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False Prophet of the Month Series: Defending the Trinity from the Armstrongites

...we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substance.

For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit.  But the godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, is all one, the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal.

Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit.  The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated.  The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.

The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal.  And yet they are not three eternals, but one Eternal.

As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated, but one Uncreated, and one Incomprehensible.  So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Spirit Almighty.  And yet they are not three almighties, but one Almighty.

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.
So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord.  And yet not three lords, but one Lord.
~ The Athanasian Creed (500 AD)


As a followup (albeit a delayed followup) to the introduction of the deceiver Herbert W. Armstrong, our "false prophet of the month," I thought I'd take this opportunity to respond to the absurd teachings of the Armstrongite cult regarding the Trinity and the nature of God.

As a reminder: Armstrongites view God the Father and God the Son as two separate gods who nevertheless make up "one God family." In different manifestations of this heresy, these con-men may deny that they are, in and of themselves, a "God," but make them divine beings who are members of the "God Family." Think of it like the Mafia, and it can expand too: all true believers who follow the rules and dictates of Armstrongism will become divine beings in the "one God Family." The Holy Spirit is a force, not a person, but is simply the mind and power of God(s) being projected onto creation. Interestingly, the Armstrongites do not view Jesus Christ as a created being, but as an eternal god who exists side by side a separate god who rules over him. Usually it is asserted by cult groups that Christ is merely a creature who had a beginning.

To back this up, we are told that Armstrong has solved the puzzle of holy scripture via divine revelation, uncovering the truth that had heretofore been utterly hidden from the Jews and almost 2000 years of Christianity, albeit it existed for a brief time before being snuffed out by a Roman Catholic conspiracy.

I will, from this point forward, respond to a couple of the assertions/arguments of these fiendish followers of Armstrong. I will not be covering every false claim by these people (because they make so many), only just the two (for now, as time permits) to demonstrate their dishonesty and stupidity.

Claim #1: Christians admit that the Trinity and the Trinity doctrine is not in the Bible. A representative quote, taken from the United Church of God (international) website:

Notice these admissions from a number of reputable sources and authors who, while themselves affirming the Trinity, acknowledge that the word “Trinity” and the doctrine is not found in the Bible.
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia acknowledges that “ ‘trinity’ is a second-century term found nowhere in the Bible, and the Scriptures present no finished trinitarian statement” (1988, Vol. 4, “Trinity,” p. 914). It further states that “church fathers crystallized the doctrine in succeeding centuries”—long after the apostles had passed from the scene... Martin Luther, the German priest who initiated the Protestant Reformation, conceded, “It is indeed true that the name ‘Trinity’ is nowhere to be found in the Holy Scriptures, but has been conceived and invented by man” (reproduced in The Sermons of Martin Luther, John Lenker, editor, Vol. 3, 1988, p. 406).

The implication from the UCG is that the Trinity doctrine cannot be derived from scripture but was invented in the mind of man. The word "Trinity" doesn't appear, and the doctrine was not formed until centuries later. They actually provide many quotes, and I have only given a few. Note the blatant dishonesty with the Martin Luther quote. Obviously Luther did not mean that the doctrine of the Trinity was invented by man, but only the name of the doctrine. The reply to the UCG and all Armstrongites everywhere is simple:

Nowhere do we find the words "The God Family" in scripture, or British Israelism or any of the other unique doctrines of the Armstrongite cult. It took some 1900 years for that genius Armstrong, a man so brilliant he claimed the world would be over 20 years ago, to discover it for us through a combination of divine revelation and voodoo "exegesis." And unlike that deceiver, we Christians do not invent the doctrine of the Trinity from scratch, but by reading the scripture and making logical conclusions: 1) If, as the scripture teachers, there is only one God, 2) If the Father is God, 3) If Christ, as scripture teaches, is Almighty God, 4) If the Holy Spirit, as scripture teaches, is Almighty God, then God is a Trinity. This is what it means when great men like Luther say that the word Trinity is not in the Bible, or that the doctrine is not "explicit" in the scripture. It means only that there is no verse that uses the word Trinity, but the teaching is clearly present through logical computation, whatever raving our enemies offer in protest. These monkeys think we are so stupid that we can't notice that they're in the same boat. Although, in point of fact, in terms of the time-span between "formal" teaching of the doctrine, they're in that boat by themselves.

Just because the Trinity wasn't formally defined by church council from the beginning does not mean the Trinity was not believed by anyone until after the 4th century. In fact, it was with us from the very beginning of the Christian church. Beside its obvious scriptural support, here is a small collection of quotations (and many more can be found if you look) from early church fathers/theologians expressing the truth of the Trinity before any formal definitions were made: From CARM.

Beyond the church father quotes that range from the 1st to third century, here is a very useful observation from Matt Slick from the link above:

Part of the reason that the Trinity doctrine was not "officially" taught until the time of the Council of Nicea is that Christianity was illegal until shortly before the council. It wasn't really possible for official Christian groups to meet and discuss doctrine. For the most part, they were fearful of making public pronouncements concerning their faith.

Additionally, if a group had attacked the person of Adam, the early church would have responded with an official doctrine of who Adam was. As it was, the person of Christ was attacked. When the Church defended the deity of Christ, the doctrine of the Trinity was further defined.

