Re: The Holy Trinity. HELP! Am I a heretic? Is what this guy is teaching orthodox?

This is from a conversation on facebook. My name is Matt. Carl is a lapsed Catholic, please pray for him. Was I right in correcting them? Am I wrong for referring to the Second Person of the Holy Trinity as “God the Son”? Any suggestions on how I could have handled it differently?

Matt This may be bordering a departure from orthodoxy…God the Father is God; God the Son is God; God the Holy Spirit is God; yet there are not three God’s, but One.

Carl I agree with that. However, Catholic theology often presents God as Three separate and distinct entities, or persons. This is biblically incorrect.

Carl One God Who has revealed Himself in many ways is a far more accurate description of the Lord, and harmonizes perfectly with God’s description of Himself, found in the Bible.

Joe Matt, it is interesting to note that the scripture never uses the expression, “God the Son”. The expression used by scripture writers is “son of God”. What do you think is the difference in “God the Son” and “son of God”?


Matt you would be better off reading the Catechism or St. Augustine then asking me.

Joe The Apostles Creed: 1. I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:

  1. And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord:

  2. Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary:

  3. Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried: He descended into hell:

  4. The third day he rose again from the dead:

  5. He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:

  6. From thence he s come to judge the quick and the dead:

  7. I believe in the Holy Ghost:

  8. I believe in the holy catholic church: the communion of saints:

  9. The forgiveness of sins:

1l. The resurrection of the body:

  1. And the life everlasting. Amen.

Joe This is a good creed, developed early in church history, perhaps around 180 A.D. There is no mention of a character known as “God the Son” in it. Since scripture does not mention anyone called “God the Son”, I believe the idea is spurious. It appears to me to be to have a pagan derivation, since God does not relate to anyone or anything as its son. I believe this to be the holy, universal (catholic) Christian view: God is One. As to Person, He is One. As to the way He relates to us, He is our Father. That is one Person. As to His Character, He is holy (basically meaning “different”. As to nature, He is a Spirit. So we call our Father “the Holy Spirit” (or “the Holy Ghost” if we translate through German). So He relates to us as Father and He is a Spirit. This is not two persons but only one Person. Now I do not see in the Person of God any such character as would be identified as “God the Son”. I do not see God as a son of anything. Neither do the Apostles nor prophets, for it is not recorded anywhere in the texts of scriptures that God is the son of something. I do not read in any of the Apostles’ writings that Jesus was ever referred to as “God the Son”. No, it isn’t there. That is a later invention of sophistry. Rather, Jesus is known as “the son of God” and more explicitly as “the only begotten son of God”. Rather than seeing the expression, “son of God”, as an identifier of some aspect of God’s character, it seems to be the Apostles’ doctrine that the son of God was a man, but a man in whom God put Himself in His fullness. That is, “God was in Christ,” as the apostles said. So, it seems to me that God our Father begat a son, using the Virgin Mary as a vessel. The son of God was a man, not God, by virtue of his relationship to God as His son. But Jesus was God by virtue of the Holy Spirit that was fully in Him. That is, “God was in Christ,” and “in Him was the fullness of the godhead bodily,” and “God was manifest in the flesh.” Jesus was human as to his sonship, but He was Divine as to His relationship to us as our Father. He is the Creator and Father of us all. All of this is to say that the expression in the sophists’ trinity doctrine, “God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost” is against Apostolic doctrine.


Joe Augustine himself said in his treatise on the Trinity, “First, however, we must demonstrate, according to the authority of the Holy Scriptures, whether the faith be so.” So it is scripture which has the final word, not tradition.

CHURCH FATHERS: On the Trinity, Book I (St. Augustine)
Featuring the Church Fathers, Catholic Encyclopedia, Summa Theologica and more.

