May 13 2020
For one who had encountered Unitarians in the past, I’ve come to notice that most of them aren’t really familiar with the doctrine of the Trinity. They will set up their own version of the Trinity (which if examined on closer scrutiny, is actually Modalism or Tritheism), knock it down and beat their chest in false boast that they’ve toppled the doctrine of the Trinity. Oje Giwa-Amu, one of the most recent Unitarians whom I had exchange with and whom our esteemed brother, Korede Olawoyin had debated, during the course of our written debate directed me to his note published on Facebook – where he managed to convince himself that he had refuted the doctrine of the Trinity.
Peeling the Onion Layers
Before addressing his post, I find it necessary to address the underlying presumption tainting his worldview – a worldview that informed Trinitarians don’t share with him. The starting premise of Oje Giwa-Amu (like most Unitarians) which he takes for granted and uses as a yardstick is predicated on philosophical monism that inevitably leads to pantheism. He thinks that God and His creatures who are personal, must belong to the same undifferentiated unity – which is responsible for him and his ilk typically counting the persons of the Godhead the way they count Paul, Peter and John. IOW, undergirding Oje Giwa-Amu’s fuzzy worldview is the idea that the individuality or oneness of personal creatures is a yardstick that should be used to measure the oneness of God – which presumes that God belongs to the same order as His creatures.
For instance, while both a paramecium and a roundworm (c. elegans) are each individual organism in its own right, it is completely fallacious to measure the individuality (oneness) of a roundworm using that of a paramecium. For a paramecium, its individuality is bound by one cell (considering the fact that a cell is the functional unit of life). If we use the formula, one cell = one living organism that pertains in a paramecium, and apply it to a roundworm that has roughly 1000 cells, then your roundworm ceases to a living organism but rather a plethora of living organisms – a conclusion that every biologist will reject given the fact that the individuality of a community of 1000 paramecia cells does not correspond to that of a roundworm that has 1000 cells. IOW, while both organisms are a unity, their unity is different because they belong to different univocal order. While one is a unicellular organism, the other is a multicellular organism.
In the same wise, Oje Giwa-Amu (like his fellow Unitarians) treats the three persons of the Godhead like the way one treats three human persons without arguing for the case why God and His personal creatures must belong to the same univocal order especially when the scriptures keep hammering into our head that there is nothing in the whole of creation that is comparable to God. The readers should note that I’m not suggesting that God must necessarily be multi-personal if the scriptures teaches otherwise. However, I’m pointing out that when parsing the scriptures in the formulation of our understanding about God, one should not necessarily strike out multi-personalism and try to shoe-horn Biblical texts to fit within the context of uni-personalism.
Oje Giwa-Amu thinks of the Divine Persons of Trinity in terms of three persons like John, Peter and Paul who were united or super-added together – which results in his error of thinking that the doctrine of the Trinity must necessarily be a version of Tritheism. While John, Peter and Paul are three persons and three beings, the Divine Persons on the other hand are not three independent beings but rather one. Each of the member is identical to one essence. For instance, my arm is identical to my essence, my head is identical to my essence, however, that does not make my arm identical to my head. In the same wise, while The Father and Son are identical to one essence, it does not follow that the Father should be identical to The Son. Interestingly, the Arm of the LORD (Zeroa YHWH) is one of the appellations of The Son in the Old Testament (Isaiah 52:10; 53:1; 63:12 etc.).
