Revisted: Is belief in the Trinity... necesary for salvation

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MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
It is not wise to appeal to that which is abnormal to establish a fact about what is normal. Someone can get by without legs; but we don't go to the legless person to learn how to walk. We would think it rather strange to see a person who can walk giving up his legs, so to speak, in order to get about like a person with no legs.

In the normal Christian life people are discipled and grow in relation to Three to whom they attribute divine honour -- the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. As a matter of ordinary intelligence a person will believe "something" about those Three. If Trinitarianism is not taught to the person there are alternatives like modalism or Tritheism. Do we teach people to be saved by becoming modalists or Tritheists? Of course not. The normal course of Christian discipleship teaches people to believe in the Trinity and live out the Christian life in that conviction.

We are not saved by doctrines, but doctrines are a necessary part of being saved. The understanding of man needs saving as much as anything else.

Perhaps the deeper concern here is the minimalist understanding of salvation which is required in order to affirm that people can be saved without belief in the Trinity. What is your understanding of salvation? From what are you saved? To what are you saved? Salvation is not an eternal life insurance policy. You must pass from death to life -- judicially and personally. You become a new creature, put on the new man, are renewed in the spirit of your mind, live for a new purpose, follow a new Lord. You change from being natural to being spiritual. You are translated from one kingdom to another. Your conversation and citizenship are transferred from the earthly to the heavenly. And this is lifelong! While there are definitive aspects to it, there is also progressive growth in salvation, as well as a forward-looking motion to the consummation of it. There is a warfare, a race, a labour involved in it. The whole armour of God is needed. We must lay aside every hindrance. Every effort must be made.

The deeper issue, then, is what do you believe about "salvation?"
 

Stope

Puritan Board Sophomore
@MW

It is not wise to appeal to that which is abnormal to establish a fact about what is normal. Someone can get by without legs; but we don't go to the legless person to learn how to walk.
---However we will see that a legless person does have the ability to use their quad muscles (a sort of case study). I think it is very fitting and a welcome addition

We would think it rather strange to see a person who can walk giving up his legs, so to speak, in order to get about like a person with no legs.
---Im not saying that the person has outright reject their "legs"and "gave them up", rather (and here is where the analogy breaks sown), they never knew they had legs

In the normal Christian life people are discipled and grow in relation to Three to whom they attribute divine honour -- the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. As a matter of ordinary intelligence a person will believe "something" about those Three.
---Spot on when you say "As a matter of ordinary intelligence a person will believe "something" about those Three." Indeed, they see "something", a sort of mystery, something is going on there, but no human way of wrapping their mind around it... Unless of course church history and deep prayer and meditation step in to teach (but even then that doesn't always come "easy")

If Trinitarianism is not taught to the person there are alternatives like modalism or Tritheism. Do we teach people to be saved by becoming modalists or Tritheists? Of course not. The normal course of Christian discipleship teaches people to believe in the Trinity and live out the Christian life in that conviction.
---Again, Im not saying they are "rejecting" the Trinity, rather they have no understanding, and possibly at this point no words or frame of reference to explain it and so they might, for some time be a modalist and then after further reading see that they reject that, and perhaps arrive at a sound belief in the trinity, BUT, they dont just all of a sudden arrive there

We are not saved by doctrines, but doctrines are a necessary part of being saved.
---Yes and No. But not, in my opinion, belief in the Trinity is not "necessary" (well at least, for arguments sake, i say this)

The understanding of man needs saving as much as anything else.
---Touche brother!

Perhaps the deeper concern here is the minimalist understanding of salvation which is required in order to affirm that people can be saved without belief in the Trinity. What is your understanding of salvation? From what are you saved? To what are you saved? Salvation is not an eternal life insurance policy. You must pass from death to life -- judicially and personally. You become a new creature, put on the new man, are renewed in the spirit of your mind, live for a new purpose, follow a new Lord. You change from being natural to being spiritual. You are translated from one kingdom to another. Your conversation and citizenship are transferred from the earthly to the heavenly. And this is lifelong!
---SO far in your very apt defining of a true salvation, please notice you didnt bring in "o yeah, by the way belief in the hypo-static union"... Can you imagine how unsound it would be if you inserted that statement in the lines above? (by the way brother, please dont read into my words here as being rude or anything of the sort, I very much appreciate your thoughts)

While there are definitive aspects to it, there is also progressive growth in salvation, as well as a forward-looking motion to the consummation of it. There is a warfare, a race, a labour involved in it. The whole armour of God is needed. We must lay aside every hindrance. Every effort must be made.