Joe Here is Augustine’s Chapter 4 of his Book 1 on the Trinity. It is a contrivance, juxtaposing scriptures to suit his assumptions regarding universal Christian teachings: “All those Catholic expounders of the divine Scriptures, both Old and New, whom I have been able to read, who have written before me concerning the Trinity, Who is God, have purposed to teach, according to the Scriptures, this doctrine, that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit intimate a divine unity of one and the same substance in an indivisible equality; and therefore that they are not three Gods, but one God: although the Father has begotten the Son, and so He who is the Father is not the Son; and the Son is begotten by the Father, and so He who is the Son is not the Father; and the Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son, but only the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, Himself also co-equal with the Father and the Son, and pertaining to the unity of the Trinity. Yet not that this Trinity was born of the Virgin Mary, and crucified under Pontius Pilate, and buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven, but only the Son. Nor, again, that this Trinity descended in the form of a dove upon Jesus when He was baptized; nor that, on the day of Pentecost, after the ascension of the Lord, when there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, the same Trinity sat upon each of them with cloven tongues like as of fire, but only the Holy Spirit. Nor yet that this Trinity said from heaven, You are my Son, whether when He was baptized by John, or when the three disciples were with Him in the mount, or when the voice sounded, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again; but that it was a word of the Father only, spoken to the Son; although the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as they are indivisible, so work indivisibly. This is also my faith, since it is the Catholic faith.”

Joe It appears to me that Augustine’s arguments begin with the assumption that the Trinity idea is true, and his reasoning following on this is inductive. Deductive arguments directly from scripture would be more powerful and less prone to error, less apparently overburdened with unnecessary argumentation. In brief, he says more of God than scripture says of God.

Matt I’m sorry where have I deviated from orthodoxy and Catholicity pertaining to teachings on the Holy Trinity? I took the language right from the Athanasian Creed:

If your qualm is that I used the expression “God the Son” consider this excerpt from the creed:

“So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not Three Gods, but One God.”

You seem to be nitpicking about a trivial semantic derivation, yet you fail to see the grave departure from orthodoxy that Carl is promoting here: “Jesus is not just the Name of the Son, it’s also the Name of the Father & the Holy Ghost!” What sort of sophistry is this?

consider: “For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Ghost is all One, the Glory Equal, the Majesty Co-Eternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost.”


“So there is One Father, not Three Fathers; one Son, not Three Sons; One Holy Ghost, not Three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is afore or after Other, None is greater or less than Another, but the whole Three Persons are Co-eternal together, and Co-equal. So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved, must thus think of the Trinity.”

I say this in light of the Athanasian credo, as well as Christs’ command, e.g. the great commission, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

Matt Joe you do not make clear what it is precisely that you believe regarding the Holy Trinity. Would you mind clarifying?

Matt Not only is Jesus the Son of God but He is also the Son of Man, yet you say “God does not relate to anyone or anything as its son.”

I’m both perplexed, and slightly offended.

You accuse me of sophistry and then nitpick about the difference between equivocal expressions: Jesus as “The Son of God”, and Jesus as “God the Son”. I may retort that it is you Joe who is the sophist here.

Matt Joe by whom, and what authority was the Canon of the Holy Scriptures established?

Joe It is not the position of a sophist to observe that the scripture nowhere uses the expression “God the Son” and that therefore it is a contrived expression, owing to particular men’s dogma and not to Apostolic doctrine. You observed, Matt, that Jesus was referred to as the Son of Man. You of course are correct. But the implication you are making seems contrary to Apostolic doctrine, by that I mean contrary to scripture. As the Son of Man Jesus was a man. This was a special title given to the Messiah, a man. As a man, he was the Son of Man. As God, He was God the Father Almighty. But there appears to be no Apostolic idea that Jesus was any such thing as some “God the Son”. This is an abomination. God, as I said, as scripture avers, does not relate to us a a son. He relates to us as our Father. If Jesus was merely God’s only begotten son, he could not be considered God. But He was much more than the son of God, a man born of a virgin. He was God our Father. In Him was the fullness of the Godhead bodily. This does not mean that God was or is a man. It means that the mystery of the Incarnation is great. God put all of Himself in a man. That is essentially mysterious. I do not believe the doctrine of the trinity is scriptural, since it uses the expression “God the Son”. It seems disingenuous to accuse me of sophistry when I am only trying to limit myself to Apostolic, scriptural ideas. The “God the Son” idea is a contrivance which is antithetical to the idea “son of God”. It is a nefarious trick, a bait and switch to deceive people regarding God’s Person, Character and Nature. “God the Son” implies an equivalence, that God is a son. “Son of God” does not. God is no one’s son. Nor has He ever been the son of anything. Put another way, Jesus is Divine not by virtue of his sonship, because of his relation as a man to God His Father. He was and is Divine because the Everlasting Father was in Him in all His Fullness. That is indeed one of His titles, “everlasting Father”.

