podcast 181 – White’s case for the Trinity – Part 1

Is this a powerful, state-of-the-art biblical argument for the Trinity?

reblogged from Trinities

Some would say that Reformed apologist Dr. James White, director of Alpha and Omega Ministries, is the best contemporary debater on behalf of traditional catholic views on the Trinity. Certainly, he’s had time and opportunity to sharpen his arguments, having debated the Trinity and/or the “deity of Christ” with (among others) a Muslim scholar, some biblical unitarians (also here), a Oneness Pentecostal, and a defender of Jehovah’s Witness Theology.

But how strong is his case? In Dr. White’s view, “the” Trinity doctrine is easily deduced from the Bible. Is that true?

In this and the next episode of the trinities podcast, I evaluate Dr. White’s opening statement from a recent debate with a minister from the non-trinitarian Iglesia ni Christo denomination from the Philippines. I find that in many ways, Dr. White does not connect with the views of his opponent. And he hunkers down in some simple traditional language about the Trinity, never clarifying just what he thinks the Trinity is. For example, he does nothing to undermine arguments that “the” Trinity doctrine is incoherent.

Argument 1: collapsing the Father and Son

1. The Father just is God (i.e. the Father and God are numerically one).
2. The Son just is God (i.e. the Son and God are numerically one).
3. God just is the Son. (From 2, by the symmetry of numerical identity: if a = b then b = a.)
4. The Father just is the Son. (From 1 and 3, by the transitivity of numerical identity: if a = b and b = c, then a = c.)
5. It is not the case that the Father just is the Son.

Dr. White commits to 1, 2, and 5. But then, 3 and 4 follow. And 4 contradicts 5. If “the” Trinity implies 1, 2, and 5, then it is incoherent! What does Dr. White do to show us how a trinitarian can avoid 4? Nothing! And to make matters worse, it’s not clear that 1 and 2 are consistent with any Trinity theory, which demands that the one God be numerically the same as the Trinity.

Argument 2: from Trinity to polytheism

1. The Father is divine.
2. The Son is divine.
3. The Spirit is divine.
4. None of these just is any other: Father, Son, Spirit (i.e. they are distinct; no pair are numerically one).
5. To be divine is to be a god.
6. For any x and y, x and y are the same god only if x just is y (i.e. if they are numerically one, the same being/entity). (In other words, being the same god requires being the same being.)
7. There are at least three gods. (1-6)

Dr. White affirms 1-4, and seems committed to 5 also (we’re talking about “full” deity here). 6 seems self-evident. But 7 follows. If each of the three is a god (1-3, 5), and they’re not the same god, because they’re numerically distinct (4,6), then there exist at least three gods (7).

It doesn’t help to just insist that the Trinity is by definition monotheistic. If it also commits to 1-5, then it seems incoherent, affirming both monotheism and polytheism. And Dr. White doesn’t show us how a trinitarian can avoid 7.

Other problems relate to his reliance on controversial translations and/or interpretations of several texts, and on the dubious relevance of texts where Jesus is (arguably) referred to as “God.”

Next week, we’ll hear the rest of his case. Maybe it gets better?

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Categories: Christianity, God, Philosophy

24 replies

  1. Neither James nor all christians can escape from (John 17:3).

    I’ve watched that debate which was funny! I think the opponent slapped James many times, so that why James relied on his preaching skills many times. You know what I mean( i.e when the satan shadows christians).

    Liked by 2 people

    • Neither can Muslims escape John 17:3 since according to the context the only true God is the Father of the Lord Jesus who glorifies his Son in the same way that the Son glorifies the Father, having existed with the Father in the same divine glory from before the creation of the world, and who has been granted authority from the Father over all flesh, which means that Christ is over Muhammad, with Muhammad being beneath the glorious feet of the Lord Jesus:

      “After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, ‘FATHER, the hour has come; GLORIFY YOUR SON so that THE SON may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, TO GIVE ETERNAL LIFE TO ALL WHOM YOU HAVE GIVEN HIM. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, GLORIFY ME in your own presence with the glory THAT I HAD IN YOUR PRESENCE before the world existed.” John 17:1-5

      Therefore, John 17:3 is a nightmare for Muslims since it proves that Muhammad

      Like

    • Neither can Muslims escape John 17:3 since according to the context the only true God is the Father of the Lord Jesus who glorifies his Son in the same way that the Son glorifies the Father, having existed with the Father in the same divine glory from before the creation of the world, and who has been granted authority from the Father over all flesh, which means that Christ is over Muhammad, with Muhammad being beneath the glorious feet of the Lord Jesus:

      “After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, ‘FATHER, the hour has come; GLORIFY YOUR SON so that THE SON may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, TO GIVE ETERNAL LIFE TO ALL WHOM YOU HAVE GIVEN HIM. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, GLORIFY ME in your own presence with the glory THAT I HAD IN YOUR PRESENCE before the world existed.” John 17:1-5

      Therefore, John 17:3 is a nightmare for Muslims since it proves that Muhammad was an antichrist and a false prophet inspired by satan.

      Like

    • “Neither can Muslims escape John 17:3 since according to the context the only true God is the Father of the Lord Jesus who glorifies his Son in the same way that the Son glorifies the Father, having existed with the Father in the same divine glory from before the creation of the world”
      YET the Father is the (((only))) true God who is the God of Jesus, the one whom Jesus cannot do (((anything))) without, and the one who knows the hour. Accept?

