WHO IS JESUS?
According to leading Biblical scholars and reference works.
By Juan Baixeras
The purpose of this paper is to document the many quotes which illustrate that important scholars and reference books do not agree at all that the statement "Jesus is God" represents the Bible accurately. I believe that this is important because the majority of mainstream Christianity is under the incorrect assumption that Christians who renounce the Trinity as unbiblical are members of some sort of cult who have been brainwashed into believing this heretical view. This could not be farther from the truth. In fact, it is the complete opposite. The majority of these people have studied the Bible in depth, which is why they can see that the Trinity is not contained in the Scriptures.
This list will contain quotes from some of the most recognized Biblical scholars and reference books. Some of the quotes are even from Trinitarian scholars and reference books, which makes their admission carry even more weight.
IS THE TRINITY BIBLICAL?
Let us start first with an individual which most of us in the U.S.A. admire for his contribution to our country not only as President, but also as the author of one of the greatest literary works of our time, the Declaration of Independence. What most people do not know about Thomas Jefferson is that he was an excellent, well-known and respected theologian of his time. Here is an excerpt from a letter that he wrote to a man named James Smith on Dec.8,1822:
"Hear, O Israel, YHWH our God is one LORD" (Deuteronomy 6:4), the Shema, the creed of Israel.
"No historical fact is better established, than that the doctrine of one God, pure and uncompounded, was that of the early ages of Christianity…Nor was the unity of the Supreme Being ousted from the Christian creed by the force of reason, but by the sword of civil government, wielded at the will of the fanatic Athanasius. The hocus-pocus phantasm of a God like Cerberus, with one body and three heads, had its birth and growth in the blood of thousands of martyrs…The Athanasian paradox that one is three, and three but one, is so incomprehensible to the human mind, that no candid man can say that he has any idea of it, and how can he believe what presents no idea? He who thinks he does, only deceives himself. He proves, also, that man, once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind. With such person, gullibility which they call faith, takes the helm from the hand of reason, and the mind becomes a wreck."
Thomas Jefferson: Letter to James Smith, Dec.8, 1822.
In the 1670’s, Isaac Newton quietly studied the Trinity and came to the conclusion that the doctrine was foisted on the church by Athanasius in order to swell the numbers and fill the coffers. He concluded that the Bible had prophesied the Rise of Trinitarianism ("this strange religion of the west," the cult of three equal gods) as the abomination of desolation – (The Rise of Science and Decline of Orthodox Christianity. A Study of Kepler, Descartes and Newton).
After Newton, others such as Matthew Tindal, John Toland, Gottfried Arnold, Goerg Walch, Giovanni But, Henry Noris and Hermann Samuel Reimarus argued Unitarianism and opened up a new era of criticism.
Albrecht Ritschl (1822-1889) saw the Trinity doctrine as flagrantly Hellenistic. He said, "that it had corrupted the Christian message by introducing an alien ‘layer of metaphysical concepts derived from the natural philosophy of the Greeks, and it had nothing to do with early Christianity."
"Jesus Christ never mentioned such a phenomenon, and nowhere in the New Testament does the word ‘Trinity’ appear. The idea was only adopted by the church three hundred years after the death of our Lord." – The Paganism in Our Christianity, historian Arthur Weigall.
"Anyone who can worship a Trinity and insist that his religion is monotheistic can believe anything." – Robert A. Heinlein.
Jesuit Fortman: "The New Testament writers…give us no formal or formulated doctrine of the Trinity, no explicit teaching that in one God there are three co-equal divine persons…Nowhere do we find any Trinitarian doctrine of three distinct subjects of divine life and activity in the same Godhead."
Protestant theologian Karl Barth said: "The Bible lacks the express declaration that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are of equal essence."
Yale University professor E. Washburn Hopkins: "To Jesus and Paul the doctrine of the Trinity was apparently unknown…they say nothing about it." – Origin and Evolution of Religion.
"As early as the 8th century, the theologian St. John of Damascus frankly admitted what every modern critical scholar of the New Testament now realizes; that neither the doctrine of the Trinity nor that of the two natures of Jesus Christ is explicitly set out in Scripture. In fact, if you take the record as it is and avoid reading back into it the dogmatic definitions of a latter age, you cannot find what is traditionally regarded as orthodox Christianity in the Bible at all." – For Christ’s Sake, Tom Harpur.
J.D. Michaelis who is an eminent professor of biblical languages states: "It cannot be proved, out of the whole number of passages in the Old Testament in which the Holy Spirit is mentioned, that it is a distinct person in the Godhead."
"To be called Son of God," says the leading contemporary scholar and systematician at Fuller Seminary, "means that you are NOT God" (Ex Auditu, 7, 1991).