Another appellation for The Son in the Old Testament is the Glory of the LORD (Kabowd YHWH) who dwells in the Jewish Temple – the Lord (Adonai) in the Temple who commissioned Isaiah (Isaiah 6) – an event John the Apostle alluded to when he said, “Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.” (John 12:41). The Glory of YHWH is identical to the essence of YHWH and not of a foreign essence to Him. In fact, Oje Giwa-Amu believes that the Word and Spirit are “integral parts” of The Father – a crude term that eventually leads to ascribing composition to God based on Oje’s concrete worldview predicated partly on monism. Oje Giwa-Amu is confusing person with being, thinking that they are the same thing because he is a unipersonal being. He thinks that just because every human person is a being on its own, therefore it follows that each divine person of the Trinity must be a separate independent being on His own. What about non-personal beings? If there are non-personal beings (0 person, 1 being) and unipersonal beings (1 person, 1 being), why is it improbable for the God of the Universe who is unlike His finite creatures, to be a multi-personal being? Going to the field of Biology to draw an analogy, there are acellular, unicellular and multi-cellular organisms. If someone tries to use the oneness of unicellular organisms (e.g. paramecium) to explain the oneness of multicellular organisms (e.g. roundowrm), then one will no longer see a roundworm as an organism but rather as a collection or community of organisms living together as one. Oje Giwa-Amu, like his strange bedfellows, commit the same error thinking of God’s oneness in terms of his own oneness – which is responsible for him saying:
God’s Word and Spirit are integral parts of God the Father himself – not distinct persons from him. I, Oje, my Word and Spirit are in perfect unity but this does not mean that I am 3 distinct coequal persons. Same with God, his Word and his Spirit. There is one God who is the Father from whom his Word and Spirit emanate.
IOW, Oje Giwa-Amu is comparing his own word and spirit with the Word and Spirit of God – placing himself on the same ontological level with God. Imagine comparing the flagellum of an amoeba with the legs of a goat just because both are locomotory organs. While the flagellum of an amoeba is a cell organelle (not a whole distinct cell), the corresponding organ in a goat is a conglomerate of thousands of cells (not just one distinct cell) – which based on Oje Giwa-Amu simplistic worldview makes one wonder whether the leg is actually a living organism apart from the goat. In the same vein, Oje Giwa-Amu contends that his own word and spirit must be analogous to God’s Word and Spirit – an impression no honest reader of the scriptures will have even at first glance at the scriptures. For instance, the Spirit of God speaks, has His own mind, communicates, can be grieved, can be blasphemed against, can instruct, can intercede etc. (virtually all the qualities of personhood are appropriated to the Holy Spirit), should we now conclude that the Holy Spirit is either The Father or a distinct being from the Father just because He is a person? Of course, Unitarians (except the Modalists), who couldn’t deny the deity of the Holy Spirit head-on, decided to take the backdoor and deny His personhood despite tons of evidences to the contrary. They encounter problems because they try to decipher the nature of God within the axiom of uni-personalism without even bothering to pause and wonder why it is necessary for us to measure God’s oneness using the parameters of the oneness of His creatures.
From the scriptures, we see that the Word of God (Heb: Memra; Grk: Logos) who also appeared as the Malak YHWH (the Divine Angel), who is also known the Glory of YHWH (who dwells in the Temple) and Arm of YHWH, is an intelligent person in His own right. There are instances where this Divine Angel communicates with YHWH. There are times when the Glory of YHWH speaks and behaves like a person – so also the Holy Spirit (Spirit of YHWH). These figures appear several times in the scriptures though their full identity remains in the shadows. It was not until when the third (and last) Divine Person (whose role is to open the hearts of men to God’s revelation), the Holy Spirit, began His ministry, is the identity of the Triune God easily more pronounced. The experiences of believers in the early church about God in the cultic devotion is thoroughly triadic, involving three figures that had already made appearances in the Old Testament as the one God of Israel – YHWH, the Angel of YHWH and Spirit of YHWH. Their distinct personalities are even more pronounced in the New Testament – though there have been Jews before the Incarnation who perceived of The Malak/Memra of YHWH as being distinct from YHWH in a sense and also the same as YHWH in another sense – the reason why some Jewish scholars argue that the God of Israel in the writings of the Second Temple Jews is pluritarian. However, Unitarians try to approach such complex issues about God from a simplistic angle and try to reduce the complex nature of God to the nth degree – thereby placing Him on the same vertical chain with finite beings.
