Friday, August 13, 2010

Primer to The Trinity Doctrine

This post is a sort of "The Trinity for Dummies." Only, I'm not insinuating that Armstrongists are dummies. I'm of the opinion that most Armstrongists are quite bright, in fact. If they weren't, I wouldn't bother to write this post. This post is for the inquisitive Armstrongist who simply has not had the Trinity explained to them before.

I am taking a neutral stance on the Trinity doctrine. I am neither promoting nor dismissing it. I am simply explaining the basics of the Trinity. I am doing this because most Armstrongists think they know what the Trinity doctrine teaches, but in reality they only know the barest minimal of basics, and lack the genuine understanding to form a proper opinion. I think this is why we see so much "I'm agin it! It's evil!" attitude coming from Armstrongism regarding the Trinity.
Be against it if you feel you must, but for honesty's sake, please do yourself the favor of knowing what you're against.


To start, we must keep in mind that any Christian discussion regarding the nature of God must by necessity be a three-part discussion. Even within Armstrongism.

Herbert Armstrong continued to teach a version of what a theologian would call "semi-Arianism." This is what was taught to him, and that is what he passed on.
What this means is that HWA taught polytheism, where there are two distinct God Beings. The Father is a God Being, and the Son is a separate, eternal, God Being. Both the Father and the Son are made up of the same "stuff". The Father, however, is the greater and more powerful of the two God Beings.

This has the effect of rendering at least one of the God Beings not-infinite (you cannot have two infinite Beings, much less an infinite Being with another Being even more infinite than He - it doesn't work), at least one of the God Beings is not-omnipresent (to have two Beings means at least one is limited in location), and the Son at least is made less than omnipotent (He is less than the Father).
The Holy Spirit is believed to be simply the force (likened to electricity by analogy) and substance of God (it is what God is made up of). The Holy Spirit is not a God Being at all and has no mind or rational power to think or act on its own. Plus, having two God Beings means there are two completely separate and distinct Holy Spirits.

Since most of you already know this, what I want you to notice is, even if Armstrongism rejects the Trinity, there is still a discussion about the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Voila! A tripartite discussion, just as I said. It is inescapable!

So, the discussion about God is a three-part discussion. That's the way it has been since Jesus' day. The early Christians were no different. There was nothing unusual about asking how these three parts relate.


To help understand why anyone would believe in a Trinity, we take our previous three-part discussion of God, and then we add Monotheism.

Abraham, when he was first encountering God, left the idolatrous polytheistic culture of his homeland and traveled west towards the land the one and only God would show to him. This one God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is not many Gods, but one. This is the God that revealed Himself to Moses (EXO. 3: 6). This same God said these words as the introduction to the first of the 10 Commandments:

(DEU. 6: 4) 4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!

All the law and all the prophets are built primarily upon this one point (MAR. 12: 29)!

I have heard Deuteronomy 6: 4 explained away by an Armstrongist minister, saying that it means "Hear, O Israel, The LORD our God, the LORD alone!" This is a proper translation as far as the words go, but the meaning of the words is significantly altered by this minister. He changed it to say, "Listen to the LORD only." But why did he make this change? It is only to undo Monotheism. His semi-Arian view of two Gods makes this verse impossible to accept on face value.

The Jews have no such understanding of God. Here is what Judaism 101 has to say about the Jewish view of God:

G-d is One
One of the primary expressions of Jewish faith, recited twice daily in prayer, is the Shema, which begins 'Hear, Israel: The L-rd is our G-d, The L-rd is one.' This simple statement encompasses several different ideas:
1. There is only one G-d. No other being participated in the work of creation.
2. G-d is a unity. He is a single, whole, complete indivisible entity. He cannot be divided into parts or described by attributes. Any attempt to ascribe attributes to G-d is merely man's imperfect attempt to understand the infinite.
3. G-d is the only being to whom we should offer praise. The Shema can also be translated as "The L-rd is our G-d, The L-rd alone," meaning that no other is our G-d, and we should not pray to any other.

