God NEVER means Trinity in the New Testament

The word ‘God’ in the New Testament NEVER means Trinity

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons), MCollT

 

Trinitarian theology says that God is neither the Jewish nor the Muslim conception of God but that He is the Trinitarian Christian conception that defines the term ‘God’ as ‘three persons in one being.’ Unfortunately, the New Testament, which is the basis of Christian worldview, does not bear out the Trinitarian definition of the term ‘God.’ Of the more than 1300 occurrences of the word God (or ‘Theos’) in the 27 books of the New Testament, not a single one of them mean ‘the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.’ Some Trinitarians may simply dismiss this as an inconsequential anomaly in the New Testament record, but when one really weighs it against Trinitarian claims, the anomaly may prove quite significant.

Although believing that the New Testament as a whole reveals the Trinity doctrine, Trinitarian theologian Ben Witherington III, who is Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, and an ordained pastor in the United Methodist Church, readily admits that the New Testament data shows that the word ‘God’ never means the Trinity:

“In all but seven places in the New Testament the term theos refers to the one whom the Jews knew as their God and earliest Christians called “Father” or “Abba.”…The term [God] never refers to the Trinity in the New Testament…” [1]

Apart from confirming our claim concerning the word ‘theos’ in the New Testament, Witherington identifies the deity of the earliest Christians as the deity of the Jews, i,e., the Father, and this means that the earliest followers of Jesus had no conception of God as ‘three persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) in one being.”

Approximately 400 years before Ben Witherington III, the celebrated British philosopher and Anglican clergyman, Doctor of Divinity Samuel Clarke (Yes, he was a Trinitarian) states that the word ‘God’ in scripture always means none other than ‘the Father.’

“The scripture, when it mentions GOD, absolutely and by way of Eminence, always means the Person of the Father.” [2]

Although a Trinitarian in faith, Clarke’s honest assessment of the data confirms Witherington’s.

Why is the fact that ‘God’ in the New Testament never means Trinity so important?

The Trinitarian scenario has it that God is really three persons in one being or deity. If we were to accept such a paradigm, then, the New Testament, which is supposed to be revelation from God, must have been revealed by that conglomerate of three persons that make up that one deity. If so, then, surely, out of the more than 1300 instances of ‘God’ that they, the three persons, inspired the writers of the New Testament to mention, at least one or a few of those occurrences would have encapsulated the Trinity, but none of them do. Instead, we are asked to believe that these three persons chose to reveal to all the writers of the New Testament that the term ‘God’ in over 1300 instances of it occurring in their revelation always means ‘one person’ and that ‘one person’ is typically and only ‘the Father.’ So rather than affirming the Trinitarian concept of God, the word God as it is used in the New Testament amazingly enough, confirms the Judaic-Islamic concept of God. Noting this substantial point, the foremost unitarian biblical scholar of the 21st century, Sir Anthony Buzzard and co-author Charles Hunting write:

“It seems quite amazing to us that there is no single case in Scripture of the word “God,” in thousands of references to the supreme Creator, which can be shown to mean “the Triune God.” If “God” nowhere carries the meaning “God in three persons,” the case for the Trinity collapses. The evidence strongly suggests that the Triune God is foreign to the biblical revelation.” [3]

Insofar the word ‘theos’ or ‘God’ is concerned in the New Testament, only the Judaic-Islamic view of God seems to matter while the Trinity is to be discarded as something completely foreign and without basis.

Notes:

[1] Witherington III, B. (2016). New Testament Theology and Ethics, Volume 1. Illinois: InterVarsity Press. p. 46

[2] Clarke, Samuel (1738). The Works of Samuel Clarke, Volume 4. London: John and Paul Knapton. p. 134

[3] Buzzard, A. F. & Hunting, C. F. (1998). The Doctrine of the Trinity: Christianity’s Self-Inflicted Wound. Maryland: International Scholars Publication. p. 343

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