Shawn McCraney Against the Personhood of the Holy Spirit

Posted: May 17, 2015 in Born Again Mormon Movement, McCraneyism, Mormon Studies, Rob Bowman, Shawn McCraney, The Holy Spirit, The Trinity

OLGH-Holy-Spirit-Stained-Glass-001-crop

“The Fire of God”, Artist and location unknown

by Robert M. Bowman, Jr.
Shawn McCraney is a former Mormon who identifies himself as a born-again Christian but who denies the doctrine of the Trinity. He has a weekly TV broadcast called Heart of the Matter that airs from Salt Lake City. On the programs that aired April 22 and 29, 2014, he laid out several objections to the Trinitarian view of the Holy Spirit as a person. This article originated as a response to McCraney sent to him the day following the first of those broadcasts by email (to which he has so far not responded).

McCraney’s Doctrine of the Holy Spirit
In his TV lecture, McCraney compared God’s eternal nature of being God, his Logos (Word), and his Pneuma(Spirit) to man’s being body, soul, and spirit. Such an analogy is clearly monarchian: it characterizes God as a single person with three aspects of his being. (Monarchianism, also known as modalism, is the heresy that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are merely three modes or manifestations of a solitary divine Being.) According to McCraney, before the Fall, those three aspects were really difficult to distinguish from one another (even for God?), and likewise man’s three aspects were so fully integrated as one that they could hardly be distinguished. Before the Fall, there was no Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. When man fell, God, in order to save us, divided or splintered himself into three, becoming Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (apparently not right away, since on McCraney’s view there was no Son until the Incarnation). In this new, sharp threeness God acted to redeem us in order to restore us to full integration as body-soul-spirit beings in the new birth. All of this sounds very much like monarchianism, but then McCraney threw in the comment that God, his Logos, and his Pneuma had relationships with each other before creation, though what those were McCraney said he doesn’t know. As he has done every time I have heard him, McCraney contradicted himself. God, the Logos, and the Pneuma cannot have relationships with one another if they are simply different aspects of the one God, like a man’s body, soul, and spirit.

Now, the above doctrine was problematic enough, but at least in some of what McCraney said one could optimistically hope that he viewed the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as genuinely distinct, as each someone in relationship with the other two, and therefore as largely orthodox in substance even if he rejects orthodox theological terms. At one point in that broadcast he even referred to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as “three persons,” though only after creation, not before it. However, in his most recent lecture he moved even further away from orthodox, biblical doctrine. The Holy Spirit, he claimed, is simply God’s power or presence, an “it,” just a way of describing God expressing his presence or power. He claimed this to be true in both the Old and New Testaments. Sadly, there is no way this can be salvaged as anything but heretical.

Shawn McCraney on the April 22, 2014 Heart of the Matter broadcast referenced in this article.

The Holy Spirit is the Power of God
McCraney asserted, “The Holy Spirit is the power, the dunamis, of God. Scripture talks about it being the power of God.” Yes, Scripture does talk about the Holy Spirit as the power of God. It also calls God “the power of God” (Luke 22:69) and refers to Christ as “the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:24). Does that make God or Christ impersonal? Of course not. This is a bad argument against the personhood of the Holy Spirit.

Pneuma (“Spirit”) Is Neuter
McCraney also argued—and this was his main point—that pneuma is neuter and that the Greek New Testament uses neuter pronouns in reference to the Holy Spirit. On this basis, McCraney concluded that the Holy Spirit is not a person, because “it’s an it.” Well, if pneuma is neuter and if neuter means “it’s an it,” as he claimed, then McCraney has just proved that God is an it! After all, Jesus said, “God is pneuma” (John 4:24). Notice that this is the second argument he used against the personhood of the Holy Spirit that, if applied consistently, would disprove the personhood of God as well.

McCraney also argued that if translators had simply used impersonal pronouns to translate the neuter pronouns referring to the Spirit (it, its, itself, etc.), “the case for the personality of the Holy Spirit, the person, would largely disappear from Christian belief.” That is true only of the most superficial popular way that contemporary English-speaking Christians try to defend the personhood of the Holy Spirit. The KJV often used neuter pronouns when the Greek pronoun was neuter, and the KJV translators and earliest readers were all Trinitarians. They had no trouble seeing the person of the Holy Spirit in the Bible.