Thus, Judaism is strictly monotheistic. With the Jews being monotheists, the Christians also are monotheists. Even Islam, which borrowed from Judaism, Christianity, and Gnosticism, is strictly monotheistic. So, we can plainly see that the Armstrongists do not agree with the Jews or the mainstream Christians. A fact they are quite proud of. That they are inescapably teaching polytheism, however, is something not too many Armstrongists like to talk about.
"The ancient idea of monotheism was shattered by the sudden appearance of Jesus Christ on earth."
-George L. Johnson, "Is God A Trinity?", 1973, p.15
If you've never heard of George Johnson before, he is the author of the official Worldwide Church of God booklet on the Trinity.

But there are more verses we should look at.

(DEU. 4: 35) To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD Himself is God; there is none other besides Him.

(DEU. 4: 39) Therefore know this day, and consider it in your heart, that the LORD Himself is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.

(DEU. 32: 39) Now see that I, even I, am He, and there is no God besides Me

(ISA. 44: 6-8) 6 Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: "I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God. 7 And who can proclaim as I do? Then let him declare it and set it in order for Me, since I appointed the ancient people. And the things that are coming and shall come, let them show these to them. 8 Do not fear, nor be afraid; Have I not told you from that time, and declared it? You are My witnesses. Is there a God besides Me? Indeed there is no other Rock; I know not one."

(ISA. 5: 5) 5 I am the LORD, and there is no other; there is no God besides Me. 

(ISA. 43: 10-11) 10 “You are My witnesses,” says the LORD, “And My servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after Me. 11 I, even I, am the LORD, and besides Me there is no savior."

God is the One and Only God. There is no other. Seven times God specifically says that there is one God. Seven verses that neither the Jews nor the Christians could ignore. Seven verses not found in the "Is God a Trinity?" booklet. Seven verses that George L. Johnson must ignore and wipe away in order to expound the "plain truth" of Herbert Armstrong's "strictly Biblical" doctrines.

The neat little box that Herbert Armstrong would like us to believe that the scripture fit into according to his teaching and his teaching alone isn't quite so neat after all. Armstrong claimed that he had everything explained. Yet we see there are problems with his teachings.

If George L. Johnson can say "The Bible does not teach the doctrine of the Trinity," then he must explain why he holds a polytheistic doctrine which the Bible in seven places teaches openly against.

God started by commanding Moses that He is not like the many, many pagan gods - there is only one of Him. Arstrongism comes along and in effect claims God isn't one like He said; the Godhead really is just like the many, many pagan gods after all.
"If the claims of 'this Jesus' were accepted, then in their [the Jews] minds their belief would be no different than that of the polytheistic pagans around them. If He were the Son of God, their whole system of monotheism would disintegrate."
-George L. Johnson, "Is God A Trinity?", 1973, p.15
Even so, Herbert Armstrong has made highly irregular claims like:
"Only ONE God - More Than One Person!"
"One Family. God IS a Family. That Family is ONE GOD."
-Herbert Armstrong, "The Incredible Human Potential", 1978, p.62
"Likewise, there is but ONE God - but GOD is the family name, and there is more than one person in the ONE Family."
-Herbert Armstrong, "The Incredible Human Potential", 1978,p.64
So ... Armstrongism teaches monotheistic polytheism? Is there such a thing? By the way, this view of God as a family was borrowed from Mormonism.

We have some intriguing clues that the nature of God is not simplistic as we would like things to be, and the Church of God explanation is not as satisfying as we hoped.

(GEN. 1: 26) 26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness"

Puzzling, no?


>> Armstrongists often reject the Trinity because it makes God a "closed system."

"God is a family and we are to become God beings ourselves," they teach, "so if God is a Trinity then that means no more can be added." Unfortunately I find this objection unsatisfying.

Whether God is a Trinity or a single being, no more will be added to Him in either case. Armstrongists teach that they are to become separate God beings, not God Himself. None of them are to become the Father, and none are to become the Son. So an individual Father and the Son are every bit as closed a system as a Trinity.

