Maranatha Media

Reply to Glyn Parfitt

Posted Jul 13, 2010 by Bobby B in Adventist Issues
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No one likes to be misunderstood, or to perceive their beliefs as being misrepresented.  Mr. Parfitt was kind enough to respond to the accusation of being a Tritheist in these words.

"...I devoted six pages of my book, from page 383 to page 389 to argue strongly against a Tri-Theistic position.  The idea that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are "three Gods" (plural) is totally abhorrent to me.  Bobbyb objects to my statements such as "...a unity of three Divine Beings in 'one Godhead,'" claiming that they make me a Tri-Theist....The fact is, it is very difficult to write for a diverse readership, without running the risk of being misunderstood."

It's possible that you have been misunderstood Mr. Parfitt.  It's also possible that you are tritheistic by definition, and just don't realize this yet.  Maybe we just disagree on the definition of tritheism.  I understand the term to mean three, separate divine beings who are co-equal, and co-eternal, and each of Them are fully God.  You, (along with Whidden, Moon, Reeve, and others) define tritheism as three divine beings who are fully God and always fight with each other.  If the true "Trinity" ever disagreed, then we could use the phrase "Three Gods".  Since they always get along really well with each other, we can never, ever, ever, use the plural term.  Which-ever definition of tritheism is correct, one thing is certain:  "There is no group that claims to believe in or teach tritheism; the term is solely used as an accusation against others, somewhat similar to the usage of the word cult, in accusing a group of holding an alternate or distorted view of the Christian doctrine of Trinity. The main branches consider tritheism heretical." [Even those who freely use the term "three Gods" (i.e. Mormons, many SDA's) don't consider themselves tritheistic.]  emphasis supplied. {1}

Tritheist or not, there is a very high probability of about 99.99988% that Glyn Parfitt's "Trinitarian" conclusions (as reflected in his book) amount to nothing less than blatant non-trinitarianism.  Simply the opposite extreme of the early SDA's non-trinitarian position.  Max Hatton would agree on this point.  {2} Impossible?  Absurd?  Don't be too quick to dismiss this possibility.

Parfitt:
"You will appreciate the fact that my main concern in writing my 850 page book was to ascertain the validity or otherwise of the many non-Trinitarian arguments being suggested in some quarters at the time of writing.  It was not my purpose to develop a finely crafted statement of Trinitarian theology."

Response:
I don't understand how you could write a 850 page book where "virtually every non-Trinity argument is dealt with in detail" and NOT end up with "a finely crafted statement of Trinitarian theology."  Is your book reflective of what modern SDA's believe about the Trinity, or simply a detailed refutation of all things NOT to believe?  (i.e. the non-trinitarian position of the early SDA's)  Like it or not, your book is "a finely crafted statement" of SDA's non-Trinitarian theology, hiding within Trinitarian terminology.  The forward of your book by A. Leroy Moore says:  "Glyn has not only prepared a book to be read, but a resource that should be in the hands of every key administrator and be placed in all our college and Academy libraries, as well as in those of pastors and theologians.  His carefully drafted headings will make it possible for even those with limited education to quickly find concise but detailed answers to virtually any Trinity issue." Has it not been at least two years since your book was published?  Why can't I find it in any North American A.B.C. stores?

Parfitt:
"I would be happy not to use the word 'Trinity' at all, as it does not occur in the Bible.  Moreover the word 'Trinity' means different things to different people and there are some statements made by Trinitarians with which I could not agree.  I could therefore give the wrong impression by saying 'I am a Trinitarian.'  On the other hand, because my beliefs fall within the range of beliefs generally regarded as Trinitarian, I would certainly give the wrong impression if I were to say 'I am not a Trinitarian.'  For this reason, when I am asked, I have to confess that 'Yes, I am a Trinitarian,' and then do any explaining necessary."

