A Unitarian who denies the Trinity, part 1

by Matt Slick

This dialogue occurred in the CARM discussion room with a person who strongly denies the doctrine of the Trinity.

Amigo: But to claim you reason it and then claim your conclusion is a mystery is absurd
Matt: Amigo, do not make the mistake of subjecting God to your understanding. You must believe what the Word of God says.
Amigo: I do believe what it say, You don't. The reasoning is faulty Matt. Totally.
Matt: What reasoning?
Amigo: The reasoning Trinitarians use to come up with this farce.
Matt: What reasoning is that?
Amigo: Pick one of your reasons and I will illustrate.
Matt: No, you are the one who said that the reasoning of the Trinity is incorrect.
Amigo: Yes I am
Matt: I'm asking you to demonstrate to me if you understand how the doctrine of the Trinity is arrived at.
Amigo: Totally incorrect
Matt: I want to find out if you are understanding what you're criticizing.
Amigo: It is arrived at by:
Amigo: 1. Observing the Bible says there is only one God. The Bible says there is only one God. 2. Observing that three persons are called "god". 3. Concluding that these three persons are therefore the one God
Matt: Which one of those three points is incorrect?
Amigo: Observation no. 2 is wrong.
Amigo: Also . . . 
Matt: How is it wrong?
Amigo: The logic uses a fallacy of equivocation. It also Assumes the Hs is a 3rd person.
Matt: Actually, it doesn't assume it. It concludes it. Which is your third point.
Amigo: No. 2 is wrong because the Bible never refers to Jesus as God
Matt: The issue is dealing with point number two
Amigo: No Matt those points never demonstrate the Hs is a person . . . . it assumes it
Matt: That is incorrect. The Bible definitely refers to Jesus as God
Amigo: Nowhere Matt. Nowhere. Pick one.
Matt: Heb. 1:8, "But of the Son He says, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever . . . "
Amigo: And you know the literal Greek says, "the throne of you the god to the age of the age", correct?
Matt: Are you able to read Greek?
Amigo: Please answer my question
Matt: I will answer your question after I verify to some extent that you can read Greek. Could you please parse the verb, "ego."
Amigo: Oh please Matt, let's not play games.
Matt: I'm not playing again. You made an assertion. I'm trying to verify it. You said that you can read Greek.
Amigo: Trinitarian scholars themselves admit Heb 1:8 can be translated differently
Matt: If you can, then you should be able to parse the verb, "ego."
Amigo: And here you are trying to pretend this is not the case
Matt: This is not a game at all.
Amigo: Ego is not a verb
Matt: I'm pretending nothing. I am simply trying to establish whether or not you can do that.
Matt: Good. Testing you . . . . now, can you parse "eimi"?
Amigo: Just so we don't get bogged down in this silly game, Assume I can't read Greek. Now get back to Heb 1:8
Matt: I will assume you can't since you do not seem to be able to parse "eimi." 
Amigo: Do you admit that scholars confess that this verse can be translated differently (the grammar allows it). And their conclusion comes from theology not the grammar
Matt: Are you aware that the nouns, "thronos" and "theos," in Heb. 1:8, both end in the omicron sigma form? That is the masculine singular.
Amigo: Irrelevant Stick to the question at hand.
Matt: It is extremely relevant because the vocative and the nominative cases in Greek are the same. Position is what determines the meaning. Nevertheless, are you also aware that it is a quote from Psalm 45:6.
Amigo: I am aware of that so you have 2 (two) options to pick from. Why do you choose the one you do?
Matt: In the Hebrew, it is translated as thy throne "O God" with "O God" being in the vocative.
Amigo: No, no
Matt: Yes.
Amigo: The RSV does not translate it that way does it? Are you going to now say your Greek is better than theirs?
Matt: Uh . . . it is the Hebrew . . . . fyi
Matt: In seminary, I specifically asked my Hebrew professor about Psalm 45:6 and this issue.
Amigo: Your divine throne endures for ever and ever RSV.
Matt: He said that the Hebrew is translated properly as, "Thy throne O God is forever and ever."
Amigo: Of course he did . . . . its the stock Trinitarian answer.
Matt: If you want to quote the ASV as being authentic, I will quote the NASB.
Amigo: So why is he contesting the RSV translation then? Do you charge they are Wrong?