Oddly, McCraney went on immediately to answer his own argument, though he didn’t seem to realize he had done so. He pointed out that languages like Greek commonly assign masculine or feminine gender to nouns that do not denote persons, such as la bicicleta (“the bicycle”) in Spanish. This was apparently his rebuttal to the observation that “Comforter” is masculine in Greek (paraklētos). There’s a problem with that rebuttal, as I will explain below. But his point about nouns having gender is a good observation, but one he did not take far enough. It is also the case that languages can assign “neuter” gender to nouns denoting persons. In German, das Mädchen means “the maiden, the girl,” and obviously denotes a person, yet it is neuter in grammatical form. Similarly, the Greek paidion is grammatically neuter, but it denotes “child,” again referring to a person. Jesus is called a paidion eleven times in the New Testament (Matt. 2:8, 9, 11, 13 [2x], 14, 20 [2x]; Luke 2:17, 27, 40), all in reference to the period of several years after his birth. Matthew uses the neuter pronoun auto (which has nothing to do with cars!) in reference to “the child” Jesus: “Rise, take the child [paidion] and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him” (Matt. 2:13 ESV). Here the ESV uses “him” to translate the Greek pronoun auto (as does the KJV also). Luke uses the same pronoun auto in reference to Jesus as paidion twice (Luke 2:28, 40). Translators use masculine pronouns in English to represent neuter pronouns in Greek if the antecedent of the pronoun refers to a person. It’s as simple as that. The argument that neuter nouns or pronouns prove that the Holy Spirit is not a person is another bad argument.

Shawn McCraney on the April 29, 2014 Heart of the Matter broadcast referenced in this article.

“Holy Spirit” versus “the Holy Spirit”
A third argument McCraney presented was an objection to the use of the definite article “the” in English translations with the title “Holy Spirit.” He asserted that the article is “often added by translators, leading the reader to think that ‘the Holy Spirit’ is referring to a separate person.” Well, there are many places where the Greek has the article in front of the words for “Holy Spirit,” such as Matthew 28:19 (tou hagiou pneumatos), Mark 3:29 (to pneuma to hagion),  John 14:26 (to pneuma to hagion), and quite a few others. (The words tou and to are both forms of the Greek article.) I assume McCraney would agree that the Greek writers of these books were not misleading readers by using the article.

The fact is that Greek uses the article in a different way than English does. We normally use the article in front of what we call titles (the Father, the Messiah, the Lord, the king) but not in front of what we call proper names (Jesus, Peter, Shawn, Rob). Greek doesn’t work that way. Proper names and titles in Greek can occur with or without the article; usage is quite complicated and sometimes little more than a matter of style. The expression “in Christ” in Paul usually does not have the article (en Christō), but of course this doesn’t mean that Christ is something other than a person. And sometimes Paul writes “in the Christ” (en tō Christō), but English versions nearly always omit the article (1 Cor. 15:22; 2 Cor. 2:14; Eph. 1:10, 12, 20).

“Holy Spirit” versus “holy spirit”
McCraney made a big deal of the fact that “Holy Spirit” is never capitalized in the Greek. Apparently, he thinks this is some startling revelation that overturns conventional belief about the Holy Spirit as a person.

The fact is that ancient Greek manuscripts did not “capitalize” anything. It is true that “Holy Spirit” in the Greek manuscripts was not “capitalized.” Neither was “God,” “Christ,” “Jesus,” or “Father.” For that matter, neither was “Peter,” “Paul,” or “Mary” (sorry, couldn’t resist). Ancient Greek manuscripts were written with all block letters, and later a cursive form developed that used what we call lower-case letters. But in biblical times, there was no upper-case and lower-case lettering system.

Of all of McCraney’s arguments against the personhood of the Holy Spirit, this is the worst. It is so bad that it is embarrassing. If ever an example was needed of the value of a basic education in biblical studies for pastors, this is it.