"You simply cannot find the doctrine of the Trinity set out anywhere in the Bible. St Paul has the highest view of Jesus’ role and person, but nowhere does he call him God. Nor does Jesus himself explicitly claim to be the second person of the Trinity, wholly equal to his heavenly Father." – For Christ’s Sake, by Tom Harpur.
"Jesus is not God but God’s representative, and, as such, so completely and totally acts on God’s behalf that he stands in God’s stead before the world.... The gospel [of John] clearly states that God and Jesus are not to be understood as identical persons, as in 14:28, ‘the Father is greater than I’" (Jacob Jervell, Jesus in the Gospel of John, 1984, p. 21).
"Apparently Paul did not call Jesus God" (Sydney Cave, D.D., Doctrine of the Person of Christ, p. 48).
"Paul habitually differentiates Christ from God" (C.J. Cadoux, A Pilgrim’s Further Progress, pp. 40, 42).
"Paul never equates Jesus with God" (W.R. Matthews, The Problem of Christ in the 20th-Century, Maurice Lectures, W.R. Matthews, 1949, p. 22).
"Paul never gives to Christ the name or description of ‘God’" (Dictionary of the Apostolic Church, Vol. 1, p. 194).
"When the New Testament writers speak of Jesus Christ, they do not speak of Him nor do they think of Him as God" (J.M. Creed, The Divinity of Jesus Christ, pp. 122-123).
Karl Rahner [leading Roman Catholic spokesman] points out with so much emphasis: That the Son in the New Testament is never described as ‘ho theos’ [God]" (A.T. Hanson, Grace and Truth, p. 66).
"The clear evidence of John is that Jesus refuses the claim to be God.... Jesus vigorously denied the blasphemy of being God or His substitute" (J.A.T. Robinson, Twelve More New Testament Studies, pp. 175, 176).
"In his post-resurrection heavenly life, Jesus is portrayed as retaining a personal individuality every bit as distinct and separate from the person of God as was his in his life on earth as the terrestrial Jesus. Alongside God and compared with God, he appears, indeed, as yet another heavenly being in God’s heavenly court, just as the angels were - though as God’s Son, he stands in a different category, and ranks far above them" (Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, 1967-68, Vol. 50, p. 258).
"What, however, is said of his life and functions as the celestial Christ neither means nor implies that in divine status he stands on a par with God Himself and is fully God. On the contrary, in the New Testament picture of his heavenly person and ministry we behold a figure both separate from and subordinate to God" (ibid., pp. 258, 259).
"The fact has to be faced that New Testament research over, say, the last thirty or forty years has been leading an increasing number of reputable New Testament scholars to the conclusion that Jesus...certainly never believed himself to be God" (ibid., p. 251).
"When [first-century Christians] assigned Jesus such honorific titles as Christ, Son of Man, Son of God and Lord, these were ways of saying not that he was God but that he did God’s work" (ibid., p. 250).
"The ancients made a wrong use of [John 10:30] to prove that Christ is...of the same essence with the Father. For Christ does not argue about the unity of substance, but about the agreement that he has with the Father" (John Calvin, Commentary on John).
"As far as the New Testament is concerned, one does not find in it an actual doctrine of the Trinity." (Bernard Lohse, A Short History of Christian Doctrine).
"The Pauline Christ who accomplishes the work of salvation is a personality who is both human and superhuman, not God, but the Son of God. Here the idea, which was to develop later, of the union of the two natures is not present" (Maurice Goguel, Jesus and the Origins of Christianity, Harper, 1960).
"Jesus is never identified simpliciter [absolutely] with God, since the early Christians were not likely to confuse Jesus with God the Father" (Howard Marshall, Jesus as Lord: The Development of the Concept, in Eschatology in the NT, Hendrickson, p. 144).
The Catholic Encyclopedia: "For nowhere in the Old Testament do we find any clear indication of a Third Person. Mention is often made of the Spirit of the Lord, but there is nothing to show that the Spirit was viewed as distinct from Yahweh Himself. The term is always employed to signify God considered in His working, whether in the universe or in the soul of man."
The Encyclopedia Americana: "Fourth century Trinitarianism did not reflect accurately early Christian teaching regarding the nature of God; it was, on the contrary, a deviation from this teaching."
A Dictionary of Religious Knowledge: "Many say that the Trinity is a corruption borrowed from the heathen religions, and engrafted on the Christian faith."
The Paganism in Our Christianity: "The origin of the Trinity is entirely pagan."
The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge: "The doctrines of the Logos and the Trinity received their shape from Greek Fathers, who were much influenced, directly or indirectly, by the Platonic philosophy. That errors and corruptions crept into the church from this source cannot be denied."