Matt: Since the great majority of the English translations translates Psalm 45:6 as "Thy Throne, O God, is forever and ever," I will conclude that that is the proper translation.
Matt: So why not the NASB then? That [the RSV] is not the best translation.
Amigo: Well of course Matt . . . . the majority are Trinitarian translations . . . . . ask the fox who should be in the henhouse why don't you?
Matt: Bibles do not always translate things perfectly. But it will not help your case to go find a Bible translation that suits your theological prejudices. It is not a matter of bias. That is what the Hebrew says. The fact is that you don't like it and so you look for translation to fit your position.
Amigo: Theological prejudice? ridiculous . . . . I was a happy Trinitarian. Sorry Matt but you are just insisting for what you want it to say.
Matt: The Bible clearly teaches that Jesus Christ is God in Hebrews 1:8. Let me ask a question. Do you deny that Jesus Christ is God in flesh?
Amigo: The text says, "the throne of you the God to the age of the age" signifying Jesus has ascended to the authority of the throne of God. Of course I deny it
Matt: Didn't the Pharisees also deny that Jesus was God in flesh?
Amigo: The Pharisees nowhere thought he claimed to be God, including John 10:30 and 8:58
Matt: Yes, they did. John 10:30-34. "The Jews took up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of these do you stone me? 33 The Jews answered him, It is not for a good work that we stone you but for blasphemy; because you, being a man, make yourself God."
Amigo: And that's why Jesus responded by discussing other gods right? Sorry but it says, "make yourself a god".
Matt: So you can see that the Jews thought that Jesus was claiming to be God.
Amigo: No they didn't.
Matt: That is what the text says.
Amigo: Jesus tells you how He understood them . . . . why do you ignore that fact?
Matt: John 10:33, "The Jews answered him, 'It is not for a good work that we stone you but for blasphemy; because you, being a man, make yourself God.'"
Amigo: Nope
Matt: You mean the text is wrong?
Amigo: "make yourself a god"
Matt: You mean the Jews did not think that Jesus was making Himself God?
Amigo: No your Trinitarian translation is wrong. No they didn't.
Matt: You mean that verse is wrong?
Amigo: No I mean your translation of that verse is wrong.
Amigo: Why do you say "A man" but not "A god?" Hmm?
Matt: The ASV, which you quoted earlier as being valid, says, John 10:33, "The Jews answered him, 'It is not for a good work that we stone you but for blasphemy; because you, being a man, make yourself God.'"
Amigo: Inconsistent translation practices.
Matt: Ah, so when they disagree with you, they are wrong . . . . I see.
Amigo: No definite article here Matt, "A god". Just as they said "A man".
Matt: You mean Jesus was making Himself "a god"?
Amigo: You ask that I accept your doctored up evidence? No thanks. No I mean that's what the Jews charged him with.
Matt: So, you admit that the Jews were saying that Jesus was claiming to be "a" god?
Amigo: Did you notice they said "You are blaspheming Because..." No that's not what I said. I said that is what the Jews charged him with.
Matt: Then please tell me what it is you are saying. You aren't making any sense.
Amigo: How Jesus understood their charge, "You are blaspheming,' because I said, "I am the Son of God'".
Matt: I just checked the Greek. John 10:33 is translated accurately as "The Jews answered him, It is not for a good work that we stone you but for blasphemy; because you, being a man, make yourself God."
Amigo: Your insistence will not make it so.
Matt: It's not a matter of insistence. It's simply a matter of reading the Greek. I just did.
Amigo: Tell me why you inconsistently do not place an indefinite article in front of God as you do in front of "man". Tell me.
Matt: The Greeks says, "su anthropos hon poieis seaouton theon."
Amigo: What is your excuse?
Matt: "You being a man make yourself God."
Amigo: See no definite article there is there?
Matt: That's what the literal Greek says.
Amigo: Why do you avoid this issue? God = The god.
Matt: There is no definite article. It simply says, "You being a man make yourself God." 
Amigo: And there isn't one for "man" either is there?
Matt: That is the literal translation.
Amigo: So why do you place an indefinite article in front of "man"? Why?
Matt: But, the word, "man," in Greek is in the nominative singular implying the definite article.
Amigo: What?
Matt: The word, "god," is in the accusative and does not require a definite article.