Coupled with the faulty premise of Oje Giwa-Amu (and most Unitarians) – a sorry case of double bind – is his rather poor grasp of semantics. He thinks that the word “God” in the way modern monotheists use it is perfectly identical with the way the NT authors and their contemporaries use the Greek word “Theos” or is perfectly identical with the way the OT authors and their contemporaries understands the usage of the Hebrew word “Elohim”. For instance, modern monotheists use the word “God” to refer to the only true deity while relegating the word “lord” to finite creatures and sometimes use it for God in a rather special way. If this is how the ancient Jews and Greeks think, one wonders why they will translate God’s covenantal Name (which is a proper Name reserved for the God of Israel alone), YHWH, as Kyrios (Lord) in Greek while at the same time translating the Hebrew word Elohim (which in some instances is applied to men, angels and pagan deities) as Theos (God) in Greek? For instance, look at Paul’s revision of the Shema in 1 Cor. 8:6 where he referred to the Father as the “one God” while The Son is referred to as the “one Lord”, if read back in Hebrew language (in which the Shema was originally written), The Father will be the one Elohim while The Son will be the one YHWH of the Shema. Oje Giwa-Amu did not realize this problem with his worldview when he said:
As you can see Dunn… rightly notes that Whilst 1 Cor 8:6 May indeed be referring the Shema, the only relevant bit could relate to the first clause which states “there is but one God, the Father of whom are all things” with a distinct reference to the Son as the exalted Lord and Messiah whom the one God made Lord and Christ. There are clearly 2 DISTINCT categories of positions being discussd (sic) – one category referring to divinities and the other referring to humanity and thus he said: There are many called Lords and Gods but to us there is but one God, THE FATHER from whom are all things (this is the relevant aspect that relates to the Shema) AND (distinct) one Lord, Jesus Christ through whom are all things.
It is very obvious that Oje Giwa-Amu fails to get the memo. He, like other Unitarians, is reading the full semantic range of the way modern monotheists use the word “God” as it stands in English into the Greek word Theos as used by Paul (and the NT authors here), using it as a knife to slice away the deity of the one Lord. A typical Jew during the time of Paul doesn’t see it that way! For them, it means Paul referring to the Father as one Elohim and The Son as one YHWH – which will be very shocking to the typical Jews who tried to stone Jesus for claiming to be the eigo eimi (John 8:58 – a divine title reserved for God alone in the scriptures). In the scriptures, if Lord=Kyrios=YHWH, then that Lord is not on a different ontological par with one God. Lest anyone try to argue that Jesus is not the one Lord in the sense that He is YHWH, the Bible provided lots (many!) reasons why Jesus must be the Lord (YHWH) of the OT. In fact, many OT passages that speaks about YHWH (translated as Kyrios hence Lord) is appropriated to Christ in the NT – coupled with the fact that there is a wholesale transference of the unique attributes, deeds, names, honors of the God of Israel (YHWH) to Jesus in the NT. What’s more, He even sat on the throne reserved for the God of Israel! The statement “Jesus is Lord” is a more powerful declaration than what most Christians think.
Now that I have examined his underlying premise, then it is beholden upon me to examine Oje Giwa-Amu’s published note. He says:
I asked that the defenders of the doctrine of the Trinity should first state what the doctrine is. As I anticipated, none of them even knew what the doctrine was and this was very clear from that fact that all the discussants began to go off tangent by expressing their personal revelation about God without understanding what they were defending in the first place.
(i). If you want to understand a doctrine better, you should consult those who are well-versed and informed about the doctrine. For instance, when it comes to attacking the reliability of the scriptures, I’ve seen Muslims pop up mock dialogues which they have with the “evangelists” and “pastors” whom they’ve brought down with sound logic and facts. Whether the so-called evangelists and pastors are real or not, one thing is clear: the Christian persona in the mock dialogue is ill-informed. Oje Giwa-Amu should know better. If he is truly interested in the truth, he should at least look for one out of the many who’re well-versed in the doctrine of the Trinity.
