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The Forgotten Trinity Paperback – November 1, 1998
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About the Author
James R. White is the author of several acclaimed books, including The King James Only Controversy and The Forgotten Trinity. He is an elder of the Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church, director of Alpha and Omega Ministries—a Christian apologetics organization, an adjunct professor with Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, and a professor of apologetics with Columbia Evangelical Seminary. He and his family live in Phoenix.
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You may find it shocking that the doctrine of the Trinity is not found in the entire Bible. It’s not the absence of the word “Trinity” that is alarming, the Triune God (defined as such) is nonexistent.
Because some may doubt this, here are some Trinitarian sources that admit that no such doctrine exists:
“Nowhere does the Bible explicitly teach this combination of assertions” (New Bible Dictionary, third edition, 1209, 1996).
In the book, God in the New Testament, Trinitarian A. W. Argyle, stated, “The fully developed Christian Doctrine that God is three Persons in one Godhead is nowhere explicitly stated in the New Testament” (173, 1966).
The Dictionary of the Bible, says for the word “trinity,” “The belief as so defined was reached only in the 4th and 5th centuries AD and hence is not explicitly and formally a biblical belief” (John L. Mckenzie, 899, 1965).
These sources authenticate that no Christian alive today became a Trinitarian from studying the Bible alone. So, this doctrine is “learned theology” that is read into Scripture. It’s highly unlikely you learned this alarming fact in church.
The bad news gets worse. The doctrine of the Trinity was not believed by the early New Testament church. Many early Christian writings exist that are not part of the New Testament (ante-Nicene Fathers). But the doctrine of the Trinity is absence. Most Trinitarian scholars such as Dr. White evade discussion of this black hole, unless confronted.
It wasn’t until hundreds of years after the death of the Apostles that the doctrine of the Trinity was born. But sadly, your church also didn’t inform you (most likely) that the doctrine of the Trinity came out of the Roman Catholic Church.
In the year 325, Dictator Constantine (the Roman Emperor) ordered a church council that he presided over to settle a dispute between some Christians over the question of the eternal pre-existence of Jesus and His relation to the Father. Once the Roman Catholic Church decided that Jesus was equal to the Father in essence, further Catholic church councils refined this doctrine into the doctrine of the Trinity.
Chapter One, Why the “Forgotten” Trinity?
On page 15, Dr. White writes, “we must know, understand, and love the Trinity to be fully and completely Christian.”
Without any biblical accreditation (there is none), that one must be a Trinitarian to be saved, Dr. White creates additional biblical revelation. Dr. White might want to add his special revelation to end of the book of Revelation where it is forbidden.
Most Christians can’t even recite the doctrine of the Trinity (thankfully). I don’t know of any Trinitarian church that includes this doctrine in their plan of salvation (thankfully). The doctrine of salvation is found in hundreds of verses and God didn’t forget to include the Trinity in His inspired Word.
On page 16, he continues, “It is so misunderstood that a majority of Christians, when asked, give incorrect and at times downright heretical definitions of the Trinity.” We are only in the first chapter and have uncovered “double talk.” Now, Dr. White seems to admit that one can be a Christian and not know the Trinity.
Chapter Two, What is the Trinity?
This is an important chapter because it defines the doctrine of the Trinity according to Dr. White. I write this because many Christians are unaware that different definitions of the Trinity exist.
A notable absence in this chapter are Bible quotes or references. In case you skipped the introduction, the Triune God as defined by the doctrine of the Trinity is absent from every chapter and verse of the Bible. Jesus, the Apostle Paul, nor anyone else, prayed to, or identified God as triune.
Here is Dr. White’s definition of the Trinity: “Within the one Being that is God, there exists eternally three coequal and coeternal persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” (page 26, 1998).
Dr. White teaches that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are each persons, while the Triune God is not a person, but a Being. This description of the Trinity is not universal. Many Trinitarians believe that the Triune God is a Person and make no mention that He is not a Being. The New Bible dictionary quoted from earlier calls the Triune God, “one God.” If Dr. White’s definition is correct, it would be found in most Bible Dictionaries, church doctrinal statements, and early church creeds. Because there is no biblical affirmation of this doctrine, Trinitarians are free to draft their own rendition of the Triune God as they please.
Dr. White teaches (implicitly) that there are four Gods. Let’s count them: “one Being that is God” (one God), Father (two Gods), Son (three Gods), Holy Spirit (Four Gods). His four God implicit view (a fact of the Trinity) while rarely acknowledged, is indisputable.
After listing four beings who Trinitarians admit are fully God, Dr. White writes, “First, the doctrine rests completely upon the truth of the first clause: there is only one God” (page 26). The doctrine of the Trinity is unbiblical and contradicts self-evident, God given common sense. If there is one God as Dr. White affirms, there cannot be three other persons/beings who are fully God. But the Trinity doctrine affirms that there is one God while currently affirming that there are three or four Gods.
