I haven’t been online for sometime and when I am online, I’m either at someone else’s home, the grocery store (where I am now) or library. But you know what, it’s kind of nice! :)
Anyhow, I came across this article by Greg Stafford. I’d really like to spend sometime on this, because I am of the opinion that these are issue that Christ’s Church needs to address in our day. As a matter of fact, I recently finished reading an article by Gerald Bray titled “The Trinity: Where Do We Go From Here?” In the conclusion of Bray’s article he states “a future Reformed Trinitarian theology must seek definition and clarity as far as possible.” I couldn’t agree more, especially in light of recent “arguments” put forth by various cultists.
I had asked someone else to comment on Mr. Stafford’s post and he did so here. The post written below was done before I saw Steve’s post. I hope my makes some sense, but Mr. Hays is certainly more well read then I am.
I’m not going to address every point in the article, frankly I have bigger things that need to be taken care of (e.g. reading books for Orientation at Greenville Seminary).
In typical cultic fashion, Stafford takes one verse (John 17:3) and runs with it, stating the JW understanding of the text is as clear as a bell. Reminds me of the Church of Christ (see post below) where they claim Acts 2:38; forgiveness of your sins is acquired by repentance and baptism. The Churches of Christ claim the exact same thing as Mr. Stafford does when he states “Jehovah’s Witnesses do not have to assume their view of God, for it is stated clearly in the text…” I wonder if Mr. Stafford would agree with the Church of Christ, or does he do his systematics, coming to a proper view of baptism.
First, Greg wants all Triniarians to deny the God in whom they believe. Do you actually know what your asking for Greg? Reminds me of the atheists who wants the Christian to lay aside his Christian presuppositions, in order to prove God’s existence. Brothers (and sisters), this should not be. It’s not as though Stafford is calling us to be neutral. He wants you to adopt his presuppositions; denying the very God who has transformed your life.
One of Greg’s main point surrounds Ed Enochs’ statement on Trinitarianism:
I. There is but one God.
II. There is a plurality of persons within the Godhead.
III. The Bible calls the Father, “God.”
IV. The Bible calls the Son, “God.”
V. The Bible calls the Holy Spirit, “God.”
If you read Greg’s article, he seems to indicate that Trinitarians are all Hinnites.
You know what Hinnites are don’t you? They are followers of the teachings of Benny Hinn, who once stated that there were nine members of the Trinity.
Mr. Stafford tells us that we are equivocating on the Term God, with the belief that God in I means one thing (i.e. the Trinity), but God in III-V means something different. And the problem Mr. Stafford has is that these definitions are assumed when Trinitarians are in conversation…without proper justification. In once sense Greg is correct here. We don’t always give definitions of our terms. On the other hand, I know (well, I’m assuming) Mr. Stafford is a well read individual, so he has had to encounter the distinctions not only in words but the illustrations (i.e. the Triagle). So, I think Mr. Stafford on the other hand is blowing smoke. Mr. Stafford is just plain wrong when he states “yet, this difference is meaning for God is not made apparent to the reader…”
We see the same thing going on with what John Frame called triads. Take for example sanctification. In once sense, sanctification has one meaning, but theologically, there are three different aspects: definitive, progressive and final. We do not always spell out the three aspects of the one (i.e. they are assumed). But, the assumption is well founded and when teaching or writing on the subject, the differences are usually clearly spelled out (see any systematic theology). When we talk specifically about progressive sanctification, we don’t make the equivocation that this particular aspect is the whole of sanctification.
Mr. Stafford touches on, what I believe is his favorite objection, and that is the distinction made between “being” and “person.” The scriptures teach that there is one God, and this one God thinks, acts, loves, judges, etc. All these qualities fit into the term person or being. The term person, is not a scriptural term. The term is used to describe what we see going on in the Bible. The same is true for the term Trinity. Christians are monotheist and this monotheistic God is a person, not a bunch of abstract attributes. The Bible reveals that there are three persons that “carry” the same essence (i.e what makes something what it is). Point being, is that the Bible does not know of a “non-being” “person.” Mr. Stafford wants the Trinitarian to defend a straw man. I certainly won’t do it.
Stafford uses the word “never” quite a few times (see his article). Trinitarians would certainly disagree. Mr. Stafford is clearly carrying to the text his Unitarian presuppositions. Mr. Stafford’s condition is spiritual in nature. You see, Mr. Stafford is an atheist in a sense. He does not believe in the God of the Bible and has therefore sought to erect an idol of his own imagination (Roman 1:18-23). Mr. Stafford needs to repent of his false beliefs, which will keep in out of the kingdom of God. May God have mercy on his soul.
On the other hand, I believe Bray makes some valid point in his article I referenced above. So, I would commend it to my brothers and sisters.
I would also recommend that Mr. Stafford (and others for that matter) to pick up John Frame’s book The Doctrine of God.
PS. I know much more could be said in reference to Mr. Stafford’s article, but as I stated at the beginning, if it was not my intention to deal with every point. Perhaps I’ll pick up on some other aspects at another time. I do not plan to get into a back-and-forth written debate with Mr. Stafford, I frankly do not have the time. As most of you know I am preparing to begin grad school this fall (Aug. 20) and I have work to do before I start.
I do hope to address these kinds of issue throughout my education though. As I too continue to grow in my understanding of things (include the original languages), I hope to put some things together that will benefit the body of Christ.