My Cousin, the Unitarian

by David Bishop

Eight days later, His disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them.  Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”  Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see My hands, and put out your hand and place it in My side.”   Do not disbelieve, but believe.”   Thomas answered Him, “My Lord and my God.” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen Me?  Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” – John 20:26-29

My cousin is a Unitarian.  He calls himself a “Biblical Unitarian and not a Universal Unitarian” as though this is supposed to mean something.  It doesn’t.  Not ultimately.  It means he thinks a god who isn’t Buddha died to save everyone, but not everyone will be saved.  It also means he thinks the Trinity is heresy.

As a Unitarian, my cousin invents information off the top of his head.  I have yet to meet a Unitarian who didn’t do this.  One would almost have to in face of all the historical and Biblical evidence mounted against them.  I had a Unitarian professor in college who would invent information off the top of her head when faced with questions she didn’t have answers for; and it would be obvious she had invented the information, because her inventions were always so absurd.  The same holds true for my cousin.  He invents information so absurd that it becomes immediately obvious even he knows he is making things up.

Jeff busily inventing "facts"

Jeff busily inventing “facts”

My cousin’s name is Jeff Campbell.  I mention his name, because he is on Facebook.  On Youtube he goes by the usernames “Churchfellaway”, “Scripturealone” and “Proveyourfaith”.   Make no mistake, he is an enemy of the cross of Christ.   He denies the gospel and slanders the Person and nature of Christ Jesus.  He does so on the basis of information he makes up off the top of his head.

For example, consider the following comments Jeff posted recently on Facebook.

Fact: Tinitarians did not believe in large part the trinity is a biblical teaching prior to the 19 century. It was a doctrine of revelation to which it was believe came at a later time. There was a great debate between Trinitarians on this matter. Due to the rise of Arianism (Mormons) Those who felt they could prove a trinity in the Bible won out. Many Modern Trinitarian Pastors are revisiting this debate and saying they made the wrong decision. The trinity was far better served as a revelation rather than a biblical doctrine. As you read the definition of the doctrine of the trinity understand if its a biblical teaching its not a revelation. Soon Trinitarians will declare heresy hunters heretics.

These comments are simply a blatant historical inaccuracy.  There are five major Protestant confessions which either directly hit upon or otherwise center upon the subject of the Trinity and the eternal, divine nature of Christ.  These confessions are the Nicene Creed, the Chalcedon Creed, the Augsburg Confession, the Westminster Confession and the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith (refer to my essay, “The Trinitarian Confessions” to see all five confessions for yourself).

All five of these confessions were written well before the 19th century.  In the case of the first two, both the Nicene and the Chalcedon, they were written before the SIXTH CENTURY!  The latest and last, the London Baptist Confession, was written in 1689, a full 111 years before the start of the 19th century!  How then is it possible that Trinitarians “did not believe in large part the trinity is a Biblical teaching prior to the 19th century” if every one of their confessions came before the 19th century?

What does Jeff say in response to this?  Nothing.  He ignores it, even after I challenged him with this information three separate times.

Consider another problem with Jeff’s post.  “It was a doctrine of revelation to which it was believe came at a later time.”  This is another historical inaccuracy that demonstrates Jeff’s lack of understanding where it concerns the formation of doctrine.

The doctrine of the Trinity is not a doctrine of revelation.  It never was and it can never be.  The doctrine of revelation is a doctrine that concerns the nature of revelation itself, how God reveals truth and why.  Jeff is confusing two separate subjects most likely because he does not understand what doctrine is or how it is formed.

What Jeff should have said is that the doctrine of the Trinity was a doctrine that was formed at a later date, after the completion of the New Testament.  He would still have had the unenviable position of trying to prove from Scripture that the apostles did not believe God is Triune, but at least his starting premise would have been logically coherent.

Was the doctrine of the Trinity formed at a later date, after the completion of the New Testament?  Consider the following:

Granvile Sharp was a Greek scholar who identified a grammatical rule that is common to the Greek language in which the New Testament was written.  The rule became known as Sharp’s Rule, and it states the following  . . .

“When the copulative kai connects two nouns of the same case of personal description, respecting office, dignity, affinity or connexion, and attributes, properties, or qualities good or ill, if the article, or any of its cases precedes the first of the said nouns of participles, and is not repeated before the second noun or participle, the latter always relates to the same person that is expressed or described by the first noun or participle: i.e., it denotes a further description of the first named person.”

In other words –

“. . . looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.” – Titus 2:13-14

In this passage which was written by the Apostle Paul, the word “God” has the definite article “kai” (the) before it.  Therefore, according to the rules of the Greek language in which the Apostle wrote his epistle, the word “God” is connected by the word kai to the word “Savior”.  Since there is only one person in the context to which both terms can be applied – Jesus Christ, it is Jesus Christ then who Paul identified as “our great God and Savior.”

Simon Peter, a bond servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.   – 2 Peter 1:1

Here again, the word God is connected to the word Savior by the word the, and since the words God and Savior are in reference to Christ, Peter did, therefore, identify Christ as both God and Savior.

