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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Refuting Samuel Barrett's (1825) 100 Scriptural Arguments For the Unitarian Faith

Although, Barrett's list was made in 1825, the same would apply to the unitarians of the 18th century. It would be simple enough to refute all one-hundred points by listing the clear scriptural references declaring Jesus as God, co-equal, and co-eternal, with Father God. However, both sides cannot be correct. One side must be wrong, or there is a contradiction:

Philippians 2:5,8, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." [italics mine]
Unitarian Founding Father John Adams et al., would mis-translate these scriptures by siteing what is italicized, ignoring what Paul is saying about Jesus. Yes, Jesus was made a man.

Barrett's number 1. Because Jesus Christ is represented by the sacred writers to be as distinct a being from God the Father as one man is distinct from another. “It is written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. I am one who bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me” (John 8:17 and 18).

Barrett and the unitarians, get confused that words proclaiming a difference in persons, refers to multiple Gods, ignoring Philippians 2. The Father is a distinct person, Jesus is a distinct person, and the Holy Spirit is a distinct person, but one God. I know, don't try and figure it out, it's beyond our comprehension. Here, is the Apostle John saying the Jews understood Jesus was declaring himself to be God:

John 5:18, "Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God."
Therefore, the Jews understood Jesus claimed equality with the Father.

2. Because he not only never said that himself was God, but, on the contrary, spoke of the Father, who sent him, as God, and as the only God. “This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). This language our Saviour used in solemn prayer to “his Father and our Father.”
Jesus never claimed to be God? How could he and the unitarians miss these?

John 8:58,59, "Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by. [italics mine]
Jesus took the very name God told Moses at the burning bush, and they tried to stone Him for it. It was Jesus at the burning bush! All revelation of God to man, apart from God declaring, "This is my beloved Son", is from Jesus. Thus, Jesus is the Creator of the universe; the Father, the architect. Jesus claims the same essence as the Father. "I am", is the self-existent one, omni-potent, omni-present, omni-science, etc.

3. Because he is declared, in unnumbered instances, to be the Son of God. “And lo, a voice from heaven, saying, this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17). Can a son be coeval (the same age) and the same with his father? [italics mine]

How else could Barrett say this in light of John 5, and Philippians 2?

4. Because he is styled the Christ, or the anointed of God. “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power” (Acts 10:38). Is he who anoints the same with him who is anointed?

Yes, Jesus is a man. Jesus is only different as Philippians says, "And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Jesus surrendered some of His attributes as God, by becoming a man. He couldn't fly, move in and out of dimensions, that He could do after His resurrection.

6. Because Christ is Mediator between the “One God,” and “men.” “For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).

By this very statement, Jesus must be God, as only God can access God. A man has no access to God. God would only reveal His back(glory) unto Moses:

Exodus 33:18,23, "And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy. And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen."
12. Because Christ says, “My father is greater than all” (John 10:29). Is not the father, then greater than the son?

Greater than Jesus's human position, not in essence.

14. Because he virtually denies that he is God, when he exclaims, “Why callest thou me Good? There is none good but one, that is God” (Matt. 19:17).

Jesus is claiming the opposite. Jesus is either God or He isn't good.

17. Because an Apostle says of God, in distinction from the “Lord Jesus Christ,” that He is the “only Potentate,” and that He “only hath immortality” (1 Tim. 6:15 and 16).

Jesus died. The man died, yet, Barrett divorces the context from what he writes. Paul says Jesus, "Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen." Paul tells us the context, that Jesus has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light. The immortality is connected to where He is.

The rest of Barrett's objections is a matter of semantics taken out of context. Jesus has all the attributes of God, besides those limited by putting on flesh. God is the judge, Jesus claimed to be the judge. God is the creator, Jesus claimed to be the creator, etc. God demands worship, Jesus said to worship me.


King of Ireland said...

I have yet to study this out since reading many of Jon's posts on this. I am however totally disturbed by the fact that the doctrine of the Trinity was made the doctrine of the church by force not conviction by Constantine. Since many errors have been made in history when religion is usurped by the empire it is in I am open to the Trinity being one of those things and that some of the verses used to support it are interpolations.

I see some holes in your srguments in this post and when I get some time maybe I will do a post on them. Many of the verses you use are not as cut and dried as you claim.

Our Founding Truth said...

I agree with you forcing doctrine on anyone is wrong. If the trinity was established at Nicea (324?) I doubt most of the early church understood what it was. Even though Jesus claimed to be equal with God, the doctrine hadn't been extrapolated until later.

In Phil 2:5-8, Paul said this equality mindset was in Jesus.

However, I don't claim to hold the truth. It is only what I am seeing the scriptures to say. Besides, If Jesus claimed to be God, does not the logical conclusion lead to the Trinity?

Also, the first word in the Bible, God, is the plural word, Elohim. But there is not many Gods.

Genesis says, "Let US make man in our own image." The angels can't make anything, so whose Moses talking about?