Explaining the “Difficult Verses”
McCraney suggested that it is only “a few comparative difficult verses in the Gospel of John” that seem to refer to the Holy Spirit as a person, and he stated somewhat disparagingly that “those verses are used over and over again to prove that the Spirit is a person.” Later he suggested these could be explained away as personifications, like wisdom in the poetic passage in Proverbs 8. But Jesus was not speaking in poetry in John 14-16, and the same things that Jesus says about the Spirit in John 14-16 are said about Jesus himself by the same author. For example, the noun paraklētos clearly refers to a person, and Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as “anotherparaklētos” (John 14:16), meaning another besides himself. In his epistle, John—the same author as the Gospel of John, of course—refers explicitly to Jesus Christ as our paraklētos (1 John 2:1). Paraklētos is not a noun that just happens to be masculine but that normally refers to something impersonal, like la bicicleta (“the bicycle”) happens to be feminine. Paraklētos is a personal noun, denoting someone who provides support, assistance, counsel, agency, mediation, or the like. If McCraney wished to claim that the noun doesn’t refer to the Spirit as a person, this would be something he would need to show exegetically from the context, which he has not done.

Moreover, the case for the personhood of the Holy Spirit does not depend on John 14-16 alone. His personhood can be shown from many other parts of the New Testament, especially the Book of Acts. But John 14-16 is in the Bible and must be taken seriously, not shoehorned into a doctrinal system derived from the superficial observation that the Old Testament doesn’t advance a specific doctrine of the personhood of the Holy Spirit. Such an approach denies God the right to unfold his self-revelation in history and in Scripture progressively, as though God should have front-loaded Genesis 1 with a systematic theological exposition.

Is Jesus the Holy Spirit?
McCraney pointed out that Christ and the Spirit are both called Parakletos; both are said to intercede for us (Rom. 8:26, 34), and both are said to have been given to us by God. How these things prove that the Holy Spirit is not a person, I don’t know. If anything they might seem to prove that the Holy Spirit is Jesus. (They don’t. For example, John 14:16 calls the Holy Spirit “another Parakletos,” making it clear that the Holy Spirit is not Jesus but is someone like him.) But McCraney doesn’t (usually) make that claim. At one point, though, McCraney cited 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 and concluded that it means that Jesus is the Spirit. If so, then, by McCraney’s own reasoning, either Jesus is not a person or the Holy Spirit is a person.

Conclusion
Many of McCraney’s arguments against the personhood of the Holy Spirit, if applied consistently, would also “disprove” that God the Father is a person, or that Christ is a person. All of his objections to the orthodox doctrine are based on misunderstandings, some of them egregious.

The tragedy is that these errors could easily have been avoided, if McCraney would have listened to sound teachers and studied these things carefully before publicly teaching on matters he doesn’t understand.

Pentecost CORRECTED

“Pentecost”, Boone Tabernacle Church of God in Christ Kansas City, MO. Artist unknown.

About the Author
Robert M. Bowman Jr. is the Executive Director of the Institute for Religious Research. He has been with IRR since 2008. Previously he served as Manager of Apologetics & Interfaith Evangelism for the North American Mission Board (2006-2008). For ten years Rob taught graduate courses in apologetics, biblical studies, and religion at Luther Rice University (1994-99) and Biola University (2001-2005). He has also worked with other apologetics and discernment ministries, most notably the Christian Research Institute (1984-91), the Atlanta Christian Apologetics Project (1994-99), and Watchman Fellowship in Alabama (1999-2000). Rob has spoken at over a hundred churches and at some three dozen conferences and debates. He has five years of experience hosting call-in radio talk shows focusing on apologetics, including the nationally famous Bible Answer Man show.