According to the grammatical rules of the language in which the apostles wrote their epistles and gospels, the apostles themselves identify Christ Jesus as both God and Savior.  I challenged Jeff twice with this.  What did he have to say about it?  Nothing.  He ignored it.  Remaining silent about it in response, opting instead to change the subject.

A third factual error with Jeff’s post lies in his claim that “the Trinity was far better served as a revelation rather than a biblical doctrine.”  This is incoherent babble.  It’s like saying spaghetti for a nice car with bamboo patch.  It makes no sense.

What Jeff is trying to say is that the doctrine of the Trinity fared better when people called it a doctrine that had to be implicitly inferred, rather than when people called it a doctrine that was explicitly stated.  He would still have the problem of a historical inaccuracy on his hands, but his argument would at least have been logically coherent.

Is Jeff right? Did the doctrine of the Trinity fair better when people called it a doctrine that had to be implicitly inferred rather than explicitly stated?  Did people, in fact, ever actually argue that it must be explicitly stated?

The answer is an emphatic no and no.

EXPLICIT OR IMPLICIT

The Protestant confessions have never denied that the doctrine of the Trinity is a doctrine that is implicitly inferred, nor do the overwhelming majority of Protestant Trinitarians today identify the doctrine as anything but implicitly inferred.  The doctrine has always been identified as an implicit inference.   The confessions themselves bear this out.

What Jeff has a problem with is the idea of implicit inference.  He thinks all revelation must be explicitly stated.  This is untrue though.  God has revealed many truths by means of implicit inference.  Consider Romans 1, for example.

Romans 1:18-20
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.  For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.   For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things  that have been made.  So they are without excuse. 

Stated explicitly here in Romans 1 is the truth that God’s eternal power and divine nature are implicitly inferred from the things that have been made.  In other words, you will never see the words “God is eternally powerful” explicitly stamped upon the branches and leaves of some trees in a forest, or in the brilliance of the stars shimmering from the night sky above your head.   However, fix your eyes upon that forest or upon the canopy of stars above your head, gaze upon these objects while pondering how they began, and you will eventually arrive at the conclusion that God must have created it all, and that He must therefore be eternally powerful.  Any man who suppresses the knowledge of this implied truth is explicitly stated to be without excuse even though the knowledge is implicitly inferred.

REAL HISTORY

Sometime in the early fourth century AD, a presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt by the name of Arius, began to teach, in direct contradiction to his bishop, Alexander, bishop of Alexandria, that “there was a time when Christ was not.”   This denial of Christ’s eternal nature led to Arius’ expulsion from Alexandria.  He was condemned by a local synod in the year 321.   This did not stop him from moving elsewhere, however, to continue his heretical teaching.

Eventually, as Arius continued to spread his heresy around from one region to the next, he began to gather enough converts to himself to make himself and his teaching a disturbance to the newly found peace of the Christian churches.

Contrary to another one of Jeff’s ahistorical inventions Arianism is in no way associated with Mormonism, nor is Mormonism in any way associated with Arianism.  Mormonism and Arianism are two utterly and completely different heresies, as different as automobiles are from zebras.

Arianism asserted that Jesus Christ was created.  This assertion introduced a very serious problem for Christians, because if it was true, then it meant the gospel was false.  After all, God is eternal, and since God is eternal, then all of His attributes must also be eternal, including His just and righteous demand for perfect justice.

Ephesians 3:10-11 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.

If Christ has permanently satisfied God’s eternal demand for perfect justice on behalf of His elect, then it only logically follows that Christ Himself must also be eternal.  Otherwise, how could a finite being satisfy an eternal being’s eternal demand for justice?

Christians prior to the 4th century recognized this blessed truth and wrote as much.  Ignatius of Antioch, for example, writing in the early second century, said:

“Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to her who has been blessed in greatness through the fullness of God the Father ordained before time to be always resulting in permanent glory, unchangeably united and chosen in true passion, by the will of the Father and of Jesus Christ, our God, to the church which is in Ephesus of Asia, worthy of felicitation: abundant greetings in Jesus Christ and in blameless joy.”

Elsewhere, Ignatius writes, in a letter to the church at Ephesus:

“My spirit is an offscouring of the cross, which is a scandal to the unbelieving, but to us it is salvation and life eternal.  Where is the wise man?   Where is the disputer?  For our God, Jesus the Christ, was conceived by Mary according to a dispensation of God, from the seed of David, yes, but of the Holy Spirit as well.” 

In his letter to the church at Rome, Ignatius wrote:

For our God Jesus Christ, being in the Father, is more plainly seen.  The work is not of persuasiveness, but Christianity is a thing of might, whenever it is hated by the world.”

Melito of Sardis, who died in the year 180 AD, wrote the following as part of a sermon he preached during the Passover:

He who hung the earth in place is hanged.
He who fixed the heavens in place is fixed in place.
He who made all things fast is made fast on a tree.
The Sovereign is insulted.
God is murdered.
The King of Israel is destroyed by an Israelite hand.

