Thoughts on the term "Trinity" and outreach

Posted May 23, 2013 by Adrian Zaranski in General Hits: 3,000

 

Hello! For some time I ceased to write here, but now I would like to share with you some thoughts I had developed recently on the term "Trinity", its usage and application.

I was recently trying to notice some ways, as how to preach true Godhead successfully to our Trinitarian brethren. During this research I have realized few important things (most of them are familiar to you):

1. Ellen White never ever used the term "Trinity", so far that when she used someone else's statement, where there was "Trinity", Ellen White used only "trio". This drives one to think, that Ellen White had a very important reason to not use the term - and it does not matter, whether she speaks about the true Godhead, or about false ideas about God. She seems to constantly avoid this term, whether in a positive or negative context. Of course, the question comes: why? Did she receive a vision about the term? Or did she receive the impression, due to her visions in general, that this term (no matter how used) would offend God? And why did our pioneers still use the term, of course in a negative context?

2. The term "Trinity" has its connotations, but yet the term itself (combination of "tri" and "unity") doesn't imply the idea of three co-equal Divine Beings. This term does not speak of itself about the qualities the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit possess (except that all three must be divine). We know this, because even today "Trinity" means something different to different Trinitarians. Another thing is the usage of "Trinity" in the famous Samuel Spear's article, and the fact that this term quickly found its way to our Church without changing the idea of Godhead at first. So it seems, that in some contexts the term "Trinity" may sound neutral, only describing the divine unity between Father, His Son and Their Spirit.

3. In the imagination of most Trinitarians and non-Trinitarians (also non-Adventist), the term "Trinity" is actually a synonym for the divinity of Christ. If you believe in the Trinity, you believe in Christ's divinity automatically; otherwise if you deny the Trinity, you also deny Christ's divinity. This is a very difficult trap for every non-Trinitarian, who believes in Christ's divinity - to be branded as one, who denies the true Christ. Therefore in this light, at least some non-Trinitarian publications, while trying to present the true Godhead by denying the Trinity, are in fact producing opposition, which disables us from spreading the truth further and from further discussion. And it does not matter, if one preaches Christ's divinity, for in a Trinitarian mind such divinity will always be flawed.

Given these facts, I wonder how non-Trinitarians (countering Trinitarianism with all its present connotations) can teach the true Godhead effectively, without producing opposition ahead of time. Ellen White once wrote:

"When they came to a point in their study where they said, "We can do nothing more", the Spirit of the Lord would come upon me, I would be taken of in vision, and a clear explanation of the passages we had been studying would be given me, with instruction as how we were to labor and teach effectively. Thus light was given that helped us to understand the Scriptures in regard to Christ, His mission, and His priesthood..." (1 Selected Messages, p. 206)

We need to pray to God to give us light regarding our mission in our Church, where most people have a false concept of God. And we should pray for our brethren and our leaders, so that they might understand the true Godhead (whether they will call it Trinity or not).

My present understanding is that we need to present the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as they are truly presented in the Scriptures, instead of denying the false Godhead. I believe, that truth comes first, and confrontation comes only later. Confrontation will come, but it will come from the Trinitarian party, which will notice some inconsistencies in our teachings with their own understanding of who God is. Giving a reply to the three points mentioned above, the below guidelines may become helpful:

1. We should not use the term "Trinity" in our outreach publications or sermons, but focus only on who God is, who is His Son, and who is Their Holy Spirit (that God is the true Father of His Son, the Source of everything, that Christ is the true Son of His Father, fully divine and fully obedient to Him, and that the Holy Spirit is Their true Spirit everywhere present).

2. Only when confronted with the word "Trinity", we should explain our simple understanding of this term (the unity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit), also that we'd like to avoid using it, because of some false connotations associated with it (although the term itself being somewhat neutral).

3. We should try to avoid offending Trinitarians by denying the Trinity outright (whatever this term means), and focus only on denying some false ideas associated with the term (like that the "Father" and "Son" are metaphorical titles, or that Son is in every way equal to His Father, not being obedient to Him as a true Son).

The truth about our God and His Son, Their love for us and the beautiful outcome of this love, is more important than everything else, especially today, just before the close of probation and the second coming of Christ. Everyone who wants to be in God's Kingdom needs to understand the times were living in, and our duties to perform. If there was ever a time, when the truth was more precious than in any other time, it is now!

"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32)

"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6)

"Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." (John 17:17)

Any thoughts on this subject of outreach to our brethren will be appreciated. Kind blessings!