3in1 or 1in1 or 1in3 or…

I’ve been away for the last week because of a minor flood and the subsequent repairs and cleanup. I told myself I had to write something today or it might be another week. This post also serves another purpose. I had been given a book awhile ago and I promised to read it, but it’s been so busy I haven’t had a chance. I’m going to review it chapter by chapter on the blog, thus forcing me to read it.

First, a little background. I am an unashamed Trinitarian. I considered belief in the Trinity to be a central doctrine of the Church and essential to Christianity. Father, Son, Holy Spirit: three distinct persons that are somehow One God. It is one of the most perplexing mystery’s of the faith and in some sense we do more harm than good by spending too much time trying to figure it out. There is a view, that began around 1914, that the Trinity is a false doctrine and that it is in fact a Tritheism and destroys the Oneness of God. Hence the title of the book is “The Oneness of God” by David K. Bernard (it is Volume One of the Pentecostal Theology series). The person who gave it to me was introduced to this view through a significant relation and has asked me my opinion.

Right off the top of my head I’ve never understood how they “oneness” folks can say this is different than the ancient heresy modalism, but perhaps that will becomes clear as the book progresses. Anyway, this is the intention, to read the book and let you know my thoughts. I expect there will be grounds for agreement and much we disagree on and I would value your opinions as we go along.

5 thoughts on “3in1 or 1in1 or 1in3 or…

  1. Oneness isn’t a new theory. It has just become more acceptable in the past 100 years. As I understand it there is no real difference between it and modalism which was previously deemed heretical. I wouldn’t go as far as calling it heretical and I personally tend to emphasize the one-ness of the three persons more than the difference between the 3 persons (while still thinking there are 3 persons).

    There are very few things that I would recommend reading John Calvin for, but his defense of the Trinity in Institutes of the Christian Religion is the best I’ve encountered.

  2. The oneness of the Trinity is different from modalism or unitarianism, which is essentially an overemphasis of that oneness to the point of denying the Trinity altogether. I’ve found that it’s difficult to talk about the Trinity for very long without veering into either modalism or tritheism. Someone gave me an icon of Rublev’s Trinity a couple of years ago, and I haven’t really been able to get my mind around the image.

    I must say I’m surprised that a unitarian theology would get such official-sounding traction among Pentecostals. But it’s really an ancient debate, going all the way back to the Patristics. Arius, for example, had a similar hangup on oneness, seemingly due to some neo-Platonist influence. God the Father (like “the One” in neo-Platonist metaphysics) must be the only source of being and therefore cannot have a coeternal Son. As I understand it, this is basically the position of Jehovah’s Witnesses today.

  3. Pingback: 3in1 or 1in1 or 1in3 or… | Menno Nerds

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