Monday, December 8, 2014

What Can Franklin Delano Roosevelt Teach Us About the Trinity? A (Growing) List of Replies to Anti-Trinitarian Arguments

The following consists of an exchange I recently had with a man who sought to refute the doctrine of the Trinity.

Claim: Jesus never referred to himself as the Son of God, but as the Son of Man, 22 or so times. 

Reply: Referring to Himself as the Son of Man does not contradict the Christian belief that He is the Son of God (suggesting otherwise betrays ignorance of the Incarnation).  Also remember that Christ doesn’t rebuke St. Peter for confessing that He is the Son of the living God, but instead says, “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”

Claim: The Trinity was never mentioned by Jesus and is not found anywhere in the Bible.

Reply: We devise words to simplify reality; doing so doesn’t deny that reality. The term genome, which refers to the complex "set of DNA sequences derived from each chromosome of a given species," was evidently coined no earlier than 1920. This fact does not imply that these sequences did not exist prior to this point, although the logic implied in the claim above suggests that they did not. When the Fathers began employing the term Trinity (which, I believe, was first coined by Tertullian), and elaborated (not invented, but elaborated) on the doctrine, they were not propounding a new doctrine, but were responding to later heretics, all of whom had one thing in common: they attempted to rationalize the God who defies all human rationalization.

Claim: Paul never met Jesus.

Reply: Yes he did, on the road to Damascus. Let's not overlook the assumption that, after His earthly life, Christ did not encounter people. Many Christians insist that He continues to do so to this day. 

Claim: The doctrine of the Trinity was invented three centuries after the time of Jesus, in the first two Ecumenical Councils.

Reply: The doctrine of the Holy Trinity, which the vast majority of Christians accepts, reminds me of the two-term limit imposed on US presidents.  The country's very first president, George Washington, established the custom of serving no more than two terms in office. More than a hundred years later, Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected for as many as four terms. Perceiving a threat to this well-established custom, Congress felt the need to pass the 22nd Amendment in order to codify it. Similarly, Ecumenical Councils were convened not for the purpose of inventing new doctrines like the Trinity, but for affirming them in the face of new threats (such as that posed by Arianism).