Review of The Forgotten Trinity, Dr. James White
Note: This is a long review. For a PDF, select “Print Friendly,” (bottom right), then save a PDF.
James While is an accomplished Bible scholar, apologist, skilled debater, respected theologian, and much more. Notwithstanding, while the popularity of Trinity and those who promote it is the standard of truth for many, the Bible still stands alone as the only wellspring for drawing out pure exegetical truth.
You may find it shocking that the doctrine of the Trinity is not found in the entire Bible. It’s not the absence of the word “Trinity” that is alarming, the Triune God (defined as such) is nonexistent.
Because some may doubt this, here are some Trinitarian sources that admit that no such doctrine exists:
“Nowhere does the Bible explicitly teach this combination of assertions” (New Bible Dictionary, third edition, 1209, 1996).
In the book, God in the New Testament, Trinitarian A. W. Argyle, stated, “The fully developed Christian Doctrine that God is three Persons in one Godhead is nowhere explicitly stated in the New Testament” (173, 1966).
The Dictionary of the Bible, says for the word “trinity,” “The belief as so defined was reached only in the 4th and 5th centuries AD and hence is not explicitly and formally a biblical belief” (John L. Mckenzie, 899, 1965).
These sources authenticate that no Christian alive today became a Trinitarian from studying the Bible alone. So, this doctrine is “learned theology” that is read into Scripture. It’s highly unlikely you learned this alarming fact in church.
The bad news gets worse. The doctrine of the Trinity was not believed by the early New Testament church. Many early Christian writings exist that are not part of the New Testament (ante-Nicene Fathers). But the doctrine of the Trinity is absence. Most Trinitarian scholars such as Dr. White evade discussion of this black hole, unless confronted.
It wasn’t until hundreds of years after the death of the Apostles that the doctrine of the Trinity was born. But sadly, your church also didn’t inform you (most likely) that the doctrine of the Trinity came out of the Roman Catholic Church.
In the year 325, Dictator Constantine (the Roman Emperor) ordered a church council that he presided over to settle a dispute between some Christians over the question of the eternal pre-existence of Jesus and His relation to the Father. Once the Roman Catholic Church decided that Jesus was equal to the Father in essence, further Catholic church councils refined this doctrine into the doctrine of the Trinity.
Chapter One, Why the “Forgotten” Trinity?
On page 15, Dr. White writes, “we must know, understand, and love the Trinity to be fully and completely Christian.”
Without any biblical accreditation (there is none), that one must be a Trinitarian to be saved, Dr. White creates additional biblical revelation. Dr. White might want to add his special revelation to end of the book of Revelation where it is forbidden.
Most Christians can’t even recite the doctrine of the Trinity (thankfully). I don’t know of any Trinitarian church that includes this doctrine in their plan of salvation (thankfully). The doctrine of salvation is found in hundreds of verses and God didn’t forget to include the Trinity in His inspired Word.
On page 16, he continues, “It is so misunderstood that a majority of Christians, when asked, give incorrect and at times downright heretical definitions of the Trinity.” We are only in the first chapter and have uncovered “double talk.” Now, Dr. White seems to admit that one can be a Christian and not know the Trinity.
Chapter Two, What is the Trinity?
This is an important chapter because it defines the doctrine of the Trinity according to Dr. White. I write this because many Christians are unaware that different definitions of the Trinity exist.
A notable absence in this chapter are Bible quotes or references. In case you skipped the introduction, the Triune God as defined by the doctrine of the Trinity is absent from every chapter and verse of the Bible. Jesus, the Apostle Paul, nor anyone else, prayed to, or identified God as triune.
Here is Dr. White’s definition of the Trinity: “Within the one Being that is God, there exists eternally three coequal and coeternal persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” (page 26, 1998).
Dr. White teaches that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are each persons, while the Triune God is not a person, but a Being. This description of the Trinity is not universal. Many Trinitarians believe that the Triune God is a Person and make no mention that He is not a Being. The New Bible dictionary quoted from earlier calls the Triune God, “one God.” If Dr. White’s definition is correct, it would be found in most Bible Dictionaries, church doctrinal statements, and early church creeds. Because there is no biblical affirmation of this doctrine, Trinitarians are free to draft their own rendition of the Triune God as they please.
Dr. White teaches (implicitly) that there are four Gods. Let’s count them: “one Being that is God” (one God), Father (two Gods), Son (three Gods), Holy Spirit (Four Gods). His four God implicit view (a fact of the Trinity) while rarely acknowledged, is indisputable.
After listing four beings who Trinitarians admit are fully God, Dr. White writes, “First, the doctrine rests completely upon the truth of the first clause: there is only one God” (page 26). The doctrine of the Trinity is unbiblical and contradicts self-evident, God given common sense. If there is one God as Dr. White affirms, there cannot be three other persons/beings who are fully God. But the Trinity doctrine affirms that there is one God while concurrently affirming that there are three or four Gods.
One hallmark of false doctrine is “double talk.” This method of deception is a trait held by many pathological liars. This deception is simple. A statement is made and another statement is also made that is directly contrary to the first statement and impossible to be true at the same time under the same conditions.
Dr. White teaches that each person is fully God, yet there is one God. If you want to keep your God given sanity, don’t try to intellectually reconcile this doctrine. While you can learn about it, your God given reason will reject it based on contradictory premises.
Dr. White affirms there is one God because the Bible makes this affirmation throughout (Deuteronomy 4:35, 39; 6:4; 32:39; 2 Samuel 7:22; 2 Samuel 22:32;1 Kings 8:60; 19:15; 1 Chronicles 17:20; Nehemiah 9:6; Psalm 18:31; Isaiah 37:20; 43:10; 44:8; 45; 45:14; 45:18; 45:21; 46:9; Zachariah 14:9, etc.) The New Testament continues this major doctrine: John 5:44; Mark 10:18; 12:29; Romans 3:30; 1 Corinthians 8:4-6; Galatians 3:20. But this (one God) declaration is always for the Father (never a Triune being) and never includes the Son and/or the Holy Spirit. So, when the Bible affirms one God, it is always the Father (Yahweh). This is also because the number “one” always means one person (not three or four).
I prayerfully ask that you pause, open up your Bible and read these passages for yourself that always identify the Father (Yahweh) as the one God. I dare you to find one passage in the entire Bible that describes the one God that includes Jesus. This truth should break all your Trinitarian anchors and navigate you closer to a biblical defined theological framework for the identity of God the Father (YAHWEH). So please, I beg you, get alone with God and allow the Bible to define your theological framework. Very soon, when we stand before God, the Bible properly understood, matters for eternity. How we understand God today, influences how we live our lives.
While Dr. White wrongly stated that our eternal destiny hinges on being a Trinitarian, nevertheless, what the Bible states about the identity of the Father (Yahweh) is very important!
While clarifying his definition of the Trinity, Dr. White writes, “It not only asserts that there is only one God—the historic belief, shared by Christians and Jews known as monotheism but it also insists that God’s ‘Being’ (capitalized so as to contrast it with the term ‘persons’ found in the next clause) is one, unique, undivided, indivisible” (page 26).
Let’s unpack this further. While describing the one God of Trinitarianism, Dr. White calls this “the historic belief, share by Christians.”
The words “historical belief” makes it sound like this was held all the way back to the Apostle Paul —but this is untrue. Secondly, the phrase, “shared by Christians” is also misleading. There are many Christians who are not Trinitarians. You can Google “Biblical Unitarians” (not to be confused with Universal Unitarians). The excellent book, “Should the Trinity Be Abandoned,” lists several Christians who lived during the Roman Catholic Church’s reign of terror who were martyred for their faith. Here is the description of one: “Joan Bocher was burned to death in England in 1550 AD. Her crime? The Encyclopedia Britannica (1964) says: ‘She was condemned for open blasphemy in denying the Trinity, the one offence which all the church had regarded as unforgivable ever since the struggle with Arianism’” (Michael A. Barber, location 190, 1998-2014).
Dr. White’s definition of “God’s Being” has now changed to “indivisible”. But this word contradicts his earlier definition of the Triune God who he described as “…three eternal co-equal persons…” How can God be three, but indivisible? This contradiction didn’t come out of the Bible, but from the Scripture-less, Roman Catholic definition of God.
One more questionable knob should be probed. Dr. White, while describing his version of the Trinity, again, wrote, “…the historic belief, shared by Christians and Jews known as monotheism…” Dr. White conveniently left of that the definition of most Jews and Trinitarians for monotheism is very different. The word monotheism comes from two words. Mono means “one,” while theism means “God.”
Judaism correctly believes that there is one God (above all others) who is the Father (Yahweh). This belief remains unchanged from the Old Testament. Yet sadly, Judaism continues to reject their Messiah who is the only way to the Father.
Trinitarians also claim to believe in monotheism. But they have re-defined it to conform to the Trinity —one Triune God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But since Trinitarians believe that each person is co-equal and fully God, their view of God could more properly be called polytheism (worship of more than one God).
In reality, most Trinitarian Christians think the Trinity is just belief in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (this makes me a Trinitarian). Since most Trinitarians are ignorant of the Trinity —thankfully, they don’t worship the Triune God (👍). Instead, they worship the Father, through the Son, by the Holy Spirit that indwells them :).