The deeper issue, then, is what do you believe about "salvation?"
---A very good question... Perhaps another thread should be started (?) because I have a few thoughts and questions about this
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
"I believe in the church." There is an ordinary means of instruction and discipleship. And there is the promise of the Holy Spirit to guide into all truth by this means. Anyone who has been discipled in this ordinary means will be acquainted with this process. One who has not been discipled in this ordinary way could be a Christian in the eyes of God, but in the eyes of man there is no visible way of ascertaining it. "Outside of the church there is no ordinary possibility of salvation."
 

JimmyH

Puritan Board Senior
@MW

---A very good question... Perhaps another thread should be started (?) because I have a few thoughts and questions about this

Brother Jason, a very interesting topic you've brought up. When you quote text if you don't delete the {Quote} thingies in front of, and behind the text you're quoting it will be much easier for us poor readers to discern what is quoted, and what is new. As you can see from the layout of this quoted post in the text box. Particularly in quoted text that runs at length. Blessings.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
What of ignorance? I would argue that one can understand Christ's sacrifice (intellectual) and be saved (spiritually reborn) without knowing of the triune nature of God. Could one not view the Holy Spirit as a mere assistant, for example. (Of course in the long term this is dangerous and leads to all manner of error but that is not the issue.)

Are misguided Christians and young Christians unsaved because they have not grasped this doctrine?

Gregory,

This is very frustrating for me and I'll try to be patient but you have completely missed the point.

The author of the Hebrews reproves his listeners at the end of Hebrews 5 by noting this:
Hebrews 5:11–14 (ESV)

11*About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12*For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13*for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14*But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

One might well ask: "What was the 'milk' of the Gospel? If I can only know what the milk is then I know what it takes to get somebody over the bar of salvation."

What, exactly, is the author of Hebrews trying to communicate to his listeners who are shrinking back into potential apostasy?

Several concepts that are Trinitarian by their very nature!

What was the danger if they remained dull of hearing and refused to be trained?

Apostasy.

Once again, I return to my concern that so many Christians view salvation as some bar of minimal intellectual knowledge whereby we can determine doctrines that may or may not be essential to their salvation.

The problem lies in the posture of the questioner.

Does my 4 year old understand the Trinity? Of course not. As I said before (which is why I'm dumbfounded that you would ask the question), it is not that the Christian is saved by first apprehending the nature of the Trinity but it is only the Trinitarian God Who saves and it is only by growing in maturity into the knowledge of the God as He has revealed Himself that a person is kept in the faith.
 

Reformed Fox

Puritan Board Freshman
With all due respect, I am under the impression that many on this board are missing my point.

I am not arguining that the trinity is unimportant, or trivial. I am well aware of the many errors which spring from a misunderstanding of God's nature. I am not saying that we should be flippant about apostasy or heresy or being lukewarm.

My only contention is that it is possible for one to be saved and not to have grasped fully the triune nature of God.

So far as I can tell, there are no requirements for salvation beyond faith in Christ (monergistic of course).

Or, put another way, the elect are the elect because they were selected by God, they are not the elect based on doctrinal orthodoxy.

P.S. I was also not very clear earlier. When I said "could one not view the Holy Spirit as a mere helper" I did not mean to say that this was a legitimate position (it certainly is not). I meant to say that one who honestly holds such a view, though dangerous and misguided, is not in danger of not being saved.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
@Semper Fidelis - I only dont respond to your response simply because you and I are completely different pages at where (and why) Im coming to this... You have read far to deep into this (as far as my asking it)

Jason,

I'm goint to insist as an Admin that this topic be re-focused. Yes, we are on different pages. I noted that in my first post and I didn't read into anything. In fact your further responses only confirmed what I wrote and why I wrote it.

You are not approaching this topic from a fully Biblical perspective.

Matthew and I and a few others are trying to help you to see this and you are parsing analogies in order to argue points about engines or legs and completely missing the reason the analogies were used to begin with.

Let me use another analogy.

Suppose I didn't know a great deal about engines and I went to a mechanic and said: "I've seen many threads about engines but none of the answers satisfy my curiosity."
The mechanic says: "Well, I hope I can answer your question."
I respond: "Can an engine run without an oil cap?"
The mechanic starts to reply with how, technically yes, the engine can run without an oil cap but then starts to explain the lubrication system and how important it is to keep friction down and that eventually...
I interrupt: "You're not answering my question by appealing to all that other information..."