One hallmark of false doctrine is “double talk.” This method of deception is a trait held by many pathological liars. This deception is simple. A statement is made and another statement is also made that is directly contrary to the first statement and impossible to be true at the same time under the same conditions.
Dr. White teaches that each person is fully God, yet there is one God. If you want to keep your God given sanity, don’t try to intellectually reconcile this doctrine. While you can learn about it, your God given reason will reject it based on contradictory premises.
Dr. White affirms there is one God because the Bible makes this affirmation throughout (Deuteronomy 4:35, 39; 6:4; 32:39; 2 Samuel 7:22; 2 Samuel 22:32;1 Kings 8:60; 19:15; 1 Chronicles 17:20; Nehemiah 9:6; Psalm 18:31; Isaiah 37:20; 43:10; 44:8; 45; 45:14; 45:18; 45:21; 46:9; Zachariah 14:9, etc.) The New Testament continues this major doctrine: John 5:44; Mark 10:18; 12:29; Romans 3:30; 1 Corinthians 8:4-6; Galatians 3:20. But this (one God) declaration is always for the Father (never a Triune being) and never includes the Son and/or the Holy Spirit. So, when the Bible affirms one God, it is always the Father (Yahweh). This is also because the number “one” always means one person (not three or four).
I prayerfully ask that you pause, open up your Bible and read these passages for yourself that always identify the Father (Yahweh) as the one God. I dare you to find one passage in the entire Bible that describes the one God that includes Jesus. This truth should break all your Trinitarian anchors and navigate you closer to a biblical defined theological framework for the identity of God the Father (YAHWEH). So please, I beg you, get alone with God and allow the Bible to define your theological framework. Very soon, when we stand before God, the Bible properly understood, matters for eternity. How we understand God today, influences how we live our lives.
While Dr. White wrongly stated that our eternal destiny hinges on being a Trinitarian, nevertheless, what the Bible states about the identity of the Father (Yahweh) is very important!
While clarifying his definition of the Trinity, Dr. White writes, “It not only asserts that there is only one God—the historic belief, shared by Christians and Jews known as monotheism but it also insists that God’s ‘Being’ (capitalized so as to contrast it with the term ‘persons’ found in the next clause) is one, unique, undivided, indivisible” (page 26).
Let’s unpack this further. While describing the one God of Trinitarianism, Dr. White calls this “the historic belief, share by Christians.”
The words “historical belief” makes it sound like this was held all the way back to the Apostle Paul —but this is untrue. Secondly, the phrase, “shared by Christians” is also misleading. There are many Christians who are not Trinitarians. You can Google “Biblical Unitarians” (not to be confused with Universal Unitarians). The excellent book, “Should the Trinity Be Abandoned,” lists several Christians who lived during the Roman Catholic Church’s reign of terror who were martyred for their faith. Here is the description of one: “Joan Bocher was burned to death in England in 1550 AD. Her crime? The Encyclopedia Britannica (1964) says: ‘She was condemned for open blasphemy in denying the Trinity, the one offence which all the church had regarded as unforgivable ever since the struggle with Arianism’” (Michael A. Barber, location 190, 1998-2014).
Dr. White’s definition of “God’s Being” has now changed to “indivisible”. But this word contradicts his earlier definition of the Triune God who he described as “…three eternal co-equal persons…” How can God be three, but indivisible? This contradiction didn’t come out of the Bible, but from the Scripture-less, Roman Catholic definition of God.
One more questionable knob should be probed. Dr. White, while describing his version of the Trinity, again, wrote, “…the historic belief, shared by Christians and Jews known as monotheism…” Dr. White conveniently left of that the definition of most Jews and Trinitarians for monotheism is very different. The word monotheism comes from two words. Mono means “one,” while theism means “God.”
Judaism correctly believes that there is one God (above all others) who is the Father (Yahweh). This belief remains unchanged from the Old Testament. Yet sadly, Judaism continues to reject their Messiah who is the only way to the Father.
Trinitarians also claim to believe in monotheism. But they have re-defined it to conform to the Trinity —one Triune God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But since Trinitarians believe that each person is co-equal and fully God, their view of God could more properly be called polytheism (worship of more than one God).
In reality, most Trinitarian Christians think the Trinity is just belief in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (this makes me a Trinitarian). Since most Trinitarians are ignorant of the Trinity —thankfully, they don’t worship the Triune God (👍). Instead, they worship the Father, through the Son, by the Holy Spirit that indwells them :).
He continues and writes, “Each is fully God, coequal with the others, and that eternally” (27). The statement that “each is fully God” needs some clarification. But for now, He must mean that each person is equal to the Father (Yahweh). But not only is this view not substantiated biblically, it’s impossible for two distinct persons to be equal. After all, a distinction makes two persons unequal. But this disagreement will be covered later.
Dr. White also writes about the three persons of the Trinity, “and that eternally.” He means that each person of the Trinity has always existed. The Bible doesn’t teach this. While God and His Spirit are eternal, there is much biblical evidence that Jesus Christ, while a divine person is begotten. But this point will be stacked for later.