Rob Bowman, Executive Director of the Institute for Religious Research

Rob Bowman, Executive Director of the Institute for Religious Research

Rob Bowman earned the M.A. in Biblical Studies and Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary, did doctoral studies in Christian Apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary, and earned his Ph.D. in Biblical Studies at South African Theological Seminary. He is the author of roughly 60 articles (e.g., in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, Review of Biblical Literature, Christian Research Journal, Moody Monthly, Pastoral Renewal,Mission Frontiers, and Journal of Evangelism and Missions) and 13 books pertaining to apologetics, religion, and biblical theology, including two winners of the Gold Medallion Award, An Unchanging Faith in a Changing World (1997) and Faith Has Its Reasons (2001; 2d ed., 2006). His most recent books are Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ (co-authored with Ed Komoszewski, 2007), which received numerous endorsements from such scholars as Ravi Zacharias and Richard Bauckham, and What Mormons Believe (2012).

Rob and his wife, Cathy, have been married since 1981 and have four children, three of them still living at home.

a_logo© 2015 Institute for Religious Research. All rights reserved

This article was originally published on the Institute for Religious Research website. It is republished here with the express written permission of the author. This article is part of a larger series entitled “Bad Arguments against the Personhood of the Holy Spirit” which we encourage the reader to also consider upon completion of this article.

BACK TO TOP

Comments
  1. The apostles didn’t go around teaching trinity like we do nowadays. Nor did they use it as a litmus test like you apparently do. It’s just not evident in the scriptures no matter how much you try to extract it from them. What scriptures do clearly teach over and over is the God and Father of Jesus Christ… I know the response, Oh but that was just when Jesus was a man. No, this is what the Father is called even after Jesus ascended. Jesus taught there is one true God, the Father! He says, my Father is greater than I. Jesus calls the Father, my God, even in Revelation, after his resurrection. Jesus is begotten from Him, the spirit proceeds from Him. Even if you wanna say eternally, there is still one person who is the source, the Father. God is not defined in scripture as an ethereal substance, He is one person! True monotheistic focus on the Father being God changed after the “winners” of a 4 century argument enforced their doctrine on everyone else. Many have defended it & parroted it because they think it’s the right thing to do. But perhaps we would have more of an ear from Jews and Muslims (& others) by not saying 1+1+1=1, it doesn’t. There is only one Most High God… one true God. He doesn’t call anyone else God. Jesus does, and Praise be to THE GOD, and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Like

    • Rob Bowman says:

      The apostles didn’t use the word “Trinity,” but they taught that the Christian faith was belief in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19; 1 Cor. 12:4-6; 2 Cor. 13:14; Eph. 4:4-6; 1 Peter 1:2; etc.). They also taught that Jesus Christ was himself God (John 1:1; 20:28; Rom. 9:5; Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1; etc.). When Jesus rose from the dead, he rose from the dead in an immortal human body; he is still a man (e.g., Acts 17:31; 1 Tim. 2:5) as well as God (see also Col. 2:9). So as a man, Jesus continues to honor the Father as his God (John 20:17; Rev. 3:12).

      I don’t know for sure what you mean by saying that God is a “person” rather than an “ethereal substance.” According to Jesus, “God is spirit” (John 4:20-24). The Father is a person, but he is not a material being and does not have a material body. Perhaps you are retaining some remnants of LDS theology at this point?

      Orthodox Christians honor and praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. They also honor the Son just as they honor the Father (John 5:23). In confessing Jesus as Lord, they glorify the Father (Phil. 2:9-11). There is no conflict between honoring the Father as God and honoring the Son as God.

      Like

  2. IMPORTANT REMINDER
    We have now received some responses to this article that were in blatant violation of this website’s moderation guidelines and had to be rejected.

    While Beggar’s Bread welcomes – even encourages – opposing points of view, comments that fail to adhere to our Moderation Policy guidelines simply will NOT be posted.

    We are taking the time to reiterate this point because we didn’t want those commenters to come to the false conclusion that they are being censored for their point of view. If you were one of those commenters please take the time to review our moderation policies and resubmit your thoughts and arguments again in a way that’s within those stated moderation policies.

    And if you haven’t commented yet and would like to do so please take the time to read the Moderation Policies so that your thoughts and arguments can published without a hitch.

    Click here to go directly to the Moderation Policy page.

