by Matt Slick
This dialogue is interesting because it was a pre-arranged debate between John and myself. Other Mormons are interested in the transcripts so I will make no comments on this dialogue. I have, however, edited out the typos, miscapitalizations, etc., to make it more readable. This is the complete dialogue.
Matt: How's it going?
John: It is going pretty well. I've been up a little longer than normal. You might have to forgive me if I nod off at the keyboard.
Matt: Just so you know, my computer has been crashing spontaneously this week. If I suddenly disappear, wait and I'll come back on line.
John: Do you want to open up with a statement or question?
Matt: You could. What are you interested in? Let's discuss subjects.
John: Would you be so kind as to refresh me on your definition of the trinity (or Godhead as I usually refer to it)?
Matt: The orthodox doctrine of the Trinity is that there is only one single God in all the universe, in all places, in all times. He exists in three persons. Each is not the other, but each is, in essence, God. They all three are the ONE true and living God. They are not three separate gods.
Matt: It can be compared to time: past, present, future. Each is not the other, but each is, in essence, time. All three make up one time.
John: I'm a little lost on the time analogy... give me a second to digest it. Let me see if I understand your view right.
John: In the Old testament God spoke to us through prophets, men who he inspired..... that would be "past".
Matt: No.... We can understand trinities in nature. Time is past, present, and future. Why can't we understand God as a Trinity?
John: Then when Christ came.... God was here in person.
Matt: That is correct. The Word (John 1:1) became flesh (John 1:14), and added human nature to himself (Phil. 2:5-8; Col. 2:9).
John: I guess when you used your analogy my mind went to Heb. 1:1-3.
Matt: Good. Jesus is the representation of the nature of the Father.
John: I think I got that.
John: Wait maybe I don't? What does it mean for him to be "the nature of the Father".... the word "nature".... I'm not quite following.
Matt: Everything has a nature. A cat has 'cat' nature. A human has 'human' nature. God's nature, if I might dare to proclaim, is divine, holy, pure, perfect, etc. Jesus represented that perfectly.
John: I like that, I don't know if I have ever heard it put that simply before, thanks.
John: I have just one question concerning the Holy Ghost.
John: Back to the analogy (hope I'm not pounding that to death) does the Holy Ghost more or less represent the "future".
Matt: No....That isn't what I was getting at. The Trinity is three distinct 'parts' or persons. Yet there is only ONE being.
John: Maybe I'll drop the analogy for now.
Matt: Time (as the analogy goes) is three distinct 'parts', yet there is only ONE time. The point is that the Trinity is the doctrine that there is only one God in all existence. Mormonism states that there is more than one God in existence. They both cannot be true.
John: I understand the One being. Agreed.
Matt: Okay.... but as a Mormon do you believe there is only ONE God in all the universe?
Matt: Okay. That is a great starting point. We Christians believe the Bible teaches that there is only one God in all existence. Therefore, we conclude that Mormonism is not true.....in a nutshell.
John: I believe that there are three, at least with whom [incomplete sentence]
John: But what if the Bible .... The Bible teaches that they (the Godhead) are separate.
Matt: If it taught that, I'd believe it. But it doesn't. It teaches that there is only one God.
John: Go with me to Revelations 4 and 5 and glance over them quickly... if you will?
John: In verses 2 and 3 of chapter 4, who is sitting on the throne?
Matt: That's Jesus.
John: Who is then represented in verse 6 of chapter 5?
John: Talk to me about verse 7 of chapter 5.
Matt: In this vision, it appears the Father and the Son are there....
Matt: okay..... ?
John: Why would God represent himself as been two beings, one sitting on a throne, and one standing, receiving a book form the other?
Matt: He is not representing Himself as two beings. Revelation is a highly symbolic book. You must at least take that into consideration when quoting it.
Matt: Nevertheless, the Trinity is three separate persons, not three separate beings.
Matt: Therefore, to see Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father in a vision (Acts 7:55-60) is perfectly consistent with the theological definition.
Matt: Also, you must take all of the Bible as a whole. In Isaiah chapters 43-45 the doctrine of Monotheism (one God in existence) is clearly taught.
John: I'm an artist, not that that is important, but as such I spend much time visualizing things, I can't picture anything but two separate beings. Sorry, I just can't.
Matt: So? Must you visualize something before it can be proven to be true?
John: Slow down a bit.... I can't keep up.
Matt: No problem.
Matt: When we encounter God, we will encounter areas of intellectual difficulty. After all, He is infinite and NOT like us.
John: Let me just back up a second. I understand that Revelations and other such scriptures are highly symbolic.... But, to me anyhow, the symbolism of two sends a clear message to me that there is a distinction.