On page 27, there is a diagram with three foundations. The first foundation is that there is one God. For now, it’s worth addressing this first column.
While the Bible explicitly states there is one God (many verses; always Yahweh), it also states there are other gods. Trinitarians usually side with the verses that state there is one God and dismiss verses that state a plurality of gods (good and evil). Because there are no contradictions in the Bible, how is this resolved?
While there are many verses that teach the exclusiveness of Yahweh (the Father), these verses emphasize Yahweh’s unmeasurable greatness in contrast to other gods. For example, compare these partial verses: “besides me there is no god. 7 Who is like me? Let him proclaim it” (Isaiah 44:6b-7a). Because of the magnitude of Yahweh greatness and because no other God is like Him (“Who is like me?”), He stand alone!
So while verses exist that teach Yahweh’s exclusiveness as the only God, they should be interpreted to emphasize Yahweh’s uniqueness, greatness, power and other attributes that set Him apart, unlike any other god. So while there exists a plurality of gods as we are about to see, these gods are so far out of the Father’s league of just Himself, that they offer no threat to Yahweh’s ultimate, and total sovereignty. This is why He is entitled to claim He is the only God. To follow is overwhelming evidence that other lesser gods indeed exist.
In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word “elohim” (God) can describe the one true God (Psalm 114:7, etc.) false gods (2 Kings 17:31, etc.), foreign gods (Daniel 11:39), good angels (Psalm 8:5, etc.), good Judges (Exodus 18:19; 1 Samuel 2:25; Psalm 82:1), Moses speaks as a god (Exodus 4:16), David or Solomon as god (Psalm 45:6-7), a ghost (1 Samuel 28:13), etc.
In the Koine Greek New Testament, the word “theos” (God) can describe the one true God almighty (Matthew 3:9, etc.), Jesus Christ (John 20:28, etc.), a person thought to be god (Acts 28:6), the false prophet (2 Thessalonians 2:4), a false idol (Acts 7:40, 43), divine beings (John 10:34; background is Psalm 82:6), Satan (2 Corinthians 4:4), etc.
You were just presented with enough evidence that should convince any reasonable member of a jury within a court of law that the Bible explicitly affirms that there exists a plurality of gods in the Bible. But Trinitarians scholars (not all) regularly circumvent Mt. Everest (if you will) because of the doctrine of the Trinity is strong and wrongly teaches (not every Trinitarian holds this) that because the Bible states that there is only one God, there really is only one God who is (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). Yet each member is a person and fully God.
Please make a mental snapshot of this truth for future chapters. There are more verses that assert that other gods exist, but this review must move on.
Finally, page 30, makes a very important point you should not miss: “It is important to emphasize that we are not saying that the Father is the Son, nor that the Son is the Spirit. That is not the doctrine of the Trinity, despite how many people in honest ignorance think otherwise. No true Trinitarian believes the Father was a ‘ventriloquist’ at the baptism of Jesus, nor that Jesus was praying to himself in the Garden.”
Dr. White is describing a rule held by every Trinitarian scholar, but also violated by most every Trinitarian scholar. Dr. While will take this rule back many times in the chapters to follow by claiming that Jesus is Yahweh Himself. Please know, dear believer, that when wrong doctrine is read into the Bible, it creates contradictions that are reconciled with “double talk.”
For four (4) additional chapter reviews, please visit the website under my profile. May God bless you richly as you follow God’s Son to the Father’s house. Thanks for reading this long review.
The author was able to explain and defend a hard to understand doctrine in an easy to ready language. Even that his intention is not to defend the doctrine of Trinity but to explain it in a way that makes people love God more.
In many occasions I have used some passages of this book with Jehovah's Witnesses and it always shocked them.
One of the things I love about this book, that Dr. White, even that he is an expert in Biblical Greek and Hebrew, he did not use a lot of original languages in his book, he addressed the subject in a very simple way, knowing that many of his readers will not have a background in Greek or Hebrew.
This book should be rated as 5++. I highly recommend you to study this book.
I wish we can translate this book to Arabic.
Dr. James White is one of favorite apologists, and I always learn great things from him.
This book articulates his position in a compelling way. The first 80% of the book is a careful examination of the biblical evidence. This section is quite demanding, and I suspect those without some exposure to Greek and theology will need to read slowly and either take notes or mark up the book.
White's ability to synthesise academic research and present a compelling case is best demonstrated in the penultimate chapter where he presents evidence that the pre nicene church was trinitarian. Having just read Kruger's book on the 2nd century, and read about Melito of Sardis in Fleming Rutledges book on the crucifixion I was amazed at Whites ability to synthesise so much material and present it so clearly in one short chapter.
This is one of those books that reward the effort put in to understand the material. I would heartily recommend it for the outstanding chapter on the post biblical church alone, and there is much more than that chapter to enjoy.
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Notice the unholy Triquetra on the front of this cover?