The early church believed in the Trinity as is evidenced by the quotes above, and it wasn't necessary to really make them official. It wasn't until errors started to creep in that councils began to meet to discuss the Trinity as well as other doctrines that came under fire.

I'll also add one more point: If you find a church father with a view that slightly differs from his cohorts, nevertheless note that they still do not hold any of the doctrines taught either by Armstrongites or other groups of heathens, all of whom claim to be historical, yet have no historical precedence. Nor were disputes regarding the doctrine of the Trinity handled through conspiracy, but instead by an appeal to the scripture. Here is Augustine, for example, defeating his opponents on a scriptural basis, not a NKVD or Illuminati basis: On the Trinity.

Lastly, no retort of this kind can be complete without reminding the reader how much of a fraud Armstrong and his followers are in their distortion of history. Read here for multiple examples of Armstrong misquoting or distorting quotes from early church history in order to support his ridiculous claims.

Claim #2: Christ is "a" God, a second God in a God family inhabited by two (at this time) divine beings. A representative quote:

We can understand Genesis 1:26 much better in the light of some of the writings of the apostle John. He begins his Gospel by stating: “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 nothing was made that was made” (John 1:1-3).
If you are with someone, then you are other than and distinct from that person. The actual Greek here says the One called the Word was with “the God,” while the Word Himself was also “God.” It does not say that the Word was “the God,” for They are not the same entity. Rather, John clearly describes two divine Beings in this passage—One called the God and another referred to as God the Word, who was with Him.

The first point these imbeciles make, stealing shamelessly from the Jehovah's witnesses, is that because the literal Greek does not include "the" before the second use of the word God ("and the word was with [the] God, and the Word was [no-the] God"), therefore it refers to a separate, lesser God. In other words, Christ is "a" God, but not "the" God. This argument is immediately destroyed, as Dr. John Bechtle notes, because "the" (in the original Greek) is absent before "theos" (God) in subsequent verses, such as in John 1:18:

"No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him."

Clearly this verse is referring to the Son revealing "THE God," that is, the Father (from the Armstrongite point of view), yet the Greek lacks the "the" that is so important for the UCG's argument. Other verses have this "problem" also, thus refuting the Armstrongites. Bechtle also makes the following important observations (from the same link as above):

Why did John choose not to put “the” on the word “God”?

1) To show which word was the subject of the sentence. In English, we can recognize the subject of a sentence by looking at word order. In Greek, we must look at the word endings. John 1:1 is trickier than most verses, because both “God” (theos) and “Word” (logos) have the same ending. The usual way to mark off the subject clearly was to add “the” to the subject and leave it off the direct object. That is precisely what John did here.

2) To conform to standard Greek grammar. E.C. Colwell demonstrated in an article in the Journal of Biblical Literature in 1933 that it was normal practice to omit “the” in this type of sentence. John was simply using good grammar, and making it clear that he intended to say, “The Word was God” rather than “God was the Word,” a statement with some theological drawbacks. John constructed his sentence in the one way that would preserve proper grammar and sound doctrine, declaring that “the Word was God.”

The other retort to these imbeciles is simple. If Jesus is "a" God, it contradicts the plain reading of the scripture:

Isaiah 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: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:"

Isa 45:21  "Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: 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."

Clearly here the prophets of God endeavor to prove that the pagan worship of other gods has no basis. There is but one God, there are "none beside [Him.]" There is but one savior, there is none "beside [Him]." If it is the Father speaking, and if Jesus is a fellow God, then the Father lies. The Son is beside Him, eternally so, and almighty. Is the Son not a savior? Is the Son not God? The Armstrongites concede that Christ is God and Savior. If it is the Son that speaks, is the Father not also a savior? In Isaiah God is speaking of His delivering power, which is held by all three members of the Trinity. Does He not defend His people? Is the Father not God?

It is clear, in fact, that it is Christ speaking in these verses. In Isaiah 44:6, the speaker calls Himself the "first" and the "last," asserting there is none beside Him. This is identical to the language Christ uses in Revelation, calling Himself the "Alpha and the Omega." Christ is the one God, the one Savior, who sets Himself above all other gods. Now if Christ is the only God, then the Father and Holy Spirit are members of a Trinity, or else they are created beings and not gods at all.

If the Armstrongites then pull their "every time the word "God" is used, it means God family," remember that God is speaking against the worship of other individual gods, not "god families." This rubbish of the "God Family" being inserted into the meaning of the text has no basis, and is contradicted by common sense and history.

The next point, of course, is that Jesus is explicitly described as Almighty:

Rev 1:8  "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty."

Now the meaning of Almighty is simple: all ruling, all powerful, omnipotent. And the problem the Armstrongites face is also simple: there can only be one "Almighty." An almighty being cannot be almighty if there is another, equally powerful being. Nor can an inferior "god" be called almighty if He is lesser to the Father, which the Armstrongites claim. Christ is almighty because there is but one Power, despite there being Three Persons in the Trinity. This is only possible in the Trinity, but not for those, like the Mormons as well, who uphold there being many divine beings with creative power.

This is enough for now. Though a debate with the Armstrongites can go on forever, let these two examples demonstrate the shallowness of Armstrongism in comparison to the true faith.




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1 comment :

  1. Great work. This is really well thought out. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete


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