Tying a Trinity Knot—Part 4

knot3I’m trying to process Unitarian objections to Trinitarianism. I’ve been exploring this conversation in the context of Dale Tuggy’s writings. Here’s my struggle. Dale sees Trinitarianism and Unitarianism both as viable expressions of Christian faith because both share the earliest belief in Jesus as Lord and Savior. The earliest believers, Dale points out, didn’t have any developed belief in the Trinity. The faith was defined as trusting in Christ (his life, death, and resurrection) as God’s means of salvation—period. Beliefs outside of that act of faith shouldn’t be subject to condemnation.

How later conciliar expressions of the faith can legitimately be viewed as authoritative is an extremely important issue and I’m very interested in it. However, that’s a separate question unrelated to my interest here regarding the Unitarian’s openness to embrace Trinitarians as Christian believers. I don’t see how Dale can maintain that Trinitarian faith is compatibly biblical, Christian monotheism. Why do I suppose this? Because surely monotheism is essential to biblical faith generally and to the NT proclamation of the gospel and participation in its salvation specifically. But Dale has made it clear, or so I understand, that he knows of no trinitarian version of the faith that successfully qualifies as monotheistic. The Unitarian’s rejection of Trinitarianism isn’t the rejection of one adiaphoron in favor of another more preferred adiaphoron. I don’t see how Unitarians can regard Trinitarianism as other than polytheism and thus as not viably Christian. So I should think Unitarians are bound to treat Trinitarians the way Orthodox Trinitarians treat Unitarians, i.e., as something other than Christian however historically related Unitarianism might be to Christianity and its first confessions. But in accepting the other as compatibly Christian, Trinitarians and Unitarians both compromise their commitment to what each must believe is fundamental to his/her view of God. Orthodox Trinitarians concede this already. My point here is that Unitarians also cannot maintain that their Unitarianism is adiaphorous to Christian monotheism.

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One comment on “Tying a Trinity Knot—Part 4

  1. The trinitarian view is the biblical, historical, orthodox view. Even if a formalized understanding was not well developed, the Deity of Christ is essential, salvific truth. Arianism and Sabellianism were later attacks on the triune view and rightly condemned. The first plank of trinitarianism is the one nature/substance/being/essence of God consistent with the Shema (Deut. 6:4). Not everyone agrees with me, but I think it is possible to be Oneness/modalist and Christian by faith in Christ as God, not mere creature (their view is still highly problematic). I cannot see how JWs and Unitarians (Arian-like) do not have a counterfeit Christ and false gospel and in a similar boat as Muslims who deny His Deity, death, resurrection (gospel…the other groups just deny His Deity and physical resurrection for JWs)…2 Cor. 11:4; Gal. 1:6-9; Jude 3; Jn. 1:1; 5:18; 8:58; 10:30-33; 20:28. Denying the trinity is problematic, while denying the full Deity of Christ puts one outside of Christianity into the realm of pseudo-Christian ‘cult’ (technical vs pejorative).

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