Trinity does not negate a family. The Orthodox church believes in Theosis and they fully accept the Trinity doctrine. So I don't see this objection as bearing any weight at all.

>> Armstrongists often reject the Trinity doctrine because it is an "incomprehensible mystery" (which it is) and they conclude that if one cannot understand it then it should be rejected. 

I beg to differ, as swapping a Triune God for a polytheistic Godhead does nothing to make God more comprehensible, it just changes the perspective a little.

God is infinite. Have you ever comprehended infinity? No finite human can truly understand the nature of an infinite God. It is simply impossible. You can study God intensely for the rest of eternity and you will never have Him completely grasped. Thus is infinity. So, whether we have Trinity or polytheism, God is inescapably an "incomprehensible mystery." The Trinity isn't the "incomprehensible mystery" the nature of God is! And that is true no matter how we choose to see Him.

But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try to understand what we can. Everything in creation seems to be designed for us to search and explore and learn and grow. God is no exception (II PET. 3: 18). So, for 2,000 years, Christians have asked questions.

Since the day Jesus revealed Himself to be God, and that is precisely what the Apostles taught (JON. 1: 1-5), Christians have asked questions like this one: How do we have one and only one God given that we have a discussion in three parts?

This is not the only question by any means, but this is certainly the crux of the riddle that is God.

There is no easy answer to the nature of God. The response of the early church is that there cannot be anything but one and only one God; so therefore we must have one God in three parts.

An Armstrongist would probably wonder at this point why God has to be in three parts. An Armstrongist is used to thinking of the Holy Spirit as a force - the power and substance of God. I am not going to get into why mainstream Christianity is adamant that the Holy Spirit is also God; that is outside the scope of this post. Instead I will refer you Bill's post on the Holy Spirit for more info on that. At any rate, had the early church believed that the Holy Spirit was not also God, they would likely have concluded a Binity rather than semi-Arian polytheism. They still would have disagreed with Herbert Armstrong. God is one!
I say "likely have concluded" because the Trinity is not a doctrine that someone came up with one fine day. 

The Trinity doctrine was formed very early on when Tertullian first wrote it down in his work "Adversus Praxeas" sometime around 208 AD (some 110 +/- years before the Council of Nicea). Tertullian appears to have borrowed the language of an earlier writer, Theophilus of Antioch, who in 180 A.D. used "trias" (a Greek term of which trinity is a Latin translation) in a letter to Autolycus. The basic ideas of the doctrine, as you can see, were quite early. Hammering out the finer details, on the other hand, is an ongoing debate lasting hundreds of years, thousands of people, conference after conference and study upon study.

The seeds of Tertullian's work were sewn in the Old Testament. There, a monotheistic yet not singular God exists. There is clearly the invisible Almighty, and clearly the Holy Spirit, but then there is another who is God but visibly appears to men from time to time, and who is sometimes called the Angel of the Lord and the Lord of Hosts and Wisdom. Tertullian had to wrestle with these truths. His answer was to describe God as three in one - a Tri-Unity. Trinity!

Over this time there have been a great number of ideas proposed about the nature of God. There have been a great deal of people who have run off after every possible tangent of ideas (there is only one God, there are two Gods, there are three Gods, God is two Persons in one Being, God is three Persons in one Being, Jesus and Christ are two separate things, God is this, God is that, etc, etc, etc). Who can say how things would have turned out if the early Christians hadn't accepted that the Holy Spirit is a rational God being? We cannot know. So, instead, keep in mind that this is a process. People have asked "what if this?" and people have answered "it cannot be that because..." or "it must be this because..." All of the answers are not in the Bible, so the clues had to be discovered. "For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little" (ISA. 28: 10).