He continues and writes, “Each is fully God, coequal with the others, and that eternally” (27). The statement that “each is fully God” needs some clarification. But for now, He must mean that each person is equal to the Father (Yahweh). But not only is this view not substantiated biblically, it’s impossible for two distinct persons to be equal. After all, a distinction makes two persons unequal. But this disagreement will be covered later.
Dr. White also writes about the three persons of the Trinity, “and that eternally.” He means that each person of the Trinity has always existed. The Bible doesn’t teach this. While God and His Spirit are eternal, there is much biblical evidence that Jesus Christ, while a divine person is begotten. But this point will be stacked for later.
On page 27, there is a diagram with three foundations. The first foundation is that there is one God. For now, it’s worth addressing this first column.
While the Bible explicitly states there is one God (many verses; always Yahweh), it also states there are other gods. Trinitarians usually side with the verses that state there is one God and dismiss verses that state a plurality of gods (good and evil). Because there are no contradictions in the Bible, how is this resolved?
While there are many verses that teach the exclusiveness of Yahweh (the Father), these verses emphasize Yahweh’s unmeasurable greatness in contrast to other gods. For example, compare these partial verses: “besides me there is no god. 7 Who is like me? Let him proclaim it” (Isaiah 44:6b-7a). Because of the magnitude of Yahweh greatness and because no other God is like Him (“Who is like me?”), He stand alone!
So while verses exist that teach Yahweh’s exclusiveness as the only God, they should be interpreted to emphasize Yahweh’s uniqueness, greatness, power and other attributes that set Him apart, unlike any other god. So while there exists a plurality of gods as we are about to see, these gods are so far out of the Father’s league of just Himself, that they offer no threat to Yahweh’s ultimate, and total sovereignty. This is why He is entitled to claim He is the only God. To follow is overwhelming evidence that other lesser gods indeed exist.
In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word “elohim” (God) can describe the one true God (Psalm 114:7, etc.) false gods (2 Kings 17:31, etc.), foreign gods (Daniel 11:39), good angels (Psalm 8:5, etc.), good Judges (Exodus 18:19; 1 Samuel 2:25; Psalm 82:1), Moses speaks as a god (Exodus 4:16), David or Solomon as god (Psalm 45:6-7), a ghost (1 Samuel 28:13), etc.
In the Koine Greek New Testament, the word “theos” (God) can describe the one true God almighty (Matthew 3:9, etc.), Jesus Christ (John 20:28, etc.), a person thought to be god (Acts 28:6), the false prophet (2 Thessalonians 2:4), a false idol (Acts 7:40, 43), divine beings (John 10:34; background is Psalm 82:6), Satan (2 Corinthians 4:4), etc.
You were just presented with enough evidence that should convince any reasonable member of a jury within a court of law that the Bible explicitly affirms that there exists a plurality of gods in the Bible. But Trinitarians scholars (not all) regularly circumvent Mt. Everest (if you will) because of the doctrine of the Trinity is strong and wrongly teaches (not every Trinitarian holds this) that because the Bible states that there is only one God, there really is only one God who is (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). Yet each member is a person and fully God.
Please make a mental snapshot of this truth for future chapters. There are more verses that assert that other gods exist, but this review must move on.
Finally, page 30, makes a very important point you should not miss: “It is important to emphasize that we are not saying that the Father is the Son, nor that the Son is the Spirit. That is not the doctrine of the Trinity, despite how many people in honest ignorance think otherwise. No true Trinitarian believes the Father was a ‘ventriloquist’ at the baptism of Jesus, nor that Jesus was praying to himself in the Garden.”
Dr. White is describing a rule held by every Trinitarian scholar, but also violated by most every Trinitarian scholar. Dr. While will take this rule back many times in the chapters to follow by claiming that Jesus is Yahweh Himself. Please know, dear believer, that when wrong doctrine is read into the Bible, it creates contradictions that are reconciled with “double talk.”
Chapter Three: God: A Brief Introduction
In this chapter, he surveys several passages about the exclusiveness of Yahweh. Some passages are Deuteronomy 6:4-6 (God is one), Deuteronomy 10:14 (heaven, earth, & everything belongs to God), Isaiah 43:10 (Yahweh is the only God), Isaiah 44:6-8 (“there is no god beside me,” etc.).
On page 37, after going over these verses, Dr. White writes, “God comforts His people by saying that they need not be fearful of the gods of the peoples, for those gods have no existence in reality. He then asks a question that should end all discussion: ‘Is there any God besides Me?’ The believer can only answer, ‘No.’”
Dr. White is playing the Trinitarian flute and confuses Yahweh’s exclusive and unique awesomeness, by outright denying that other gods exist. In 2 Corinthians 4:4, Satan is called, “the god of this world.” Trinitarians cannot deny that Satan exists, and they must accept this verse. But Dr. White is in denial of an undeniable fact based on an objective examination of the Biblical testimony —many other gods exist.
It should be said that all Trinitarians don’t deny that other Gods (good and evil) exist. Based on my preliminary research, the majority of Trinitarians do. Thankfully, this appears to be changing.
After quoting Isaiah 45:21-22 (“for I am God and there is no other,” etc.), he goes on to write, “A god other than Yahweh is, by nature, a ‘no-god’” (page 38).
Last chapter we closed this review with an important Trinitarian rule that Yahweh and Jesus cannot be combined (for the doctrine of the Trinity), because such a combination would make the prayer of Jesus to Himself. He went so far to say, “No true Trinitarian believes the Father was a ‘ventriloquist’ at the baptism of Jesus” (30). But now we had a problem.
If what Dr. White writes is true (“A god other than Yahweh is, by nature, a ‘no-god”), this leaves out Jesus Christ who is a person who is God and a different person than the Father. All the verses quoted in this chapter about Yahweh’s exclusiveness, all leave out Jesus Christ. So how will Dr. White include Jesus within the one God of the Bible? In future chapters, he will violate the Trinitarian rule that we quoted and make the “Father was a ‘ventriloquist’” by claiming that Jesus is Yahweh (a rule correctly forbidden by the doctrine of the Trinity).
On page 43, he writes, “if God made everything, and is himself not dependent upon anything else, then any other ‘god’ that might exist would have to be dependent upon Him and, therefore, would not be true deity.”
First, Dr. White is writing his own Bible. If what He says is true, then the Bible should affirm it. Therefore, He should quote the Bible. Secondly, we covered the existence of other gods. Third, if other gods exist and they depend on God, Dr. White believes they cannot be true deity. But this depends on the definition of “deity.”
The simple dictionary definition of deity is “a god or a goddess” (Dictionary.com, accessed in October, 2017). Therefore, every time the word “god” is used in the Bible, it identifies a deity (good or evil). So, Dr. White’s unbiblical teaching that any god outside the Father is not “true deity” is false.
When “off the shelf” Trinitarians arguments are made that limit divinity to just the Father, or to include Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, they are in denial of the biblical evidence that many other divine beings exist. Finally, its important to emphasize that the existence of these divine beings (gods) in no way trumps Yahweh’s absolute sovereignty or limit the authority of Jesus as Lord: “11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:11).
In this chapter, a very important subject appears. I commend Dr. White for including coverage of the Shema. He writes, “each morning the faithful Jew repeated the words that defined his faith and provided the foundation of his religion. This prayer is known as the Shema, taken from the Hebrew word ‘to hear‘” (35).
He follows with this passage: “4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart” (Deuteronomy 6:4-6).
The Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-6) is the most important passage in the Old Testament for Jews, up to and during the time of Christ, and for Jews today that hold to Judaism. The Shema contains a very important truth, “The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” This means “one,” not two or three Gods. The Shema is “locked tight” —the one God is only Yahweh. This is Old Testament monotheism that carried over to the New Testament.
Jesus continued to affirm the Shema as the most important commandment in the Bible. He also affirmed that the one God of the Shema was Yahweh and not Himself:
“”And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him [to include Jesus]. And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God” (Mark 12:28-34).
If you have remaining Trinitarian anchors, they should be cut from the undertow of truth. Jesus congratulates the scribe for his correct understanding that the one God of the Shema is only the Father (Yahweh). Paul also affirmed the Shema (1 Corinthians 8:4-6) which lists Jesus as a distinct and separate person, apart from the one God, who is always the Father.
He ends this chapter with the following: “We are no proclaimers of a plurality of gods” (44).
Dr. White is unaware or in denial (God is the judge) of a flood of evidence that plurality of deities exists. In John 10, Jesus responded to the false charge of blasphemy by appealing in His defense to a plurality of gods:
“34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? 35 If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken— 36 do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?” (John 10:34-36).
Without spending much time on this passage (more in-depth coverage on my website), Jesus appeals to Psalm 82:6. This Psalm is indisputably about a plurality of gods. In fact, verse one says, “1 God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment.”
Please notice that Jesus clarifies (vs. 36) that He claimed to be “the Son of God.” Jesus never claimed to be God (the Father). While He is and was a God, He had/has a GOD: (Revelation 1:6 (“his God”), 3:12 (“my God”); 1 Peter 1:3 (“God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”); John 20:17 (“to my God”); Romans 15:6 (“the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”); 2 Corinthians 1:3 (“God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”), 11:31 (“the God and Father of the Lord Jesus”), etc.