Response:
You have the freedom, and right to interpret the "Trinity" based upon your individual convictions.  Yet,  you can't make up our own definition of "a Trinity" and then call it "The Trinity" without explicitly qualifying the differences.  This is my primary objection to your ambiguous use of the term "Trinity" in your book:  After you systematically "refute" both early, and modern SDA non-trinitarian arguments, you are left with some-kind of mathematical proof of "the Trinity."  Yet, you fail to mention that your "version" of the Trinity disagrees with MAJOR aspects of the definition of the Trinity as understood by Roman Catholics, Protestants, or as interpreted by the ancient Christian creeds.  Therefore, you are not defending "the Trinity" at all.  Do you claim to be unaware of this fact?

If the "word 'Trinity' means different things to different people, and there are some statements made by Trinitarians with which [you] could not agree", would they consider you a non-trinitarian?  Yes!  "I believe that there are Three Persons (for want of a better word) in the One Divine Being. Glyn has never really arrived at a true understanding of the Trinity. I have told him that he is a Tritheist but he wont accept the fact. I accept his sincerity but that does not change the fact." (Max Hatton)

Oneness Pentecostals (modalist's) don't claim to be Trinitarian, they know there are huge differences between beliefs.  Mormons don't claim to be Trinitarian, they know that "three divine beings in one Godhead" is NOT Trinitarian and admit such.  So let's be honest with yourself and the rest of Christendom.  Your version of the "Trinity" is NOT the same as the Catholics, and Protestants as defined by ancient or modern creeds. Therefore, you have an entirely unique definition of the "Trinity" that is NOT shared by any other church (except maybe the Mormons).

This undeniable fact begs the question:  Is it fair and honest for you and the rest of Adventism to profess to be a "fully Trinitarian" church, without qualifying the large differences in your own definition of the Trinity doctrine itself?  I think not. It is just as deceptive as proclaiming that SDA's believe in "eternal torment in hell fire" while knowing the common interpretation of this phrase; then whispering under your breath, "if eternal hell fire means Annihilationism."  I challenge you to compile a list of all the differences between your "version" of the Trinity and the creedal Trinity itself.  The sooner you embrace and celebrate your non-trinitarianism, the happier you and the rest of SDA's will be.


Parfitt:
The Greek word "ousia," mentioned by Augustine,  is  of course the basis of the the Nicene Creed's homoousios, which translates to "of one substance" in English, so to be consistent, ousia, itself,  should be translated "substance" not "being."  If this were adhered to, there would  not  have been the misunderstandings that have arisen over the word "being" as applied to the Godhead, for we can all agree that the Three are "of one substance."  "The phrase "of one substance" was very common among Biblical authors in Ellen White's day.  A search just completed using Google Advanced  Book Search returned approximately 21,000 results for books in the Google files, published between 1700 and 1893 containing the phrase "of one substance".


Response:
I will not argue, or dissagree with your belief that the Father, and Son, have corporeal bodies or forms.  The important point is that ALL creeds from Nicea (325) onward, base the "numerical" (one God) unity of the Trinity (consubstantiality) upon the premise that the "essence or nature" of the Trinity is entirely incorporeal (without body of any-kind). {3} They all believed "God" to be "invisible" "without body or parts".  {4, 5, 6}  This belief was foundational to the "unity" of the "persons" "of one substance" (homoousios).  {7, 8}  When James White and others spoke about "spiritualizers" believing in the "old unscriptural trinitarian creed" about God "without body or parts", they were NOT referring to some archaic sectarian "version" of trinitarianism (i.e. the Methodist creed), rather it was the trinitarian belief itself beginning at the council of Nicea (325 a.d.).  Why do you think Ellen White never once used the term "Trinity"?  Because a belief in the term itself, necessitates a belief in the  incorporeal God "without body or parts."  You cannot have one without the other.