At this point no doubt someone from an Armsgtrongist background would be put off by this being a process. If it wasn't settled before 80AD (or so) by the original Apostles then isn't it heretical? The answer to that is no. One thing that must be understood, but Herbert Armstrong strongly taught against, is that the first century church did not have a complete and mature doctrinal system. Quite the opposite! They were a church in its infancy. What they did have is the definitive answer to the most important questions about salvation. But what they didn't have were answers to other very important questions. For example, at that at that time there wasn't even an answer to how Jesus was both God and man. Not important? Oh, but the nature of Jesus is the crux of Gnosticism! We can see in the New Testament how the Apostles tried to guard against Gnosticism. So these questions about the nature of God are very important and it's important to get them right. John dealt directly with the nature of Jesus - but not the nature of the Father or the Holy Spirit. Yes, there was a process over time. Don't be disturbed by this. As questions arose, the leadership of the church would come together to settle the issue. It's as natural as growing up.

At times the process involved compromise. At times the process involved politics. At times the process involved philosophy. At times the process took one step forward and two steps back. There was a lot of wrangling over words. There was a lot of logic. Every minutiae was explored. In a theological investigation, this is necessary.

This kind of investigation isn't unique to the early Christians, nor is it heretical (as some will no doubt claim). The Church of God splinter groups are this very day making changes to what Herbert Armstrong taught. The Worldwide Church of God made many changes from the 1930's to the 1990's. The Worldwide Church of God's Systematic Theology Project in the 1970's, where the leadership of the WCG gathered to study and review and determine what they believe, is the exact same sort of thing. Only rather than lasting several weeks, the Trinity investigation lasted several hundred years.


One absolutely cannot move forward into an understanding of the Trinity doctrine without understanding some fundamental terms used in the doctrine. They make a world of difference! If there is any section of this post that I would say is the most important, it is this. I ask if you are to pay attention to anything that I have written here, it is this section.

The first term we need to discuss is "being." In Trinitarian theology, "being" describes what something is and what something is like. Is there a God? Then what is He composed of (if we can think of it in such simple terms)? Human beings exist, and are composed of flesh. That is what "being" deals with.

To put it in terms an Armstrongist can relate to, HWA taught that the Holy Spirit is what God is composed of, therefore the Holy Spirit is what makes up God's "being."

A monotheistic belief demands one "being." There cannot be two. If we have more than one fleshly body, then we have more than one human being. If we have more than one Spiritual body, then we have more than one God Being, and monotheism is undone. If there are two God Beings, as in Armstrongism, then we have more than one God, and thus polytheism.

Does "being" make sense now?
So, when Trinitarian theologians talk about one God being, this is what they mean. They absolutely reject the idea that there is more than one "being."

Synonyms are "nature" and "substance". At first, "being" was not synonymous with "nature," but over time they have come to mean the same thing. 

Now here is where we get into a word that scares a lot of Armstrongists because of Joe Tkach Sr's book "God Is". Theology is a form of philosophy, so, early on, words were borrowed from pagan philosophy in order to be used in theology. One such word is "ousia." Don't be so surprised by this, nor taken in by simple arguments such as borrowing words from "pagan philosophy" means something becomes pagan. You may just prove too much. You've heard of the Logos? Logos is a word John used in his Gospel to describe the divinity of Jesus. Well, guess what. Borrowed from "pagan philosophy."

Ousia is simply a Greek word used by Aristotle to describe a thing's essence. It deals with the outer reality of a thing. In theology, "ousia" means the same thing as "being."

I should make a serious note here - simply because later generations chose to borrow phrases from philosophy to describe the Trinity, it does not mean that the Trinity doctrine is borrowed or created from pagan philosophy. They had a new idea and had no words to describe it, naturally they would borrow words. The idea of the Trinity formed among Christians before they decided to borrow any phrases. The words borrowed were also redefined to fit the uniqueness of the new concept. 
George L. Johnson would paint Athanasius as a Platonic philosopher, and an Egyptian pagan, but let's keep in mind that Athanasius was born some 80 years after Tertullian wrote about the Trinity. Debating that, however, is outside the scope of this post, but The Interactive Bible has some info for you if you're interested.

The next term we need to discuss is "person." In theology, "person" describes the mind or rational capability of something. A brick has "being" but it has no "person."