Chapter Four, The Masterpiece: A Prologue of John
The doctrine of the Trinity is primarily supported by the Gospel of John. Early in this chapter, Dr. White covers John 1:1. This is an important verse for the Trinity. An incorrect understanding of this verse was instrumental to keep me a Trinitarian for years.
As a side note, John 1:1 is covered in more depth on my website. Therefore, coverage here will be light.
Because the doctrine of the Trinity doesn’t have any exegetical proof that Jesus always existed, John 1:1 has been infused by many well intending Trinitarians with eisegesis (reading into the text a meaning not intended by the author). Dr. White says, “Throughout the prologue of the Gospel of John, the author balances between two verbs. When speaking of the Logos as He existed in eternity past, John uses the Greek word ἧν , en (a form of eimi ).. The tense  of the word expresses continuous action in the past” (page 50).
Footnote #1 states: “The imperfect tense of the verb εỉμί ( eimi ) refers to continuous action in the past. One might compare it to saying, ‘I was eating,’ in contrast to ‘I ate’ or ‘I had eaten.’” Specifically, and most importantly in this context, the verb does not point to a specific point of origin or beginning in the past”(198).
Dr. White is right that the word “was” is in the Koine Greek imperfect tense (“In the beginning was the Word”). He is wrong that “the tense of the word expresses continuous action in the past” (50). In his footnote he further elaborates, “the verb does not point to a specific point of origin or beginning in the past” (198). But this is blatantly false. The verb is connected to the word “beginning” (“In the beginning was the Word”) and a beginning describes something that began at a point of time and not eternal existence. The whole point of eternal existence is that there is no beginning.
Secondly, his claim “The imperfect tense of the verb εỉμί ( eimi ) refers to continuous action in the past” is decided by the context. There is nothing in the context here (it is silent) that indicates Jesus eternally existed. In Genesis 1:1, for example, the word “beginning” also points to a point in time, and not eternal existence. If God wanted to communicate eternal pre-existence, He surely would have stated it. To the contrary, there are several passages that indicate that Jesus did not eternally exist. Since there is no passage that Jesus eternally existed, and several that He had an origination, a careful Bible student that is objective and allows the Bible to define their theology, takes notice.
Respected New Testament scholar, Daniel Wallace, in the book, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, defines the imperfect verb tense: ” [It] portrays the action as an internal or progressive event (‘motion picture’), without regard for beginning or end; occurs only in indicative, past time (generally)” (page 752, emphasis is my own). Because the action is “without regard for beginning or end,” the imperfect tense alone (outside of context) doesn’t comment on the duration of the time Jesus was with God. In other words, the verse describes a state (Jesus was with God) without commenting if Jesus eternally existed. The examples by Dr. White, such as, “I was eating,” describe a state that was not eternal in past duration.
Dr. White’s argument for the eternal existence of Jesus was deficient. Because he opened this door, this review will take a quick detour and cover some passages that teach that Jesus had a beginning. Because the pre-incarnate Jesus was with God in the beginning (John 1:1), and goes on to create the world, (v. 3), Jesus, if begotten, came into existence before John 1:1.
John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth”
All popular translations are composed by Trinitarian scholars. Translation committees make many translation decisions. In verse 14, the ESV above states “only Son from the Father,” should be translated, “only begotten of the Father” as found in the NKJV. In the Greek, the most common meaning for the word “monogenēs” is a father’s firstborn son or daughter that came into existence. This meaning is consistent with every use in the New Testament (Luke 7:12, 8:42, 9:38; Hebrews 11:17; John 1:14, 18, 3:16, 3:18, 1 John 4:9).
The next verse also indicates that Jesus came into existence: “15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me’” (John 1:15).
In this verse, Jesus “ranks” (ESV) before John the Baptist. The word “ranks” here is a bad translation. According to A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, (197, 3rd edition, 2000-2002), this word can mean, “’be born,’ ‘be produced;’ ‘be made,’ ‘be created,’ ‘be manufactured,’ ‘be performed;’ ‘arise,’ ‘come about,’ ‘develop;’ ‘happen,’ ‘turn out,’ ‘take place;’ ‘become;’ ‘something.’” As further evidence that Jesus was begotten (came into existence), the verb here is in the perfect tense. This means that Jesus came into existence at a point in time in the past, and this existence continued to be true up to the present time (you may want to research the Koine Greek perfect tense).
Another passage that identifies Jesus coming into existence is the following: “15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:15-17).
This passage is crystal clear. In the context of creation, Jesus is firstborn. In the verse 16, Jesus who came into existence first, creates “all things.” Verse 17 identifies Jesus as “before all things.” Because Jesus is “before all things,” He was able to create all things.
There are other verses that teach that Jesus came into existence (Revelation 3:14; Proverbs 8:23-26, etc..), but this review must get back on track.
On page 53, Dr. White begins discussing the third clause of John (John 1:1c). This is a very important clause. How one understands this clause in the first verse of the book of John, sets the tone for the entire book.
The first verse of John contains three clauses. The second clause builds on the first, and the third clause builds on the preceding clauses. Before listing them, to save space, the incarnate Word will be replaced with Jesus :
 Some may object that the “Word” is an expression of God (John 1:1) such as His speech, etc., and not revealed at this point of the passage as the pre-incarnate Jesus. I agree that the “Word” is not revealed yet. But in verse three, we have Jesus as the Agent of creation. As the passage unfolds, it continues indicating that Jesus is the Word.
Clause a: “In the beginning was [Jesus]”
Clause b: “and [Jesus] was with God,”
Clause c: “and [Jesus] was God.”
Because “God” is the Father in the second clause, this creates a contradiction. This is because the third clause is actually saying in our English Bibles that Jesus is God the Father. Dr. White writes about this problem in his book. He correctly points out that in the underlying Greek there is no contradiction. This is because the underlying Greek uses an article for God the Father (“the God”), and emits the article for Jesus (God). Here is an example of how the underlying Greek is composed but in a different word order:
Clause a: “In the beginning was [Jesus]”
Clause b: “and [Jesus] was with [the] God,”
Clause c: “and [Jesus] was [article purposely withheld] God.”
By placing an article before the Father (“the God”), John indicates a distinction between the Father and the Son (separate Persons) by making the Father of greater importance (“the God”).
Because Jesus is called “God” in John 1:1c (in the ultimate sense) in our English Bibles unlike the Greek, I remained a Trinitarian for years. But once I learned the truth about this verse, the last Trinitarian shackle was cut, which lead to a year of carefully study before becoming a full-fledged, Biblical Unitarian.
The purposeful omission of footnotes (John 1:1), or alternate readings by mainstream English translations (NKJV, ESV, NASB, etc.), to inform Christians of the distinction made by the Apostle John between Jesus and the Father (John 1:1b-c) is a transgression of considerable magnitude. While translations are not inspired, nevertheless, all mainstream English translations have purposefully mistranslated this verse because of Trinitarian partiality.
Dr. White, writes, “that is, if ‘Word’ had the article, and ‘God’ did, too, this would mean that John is saying that ‘God was the Word’ and the ‘Word was God.’ Both would be the same thing. Or, if neither of them had the article, we would have the same idea: an equating of all of God with all of the Word” (53).
Please observe how Dr. White freely admits that if the underlying Greek listed the article for both Jesus and the Father or omitted it for both, this would teach an absolute equality of God and His Son. But Dr. White makes no mention of having a problem with English Bibles doing exactly this! But it’s unreasonable to expect objectivity from Dr. White while he continues to interpret the Bible under a Trinitarian overlay.
Dr. White’s predisposition continues. He writes, “If John had put the article before theos, he would have been teaching modalism…” (54). Dr. White is correct. If John did this for Jesus it would teach modalism, but omits any outrage towards English mainstream translations who do exactly this.
Finally, on page 55, Dr. White moves on to an analysis based on rules of Greek grammar. He does correct identify that there are three possible endings based on the absence of the article before the noun “God.” They are indefinite (“a god”), definitive (“God”), and qualitative (“divine”).
While Dr. White is commended for admitting that the indefinite ending (“a god”) is possible within the scope of Greek grammar, yet his analysis of this ending is unreasonable. He writes, “Does he wish us to understand it as indefinite, so that no particular ‘god’ is in mind, but instead, that Jesus is a god, one of at least two, or even more?” (55). There are no grounds for stating that if Jesus was “‘a god,’ ‘no particular ‘god’ is in mind.” Dr. While pretends that it would make Jesus “a god” the readers would not know. But the Gospel of John is about Jesus Christ. The same can be said of the other three Gospels. Dr. White is engaged in dishonesty by wrongly making an alternate translation appear in a negative light.
His objections to “was a god” continues, “Monotheism in the Bible certainly it cannot be argued that John would use the very word he always uses of the one true God, θεός , of one who is simply a ‘godlike’ one or a lesser ‘god.’ The Scriptures do not teach that there exists a whole host of intermediate beings that can truly be called ‘gods.’ That is gnosticism” (55).
Jewish Monotheism is the belief that the one true God is only the Father. Therefore, Jesus Christ is not the true God (John 17:3). So, this leaves two possible endings: Jesus is indefinite (“a god”) or qualitative (“divine).