You see, Jason, you think that if you can get an answer to your question in the manner in which it has been proposed that you are attaining to some knowledge about the nature of salvation and how knowledge of the Trinity relates to it.

Yet, as Matthew and I have been trying to relate to you, the assumptions behind the question are all wrong. You're not challenging what your assumptions about the nature of salvation are. I can read it in your response and the way you parse others and tell others how insightful they are for confirming to you what you already think you know about the topic.

We simply cannot have a fruitful dialog on this board when you insist that you will control the nature of the conversation and decide what is and is not in bounds based on your assumptions.

Consequently, if you want to continue the dialog then I agree with Matthew that you really need to define what salvation is. What is salvation? How are the Persons of the Trinity related to salvation? What does it mean to be justified, sanctified, and glorified? What is the relationship of Scriptural truth to the saint who is being saved?

If you don't think that those questions bear upon your initial question then this bold faces the real issue. If you think that it's possible to answer your question without reference to those basic questions then whatever answer you think is satisfying will not lead you into Biblical truth.

In writing all of this, I'm not writing it to mock you or to put you down. I'm genuinely sad that Christians don't have a ready answer to this question.

Let me address an issue that is on the surface of the discussion: Of course it is possible for people who were completely ignorant or denied the Trinity to become saved. Witness the Apostle Paul. I already noted my own journey from spiritual death to life.

What I'm trying to get you to see, however, is that knowing that people come from death to life doesn't answer your question. In fact, Paul led with the Trinity in all His sermons proclaiming the risen Christ as God. His hearers did not need a course in Systematics to understand that Paul was telling them that Jesus was God. Find me any Epistle as well that is not saturated with Trinitarian theology. It is simply not possible, using the Scriptures, to avoid the Triune God in understanding our salvation. The Trinity is not a sidebar to the topic of salvation but is intricately woven into the fabric of salvation.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
With all due respect, I am under the impression that many on this board are missing my point.

I am not arguining that the trinity is unimportant, or trivial. I am well aware of the many errors which spring from a misunderstanding of God's nature. I am not saying that we should be flippant about apostasy or heresy or being lukewarm.

My only contention is that it is possible for one to be saved and not to have grasped fully the triune nature of God.

So far as I can tell, there are no requirements for salvation beyond faith in Christ (monergistic of course).

Or, put another way, the elect are the elect because they were selected by God, they are not the elect based on doctrinal orthodoxy.

P.S. I was also not very clear earlier. When I said "could one not view the Holy Spirit as a mere helper" I did not mean to say that this was a legitimate position (it certainly is not). I meant to say that one who honestly holds such a view, though dangerous and misguided, is not in danger of not being saved.

Gregory,

Who is Christ? What does it mean to have faith in Him?

Regarding the elect. Who are they elect in? Who elected them? How were they saved?
 

Reformed Fox

Puritan Board Freshman
Again you misunderstand me. I am not saying the trinity is unimportant. I am certainly not saying that the trinity is not relevant to election. All members of the Godhead participate.

I contend only that this election does not require, and is not contingent on the intellectual assent of the individual on points of doctrine or a possession of theological rigor.
 

Ryan&Amber2013

Puritan Board Junior
Again you misunderstand me. I am not saying the trinity is unimportant. I am certainly not saying that the trinity is not relevant to election. All members of the Godhead participate.

I contend only that this election does not require, and is not contingent on the intellectual assent of the individual on points of doctrine or a possession of theological rigor.

I think I agree with this. Otherwise, when we share the Gospel with someone, we would always have to explain the intellectual intricacies of the Trinity, which I'm pretty confident we probably don't do.

If we phrased the question in another way, this might help bring better understanding: Will someone go to hell if they don't know the Holy Spirit is God? I don't see this as a requirement for salvation anywhere in the Scriptures.

Here is what I see as the Biblical requirement for salvation:

1 Cor 15 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance : that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Again you misunderstand me. I am not saying the trinity is unimportant. I am certainly not saying that the trinity is not relevant to election. All members of the Godhead participate.

I contend only that this election does not require, and is not contingent on the intellectual assent of the individual on points of doctrine or a possession of theological rigor.

Gregory,

You keep saying I am misunderstanding you but I understand what you are saying perfectly well.

What is happening, however, is that I asked you a question about the nature of salvation itself and then you said I misunderstood you when I was not even making a statement. I was trying to get you to ask yourself the question to see what the relevance of the Trinity is to the very topics you are raising.