You appear to be unaware of this fact since you say:  "we can all agree that the Three are 'of one substance.'"  The Arians were perceived as "dividing the substance" or unity of God by saying the Son and Spirit were created. {see Philip Schaff} In like manner, the unity is divided by saying God is Corporeal.  It is impossible to argue a "con-substantial" Trinity within the context of a corporeal God.  Some have tried such as the anthropomorphites of the fourth century, yet were denounced as heretics.  {9} Max Hatton is fully aware of this.  This is also the reason why he believes and promotes a incorporeal Trinity:  Not from preference, but of necessity (although he may not admit to such).  {10}

This may have been an oversight in your book Glyn.  It is highly improbable this fact was NOT mentioned by Whidden, Moon, and Reeve by mistake.  In fact, I don't know of any Adventist scholar or historian who have written about the incompatibility of a corporeal Trinity.  Max Hatton believes scholars like Dederen, Mueller, and Canale teach a "one substance" Trinity.  Yet, they must deny ANY corporeality of God in order to argue consubstantiality.  Faced with this choice,  they will never publicly admit the "in-corporeality" of God for fear of negative public relations.  Why?  Because the corporeality of God is part of #6, and #7 of the 28 fundamental beliefs.  Their use of "one substance" terminology is simply empty rhetoric designed to pacify the ignorant into thinking that SDA's believe the "orthodox" Trinity.  They can not argue a con-substantial, "corporeal" Trinity, and neither can you Glyn!  If you do some homework you will agree that a corporeal God, plus Trinitarianism, has always equated to Tritheism throughout the history of Christendom.  The early SDA's did not care if their God was corporeal because they were NEVER trying to prove ANY form or "version" of Trinitarianism.  They rejected them ALL as unbiblical speculations.  They embraced their non-trinitarian belief, and so should you.

This point cannot be overstated:  When Trinitarian writers and creeds speak of all three "persons" sharing in a unity of the same "substance" or "essence" they are NOT referring to tangible, material qualities, but rather metaphysical, philosophical ideas.  The Trinitarian term "substance" does NOT imply any particle "matter."  {11, 12, 13, 14}  If all this sounds like a bunch of philosophical mumbo-jumbo, you're probably correct.  Yet the early Christian fathers took it all very seriously.  If these concepts were not directly revealed in scripture, why did anyone take them so seriously?  Could it be that the new Christians wanted to "keep up" with the Greek and Roman pagan philosophers?  One final thought about the incorporeal Trinity;  early Christian Trinitarians "borrowed" these precise concepts from pagan philosophers such as Plato.  {15}

Parfitt:
"The idea that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are "three Gods" (plural) is totally abhorrent to me."

Response:
What specifically about the concept of "three Gods" is so "totally abhorrent" to you?  Is it the use of the term "Gods" (plural)?  Is it the use of the phrase "three Gods"?  Is the "abhorrent" factor simply not qualifying how the "Gods" are in perfect unity (i.e. They never fight like the heathen gods)?  In your book, Objection 6: One God (Old Testament), you define the Hebrew words Elohim and echad of Deuteronomy 6:4 to mean: "A literal translation would be: 'Hear O Israel, Jehovah our Gods is one Jehovah.'  "...Anderson’s literal translation is in fact correct....There is therefore a range of meaning that is available to the Bible student in considering the meaning of Deuteronomy 6: 4.  It could be saying that God is only one being, or it could be saying that the beings comprising the Godhead are of one mind and heart, of one purpose, and function and appear as if they are one, just as the sticks appeared in the prophet’s hand to be just one stick.  The Gods of the heathen were not so.  They were believed to be always warring amongst themselves, and their followers were likewise." (emphasis supplied)