Secondly, if we are to understand the Bible correctly, we should understand words such as “theos” (god) as understood when the New Testament was written. So the objection by Dr. White that the Apostle John would not use “theos” for Jesus unless He is fully God (equal in essence, etc.) is unreasonable because this word in the first century encompassed many divine beings. As further refutation, John used the word “theos” for “god” in John 10:34 to describe other gods. So Dr. White’s point that “it cannot be argued that John would use the very word he always uses of the one true God, θεός…” doesn’t appear truthful.
He continued, “The Scriptures do not teach that there exists a whole host of intermediate beings that can truly be called ‘gods.’” This statement has already been proven false. Dr. White might want to invest in a New Testament Greek lexicon and learn about the many gods that exist. This kind of scholarship (and from a PHD) is dishonorable. But God is the final judge of everyone, starting with myself.
Here is another verse of several that demonstrates a plurality of gods: “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). This is one of the Ten Commandments, “for crying out loud.” Other gods exist!
He continues, “If one is to dogmatically assert that any anarthrous noun must be indefinite and translated with an indefinite article, one must be able to do the same with the 282 other times θεός appears anarthrously” (56).
No one is suggesting that every time an indefinite article exists before the noun “God” that it automatically be made indefinite. This is a ridiculous sideshow argument that is contrary to Greek grammar rules. All that is asked is that the best translation be used in English Bibles (definite, indefinite, qualitative) by Bible translators based on rules of Koine Greek grammar and context.
He writes, “Can He who is eternal (first clause) and who has always been with God (second clause), and who created all things (verse 3), be ‘a god’?” (Page 56). We already covered these clauses. There is nothing that indicates eternal pre-existence unless a partial interpretation is made with eisegesis, as Dr. White articulates well.
Trinitarians believe that Jesus is a person who is God, but may deny that Jesus is a person who is a God. But this affirmation followed by a denial is a fallacy. An illustration can be helpful.
God the Father is called “a God” many times in the Old Testament (Exodus 34:6; Deuteronomy 32:4; 1 Samuel 2:3, 17:46, Psalm 7:11, 68:20; Isaiah 45:15; Jeremiah 23:23, etc.). But out of respect, Christians don’t call Him “a God,” but “the God,” or “God” (in the absolute sense).
For example, “the janitor,” goes without saying that he/she is “a janitor.” “The pastor,” goes without saying that he is “a pastor.” So if Jesus is fully God (Trinitarian view), He is “a God,” properly called “the God” or “God.”
But if Jesus is not God in the absolute sense, He is properly called “a God,” and improperly called “the God.”
Dr. White quotes a footnote from the book, The Books and the Parchments (F.F. Bruce, 60-61, 1963). “Those people who emphasize that the true rendering of the last clause of John 1.1 is ‘the word was a god,’ prove nothing thereby save their ignorance of Greek grammar” (56).
This kind of quote is out of place in evangelical scholarship. Dr. White admitted on page 55 that the indefinite translation (“a god”) was allowed, but now he quotes someone who calls it’s use, “ignorance of Greek grammar.”
Many Trinitarian Greek scholars have admitted that “a god” is permitted within Greek grammar rules (but unpreferred). So such a quote by Dr. White is unfortunate.
On page 57, Dr. White takes a position that is becoming popular for this verse by Trinitarian scholars. He “double talks” by claiming on one hand that John’s intent was qualitative (“and the Word was divine”), but takes this back by favoring the Trinitarian mistranslation. He writes, “Yet Daniel Wallace is quite right when he notes:” (57). He continues and quotes from Daniel Wallace from the book, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: “Although I believe that θεός in 1:1c is qualitative, I think the simplest and most straightforward translation is, ‘and the Word was God.’ It may be better to clearly affirm the NT teaching of the deity of Christ and then explain that he is not the Father, than to sound ambiguous on his deity and explain that he is God but is not the Father” (page 269).
Do you spot the partiality? If John the Apostle intended the qualitative ending as both Dr. White and Mr. Wallace allegedly favor, they should be outraged that this ending is not present in mainstream English Bibles. But instead they don’t hide their prejudices by freely admitting that as Trinitarians they prefer to have an inaccurate translation for the sake of their beloved Trinity.
On page 58, he writes, “Here is a phrase that can only be used of the one true God. Creation is always God’s work. If the Logos created all things, then the Logos is divine—fully. ” (58).
The Bible teaches that Jesus was the agent of creation. That is, God created the world though (or by means of) Him. Hebrews 1:2b, states, “…through whom also he created the world.” John 1:3a states, “All things were made through [not by] him…” Colossians 1:16a states, “For by him all things were created…” But a footnote in the ESV clarifies: “That is, by means of; or in.” So while Jesus created the world, He was an agent that God used.
The claim that since “Logos created all things” He is divine (58), doesn’t offer any proof for the Trinity since the Bible affirms the existence of many divine beings. Since they are divine, they are deities. If we want to interpret the Bible correctly, we should understand it with a plurality of deities as found in both Testaments as understood by the original audiences.
Chapter Five, Jesus Christ: God in Human Flesh
An important theme in this chapter is the deity of Jesus Christ, as understood by Trinitarians. As stated previously, Trinitarians don’t follow the English dictionary definition of deity. Every god in the Bible is divine.
Sadly, many Trinitarians jump to the conclusion that the deity of Jesus Christ establishes His equality to the Father (YAHWEH) in essence, or ontologically, etc. So when Trinitarian scholars accuse Biblical Unitarians of not believing the deity of Jesus Christ, this charge is false.
On page 65, the statement is made regarding Jesus Christ, “Difference in function does not indicate inferiority of nature.” This extra-biblical (not in the Bible) revelation is repeated at least eight times in the pages that follow. If the Trinity is an inspired, God breathed doctrine as Dr. White promotes, why does he find it necessary to create a special rule that is subsequently used to interpret passages under? The exegetical form of interpretation forbids bringing theological loaded presuppositions to the sacred, pages of Scripture.
Yet in his popular book, Scripture Alone, Dr. White claims to believe in the exegetical interpretation of Scripture. He writes, “You are exegeting a passage when you are allowing it to say what its original author intended; you are eisegeting a passage when you are forcing the author to say what you want the author to say” (location 1235, 2004).
Dr. White continues, “Not exactly an earth-shattering concept? It isn’t, but the vast majority of material produced by those who oppose the deity of Christ ignores this basic truth” (66). Dr. White calls his created rule, “basic truth.” Dr. White apparently believes that God’s Word is insufficient to articulate the Roman Catholic Trinity. Alarmingly, his special rule transforms clear passages where Jesus is subordinate to the Father to where He is equal to the Father.
He writes, “Think of it this way: in eternity past  the Father, Son, and Spirit voluntarily and freely chose the roles they would take in bringing about the redemption of God’s people. This is what is called the ‘Eternal Covenant‘” (66).
Some Trinitarians theorize that in eternity past, the three members of the Trinity came up with a plan of redemption. Allegedly, Jesus volunteered to be a subordinate person: “the Son chose to be the Redeemer and to enter into human flesh as one subject to the Father” (66). But many passages refute this fable. The one God Yahweh “calls the shots” —because He is God. Here are a few passages (there are more) that together teach this: John 3:16-18, 8:42; Luke 4:18; Romans 5:8; Hebrews 5:5; 1 John 4:9-10, etc.
Dr. White covers the verbal outburst of Thomas, where he said, “my Lord and my God” (John 20:28-29). This may be the only passage regularly used by Trinitarians that is not in dispute (underlying punctuation, grammar, manuscript variants, or translation, etc.).
One explanation offered by some Biblical Unitarians is that Thomas, in his excitement, states, “my Lord” (to Jesus) and “my God” (to the Father).
While this interpretation is contextually possible, I prefer the interpretation where Jesus is called both titles (“Lord” and “God”) —but not God in the absolute sense. Thomas calls Jesus “my Lord and my God” because Jesus was sent from heaven as a representative of the Father (divine agency), and is whom “God has made him both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).
He discusses a passage used by Unitarians that explicitly teaches that Jesus had a God: “17 Jesus said to her, Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” (John 20:17). He unsuccessfully counters with “so those who put forward such arguments have already made up their minds. They are not deriving their beliefs from the Scriptures but are forcing those beliefs onto the Scriptures” (71). Really? It states here and early Christians believed that Jesus had a God (Ephesians 1:17; Romans 15:6; 1 Peter 1:3; Romans 15:6, 2 Corinthians 1:3, 11:31). This is also affirmed by Jesus after His ascension (Revelation 1:6, 3:12). These types of superficial objections from Dr. White are scattered throughout this book. The incorporation of the crystal-clear statements (“my God”) into one’s theological framework is believing the intended meaning of the inspired authors.
Here is another irrational conclusion: “It was the Son who became Incarnate, and since the Son, as the perfect man, acknowledged the Father as His God, He, himself, can’t be fully deity. The argument assumes that God could not enter into human form. Why? Well, what would the God-man be like? If one of the divine persons entered into human flesh, how would such a divine person act? Would He be an atheist?” (70).
This is a disgraceful “red herring” argument. It’s not about limiting God: “God could not enter into human form.” But it’s what the Bible states, that matters. Jesus cannot be equal to the Father because God (the Father) is over Him. The Bible never presents the Father as having a God. Here is a verse to ponder:
“5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” (1 Timothy 2:5). Who is the “one God” in this verse? If you believe it’s the Father as consistently taught in Scripture, you would probably be labeled a “heretic” by Dr. White.