You contend that election "...does not require, and is not contingent on the intellectual assent of the individual on points of doctrine or a possession of theological rigor."

Of course it doesn't. Election is not based on anything foreseen. God does not choose on the basis of foreseen faith. Nevertheless, God's electing love has an aim in mind for those whom He has cast His love upon.

If you would reflect upon the nature of saving faith and the object of that saving faith in the way that the Scriptures unpack them then you will see that neither Jesus nor the Apostles ever say: "This is all you really need to know to be saved."

Now, as you just read it, I'm going to anticipate that you are reading me as saying: "See, you just said that a person needs to have a full-blown understanding of the Trinity...."

I did not.

I am simply trying to get you (and others) to think through this idea that, even in 1 Cor 15, there is some sort of minimal Gospel that saves a person that has no essential Trinitarian content within it. Even 1 Cor 15 is Trinitarian.

I will say it again that the Triune God Who saves does not require faith (which includes knowledge and trust) as a condition for salvation in the sense that God waits for the saved person to come to some intellectual assent to some doctrine and then resting in that doctrine and then God says: "OK, good, you've passed the test, I unite you to the living Christ." Faith is the gift of God. It is the Spirit of God reaching the sinner's hand out to Christ. The Spirit Himself produces the condition by which the sinenr is united to the whole Christ Who was sent by the Father because the Father loved that sinner before the earth was formed.

That new child of God may know very little, intellectually, of the nature of God but he is baptized and made a full member of the visible Kingdom of God where he is then disciplined into the faith. I really wish I could get this across but I simply urge you to continue to study more deeply the Epistles because there is simply no such thing as "salvation" proper that excludes the entire life of the Kingdom.

We keep going back and forth in this thread because salvation is conceived as the point of justification where a sinner rests upon the Savior but Scripture does not teach that salvation can be fully understood as simply justification. It includes the entire "realm" into which the sinner has now been transported. He is now no longer in Adam but in Christ. Does he understand this fully at first? No, but part of being in this new life, this new realm, being "in the Spirit", he is to consider Himself dead to sin and alive to Christ.

How is he to understand this? By being taught by the Scriptures about what the Father, Son, and Spirit have done, are doing, and will do for Christ's Body. There is simply no way for the believer to be left at a point of "trusting in Jesus" where he is then cut off from what it means to be in this new reality. The Scriptures know nothing of an idea of stopping at the "point of entry" into the Kingdom and asking if certain doctrines are required as a theological test. It totally misses the point. God's purpose in election is revealed to be the calling of a people to Himself that would be made beautiful by the Spirit's work of sanctification (see Ephesians 2:1-10). There is no "running the race" without understanding in Whom we run the race and by Whose power we are enabled to endure.

In short, salvation has three aspects in the Scriptures:

1. We have been saved (Justification)
2. We are being saved (Sanctification)
3. We will be saved (Glorification)

All are salvation. All are in Christ. All were prepared beforehand by the Triune God for the salvation of the people of God.

We keep debating about whether there is some minimal content about the Trinity (or even no content at all) where a person could be justified and still not understand the Trinity.

The reason is that salvation is being centered upon and stopped at the point of Justification under the assumption that this is the totality of what it means to be saved.

I'm trying to get Christians to see that there is no way to speak Biblically about the true idea of salvation (which includes sanctification) without reference to the Trinity and its operations. It is simply not possible to be sanctified, according to the Scriptures, without understanding what the Scriptures teach us about the Father, Son, and Spirit's work. I urge you to consider this more deeply.

Here are three sermons that you might want to listen to that develop the relationship of our position in Christ to salvation as a whole:

http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=117161754160
http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=83015164105
http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=712151811421
 

Ask Mr. Religion

Flatly Unflappable
I am often asked the question being discussed.

I answer, "Can one be saved without believing in the Trinity?" with the same question already asked of the OP, "What does 'be saved' mean to you?"

The One doing the regenerative act in the believer is the Third Person of our Triune God, Who then takes up residence in the regenerated elect. Is the house of the Godhead divided? No.

If one is regenerated, then one is in union with the Second Person of our Triune God.

If one is regenerated, then one has been declared justified and no longer a child of the wrath of the First Person of our Triune God.

Ordinarily then, no one is regenerated that does not believe (know, assent, and trust) in the Triune God, for it is Their triune working that grants that very belief the regenerate now possesses, not merely professes. We therefore wisely leave the extraordinary matters in the Hands of the One who always does right (Deut. 29:29).