      Liked by 2 people

    • And yet your prophet DENIED that the Father is the only true God, since he didn’t accept the fact of his god being a father to anyone (cf. Q. 5:18; 6:101; 9:30; 19:88-93; 21:26; 39:4; 72:3). Therefore, according to Jesus the only true God IS NOT the Allah of the Quran, but is his Father whom glorifies him as his Son and appoints him over all flesh, meaning that Jesus the Son is over your Muhammad, with your Muhammad being underneath Jesus’ glorious feet, and it is the Father’s Son who give eternal life to all that the Father gives him. This means that you have to abandon your Muhammad and glorify Jesus as the Son who is over you and all creation. And since Muhammad rejected Jesus as the Son and God as the Father this means your Muhammad is in hell, under the righteous judgment and wrath of Christ his Master and Judge.

      Like

    • So abdul-hajar al-aswad, do you accept that Jesus is the Father’s Son whom the Father glorifies and who has power over all flesh, even over your Muhammad, and who existed in the same divine glory with the Father before the creation of the world, which proves your Muhammad was an antichrist and false prophet?

      DO YOU ACCEPT?

      Like

    • Sam you know very well that the words attributed to Jesus in the Fourth gospel are unlikely to have been spoken by him.

      Like

    • Sam, your argument is flawed. The Prophet did not reject the Father but simply removed this term (the Father) from use. As you know there are connotations which arose from this term “Father” which led people to have a wrong-headed view of God.

      To prevent people from misunderstanding who God is by preventing the use of a term (Father), post-Jesus, which has the potential to cloud who God really is is actually a meritorious thing to do.

      Love

      Liked by 1 person

    • What is it about figurative speech that Christians don’t get?

      Like

    • Whether that (((only)))true God glorfied Jesus or not, he is still is the only true God whom Jesus warships. The only one whom Jesus can do (((nothing))) without! The only one who knows the hour Not Jesus nor the angels. This is what Jesus said! Accept?

      Also, how can you escape from the word (((only)))?
      It’s a sowrd shredding your nonsense trinity !
      Jesus killed your trinity with that verse that you wish it’s not been written.

      Like

    • “The Prophet did not reject the Father but simply removed this term (the Father) from use.”

      Can you prove this?

      Like

    • Palus,
      Do you accept that the father is the ONLY true God?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Abdullah,

      Yesterday, you posted:

      == YET the Father is the (((only))) true God who is the God of Jesus, the one whom Jesus cannot do (((anything))) without, and the one who knows the hour. Accept?==

      I do, and importantly so does the Nicene Creed, wherein we read:

      ==We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all that is, seen and unseen.==

      As does Augustine, who wrote:

      ==For we call the Son God of God; but the Father, God only; not of God.==

      [See THIS THREAD for further reflections on this issue.]

      The correct, proper understanding of John 17:3 was delineated hundreds of years before the musings of James R. White. I will side with you in a good number of your critiques concerning modern day folk who are self-appointed authorities on the interpretation of the Bible. But with that said, you need to keep in mind that those critiques have little value against the ancient authorities of the Christian Church.

      Grace and peace,

      David

      Like

    • The ancient authorities of the Christian Church, were not infallible either.

      “Augustine, who wrote: ==For we call the Son God of God; but the Father, God only; not of God.==”

      Abdullah reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Ruined, were those who indulged in hair-splitting. He (the Holy Prophet) repeated this thrice. (Sahih Muslim)

      Like

  2. Sam,

    Just submit to God and be good to all life.

    Leave the dogmatic doctrines.

    If you add some doctrine onto God, then the onus is on you to prove rigorously these blasphemous doctrines of trinity, vicarious atonement, original sin and how they are 100% true.

    And you can’t do that if the doctrines have problems dealing with coherency, logic, morality…to speak nothing of how academics have demonstrated persuasively how these dogmas originated, spread, and became institutionalized.

    The onus is not on us to believe them.

    We would be punished if we believe them.

    So Sam, I am a fellow human who wants the absolute best for you in this world and the next (just like I want teh best for myself and for everyone). I thus encourage you to just submit to God, be good to people and be good to yourself, and stop everything else…meaning stop with the nonsense pollution.

    Don’t judge others…God will judge us all….He knows our hearts…He knows who is good in their heart of hearts.

    Do what Noah, Abraham and Moses did…just submit to God without the later dogmas.

    That is do this if your afterlife is precious to you…but if it is not and you want to continue to enjoy these fleeting temporary moments of enjoying the particular religious identity that you were born in and in which you therefore developed a liking for then continue to mislead yourself and continue to try to mislead others to join your identity…continue business as usual.

    Like

  3. Just for fun:

    Argument 1 assumes modalism.

    If God is x + y + z logically speaking to represent the three persons, not arithmetically, then you cannot say God is just x, y or z which his prepositions 1 and 2 are doing, so they are false.

    Argument 2 is wrong because he assumes that 7 follows from 6 but gives no proof as why this must follow.

    Like

  4. ok, seriously,

    5. To be divine is to be a god

    is also a false premise from a trinitarian point of view

    here he is assuming what he is setting out to prove.

    if you say, for example, that x is a stone and y is a stone then it is impossible for them ever to be the same stone.

    Like

    • ???

      Like

    • “When in doubt question all premises and definitions”

      I understand what you are saying, but at the same time, we are not talking about simple stones here.

      How are we to understand the statement “to be divine” if it does not mean “to be God”??

      Like

    • Ibn Issam

      The bible mentions various beings who are not God but are nevertheless not merely mortal beings either such as angels, seraphim, cherubim, and even certain human beings. To simply say that “to be divine is to be a god” assumes a certain definition of divinity that has yet to be provided nor argued for.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Sam

    I know you can’t help it but I’m deleting any comments that are insulting or abusive.

    Liked by 2 people

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