Anyway, like I said earlier, Trinitarians could be wrong, just like unitarians.

As to the framers, which is my priority. If they used the same arguments as Barrett, it doesn't appear to be a stretch that Mayhew, and other 18th century colonists were Arians and Socinians.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Heheh. Jon Rowe's certainly got under your skin.

Historically speaking, the "unitarians Christians" of the Founding [and mostly post-Founding era] believed Jesus was sent from God above all other men, and the scriptures contain Holy Writ.

This is "Christian" enough for historical purposes, as no other religion or philosophical system comes close.

Speaking theologically of the Trinity, Aquinas admits it's a "mystery," hence impenetrable by reason, or, apparently even sola scriptura. It's a matter of faith. The next fellow's faith is really no concern of ours, nor can we do much about it. That's the nature of faith.

However, the Trinity predates Constantine. That would be a red herring.

One problem that Protestants have with the Roman Church is in its claim that the Holy Spirit works through the Church to further refine man's understanding of God as man's understanding of God matures. [Not "new" revelation, mind you.]

Even the pre-Reformation Church, which gets problematic. In Acts, the early church must use reason to determine if the new Christians need to observe Mosaic law.

Their arrival at the right answer is presumably under the discernment given by the Holy Ghost. Hence, the Church's argument that it can speak with authority---through the Holy Ghost---on matters of discernment.

Luther and Calvin, for all their rejection of the Roman Church's Magisterium, certainly would have been appalled at the inevitable consequence of their "Protestantism," every man a minister, a presbyter, an elder: a radical individualism in interpreting scripture, and unsurprisingly the return of non-Trinitarianism and Arianism, ideas that had been kicking around for over 1000 years. There is nothing new under the sun.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Thus, in the words of the Athanasian Creed: "the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and yet there are not three Gods but one God." In this Trinity of Persons the Son is begotten of the Father by an eternal generation, and the Holy Spirit proceeds by an eternal procession from the Father and the Son. Yet, notwithstanding this difference as to origin, the Persons are co-eternal and co-equal: all alike are uncreated and omnipotent. This, the Church teaches, is the revelation regarding God's nature which Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came upon earth to deliver to the world: and which she proposes to man as the foundation of her whole dogmatic system.

In Scripture there is as yet no single term by which the Three Divine Persons are denoted together. The word trias (of which the Latin trinitas is a translation) is first found in Theophilus of Antioch about A.D. 180. He speaks of "the Trinity of God [the Father], His Word and His Wisdom (To Autolycus II.15). The term may, of course, have been in use before his time. Afterwards it appears in its Latin form of trinitas in Tertullian (On Pudicity 21). In the next century the word is in general use. It is found in many passages of Origen ("In Ps. xvii", 15). The first creed in which it appears is that of Origen's pupil, Gregory Thaumaturgus. In his Ekthesis tes pisteos composed between 260 and 270, he writes:

There is therefore nothing created, nothing subject to another in the Trinity: nor is there anything that has been added as though it once had not existed, but had entered afterwards: therefore the Father has never been without the Son, nor the Son without the Spirit: and this same Trinity is immutable and unalterable forever (P.G., X, 986).

It is manifest that a dogma so mysterious presupposes a Divine revelation. When the fact of revelation, understood in its full sense as the speech of God to man, is no longer admitted, the rejection of the doctrine follows as a necessary consequence. For this reason it has no place in the Liberal Protestantism of today. The writers of this school contend that the doctrine of the Trinity, as professed by the Church, is not contained in the New Testament, but that it was first formulated in the second century and received final approbation in the fourth, as the result of the Arian and Macedonian controversies. In view of this assertion it is necessary to consider in some detail the evidence afforded by Holy Scripture...

The evidence from the Gospels culminates in the baptismal commission of Matthew 28:20. It is manifest from the narratives of the Evangelists that Christ only made the great truth known to the Twelve step by step.

First He taught them to recognize in Himself the Eternal Son of God. When His ministry was drawing to a close, He promised that the Father would send another Divine Person, the Holy Spirit, in His place. Finally after His resurrection, He revealed the doctrine in explicit terms, bidding them "go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Matthew 28:18). The force of this passage is decisive. That "the Father" and "the Son" are distinct Persons follows from the terms themselves, which are mutually exclusive. The mention of the Holy Spirit in the same series, the names being connected one with the other by the conjunctions "and . . . and" is evidence that we have here a Third Person co-ordinate with the Father and the Son, and excludes altogether the supposition that the Apostles understood the Holy Spirit not as a distinct Person, but as God viewed in His action on creatures.


I don't think any man has claimed to understand that-which-cannot-be-understood, the "mystery of the Trinity." It also follows that we cannot reasonably reject that which we do not understand.

Again, it's a matter of faith.

Our Founding Truth said...

You hit it on the head TVD!

King of Ireland said...


I think you should talk to Jon about OFT and American Creation.