Trinity Confusion: Mike Licona vs John MacArthur vs Robert Bowman vs James White

Another offering from the prodigiously industrious Yahya Snow. Published on 4 Aug 2016

He writes: ‘This video includes 2 Christian apologists (James White + Robert Bowman), a pastor (John MacArthur) and a Christian scholar Dr Mike Licona. They have differing views on whether one needs to believe in the Trinity idea or not to be a Christian. The Christian belief that the Spirit enables them to understand and interpret God’s Word is demonstrably questioned here.

Jesus told his disciples that “when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).

These evangelicals cannot even agree on whether the Trinity idea is required in order to be a Christian – how can they say the Holy Spirit guides them?!’

Categories: Bible, Christianity, God

19 replies

  1. Gregory Boyd is an American theologian who thinks Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons can go to heaven,so believing Jesus is God is not necessary.

    He uses the example of the thief on the cross,who Jesus said was saved,and the thief didn’t believe Jesus was God.Nobody can say the thief thought Jesus on the cross was YAHWEH INCARNATE.

    He is a noted Christian anarchist and has written:

    “The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition (with Paul Rhodes Eddy)” (2007)(his best book,I highly recommend it)

    “Cynic Sage or Son of God?” (1995) (about Jesus)

    “Letters From a Skeptic: A Son Wrestles with His Father’s Questions about Christianity” (1994)

    “The Myth of a Christian Nation”(2006)

    Boyd has debated his atheist friend,ex-Christian Robert Price,who says Jesus never existed.Here is the video where Boyd says JWs and Mormons can also go to heaven:

    Now if you want to hear the best argument that Jesus never existed,here is the Boyd-Price debate on that subject:

    Liked by 1 person

    • Richard wrote:

      He is a noted Christian anarchist and has written:

      No, Gregory Boyd is an “Open Theist”, meaning he does not believe God knows the future infallibly and just responds to the free choices that man makes after they are made.

      I have never heard of him being accused of being an “anarchist”. Can you show us any documentation on that?


  2. Thanks for posting the videos Richard. I do love me some Robert M Price.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Richard, thanks for that. I was unaware of Gregory Boyd. I’ve checked him out and he’s an open theist. His credentials are Yale and Princeton.

    Do you know where he mentioned Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses can go to Heaven?

    I find his use of the thief on the cross against the necessity of the Trinity belief to be a resourceful one. I normally use Peter’s preaching in Acts 2 where Peter preaches and a load of people are said to be saved – yet there was no preaching of the Trinity belief!

    As for Price, I used to listen to some of his podcast and did try to get into him a few years ago – a very brght guy. I find he has a scattered brain pattern so jumps from one topic to another. He’s the only Jesus-mythicist in the scholarly community. I think I read Dr Ehrman writing somethig like that when he was talking about a prospective debate between Price and Ehrman (last time I checked they were trying to raise funds for Price to debate Ehrman)

    Thanks for sharing that; a much more meaningful contribution than some of the folk recently who have just been insulting each other with nasty language.🙂.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I just watch the recent video and I don’t think Licona says that you don’t have to believe in the Trinity in order to be a Christian but he says that he does not know the answer to that question.

    Robert Bowman clearly thinks that you don’t have, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Greetings Jason,

    You said:
    ”Thanks for posting the videos Richard. I do love me some Robert M Price.”

    The best book to get a fair and easy to understand synthesis of Price’s 3 or more arguments that Jesus never existed is in Ehrman’s book ”Did Jesus Exist?”(2012).

    In the book Ehrman says Price gave him the manuscript of a book he was going to publish about why he thinks Jesus never existed,so the ideas of Price expressed there are up to date.

    To be honest,Ehrman really shows Price’s arguments are assumptions on other assumptions.

    I think Price’s never published the book,the only book he later published was a critique of Bill O’Reilly’s book ”Killing Jesus”. Price wrote ”Killing History: Jesus in the No-Spin Zone”(2014).


  6. “These evangelicals cannot even agree on whether the Trinity idea is required in order to be a Christian – how can they say the Holy Spirit guides them?!’”

    Can you define the trinity idea so I can see if it is in the bible as you express it? If it is then it is requirement. If I can’t it’s not.

    The entry point for belief is the gospel not some abstract theory about the nature of God. That’s the first thing that we have to believe according to the bible.


    • The first thing that we have to believe according to the biblical Jesus is:

      Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ Mark 12:30

      My opinion: As a trinitarian you fail as you cannot love the Lord your God with all your mind. See trinity confusion above.


  7. Greetings Yahya:

    ”Do you know where he mentioned Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses can go to Heaven?”

    In the video Boyd implies that a JW or Mormon can go to heaven,he doesn’t say it directly,by using the example of the thief on the cross who got saved.

    A.The passage is:

    Luke 23:39-43

    ”One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

    But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.”

    Then he said, “Lord, remember me when you come into YOUR kingdom.”

    He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

    1.The thief says Jesus is LORD,presumably he accepts Jesus as the MESSIAH

    2.Then he says YOUR kingdom,meaning he believes the Messiah has authority in paradise

    3.In paradise people are divine beings,so at the MOST,at most,the thief accepted that Jesus was divine(while still on earth,but NOT Yahweh Incarnate)(as the JWs and Mormons believe)

    or was only human,but on dying would become a spiritual being,and have divine authority in heaven.

    B.The counter-argument is that BEFORE this Jesus in Luke,in the original Greek,orders God to forgive those who are killing him:

    Luke 23:34:

    ”Jesus said, “Father, forgive them(an order), for they do not know what they are doing.” ”

    Who can order God to do something,except he himself? But the problem with this argument is that there is HIGH probability(I am sure Greg Boyd knows this,which is WHY he uses the thief on the cross example) that,according to scholars,it is an interpolation,it was never in the original.