(ii). Personal revelation about God can also lend credence to a doctrine provided that it is in tandem with the inspired scriptures. I’ve seen many ministers of God who can’t defend the doctrine of the Trinity within the context of philosophical nomenclature – which is to be expected in as much as you don’t have to be a metaphysician or philosopher for you to be a Christian (but there are tons who defend the exegetical pillars upon which the doctrine stands). The standard Christian devotional worship is based on a Trinitarian understanding of God. In the context of Christian worship, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit continue to have prominent roles to play – which makes one to pause and wonder the relationship among these three figures. Why are they so prominent in the Christian cultic veneration? Why is the God-language in the writings of the New Testament triadic? This is one of the reasons why the early church had to turn to the scriptures to articulate the relationship between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Brushing aside the irrelevant introductory emotional outbursts, let’s examine the beef in his post:
In this exposition, I would like us to look at the concept of “one” as used in reference to the one God, who is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ as opposed to the Trinitarian concept of one God, who are three distinct eternal persons who are each God but unite as one God. Before I continue, let me for the benefit of all state in simple terms what the doctrine of the Trinity declares. The doctrine of the Trinity states that within the economy of the one being called God, there exists three DISTINCT eternal, coequal, coeternal, and co -powerful persons. Each of these persons is said to be God almighty, yet each is distinct from the other. In other words, The Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God but each is not the other. Then the great mystery follows – that they are not three God’s but one God. Whilst Satan shrouds this in some fabricated mystery in order to extinguish all forms of questioning the fact remains that what is being declared would be equal to saying something like. A is an alphabet, B is an Alphabet, and C is an alphabet. A is not B or C and B is not A or C and C is not A or B but they are not three letters but one Letter in the Alphabet
(i) Oje Giwa-Amu is committing the equivocal fallacy here. My arm is human, my head is human, my leg is human but my leg is neither my arm not my head – are we really talking about three human beings here? No. We’re talking about God who is three persons and one being – not three persons and one person or three beings and one being. If our typical Unitarian will calm down and try to understand what the Church had been professing, he won’t be touting that the doctrine of the Trinity is contradictory. While it may be problematic from a Unitarian point of view, the Unitarian should at least be aware that his point of view doesn’t apply to Trinitarians – and that he has to defend the presumption underlying his worldview, namely why all beings that exist must be unipersonal – given the fact that there are non-personal beings in the universe. In other words, when Trinitarian formulation goes like this,
G = 3P = 1B
For this formulation to be contradictory, the critic will have to prove why P = B – it shouldn’t be taken for granted.
(ii). Talking about ‘Satan shrouding some fabricated mystery’, one is left to wonder if the scriptures is after all the handiwork of one of Satan’s pranks. Under a close scrutiny of the ‘monotheism’ touted by Oje Giwa-Amu and his ilk, one will find out that after they’ve blurred Creature-Creature boundary, they took the name “God” and turned it into a mere title or figurehead. If Jesus, a mere creature could possess all the divine attributes of the Father, without making him God, then one is left to wonder what is really special in the name of the Biblical deity. If I have access to all the packages, prerogatives, benefits, privileges of the Presidential Office even as an ordinary citizen, then why do I need to contest for 2023 Presidency?
In other (sic) for Trinitarians to extricate themselves from the reality that the doctrine if (sic) the Trinity is truly a masked tri-theistic teaching of three Gods uniting as one God, they have been forced to create a false concept and context of “One” which is never used in relation to the one God of the scriptures.
(i). If Oje Giwa-Amu wants to insist on a wooden meaning of the word “one”, then we demand that he should be consistent in his dealings. If God being “one” means that He must be one person, what about John 10:30 where Jesus said that He and His Father are one? Should we know conclude that The Father and Son are one person? Or should we say that the disciples too are one person? But no, our dear Unitarian won’t allow the word “one” here to be the word “one” he arbitrarily uses to prove the uni-personality of the God of Israel. Isn’t it obvious that He faults Trinitarians for a crime he is actually guilty of?
(ii). What does the scripture means when it says that God is one? One Person? One Being? If by one, the scriptures means that God is unipersonal, shouldn’t the Biblical data be consistent with this proposition? When the scriptures is allowed to speak for itself (without importing unfounded presumptions into it), one is forced to acknowledge that three figures prominent as the Biblical deity right from the very first page of the scriptures. But no, Unitarians will have us dethrone the other two figures to abstract entities even when the scriptures made it clear that these figures are personal.
Is the Shema incompatible with the Doctrine of the Trinity?
Moving on to Deut. 6:4 to marshal his evidence for Unitarianism, after doing us the service of proving that the Hebrew word “echad” can “refer to a single entity or a unity of entities”, Oje Giwa-Amu starts to read the objection backwards when he accused Trinitarians of being “quick to use Echad as used in reference to Adam and Eve and apply it to how God should be seen as one”. Contrary to his unfounded accusations, it was the Unitarians who adopted Deut. 6:4 as a proof-text to rule out Trinitarianism – which in turn prompted Trinitarians to argue that the Hebrew word “echad” does not necessarily refer to absolute unity. The late medieval Jewish Rabbi Maimonides, realizing that the Hebrew word “echad” does not rule out Trinitarianism, posited that the Hebrew word “yachid” (which refers to absolute unity) should be rather used in the formulation of the Shema – a textbook case of conforming the scriptures to one’s whims.