    Because this keeps recurring on the articles about Shawn McCraney on this website I am going to be blunt: Shawnites, if you don’t adhere to the moderation guidelines your posts will not be approved. This isn’t censorship, this is a reasonable request for all the reasons given on the Moderation Policy page.

    Thank you.

    Like

  3. @ Jed Campbell (aka “J2theD 123”)
    Since the arguments presented in your comment encapsulated the most common Shawnite arguments against the doctrine of the Trinity, after giving it some thought I’ve decided to provide a point-by-point response. This is lengthy, but I think, justifiably so.

    YOU WROTE
    “The apostles didn’t go around teaching trinity like we do nowadays.”

    RESPONSE
    Sure they did. They didn’t use the word “Trinity” but the concept of the Trinity was clearly taught. See Rob Bowman’s prior response to your comment for details. I will also be addressing this later in this response.

    YOU WROTE
    Nor did they use it as a litmus test like you apparently do.

    RESPONSE
    Of course they did. One couldn’t believe in and teach anything they wanted to regarding the nature of God and be considered a true Christian. All need do is read the New Testament to see this. For example, Paul said that preaching another Christ and another Gospel is the sign of a False Apostle operating in deceit:

    “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

    For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.

    For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.

    And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.”
    — 2 Corinthians 11:3-4; (King James Version)

    And he was explicit – not once but TWICE – on how we were to treat such False Apostles:

    “…though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

    As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”
    — Galatians 1:8&9 (King James Version)

    YOU WROTE
    It’s just not evident in the scriptures no matter how much you try to extract it from them.

    RESPONSE
    I’v just demonstrated that it IS evident in the scriptures – and I can keep going. The Apostles were in full compliance with the orthodoxy found in the Bible that Christ used – the Old Testament – which affirmed BOTH God’s unity and His plurality. For example, let’s consider the Jewish Sh’ma – which is the key proof text that Jews and Christians have used for monotheism throughout history:

    “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God — the LORD alone.”
    — Deuteronomy 6:4 (KJV)

    Or transliterated:

    In English: “hear-you Israel Yahweh Elohim-of·us Yahweh one”

    In Hebrew: “shmo ishral ieue alei·nu ieue achd”

    And the last word “achd” (aka “echad”) means “united one”.
    (see http://scripture4all.org/OnlineInterlinear/OTpdf/deu6.pdf )

    Mr. Campbell, that’s the Trinity. And we can see the UNITED plurality of the godhead echoed elsewhere in the Old Testament as well (all KJV):

    Gen. 1:26, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.'”

    – Angels do not create.
    – We are not made in the image of angels.
    – There is no place in the OT where a leader refers to himself with the term “us.”

    Gen. 3:22, “Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever–‘”

    Gen. 11:7, “Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.”

    Gen. 19:24, “Then the Lord [YHWH] rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord [YHWH] out of heaven.”

    Psalm 45:6-7, “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated wickedness; Therefore God, Thy God, has anointed Thee.”

    – This is quoted in Heb. 1:8, “But of the Son He [God] says, “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever, And the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom.”

    Isaiah 6:8, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!'”

    Isaiah 48:16, “Come near to Me [God], listen to this: From the first I have not spoken in secret, From the time it took place, I was there. And now the Lord God has sent Me, and His Spirit.”

    Amos 4:10-11, “I sent a plague among you after the manner of Egypt; I slew your young men by the sword along with your captured horses, And I made the stench of your camp rise up in your nostrils; Yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the Lord [YHWH]. “I overthrew you as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, And you were like a firebrand snatched from a blaze; Yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the Lord.”
    (adapted from http://carm.org/plurality-god-old-and-new-testaments)

    But the Bible also clearly teaches that there is ONLY one god (all ESV):

    Deuteronomy 4:35
    To you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord is God; there is no other besides him.

    Isaiah 44:6
    Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.

    Deuteronomy 6:4 (previously cited)
    “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.

    Isaiah 43:10
    “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me.”

    Isaiah 45:5
    I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me,

    Mark 12:29
    Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.