In humans, philosophers have debated for centuries where the person begins. If you reduce your "being" by cutting off your limbs, are you less of a "person"? No. So you possess both "being" and "person" separately. The whole question of life after death involves the difference between "being" and "person." We are asking, "What happens to my 'person' after my 'being' ceases to exist?" HWA taught that the "person" ceases to function and is taken to Heaven to be with God until the "being" is resurrected. Mainstream Christianity teaches that the "person" continues to function, and is taken to Heaven to be with God until the "being" is resurrected.

Does "person" make sense now?

So, when Trinitarian theologians talk about three Gods, what they are saying is that there are three "Persons" [three minds; three centers of intelligence] in one "Being" [one body], not three separate "Persons" in three separate "Beings." Herbert Armstrong taught two separate "Persons" in two separate "Beings", so "Persons" and "Beings" are not alien to Armstrongism. There is a belief that there is one God with multiple persons. Only the definition of "one God" was not one at all, but a family of separate persons in separate beings. I refer you to the earlier quotes from Herbert Armstrong when he said this, "...and there is more than one person in the ONE Family."

Here is where we get into another word that scares a lot of Armstrongists. Again, theology borrowed a phrase from philosophy. This time the word is "hypostasis."

Hypostasis is simply a Greek word used by Aristotle to describe a thing's foundation. It deals with the inner reality of a thing. The precise theological meaning of hypostasis has been a serious bit of business over the years, but eventually it was accepted to mean the same thing as "person."

As a side note, I have seen former Armstrongists going about the Internet claiming that the Greek word "hypostasis" is a mistaken substitute for the Greek word "hupostasis", thus the Trinity is true but incorrectly understood. They claim if people would read Greek then they would know this. 
This is bunk. 
There is no valid record of this anywhere. It is entirely fabricated. Plus, the Orthodox church not only fluently read Greek but to this very day uses the same terms they did some sixteen hundred years ago and have the records to prove it. You convince them, then come and talk to the rest of us.

Back to the main idea - simply because later generations chose to borrow phrases from philosophy does not mean that the Trinity doctrine is borrowed or created from pagan philosophy. It is not.

Now that you know these definitions, you should be ready to understand Trinitarian theology. I find that a proper understanding of these words "being" (substance, nature) and "person" (mind, intelligence) is the key to a foundation in this dialog.

Before we move on, this is the cardinal rule:
You must not divide the substance (aka "being") or you will get Polytheism, and you must not confuse the persons or you will remove any difference between the Father and the Son!

Three Persons; one substance. This is the Trinity doctrine. This is the answer the early Christians came up with to explain how the Father can be God and the Son can be God and the Holy Spirit can be God, given that the scriptures are unquestioningly Monotheistic. The one and only one God is three "Persons" in one "Being."


I want to clearly distinguish the Trinity from a Triad.

It is frequently said on the Internet (if it's on the Internet it has to be true, right?) something like, "there were many triple gods in the past." This is true. There were many triads!

What is a triad? A triad is three separate, distinct beings that go together. Three persons with three beings. Hinduism has a fine example of a triad. Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva are a triad. They are very much separate and distinct beings from one another, yet they are often found together. In this case, they each individually perform a function that is critical to existence - Brahma created, Vishnu preserves what is created, and Shiva destroys. Yet they are three gods, not one.

Now, how is this different than the Trinty?

Trinity is a compound word. It is a tri-unity. Three persons, one being. Keep absolutely first and foremost in your mind that there is one God, not three. Monotheism! Triads are by definition three gods not one. Not monotheistic. They are always polytheistic. Triads require more than one being. The Trinity is monotheistic; Triads are polytheistic. Red and yellow make green, right? But if I have one red crayon and one yellow crayon, it is not the same as having one green crayon. There can be a hundred million triads in history and it won't make it any more relevant to this issue. And in all of the history of the world there is no record of any other Trinity. It is unique.


Now, having read and comprehended all of these things, you should be prepared to roughly understand the Athanasian Creed. Bear in mind that whenever you see the word Catholic, it is simply the Latin word meaning "universal." It is not necessarily in reference to the Catholic Church.

Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith. Which Faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the Catholic Faith is this, that 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 Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Ghost is all One, the Glory Equal, the Majesty Co-Eternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father Uncreate, the Son Uncreate, and the Holy Ghost Uncreate. The Father Incomprehensible, the Son Incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost Incomprehensible. The Father Eternal, the Son Eternal, and the Holy Ghost Eternal and yet they are not Three Eternals but One Eternal. As also there are not Three Uncreated, nor Three Incomprehensibles, but One Uncreated, and One Uncomprehensible. So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not Three Almighties but One Almighty.
So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not Three Gods, but One God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not Three Lords but One Lord. For, like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by Himself to be God and Lord, so are we forbidden by the Catholic Religion to say, there be Three Gods or Three Lords. The Father is made of none, neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father, and of the Son neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.
So there is One Father, not Three Fathers; one Son, not Three Sons; One Holy Ghost, not Three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is afore or after Other, None is greater or less than Another, but the whole Three Persons are Co-eternal together, and Co-equal. So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved, must thus think of the Trinity.


As I said at the beginning, I have tried to remain neutral. I did take the opportunity to point out a few issues with Herbert Armstrong's teachings on the nature of God, specifically the "Is God a Trinity?" booklet, but I felt that was necessary in order to get people to see that this isn't a cut and dry issue they can just dismiss because they already have all the truth they will ever need.

This post is about helping people who do not understand the basics of the Trinity doctrine, not to push the Trinity doctrine. I have tried to explain how to understand the doctrine; I have not gone into whether or not anyone should accept it. I am not speaking to whether or not the Trinity is true, I am speaking about the many times I have heard the Trinity described by people like Herbert Armstrong and his ministers, or wild Internet conspiracy theorists, but that description is only partially correct at best.

I have even heard some people say that they got their very mistaken understanding of the Trinity from Priests and parishioners. Please pardon my disbelief. I find it very difficult to believe that any Priest or parishioner has described the Trinity in the same way Herbert Armstrong did. The difference is simply too great. The ignorance required of a Priest, who went to college for this stuff, to use Herbert Armstrong's description of the Trinity is beyond my ability to accept, to say the least. If in reality there are Priests out there teaching such a very mistaken view of the Trinity -- stop talking to them!

For many years I took my Armstrongist "teachers" at their word and followed along, thinking I knew something about the discussion. These teachers focused on the weaknesses of the Trinity doctrine, and whitewashed the weaknesses of their own alternative (Polytheism). I felt content using infantile reasoning like, "The word 'Trinity' isn't even in the Bible." Well, the words "Bible" and "Millennium" aren't in the Bible either, so what does that prove? It proves that we were dancing around the issue! I rejected something off-hand about which I had an incorrect understanding. Even though the teaching from HWA was always vehemently anti-Trinitarian, what is worse to me is that the teaching was not accurate. If I gain for myself an accurate understanding, at least I can reject something with intellectual honesty! Once I investigated the debate on my own I began to see clearly that most Armstrongists (including myself) had barely an idea of what was being spoken about.

So I write this post, not to convince anyone to agree or disagree with the doctrine of the Trinity, but to clear up the terms used in order that people can see for themselves.
I pray that the indescribable God leads you, now armed with this knowledge, to whatever destination He wishes you to come to -- but most of all I pray that destination is the truth in His Son Jesus Christ.

It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom. ; )
Acts 17:11


xHWA said...

It occurs to me that HWA's semi-Arianism is a violation of the first Commandment.

Did HWA teach that Jesus never broke any of the Commandments? Yes.
What is the first commandment? "You shall have no other Gods before me."
Who did HWA say gave the Commandments? The God Being who became Jesus Christ.
So, Jesus ordered Israel to have no other Gods above and beyond Him.
According to the Bible, is there another God besides the One who gave the Commandments? No.
What did HWA say Jesus came to do? Reveal the another God - the Father.
According to HWA, did the Israelites know anything about the existence of the Father before this? No.
according to HWA, are the Father and the Son two separate and comletely individual God Beings? Yes.
According to HWA, is the Father greater than Jesus? Yes.