Joe The Canon of scriptures is the work of centuries, owing itself to the Jewish community, including the work of Rabbis, of Jewish and Gentile Christians of the first three centuries and at the latest points to members of various sects of Christianity. The establishment of the Canon can not be said to be the work of one group.

Joe The fathers of Israel, the prophets and the apostles laid out in scripture their views of God. One might say the Bible is the book of God after all. It is the record of people’s encounters with the God of Israel. The apostles and prophets did not lay out as erudite an explanation of the doctrine of God as did the sophists of the fourth century and later. Scripture limits itself whereas highly developed doctrines of various institutions do not. The Bible teaches that there is one God. The only mention it makes of Him as to “person” is singular, found in Hebrews 1:3. There the expression, “His Divine Person” is used. The prophets first spoke of God as Father and Jesus continued this. God as Father is an idea that is well used in scripture. Also, God is said to be a Spirit and He is said to be Holy in scripture. So God is One. He is a Person. He relates to us as our Father. He is Holy and He is a Spirit. This is all, according to scripture, not 2 or 3 or more persons but only one Person. The description of the son of God is that he was a man in whom God was fully manifest. The name of Jesus, however, in scripture, is not just the name of God’s son, since Jesus was not just a man. He was also God our Father, the Holy Spirit. My view of God is simple, limited by what I believe scripture says. There is one God. He is our Father. He is Holy and He is a Spirit. This is one Person. God made a man and put Himself fully in that man. This is the mystery of the Incarnation.

Carl There is ONE Person and ONLY One in the Man Jesus Christ, Who actually was a person. The Spirit part of God is NOT another person at all! In fact, the Spirit is NOT a person, for a person has flesh and blood… which a Spirit does not.! Tertullian dropped the ball and the Catholics were ignorant enough to run with an erroneous definition which God did not approve.

Joe In a way, reading scripture involves characterization. We could think of the Bible as a novel we are studying, so to speak. Given a homework assignment to characterize particular individuals in the novel, we would have to gather details on how particular characters were described… If one were to read scripture and come away with a description of Jesus as some character identified in the text as “God the Son”, I suppose the person would get a failing grade on the assignment, since no one in scripture ever characterized or represented him as a “God the Son” character. It simply isn’t in anything the prophets or the apostles wrote. However, if one were to try to get into the shoes of such an eisegete, one might imagine that he or she had been influenced by pagan philosophy, rife with characters who were god children of other gods. The idea of god as a child or as a man is not in scripture, except only to refute it.

Joe I’ll have to disagree with you on the idea that personhood is limited to flesh and blood, Carl. The expression in Hebrews 1:3 would seem to directly contradict what you’ve said here. “His Divine Person” suggests personhood as divine. When scripture speaks of something not having flesh and bone, it is speaking of spirits and I don’t think it says anywhere that something Divine (God) can not be a person. It says the opposite when it references “His Divine Person”. Don’t you agree? I can admit when I’m wrong on an idea. I don’t claim to know everything. Can you admit that scripture does indeed refer to a Divine Person and that it would make sense to say that there is only One Who is Divine, God Himself? Wouldn’t that mean that God is a Person? Perhaps this would only mean for you that you’d have to tweak the idea of “Person”.

Carl Read the definition of “Person”. Then tell me if that applies to a Spirit. I don’t think it does.

Carl The Spirit is an entity but it is not a Person.

Matt Carl I would not be doing my duty as a brother in Christ if I didn’t correct you here. What you teach here is heresy and a grave departure from orthodoxy that firmly teaches the Triunity of the Godhead: Three Persons; One God.

Joe I see where you’re going with the idea, Carl. I think you want to defend against the ideas of “persons” in the godhead. But I don’t think you need to divorce the idea of “person” from your characterization of God to do this. It should not be our burden to distinguish the personhood of the Lord Jesus, since we believe that He was God manifest in the flesh. This doesn’t need to be mean that this means that God was manifest as a Person. No, it would mean for us that the Person of God is fully revealed in the man Christ Jesus. That is the mystery of the Incarnation. God was manifest in the flesh. The Divine Person of the Lord Jesus was none other than the One, True, Divine Person of God the Father. This is not two Persons but only One.

Joe Explain “His Divine Person”, Carl.

Joe Tit for tat, Matt. You say I’m nitpicking but it is you who rely on sophistry’s invention of the extra-Biblical expression, “God the Son”. You are also putting forth unorthodox, heretical doctrine, against the apostles’ doctrines when you refer to some “second person of the Trinity”. That is entirely an extra-Biblical invention.