Going on to shoot himself in the foot – probably due to the fact that he was operating under the illusion that Trinitarianism is Tritheism, he appealed to Mark 12:29:
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 ….. Now observe the reply of the Jew. 32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. Did you read that? “God is one and there is no other but HIM” The verse did not say: “God is one and there is no other but THEM” and in fact Jesus commended the man for this truth he declared. 34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.
Oje Giwa-Amu is trying to use singular pronouns to support his case against Trinitarianism. However, under close examination, it has been found that this a false criterion to determine the nature of God as far as the scriptures is concerned – in fact, an encyclopedia could be written on the reason why the use of singular pronouns doesn’t refute Trinitarianism:
(i). Trinitarians, then and now, rarely use plural pronouns for the God of Israel – they use singular pronouns to address God. Oje Giwa-Amu is positing a false dilemma based on his faulty worldview. For this Unitarian (and his ilk), it is either the singular pronouns indicate Unitarianism or plural pronouns teaches polytheism. Since Trinitarians don’t believe either i.e. while we acknowledge the diversity of persons, we deny that each member of the Trinity is a separate being on his own (or renegade deities), I find it disturbing that our Unitarian friend here finds it difficult to critique the doctrine of the Trinity on its own ground. He is trying to shoehorn the doctrine of the Trinity on his faulty premise that is partly predicated on the assumption that being=person (a premise that Trinitarians reject and had proven wrong) and partly predicated on monism – a pagan innovation.
(ii). It is noteworthy to point out that Oje is probably oblivious to the serious debate going on in the Old Testament field. The use of plural pronouns, adjectives, nouns and verbs for God in the Old Testament had led many ANE scholars to believe that the earlier authors of the Hebrew scriptures are polytheists while the later authors are monotheists (under the banner of the Documentary Hypothesis which posits that monotheism is a later development). We also have the adherents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) who have exploited the use of plural nouns, verbs, pronouns etc. to marshal the case for polytheism – considering that they had found scholarly voice in some scholars like Margaret Baker who argue that there is a second God in the Hebrew scriptures. Oh, don’t worry, they’ve find means to explain away the singular pronouns, nouns and verbs just as the typical fellow Unitarians have managed to explain away the plural nouns, pronouns and verbs. Trinitarians aren’t under any compulsion to explain away either the singular pronouns, nouns and verbs or explain away the plural pronouns, nouns and verbs. Could it be that the singular pronouns, nouns and verbs point to the unity of God while the plural ones hints at the diversity within the Godhead? If God is a unity, do we have to place his unity on the same level or par with the unity of His creatures? Is it a must to posit the notion that God is the most advanced uni-personal being – a single line of gradations where God resides at the peak of the vertical chain?
(iii). There are many passages in the Hebrew scriptures where singular pronouns are used when more than one person is in view. For instance, look at the passage below:
“Then Judah said to Simeon his brother, “Come up with me into the territory allotted me, that we may fight against the Canaanites; and I in turn will go with you into the territory allotted you” So Simeon went with him. Judah went up, and the LORD gave the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hands, and they defeated ten thousand men at Bezek” Judges 1:3-4 NASB
What do we have here? A singular noun and pronoun is used to address tens of thousands of people. At first glance, one would think that the “Judah” here is a single person who along with his brother Simeon went forth to rout thousands of Canaanites. If we should go along with Oje Giwa-Amu’s reasoning and read this passage in isolation based on the use of singular pronouns alone, then we have two men who cut down 10,000 men – which leaves one to wonder how common supermen are in those days.
However, when this passage in read in its context in the whole scriptures, one will realize that “Judah” here is used as a common noun to refer to the sons of the Judah as opposed to when the word can be used as a proper noun to refer to the man himself. In fact, based on Giwa’s methodology, one can be led to conclude that Israel is a woman due to the use of singular feminine pronouns for Israel (e.g. Jer. 3:6).
The scriptures doesn’t agree with Oje’s faulty assumption that singular pronouns must refer to the singular persons – in fact, Trinitarians aren’t bothered at all by the use of singular pronouns for God.