Therefore, according to HWA, Jesus came to reveal to Israel that they must have another God - the Father - above and beyond the God who gave the Commandments.
Therefore, according to HWA, Jesus taught the violation of the first Commandment.

Cammie Novara said...

"I am simply explaining the basics of the Trinity. I am doing this because most Armstrongists think they know what the Trinity doctrine teaches, but in reality they only know the barest minimal of basics, and lack the genuine understanding to form a proper opinion." I can totally relate to that in every imaginable way. There's a really fascinating debate that I thought would be of interest on evolution vs. intelligent design going on at

Anonymous said...

"(GEN. 1: 26) 26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness"

Puzzling, no?"

Er, not if you take Kabbalistic Judaism and the Septuagint into consideration; the Hellenic Jewish ideology of "The Holy Spirit" was female. As I've said to you via email, if you're going to have a three-as-one hypostasis, wouldn't it make more sense to have Father - Mother - Son, then Father - Male Being of Indeterminate Relationship - Son? That's just my take on it.

Also, the trinity concept being borrowed from philosophy is not that far-fetched: There are, after all, three cortexes in the human brain.

The palaeo-cortex, or the "hindbrain", that bit at the base of one's brainstem that controls your autonomic nervous system fight-or-flight response, etcetera. (This bit of your brain lets you catch a falling cup, if you don't stop to think about it.)

The second layer of the brain is the cerebral cortex, the bit that has to do with language, tool use, problem-solving, socialization, etcetera.

The third layer of the brain, the top-most layer and the thinnest layer (which some unfortunately disputable studies have shown to grow thicker, in those who regularly pray or meditate) is the layer that makes us self-aware; so, not only can we use rudimentary tools, as our ancestors with only cerebral cortexes did; we can reach inward and outward, and see beyond the limited scope that civilizations ten thousand years ago did.

So, tripartite ideologies are actually not that strange...they tie in with the world around us, and inside of us. Armstrongism's bipartite ideology....Literally cut us off from a complete understanding of the world and the other humans in it, that existed around us.

Not that I'm pushing the Christian trinity doctrine here either, I've got no dog(ma) in that hunt, so to speak. ;-) But xHWA is absolutely, 100% correct: You have every right to not "buy in" to the professing Christian Trinity dogma (Especially because it's dogma, and such a deal-breaker, for professing Christians!)

Just make sure you have a full and complete understanding of what it is you choose not to believe. Which the church went a long towards not teaching us, which is a shame. Maybe the professing Christians would not have judged us so harshly, if we had been able to discuss the issue with them, with respect, with research, and with thinking for ourselves.

Not that the church would have allowed any of that, mind you, but eh, what can you do?

Anonymous said...

"There's a really fascinating debate that I thought would be of interest on evolution vs. intelligent design."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the evolution debate is pretty far off-topic for the post in question, which is discussing trinitarian theology. That's just my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Oh, one more thing, then I'll shut up, I promise. :-) The clearest explanation of the hypostasis ideology I've ever run across was actually given by a Jesus actor in a Holy Land-themed amusement park in Florida, in Bill Maher's documentary, Religulous: Basically, Maher was giving the standard atheist "Three gods in one man, that's silly" spiel, when the Florida Holy Land Jesus actor piped up and gave this analogy, which is actually quite good:

Think of it like water. Water can be steam, ice, or liquid. That's three different things, but it's all water.

Like I say, I've never had a dog in the trinitarian hunt (not the professing Christian version, at least), and I've never fully understood it, to be honest with you. But that one bit in Religulous was definitely a light bulb moment for me. Like, "Ah-HA! So that's what they believe!"

Dunno if it's helpful to anyone here, or not. Just thought I would throw that out there.

xHWA said...

Steam, liquid water, ice. That is a great analogy, PH. Thanks for sharing that.

Anonymous said...

Yep. I still don't believe anything even remotely close to that analogy as being true, but it's a hell of a lot clearer than Ted Johnston's insane ramblings, isn't it?? ;-)