“5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen” (ESV).
Because of the lack of punctuation for this verse in Greek, the Trinitarian NET Bible admits that other translations are possible: “Or ‘the Christ, who is over all, God blessed forever,’ or ‘the Messiah. God who is over all be blessed forever!’ or “the Messiah who is over all. God be blessed forever!’ The translational difficulty here is not text-critical in nature, but is a problem of punctuation‘” (1996-2005).
The Translator’s Handbook (1973) writes for this verse, “Since the earliest New Testament manuscripts were without any systematic punctuation, it is necessary for scholars to punctuate the text according to what seems appropriate to syntax and the meaning. Basically, the question is whether the doxology has reference to God (TEV May God, who rules over all, be praised forever!), or to Christ (TEV alternative rendering ‘And may he, who is God ruling over all, be praised forever!’). Although there are strong grammatical arguments to the contrary, the UBS textual committee prefers the reading represented in the TEV (so RSV, NEB, NAB, Goodspeed, Moffatt), but some do prefer the rendering represented in the alternative rendering of the TEV (so JB and Phillips)” (180).
Dr. White writes, “We have to decide where to place periods and commas on the basis of Paul’s style and his statements elsewhere” (72). While this sounds reasonable, Dr. White’s won’t implement this objectively. This is because in all Paul’s writings, strikingly, where underlying punctuation is undisputed, there is not one verse where Paul assigns the title “God” to Jesus! And Paul wrote a large portion of the New Testament.
Dr. White admits this colossal obstacle and unconvincingly dismisses it by calling it a “circular argument.” Instead, unbelievably, he implies that questionable punctuation passages should be used to decide the questionable punctuation passages (73).
In the weeds, far removed from sound hermeneutics, Dr. White writes, “seemingly the person offering this argument [Biblical Unitarians] is not so much seeking to interpret the passage as to substantiate a particular theology” (72). If Dr. White believed in exegetical principles of interpretation, he would commend the practice of using clear passages to shed light on uncertain ones.
“6 And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” 7 Of the angels he says, “He makes his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire.” 8 But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. 9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions” (Hebrews 1:6-9).
This passage assigns the title “God” to Jesus once or twice depending on the underlying punctuation. The question centers on verse 8. Dr. White writes, “There is debate over the translation of the passage, for on a strictly grammatical basis, one could render it ‘God is Your throne’ rather than ‘Your throne, O God,’ and, of course, this is exactly the argument presented by all who deny the deity of Christ” (74).
Dr. White is correct that the punctuation is in dispute. He wrongly makes the deity of Christ at stake. Most Trinitarians translations don’t provide a footnote with a second grammatical interpretation, such as “God is your throne.” By quietly translating it to favor Trinitarianism, Trinitarian readers are discriminated.
Most read Dr. White’s book trusting him to be honest. The book, Divine Truth or Human Tradition references Trinitarian scholars who prefer the interpretation where God is the throne of Jesus (Patrick Navas, 2011). Nevertheless, most Trinitarian scholars favor translations that assign the title “God” to Jesus. If Jesus was called “God” in this verse, notwithstanding, it would be consistent with the ambiguity of the word “god” in the first century.
The NRSV translation doesn’t deny the deity of Jesus Christ (as Dr. White would claim). In the verse’s margin, an alternate translation reads, “God is your throne…” The NRSV affirms the legitimacy of an alternate translation.
Dr. White ignores verse nine which is significant. Jesus has God over Him (“therefore God, your God”). This makes the translation “God is your throne” more likely (v. 8). It’s folly to read passages that affirm that Jesus has a God without connecting the dots. If Jesus has a God, then He must worship Him —He does (John 4:22, Mark 14:26, Hebrews 2:12). If Jesus has a God, He isn’t the one absolute God —The Father is (Mark 10:18, 12:28-34, John 5:44, 14:1, 17:3, 1 Timothy 1:17, 2:5, Romans 3:30, 16:27, 1 Corinthians 8:4-6, Galatians 3:19-20, Ephesians 4:4-6, James 2:19, Jude 25). If Jesus has a God, the Shema and Jewish monotheism remain true —they are affirmed (Deuteronomy 6:4-6, Mark 12:28-34, 1 Corinthians 8:4-6).
The God of Jesus anointed Him “with the oil of gladness beyond your companions” because “you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness.” The Father rewards Jesus (“therefore”). A promotion based on performance is affirmed in similar verses (Hebrews 2:9, Philippians 2:9, etc.). It is irrational to believe that Jesus whom Trinitarians insist remained fully God during His incarnation was promoted by God (God promotes God).
“13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:13-14).
He writes, “Could it be that Christians have a blessed hope that is anchored in looking for the appearance of a mere creature, say, Michael the Archangel?” (Page 76). When I read this quote, it reminded me of the O.J. Simpson trial and subsequent acquittal. O.J. Simpson used his wealth to hire lawyers who used deceptive tactics to cast doubt on the jury. Dr. White borrows a page by misrepresenting Jehovah Witness and Biblical Unitarians.
While I’m not a Jehovah Witness, they believe that Jesus Christ formerly was Michael the Archangel. So framing Jesus as remaining the archangel is dishonest. Also, Jehovah Witnesses’ to include Biblical Unitarians, don’t believe that Jesus Christ is a “mere creature.” This mischaracterization of Jesus who is our Lord and Savior is offensive to Him and to us. Finally, Dr. White pretends there are two choices, one can be a Trinitarian, or the second choice that he falsely represents.
“Since it is plainly the coming of the Lord Jesus that we are expectantly awaiting, and since it is the Lord Jesus who gave himself for us on the Cross, what reason is there, contextually, for introducing another person into the passage? Simply put, there is none. The only reason some attempt to do so is to avoid the clear identification of Jesus Christ as ‘God and Savior.‘” (76).
Dr. White appears to be unaware that God Himself will also be coming to earth to dwell with man (Revelation 21:3, Ezekiel 37:27). The reason Jesus came to die was because the Father sent Him (John 3:16-18, 8:42; Luke 4:18; Romans 5:8; Hebrews 5:5; 1 John 4:9-10, etc.). The charge that it’s un-contextual “for introducing another person into the passage,” is out of place.
There are likely hundreds of verses or passages in the New Testament that include both the Father and the Son. The passage in consideration is one long sentence (vs. 11-14). Dr. White evicts God, because the Father is at the beginning of this long sentence (vs 13-14).
Dr. White exalts Jesus over the Father. The Bible is clear that God reigns supreme over His Son. When Jesus perceived that the rich young ruler gave Him credit that belonged to almighty God, Jesus corrected Him (“Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone”). When Jesus states the Father is greater, many Trinitarians correct the inspired words of Jesus (John 14:28). When Paul states that Jesus is “the head of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:3), Trinitarians may correct the Apostle Paul.
In Revelation five, John describes a vision of the future. In verse nine, Jesus is praise for “ransomed people for God.” While praise is given to Jesus, the context is clear that the work of Jesus was done for the Father. Someday Jesus will hand over His kingdom back to the Father: “28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28). Please see the entire account for the context (vv. 22-34).
On page 77, Dr. White appeals to the sharp rule. This subjective rule was created by Trinitarian Granville Sharp (1735-1813) to force certain passages to make Jesus God. In fact, he was not shy about his vested theological intent from the title of his work: “Remarks on the Uses of the Definite Article in the Greek Text of the New Testament: Containing Many New Proofs of the Divinity of Christ, from Passages, Which are Wrongly Translated in the Common English Version (1798).
At the beginning of Sharp’s book, he writes, “The reason of my recommending the first rule more particularly to your attention, is, because it is on much more consequence than any of the rest, as it will enable us (if the truth of it be admitted) to correct the translation of several important texts in the present English version of the New Testament, in favour of a fundamental article of our church, which has, of late, been much opposed and traduced, I mean the belief that our Lord Jesus Christ is truly God.”
But what is the basis (outside of admitted theological partiality) for creating such a rule? So it’s legitimate for anyone to examine the underlying Greek New Testament manuscripts and create a set of rules based on syntactic analysis, to force the text into backing their particular theological agenda? I have been unable to find any legitimate basis for Sharp’s Rule outside of the theological agenda outlined by Mr. Sharp.
Based on Sharp’s Rule, when a specific grammatical construction is present, it forces the text to make two people into one person. Many are unaware that the scope of this rule has been further restricted because of contradictions in Sharp’s original rule. Of course, there is no evidence that such a rule existed when the Bible was written. This rule doesn’t work when applied to other Greek texts written during the New Testament timeframe. Many Trinitarian Greek scholars reject Sharp’s Rule for obvious reasons.
There are serious concerns that any objective person should consider before using such a theologically charged rule. It is disgrace for Dr. White to support such an illegitimate rule. Here is a link for further research: http://www.biblicalunitarian.com/articles/the-granville-sharp-rule
Thankfully, some translations have not used the Sharp Rule to translate this verse. Here are a few:
“13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (KJV).
“13 looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” (ASV).
“13 awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (RSV).
2 Peter 1:1
“1 Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:1).
