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A Memo to Anti-Trinitarians:


Robert  Bowman, Jr.


If you want to disprove the doctrine of the Trinity, you must disprove one of the following propositions:

1. There is one God (i.e., one proper object of religious devotion).
2. The one God is a single divine being, the LORD (Jehovah, Yahweh).
3. The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is God.
4. The Son, Jesus Christ, is God.
5. The Holy Spirit is God.
6. The Father is not the Son.
7. The Father is not the Holy Spirit.
8. The Son is not the Holy Spirit.

Anyone who affirms all eight of these propositions without equivocation is affirming the doctrine of the Trinity, since this is just what the doctrine of the Trinity says.

In order to dispute the doctrine of the Trinity, then, you *must* take issue with one or more of the propositions stated above.  Anything else is tangential to the issue.

This may help you in deciding if a particular thread or post is relevant to the truth or falsity of the doctrine. If it doesn't address one or more of these propositions, it isn't relevant.


In addition to refuting the propositions that constitute the doctrinal content of the doctrine of the Trinity, anti-Trinitarians have some work to do in order to show that a superior alternative exists.

1. Present a clear alternative.

Constantly carping at things about the Trinity that you don't like, can't understand, and won't accept is not enough. You must tell us what we should believe instead.

2. Identify the religion associated with that alternative.

It's no good telling us that you believe X, Y, and Z instead of the Trinity, if this "alternative" is your own private confection of beliefs. I say this because the true doctrine of God will be held by a community of believers in Jesus Christ, the EKKLHSIA ("church"). Theologies do not exist in a vacuum, or in isolation. You are either part of a church that teaches the theology you espouse, or you are picking and choosing what you will believe from others and not committing yourself to a _way of life_ that puts a set of teachings into practice. Jesus Christ said that he would be with his people until the end of the age as they engaged in the work of making disciples, baptizing and teaching them (Matt. 28:19-20). So, what people today are Christ's people?

3. Show that your alternative theology does not suffer from the defects you claim to find in Trinitarianism.

For example:

a. If you criticize the doctrine of the Trinity for developing in the fourth century, identify the religious tradition or movement that predated the fourth century that you think had--and has--the truth.

b. If you criticize the doctrine of the Trinity for its use of extrabiblical language, show that your theology consistently avoids the use of all extrabiblical words.

c. If you criticize the doctrine of the Trinity for being influenced by non-Christian philosophy or religion, show that your theology is completely free of such influences.

d. If you criticize the doctrine of the Trinity for being difficult to understand, show that your theology is free of anything incoherent, confusing, paradoxical, or mysterious.

4. Demonstrate that your theology explains the full range of biblical information better than the doctrine of the Trinity.

This means showing that your view accounts for a wider range of biblical material, based on sound exegesis of the texts, with a minimum of ad hoc reasoning. In other words, it is not enough to argue that certain texts *might* be translated so as to avoid the Trinity, or that other texts *need not* be interpreted in a Trinitarian fashion. Rather, you must show that your non-Trinitarian view is the *best* reading of more biblical texts than can be claimed on the Trinitarian side.

Of course, everyone is likely to run into a text or two that is more difficult to cohere with their position, but the right view will have fewer of these difficulties.

Note: All such argumentation will have to contrast the anti-Trinitarian alternative with the doctrine of the Trinity as it is actually taught in serious works of theology, not your own overly simplistic or fractured impression of what the doctrine means.

In Christ's service,
Rob Bowman