The Doctrine of the Trinity: Christianity's Self-Inflicted Wound

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9781573093095: The Doctrine of the Trinity: Christianity's Self-Inflicted Wound
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This important work is a detailed biblical investigation of the relationship of Jesus to the one God of Israel. The authors challenge the notion that biblical monotheism is legitimately represented by a Trinitarian view of God and demonstrate that within the bounds of the canon of Scripture Jesus is confessed as Messiah, Son of God, but not God Himself. Later Christological developments beginning in the second century misrepresented the biblical doctrine of God and Christ by altering the terms of the biblical presentation of the Father and Son. This fateful development laid the foundation of a revised, unscriptural creed that needs to be challenged. This book is likely to be a definitive presentation of a Christology rooted, as it originally was, in the Hebrew Bible. The authors present a sharply-argued appeal for an understanding of God and Jesus in the context of the original Christian documents. For additional information visit the author's website at www.restorationfellowship.org.

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About the Author:

Sir Anthony Buzzard teaches at the Atlanta Bible College.
Charles F. Hunting is a retired pastor and college business manager.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

From the Foreword: I could not read Christianity's Self-Inflicted Wound without becoming excited again about the primitive Christian (and Jewish) doctrine that "God is One." If there are any Nicene encrustations in one's mind and life, this book should sweep them all away.

It is a pleasing experience to read Anthony Buzzard's and Charles Hunting's clear explanations of key passages of Scripture usually seen before through a Trinitarian prism. At the same time it is a delight to read concise statements which are certain to etch themselves upon the reader's mind. An example is the explanation of Thomas's great confession in John 20:28. Thomas recognized in the risen Jesus the one appointed to be "God" of the coming age, replacing Satan, the "God" of the present age. However, Thomas' words "Lord" and "God" are simply Messianic titles in the Old Testament and medieval Jewish sense. The previously doubting Apostle did not suddenly adopt the Nicene or the Athanasian Creed and see his Lord as "very God of very God." The Gospel of John must not be forced to conform to much later speculation by Greek theologians.

No apparent Trinitarian or preexistence passage is left unchallenged. (This includes the enigmatic saying of Jesus in John 8:58 which must be balanced by the many other Christological statements in John and by the rest of Scripture.) It is a major point and basis of the book that the assertion of Christ's preexistence as God the Son placed a strain on the truth of his humanity, in theological thinking, which it was unable to bear.

In this connection Buzzard and Hunting advance a most interesting thesis: John's epistles are his answer to those Gnostic heretics who misused his Gospel. John labels their treatment of his Gospel as very "antichrist."

But the authors of Christianity's Self-Inflicted Wound are not content to settle for explanations of the critical texts of Scripture. They are usually followed by the confirmatory words of prominent theologians in Europe and North America. Their familiarity with the entire field of theological opinion, especially on the subject of the Trinity, is obvious and impressive.

There is a pleasing element of humor in this book which elevates it above the genre of textbook and tome. Professor Buzzard and Charles Hunting point out that one of the great marvels of Christian history has been the ability of post-biblical theologians to convince Christian people that three Persons are really One God. Paul preached the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:28). Why did he not explain the Trinity?

In discussing Jesus' use of the word "only" in John 17:3 ("the only true God") the authors write that we would be suspicious of anyone who claimed he had "only one wife" if his household consisted of three separate women, all of whom he claimed were his one wife!

Paul explained to the Corinthians "that there is no God but One," defining that One God as the Father only. He went on to say that "not all have this knowledge." The authors add: "We are tempted to think that not much has changed since the first century."

Finally, in this regard, the doctrine of the Trinity is an adult theological myth. Christianity condemns the world for imposing the unproved theory of evolution on mankind. But orthodoxy imposes something equally problematic: a multiple-person God.

It is a familiar criticism of the Protestant Reformation that it only went back to the Council of Nicea. There it encountered a roadblock, in this instance a barricade built of politics, philosophy, bigotry, envy, and intrigue. The authors of this book are not deterred by any such roadblock - Nicea, Chalcedon or otherwise.

Christianity's Self-Inflicted Wound does not attempt to hurdle the early church councils, nor does it detour around them. It meets them head on, drives through them, and arrives at the more authoritative "decrees" of Jesus and the Apostles. If Jesus evidently was not a Trinitarian, why should his followers be?

Readers will be intrigued by the title of this book. It is most appropriate for the authors' thesis. As far as the pristine Jewish Christianity of Jesus and the Apostles is concerned, the wound has been nearly fatal. The patient's life has been spared by the scriptural principle that God always has His remnant.

To express it another way (the illustration is mine, not the authors'), the dogma of the Trinity is that potion of hemlock which Gnostically-inclined theologians deliberately chose to drink, mixing the pure stream of Hebrew doctrine with the poison of Greek philosophy. Then they forced the mixture on their disciples. The penalty for refusal would be eternal damnation.

If there is a key text to the book, it is John 17:3, "And this is life eternal, that they might know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." In this connection the authors make much of the fact that Jesus was the Son of God from conception, not from eternity (Luke 1:35). He came into the world en sarki, a human being, not into a human body (cp. 1 John 4:2; 2 John 7).

Trinitarianism has long had a field day in charging that non-Trinitarian believers are not really Christians. The Athanasian Creed is renowned for its damnatory clauses. The authors counter this charge by pointing out that "eternal life" (the life of the coming Kingdom) is linked with knowledge of the truth about God and Jesus (John 17:3; 1 Tim. 2:4, 5). It is the Trinitarians who should be on the defensive, not the biblical unitarians. The latter group has had its heroic exponents and the authors give us much of their little-known history.

This book is a telling indictment of the central dogma of historic or mainstream Christianity - that version of the faith which, unknown to many, stems from the councils and the creeds. Christianity still prostrates itself before the low wrought-gold throne of Constantine. Its dogma has produced tragic and bloody episodes in history. Something is askew. - Sidney Hatch, B.A., M.Div., Th.M.

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