Dr. White appeals once more to the Sharp Rule to combine “God” and “Savior Jesus Christ” as one person. Another problematic outcome of this rule is that it can combine two individuals into one person, against the author’s intention. One of the elements of the doctrine of the Trinity is that each person retains their identity and cannot be combined. In the passage above, the word “God” is most likely the Father. God (the Father) always remains a separate and distinct person from Jesus Christ in the Bible. In the next verse, God and Jesus are separate persons.
He writes, “The phrases are identical outside of the fact that in 1:1 the term is ‘God,’ and in 1:11 it is ‘Lord.’ No one hesitates to translate 2 Peter 1:11 as ‘Lord and Savior,’ so why do so at 2 Peter 1:1?” (78). Dr. White omits an important consideration. The grammar in 2 Peter 1:11 is not in dispute while the lack of punctuation in 2 Peter 1:1 makes the interpretation unclear.
Secondly, while the phrases are similar, a phrase is very different than a clause. These phrases don’t have a subject and verb. So if both verses are examined in full, they are very different.
Finally, there are verses where Paul calls Christ the titles “Lord” and “Savior” (Philippians 3:20, 2 Peter 2:20, 3:2). So this doesn’t prove anything and is just smoke. The issue (again) is that Paul never assigns the title “God” to Jesus in undisputed passages.
Dr. White pretends that this verse so clearly assigns the title “God” to Christ, why would anyone question it? But he omits that some Trinitarians don’t see it this way. To his credit, he does mention one scholar, George B. Winer: “However, Winer himself, an anti-Trinitarian, admitted that it was not grammatical grounds that led him to reject the correct rendering of Titus 2:13, but theological ones” (79).
Because Mr. Winer didn’t believe that Jesus is called God in this verse, Dr. White takes liberty to calls him an “anti-Trinitarian.” But this charge is untrue as Mr. Winer was a Trinitarian.
For additional research on this verse including quotes from some Trinitarians who don’t side with Dr. White, please see the book, Divine Truth or Human Tradition.
Here are a few translations where both God and Jesus Christ are separate persons which is an element of the Trinity which is true:
“1 Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained a like precious faith with us in the righteousness of our God and the Saviour Jesus Christ:” (NASV).
A footnote in the New American Bible states, “The words translated our God and savior Jesus Christ could also be rendered “our God and the savior Jesus Christ” (1991, 1986, 1970).
Revelation 3:22, 22:7, 22:20
“7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. 8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:7-8).
“17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades” (Revelation 1:17-18).
“12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Revelation 22:12-13).
After providing these verses, Dr. White writes, “Christians have used the title ‘Alpha and Omega’ of the Lord Jesus from the very beginning” (86). Yet all other verses with this title in the NT only apply to the Father. In chapter two, when describing the elements of the Trinity, Dr. White wrote of the importance of keeping the Father and Son as separate persons (30). Since God’s Word makes a distinction between God and His Son, So should we.
Jumping forward, he continues, “Is Jesus identified as the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end? Certainly, He is. Revelation 22:12 speaks of the coming of Christ and continues directly into verse 13” (86).
Recently, I heard a similar argument for someone who read Dr. White’s book. But for such an argument to be true, it must be established that verse 13 is from Jesus. Red fonts from Trinitarian translators who have a vested interest in preserving the Trinity, aren’t proof. So what evidence does Dr. White offer? Because verse 12 “speak[s] of the coming of Christ,” he believes this identifies Jesus. But God Himself (a separate Being) is also coming.
Here is a passage that identifies God coming to earth, please observe the title: “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:7-8). Here is another: “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God” (Revelation 21:3). And yet another: “23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:23). See also Revelation 22:3 and Zechariah 8:8, etc.
Here is the last evidence provided by Dr. White that this passage (22:12-13) identifies Jesus and not the Father: “This chapter ends with the words ‘Come, Lord Jesus.’ There is no reference to the ‘coming’ of the Father, and the attempts to find such a reference are feeble at best. ” (86). Just because Dr. White jumps ahead to the end of the chapter with “Come, Lord Jesus,” isn’t enough because God also comes.
Apparently, Dr. White knows there is an Old Testament verse with a near perfect match for Revelation 22:12, so he buried it in footnote #45. Here are both verses for your careful analysis:
“12 Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done” (Revelation 22:12).
“10 Behold, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him” (Isaiah 40:10).
Because both passages are similar, its unlikely that the Apostle John didn’t have Isaiah 40:10 (“Lord God”) in mind when he wrote Revelation 22:12. Because this passage in Isaiah describes the Father, it further strengthens the case that John had the Father in mind.
Here is Dr. White’s main point from footnote 45: “Yet the argument is not only circular, but actually proves the opposite of what the author intends. Isaiah 40 is often cited of the Lord Jesus, and the fact that it is the Lord who comes and His reward is with Him to render to every man (Revelation 22:12) only proves that Jesus is again being identified as Yahweh, just as He is in John 12 and Hebrews 1” (208). It’s not “circular” to take the Bible literally that the “Lord God” comes to earth (Isaiah 40:10) as similarly re-stated in Revelation 22:12.
Jesus never falsely identifies Himself as Yahweh. Not only is this against the doctrine of the Trinity, it would be sin for Jesus to pretend He was the Father.
It’s possible to connect Revelation 22:12 with Jesus because it contains the phrase, “I am coming soon” (Revelation 3:22, 22:7, 12, 20). This phrase was used by Jesus often, to include the end of this chapter. Because the Father is also coming soon, it’s unreasonable to limit this phrase to only Jesus.
The evidence (in my opinion) favors that verse 12 be attributed to the Father. However, because the phrase “I am coming soon,” is twice attributed to Jesus in this chapter (and in chapter three), it’s possible that this verse applies to Jesus.
Before we consider 22:13, please keep in mind that verses 12 and 13 may describe different persons (Father and Son). While both verses are probably the same person, the book of Revelation contains abrupt change of speakers.
Case in point, this chapter illustrates sudden changes of speakers. Verse six ends with an angel speaking and verse seven abruptly changes to Jesus. Verses 12-13 (verses in question) abruptly appear with one or two new speakers. Verses 14-15 are from an unknown speaker. It could be John, the angel, God, Jesus, etc.
Revelation 22:13 has three titles (“Alpha and the Omega,” “first and the last,” “beginning and the end”). A biblical search for these titles can help identify the rightful owner (s).
The title “Alpha and the Omega” is only found in the book of Revelation (1:17, 21:6). Both locations undisputedly apply this designation to almighty God.
The next designation is “the first and the last.” A search for this description starts us in the Old Testament.
“4 Who has performed and done this, calling the generations from the beginning? I, the Lord, the first, and with the last; I am he” (Isaiah 41:4).
“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” (Isaiah 44:6).
“12 “Listen to me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called! I am he; I am the first, and I am the last” (Isaiah 48:12).
“10 You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me” (Revelation 1:17).
All of these titles are undoubtedly assigned to almighty Yahweh.
The title “first and the last” is found (outside our passage in question) two additional times. Here is the first: “17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades” (Revelation 1:17-18).
It is important to take into account that Jesus is “the first and the last and the living one” in the context of being the one who died and rose again for ours sins and has “the keys of death and hades.” So while Jesus has the same title as Yahweh in the Old Testament (with the addition of “and the living one”), he shares the title in a very different way. For example, a person can be a president of a bank and another person can be the President of the United States. While both share the same titled, “president,” they are distinct persons with very different positions.
The second use of this title in revelation is again related to the death and resurrection of Christ: “8 And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life” (2:8). While Jesus shares a title of Yahweh, it remains here contextually exclusive to Himself. When Jesus uses the title “first and last,” it’s not a claim to be Yahweh as some Trinitarians assign.
The last phrase of our passage in question (Revelation 22:13) is “the beginning and the end.” This phrase is only found once in the Bible and irrefutably applies to the Father.
In summary, verse 13 most certainly applies to the Father. The first phrase is only used of the Father in the Bible. The second phrase is used of Yahweh or Jesus based on the context. In the New Testament, the uses applicable to Jesus are related to His death and resurrection. Because the two other phrases in this verse unquestionably apply to the Father, and there is nothing in the context here about the death and resurrection of Jesus, the second phrase most certainly applies to the Father. The last phrase as discussed only has application to the Father in the Bible.
“18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God” (John 5:18).
The passage above is quoted with additional verses in the book (vv. 16-19). He writes, “They are enraged that by calling God ‘Father’ in a way that was unique and special to himself, He was making himself equal with God. They knew that to be the Son of God was to be deity. The son is always like the father, and if Jesus is the Son of the Father in a special and unique way, He must be deity” (88).
Please consider that the basis for Dr. White’s argument is siding with the Jesus mockers and haters. He unbashful stands in their corner agreeing with their ungodly jeering to prove the Trinity.
Because Jesus didn’t follow the additional, non-biblical Sabbath laws that the Pharisees imposed, the “Jesus haters” took the opportunity to falsely accuse Jesus of breaking the Sabbath. The same ungodly mob falsely charged Jesus with “making himself equal with God” because He claimed “God [as] his own Father.”