This the One who made the heavens and the earth,
and formed mankind in the beginning.
The One proclaimed by the Law and the Prophets.
The One enfleshed in a virgin,
The One hanged on a tree,
The One buried in the earth,
The One raised from the dead
and who went up into the heights of heaven,
The One sitting at the right hand of the Father,
The One having all authority to judge and save,
Through Whom the Father made the things which exist from
the beginning of time.
This One is the Alpha and the Omega.
The One is the beginning and the end.
This One is the Christ.
This One is the King.
This One is Jesus.
This One is the One who rose from the dead.
This One is the One sitting on the right hand of the Father.
He bears the Father and is borne by the Father.
To Him be the glory and the power forever.  Amen.

Consider Clement of Rome, who in the second century wrote:

For as God lives, and the Lord Jesus Christ lives, and the Holy Spirit, who are the faith and hope of the chosen ones – the one who in humility of mind, with extended gentleness, without regret has done the ordinances and commandments given by God, this one will be enrolled and given a name among the number of the saved through Jesus Christ, through whom is the glory unto Him forever and ever, amen.”

Here then, in the middle of the fourth century stood a great problem.  Arianism had introduced the idea that Christ was not eternal, and therefore not God.  Although condemned as heresy by Christian bishops throughout the region, Arianism nevertheless managed to create enough of a stir that it warranted the gathering of a general church council to discuss, debate and once and for all put the matter to bed.  This council came to be known as the Council of Nicea.

THE COUNCIL OF NICEA

There were three views that presented themselves at the council of Nicea:

1. The Arian view which said that Christ is of a different substance than God.  Christ is different than God.

2. The Orthodox view which said Christ is of the same substance as God.   Christ is the same as God.

3. The Eusebian view which said Christ is of a similar substance to God. Christ is similar to God.

Beginning with the axiom that Christ is the chief cornerstone upon which the entirety of Christianity is established, the council carefully searched the Scriptures, examining the facts to ascertain whether the gospel of Jesus Christ could withstand the scrutiny of each of these three views.  After a long period of deliberation, the council concluded that the only view which did no damage to the gospel, and in fact, faithfully upheld it, was that of the second view, the Orthodox view which held that Christ was of the same substance as God.

No, you will not find this conclusion explicitly stated anywhere in Scripture, but neither will you find the other two views explicitly stated.  Nevertheless, the council’s conclusion is still Biblical even though it was implicitly inferred.  There is nothing wrong with this.  It is perfectly Biblical and logically sound to implicitly deduce a reasonable and rational conclusion by the means of a systematic study of Scripture’s propositions.

Consider the law of non-contradiction, for example.  Scripture does not explicitly state that the law of non-contradiction applies even in the case of the Scriptures themselves.  Nevertheless, gathering from what is explicitly stated (“God is not the author of confusion”  1 Cor 14:33), it is perfectly Biblical and logically sound to assert by way of implicit deduction that the law of non-contradiction does indeed apply even in the case where the Scriptures are concerned.   This assertion is made by means of implicit inference. And it is a sound and Biblical assertion.

Using this same methodology, it is just as perfectly sound and Biblical to implicitly deduce that God is triune, three Persons in one Being; Father, Son and Spirit.  It is perfectly sound to implicitly deduce that Christ must be eternal, for that is the only way that God’s eternal demand for perfect justice could have been satisfied.  It is also perfectly sound to implicitly deduce that Christ must also have a human nature, for God’s eternal demand for perfect justice required the death of someone fully human since it was a person fully human who had broken God’s law.
It was perfectly sound and Biblical then, for the council to implicitly deduce that Christ is both fully God and also fully human.

What does Jeff say in response to this challenge?  Nothing.  He ignores it.  Resorts to inventing information off the top of his head.

Jeff Campbell trinitarian scholarship falls apart every time its challenged. It is junk theology.
        6 hours ago • Like • 2

Jeff Campbell Trinity used to be thought to be a revelation to the later church and it was thought that the early church was not ready to know Jesus was God that’s why it wasn’t in the Bible. When Mormons began to convert people by simply telling them that the notion of the deity of Christ was not in the Bible Trinitarians had to leave the belief it was a revelation and begin to claim its was biblical. However their presentations have fallen apart as untrue.
       6 hours ago • Like

In the face of the evidence, what implicit inference should we deduce about Jeff Campbell and his theology?  Just this, that Jeff is not interested in knowing truth, that Jeff is not interested in discussing truth, and that Jeff is strictly interested instead in inventing information in an effort to win converts.  He cares not one wit that his converts are made twice a child of Hell that he is.   Beware of this man.  He has not the Spirit of Christ.

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About David Bishop

Gospel of Grace Church http://www.gospeldefense.com/about.html
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One Response to My Cousin, the Unitarian

  1. markmcculley says:

    I Corinthians 11: 18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, 19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.

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