What’s more? Oje Giwa-Amu appealed to 1 Cor. 8:6 (another Trinitarian proof-text!) to marshal his case.
We can also confirm this from very clear explicit texts of scriptures such as 1 cor 8:6 1 Cor 8:6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live;.. (NIV) The CEV version makes it much more explicit. v6 We have only one God, and he is the Father. He created everything, and we live for him.
(i). Many NT scholars argue that Paul was re-inventing the Shema here. What is really baffling to us (which Unitarians don’t have a coherent explanation for), is the reason why a Jew (that ought to be a stark Unitarian) will dare include a creature within the Shema! Let’s look at the text again:
“For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ (kai heis Kyrios ‘Iesous Christos), through whom all things came and through whom we live.” 1 Corinthians 8:5-6 NIV
Now, let’s compare with the Shema:
Hear, O Israel, The Lord our God IS ONE LORD (Kyrios heis estin) [Deut. 6:4 LXX]
Paul is affirming that the one Lord of Shema is Christ while the one God of the Shema is The Father. Here, Paul is bifurcating on the use of “Elohim” (translated as Theos) and “YHWH” (translated as Kyrios) to place The Son as on the same par with The Father without confusing their identities (to avoid modalism) or proposing The Son as a renegade deity (to avoid ditheism).
In fact, this NT Scholar captures it brilliantly:
“The force of the revision is obvious. What Paul has done (or what someone else has done, which Paul is here quoting) is to separate out theos and kyrios, ‘God’ and ‘Lord’, in the original prayer, adding brief explanations: ‘God’ is glossed with ‘the father’, with the further phrase about God as source and goal of everything, ourselves included, and ‘Lord’ is glossed with ‘Jesus Messiah’, with the further phrase about Jesus as the means of everything, the one through whom all was made, ourselves included. ‘One God (the father), one Lord (Jesus Messiah).’ A small step for the language; a giant leap for the theology. Jesus is not a ‘second God’: That would abrogate monotheism entirely. He is not a semi-divine intermediate figure. He is the one in whom the identity of Israel’s God is revealed, so that one cannot now speak of this God without thinking of Jesus, or of Jesus without thinking of the one God, the creator, Israel’s God.”
[N.T. Wright (2013). Paul and the Faithfulness of God. Chapter 9. E-book Edition]
(ii). Oje Giwa-Amu is laboring under the illusion that referring to Christ as the one Lord makes Him ontologically inferior to the one God identified as the Father – which is tantamount to someone saying that “YHWH” is ontologically inferior to “Elohim”.
Do you even know the irony of Oje’s position? There have been ANE scholars who believe that YHWH is one of the sons of Elohim (the Chief Deity) – the Elohim was the one apportioned Israel as an inheritance to YHWH. This sort of idea bears semblance to Oje’s propositions in our debate that the Father is the only God in the sense that He is the chief deity while The Son and Holy Spirit are divine in a lesser sense (lesser deities) – which is rank polytheism.
(iii). Unitarians find it hard to decipher if the word “theos” is used as a proper noun, common noun or abstract noun in the NT. For instance, while the word “Adam” is the proper noun for the first man on earth, it can also be used as a common noun to include his wife “Eve” and also to the rest of mankind. The word “Israel” can be used as a proper noun for the Esau’s brother, Jacob, while it can also be used as a common noun for his bloodline. When it comes to the NT, caution ought to be exercised about the usage of “Theos” otherwise you will come out with half-baked theology.
In the NT, the Greek word Theos (God) is often used as a proper noun for The Father while the Greek word Kyrios (Lord) is often used as a proper noun for The Son. Sometimes Theos is used for The Son while Kyrios is used for The Father. When we acknowledge that the NT writers are not Greek philosophers writing to an audience of metaphysicians, caution ought to be exercised so that one will not read later philosophical categorical terms into the NT.
If the doctrine of the Trinity were true, the above would have been declared thus: 1 Cor 8:6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit from whom all things came and for whom we live
(i). If Unitarianism is true, there is no reason why Paul should include Jesus within the Shema which is the standard Jewish confession of monotheism.
