Does the absence of the Trinity make for a "different gospel" as mentioned in Galatians 1?

(Alexander Meier) #1

Hi everyone.

I’m sure we can all agree that there are certain secondary issues about which exist a large disagreement within the Christian faith. We are not saved or condemned by holding correct opinions about debatable things, regardless of how closely we hold those convictions. If it an honest interpretation of scripture, it falls more or less into a Romans 14, agree-to-disgree-but-I-still-love-you sort of category. That is a very good thing, or a large portion of the church would be going to Hell over whether a woman should preach. We are not saved by being “right” about these things.

Yet, there are also those beliefs which are central to and intrinsic of a true faith. For instance, salvation by grace as opposed to salvation by adherence to the law, which is the main context of Galatians. I believe that most, if not all, Christological heresies fall into this category of very elements which are necessary for a true faith.

And while I can see and demonstrate the biblical reality of the Trinity and even speak to some of the many implications of it, I have a much harder time illustrating how belief in the deity of Christ and personhood of the Holy Spirit, both distinct persons from the Father but all three the Only God, is a necessary element of saving faith. I haven’t met anyone who denies the Trinity without also compromising other essential doctrines, but is it possible? Even just to make it a valuable point of conversation, how do I respond to following question: How does the absence of a Triune God change the gospel message in any essential way, so as to directly affect salvation?

How can I affirm the trinity in a way that is not only meaningful but a necessary component of faith? Right now, I feel like all of my demonstration of the Trinity is more just theological acrobatics.

Thanks for the discussion.

(SeanO) #2

@AlexMeier Thank you for that question. My first response would be this: You can be saved without understanding the Trinity, but you cannot be saved without experiencing the Trinity. Because God is spirit and is personal/knowable, we can known Him without fully understanding Him. We can come to Jesus and experience God the Spirit, praying to God the Father because of what God the Son did without understanding the theology behind our experience.

But why is it that people who deny the Trinity tend to deny other Biblical doctrines? Is there causation behind this correlation? I would say, generally, yes - the Bible is quite clear about Trinitarian theology if we read it. Consider this verse from Matthew, for example, which lists each of the members of the Trinity separately. And there are many places where both the Son and the Spirit are identified as fully God and yet distinct from the Father elsewhere.

Matthew 28:19 - Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

So, when people deny the Trinity, it may show a willingness to distort Scripture or deny the Bible, which would then lead to going astray on other doctrines. However, I cannot say that everyone who does not understand the Trinity has not experienced the Trinity - there may be those in Heaven who had a wrong view of the Trinity but did experience the Trinity. So I would be careful about saying that you must believe this doctrine to be saved. However, I would also not attend a church where they denied this doctrine. So there is a balance here…

Here are some resources that may be helpful as we continue the discussion. The Lord grant us peace and understanding.

(Jimmy Sellers) #3

This is from a thread a while back. Please view the 3 min video. I think you will find it helpful and a bit humorous.