Amigo: Notice how Jesus responded.
Matt: It is the subject and doesn't need a definite article.
Amigo: "make yourself a god" . . . . "You are called gods" Notice how Jesus responded. And also notice how Jesus understood their charge.
Matt: So, then you're telling me that the Jews did not say that Jesus was claiming to be God, right?
Amigo: He understood it to be a charge of being "the Son of God".
Matt: If not, then what did they think He was claiming to be?
Amigo: That's what I am telling you Matt. Jesus Tells You Right Here.
Matt: If the Jews did not say that Jesus was claiming to be God, then what did they think He was claiming to be?
Amigo: Ok Listen. 1. They said he blasphemed for making himself a god. 2. Jesus responds by discussing God calling others gods. 3. Jesus concludes by asking why then would they say he was blaspheming for claiming to be "the Son of God". Jesus tells you how he understood the charge... why do you ignore this?
Matt: I'm not ignoring anything. Please don't accuse me of that.
Amigo: Well then explain yourself . . . . repeated self reaffirmations do not make a case for you
Matt: Explain myself for what??
Amigo: Jesus tells you how he understood the charge... heed it.
Amigo: For ignoring how Jesus understood the charge
Matt: Jesus was quoting Psalm 82:6. That Psalm dealt with the judges of Israel who were unrighteous. He was mocking them because in Psalm 82:7, the very next verse, it says "Nevertheless, you will die like men."
Amigo: Oh brother
Matt: Jesus was condemning the Jewish leadership by comparing them to the unrighteous judges of Psalm 82.
Amigo: Jesus mocking?
Matt: If you were unaware of this, perhaps you should go study some more and then come back later.
Amigo: I don't think so
Matt: The religious leaders of Jesus' time were behaving as unrighteous judges.
Amigo: Jesus liked to mock people did he?
Matt: Jesus condemned them by quoting Scripture. They were clearly accusing Him of claiming to be divine.
Amigo: Yes and here was his point . . . . if God called you gods what is the problem with me being a Son of God?
Matt: And, they denied that He was divine, just like you do. You agree with them.
Amigo: He was showing them to be hypocrites.
Matt: He would showing them to be unrighteous judges. Now, let's see if you understand something.
Amigo: Not here Matt. Ok let's see if You understand Matt.
Matt: Please tell me where it is in the Scriptures where Jesus said what He did that caused the Jews to misunderstand what He was claiming. What was it that Jesus said that caused the Jews to think that He was claiming some sort of divinity? Obviously, they were reacting to something He said. What was it?
Amigo: They were reacting to his claim to be the Son of God. And that's what they charged him with in the end.
Matt: You mean the Jews thought that the claim "Son of God" meant that He was divine?
Amigo: No.
Matt: Does the term, "Son of God," mean that Jesus is God?
Amigo: They thought that meant he was claiming to be greater than them. No son of God does not mean one is God anymore than son of Adam means one is Adam
Matt: If the term, "Son of God," means that Jesus Christ is not God, then what does the term, "Son of Man," mean?
Amigo: The term son of man means that one is a descendent of the first man Adam. The term son of God means one is a son of that person God. It means God was his father and conceived him.
Matt: John 5:18, "For this cause therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God."
Amigo: And I should also ask you who Jesus' father is... the Spirit or the Father?
Matt: As you can see, contextually, the term, Son of God, calling God His own father, meant to make one's self equal with God.
Amigo: Did you ever notice Matt that "god" in this passage is not Jesus? I am equal with other people in many senses... it does not therefore mean I am those people does it?
Matt: Are you equal with God?
Amigo: Even If you were granted that Jesus share his divine nature that still would not amount to Jesus being identified as God. No.
Matt: Jesus claimed to be equal with God.
Amigo: Identity is one thing, nature another
Matt: God knows all things, correct? Jesus knows all things.
Amigo: How was he equal Matt? Where is your proof? Or do you just imagine what you want it to be?
Matt: God is in all places, correct?
Amigo: Jesus did not know the day or hour, Matt.
Matt: Jesus is in all places.
Amigo: The person did not know.
Matt: John 21:17, Peter says that Jesus knew all things.
Amigo: Jesus Can Be in many places... he is risen life-giving Spirit
Matt: You mean Jesus is not?

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.