Christians Can Do Better

By J. Dan Gill

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Christians do not need to embrace the eastern religions, “New Age,” or other philosophies. We do not need to discover Judaism, the Law of Moses, or Islam. Christians today need to rediscover original Christianity. Let us reclaim the spirit and heart of the first Christians. Let us recover their devotion to Jesus as the true Messiah and to the Father alone as the only true God. Let us again embrace YHWH’s own first priority: He is the only one who is truly God. Let us choose to obey from our hearts his prime directive: We shall serve him as the only true God and no one else.

I am a Christian — a Gentile Christian — but above all a Christian. As such, I have determined that my allegiance must be to Christ himself: not to (C)catholic or “orthodox” Christianity, post-biblical church fathers or extra-biblical church creeds. It is interesting to see many Protestant Christians today who on one hand disavow allegiance to the bishops of the “high” churches, while “in” the other hand clutching the non-biblical doctrines which came from just such bishops in earlier centuries.

My refrain is that of the wonderful hymn:

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.[1]

We as Christians can do better — in Christ! I believe that we can and must do better in terms of our understanding about the one true God and his Messiah. And we owe it to Christ, to ourselves, and to all of humanity to do better in our conduct: better in our relationships with the people of this world and better in our conduct with one another as Christians. That is particularly the case with ill-treatment of minority (non-orthodox) Christians. Is it not Jesus himself who said that his followers are to be the salt of the earth — the light of the world? We as Christians can do better![2]

If Christians today are saved, it is not because they believe in a complicated configuration of God called the Trinity. Unfortunately, too many Christians have bought into the strange contradiction that God wants people to be saved, but in order for them to be saved they must confess faith in the complex, incomprehensible, theologically loaded idea of multiple persons being one God. Does that not cast a roadblock in the path of many people? Why would God condition salvation on such a confusing and contradictory concept?[3]

The Trinity – A Doctrine In Search of Proof

The doctrine of the Trinity is a theory forever in search of proof. If it were actually biblical, the Jews who knew God before Christianity would have been declaring it all along. If it was really true, people would just read it in their Bibles and no one would even have to ask questions. The confusing post-biblical idea about multiple persons being one God never deserved to be believed by Christians — much less elevated to become the central doctrine of the church, a belief which is supposed to identify a person as a Christian.

We can understand how post-biblical Gentile Christians were derailed in this matter. They had their own religious and philosophical pasts against them. For example, in their pantheons, had they not long believed in such ideas as various “persons” who were deity and of the same substance? Did not that create a mindset which could more readily slip into the notion of multiple persons being one (God) substance in Christianity?[4] Such ideas may have been acceptable to those Gentile Christians, but should we as Christians today still rest our faith on such reasoning?

We can understand that Christians adopted a view that God is multiple persons under the weight of persecutions by emperors who suppressed any other understanding of God. But we as Christians today are no longer under the decrees of “Christian” emperors. Now, we have only self-imposed requirements to conform to our own Gentile church tradition. But why should we? The truth is better!

Will we really believe that bishops and philosophers, centuries after Christ, somehow became the fathers of the Christian church? And will we today still discount the fact that Christians over the centuries acted with cruelty against their fellow human beings in the name of Christ? Will we excuse them on the utterly lame pretext that “things were different then”? When will we become enough like Jesus that we no longer avert our attention from evil deeds or diminish their significance because it was “Christians” who were doing them?[5]

And perhaps it is the case that ordinary Christians of early centuries were often unable to read the Scriptures for themselves. But what is our excuse now? We have the Scriptures massively available to us. Great numbers of us as Christians can read them. Will we then always rely on our clergy to tell us what we “must” believe in regard to the very God whom we worship? Our clergy are often wonderful people with admirable qualities. However, we must remember that typically they themselves grew up being told what to believe in the matter of defining God. They are people who likely had to confess faith in multiple persons as God or be denied entrance into a Christian seminary. The result has been a clergy that is often more wedded to Gentile church heritage than to Jesus and the Scriptures themselves.