Matt: Good... there is a distinction. That is part of the doctrine of the Trinity. Now add to that distinction the doctrine from the Bible that there are not two or three gods, but only one. Then you'd almost be there.
John: I interpret that distinction to be that they are separate.... you don't.... where does that leave us?
Matt: Then you would conclude that they are each 'a' god. right?
Matt: Okay... But when you encounter biblical passages that teach that there is only one God, what do you do?
John: The Godhead is one in purpose, one in authority, one in power.... When one of the members of the Godhead speaks, either the father, the Son, or the Spirit, they speak for all, as one. In fact, even the Angels, when sent, they speak even as though they are one with the God head. In a second, I'll generate some passages for you.
John: Pardon me a minute... sleep deprivation.
John: I'm still here.
John: Here is one example anyhow: Gen. 31:11-13 "And the angel of God spake unto me in a dream, saying, Jacob... I am the God of Beth-el, where thou anointedst the pillar, and where thou vowedst a vow unto me..." see Gen. 28:16-22
Matt: Angels often speak for the Lord (Gen. 17:1ff) is a good example. But, if the Bible teaches there is only one God, then is there only one God?
John: Unfortunately I am using a brand new Bible that I received a few months ago and have very little marked in it... If I had had my older one I could have found some of the other quotes.... but I'm a bit lost at the moment.... and tired.
Matt: I can help you post them... don't worry.
John: Thank you.
Matt: But, take a look at Isaiah 43:10,11: "Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. 11I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour.
Matt: LORD there is the Hebrew word of Jehovah. The word 'God' there in the Hebrew is the word 'elohim.' So, Jehovah is saying there is no elohim besides him. In other words, God is saying there is no God besides Him.
John: When the Bible speaks of there being One God I'm hesitant right now to start throwing out a lot of scriptures... I'm really not up for a long debate. I do not wish to dodge any scriptures either.
Matt: I understand. But let me post some quick verses that we use to show there is only one God: We can comment on them as a whole.
Matt: Isaiah 44:6, "Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God."
Matt: Isaiah 44:8, "Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any."
Matt: These are typical verses we monotheists use to show there is only one God. Therefore, the Trinity cannot be more than one god. It is that simple.
John: I believe in the Bible. I believe it when it teaches that God is one. I believe it when the Book of Mormon teaches that God is one or where the Doctrine and Covenants teach that God is one..... and...... I hope you are getting my message.
Matt: I understand. Deut. 6:4 says that God is one. But the Bible also teaches that there is only one God, not three.
John: God is not divided. The Godhead is not divided.
Matt: The verses quoted above show that. But, in Mormonism the godhead is three separate gods. That is divided. In the doctrine of the Trinity, there is only one God, not three. That is unity.
John: How many Apostles did Christ call?
Matt: How many God's does the Bible say exist?
John: "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me" John 17:20-21.
Matt: Yes... that context is one in purpose. But John, you haven't addressed the verses I've quoted that show there is only one God. What about those?
John: Simply put, I believe that when God says that he is One he means so in purpose. The Godhead is not divided, they are one in purpose. Even as we have been commanded to be one in purpose. That is what I believe, that is what I believe the Bible teaches. I do not know any other way of stating this.
John: I would like to give you some verses proving that the Godhead is separate in purpose.... but not now.... I am slowly loosing it....Correction... quickly loosing it.
Matt: Then what do you do with the verses where God says that there are no other gods besides Him? Isaiah 44:8, "Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any."
John: What do you say, five more minutes and then we hang it up for now?
John: In that particular verse, as in the others.... When God, Jehovah, is talking he is talking for the Godhead as a whole, as one..... and beside him, them...... there is no other God.
Matt: So, then, when He says that there are no other gods, he really means there ARE other gods, right?
John: He is speaking for all three, speaking as one, for they are one, beside them there are no other. They are the only ones to whom we must list to follow and obey. They are the only ones, Christ most specifically, by whom we can be save. Salvation comes from no others.
Matt: That isn't what it says. It says there are no other gods. He doesn't even know of any. None created before and none created after. I believe it.
John: I don't believe that that is what it says.
Matt: But, I just quoted exactly what it says and you disagreed with it. Don't you see what just happened? All I did was quote different parts of the verses already place in this chat and you disagreed with them. That means you understood them plainly and rejected them outright.
John: I disagree only with your (and most of Christendom's) interpretation of those verses.
John: I don not reject them.
Matt: But, I simply quoted them to you and you disagreed with them.....
John: Do you have any parting thoughts or statements?
Matt: I didn't interpret the verses. I quoted them. You disagreed with them. That isn't good.
Matt: Until next time.
John: Take care of yourself..... better still.... may God take care of you and bless you. A Friend.... John.