Accordingly, the degree to which a more bountiful understanding of the grand and wonderful mystery of the Trinity is apprehended by the regenerated elect, a matter of the degree of one's assurance, is the only remaining topic worthy of discussion. I have no quibbles with a Socratic method for a season, but eventually the ball cannot remain hidden. I appreciate Rich's call to move in a more worthy direction versus the current whack-a-mole tenor.

EDIT: I cross-posted with Rich, who has captured the matter more perspicuously. Thank you, Rich.
 

Reformed Fox

Puritan Board Freshman
The original question though was "is it necessary to believe in the trinity to be saved". There is a very bad habbit of members on this board to answer questions they thoughtwere asked, or that they would have liked to been asked, as opposed to the question which was actually asked.

This is why I think I am being misunderstood. To the original question which was asked on this thread my answer is "no, belief in the trinity is not required for salvation".

And for the sake of clarity I did not want to to into any more depth than was necessary. Of course the subjects of salvation or the nature of God could and should be elaborated upon but such information is beside the point (of the thread).
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Gregory,

Read my last post. "To be saved" includes justification, sanctification, and glorification. Everything I have written is directly relevant to the question. The problem is not in my answer but in the assumption that everything that I have been teaching is irrelevant to the question. The original question is whether belief in the Trinity necessary for salvation.
 

Ryan&Amber2013

Puritan Board Junior
Elder Rich, would you say the legal one time declaration of justification would entail a knowledge of the Trinity? For example, if you shared the Gospel with a man on the street (the holiness of God, his sin, the atoning work of Christ, His death, resurrection, repentance and faith), and that man embraced it all with joy, and then crossed the street and was killed by a drunk driver, do you think he would be innocent before God? Or would you have had to tell him about the deity of the Holy Spirit as well in order for him to be received into heaven?

I think this might help us figure out where you stand. Thanks so much!
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Elder Rich, would you say the legal one time declaration of justification would entail a knowledge of the Trinity? For example, if you shared the Gospel with a man on the street (the holiness of God, his sin, the atoning work of Christ, His death, resurrection, repentance and faith), and that man embraced it all with joy, and then crossed the street and was killed by a drunk driver, do you think he would be innocent before God? Or would you have had to tell him about the deity of the Holy Spirit as well in order for him to be received into heaven?

I think this might help us figure out where you stand. Thanks so much!

Ryan,

I believe I was fairly plain so far but I will state this again for clarity's sake.

Let's use Acts 2 as an example.

Acts 2:37–41 (ESV)
37*Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38*And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39*For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40*And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41*So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Now notice first that there is some Trinitarian language here and prior but let's give the early believers the benefit of the doubt that they surely did not understand everything.

For those who were united to Christ by faith, they were justified. They were saved from their sins.

But the text goes on...

Acts 2:42 (ESV)
42*And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

They were now being saved - sanctified by the work of the Spirit through the Word, Sacraments, and Prayers.

So, yes, a person leaving Peter's sermon that day might have been struck on his way home by a chariot and died. He was united to Christ by faith and was just in God's sight.

Yet, this does not exhaust what it means to be saved.

Those who continued in the Church would battle temptation and indwelling sin. They had been brought from death to newness of life and the work of the Spirit in Word, Sacrament, and Prayer were vital to their salvation as a whole.

When we talk about salvation we cannot merely talk about the former as if the real issue of salvation is whether the person may never live a Christian life because they might die that very day before they ever get a chance to be instructed/disciplined into the Christian life. We certainly don't know the day and the hour and it is sufficient to receive Christ and die that very hour and never have to grow in holiness but that's not what the Scriptures are focused upon. Christ taught us to keep His commandments. The Apostles and the Prophets left us the Scriptures that we might be wise unto salvation and built up for every good work.

As I have pointed you all unto, the Scriptures declare that the pupose of God in election is our sanctification - our growth in holiness. He makes us alive and justified in Christ (we have been saved) in order that we might be conformed to Christ-likeness (being saved).
 

Ryan&Amber2013

Puritan Board Junior
I think I'm catching on to what you're saying. So a person doesn't need to grasp the Trinity to initially be justified, but after they are initially justified, there is a great importance of them having correct doctrine in their sanctification? So as a person is devoted to the things of God and walking with the Lord, it will be vitally important that they understand the Trinity, and if they don't embrace this teaching, this may be a sign that they don't know the true God and aren't justified?

Thanks!
 