In Objection 7: One God (New Testament) you interpret the Greek word for "one" to mean the same as the Hebrew:  a unity of three divine beings.  Then in your section on Trinity or Tritheism you ask the question:  "Do they [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] exist as one God, or are there three Gods?....The Scriptures declare that there is but one God:
Deut. 6: 4.  Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
Isa. 44: 6.  Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.
Isa. 44: 8.  … Is there a God beside me?  yea, there is no God; I know not any.
Isa. 45: 5.  I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me:…
Isa. 45: 21.  …who hath declared this from ancient time?  who hath told it from that time?  have not I the LORD?  and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.
Hos. 13: 4.  Yet I am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no god but me: for there is no saviour beside me.
Zech. 14: 9.  And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.
Mal. 2: 10.  Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us?…
"Just how three individual beings can be 'one God' is a mystery that has not been revealed to us.  Nevertheless this concept has been accepted as orthodox since the early days of Christianity and has been termed the Trinity. Various attempts have been made to explain or describe the mystery of 'God in three persons.'  These explanations, I believe, are better left alone." (emphasis supplied)


Pardon my frankness Glyn, but your conclusion of "Just how three individual beings can be 'one God' is a mystery that has not been revealed to us" does not appear to be intellectually honest.  Firstly, historic Trinitarian creeds NEVER define God as "three individual beings" and this "concept" was NEVER "accepted as orthodox", nor has it EVER "been termed the Trinity."  Max Hatton does NOT agree with your Trinity definition.  {16} Secondly, you just spent a lot of time explaining in detail the "mystery of 'God in three persons.'"  You defined the biblical term "one God" (in both Old and New Testament) to mean:  a unity of multiple divine beings.  You are convinced that all the biblical references to "one God" mean something OTHER than one numerical divine being.

Therefore, don't hide behind all the "one God" bible texts, define them in harmony with your foregone conclusions:  SDA's believe in three individual, co-equal, co-eternal Divine Beings or Gods; who unlike the "Gods of the heathen" always get along together really well, never fight, and can be called "one God" even though numerically They are three.  It is very easy to simply qualify your belief in three Gods who are of "one mind and heart, of one purpose, and function and appear as if they are one, just as the sticks appeared in the prophet’s hand to be just one stick"?

Parfitt:
"The Three Persons of the Trinity are clearly revealed, not only in these opening verses of the Bible story but also in many other places in the Scriptures.  In fact, the very text so often quoted by those who try to prove God in the singular actually proves the very opposite.  In Deuteronomy 6: 4 we read, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.”  The word Lord is used here in the Plural [sic] form.  A literal translation would be: “Hear O Israel, Jehovah our Gods is one Jehovah.”
"…the Godhead is made up of three different and distinct Gods; God—the Father, God—the Son, and God—the Holy Ghost!

The new theology interpretation of “one God” confuses our supreme object of prayer, worship and praise.  (ibid., pg 15.  Bold emphasis and italics are by Allaback).
A little further on Allaback continues:
Because of this false understanding, it is virtually impossible to observe the single most important commandment in the whole Bible; nay, rather the whole world and entire universe: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD : And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”  (Deut. 6: 4, 5).
This commandment is stating that there is only one God as the supreme being in the universe, and you are to love this one God “with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”  (Allaback, op. cit., pg 15b).
Answer
Firstly, we need to note that Allaback has not been quite fair in his quotations on page 15.  He introduces the concept of an “erroneous definition” (singular) and then proceeds to quote from two different people with very different views.  His first quote is from the great Adventist preacher Roy Allan Anderson, but his next quote is from Bob Sessler.  Few, if any, Seventh-day Adventists would go along with his idea of “three different and distinct Gods.”

Response:
It can be successfully argued that you, (along with Whidden, Moon, and Reeve, and thousands more), believe precisely the same as Sessler's "three different and distinct Gods"  non-trinitarian, tritheistic Godhead.  You, and others may not "desire" to freely use the "three God" phraseology, but the concept is exactly the same.  How can I be so sure of this?  Because other than claiming to be a non-trinitarian, and using the term "Gods" (plural), you admittedly believe exactly the same as Sessler's booklet "The Godhead: 1, 2, or 3 Gods?" In your critique of this booklet you say:  "Apart from calling Jesus 'a God,' the Father and Son 'Gods' and the Holy Spirit 'a God,' the above statements are in agreement with the findings of this (my) book, the evidence for which has already been given.  However, the author of the booklet is totally opposed to the concept of the Trinity....It is strange that the author objects to the Trinity on the basis that it 'destroys the paternal relationship of the Father to His son,' for the Trinity does nothing more than the author himself has done.  We have already seen that he regarded as false, the idea that 'Jesus Christ was literally birthed or born out of the person of the Father before creation, and that is how he became the only begotten Son of God.'...However, the author has added the words 'and Gods.'  In doing this he is assuming that which he is trying to prove.  What he has been able to demonstrate is that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are each of them divine, having all the attributes of deity, but this does not necessarily show that they are 'Gods' plural.  Only by assuming that the Trinity concept is false, can the statement be made that they are 'Gods,' but this can only be done by disregarding the Scriptural statements that there is only 'one God.'"  (emphasis supplied)


