Most Christians are (at least in theory, according to creeds and statements of faith promulgated by denominations) trinitarians, believers in a triune or tri-personal God, which they call the Trinity. But some have always been unitarians, believers in one God who is one perfect self, who does not in any way contain three selves or “persons.” Nowadays, these are a minority (again, going by official statements and membership rolls – I think the facts about Christians’ actual beliefs are more complicated than the official documents suggest).
In my view, before around fifth century, unitarians were always a majority. Of course, they didn’t call themselves “unitarians” – that term is of late 17th c. coinage – but arguably most of them were unitarians - for some arguments read this. (Update: or this series.)
In any case, one can’t determine what is true by taking a vote. Truth may be unpopular. But also, it can be popular. So, who is right?
I propose that the following clear arguments provide a way forward. Which should we accept?
T1 The Father is not the Trinity
T2 The Trinity is God.
T3 Therefore, the Father is not God.
T1 The Father is not the Trinity.
U2 The Father is God.
U3 Therefore, The Trinity is not God.
“Is” here means numerical identity throughout. If x in this sense “is” y (in logic we write x=y) then x and y are one and the same, numerically one thing, numerically identical, and so x and y can’t ever differ in any way. The order doesn’t matter: it will be true that x=y just in case it is also true that y=x. And if it is false that x=y, then x and y are truly two – those terms name different things. To repeat: every “is” in these arguments is the “is” of identity. This is why we’re dealing with clear arguments. We’re not talking about some less close relation or association.
“God” here names Yahweh, the one true God asserted in the Hebrew scriptures.
Each argument is valid; in each case, if both premises were to be true, then the conclusion would also be true.
But we can’t consistently accept both arguments as sound. T2 conflicts with U3, and T3 conflicts with U2 (in both cases the pairs are contradictories – pairs such that one must be true and the other false).
So what to do?
Let us start on common ground. All sides should agree Continue reading »