Reformed Fox

Puritan Board Freshman
I don't want to nag, but can we have a straight answer to Ryan's question with the man on the street?

Is knowledge of the deity of the Holy Spirit (a prerequisite to trinity) a requirement to be saved? Or, as Ryan implied earlier, are all apologetic enterprises which do not explain the intricacies of the trinity in vain?
 

Stope

Puritan Board Sophomore
Someone earlier asked my position, I think this is a good time to respond;

1. I do NOT think belief in the trinity (as qualified by Ryan&Amber2013) is required to be saved.

2. Having said that, I have a few unresolved thoughts;
A. If someone is outright taught it, yet reject it, this seems risky (but again, I can scripturally confirm nor deny if this person is saved... But it seems suspicious)
B. Ok, say the deepest a person gets is they say "I don't know, there seems to be some sort of unity amongst the three, but I don't understand it, as of now I think there might be 3 Gods (Father, Son, Spirit)...", this person wouldn't be guilty for not fully comprehending the Trunity, but perhaps they are guilty for thinking there are 3 gods.
C. Or maybe they don't think there are 3 gods, but they might think Jesus is, in some way between Mary and the Spirit the LITERAL (in a "heavenly" sense) "son" of God.
D. Anybody who comes must come in truth... Yet if they believe untruth about the nature of God then they kind of haven't really come as required by God (but of course, NONE of us have an accurate view about the nature/workings of Jesus, so we found ourself at the beginning - exactly what is the "minimum" that must be believed, and what is to "off" that one is excluded?)
...These 4 issues above give me cause for concern


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

JimmyH

Puritan Board Senior
I wonder if this quote from Reverend D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones would be helpful ?

"Great Doctrines Of The Bible; God The Father, God The Son", page 37 ;

"The first thing we must do, in view of all that we have seen together, is agree to grasp the Bible as our full and final authority in all matters of revelation. Having seen that we cannot get anywhere without the Bible, then the obvious thing to do is to say, 'Very well, I accept the Bible. I don't know anything apart from it. I have no knowledge of God apart from what the Bible tells me. I may theorize, and other people may do the same thing, but I really do not know anything apart from what I find in this book.' So the first decision we must make is that we are going to be, as John Wesley put it, men and women 'of one book'. Here is my only source, my only authority.

But I want to underline this and even emphasise it still further. I must submit myself entirely to the Bible, and that will mean certain things. First, I start by telling myself that when I come to read the Bible and its doctrines, I am entering into a realm that is beyond the reach of my understanding. By definition, I shall be dealing with things that are beyond my power to grasp. The very idea of revelation , in and of itself, I suggest to you, must carry that implication. We are going to try and know God and study the doctrines concerning Him, and it must be the case that these truths are beyond our understanding. If I could understand God, I would be equal with Him. If my mind were able to apprehend and to span the truth about God then it would mean that my mind is equal to the mind of God, and that, of course, is altogether wrong.

For instance, in our next lecture we hope to be dealing with the doctrine of the Trinity. Now there by definition is a doctrine that no one can possibly understand,
but let us agree to say that before we come to the doctrine. Let nobody think, however, that this means committing intellectual suicide when we take up the Bible. It simply means that we recognize that there is a limit to reason. We agree with the great French mathematician and philosopher, Pascal, that the supreme achievement of reason is to teach that there is an end and limit to reason. Our reason takes us so far and then we enter into the realm of revelation, where God is graciously pleased to manifest Himself to us.

But now I am anxious to emphasise the second point. It means that we must accept truths where we cannot understand them and fully explain them. Not only must we agree that we cannot, of necessity, understand everything, but also, when we come up against particular doctrines and truths, we must accept them if they are in he Bible, irrespective of the fact that we can or cannot understand them. Now I rather like to think of faith in that way. I am not sure but that the best definition of faith we can ever arrive at is this: faith means that men and women decide quite deliberately to be content only with what they have in the Bible, and that they stop asking questions."
Obviously MLJ did not mean that we do not attempt to the best of our ability to understand what we can, and no one loved exegesis and exegetes more than MLJ.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
I think I'm catching on to what you're saying. So a person doesn't need to grasp the Trinity to initially be justified, but after they are initially justified, there is a great importance of them having correct doctrine in their sanctification? So as a person is devoted to the things of God and walking with the Lord, it will be vitally important that they understand the Trinity, and if they don't embrace this teaching, this may be a sign that they don't know the true God and aren't justified?