    Isaiah 41:4
    Who has performed and done this, calling the generations from the beginning? I, the Lord, the first, and with the last; I am he.

    Psalm 86:10
    For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God.

    Malachi 3:6
    For I the Lord do not change

    Psalm 90:2
    Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

    Isaiah 40:28
    Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.

    1 Timothy 1:17
    To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

    Isaiah 46:9-10
    Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.

    Psalm 93:2
    Your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting.

    Deuteronomy 33:27
    The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.

    1 Timothy 2:5
    For there is one God

    So your challenge is to reconcile very clear unity of God (there is ONLY one God) that the Bible teaches with the plurality of God – and, I would add a plurality that had the members of the godhead communicating among themselves. The Modalism that Shawn McCraney espouses and teaches falls apart on the latter.

    YOU WROTE
    What scriptures do clearly teach over and over is the God and Father of Jesus Christ… I know the response, Oh but that was just when Jesus was a man.

    RESPONSE
    No, that’s not what I would say, please don’t put words in my mouth. The Bible is clear that even the pre-incarnated Christ assumed the role of “Son”. John 16:28 (ESV) states plainly…

    “I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”

    … which indicates that Christ was “Son” before His incarnation.

    YOU WROTE
    No, this is what the Father is called even after Jesus ascended.

    RESPONSE
    The logic here escapes me. The ascension was POST incarnation. This is a non-sequitur.

    YOU WROTE
    Jesus taught there is one true God, the Father!

    RESPONSE
    Nonsense, Christ explicitly declared that He is God in John 8:58 (NKJV)

    “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.”

    And He implicitly stated it elsewhere in the New Testament. For example:

    “I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!”
    (Rev.1:17–18)

    And He also explicitly stated that the Holy Spirit is God. Case in point: How can you “blaspheme” the Holy Spirit if He’s not God?

    “Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”
    (Matthew 12:32, NIV)

    As Rob Bowman has articulated so well elsewhere:

    “the doctrine [of the Trinity] is simply a systematization of six core propositions that are all based directly on the teaching of the Bible:

    1) There is one God (i.e., one proper object of religious devotion).

    2) This one God is a single divine being, called Jehovah or Yahweh in the Old Testament (the LORD).

    3) The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is God, the LORD.

    4) The Son, Jesus Christ, is God, the LORD.

    5) The Holy Spirit is God, the LORD.

    6) The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are each someone distinct from the other two.”
    (see https://beggarsbread.org/2015/09/05/how-to-defend-an-anti-trinitarian-theology/)

    YOU WROTE
    He says, my Father is greater than I.

    RESPONSE
    Of course He did – He willingly chose to condescend to the Father just as the Bible says:

    “…have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

    Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
    rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
    And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
    even death on a cross!

    Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
    that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
    and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.”

    (Philippians 2:5-11, NIV)

    Please consider the language there Jed:

    “Who, being in very nature God”; “taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness”; “being found in appearance as a man”. That passage is stating very clearly that Jesus was GOD before He condescending Himself, taking on human flesh, and obediently dying on the cross.

    Oh BTW, that passage is an ancient hymn or creed – one that the Apostles sang or confessed along with all other Early Christians. So much for there being an absence of orthodoxy in primitive Christianity, eh? Were there “litmus tests”? Yep, you’ve just read one of them!

    Furthermore, the Bible ALSO says that the Holy Spirit – who is ALSO God – also chooses to condescend to both God the Father, and God the Son:

    “when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you. “A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father.””
    (John 16:8-16, NKJV)

    In order for someone to condescend they must first be at least an equal to the person that they’re condescending to. And so it is here: While God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are co-equals with God the Father, they willingly choose to humble themselves and accept His authority.

    YOU WROTE
    Jesus calls the Father, my God, even in Revelation, after his resurrection.

    RESPONSE
    And? Or put another way, “So what?” Their chosen roles didn’t change before, during, or after the incarnation. Again, your logic absolutely escapes me.