Similarly, those today who follow God, His dear Son, and the Word of God are often charged with exaggerated, trumped up lies. If you believe that Jesus is the Son of God and not, “God the Son,” expect to be disowned, maligned and charged as a heretic. There exists a spiritual battle over the identity of Jesus Christ. Satan loves it when Jesus is exalted equally or higher than Almighty God (YAHWEH).
“28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I” (John 14:28).
When the passage above is correctly interpreted using good principles of interpretation, it’s extremely damaging to the fourth century doctrine of the Trinity.
Dr. White writes, “Yet if we will but consider the passage, and avoid embracing surface-level uses of it, we will find that it does not lead us to deny the deity of Christ, but rather to embrace it” (89).
On page 90, Dr. White redefines the word “greater” to conform to his Trinitarian theological grid. He writes, “But the term does not refer to ‘better’ but ‘greater’ as in positionally greater.”
Dr. White provides no basis from the context, grammar or any other credible source for why the word “greater” must be understood in a positional sense. But Dr. White would never allow the doctrine of the Trinity to influence his interpretation.
He goes on to write, “So we see that the term ‘greater’ speaks to the position of the Father in heaven over against the position of the Son on earth” (90). Did you spot his counterfeit (un-contextual) explanation? Dr. White wants you to think that Jesus was saying the Father was greater while He was on earth. But the point of Jesus was that He was going to the Father (in heaven) who is greater: “because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.” A hallmark of false teachers is twisting God’s Word for conformity of their doctrines.
“3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed” (John 17:3-5).
This is another difficult passage for those who place “learned theology” over God’s Word. Dr. White writes, “Amazingly, even this passage is sometimes cited against the truth of the Trinity” (90). Please consider that his standard is “the doctrine of the Trinity” that is absent the entire Bible. He continues, “How can a passage that connects eternal life itself with knowledge of both the Father and the Son, and that speaks of the Son sharing the very glory of the Father in eternity past (cf. Isaiah 48:11), be used against the deity of Christ?” (90).
Dr. White writes, “the Son sharing the very glory of the Father in eternity past.” An examination of this passage indicates that Dr. White reads more into the passage than is stated. There is no “eternity past” mentioned and the source of glory that Jesus had was from the Father (“I had with you”). So Jesus wasn’t the source of glory.
Finally, there is no threat to the deity of Christ as he makes up. While Jesus is a divine person, He is not “the one true God.” He is apart, distinct, and separate from “the one true God.”
He writes, “But what of the phrase “the only true God”? Doesn’t this mean that Jesus isn’t God? Of course not. How else would Jesus make mention of the truth of monotheism?” (91). But Jesus isn’t “the only true God” as Dr. White misrepresents. Jesus affirms Jewish monotheism by making crystal clear that “the only true God” is the Father (Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Mark 12:28-34; 1 Corinthians 8:4-6).
He continues, “Since He is not a separate God from the Father (He is a separate person, sharing the one Being that is God), how could His confession of the deity of the Father be taken as a denial of His own deity?” (91).
Dr. White holds a bazaar view of Jesus Christ. Jesus isn’t “a separate God from the Father,” but “is a separate person.” There is no biblical affirmation for this. His contradictory description of Jesus Christ states something is true, while concurrently denying it. You can’t be a separate person and not be a separate person. Jesus Christ was fully human, just like us.
Elsewhere in his book, he affirms that Jesus is a separate person from the Father. Here are some examples of this double talk:
“…the Father is a separate person from the Son as well…” (155).
“The transfiguration of Jesus in Matthew 17:1–9 again demonstrates the separate personhood of the Father and the Son:” (155).
“Note just a few examples of how the Son refers to the Father as a separate person:” (156).
“As we noted above, the prayers of Christ are very important in recognizing the separate person of the Son from the Father. Jesus was not “talking to himself” in His prayers, but was talking to the Father” (160).
1 Corinthians 8:4-6
“4 Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” 5 For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist” (1 Corinthians 8:4-6).
Paul affirms Jewish monotheism (Father is the one God). Because Jesus (v. 6) is not included in the “one God,” many Trinitarians add Jesus in, in an effort to salvage their “one God” theology.
He writes, “If ‘one God, the Father’ is meant to be taken exclusively, then does it not follow that ‘one Lord, Jesus Christ’ also excludes the Father from the realm of Lordship?” (92). Dr. White disgracefully engages in sideshow fireworks as a distraction. The passage (context) is not about the exclusion of “the Father from the realm of Lordship.” Based on the context, Jesus is not included in the definition of the one God. If you face this reality as a Trinitarian, you can allow your theological framework to be changed by the Word of God, or you can continue to elevate your learned Trinitarian framework above the Word of God, and thereby make your theology the truth and God’s Word a lie.
He writes, “God is just as much Lord as the Lord is God” (92). This is Dr. White’s attempt to use ambiguity to make Jesus the Father. Instead of sticking to the text for an exegetical interpretation, Dr. White keeps a blurry focus. He continues, “The two terms are merely being used to describe different Persons in their relationship to one another” (92). The two terms, “one God, the Father,” and “one Lord, Jesus Christ,” identify two distinct persons. The Father is always the one God in the absolute sense, and Jesus Christ never is. Both persons are separate, distinct, and apart from each other.
Chapter 13, From The Mists of Time: The Eternity and the Church History
This chapter review is the least important because it’s focus is outside the Bible. While the truth or falsehood of the doctrine of the Trinity should be determined based on the Bible, history should confirm the Bible. This is because the early church had “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
The doctrine of the Trinity contains a massive black hole in church history. It was nonexistent before it was imposed by the Roman Catholic Church at the First Council of Nicaea (325). It was subsequently refined in church councils that followed. Consequently, no doctrine of the Trinity exists within thousands of pages of Ante-Nicene Fathers (100-325 AD). This deficit is kept under wraps by many Trinitarian theologians when they write or discuss Trinitarian history.
This omission enlarges Dr. White’s lie that one must be a Trinitarian to be saved. This is because there existed no Trinitarian Christians for hundreds of years after the passing of the disciples —until the Roman Catholic Church developed the doctrine of the Trinity and subsequently enforced it with the sword for over a thousand years.
So is Dr. White “up front” about this gigantic iceberg that many Trinitarian theologians intentionally pass over? Sadly, not. He writes, “In the same way, history can shed much light on the doctrine of the Trinity, but only insofar as it shows us how the people of God have struggled to safeguard and defend the truth of God revealed to them in Christ” (177).
Dr. White makes a reasonable statement, “history can shed much light on the doctrine of the Trinity,” but then limits it to a struggle “to safeguard and defend the truth of God revealed to them in Christ.”
Because Dr. White knows that he can’t prove the Trinity existed in the early church, he reduces historical evidence to non-Trinitarian elements that even Biblical Unitarians agree on: “That is, did they believe in only one true God? Did they believe in the deity of Christ? Did they differentiate between the Father, Son, and Spirit?” (177). So now that he has removed the disputed elements that make up the doctrine of the Trinity, he can start quoting early church fathers.
Without admitting that the doctrine of the Trinity was nonexistent, he comes up with excuses why the early church was not clear in their theology to cover the Trinitarian deficit. Here are some justifications:
“The reason is very simple: when you are running for your life, in-depth theological reflection, study, and writing is not a high priority” (178).
“Even when the church had peace her attention was not focused upon the finer points of theology” (178).
“While we can find a deep witness to a belief in one God and in the deity of Christ, from the beginning, the specific relationship of the Father, Son, and Spirit was not the first priority for those writers who put quill and ink to paper” (178).
“As far as what was most important within the church, the issue of what to do about those who apostatized during periods of persecution but then desired admission back into the church was far more on the mind of people than anything else” (178).
On a chapter on the early church, the excellent book, What is the Trinity, says, “Christians have always believed in one God, but in all mainstream creeds of the first three centuries, the one God is the Father, not the Trinity or trinity. For instance, Irenaeus (c. 135-200) asserted in the 180s that all Christians have always believed in …‘one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them’” (43). (Dale Tuggy, 2017, Source of quote: Against Heresies, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume I, edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and Arthur Cleveland Coxe (Edinburgh, 1885 [c. 182-8]), 309-567, 330 [Book I, Chapter 10]).
Clement of Rome (?-99)
This very early father lived during the time of the Apostle John. He may have known John in person. He was executed for his faith.
Dr. White provides quotes that don’t establish the doctrine of the Trinity. For example, one is for the one true God (179). But there is no inclusion of Jesus Christ or Holy Spirit within a godhead.
He provides other quotes. But none communicate the Trinitarian distinctive that the one God is a triune being of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Or, that Jesus is ontologically equal to the Father.
Here are a few quotes from Clement (not in Dr. White’s book) that don’t point to equality of Jesus with the Father:
“The apostles received the gospel for us from Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ was sent from God. So Christ is from God, and the apostles are from Christ: thus both came in proper order by the will of God” (We Believe in One Lord Jesus Christ, John Anthony McGuckin, 2014, 11)
“Let all the heathen know that thou art God alone, and that Jesus Christ is thy Servant…” (The Ancient Christian Writers: The Epistle of St. Clement of Rome and St. Ignatius of Antioch, ISBN-10: 080910038X, 46)
Ignatius of Antioch
This church father was also martyred for his faith. Before providing some quotes, he writes, “Most important for our purposes is his crystalline testimony to the deity of Christ” (180).