Thanks!
Ryan,

I encourage you to listen to the sermons I linked to. It's what I am very concerned that Christians grasp about the nature of salvation.

You've mostly understood it. Yes it is true that a person may not grasp the Trinity and be in a state of saving grace but I wouldn't quite put it the way you did about sanctification. I've studied/taught on the Epistles so many times that the concept of union with Christ literally leaps off the pages for me. There's a tendency for many Christians to sort of stop at the idea of saving faith and the state of justification as sort of ultimate aim or definition of salvation and they're not really catching on to what the Apostle Paul is unpacking in the whole of Romans as one example. Paul calls the whole letter "his Gospel" and not merely Romans 3-4. One needs to really wrestle with the "realm" of sin and death that a person is enslaved to in Adam. This is what brings condemnation and leads to unrighteousness. Christ as Mediator not only satifies the wrath of God for sin and grants His righteousness to believers in justification but His death and resurrection literally break the bonds of sin and death. The believer, united to Christ in justification is now dead to the power of sin and death and alive in Christ for righteousness. He is no longer dead in Adam but alive in Christ. God converts us in order to justify, adopt, and sanctify us.

There is a reason why the ordo salutis (order of salvation) extends from eternity past (foreknowledge, election) to present (calling, regeneration, faith/repentance, justification, adoption, sanctification, perseverance) to future (glorification). The Scriptures link these together in numerous locations as aspects of God's saving work.

How does the Lord accomplish this? Through the preaching of the Word, the sacraments, and prayer. The Holy Spirit attends to these as means by which we are built up in our union with Christ who lives and reigns as our Prophet, Priest, and King.

To put it simply, there is simply no Biblical category in the NT for a person to be able to be sanctified and to persevere in the faith who are not vitally united to the one Mediator (the God-Man) by the Spirit. I keep reading a lot of speculation about whether someone might be able to just "get by" after being justified. What does this mean Biblically? Where would we go in the Scripture to see how we could determine what such a Saint looks like? We have a lot of "personal experiences" being offered and ideas that "this just seems to be the case" but I'm throwing us back on everywhere that Paul and the other Apostles talk about our salvation there is a consistent Trinitarian message about the Father sending the Son, the Son accomplishing redemption, and the Spirit applying redemption. These truths are not (as I've said before) "sidebars" to sanctification and perseverance but all of it (including God electing us) are the very means the Son uses by the Spirit to conquer all of His and our enemies.

I'm very saddened that the Apostles labor to present all of the same arguments I've been using about how we are being saved and kept for salvation only to be responded to that it seems quite odd or not really "on the mark" with respect to the issue of what salvation entails.

I urge you to dig into Romans and Hebrews and see the themes I've been expressing unfold.


I don't want to nag, but can we have a straight answer to Ryan's question with the man on the street?

Is knowledge of the deity of the Holy Spirit (a prerequisite to trinity) a requirement to be saved? Or, as Ryan implied earlier, are all apologetic enterprises which do not explain the intricacies of the trinity in vain?
I'm not going to dignify this with a response. I have spent many hours today trying to help you to understand the faith you confess and I do not appreciate that you are failing to take the time to actually read and understand before you fire back carelessly.
Someone earlier asked my position, I think this is a good time to respond;

1. I do NOT think belief in the trinity (as qualified by Ryan&Amber2013) is required to be saved.

2. Having said that, I have a few unresolved thoughts;
A. If someone is outright taught it, yet reject it, this seems risky (but again, I can scripturally confirm nor deny if this person is saved... But it seems suspicious)
B. Ok, say the deepest a person gets is they say "I don't know, there seems to be some sort of unity amongst the three, but I don't understand it, as of now I think there might be 3 Gods (Father, Son, Spirit)...", this person wouldn't be guilty for not fully comprehending the Trunity, but perhaps they are guilty for thinking there are 3 gods.
C. Or maybe they don't think there are 3 gods, but they might think Jesus is, in some way between Mary and the Spirit the LITERAL (in a "heavenly" sense) "son" of God.
D. Anybody who comes must come in truth... Yet if they believe untruth about the nature of God then they kind of haven't really come as required by God (but of course, NONE of us have an accurate view about the nature/workings of Jesus, so we found ourself at the beginning - exactly what is the "minimum" that must be believed, and what is to "off" that one is excluded?)
...These 4 issues above give me cause for concern


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I'm not going to permit your "unresolved thoughts" to be answered. You're simply not wrestling with what I've presented so far.