    However to address what I think your point is here, as “GotQuestions.org” explains:

    “Why would God call Himself “My God”? It has to do with Christ’s relationship to His Father. Even though Christ is the eternal God Himself incarnate, He is still a different person from the Father. As a man and as man’s representative (Son of Man), Jesus’ person was dependent on the Father and, like us, looked to the Father for strength, guidance, wisdom, etc. Therefore, God the Father was the God of Jesus. The Father is the God of the Son, but it doesn’t imply inferiority, only a difference in roles.”
    (see http://www.gotquestions.org/Jesus-say-my-God.html)

    YOU WROTE
    Jesus is begotten from Him…

    RESPONSE
    Respectfully your choice of the words, “begotten from him” sounds very Mormon. The Bible never uses that phrase.

    Further, “begotten” doesn’t mean that Christ was either procreated or created by God the Father. The Greek typically translated “begotten” in the Bible is “monogenes” which means: “”pertaining to being the only one of its kind within a specific relationship.” or “pertaining to being the only one of its kind or class, unique in kind.”
    (see http://www.gotquestions.org/only-begotten-son.html)

    YOU WROTE
    … the spirit proceeds from Him.

    RESPONSE
    Let’s look at the exact passage that I think you’re referring to shall we?

    “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.”
    (John 15:26-27, NKJV)

    The Greek word for “proceeds” there is “ekporeuetai” which simply means, “is going out”. For example, the NIV translates that passage, “the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father”. So you’re reading it right but interpreting it wrong. You’re adding things to the text that simply aren’t there.

    YOU WROTE
    Even if you wanna say eternally, there is still one person who is the source, the Father.

    RESPONSE
    Absolutely incorrect! The Bible is clear that there is indeed only one Source, but it’s God.

    And that “source” does consists of three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. That is, one eternal Being, God: Consisting of three co-eternal Persons. One need only consider Genesis 1 and John 1 to see this:

    “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”
    (Genesis 1:1-2, NKJV)

    “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.”
    (John 1:1-3, NKJV)

    So there you have it: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit all present simultaneously at the same time and place as God. If that doesn’t convince you, maybe this will:

    “When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
    (Matthew 3:16-17, NKJV)

    YOU WROTE
    God is not defined in scripture as an ethereal substance.

    RESPONSE
    As Rob has already pointed out, the Bible is clear that God is spirit – there’s no “ethereal substance” about it. He’s spirit, see John 4:24.

    YOU WROTE
    He is one person!

    RESPONSE
    Again, this sounds very Mormon: The ability to distinguish being a “being” and “person” seems to elude you. In fact the word “being” doesn’t seem to be in your vocabulary let alone your understanding – that may be what’s tripping you up. Being defines WHAT we are – this in case God. Person defines WHO we are – in this case, the Person known as “Father”, the Person known as “Son”, and the Person known as “Holy Spirit”.

    God is one Being that consists of three Persons.

    Again, that’s three Persons who comprise one Being – a Being who the Bible tells us is totally and completely unique in the universe. The Bible tells us again, again, and again that there is none like Him.

    YOU WROTE
    True monotheistic focus on the Father being God changed after the “winners” of a 4 century argument enforced their doctrine on everyone else.

    RESPONSE
    This is complete and utter rubbage!

    We have already shown you that the Trinity was taught and believed long before the first Council of Nicea in 325AD – all you have to do is open your Bible and it’s there. And you still have any lingering doubts here are a collection of pre-Nicea quotes that describe the concept of the Trinity without using the word: https://carm.org/early-trinitarian-quotes

    And the ONLY reason why the council was needed at all was that heretics had arisen who were teaching another Jesus – a Jesus who wasn’t eternal God. A Jesus who was created and was subordinate to God the Father. In other words, the same heresies that you seem be to advocating in your comments.

    That heresy was known as “Arianism”.
    (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arianism)

    Further, after Nicea those who you call “the winners” (because the Nicean creed supported their stance) were hounded and persecuted by the Arians. So, respectfully, your history is nonsense. I recommend that you read this article to get up to speed on what REALLY happened at Nicea: http://www.equip.org/article/what-really-happened-at-nicea/

    YOU WROTE
    Many have defended it & parroted it because they think it’s the right thing to do.

