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Really Struggling With This!


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Hi everyone!

 

It has been along time since I have posted here but I have had some thoughts lately where I think I need to air them out here and get some of your opinions. Over the last year I have read alot of books on the trinity, christianity and Quakerism. I am very happy to be attending my monthly quaker meeting and through my reading I have discovered that I do believe in the trinity and Jesus as God.

 

Now these comments are not on here to argue or disagree with anyone as I know people view God differently and I totally respect that. Although I am comfotable with my trinitarian thinking I have started having thoughts about all these different beliefs people have.

 

I have been thinking that if I believe that Jesus is God then that means people who believe Jesus isn't God has an opposing view. One of must be right and one must be wrong. I hope this makes sense as I am just trying to write what I think. Obviously my trinitarian thinking could be the person who is wrong but I just want to try and get out of this way of thinking.

 

I respect everyone will make their own decisions and if we are sincere and honest with ourselves trhen that is all we can do but did God plan it to be this way or would he/she be sitting there disappointed with how differently we all see and view things in regards to Jesus.

 

If you have read this far, thank you for hearing me out and please feel free to ask me any questions if you are unsure of my thoughts. I look forward to your guidance, comments and thoughts.

 

God bless.

 

Brad

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It isn't what we believe that matters but what we honor in life. Jesus honored God, and if we are to follow Jesus we are to honor God also. Jesus says to honor God in Spirit and in truth. If you honestly believe a thing is true, then honor that, but also honor the Spirit of life. Our beliefs often evolve as we grow, so surely belief isn't what matters, but how we live, what we contribute to society, and how we treat our fellow man. God designed us to be diverse. God scattered us across the face of the earth into different cultures. The only thing I can imagine God being disappointed over is how we treat our fellow man. We are called to love all humanity, not just those who are of our particular fold. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. Who is thy neighbor? We are all sons of Adam and your people are my people. We belong to the greater community of man. You can't willfully change what you believe, but you can learn to love above all else.

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One of must be right and one must be wrong.

When I had a friend at the other end of the religious spectrum, he being fundamental - not to say that you are - and I being liberal, I imagined that we would be before God and ask which one of us is right. God replied, " You both are."

I continue to believe this to be true.

 

I am not a relativist. I just don't believe that a discussion about whether Jesus is God is at the top of God's list in values we should be living by. Whatever one's position Jesus still calls us to the same place of being loved and loving.

 

Dutch

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Hi Brad and glad to see you back.

 

I think you are entitled as any to choose your own beliefs and allow them to progress as they will on your progressive journey. i would echo others here that what is most important is how you live your life. In my experience, beliefs and views change and as we progress, differences in particular beliefs with others becomes less important than how we actually live our life.

 

Joseph

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Hi Brad. Nice to hear from you.

 

Believe me, I understand your dilemma. Christianity often says that we have to believe certain things. Most religions do. Many of them are based upon confessing that certain things are true for which we have no proof, which is often called faith. But for me, faith is more about living in trust, not agreeing that certain statements are true.

 

And, as you know, for many Christians, Jesus = God.

 

But there is an assumption made in this approach, that assumption being that we know *exactly* who or what God is and *exactly* who or what Jesus is. In order to say that one thing is completely equal to another thing, we have to know an awfully lot about both sides of the equation. So the question I faced was, do we? How much do we really know about God? About Jesus?

 

(Side note: For me, I lined up what I was relatively confident about considering both God and Jesus and the equation didn't work. But that is me and my conclusions. Many Christians have used this approach and felt that the equation did work. But I want to move onto another thought.)

 

Here, to me, is the heart of the matter: Let's say that Christianity says that we must believe that Jesus = God. Was that, according to the gospels, Jesus' central message? Granted, we can find certain verses about Jesus' unity with the Father and then other verses about the Father being greater. But was *this subject* Jesus' central message? Was his message primarily about his nature?

 

If, based on your own research of the scriptures, you think that Jesus' central message was about his nature, then you would do well to do your best to settle this issue in your heart and mind.

 

But if you think that Jesus' central message was about something or someone else, then this question about "Does Jesus equal God?" is not as important as Christianity says it is. That doesn't mean that you can't consider it, but it doesn't have to dominate your thinking or force you to make a black/white decision.

 

For me, though I am no longer trinitarian, I have no problems talking with or fellowshipping with trinitarians as I still see God in Jesus and we can chat about plenty of things, religious and non-religious, unless they start to threaten me with hell. Of all ways that Jesus spoke about hell, none of them were in the context of accepting or rejecting the trinity. I have some tentatively confident and, imo, reasonable ideas about who God and Jesus are (I want to stay open to more learning and experiences), but I don't know everything. I doubt I ever will.

 

So I would exhort you to ask yourself how important this equation was to Jesus. Was "Jesus = God" his central teaching? Or was it something or someone else? When/if you answer that question, then, imo, you will have put that question in its proper relevance and can deal with it as your journey goes along.

 

Always good to hear from you, my friend!