Let us pause for a moment and contemplate the significance of Glyn Parfitt's emphatic statement:  "Only by assuming that the Trinity concept is false, can the statement be made that they are 'Gods,'..."  Hmmmmm,  maybe, just maybe, this is the reason why the concept of "three Gods" (plural) "is totally abhorrent" to Mr. Parfitt.  By using the term "Gods" (plural) he would be admitting to a non-trinitarian (or tritheistic) belief.  Why?  Because all Trinitarian creeds generally add the disclaimer "So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God; And yet they are not three Gods, but one God."

As for "disregarding the Scriptural statements that there is only 'one God.'"  The only logical thing to do is simply ignore them all.  Pretend they don't exist, for in reality they don't mean one numerical divine being anyway.  You must be consistent with your interpretation of "one God" as defined in your book:  God = multiple divine beings; One = unity among at least several.  "One God" = "...a unity of three Divine Beings in 'one Godhead'" or in other words, "the Trinity."  Simple math...


Unfortunately, Mr. Parfitt has done in miniature, exactly what modern denominational Adventism has done in large:  systematically repudiated the early SDA's foundational beliefs about God, then erroneously concluding that whatever is left MUST be Trinitarianism.  It must be shocking to entertain the idea that a misguided defense of the "Trinity" has eventually placed so many in the very same category as the early Adventist pioneers:  non-Trinitarian.  You deserve credit Mr. Parfitt.  You have correctly interpreted and defended modern SDA's "version" of the Trinity.  Yet, if ANY knowledgeable non-SDA reviewed your extensive work, they, (like Max Hatton), would unquestionably classify your belief, along with that of modern Adventism; as Tritheism.

________________________________________________________________

FOOTNOTES:

{1} (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tritheism)
{2}  http://www.thetrinitydoctrine.com/articles/a-few-comments-on-glyn-parfitt/
{3} http://books.google.com/books?id=CCIKuSn809AC&pg=PA155&lpg=PA155&dq=trinity+creed+consubstantial+incorporeal&source=bl&ots=kWaLHhXDMA&sig=4I8dfhzDfyPW_eUMVIJOn4gNLC0&hl=en&ei=3NInTNmDIoKdlgf70oCQCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=8&ved=0CCsQ6AEwBw#v=onepage&q=trinity creed consubstantial incorporeal&f=false
{4} http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divine_simplicity

{5}  http://www.historyinfo.net/churchteachings1.html
{6} http://home.flash.net/~thinkman/articles/invis.htm
{7} http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homoousios
{8} http://goliath.ecnext.com/coms2/gi_0199-1817603/The-word-homoousios-from-Hellenism.html
{9}  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthropomorphism
{10} http://web.mac.com/burn747/killing_God/The_Paper.html
{11} http://www.catholic.com/library/Trinity.asp
{12} http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Gregory_of_Nyssa
{13}  http://www.piney.com/HsTriBoethius.html
{14}  http://tiu.academia.edu/NathanJacobs/Papers/121588/On--Not-Three-Gods----Again--Can-a-Primary-Secondary-Substance-Reading-of-Ousia-and-Hypostasis-Avoid-Tritheism-
{15}  http://www.antipas.org/books/trinity/trinity1.html
{16} http://god-head.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=681:pr-hatton-responds&catid=85:pr-max-hatton-glyn-parfit-and-bobby-b-exchange&Itemid=105

Additional reading
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Corporeality of God:  The key to unlocking Tritheism.