Joe Carl’s error here, in my opinion, has only to do with his assumptions about the idea of “person”. I tried to address that simply using scripture which clearly references the idea of “His Divine Person” in Hebrews 1:3. I think he’ll come around. But his basic views of God are sound, in agreement with scripture. He would not dispute most everything I’ve said about the One God.

Matt So neither of you believe in the millenia old teaching of the whole of Christendom pertaining to the Holy Trinity?

You may want to make this clear to all of your subscribers, or I will be forced to Carl.

Matt Inevitable when you schism yourself from the protective custody of His Church and the assurances of Her teachings. Precisely what I meant when I said the protestant churches might as well teach 40,000 different truths, one for each division.

Joe Here is what Trinitarians can’t teach, Matt, and it is a damnable thing that they can’t. They can’t teach that it was God the Father Who was manifest in the flesh, since they have the invention of the character, “God the Son”. Essentially this is a damnable doctrine which attacks the Incarnation. Denying that God the Father manifest Himself in the flesh, it proffers this idea that some “God the Son” character was manifest in the flesh, resulting in the strange, extremely un-Biblical idea that “God the Son” was manifest in “the son of God”. No, God the Father was manifest in the son of God. There is no character in scripture known as “God the Son”. It just ain’t there.

Matt the expressions are clearly equivocal. God the Son refers to Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity.

Joe Show me a “God the Son” character in scripture, on the authority of the apostles and prophets, Matt.

Matt I feel no need to press this point any further. May the LORD rebuke you both for the salvation of your souls.

Joe No, read the plain English, Matt, or refer to the Greek. “Son of God” is a genitive construct. It involves a prepositional phrase. Its implication is relational, that is, the son was “of” God. It says nothing of his nature, that, is, that the son of God was God by virtue of the relationship of son to Father. On the other hand, “God the Son” makes the extraordinary claim that “God” is the equivalent of some “Son” since it involves a different grammatical construction.

Joe Of course your rebuke is not received, Matt. you should not get emotional about ideas. Limit the ideas you defend to scripture and you will do well.

Joe “God the Son” only refers to Jesus in the extra-Biblical doctrine known as “Trinity”

Jesus is God the Son. You were correct with that. Your lapsed Catholic friend is the one who is wrong. This link might help: Jesus Christ’s Divinity But if he remains stubborn then I don’t recommend continuing the discussion with him.

it is this Joe fellow who basically told me I was ‘damned’ for referring to Our LORD Jesus as God the Son that I am more concerned about. :-/

You have presented us with a long, confusing wall of text, and I skimmed over it, and it seems that these people are preaching Unitarianism and Arianism. They deny the Trinity and they seem to deny the Divinity of Jesus Christ. These are not even Christians you are arguing with. My opinion is that you’re wasting your time trying to help them.

Most Christians accept the early Ecumenical Councils, one of which defeated Arianism. It also propagated the Athanasian Creed, based off of Arius’s main opponent, St. Athanasius.

The Athanasian Creed is one of 4 Creeds, but it focuses almost entirely on the Trinity, and its redundancy gives it clarity on what orthodox Christian teaching is on the Trinity.

**Athanasian Creed:

  1. Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith;
  2. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.
  3. And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;
  4. Neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance.
  5. For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit.
  6. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is all one, the glory equal, the majesty coeternal.
  7. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit.
  8. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated.
  9. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.
  10. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal.
  11. And yet they are not three eternals but one eternal.
  12. As also there are not three uncreated nor three incomprehensible, but one uncreated and one incomprehensible.
  13. So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Spirit almighty.
  14. And yet they are not three almighties, but one almighty.
  15. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God;
  16. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.
  17. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord;
  18. And yet they are not three Lords but one Lord.
  19. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord;
  20. So are we forbidden by the catholic religion to say; There are three Gods or three Lords.
  21. The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten.
  22. The Son is of the Father alone; not made nor created, but begotten.
  23. The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.
  24. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits.
  25. And in this Trinity none is afore or after another; none is greater or less than another.
  26. But the whole three persons are coeternal, and coequal.
  27. So that in all things, as aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.
  28. He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.
  29. Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  30. For the right faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man.
  31. God of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and man of substance of His mother, born in the world.
  32. Perfect God and perfect man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.
  33. Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood.
  34. Who, although He is God and man, yet He is not two, but one Christ.
  35. One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of that manhood into God.
  36. One altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person.
  37. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ;
  38. Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead;
  39. He ascended into heaven, He sits on the right hand of the Father, God, Almighty;
  40. From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
  41. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies;
  42. and shall give account of their own works.
  43. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.
  44. This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully he cannot be saved.