(ii). Trinitarians throughout the centuries have no problem citing the text the way it appears in the scriptures. In fact, here is how the Nicene Creed reads:
We believe in one God the Father Almighty …. and in one Lord Jesus Christ
Going by Oje Giwa’s reasoning, the theologians who formulated the Nicene Creed are Unitarians. This is obviously another evidence that our Unitarian friend here is not actually familiar with the concept of the Trinity. He vitually shot a glance and glare at the definition of the Trinity without really bothering to understand its concept.
(iii). The word “Theos” in the NT is often uses as a proper noun for Father – and that is how Paul used it here. When authors like John want to use “Theos” for The Son, they always exercise caution to avoid modalism or polytheism. If 1 Cor. 8:6 should read the way Oje Giwa-Amu thinks it should read, then the Modalists too will come out and claim that it supports their case.
(iv). Worse still, there is still a way Unitarians can explain away the text. They will just tell you that the “One God” here refers to the Father and not to the three of them collectively. We’ve seen them do that in passages in like 2 Peter 2:1 which states “of our God and Savior Jesus Christ”. Unitarians disregard the Granville Sharp’s rule by applying the “our God” to the Father and “Savior” to Jesus. Another example is the Thomas’ confession in John 20:28.
(v) Finally, Oje Giwa-Amu is positing a false dilemma here. We don’t actually need Oje Giwa-Amu’s proposed 1 Cor. 8:6 because the 1 Cor. 8:6 as it stands in the text already supports the doctrine of the Trinity. In fact, Unitarian scholars like Anthony Buzzard are actually uncomfortable with the text which is why they desperately tried to interpret the passage in the light of Psalm 110:1 rather than Deut. 6:4 – a wild geese chase. But no, Oje Giwa-Amu didn’t catch the drift – probably due to his fuzzy understanding of the concept of Trinity.
However, there is no place in the scriptures where the one God is spoken of that his oneness is ever expressed as multiple persons, …
Again, Biblical authors aren’t metaphysicians where they are under obligation to formulate creeds to teach a doctrine. There are many Biblical doctrines which aren’t expounded in a particular verse. Biblical concepts like Canon, Transcendence, Timelessness of God, Calvinism/Arminism/Pelagianism/Molinism etc. also aren’t expressed in one verse – which is the case with many Biblical truths. Moreover, there is no verse (not even one!) that teaches that God is a person. In fact, the Hebrew or Greek word that solely conveys the notion of “person” doesn’t exist throughout the scriptures.
thus this reality confirms the subtle and covert lies of the enemy in sneaking in this false tri-theistic teaching of the Trinity being masked as a pseudo monotheistic teaching of the Christian faith.
Yeah, an assertion that is based on a faulty premise which is foreign to the scriptures. Oje Giwa-Amu’s version of Unitarianism is another version of polytheism – where he believes that the Father is a sort of chief God while the Holy Spirit and Son are lesser Gods – an idea which bears semblance to the Greek deities where Zeus is the Chief God (the only God in that sense) while others like Prometheus, Hermes etc. are lesser deities or gods. We also have humanitarian Unitarians who believe that Jesus is just a mere man exalted to God’s position – stemming from the ideas of exalted men/creatures – resembling the way Romans believes in exalted emperors as gods – a notion that Paul repudiates in 1 Cor. 8:4-6. If only Unitarians can stop creating God in their own image i.e. bringing God down to their own ontological order, then they will be truly free from the shackles of polytheism which masquerades as monotheism.
Our advice for Unitarians like Oje Giwa-Amu is that they should stop gagging the Biblical authors. They should take all the Biblical data into consideration and stop interrupting the Biblical authors. They should stop being abstract monotheists while at the same time being practical polytheists. They should stop trying to dethrone Jesus and Holy Spirit by robbing them of their divine attributes – unique attributes that makes The Father worthy of being called a deity. They should exercise caution when it comes to grasping the concept of the Trinity – otherwise they will keep wasting their time refuting the heresy of Modalism or Tritheism. They should stop trying to place the transcendent God of the scriptures on the same par with His finite creatures. For it is written:
“To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.” Isaiah 40:25-26 NIV
Grace and peace to the redeemed people of God from him who is, and who was, and who is to come (The Father), and from the sevenfold Spirit (Holy Spirit) before His throne, and from Jesus Christ (The Son), who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever!
Jesus Christ is Lord.