Over and over in this book, Dr. White pretends that Biblical Unitarians don’t believe in the deity of Jesus Christ. The disagreement comes because Trinitarians don’t define “deity” according to the dictionary. But this has already been discussed.
On page 181 he provides a quote from Ignatius: “…by the will of the Father and of Jesus Christ, our God…”
When the title “God” is assigned to Jesus Christ in the Bible and in these early writings, the word “god” needs to be understood based on the broad meaning when it was written. Consequently, there is no indication from the quote provided that Jesus is equal to the Father in essence unless imposed on the passage.
He writes, “Lest someone think that for Ignatius ‘our God’ is something less than ‘God’ himself, note these words concerning the Incarnation:” (181). He continues and provides a quote from Ignatius: “. . . the ancient kingdom was utterly destroyed when God appeared in the likeness of man unto newness of everlasting life. (Ephesians 19)” (182).
Trinitarians don’t have one passage in the Bible that they can point to within an exegetical interpretational framework for a triune God. Apparently, Dr. White thinks that he has found the Triune God (“God himself”). Should this be the case, there is no mention of all three Gods (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) in this quote as the one God. Here is the quote with additional context for your careful observation:
“19:3 From that time forward every sorcery and every spell was dissolved, the ignorance of wickedness vanishes away, the ancient kingdom was pulled down, when God appeared in the likeness of man unto newness of everlasting life; and that which had been perfected in the counsels of God began to take effect. Thence all things were perturbed, because the abolishing of death was taken in hand” (Early Christian Writings, Peter Kirby, 2001-2017).
The word “god” appears twice. The first one is Jesus Christ when He became flesh (“…when God appeared in the likeness of man..”). There is no indication that God here is the Father or a triune being.
In the next sentence, the word “God” is probably the Father. But even if it was Jesus, it doesn’t offer any proof that God is Triune.
He writes, “Ignatius shows a true Trinitarian understanding of the nature of God when he can speak of the Father, the Son, and then of Jesus Christ as God” (181-182). Over and over again Dr. White pretends that these elements establish that the early church believed the doctrine of the Trinity. He intentionally omits that these Anti-Nicene Fathers don’t teach that these thee (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) are equal in essence and together form the Trinity (one Triune God).
Here is a quote from Ignatius that is not in the book that describes Jesus as a created being: “And in another place, “The Lord created Me, the beginning of His ways, for His ways, for His works. Before the world did He found Me, and before all the hills did He beget Me” (108, ANF1)
Here are more quotes that present the Father as the one God:
“For if there is one God of the universe, the Father of Christ, “of whom are all things;” and one Lord Jesus Christ, our [Lord], “by whom are all things” (83)
“…convince the unbelieving that there is one God, the Almighty, who has manifested Himself by Jesus Christ His Son, who is His Word, not spoken, but essential” (62, ANF1).
Melito of Sardis
This Apostolic Father was also martyred for his faith. Dr. White posted a long quote and then writes, “The deity of Christ, His two natures, His virgin birth, His being the Creator, His distinction from the Father—all part and parcel of the preaching of the bishop of Sardis near the end of the second century” (185).
However, the quote offered no evidence of belief in the Trinity. To follow are some quotes not in his book that indicate Melito’s belief that Jesus was begotten and subordinate to the Father:
“We have collected together extracts from the Law and the Prophets relating to those things which have been declared concerning our Lord Jesus Christ, that we may prove to your love that this Being is perfect reason, the Word of God; He who was begotten before the light; He who is Creator together with the Father” (Ante-Nicene Fathers, #8, 757, 1886).
“Thou hast not known, O Israel, that this was the first-born of God, who was begotten before the sun, who made the light to shine forth, who lighted up the day, who separated the darkness” (Ante-Nicene Fathers, #8, 757, 1886).
“God who is from God; the Son who is from the Father; Jesus Christ the King for evermore. Amen” (Ante-Nicene Fathers, #8, 757, 1886).
Two quotes to follow (not found in his book) are added to be objective (I have nothing to hide). They could be used to teach that Melito believed in the eternal pre-existence of Jesus. While this is possible, (writing is uncanonized), “before all time” and “existing before all ages” could also mean before the beginning of time itself (days, weeks, etc.) that many believe started in the Garden. Notwithstanding, if he believed the eternal pre-existence of Jesus (an element of the Trinity), additional elements for the Trinity are missing.
“We are not those who pay homage to stones, that are without sensation; but of the only God, who is before all and over all, and, moreover, we are worshippers of His Christ, who is veritably God the Word existing before all time” (Ante-Nicene Fathers, #8, 759, 1886).
“…He gave us sure indications of His two natures: of His Deity, by His miracles during the three years that elapsed after His baptism; of His humanity, during the thirty similar periods which preceded His baptism, in which, by reason of His low estate as regards the flesh, He concealed the signs of His Deity, although He was the true God existing before all ages” (Ante-Nicene Fathers, #8, 760, 1886).
Council of Nicaea (325)
Dr. White writes, “It is repeated by believer and even nonbeliever alike around the world. The Nicene Creed stands either for truth or for error for many millions of people” (185). After quoting the Nicene Creed, he continues, “These words were the result of the greatest church council ever convened—not in size, but in importance” (186).
The first church council took place in Jerusalem as described in Acts 15. Dr. White however, claims that the Council of Nicaea was the “greatest church council ever convened.” To Dr. White’s credit, maybe he is unaware that the first church council took place in Acts 15, or maybe he doesn’t call it a church council.
Dear believer, please know that Dr. White’s “greatest church council” stepped outside the bounds of “sola scriptura” to refute Arianism. When the Bible is not the final authority to settle disputes of doctrine, the outcome will match the standard used to settle the dispute.
This creed produced alarming extra-biblical (not in the Bible) components. Independently of Scripture, Jesus was said to be one substance (homoousion) with His Father. There is no biblical validation for this new doctrine. “26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.” (John 5:26). The Father has life intrinsic to Himself (“life in Himself”). In contrast, the Son has “life in himself” because of the Father (“He has granted”). Elsewhere, Jesus said, “and I live because of the Father” (John 6:57), “yet He [Jesus] lives [present tense verb: today] by the power of God” (2 Corinthians 13:4).
This council added that Jesus was “true God from true God” which is not biblically affirmed. Paul wrote regarding Jesus, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Colossians 1:15). Jesus is not God (the Father) in this verse, but an image of Him. The meaning of the word “firstborn” is usually associated with being first in order and is often used of someone’s origination. In the verse that followed, Jesus Christ went on to create everything.
This council ruled that Jesus was “begotten not made.” While Jesus was begotten before creation, we already covered passages that articulate His creation.
As stated, Dr. White places great emphasis on this council and even goes on to call it “Scriptural truth” (189). There are strong warnings at the end of Revelation for adding to God’s Word.
An examination of Dr. White’s book, Scripture Alone (2004), provides quotes of another side of Dr. White who also believes that the Scripture alone is the authority and therefore not the Catholic Church. So which one is it? It’s both:
“Rome taught that because she was the custodian of sacred tradition, people needed her magisterial authority; hence, Rome vehemently opposed and denied the idea of Scripture alone as the sole infallible rule of faith for the church” (Kindle edition, location 77).
“It is, however, saying that Scripture is utterly unique in its nature as God-breathed revelation (nothing else is God-breathed); it is unparalleled and absolute in its authority; and it is the sole infallible rule of faith for the church” (Kindle edition, location 128).
“That is not its intended meaning; again, it means “Scripture alone as the sole infallible rule of faith for the church” (Kindle edition, location 327).
“We deny that any creed, council or individual may bind a Christian’s conscience, that the Holy Spirit speaks independently of or contrary to what is set forth in the Bible, or that personal spiritual experience can ever be a vehicle of revelation” (Kindle edition, location 567).
The First Council of Nicaea provided a non-biblical foundation for refinements that followed. This first council didn’t include the Holy Spirit and that God is a Triune Being. These Trinitarian components were added later.
When describing and validating the tactics used by this council to counter Arianism outside Scriptural bounds, Dr. White writes, “But directly asserting that the Son and the Father share the same divine being forced the Arian’s hand: they could not find a way of agreeing with such a statement. Surely the Bible taught the underlying truth—so the Council was maintaining the essence of biblical truth by using a more specific term” (188).
First, the council didn’t assert that God and His Son share the same divine being. Dr. White is reading later, non-biblical refinements into this creed. Secondly, this teaching is against the doctrine of the Trinity which affirms that each member is a separate person. Jesus and the Father cannot be separate persons while concurrently being the same divine being.
Dr. White continues his justification for the council’s eviction of God’s Word: “The other option involved the slavish use of biblical terminology at the cost of the essence of biblical truth” (188). Really? The word “slavish” is related to slavery. Deplorably, for justification, Dr. White reduces God’s Word down to “slavish use of biblical terminology.”
He writes, “Do Christians today believe in the Trinity and the deity of Christ just because the Council of Nicaea said so? Some might. I do not” (189). If it wasn’t for the First Council of Nicaea and the addendums that followed, most Christians today would probably be Biblical Unitarians.
Thanks for reading this long review. It’s my prayer that you have found it insightful and helpful in your Christological studies. May God bless you as you follow Jesus Christ to His Father’s house.
Keep the faith!
Copyright © 2017