God is a Who – Not a What!
Trinitarian Confusion About God
Every argument has a premise. If the premise or basis of an argument is faulty, what is built on the argument will also be faulty. Trinitarians argue that God is One Essence existing as Three Persons (check the faith statements of vast numbers of “Bible-churches”). A leading Trinitarian exponent is Dr. James White, whom I debated recently at the TV studios of Jewish Voice in Phoenix. James White defines the idea that God is ONE ESSENCE clearly when he argues that God is “one What in Three Whos” (The Forgotten Trinity, p. 27).
But in the Bible, God is never described as “a WHAT”!
The Bible actually contradicts faith statements about a Triune God as “One Essence” when it tells us thousands of times that God is One Single Person, a WHO. The Bible conveys this simple premise and fact to us by means of thousands of singular personal pronouns which describe God. There are in English (with equivalents in the biblical languages) 14 forms of the singular personal pronoun: I, me, myself, my, mine, thou, thee, thyself, thy, thine, he, him, himself, his. We use them every day (though not the archaic King James forms). These singular personal pronouns are completely clear. They describe a single person. We could add 3 more “relative pronouns,” “who,” “whom,” “whose.” These also define the God of Scripture as One Single Divine Person. One single WHO.
The God of the Bible is defined and described by these singular personal pronouns many thousands of times. Thus thousands of these indicators describe God as one unique Person. But the counter force of another theory about God, that He is Three Persons, manages to block, in the minds of many churchgoers, the straightforward grammatical fact that the Bible never describes the One God as Three Persons.
There are thousands of occurrences of the various words for God in the Bible (theos, Adonai, YHVH, Elohim, etc.). Can you point to a single one of these as meaning “the Triune God”? Which verse?
Of Himself, God repeatedly says, “I am God, and there is no other God besides Me.” Biblical people address God by saying “You alone are God.” “There is no other God except You.” “There is no God besides You.” Biblical writers refer to God as He, Him, Himself. “He is God and there is no other besides Him.” “He alone is God.” These singular personal pronouns, describing God as a single divine Person occur constantly, repeatedly and uniformly across the pages of Holy Scripture. They ought to convince a reader that in the Bible, “God” is a single Person, not two Persons, not Three or more Persons. Certainly not one “WHAT”!
The great truth about the sole Creator of heaven and earth and of all life is summed up by this very straightforward information given in Malachi 2:10: “Do we not all have One Father? Did not One God create us?” The second part of the sentence reinforces the first. This easy language is provided by the Bible to prevent us from breaking the first of the ten commandments, which is that we are to imagine no other God, but the God of Scripture, “No other gods besides Me.” We must not risk turning “Me” into “Us,” or “He” into “They.” This would be to commit a “felony” against the sacred words of Scripture. It would be to muddle language and undermine true monotheism. It would be to pulverize innocent pronouns. It would be to bludgeon the clear words of the Bible. The text of the Bible must not be so manipulated. Holy Scripture needs to be upheld at all costs. We are not to alter the revealed words of God. God knows who He is (He never refers to himself as “one WHAT”), and we are commanded by Jesus to believe first of all in that One God who is the Father, a single divine Person.
The text of the Bible must not be so manipulated.
Holy Scripture needs to be upheld at all costs.
We are not to alter the revealed words of God.
Jesus was deeply impressed with this evidence. When asked by an enthusiastic Jewish scholar to say what the greatest of all commands is, he replied by defining God: “Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord (Mark 12:29).” Not two Lords and not three or more Lords. Just one Lord. Paul repeated this same monumental truth when he declared that pagans believe in more than one God, but “for us Christians there is one God, the Father and no other God except Him” (see I Cor. 8:4-6).
Paul went on, as we know, to place beside that One God, the Father, the “one Lord Jesus Messiah,” i.e. the Lord Jesus who is the Messiah, or the Jesus who is the Lord Messiah. But that one Lord Messiah, is carefully distinguished from the One God, who is the Father. There is for us believers One Single God, the Father and one single Lord Messiah, Jesus.
On no account are these two individuals to be confused. One is the Lord God and the other is “the man Messiah” (I Tim. 2:5), the Lord Messiah Jesus.
Paul’s definition of the One God, who is the Father, simply repeats the thousands of references to God as He, Him, Himself, Thee, Thyself, I, Me, Myself. One Father is of course one Person and the Hebrew Bible states that very uncomplicated fact when it asks this question (we repeat it here for emphasis): “Do we not all have one Father? Has not One God created us?”
Jesus in John 17:3 emphasized the importance of rightly defining the One God when he said “This is eternal life, that they “recognize You [he was addressing the Father] as the only true God.” He defined that “one Father” of Malachi 2:10 as “the only one who is truly God.”
If this evidence is not clear, then language at the simplest level cannot speak to you. You are blocking it with a counter theory which disables your capacity to understand what in any other situation you do understand with perfect clarity — that I, Me, Thou, Thee, He, Him define a single Person.
The disabling of our understanding is a result of years of traditional church thinking which went beyond the evidence of the Bible. While the Bible massively defines God as a single Person, readers of the Bible become crippled and confused when that plain and simple “language fact” about God becomes foggy.
It is interesting to note how a very famous “church father” struggled to make the Bible’s definition of God fit with his own later, non-biblical definition of God. I (a single person!), the writer of this article, am referring to the celebrated Augustine. In his Homilies on John he tells us to alter the words of John 17:3. By Augustine, we are not to let the text say what it actually says — that the Father is “the only true God.” Rather we are to change the order of the words as Jesus gave them and make Jesus say what he did not say. Augustine tells us to rearrange Jesus’ words to read “You and Jesus Christ, the only true God.”
I encourage you to look this up on line. The Homilies on John are readily available for you to read in English and you will be able to see for yourself the awful manipulation of John 17:3 by this so called “church Father.” The words of Jesus were neutralized when Augustine dared to rearrange the Greek Scripture at John 17:3 to force it into line with his Trinitarian idea that Jesus was equally the One God. Even Trinitarian commentators like Henry Alford rightly protested this “violence to the text.” Nevertheless, Augustine was slavishly followed by other church fathers who desperately wanted to support their philosophical concept of God as Three in One. They tried to make Jesus into a Trinitarian! Instead Jesus’ words are designed to correct and deliver us from man-made traditions.
In a court of Law such manipulation would be spotted and condemned, but the massive weight of tradition makes churchgoers reluctant to believe Jesus’ definition of the one true God in John 17:3. The word “only,” as we all know, limits what is so described as “on its own.” Since “the Father is the only true God,” then no one else is the “only true God.” Others might be gods or even “god” in a different sense. But only the Father is the “one true God.” Exactly as Paul declared, “To us Christians there is one God and none besides him, there is to us one God, the Father” (See I Cor. 8:4-6).
With this premise in mind, one can read the Bible with new eyes, and you can rest assured that you are not being misled if you echo Jesus and say: “The Lord our God is one Lord” “There is none beside Him,” and “you, Father, alone, are the true God.” (John 17:3). And remember that thousands of Bible verses, with their singular personal pronouns for God, state and confirm that same truth.
The reader should make up his/her own mind about what “I,” “Me,” “He” really mean. But is this so hard?
Buzzard, Anthony (2010, October). Excerpt from, Focus on the Kingdom Magazine – Vol. 13 No. 1