The controversy between trinitarians and nontrinitarians within the Seventh-day Adventist Church is in a large amount about the divinity of Christ. That is, the divinity of Christ is understood differently by trinitarians and nontrinitarians. This causes much misinterpretation. Therefore I would like to present a brief study on how both sides actually perceive the divinity of our Lord. This will be a brief, pure analysis and it will be purely about the divine nature of Christ, it will not be about His divine character.
As I have been grown up in my Catholic faith, I have always understood God (the Divine) as having certain traits, which make Him a divine being. This understanding was later transfered into my new Adventist beliefs, and I can say, that I still have this understanding while not believing in Trinity. These are the divine traits, which I, as a nontrinitarian, believe Christ possesses:
- immortality - that He has life in Himself, that He is the Holy One of Israel, the "I AM", having life in Himself (Ex. 3:14),
- omnipotence - that He is our Creator (1 Cor. 8:6),
- omniscience - that He has a great interest of His creation, of everything and everyone (Mat. 10:29-31),
- omnipresence - that He is everywhere present by His Spirit (Ps. 139:7-8),
- eternity - that He exists from eternity past, from before creation (John 5:58).
These are the divine characteristics of the Son of God, and Adventist nontrinitarians are unanimously holding to these beliefs. The first and foremost of these is, I believe, immortality. If He has life in Himself, He is able to create life and uphold it. And that's why He could give His life for us. Only a Creator, a Life Giver could become the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:10). Ellen White told us:
The angels prostrated themselves at the feet of their Commander and offered to become a sacrifice for man. But an angel’s life could not pay the debt; only He who created man had power to redeem him. (Patriarchs and Prophets 64.3)
On the contrary, the trinitarians in SDA Church seem not to be satisfied with the above explanation of divinity. Trinitarians are saying: if Christ is a real Son of God, He cannot be called a real God. So according to trinitarianism, in order to acknowledge Him as a real God, one must deny, that He is the real Son of God, that He is a Son only in a metaphorical sense. We all are familiar with this reasoning. So, in denying Christ's literal Sonship, we need to add to His divinity some additional traits (they will be in a negative form). And these are:
- no beginning - that Christ was not begotten in eternity past whatsoever (it is reasoned, that if He does have a beginning, He cannot be truly eternal) - compare with Micah 5:2,
- no inheritance - that if He was not begotten, He didn't have to inherit anything from the Father (His nature, character and dominion) - compare with Hebr. 1:2-4,
- no subordination - that if He wasn't begotten and didn't inherit anything, He should be considered as being on the same authority level, as the Father is - compare with John 5:30.
Please notice this simple line of reasoning:
no beginning -> no inheritance -> no subordinance
This is how a trinitarian would have understood this. We may add to this a natural immutability, which forbids a divine being to become something else (but this is not discussed here).
The question is this: does these additional characteristics describe a true divine Being (a true God) or not? Naturally, these are the attributes of the Father. But actually they should not be called "attributes", since they are not a matter of one's nature. They are a matter of some specific events, that may or may not have occured. And the last of them (subordinance) describes a relation to another figures.
What I believe, is that the Son of God is a true God, because He created us (so He is our Creator), He gave us life (so He is our Life Giver, the immortal Jahweh) and He layed down His own life that we may live. And that He is fully able to care for us and to provide us with everything, which comes from His Father.