Just like SDA's don't like being labeled a "cult," they don't particularly appreciate being accused of believing in a Tritheistic "version" of the Trinity and will flatly deny it.  Although a few Adventist scholars (i.e. Fritz Guy) have decried  "a perceived tendency toward tritheism," no one has publicly admitted Tritheism to be an officially accepted doctrinal error (as expressed in the 28 fundamentals).  Woooops....we went from being "semi-arian" into the believing another extreme:  Tritheism.  It doesn't really matter if this is ever admitted or not.  When you examine modern SDA's "version" of the Trinity in light of its teaching about the corporeality of God, (#6, #7, of 28 fundamental beliefs), the inescapable conclusion of "official Tritheism" becomes painfully obvious.

Is God corporeal, or not?
The key to the Tritheism puzzle hinges upon the simple question:  Is God corporeal or incorporeal?  Does God have a tangible form and features of some sort; or not?  There are several different interpretations of scripture relating to this question.  Yet, what about the ancient and modern creeds of Christendom?  What do they teach?  At this point, someone gets nervous and says:  "I don't really care anything about the ancient creeds regarding the Trinity. I don't base my beliefs on them at all. I base my beliefs primarily on the Bible and secondarily on the writings of Ellen White, who I regard as a genuine prophet of God."  While it is true that we don't base our beliefs upon creeds, it is also true that they do have value and some specific import.

The value of ancient creeds.
If someone were to say:  "I don't care about the last 2,000 years of biblical discussion and interpretation, all I need is my bible and a historical knowledge of the last 160 years or so;"  what would you think?  Technically this may be correct; yet practically it's turning a blind eye and deaf ear toward the beliefs of professed Christianity.  Right, or wrong, the creeds are a documented record of Christendom's "interpretations" of the biblical record.  Early SDA's, and modern SDA's did NOT invent the Trinitarian doctrine.  Whatever interpretations are believed or disbelieved by Adventists today regarding the Trinity, they have already been debated by "other" great minds for hundreds of years.  Unless we believe that Adventist minds were the only "real thinkers" throughout the history of Christendom.

A simple definition of the classic Trinity is as follows:
"Orthodox Christians worship the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—the Holy Trinity, the one God. Following the Holy Scriptures and the Church Fathers, the Church believes that the Trinity is three divine persons (hypostases) who share one essence (ousia). It is paradoxical to believe thus, but that is how God has revealed himself. All three persons are consubstantial with each other, that is, they are of one essence (homoousios) and coeternal. There never was a time when any of the persons of the Trinity did not exist."  (see here)

Consubstantial (one essence) = Incorporeality (no material, phyical body)
The important point is that ALL creeds from Nicea (325) onward, base the unity of the Trinity (consubstantiality) upon the premise that the "essence or nature" of the Trinity is entirely incorporeal (without body of any-kind).  This premise of the incorporeality of the Trinity continued throughout all succeeding church councils and was emphasized particularly when combating the heresy of Arianism, and Tritheism.  Gregory of Nyssa (d. 385 AD), one of the Cappadocian fathers, wrote That There are Not Three Gods as a letter to Ablabius.  The following is a paraphrase of Gregoy's "Not Three Gods" letter:

"Following Basil's lead, Gregory argues that the three Persons of the Trinity can be understood along the model of three members of a single class: thus, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three in the same way that Peter, Paul, and Timothy are three men.  So why do we not say there are three Gods? Gregory answers that, normally, we can distinguish between different members of the same class by the fact that they have different shapes, sizes, and colours. Even if they are identical, they still occupy different points in space. But none of this is true of incorporeal beings like God. Even lesser spiritual beings can still be distinguished by their varying degrees of goodness, but this does not apply to God either. In fact, the only way to tell the three Persons apart is by their mutual relations — thus, the only difference between the Father and the Son is that the former is the Father of the latter, and the latter is the Son of the former."  (see here)