The Church of the First Few Centuries: "The Doctrine of the Trinity was of gradual and comparatively late formation. It had its origin in a source entirely foreign from that of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures. It grew up, and was ingrafted on Christianity, through the hands of the Platonizing Fathers."
Outlines of the History of Dogma: "Church doctrine became rooted in the soil of Hellenism (pagan Greek thought). Thereby it became a mystery to the great majority of Christians."
The Illustrated Bible Dictionary: "The word Trinity is not found in the Bible…It did not find a place formally in the theology of the church till the 4th century."
The Encyclopedia of Religion: "Theologians agree that the New Testament does not contain an explicit doctrine of the Trinity."
The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology: "The New Testament does not contain the developed doctrine of the Trinity."
The Encyclopedia Americana: "Christianity derived from Judaism, and Judaism was strictly Unitarian [believing that God is one person]. The road that led from Jerusalem to Nicaea was scarcely a straight one. Fourth century Trinitarianism did not reflect accurately early Christian teaching regarding the nature of God; it was, on the contrary, a deviation from this teaching." –(1956), Vol. XXVII, p. 294L.
The Nouveau Dictionary Universel: "The Platonic Trinity, itself merely a rearrangement of older trinities dating back to earlier peoples, appears to be the rational philosophic trinity of attributes that gave rise to the three hypostases or divine persons taught by the Christian churches…This Greek philosopher’s [Plato, fourth century BCE ] conception of the divine trinity…can be found in all the ancient [pagan] religions." (Paris,1865-1870), edited by M.Lachatre, Vol. 2, p. 1467.
Dictionary of the Bible by John L. Mckenzie, S.J: "The trinity of persons within the unity of nature is defined in terms of ‘person’ and ‘nature’ which are Greek philosophical terms; actually the terms do not appear in the Bible. The Trinitarian definitions arose out of long controversies in which these terms and others such as ‘essence’ and ‘substance’ were erroneously applied to God by some theologians." – (New York, 1965), p. 899.
The New Encyclopedia Britannica: "Neither the word Trinity, nor the explicit doctrine as such, appears in the New Testament, nor did Jesus and his followers intend to contradict the Shema in the Old Testament: ‘Hear O Israel; YHWH our God is one Lord’ (Deut. 6:4)…The doctrine developed gradually over several centuries and through many controversies…By the end of the 4th century the doctrine of the Trinity took substantially the form it has maintained ever since." -(1976), Micropedia, Vol.X, p. 126.
The New Catholic Encyclopedia: "The formulation ‘one God in three persons’ was not solidly established, certainly not fully assimilated into Christian life and its profession of faith, prior to the end of the 4th century. But it is precisely this formula that has first claim to the title the Trinitarian dogma. Among the Apostolic Fathers, there had been nothing even remotely approaching such a mentality or perspective." –(1967), Vol. XIV, p. 299.
Why has it taken so long to expose this false teaching?
The fact that the Trinity is not Biblical is well known among Bible scholars and reference books as is attested to in this paper. There are many more quotes from many more sources that could be added to this list, but I sufficed that these were enough for the purpose of this paper.
The reason that it has taken so long to expose this fact to the masses is that only until recently (the 1700’s), the punishment for denying the Trinity was death by fire at the stake. This is no joke or exaggeration. In the 5th century the Roman Emperor Justin made non-belief in the Trinity punishable by death. Another very important reason is that there were very few Bibles, and very few people who were literate, and even if you had a Bible and could read, you were forbidden to read it because it was considered a mortal sin for an average person to do so. Only the Church officials had the privilege to read the Scriptures. Roman Catholics were not allowed to read the Scriptures until 1962 when it was finally allowed under Vatican II by Pope John the 23rd. Keep in mind that even today, Catholics make up about 80% of the Christians in the world.
By the time the reformation took place in the 1500’s, the Trinity had had 1000 years to entrench itself in Christianity. At this time, still very few people were able to read, and Bibles were still very expensive. The reformist did allow people to read the Scriptures if you could read and afford it, but denial of the Trinity still carried the death penalty. Michael Servetus was burned at the stake by Calvin for declaring his anti-Trinitarian views.
Finally, in Western Europe in the 1700’s a more tolerant position was adopted. You were no longer persecuted by the state for your views, but you were still persecuted socially and economically by society.
It was because of this tolerant position by the state that the controversy about the Trinity arose again in full force in the 1700’s and 1800’s. It has taken until the 1900’s for it to become common knowledge among Bible scholars and serious Bible students, although it is still vigorously defended as "a mystery" by so-called orthodox churches.
I do believe it will be well into the next century before the majority of Christianity finally discards this apostasy that has robbed Christians of the true knowledge of the only God, the Father, and His Son Jesus the Messiah, for the last 1700 years.
"Yet for us there is one God, the Father" (Corinthians 8:6).
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 1:3).