    C.One who believes it is an interpolation is James White,the Calvinist:

    In his >b>2013 article ”From the Lips of Jesus or a Scribal Hand?“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing””

    In his conclusion James White says:

    ”My Conclusion

    In my estimation, given the judgment of the weight of both the external and internal support [internal support was not covered in this blog post], it is reasonable to place about a 75-90% degree of probability that the longer reading is a scribal insertion early into the transmission history.

    The attestation among text-types and the diverse early geographical witnesses and their genealogical weight strengthens the probability of the shorter reading being primary.

    Whereas the longer reading is attested primarily early on in only the Western text………………….Concerning the argument that this reading was excised early because of anti-Judaic bias, in this particular variant, it is not a sufficiently cogent reason as explained.

    Up until the second century, the shorter reading was read widely. It was until sometime during the second century, probably the middle to the late part, that the longer reading was added and from then eventually found its way into all the text-types and the majority textual history thereafter.”

    Here is the gist of what White wrote before the conclusion

    ”A few years ago I wrote a paper entitled, “Luke 23:34a: From the Lips of Jesus or a Scribal Hand?”

    I argued that this saying of Jesus on the cross has significant textual doubt to its originality. It was sometime during the second century, probably the middle to the late part, that this saying was added, probably to a gospel harmony, and

    from then on it eventually found its way into all the text-types and the majority textual history thereafter.”

    The article also says:

    ”For Jacobus H. Petzer, the documentary evidence for an insertion into the textual tradition is noted,

    Analyzing this evidence shows that the short reading [i.e., omission] has in fact a wide basis of diverse evidence in its favour:

    The text is absent from almost all the earliest Alexandrian witnesses, notable P75, B and the Sahidic version,

    as well as some of the later Alexandrian or Egyptian witnesses, such as the Bohairic version and the minuscule 579.

    It is absent from some Western witnesses, notably the early Latin witnesses a and d, as well as Codex Bezae.

    It is furthermore omitted in the early Syriac tradition through its absence in the Synaitic Syriac version and the Syriac commentary of Cyril.

    Finally, it is even omitted in some of the early sources of the Byzantine text, such as W. [2]”

    And also:

    ”Petzer notes that the material evidence for the long reading is early, but qualifies it,

    “All these witnesses, however, belong to the same text-type. The evidence is thus genealogically limited. The pattern is more or less the same in the third century, with the reading occurring in Origen, Hipolytus of Rome, the Latin manuscripts c and e, which represent the earlier African form of the Vetus Latina, as well as the Curetonian Syriac version. All this evidence belongs to the Western texts with Origen the only exception.[6]

    In contrast, the diversity of the documentary evidence gives substantial weight to the shorter reading and thereby would strongly suggest a secondary origin of the longer reading. But the external documentary evidence cannot be considered definitive without an honest evaluation of internal considerations, which can be complex, yet extremely significant to the conundrum of this variant. But internal consideration is for another day, however, I did argue in my paper that there was likely a scribal numerical motivation for this interpolation.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Dr. White fully demolished Yahya’s methods and video yesterday. (Friday, August 5, 2016)


    • Ken the question of whether or not to believe in the Trinity should be a very easy to question to answer for Christians if it is as definitional as is often claimed. If you asked a Muslim if it were necessary to believed in Tawheed or in the Prophethood of Muhammad the answer would be an uniquivocal yes.


    • Then you understood Dr. White’s point about the reality that many people, even Christians, are ignorant on details of the doctrine of the Trinity, and it is not until a person actually is taught properly, and then they willfully reject it, that we can say, “they are not true believers”. That was the point that Bowman was making, which is what Dr. White fleshed out more clearly. Dr. Licona saying “not sure”, but affirming that one does have to belief in the Deity of Christ (see John 8:24; Romans 10:9-10), shows that if Dr. White or MacArthur or Bowman could keep asking him questions, Licona would probably answer with more confidence. Licona and Bowman were more nuanced because there are true believers in Christ who have not been taught yet on the Trinity, but once they have, they will embrace it with joy. Then there are others who may claim to be Christians, but are not; and if they are taught the doctrine fully, and THEN willfully reject it; THEN we can say they are not believers in the true God. That is where MacArthur is, because his emphasis is on teaching everything accurately. Yahya Snow’s videos are usually sound bite snippets pieced together without context, etc. (of the one’s I have taken the time to look at). They are not done with enough information, context, and even-handedness in order for better communication and understanding to take place – what Dr. White said at the beginning, which is very important – “to increase understanding between our 2 communities”.


    • James also said that most Christians have adopted heretical views on the Trinity. Do you not think it is a problem that this is such a big issue, it should be as i also recall the James has said something to the effect of the need to not just profess faith but also to have that faith inform every area of their lives.

      You also miss the point that Mike was not asked whether or not one was an unbeliever based on accepting any particular model of the Trinity but belief in general, Bowman likewise made no such distinction. MacArthur on the other hand was very clear that belief in the Trinity was necessary or else one could not be a Christian as this is the ‘nature of God’.

      In conclusion the confusion that is displayed in Yahyas’ video extends beyond the few people he shows but is also manifest in the beliefs of many Trinitarians.


  9. James also said that most Christians have adopted heretical views on the Trinity.

    Yes; Because they have not been taught properly as to what exactly the doctrine is. Many are modalists without knowing it; but when they are taught properly and gain knowledge, the true believers agree and grow in the knowledge of the truth. “My sheep hear My voice, and they follow Me . . . ” John 10:27-30 = the true sheep, once taught properly, respond properly.

    If you listen carefully, Bowman was saying what Dr. White was saying.



  1. Luke 23:39-43, Gregory Boyd and James White – Yahya Snow's Blog

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