And how long will we entertain people who come to us asserting that they can “prove” the doctrine of the Trinity? Will we forever allow ourselves to be mesmerized by proof-texting, faulty syllogisms and non-scriptural examples? Will we always permit long lists of convoluted arguments for a multiple person God to stand, instead of what should be clear and direct scriptural statements about God? Will we continue to allow the allure of a supposed “mystery” to steal from us the power of the simplicity of the one true God and his Messiah?

And will we cling to the notion that we are invincible? We need to quit believing our own Christian propaganda that Christianity could never be wrong in the matter of defining God. We can read in our New Testament that God declared the Jews — his own chosen people — to be in error in refusing the Messiah. The Apostle Paul tells us as Gentile Christians that we must not think too highly of ourselves lest we should also fall short (Rom. 11:20, 21). If God’s people, the Jews, could err en masse, do we imagine that we as Gentiles cannot?[6]

Let us embrace again the simplicity of the one true God and stop insisting that people must accept a complex notion about multiple persons as God — a notion that we ourselves agree we have never understood. When will we stand up for the sufficiency of faith in YHWH who alone really is God (John 17:3)? When will we defend Jesus as being what he said he was: the Christ of God — God’s son? When will we stand up for those who are seeking to come to Christ and defend them from the burden of confessing the one God as being multiple persons? That is a confession that no one in the Bible was ever instructed to make.

We must no longer be content to live in the haze that lingers over these critical issues. We who have been heirs of confusion must now become the people who celebrate the glory of the Father as the only true God and Jesus as God’s true human Messiah. We as a generation of Christians today can do better. And if we can — then we must.

Continue reading – next in series

Gill, J. Dan (2016). Christians Can Do Better. In, The One: In Defense of God (pp. 260-264). Nashville, TN: 21st Century Reformation Publishing.

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[1] Edward Mote, “The Solid Rock,” c. 1834.

[2] Have we not reached a point where we as Christians can dialogue on issues without condemning one another “to hell” on the basis of post-biblical doctrines and creeds? Can we not abandon intimidation, name calling and coercion in favor of persuasion with mutual Christian respect?

[3] See my article, J. Dan Gill, “Yet Another Music City Miracle! Must One Believe in the Doctrine of the Trinity to be Saved?” https://www.21stcr.org/multimedia/articles/music_city_miracle. html.

[4] For a summary of the debate over homoousios see William Placher, A History of Christian Theology — An Introduction (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1983), 75–79.

[5] The rationalizing of such persecutions by Christians can still be seen today. A notable example of this is the zealous defense of John Calvin by some modern Calvinists regarding the awful “Servetus Affair.” For a balanced consideration of that matter, read the analysis of attorney and former Calvinist, Stanford Rives, Did Calvin Murder Servetus? (Charleston, SC: Booksurge Publishers, 2008).

[6] In all of this, it should never be thought that Christ intends that there be a separation between Gentiles and Jews within Christianity (Gal. 3:28; Col. 3:11). There is to be one Lord over all (Rom. 10:12). Jewish Christians have at times brought separation by promoting the Law of Moses and failing to grasp the sufficiency of the eternal Torah of the Messiah (Gal. 2:16; 3:26–29; Heb. 13:20). On the other hand, it was post-biblical Gentile converts who developed and promoted critical differences regarding who God is. When Gentile Christians evolved the notion of God as multiple persons, they were separating themselves from the roots of Christian faith in that matter. Those roots run deep in YHWH alone as the only true God and Jesus as the Christ of God ( John 17:3).

The Trinity – A New Expanded God

2019-01-04T14:49:04+00:00

About the Author:

J. Dan Gill
J. Dan Gill is Editor in Chief and a contributor to 21st Century Reformation Online. He is a frequent speaker, has written many theological articles and presented a variety of papers on Christian issues and biblical subjects. J. Dan Gill is the author of “The One – In Defense of God” a book which makes the case for non-trinitarian “absolute monotheism” as being the theology not only of Jews but of Jesus and original Christians. He argues that the one God of the Bible is the Father alone and that Jesus is the Christ – God’s Messiah. Dan Gill is the producer and co-host with Sir Anthony Buzzard of 21st Century Reformation’s popular video commentary series on the New Testament writings of the Apostle Paul and the Book of Hebrews. J. Dan Gill is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and his academic studies have focused particularly on the history of Christian doctrine, early church history, the Reformation and restoration movements.