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Application.God and worship.The Nature of God

"And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent" John 17:3.

The central message or teaching of the Bible is the revelation of who God is, how He relates to us, and how we are to relate to Him. Unfortunately, there is no unanimity among Christians on the nature of God. The three competing views are as follows:

 
The Nature of God
Topics One Person Two Persons Three Persons
  Unitarian Binitarian Trinitarian
Defined

Judaism and Islam hold to the one God view (Yahweh and Allah, respectively) and no literal Son. (In the Quran, 112:1-4 it says, "He is God, the One...He begets not, nor was He begotten, and there is none like Him.") Jehovah Witnesses may be considered Unitarian in that they believe Christ to be a created being.

The Father and Son - There is one God, the Father and one Lord, Jesus Christ. The "Holy Spirit" is not a person but the Father's and Son's spirit (cf. Romans 8:9-11).

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three distinct persons. This is the central doctrine of Catholic faith and the belief of most Protestants including modern-day Seventh-day Adventists.
Past  

The Seventh-day Adventist Pioneers held this view.

History of the Trinity
Future   EGW on the Persons of God EGW on the Trinity
Present   Audio/Video Series Alpha and Omega
God   Father-Son Types Attributes of God
Man   God raised Jesus from the dead  
Others   Statement of Beliefs Problems with the Trinity
World   Bible references Bible references

"The trinity of God is defined by the Church as the belief that in God are three persons who subsist in one nature. That belief as so defined was reached only in the 4th and 5th centuries AD and hence is not explicitly and formally a biblical belief." --The Dictionary of the Bible, John L. McKenzie, S.J., p. 899.

Seventh-day Adventist related

  • "Through Christ alone can man now find access to God. And through Christ alone will the Lord hold communication with man." RH, February 24, 1874, par. 31.
  • Non-Trinitarian versus Trinitarian Adventists. "The Trinitarian understanding of God, now part of our [Seventh-day Adventists] fundamental beliefs, was not generally held by the early Adventists." - Adventist Review, Jan 6, 1994. p. 10.
  • Questions on the Persons of God. How many Divine Beings were involved in the Plan of Redemption, Creation, the giving of the Ten Commandments, Christ's Baptism, etc? The Adventist pioneers had a uniform response. Answer these seven basic questions on the Persons of God to understand the pioneers' position.
  • What does Godhead mean? The word "Godhead" is used three times in the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible (Acts 17:29, Romans 1:20, and Colossians 2:9). It is not used in most other translations. For example, it is nowhere found in the NIV, RSV, and ESV translations. Instead, the words "deity," "divine nature," and "divine being" are used. Yet the word "Godhead" is freely and often used in Statements of Belief and topics discussing the Trinity doctrine. Learn more about this word here.
  • What was the early Adventist position on Christ's pre-existence? Early Adventists were accused of being Arians. Arianism is the belief that Christ had a beginning. In that sense, early Adventists were Arian. Ellen G. White viewed as a Tritheist but not Trinitarian by a Protestant researcher.
  • Quotations from Robert H. Pierson, president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, 1966 - 1979. "Perhaps no other truth in all of Holy Scripture comes to us so marked with the blood of controversy as does the Bible doctrine of the Trinity. History records that ancient nations staked their very existence upon their conception of the Godhead." (Robert H. Pierson, The Message, January 1948, 'God the Father'). "Three kingdoms, the Heruli, the Vandals, and the Ostrogoths, were blotted from existence during the latter part of the fifth and the early part of the sixth centuries because they refused to accept the orthodox teaching of the ruling [Catholic] church concerning this dogma. Clergymen have been persecuted, exiled, and slain as the tide of favor regarding certain aspects of this subject ebbed and flowed in the early church." (Pierson - Ibid). See The Establishing of Trinitarianism Within Christianity for further references on the uprooting of these three kingdoms by the "little horn" power.
  • Putting the Pieces Together. Seeming “difficult” Ellen G. White statements on the Doctrine of the Godhead harmonized. For example: The Holy Spirit being As Much A Person.
  • The Resurrection of Christ. Did the Father raise Jesus from the dead, or was it the Son's own power?
  • The Personality of the Holy Spirit - Thomas Akens. Published 4/26/2018. Duration 1:27:10. Goes in depth on EGW statements regarding the holy spirit. It is evident where trinitarian supports misquote EGW through various literary tactics, such as inserting a period where one does not exist and giving partial quotes where the context clearly states something different.
  • The Trinity in Scripture. Published June, 1999 by Gerhard Pfandl, Biblical Research Institute. Published as a refutation to Fred Allaback, Bill Stringfellow, Rachel Cory-kuehl, and Allen Stump.
  • Signs of the Times, January 30, 1879, par. 19, "...To Adam in his innocence was granted communion, direct, free, and happy, with his Maker. After his transgression, God would communicate to man only through Christ and angels."
  • Ted Wilson Changing Gods (A New God in Adventism) - Nader Mansour. Published 11/27/2018. Duration 1:16:06. The president denies SDA pioneer history regarding the non-trinitarian position.
  • The Comforter, Christ's Representative with Daniel Mesa. Published 6/7/2017. Duration 1:07:22. Clear presentation, especially toward the end.

Binitarian related

  • Questions answered from a Binitarian point of view which help demystify certain Biblical passages. For example, when God created Adam and Eve in God's image, He created two beings and not three. Why is that?
  • The "Godhead" Project.

The Holy Spirit

  • The Holy Spirit Is Not a Person. Posted on 2/17/2011 by United Church of God. Estimated reading time: 9 minutes. Entirely Biblically based.
  • The Holy Spirit is the Father's divine nature. In the Trinity doctrine God's divine nature is not the Holy Spirit but a set of attributes. However, in the Bible, God's divine nature is the Holy Spirit. "His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature." (2 Peter 1:4). "For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit..." (Hebrews 6:4).

God desires that we be filled with all the fulness of God, "and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God" Ephesians 3:19. For this we have been given Christ in which, "the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority" Colossians 2:9-10 (see also, Colossians 1:19, "For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell"). Paul speaks of a veil that covers the hearts of unbelievers, but to the believer, "when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord [who is] the Spirit" 2 Corinthians 3:16-18. ["who is" is not in the Greek, but was inserted by the translators.]

  • "The Old Testament clearly does not envisage God’s spirit as a person…God’s spirit is simply God’s power. If it is sometimes represented as being distinct from God, it is because the breath of Yahweh acts exteriorly…The majority of New Testament texts reveal God’s spirit as something, not someone; this is especially seen in the parallelism between the spirit and the power of God" (New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1967, Vol. 14, pp. 574, 575).
  • "On the whole the New Testament, like the Old, speaks of the spirit as a divine energy or power" (W.E. Addis and Thomas Arnold, A Catholic Dictionary, 1960, p. 810).

Notes

  • The Catholic "Athanasian Creed" (c. 5th - 7th century) reads something like the following: We worship one God in a Trinity and a Trinity in unity. Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the substance. For one person is of the Father, another of the Son, another of the Holy Spirit. But the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit is one divinity, equal in glory, and coeternal in majesty.
  • Augsburg Confiession, A.D. 1530. "And the term 'person' they [Protestant churches] use as the Fathers have used it, to signify, not a part or quality in another, but that which subsists of itself."
  • The SDA 28 Fundamental Beliefs (2015 ed.) - The Trinity: "There is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a unity of three coeternal Persons..."