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First, I point to your choice of terms, one must be "right" and the other "wrong." That suggests a moral judgement between "right" and "wrong" that I think is entirely inapplicable to this matter.

 

Now to say one is "correct" or "true" as opposed to "incorrect", "false", "not true" might be a more accurate way of stating it, but since we are talking about belief that cannot be proven one way or the other that becomes moot as well.

 

Second, I don't think "true" or "false" can even be applied, let alone "right" or "wrong", since it IS simply a BELIEF ABOUT something that cannot be demonstrated to even exist. Something like the "trinity" is simply a MODEL for organizing our thoughts about something that cannot be comprehended directly.

 

Third, the "trinity doctrine" is one of those "beliefs" I've come to think of as "idle/idol beliefs." I call it "idle" because it doesn't DO anything, doesn't MEAN anything....it's simply a statement of how one tries to comprehend something. It's "idle" because it has no effect or consequences on anything we do or don't do, and has no bearing at all on anything, even our "salvation" in the traditional Christian sense. It asks nothing of us, provides us nothing of value. It has no relvance to how we act, or how we are toward others or Gid. The trinity is a doctrine that arose several centuries into Christianity, the "orginal" christians did not hold it, we assume they were 'saved', so it isn't neccesary to salvation or any other basic principle of Christianity.

 

I call it "idol" because it is a mere human belief about something that may not even exist that is often elevated to something of substance, power, it does not have. even if the trinity were to be a correct model for a reality of something, in this case,the nature of God, merely "believing" it to be so or not is irrelevant to whether or not that model is acurate.

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I have been thinking that if I believe that Jesus is God then that means people who believe Jesus isn't God has an opposing view.

 

Brad, another question that you may find helpful is, why are there people who believe that Jesus *isn't* God? Why do they reject the trinitarian point-of-view? Unitarians don't believe that Jesus was/is God. And neither do deists, yet they regard Jesus highly. Given that the Church has held to the trinitarian viewpoint for about 1700 years, why wouldn't all Christians be trinitarians by now?

 

As with most questions, there are probably multiple answers. For me, when I researched this subject, I had two guiding considerations:

 

1. God, at least the way that the Bible portrays him, is very anti-idolatry. In other words, God doesn't want people worshipping anyone but him. This is the first commandment and I believe Jesus held to it. Therefore, if we were to worship Jesus as God, given God's anti-idolatry stance, we would do well to be pretty convinced it was the right thing to do. If the Bible is big on "worship God alone", then it seemed to me that the Bible ought to be pretty clear IF there was a revision or ammendment to this. And this led me to my second consideration:

 

2. What does the Bible say about Jesus? Did Jesus think of himself as God? Is the Bible overwhelmingly trinitarian? If Jesus was/is God, AND if the Bible is our main source about Jesus, AND if this is an important issue, THEN the Bible should speak to this pretty clearly.

 

So, with these two considerations, I set about studying what the NT had to say about Jesus. If you would like to see what I saw, you can find my study on this here:

 

http://www.evertunes.net/jesus.htm

 

On the other hand, if people are convinced that Jesus is God from their experiences, whether personal or as part of a church community, then I have to acknowledge that they certainly have the right to believe as they like. I don't think this is a "salvation issue." I just think that it is a "biblically logical" one that the Bible can help us with if we put aside the assertions of the Church and the Creeds. But, as always, this is my point-of-view.

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Thanks for the Link, WS, that's an EXCELLENT study on this controversial topic. I could never find support or justification for the trinitarian view in the bible, either, and much that seems to rather clearly refute it.

 

Jenell

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Thanks for the feedback, Jenell. As I mentioned previously, I don't have a problem with trinitarians, but I know that most of them revere their Bibles highly and, in my opinion, usually aren't aware of these other verses that speak about Jesus' relationship to God. So I wrote this study, not to absolutely prove that Jesus isn't God (something I can't do, anyway), but just to demonstrate that the subject isn't as "open and shut" as the Church or as Christianity says it is. As you probably know, John Calvin, an ardent trinitarian, was instrumental in having Michael Servetus executed as a heretic because Servetus didn't accept the doctrine of the trinity. I simply don't know how someone who claimed to follow Jesus could do that.

 

So while I respect trinitarian Christians' right and freedom to believe in the trinity, I also think it is in their best interests to know why other Christians are non-trinitarian, especially from a biblical point-of-view. While the doctrine of the trinity may biblically hinge on John 1:1, there are plenty of other verses in the NT that, imo, should be considered (and possibly answered) before making the assertion (which Brad did not, but many do) that "true Christians" have to believe in the trinity. I am not *at all* advocating a trinitarian/non-trinitarian battle, God help us. I am simply saying that if trinitarians sincerely believe that non-trinitarians are wrong on this issue, then offer a reasonable explanation of all these "other verses" that speak of Jesus' relationship to God from the biblical standpoint.

Edited by Wayseeker
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Good to see you around, Brad. Hope things are well with you.

