A controversy has emerged in the Evangelical community of Utah. Shawn McCraney announced on his television show his rejection of the doctrine of the Trinity.
I watched the program and found that Shawn seems to be reacting against Mormonism and Mormon apologetics perhaps more than the orthodox teachings of Christianity. His arguments are first and foremost a rejection of tri-theism (a belief in three gods) and second a anti-parrallel driven narrative. Whereas some Mormon apologist are quick to pick up on any parallel from the ancient world as evidence that LDS particulars are justified, Shawn has adopted the inverse argument that any parrallel to anything outside of Christianity proves it must be heretical (This argument is often employed against Christian spiritual disciplines as proof that they are New Age). What’s even more troubling is that one of his primary sources is a dubiously conspiratorial, Anti-Catholic book called “The Two Babylons”.
I wasn’t so much concerned with his emphasis against the existence of three gods as much as I was by his unwillingness to engage the arguments that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three distinct persons. Towards the end of the program a caller challenged him with an argument that’s a low entry point into Trinitarianism and he was unwilling to engage the argument.
Shawn has a confrontational style and without a force to oppose I think he loses what makes him interesting to watch. This is not the first, nor I think the last time he will set himself up against the Evangelical community in Utah. I’m sure many Mormons are pleased to see this fracture, proclaiming a pox on both of their houses. It will be interesting to see how Shawn and Utah Evangelicals interact in the near future. Some responses have already begun to appear. My guess is that without correction, Shawn will be disavowed by Evangelicals and his teachings declared just as heretical as Mormonism’s.
The simple birth of a baby in an overcrowded village came to mean a great many things:
Following, then, the holy Fathers, we all unanimously teach that our Lord Jesus Christ is to us:
One and the same Son, the Self-same Perfect in Godhead, the Self-same Perfect in Manhood; truly God and truly Man; the Self-same of a rational soul and body; co-essential with the Father according to the Godhead, the Self-same co-essential with us according to the Manhood; like us in all things, sin apart; before the ages begotten of the Father as to the Godhead, but in the last days, the Self-same, for us and for our salvation (born) of Mary the Virgin Theotokos as to the Manhood; One and the Same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten; acknowledged in Two Natures unconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the difference of the Natures being in no way removed because of the Union, but rather the properties of each Nature being preserved, and (both) concurring into One Person and One Hypostasis; not as though He were parted or divided into Two Persons, but One and the Self-same Son and Only-begotten God, Word, Lord, Jesus Christ; even as from the beginning the prophets have taught concerning Him, and as the Lord Jesus Christ Himself hath taught us, and as the Symbol of the Fathers hath handed down to us
This is a funny way to introduce people to heresies surrounding the Trinity.
The New York Times recently ran an Opinion piece titled “I’m a Mormon, Not a Christian”. The piece has a few praise-worthy sentiments and is a fun piece of writing but seemed to me mostly just an exercise is poking everyone in the nose.
This response at Patheos summed up most of my feeilngs about the NY Times article. If Romney weren’t running for President and if the author didn’t have an axe to grind against Christianity it’s doubtful the NY Times would have run this piece. If you’re going to slam Christians for believing in the Trinity, at least describe the orthodox understanding of it rather than The Book of Mormon understanding.
I just recently finished reading “Mormon Doctrine” by Apostle Bruce R. McConkie. I noticed something in his entry on Monotheism that indicated that he was on the path to unintentionally discovering and agreeing with the doctrine of the Trinity.
Monotheism is the doctrine or belief that there is but one God. If this is properly interpreted to mean that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost–each of whom is a separate and distinct godly personage–are one God, meaning one Godhead, then the true saints are monotheists. Professing Christians consider themselves monotheists as distinguished from polytheists, those pagan peoples who believe in a host of gods, whose powers are exercised only in their own fields.
I agree. I’m sure with my agreement McConkie would choose to define some of those words in a particular way so as to decline his creedal confirmation. But he illustrates for us how the doctrine of the Trinity began to form. First with an affirmation of monotheism, then with an attempt to understand how three persons could be one God.
I think Mormonism better fits the definition of henotheism. Had McConkie chosen to identify Mormonism with henotheism he would not have been caught in this unintended ascent to Trinitarianism. What’s interesting is that McConkie also had an entry on henotheism and condemned the idea that ancient Jews were henotheist (an argument routinely made by FAIR).
I’m not saying that McConkie was a Trinitarian, he makes it quite clear in other places that he is not, but I think it shows that if his thinking had been pushed a little bit further he would either have had to drop monotheism or embrace at least a limited form of Trinitarianism.
This is an infographic created by Tim Challies that explains some of the different heresies that come out of poor explanations of the Trinity. It’s lack of lizards is noted. You may need to click twice to see it at full screen.
Christian J recently posted this comment
Does the Jesus I believe in have power to save the human family? Is that salvation extended with mercy and grace? I don’t believe that these questions are dependent on esoteric understandings of the eternities.
I wanted to answer this but I recently read a review by an ex-Mormon of “The Deep Things of God” by an that I think answers it. You should also see my review of the book.
In short, the book doesn’t make sense out of the Trinity as much as it shows that the Trinity makes sense out of everything else in Christianity. If you struggle to understand why Evangelicals are so hung up on the Trinity and are confused about why Mormons are excluded based on this esoteric doctrine, this book is a great place to start.