannot build a doctrine on the gender of a noun and its agreeing pronoun. No student of the Bible should take the position that “the Word” is somehow a masculine person based on its pronoun any more than he would take the position that a book was a feminine person or a desk was a masculine person because that is the gender assigned to those nouns in French. Indeed, if one tried to build a theology based on the gender of the noun in the language, great confusion would result.”
However, this doesn’t properly address the use of the pronoun. If we were going to speak of the table, and then say we set something on “it,” in Spanish we would use the word “la.” “La” also translates as “he.”
***With that said, the early church Fathers such as Ignatius and Irenaeus, who were mostly likely heard teaching for John himself, had numerous writing refuting Modalism and Unitarianism. When reading their writings, they obviously believed in the deity of Jesus as the eternal Son of God.***
Reality Check #5: Christians are changing their minds about what the Bible really says.
More and more Christians are compromising their beliefs because of what the mainstream scientists have to say about the creation of the universe. Many Christians are now believing in theistic evolution because the supposable “overwhelming” evidence of macroevolution. Most will claim that they are not compromising the Bible, but rather showing how science points to the Bible. Although part of that statement is true, this idea creates more problems than it solves. For instance, if you are a Christian and believe in evolution, you have to believe that there was death BEFORE sin. Therefore, God saw death, pain, and suffering, and called it “Good.” So, whenever we see suffering in the world today, we can’t necessarily say that it is the result of the Fall.
Additionally, if one believes in theistic evolution, he or she will most likely deny the historical Adam and Eve. They will most likely explain how they were only figurative representatives of mankind. Again, this causes more problems than it solves because when we look at the genealogy of Jesus, starting with Adam and Even, we can’t find where the people stopped being figurative and began to be real people. This idea also demolishes the idea of marriage between a man and a woman. If Adam and Eve weren’t real people, then we don’t have a true idea of what marriage should look like. With all of that said, I know very intelligent people who would be able to give explanations for these arguments. However, it’s very important to that there are loopholes for everything, and anyone can make a good case about something. Which brings me to my next point.
Many Christians are beginning to deny they idea that there is a Hell. They will say that it was a pagan belief that continued throughout Christianity and eventually became dogmatic. The following are verses that support their beliefs, but keep in mind that many of them may be out of context, and I am NOT giving a defense for all of these in this article, so know that there are many verses that refute these.
Psalm 1:6 “But the way of the ungodly shall perish”
(Notice, the bible also talks about the wicked “perishing”. Perishing means to no longer exist. How does one suffer eternally if they perish?)
Psalm 92:7 “… shall be destroyed forever.”
(If one believes in eternal conscious hell, they don’t believe those who are lost are “destroyed” but again, that they live forever).
Matthew 10:28 “Rather, fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
(Here Jesus himself teaches against hell– saying that those who are lost experience the death of their soul. If one believes in eternal conscious hell, they believe Jesus was wrong on this point, and that souls don’t die at all, but will live forever in hell).
John 3:16 “…whosoever believeth in him should not perish”
(Again, to believe in hell, one must believe Jesus was wrong in John 3:16 and that people don’t “perish” at all, but live forever in hell).
Matthew 7:13: “broad is the road that leads to destruction“
(Jesus in his warnings continues with the repetitive testimony of scripture: the consequence of rejecting reconciliation with God is destruction– not everlasting life in torment).