 

I don't think this must be seen as 'opposing views' as such. Two views may be complementary -- logically conflicting but adding completeness to each other. Or they may be incommensurate, following two ways of thinking that do not intersect.

 

If neither of these approaches speak to you, we can also simply acknowledge a disagreement. Perhaps we genuinely think the other person is wrong. What then? Of what importance is doctrinal agreement on such a matter? Does it amount to the faithlessness, or an indictment of the moral character, of the other person? Does it mean they're on the 'outside' of the kingdom? If not, then perhaps there's room enough for genuine disagreement, even in heaven.

 

Peace,

Mike

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Actually, since this IS a matter of what anyone BELIEVES, wherever one stand on it, it is just that person's OPINION, and therefore such designations as "right and wrong" or "true or not true" are really not appropriate anyway.

 

I have no problem with any that choose to believe the trinity doctrine, though of course I do with anyone using it as a basis to declare one or another not real or true Christians over it.

 

I would ask this of Spritseeker....what does holding this belief about the trinity doctrine or not MEAN? What does it DO? How does believing it or not, affect one's faith or how one is or acts toward God or others? I just don't see that it DOES anything. Whether one believes this doctine or not, how does that make any difference in how anyone approaches and lives out their faith? Until I can see some way it does make any difference, actually DOES anything, for me, it is really a non-issue.

 

I guess what I'm trying to say, Brad, is this isn't something you should let yourself "struggle" over....to be curious about it, consider upon it, yes, that's reasonable and I think many of us here have done so at some point i our lives. But as that it is a matter of no actual consequence, to either our salvation, faith, or how we are toward God or others, how we approach our faith and live out our faith, I'd suggest whatever you choose to believe about this particular matter, there are many matters of actual significance upon which to expend efforts, to struggle with.

 

Jenell

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Before I can consider whether I am a trinitarian or not I have to know, conceptually, what the trinity is. I think Jenell hit it on the head from a slightly different direction .

I would ask this of Spritseeker....what does holding this belief about the trinity doctrine or not MEAN? What does it DO? How does believing it or not, affect one's faith or how one is or acts toward God or others? I just don't see that it DOES anything. Whether one believes this doctine or not, how does that make any difference in how anyone approaches and lives out their faith? Until I can see some way it does make any difference, actually DOES anything, for me, it is really a non-issue.

 

Our Pastor tried to explain it to me when I was 12 and 42 years later I still don't know what it means and believe me I have asked. I understand the whole 3 in 1 thing. Maybe if I know why it is important I can begin to understand the concept. Until then I am with Jenell it is a non-issue.

 

steve

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I think the original trinitarian debate centered around the nature of Jesus. Was he God pretending to be a human? If he was only human then how could his crucifixion be a sufficient sacrifice. To say that Jesus was fully God and fully human then seemed to bring in the question of the Holy Spirit and whala! - a threesome of a sort. Although I have done my share of egg and apple object lessons I preferred the Eastern Church's idea of a dance. I see that the Trinity would be important to some.

 

In the embrace of the One who loves beyond all understanding and in the light of Jesus of Nazareth.

 

Dutch

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I have been thinking that if I believe that Jesus is God then that means people who believe Jesus isn't God has an opposing view.

 

I can't have short unless I have long, I can't have heavy unless I have light. That doesn't mean one is wrong and the other is right. I feel they compliment each other. I don't think they oppose each other either. I believe that Jesus is God too, but I have expanded my view of Jesus and God to incorporate all views into an multi-multi-dimentional-Trinity or infinity. I learned or expanded my vision by listening to the silence, others, other scriptures and listening to God in everything, everyone and life itself. The uni-verse keeps saying everything is one.

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I have been thinking that if I believe that Jesus is God then that means people who believe Jesus isn't God has an opposing view. One of must be right and one must be wrong. I hope this makes sense as I am just trying to write what I think. Obviously my trinitarian thinking could be the person who is wrong but I just want to try and get out of this way of thinking.

 

Brad

 

I don't see it that way.

 

What you are describing is a Jewish worldview -vs- a Christian worldview.

 

I know that among Christians, it is thought that Christianity is a fulfillment of Judaism, and therefore; the G-d of the Tanakh is the God described in Christian writings (apocrypha to the Tanakh).

 

Actually, Christianity is a deviation of Judaism on the very point you raise. In fact, many Jews would - and do - consider it heresy.

 

The Jewish faith is centralized around the belief that G-d is spirit, and G-d is one. It is something that is recited - the Sh'ma - each morning as an afirmation.

 

Early Christians (who happened to be practicing Jews at the time), in an effort to legitimize the authority of the Jewish philosopher / reformer, Jesus, inferred divinity on him, thus denying the basic premise of Judaism. The converted Jew Paul was particularly adept at articulating this new concept.

 

Therefore, what you are describing is not a difference within ONE FAITH, but the very defining difference in the G-d the Jews worship and the God that Christians worship.

 

Therefore, BOTH can be correct within the context of their respective faiths.

 

NORM

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