I was raised an anti-Trinitarian oneness guy. This view is based on ignorance of Christian Tradition, Scripture, and certain key concepts, such as monotheism. It is based on ignorance of Christianity and arrogance that we know better than 2000 years of Christian tradition.
As one who is an orthodox Christian, I am now a Trinitarian, believing the Trinity is well in line with Scripture and is a natural development of Christian doctrine.
But, outside the oneness pentecostals are those who view Christian Tradition with disdain while claiming to be Christian. (accept my nuance here ). The first thing they like to get rid of is the Trinity. Usually, a good 90% of the time, it is because they lack the knowledge necessary to understand the Trinity and its place in Christology and soteriology.
For instance, Mark Sandlin. In a recent post about his cool new anti-Christian Tradition Christianity he writes,
Jesus was a Jew. (Please tell me no one is surprised to hear that.)
As a Jew, Jew was a strong monotheist.
Except… Jewish monotheism isn’t exactly a thing for all Jews and for all Jews at the time of Jesus.
He then writes,
Jesus was a monotheist.
Can’t prove it. Indeed, we don’t know much about Jesus and his personal beliefs. If we put him next to other apocalyptic Jews, he may have believed in the two-powers of heaven, which is not monotheism. What we know about Jesus comes from the Scriptures held together by the Christian, i.e., Trinitarian Church. We know nothing of Jesus except by the Church that is Trinitarian. It is this same Church that took John (I and the Father are one), Paul (2 Co 13.14) and Proverbs 8/Wisdom of Solomon/Baruch to develop a confession holding the unity of God with the triunity of the Father, Son, and Spirit.
As Nathan McDonald notes, polytheism and monotheism are Enlightenment developments. In other words, a Western European concept. See Larry Hurtado as well. Indeed, one should really read Hurtado’s article. Jesus, I hate to tell the Southern minister, was not a post-Enlightenment Western European male.
By the way, the development of the Trinity was led by Africans such as Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian along with other non-European thinkers.
He goes further and says,
Even the Bible predominantly practices monotheism.
Biblically, God is always addressed with a singular pronoun, not plural.
Except, that is not true either. Not only does Scripture refer to other gods, but God actually speaks to the “we” in creating humanity. Elohim is plural. Indeed, much of the OT, if not the NT, is poly- and heno-theistic (2 Kings 3:27; Ps. 95:3; Ps. 97:7; Ps. 135:5; Ps. 89:6–7). The NT includes theomachy events which means… non-monotheistic.
Mark S. then becomes a biblicalist:
Not only that, but biblically there is no mention of the Trinity.
I find that argument little more than circular reasoning. For that matter, “bible” isn’t mentioned either, neither is the canon laid down. Nuclear missiles, electricity, and pews are out the window as well.
And for some unknown reason, he confuses confession (the Trinity is a confession, i.e., mystery) with fact when he writes,
Admittedly, the Trinity is an interesting theory and it certainly quailed some of the early Church’s division on the nature of God, but it is just that – a theory.
The Trinity is not a theory, hypothesis or otherwise. Neither is it a fact. It is a confession of our faith (Epistle to the Hebrews. Seriously, the entire book). It helps us explain Christology, Soteriology, Pneumatology, and even anthropology.
And then, it all becomes clear…
The lack of biblical witness leaves me to believe that either there simply was no understanding of a Trinitarian God at the time books of the Bible were written, or that the concept was so unimportant to their faith that it mostly wasn’t mentioned.
Mark has no idea what Church History is or how Christianity developed. He abandons something he doesn’t even have and insists he is doing something progressive, emergent, liberal — right. Indeed, what he is doing is what fundamentalists do. Make it up as they go along.
By the way, I’m a henotheist.
Thoranity – we get hammered so you don’t have to.