One of the doctrines I love talking about is the Trinity. Get me going on that one and stay out of the way. When we had Mormons visiting us a few months ago, we came once to the discussion of the Trinity and helping these Mormons understand the Christian view of it. It was the time I came alive and the Mormon I was dialoguing with was excited. I’m not sure if it was because he was getting it, which he said he was, or if it was because my excitement was contagious.
Thus, I’d like to talk about some errors people make in approaching the doctrine of the Trinity. These are ones that usually when I sit down and discuss the doctrine with someone who disagrees, I can easily expect one of them will show up and the one I discuss tonight is the one that has never failed to come up.
I’d like to show the usual kind of way this shows up and really, it disappoints me when Christians get stumped by such a question. It also angers me when people who are actually thinking they’re refuting the Trinity put this forward as if it was a serious argument. They will ask, “If Jesus is God, who was he praying to?”
Such is the error of unipersonalism.
Unipersonalism is the assumption modalists and arians alike make when they come to the text and they assume that God must be one person. Now let me be clear I am not wanting to beg the question in favor of Trinitarianism. For the sake of argument, it could be that God is one person. My contention is that we can’t go to the text and assume that immediately. If he is one person, we’ll find that in the Scripture. If he is not though, then we will have to ditch our preconceived notion of God and accept that maybe the Trinitarian is right in his claim.
What is going on in the above question of “If Jesus is God, who is he praying to?” is this assumption. It follows this way:
Jesus is praying to God.
God is one person.
Jesus is not that one person.
Therefore, Jesus can’t be God.
If the second sentence is true, then yes, it would follow that two persons cannot be God if only one is God. However, that is what is being assumed and it is not being backed. If the case is that there can be at least two persons, although Trinitarianism of course says there are three, that fully possess the nature of God, then there is no problem this verse poses for Trinitarianism.
If there is a problem in the Trinitarian defense, the problem is that the Trinitarian often does not know the doctrine of the Trinity. That is something that will take more training and really, we Christians should be studying this doctrine a lot more. This is a doctrine that separates us from every other faith in the world and is one of the strongest reasons I find in believing the Christian claim.
When you are in a debate next time with someone, watch and see if they are coming out assuming that God is one person. If they are, ask them upon what basis they are making that claim. As time goes on, we will look at other arguments that can be brought forward by other anti-Trinitarians. Many will be rooted in this assumption.