by Paul Benson
I had someone break fellowship with me a couple of years ago over the issue of the ‘Trinity versus Oneness’ debate. Although it was not a devastating experience, it was none the less somewhat painful as I had been having fellowship with this brother on a regular basis for a few years. This event was quite surprising to me considering the fact that although he is a Trinitarian (and quite proudly so), I am NOT involved in, nor do I promote, Oneness theology. I was not arguing against his beliefs or being contentious with him. I was merely refusing to embrace his exact theology, and make the proper ‘confession of faith’ he was demanding. And he felt that was unpardonable.
I happen to believe there are conflicts with Scripture found within the stance of both camps, and I refuse to pick a side, and engage in the battle. I am under the opinion that neither doctrinal set portrays (as they claim) a full and accurate description of who God is and what he is all about. Actually I see grave danger in attempting to define God. Please allow me to explain why I feel this way.
The Danger of Debate
Although I don’t believe the Trinity versus Oneness conflict is a salvation issue; I do very much believe the debate over it (or any subject) CAN become one! Listed in the often quoted ‘works of the flesh which are defiling enough to sent a person to Hell’ passage found in Galatians 5:19-21 is the sin of ‘Variance’. This word is only one of several in this passage most Christians sadly could not define if their life depended upon it. (We preach holiness, yea buddy! But have we really applied ourselves to learn what God views as unholy?)
Variance: a quarrel, that is, (by implication) wrangling: – contention, debate, strife, variance.
Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom. Proverbs 13:10
Pride And The Fear Of The Lord Are Opposites!
For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. 2 But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. Malachi 4:1-2
People who thrive on debate, and get a fleshly stimulation out of it, are flirting with a sin that could very well bring damnation upon them. If you want to preach your doctrine to me do it in love, and I will consider what you have to say. But leave me OUT of your strife filled debating! I want no part of it!
Don’t get me wrong. I speak against false teaching whenever it rears its ugly head if I get a leading from the Lord to do so (quite often actually). We are commanded to correct those who speak in error. But the calling is to speak the truth in love, not to enter into strife and bitter debate with others; we must always guard ourselves against the temptation to engage in the sin of variance. It is a serious defilement.
Now back to the issue of defining God. Before we make any attempt to make a definitive description of God let’s try out our wings on something a little smaller, shall we? Maybe we ought to first try and fully describe some of the things in the natural realm in which we live.
Let’s Talk About Light
When attempting a definitive description of light I come up against a number of problems. First, our human faculties can only detect a very small fraction of the light around us. The visible spectrum of light is only a very narrow slice of the enormous bandwidth that exists. We only perceive a mere 10% of the light (electromagnetic radiation is the technical term) given off by an incandescent light bulb; and less than 2% of the light given off by the sun! And if you include all forms of electromagnetic radiation in the universe the percentage becomes VERY small.; less than .001 %! How many colors are there which we cannot perceive? I could not tell you; I cannot describe something beyond my grasp.
In a similar fashion as sight, our hearing is also quite restricted in relation to how much sound is out there. Could you imagine if you had to deal with all that extra high and low frequency sound? We would probably go bezerk! We were given the range of hearing that is best suited to our need. How many sounds are out there? I have no way of knowing; it is beyond my grasp.
Our Physical World
There is much in this physical world in which we live that we would be stumped if we were pressed for a description of. Take gravity for instance. Does anyone really know what it is or how it works? Want a sore brain? Go to Wikipedia and read the page on gravity. Jeepers! They reference the findings of the greatest minds the world has ever known. The bottom line? Uh, nobody is quite sure what it is! We can only try to measure its effects.
The smartest of the smarties tell us there are more dimensions to our reality than the three we can perceive (possibly nine or ten); they claim they can prove this mathematically. Although I have no understanding in those matters, and cannot attest to the correctness of their claims, I do think there is more around us than what we can perceive. How else could you account for the fact we cannot see angels or devils which, as Christians, we know exist and interact with humanity?
With this in mind, how could I describe a box with four dimensions? Three is easy; I would just give you the length, height, and width. But how would I describe the fourth dimension of that box? How could I? It is beyond my grasp.
A Chicken and A Little!
I have been developing this post for quite a while, feeling not quite ready (or brave enough?) to cast this opinion upon my readers. Recently I came across a statement made by John Little ( Omegashock.com ) in response to a comment left on his website. His statement prompted me to ‘git er dun’ and move this post into the completed category. John’s statement:
Can you accept the fact that you cannot answer some questions, and that God has deliberately NOT given us those answers?
Lots of people cannot pass that test, and wind up traveling some very dark paths. Trying to answer what cannot – and should not – be answered will only lead to the wounding of your soul.
If the Bible does not provide the answer, I am satisfied that it is not necessary for me to have the answer. It doesn’t mean that I stop asking ‘Why?’ It just means that I need to be satisfied with ‘Dunno’.
Thank you John, for affirming my thoughts. Some times God keeps things from us for our own good.
If we could see the entire bandwidth of light we would have to process thousands (perhaps millions) of times the information we currently handle in order to ‘see’. It would overload our brains with information we don’t need. Our ‘limited’ perception of light is by divine design for our own benefit.
If we could hear the full range of sound it would be such an immense task to sort it all out and make sense of it. Wisely, God has given us only the hearing ability which would be most useful to us; again so as not to overwhelm or distract us.
A Great And Mighty God!
Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. 2 Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain: Psalm 104:1-2
But what has all this rambling on about the limitations of human perception got to do with the Trinity versus Oneness debate? EVERYTHING! You’ll notice in the verse above it says the Lord wears light as a garment? How do you expect me to adopt a definitive description of God when I cannot even give you a full description of his clothing? How can I possibly define our Creator when I only have such a meager grasp on so many aspects of his creation? Give me a break!
We ARE given many specifics about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in the Bible; and we ARE to embrace those truths. Yes I believe in the deity of Christ; and no I do NOT believe the Holy Spirit is merely the ‘active force’ of God; the Holy Spirit IS God. I believe what the Bible clearly teaches about our God. But I believe there are vast untold truths about our Lord that are yet to be revealed.
The fullness of the Godhead remains a mystery (at least to me). And I think there is a very good reason for this: I believe just as God limited us in our sight, hearing, etc. to keep us from overloading our mortal minds and bodies; likewise he limited our spiritual perception to what he felt we could deal with in our present state,
I have never received from God, nor do I see expressed in the Word of God, a demand for us to bring forth a definitive ‘statement’ as to exactly who God is, and what he is all about. So please excuse me if I don’t choose sides and join your prideful debate, or memorize your creeds and cruds.
And forgive me if I don’t see a need to (or even have the ability to!) properly, exactly, and completely define an infinite God in order to be saved.
All I need is to receive, believe, and obey the Gospel of his Son!
And I have, and (by the power of his grace) I do.
And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. 13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. 1John 5:11-13