    RESPONSE
    Nonsense, we believe and teach it because it’s so clearly what’s in the Bible. All you have to do is read the Bible to see it. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Sir, I CHALLENGE you to take Rob Bowman’s Anti-Trinitarian Defense challenge https://beggarsbread.org/2015/09/05/how-to-defend-an-anti-trinitarian-theology/

    YOU WROTE
    But perhaps we would have more of an ear from Jews and Muslims (& others) by not saying 1+1+1=1, it doesn’t.

    RESPONSE
    Respectfully Mr. Campbell you have just demonstrated that he have never developed a thorough understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity. The Trinity is 13 or even more simply, 1*1*1=1. In other words, in God’s case it’s multiplication not addition.

    YOU WROTE
    There is only one Most High God… one true God.

    RESPONSE
    On this we agree. There is only one, and only one, true God.

    YOU WROTE
    He doesn’t call anyone else God.

    RESPONSE
    He obviously calls HIMSELF God doesn’t He? In fact, He does it through the entire Bible doesn’t He?

    YOU WROTE
    Jesus does

    RESPONSE
    And I have already explained why. If you need a review, here’s a good resource: http://www.gotquestions.org/Jesus-say-my-God.html

    YOU WROTE
    and Praise be to THE GOD, and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    RESPONSE
    Amen! Praise be to the only true God of Israel, Yahweh Elohim – the united One. The God in three Persons, blessed Trinity.

    SUMMARY
    It appears like Shawn McCraney, Mr. Campbell never gained a good understanding of the Trinity after leaving Mormonism. In fact, in compiling my responses to your argument I didn’t have too far beyond the same resources and arguments that I use in my discussions with Mormons. This is typical: Most Shawnites that I have engaged have still been far more Mormon in their thinking and behavior than Biblical Christians – and their ignorance of the Bible, Church History, and mainstream Christian Orthodoxy is obvious.

    Further, like Mr. McCraney, they see no shame in publicly criticizing something in their ignorance. In Mr. Campbell’s case this comment was disappointing but, sadly, not unusual given the pattern of public behavior that we have seen him demonstrate publicly elsewhere is it? In fact, it’s just one more example of the type of thing that I wrote about in some detail here: https://beggarsbread.org/2015/02/22/the-trials-of-shawn-mccraney-part-five/#jed.

    In a biblical church this type of chronic folly would be lovingly yet firmly addressed as it appears to be a blind spot. Unfortunately, since CAMPUS refuses to follow the biblical mandates for a church it doesn’t. As I stated in the aforementioned article:

    “If the folks at CAMPUS really loved Jed, in my opinion, they would confront him about his public behavior rather than praising him for it. They would challenge him to stop his childish and immature pot stirring – like calling Jason Wallace’s show and picking fights and grandstanding in front of the cameras. In my opinion, if they truly loved Jed they would have talked to him immediately his public antics at first Inquisition 2014 and then again after the recent debate show. And if he didn’t listen then the second half of Titus 3:10 would apply. But no, instead, they continue to give him a soapbox and then praise him when he engages in socially inappropriate – even downright embarrassing – public behavior.

    So in the end, and in my opinion, Exhibit A for how little love Shawn and the folks at CAMPUS really have for fellow Christians is Jed. If they truly loved him they would care enough to confront him and challenge him to grow and mature.”
    (see https://beggarsbread.org/2015/02/22/the-trials-of-shawn-mccraney-part-five/#jed)

    Finally and closing, as is so often the case when engaging Shawnites, I see no difference between a Mormon defending their founding prophet and church and a Shawnite defending theirs. As I and others have been saying for some time now, Shawn McCraney just gives CAMPUS members another form of Mormonism to join after they leave the LdS Church. In it’s current form it is, practically speaking and on several levels, just another Mormon splinter group.

    I would encourage the reader to prayerfully consider these things. And please continue to pray for Shawn McCraney, Jed Campbell and all the other Shawnites that been snared by the heresies and false teachings of McCraneyism. This ain’t over and there’s still hope for them all!

    Thank you and God bless you.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s