This is an extremely important point, for the "incorporeality" of God is the basis of Trinitarian unity of nature (consubstantiality) as well as the "relation" between Father, Son, and holy Spirit (eternal generation, and procession).  (see p. 20, ) This point cannot be overstated:  When Trinitarian writers and creeds speak of all three "persons" sharing in a unity of the same "substance" or "essence" they are NOT referring to tangible, material qualities, but rather metaphysical, philosophical ideas.  Trinitarian "substance" does NOT imply "matter."

About the year 520 Boethius writes:
"For it is a canon of absolute truth that distinctions in incorporeal things are established by differences and not by spatial separation.  It cannot be said that God became Father by the addition to His substance of some accident; for he never began to be Father, since the begetting of the Son belongs to His very substance; however, time predicate father, as such, is relative. And if we bear in mind all the propositions made God in the previous discussion, we shall admit that God the Son proceeded from God the Father, and the Holy Ghost from both, and that They cannot possibly be spatially different, since They are incorporeal. But since the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and since there are in God no points of difference distinguishing Him from God, He differs from none of the Others.  But where there are no differences there is no plurality; where is no plurality there is Unity." (emphasis supplied;  see here)

Origen said:
""For we do not hold that which the heretics imagine: that some part of the being of God was converted into the Son, or that the Son was procreated by the Father from non-existent substances, that is, from a being outside himself, so that there was a time when he [the Son] did not exist" (The Fundamental Doctrines 4:4:1 [A.D. 225]).
"No, rejecting every suggestion of corporeality, we hold that the Word and the Wisdom was begotten out of the invisible and incorporeal God, without anything corporal being acted upon . . . the expression which we employ, however that there was never a time when he did not exist is to be taken with a certain allowance. For these very words ‘when’ and ‘never’ are terms of temporal significance, while whatever is said of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, is to be understood as transcending all time, all ages" (ibid.).
"For it is the Trinity alone which exceeds every sense in which not only temporal but even eternal may be understood. It is all other things, indeed, which are outside the Trinity, which are to be measured by time and ages" (ibid.).   (see here)

The incorporeal Trinity and the Pagan philosopher Plato
"The 'Greek and Roman metaphysics' from which the doctrine of the Trinity was adopted, are referred to by Gibbon in his 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire' Chapter 21, paragraph 6 -
'The genius of Plato, informed by his own meditation or by the traditional knowledge of the priests of Egypt, had ventured to explore the mysterious nature of the Deity.
'When he had elevated his mind to the sublime contemplation of the first self-existent, necessary cause of the universe, the Athenian sage was incapable of conceiving how the simple unity of his essence could admit the infinite variety of distinct and successive ideas which compose the model of the intellectual world; how a Being purely incorporeal could execute that perfect model, and mould with a plastic hand the rude and independent chaos.
'The vain hope of extricating himself from these difficulties, which must ever oppress the feeble powers of the human mind, might induce Plato to consider the divine nature under the threefold modification-of the first cause, the reason or Logos, and the soul or spirit of the universe. His poetic imagination sometimes fixed and animated these metaphysical abstractions; the three archial or original principles were represented in the Platonic system as three Gods, united with each other by a mysterious and ineffable generation.'" (see here)

