|By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©1999|
| When Christadelphians evaluate the biblical doctrine of God, they are perhaps at their most
superficial. As in Jehovah’s Witnesses and Oneness Pentecostalism, the doctrine of God is misrepresented and the arguments given are illogical and irrelevant.
Christadelphians believe that God is one Person only and thus maintain that belief in the “trinity is unscriptural.”
When Christadelphians evaluate the biblical doctrine of God, they are perhaps at their most superficial. As in Jehovah’s Witnesses and Oneness Pentecostalism, the doctrine of God is misrepresented and the arguments given are illogical and irrelevant. For example,
Most churches of Christendom teach that He is a triune God; others, such as the Christadelphians, teach that he is one, the Father…. This [trinity] doctrine is not drawn from the Bible (where the term Trinity never appears) but from what is known as the Athanasian Creed…. In short, to believe what most churches teach concerning the Godhead is to believe an impossibility, a contradiction… [and] “God is not the author of confusion.”… The Bible nowhere teaches that God is a triune Being or that the Lord Jesus Christ is co-equal and co-eternal with the Father, but the very opposite. Actually, the word “trinity” is not found in the Bible…. They cannot explain why one God should also be three Gods and vice versa; how God should have substance but no form; or how the Son of God is at the same time his own Father. The doctrine is one of confusion, because it is drawn not from the Bible, but form pagan mythology.
First, the Trinity was never derived from pagan mythology, as we documented elsewhere.
Second, it is irrelevant whether the term “Trinity” appears in the Bible. The Trinity is merely the term used to describe biblical teaching about the “tri-unity” of God, just as the term “monotheism” (which is also absent from the Bible) is used to describe the biblical teaching of one God. No Christadelphians would argue that monotheism is unscriptural merely because the term is absent from the Bible. So why single out the word “Trinity” this way?
Third, the doctrine is not impossible, confusing or contradictory. It is not entirely comprehensible, true, but this cannot be proof that it is wrong. Many things in life are incapable of being fully comprehended, but this does not mean that they are “impossible” or “irrational.” Are the Christadelphians saying that in order for them to believe in the Trinity they must first fully and logically understand how God can be everywhere present, infinite and eternal? Do they deny the reality of particle physics because e they don’t fully grasp it or because it is paradoxical? So it is with the doctrine of the Trinity. If it is a biblical teaching we should accept it. A Christadelphian publication admits: “Nor can we hope for a full comprehension of all that is implied in that statement that in Jesus Christ there ‘dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.’” If they admit that, why reject the Trinity simply because it cannot be fully comprehended?
Fourth, Christians have never believed in “three Gods,” only one God who exists externally in three Persons. Nor have Christians confused the Persons in the Godhead, so that the Person of the Son is the Person of the Father. Such teachings were universally condemned by the early church. Christians have always taught there is only one God.
Fifth, the doctrine of the Trinity is clearly taught in the Bible. The Christian creeds merely stated in systematic doctrinal form what the Bible already taught and what the Church accepted from its beginning. To argue that the doctrines of Christianity were invented by church councils to distort the Bible is nonsense.
The Father creates but the Son creates also (John 1:3). The Son atones, and the Father is in the Son reconciling the world to Himself (2 Cor. 5:19). The Spirit sanctifies believers, and so does the Father and the Son (1 Thess. 5:23). The Holy Spirit indwells believers and so does Jesus and the Father (John 14:23). The Father raised Jesus from the dead (Acts 3:26), and so did Jesus (John 2:19-21), the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:11) and God (Acts 17:31). Only the doctrine of the Trinity can explain many scriptures like these.
If anyone has invented doctrines to distort the Bible, it is the Christadelphians. Christadelphians also publish E. J. Newman’s The Doctrine of the Trinity. Newman accurately points out that “Athanasius contended successfully against Arius for the view that Christ was of the same nature as God and not merely of like nature.” However, he goes on to declare that John’s gospel does not teach that “it is God Himself who comes into the world to redeem it.” But John 1:1, 14 declares that “the Word was God” and that “the Word was made flesh” (v. 14) in Jesus. John 3:16-17 declares that Jesus (who John has already declared God) came into the world to save it “through him.”
Newman further contends that in the Gospel of John, Christ does “not proclaim himself as God.” But Jesus clearly asserted His deity in both statement and action. He claimed equality with God (John 5:18), and this was the very meaning of His claim to be the Son of God (John 19:7). He exercised the prerogatives of deity throughout the Gospel (John 5:17, 21-24; 10:28-30, 33; 14:7-9; 15:23).
Christadelphians believe that Jesus is more than a man but less than God. He is “the manifestation of God” in a unique way, which no other man duplicates. He is not God incarnate but a very special man. Unfortunately, Christadelphianism denies almost everything biblical about Jesus Christ.
Christadelphian doctrine states that Christ is not eternal but was a created being, and as such, God “gave him immortality.” Thus He was not incarnated. “Jesus Christ did not exist as a person from eternity as one of the triune Godhead.... He did not actually come into being until He was begotten of the Holy Spirit and born in Bethlehem.” He was a man only. “Though he was only a mortal man in those days, he still had the strength of character to right some of the most appalling wrongs of his time.”
Second, in one of its more blasphemous doctrines, Christadelphians teach that Jesus had a sinful nature and needed salvation from sin:
Though He was begotten of Holy Spirit power, though He was the Son of God, and a manifestation of the Father in human flesh, yet He inherited from His mother Mary, the same sinful nature of those He came to redeem.... If Jesus had not been of sinnature, sin could not have been condemned in Him.... There is no reason to recoil at the thought of Jesus’ possessing sinful nature. It is, on the other hand, a glorious thought that He was really like us in nature.... Jesus was included in all that He did for us. He had our death-stricken nature and needed salvation the same as we.... The terms upon which He accepts the sinner are belief in His word and obedience to His commands.... It is by righteous works that he is perfected in divine character and made a fit subject for the eternal inheritance.
Christ was the first to attain eternal life.
Sin could not have been condemned in the body of Jesus, if it had not existed there. His body was as unclean as the bodies of those for whom he died; for he was born of a woman, and “not one” can bring a clean body out of a defiled body; for “that,” says Jesus himself, “which is born of the flesh is flesh.”... Sinful flesh being the hereditary nature of the Lord Jesus, he was a fit and proper sacrifice for sin.
The Bible declares exactly the opposite, that Jesus was sinless. He “committed no sin” (1 Pet. 2:22); “in him is no sin” (1 John 3:5); He “had no sin” (2 Cor. 5:21); He was “tempted in every way... yet was without sin (Heb. 4:15).
As Jehovah’s Witnesses believe, Christadelphians maintain that the Holy Spirit is simply the impersonal power of God, a “concentrated spirit power which took complete possession of the apostles” to miraculously empower their ministry. Thus, “The Spirit of God is another name for the Power of God.” In Christadelphianism, God empowered Jesus with the Holy Spirit at His baptism, making Him capable of performing miracles, but today this special manifestation of power is no longer available. In Christendom Astray Robert Roberts declares, “There is no manifestation of the Spirit in these days. The power of continuing the manifestation [of miracles] doubtless died with the apostles.” Further, the biblical doctrine of the Holy Spirit is denied:
The term Holy Spirit does not refer to a person, as some erroneously suppose, neither does it refer to a different spirit from that spirit of God referred to generally in the scriptures, but it refers to the one and same spirit power, separated and set apart for special purposes, for the performance of special miraculous works.... The notion that the Holy Spirit is a person, one of a trinity of Gods, involves the whole subject in utter confusion.