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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Trinity: One God in Three Persons

Don Stewart :: Is God an Absolute Unity?

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Is God an Absolute Unity? (Unitarianism)

The Trinity: One God in Three Persons – Question 26

Throughout the history of the Christian church there have been a number of views brought forward to explain the nature of the God of the Bible that have fallen short of what the Scripture says about Him. One of the most popular is Unitarianism.

This Is a General Category

Unitarianism holds to the belief that God cannot be properly spoken of as existing in three distinct Persons. God is rather a unity, one in essence and in person. It is a general category that refers to various beliefs that assert the unity of God but deny the Trinity.

Modern Unitarianism: Socinius

Modern Unitarianism dates from the sixteenth century to a man named Socinius. To Socinius, the death of Christ on the cross for the sins of humankind was unnecessary. Rather than believing that Jesus was a divine Savior, Socinius taught that God raised Jesus to divine power as an act of loving-kindness to His people. This was the beginning of modern Unitarianism.

The Claim: Jesus Had a Special Commission from God but Was Not God

Although they rejected the doctrine of the Trinity, the Unitarians of the seventeenth and eighteenth century viewed Jesus as one who had a special commission from God. They taught that Jesus revealed truth from God that human beings, through our own reason, would not otherwise know.

The nineteenth century saw a shift in the Unitarian position. Influenced by the German higher criticism of the Bible, a school of thought developed within Unitarianism that was anti-supernatural. They came to doubt the four gospels as authoritative sources, and thus rejected the uniqueness of Christianity. This rejection of Christianity's uniqueness was something that earlier Unitarian belief had also held. But with the anti-supernaturalistic attitude, the goodness of human beings was stressed more than the existence and power of God.

This brings us to our evaluation of modern Unitarianism. We can make the following observations:

1. Unitarians Do Not Hold Any One Set of Beliefs Today

Today Unitarianism does not ascribe to any set of beliefs. What binds Unitarians together is a basic belief in the goodness of humanity and that God is not limited to any one particular revelation, such as the Bible. Instead, it is believed that God can be found in many different religions.

2. Islam Has Unitarian Beliefs

Some non-Christian religions, such as Islam, hold a Unitarian belief about God in that they reject the idea of God being a Trinity. However, they should be considered separately from Unitarianism since Unitarians are a particular movement that has risen within Christianity.

Conclusion: Unitarianism Emphasizes the Unity of God but Does Not Recognize He Is Three Distinct Persons

While Unitarianism emphasizes the unity of God it does not recognize the distinction between the three members of the Trinity. Consequently, it falls short of what the Bible has to say about the nature of the God of Scripture.

Summary – Question 26
Is God an Absolute Unity? (Unitarianism)

One of the many inadequate views of the nature of God is known as Unitarianism. Modern Unitarianism goes back to the 16th century. It holds to the belief that God cannot be properly spoken of as existing in three Persons. To the Unitarians, God is a unity; He is one in essence and one in person. To the Unitarians, there is no Trinity.

Unitarianism, however, is an inadequate view of God's nature. It argues for the unity of God but rejects the idea that God is a Trinity. Consequently the Unitarian view of God is contrary to what Scripture clearly teaches.

Unitarianism either denies, or misunderstands, what the Bible has to say about the nature of God. Either way it presents a wrong picture of God.

Present-day Unitarians do not subscribe to any one set of beliefs. Seemingly the only thing that binds them together is the belief in the goodness of God and that God cannot be found in any one particular religion.

Islam also has Unitarian beliefs when it comes to the nature of God. They reject the idea that God could be a Trinity. However, it is best not to treat Islam with Unitarianism seeing that they are a world religion while Unitarianism is a distinct group that has arisen within the church.

We conclude that Unitarianism is one of many false portraits of the God of the Bible.

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