Max Hatton: (The Trinity) God is incorporeal.
"It is true that Scripture sometimes offers descriptions of God depicting him as though He has hands or such things. These are usually referred to as anthropomorphisms – that is to ascribe to God human characteristics so that we can have some understanding of Him....
In visions or in personal encounters God sometimes takes on a form. These are known as Theophanies....
The plain truth is that God is spirit – John 4:24. God is not like us for a spirit does not have flesh and bones – Luke 24:39. In fact God is Omnipresent. In other words, He is everywhere present at the same time.... It is clear however that God is everywhere. Yet Scripture says we are made in His image (Genesis 1:26, 27). It cannot be physically for God is a spirit of immense, even unlimited, proportions....
Some think of God looking like us because we are said to be made in His image. But does that suggest that He exists in our image? Surely we can agree that such a conclusion would be taking the matter too far....
The early Adventists were concerned with people who apparently wanted to deny that there was anything personal about God, I understand that they called them Spiritualisers. I don’t know too much about this but the early Adventists seem to have locked themselves into a belief that the Father and the Son were very much like us humans – they had bodies etc., very much in form like ours. They seem to have taken statements of Scripture that talk of God having eyes and such things as hands and to have taken these statements very literally. I mentioned at the beginning of this paper that these are generally understood to be anthropomorphisms....
Now a further thought. It seems to me that Jerry Moon and others have maintained the view that the three Members of the Trinity are human like figures. That being so they can’t for a moment think of the Three being in the one Substance. No, they think of them being separate but being united in such things as character and purpose. This recent thought of mine has helped me a lot to understand the reason why some Adventists have a Tritheistic type Trinity."  (http://web.mac.com/burn747/killing_God/The_Paper.html)

28 Fundamentals:  (The Trinity) God is corporeal.
Man made in the "Image" and "likeness" of God.
"The living beings that God created on the sixth day of Creation were made "in the image of God" (Gen. 1:27). What does being created in God's image imply?
"Created in the Image and Likeness of God. It is frequently suggested that human moral and spiritual dimensions reveal something about God's moral and spiritual nature. But since the Bible teaches that man comprises an indivisible unity of body, mind, and soul, man's physical features must also, in some way, reflect God's image. But isn't God a spirit? How could a spirit being be associated with any form or shape?
"A brief study of the angels reveals that they, like God, are spiritual beings (Heb. 1:7 , 14). Yet they always appear in human form (Gen. 18:1-19:22; Dan. 9:21 ; Luke 1:11-38 ; Acts 12:5-10 ). Could it be that a spiritual being may have a "spiritual body" with a form and features (cf. 1 Cor. 15:44 )?
"The Bible indicates that some people have seen parts of God's person. Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and the seventy elders saw His feet (Ex. 24:9-11). Although He refused to show His face, after covering Moses with His hands God revealed His back to him as He passed by (Ex. 33:20-23). God appeared to Daniel in a judgment-scene vision as the Ancient of Days seated on a throne (Dan. 7:9 , 10). Christ is described as "the image of the invisible God" (Col. 1:15 ) and "the express image of His person" (Heb. 1:3 ). These passages seem to indicate that God is a personal being and has a personal form. This should come as no surprise, for man was created in the image of God....Just as the three members of the Godhead are united in a loving relationship, so we were created for the fellowship found in friendship or marriage..." (SAB, p. 85, 86; http://www.sdanet.org/atissue/books/27/27-07.htm, emphasis supplied)

Statements #6, and #7: God, like man, has a physical form and features.
Statements numbers 6 and 7 clearly define the biblical passage "Created in the Image and Likeness of God" to mean:

1. "...man's physical features must also, in some way, reflect God's image."
2. "...that some people have seen parts of God's person" with "person" meaning "physical form and features."
3. "These passages seem to indicate that God is a personal being and has a personal form."
4. "The living beings...made 'in the image of God'...."Just as the three members of the Godhead are united in a loving relationship, so we were created for the fellowship found in friendship or marriage..."

Statement #2 defined and interpreted by statements #6 and #7.
When you define statement #2 through "God has physical form and features" glasses, you perceive "God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit" as three distinct, living Beings with tangible bodies. This is Tritheism, and we think that Pr. Hatton would agree on this point. With this perception, "the three members of the Godhead" are viewed as three tangible Beings "united in a loving relationship similar to "friendship or marriage." Therefore, all other references (in SAB) to the "plurality within the Godhead" are interpreted as meaning a plurality of Divine Beings i.e. Tritheism.