I hope this helps, I imagine it will…

The Trinity is a relationship of Love between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There is no separation in the Trinity, but there is distinction. This distinction does not cause the Trinity to lose its Oneness. Just as the Church, though a communion of billions, is the One Body of Christ, so the Trinity’s Oneness is rooted in Communion: the Communion of the Three Divine Persons - the holiest Communion. The Trinity is One in that the three Persons share in the One Divine Nature - but each Person of the Trinity is distinct from one another. This distinction is made evident by the relationships of the Divine Persons. The Father - the origin and font, the Son - born of the Father from all ages, constantly fulfilling his filial role in obedience and love, remaining equal in divinity and majesty to His Father, and the Holy Spirit - who proceeds from the Father and the Son, and who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified.

But these aren’t Christians.

They are Unitarian Arians of some kind.

Matt, are these people members of an organized ecclesial community? What do they call themselves?

I am very surprised this person tries to say it is wrong to baptize in the names of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I am surprised because Jesus himself said:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19)
In this respect, this person seems quite out of touch with reality.

I believe Carl identified himself as a pentecostal. Joe refuses to mention. They are both very anticatholic. I have invited them to join this discussion if they so choose.

I’m sorry Mr Philosophias, I did not read the whole conversation–it comes out very small on my iPod.

However, it seems that he does not understand the difference between Persons and Natures. As explained in the Baltimore Catechism, the Nature of something is the answer to the question What is it, and the Person answers the question Who is it (or he or she).

Christ is fully human and fully divine, so He has two natures, unlike anyone else anywhere. His divine nature is that of God, and as that Nature He is in a unity with the other two persons of God so complete that God is One.

In His Personhood, however, He is the Son of God. As the only begotten Son of God, He clearly has to participate in the divine Nature of His Father, which He does completely, having existed before He assumed any human nature.

By Nature, tye Holy Spirit is God, but in Gis Pereonhood, He too is a separate Person, as is God the Father.

So you are totally on track :slight_smile:

Joe has accepted my invitation to join us. I thank God for the opportunity. I trust everyone will treat him with the same sort of love and respect you would extend to the LORD Jesus Himself.

Hallelujah! :extrahappy:

It does sadden me that Carl has lapsed from the wisdom of His Church. I’m hoping that the LORD will use Joes’ time on the board to give him cause to wonder about the resplendent treasures from the LORD that are the Church’s’ teachings!

This is a well recognized hersay known as Sabellianism.

Sabellius was a heretic.

It is also called Modalism, aka “Jesus Only”, aka “Oneness theology”

It is taught by the United Pentecostal Church.

Modalism, also called Sabellianism, is the unorthodox belief that God is one
person who has revealed himself in three forms or modes.


Chapter 7. Concerning Baptism
And concerning baptism, baptize this way: Having first said all these things, baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Matthew 28:19 in living water. But if you have not living water, baptize into other water; and if you can not in cold, in warm. But if you have not either, pour out water thrice upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit. But before the baptism let the baptizer fast, and the baptized, and whatever others can; but you shall order the baptized to fast one or two days before.

Read the Didache first before looking at below, lol

To my surprise UPC Oneness people see their doctrine in the Didache,

Many Trinitarians claim this proves the Early Church was Trinitarian. Let us first consider that we are dealing with a forgery. Although it is ascribed to the Apostles they probably never saw it. Secondly, the internal evidence points to Didache 7 as an interpolation, or later addition. In Didache 9, which deals with communion, the writer says, “But let no one eat or drink of this eucharistic thanksgiving, but they that have been baptized into the name of the Lord; for concerning this also the Lord hath said: Give not that which is holy to the dogs.”

It should also be observed that the Didache does mention baptism taking place “into the name of the Lord” 9:5

The Oneness of God and the Doctrine of the Trinity By Kulwant Singh Boora on page 60

“In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was face to face with God. And the Word by nature was God”

The “face to face” comes from Montgomeries translation and from Thayer’s Lexicon.

It has the meaning of two people being face to face over a dinner table or in a discussion.

The key being two persons.

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