You may not like this answer but this is a Reformed board. You listed the Westminster Confession as your confession. That Confession is intended to be a summary exposition of what the Scriptures teach. You are shooting from the hip and acting as if what I'm responding to you with is some formulation that is completely irrelevant to the topic of salvation.

You *must* wrestle with these things because you're completely missing the boat.

Calvin writes in his Institutes:
We should consider that the brightness of the Divine countenance, which even an apostle declares to be inaccessible (1 Tim. vi. 16), is a kind of labyrinth,—a labyrinth to us inextricable, if the Word do not serve us as a thread to guide our path; and that it is better to limp in the way, than run with the greatest swiftness out of it.

Stop thinking you can run to the truth by speculation. Be content to limp along the way that God has ordained that we would understand these things.

If you cannot articulate salvation's several aspects and back them up with exegesis then this discussion is fruitless.
 

Andrew P.C.

Puritan Board Junior
Is belief in the God who is, necessary for salvation? Yes. Is God one in essence and three in persons? Yes. So, is belief in the Trinitarian God necessary for salvation? Yes. How can you believe in the triune God who is (Heb. 11) and not think that the triune God is necessary for salvation?

It strikes me that someone could read the entirety of scripture, let alone the Gospels, and conclude that the triune God is not necessary for salvation.

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Ask Mr. Religion

Flatly Unflappable
Is belief in the God who is, necessary for salvation? Yes. Is God one in essence and three in persons? Yes. So, is belief in the Trinitarian God necessary for salvation? Yes. How can you believe in the triune God who is (Heb. 11) and not think that the triune God is necessary for salvation?

It strikes me that someone could read the entirety of scripture, let alone the Gospels, and conclude that the triune God is not necessary for salvation.

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Precisely, Andrew.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
What does the Trinity being a "mystery" have to do with the issue? We believe Christ died for our sins and rose again the third day "according to the Scriptures." There is nothing in nature or reason which can search out these precious truths. They are as foolish to the natural man as the doctrine of the Trinity. The unwarranted appeal to "mystery" only serves to undermine the importance of believing ANY doctrine as a necessary part of salvation.

As for the person who hears and believes on the street only to be killed the next moment -- this is just another appeal to an abnormal case in order to establish a normal principle. In normal circumstances the person would make profession of Trinitarian faith before the church, be baptised in the Trinitarian faith, and would henceforth live out their Trinitarian faith in communion with like-minded believers. The abnormal circumstance that someone is killed before he can enter on the normal course means that we leave the person with God who alone knows the heart of the individual.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
What does the Trinity being a "mystery" have to do with the issue? We believe Christ died for our sins and rose again the third day "according to the Scriptures." There is nothing in nature or reason which can search out these precious truths. They are as foolish to the natural man as the doctrine of the Trinity. The unwarranted appeal to "mystery" only serves to undermine the importance of believing ANY doctrine as a necessary part of salvation.

As for the person who hears and believes on the street only to be killed the next moment -- this is just another appeal to an abnormal case in order to establish a normal principle. In normal circumstances the person would make profession of Trinitarian faith before the church, be baptised in the Trinitarian faith, and would henceforth live out their Trinitarian faith in communion with like-minded believers. The abnormal circumstance that someone is killed before he can enter on the normal course means that we leave the person with God who alone knows the heart of the individual.

Excellent.

As I was meditating more on the necessity of this doctrine today something struck me about Galatians and then we were studying the same thing in Philippians 3 today where Paul is warning the Church about the Judaizers:
Philippians 3:1-3 (ESV)

1*Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.
2*Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. 3*For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh—

What is Paul saying here and elsewhere?

Who or what, precisely, is a Christian depending upon if they do not believe they are united to Christ and empowered by the Spirit of God for the exercise of the Christian life?

It is their own effort with no reference to the Spirit.

Paul laments in Galatians that they "...began in the Spirit..." and are they now going to be perfected "...in the flesh?"

The Christian who does not understand the works of the Trinity in their Salvation does not understand the animating principle behind their Christian life.

What does Paul consider a "gospel" that has no reference to the operations of the Spirit of Christ to free men from bondage to sin and death?

He calls it another gospel.

He calls it no gospel at all with specific reference to how the Galatians were understanding their sanctification. He calls the Judaizers dogs and evildoers for promoting a gospel that looks to our natural capacity to accomplish righteousness with no reference to union with Christ and the operation of the Spirit.

Again I say that the Trinity is not a sidebar doctrine that is part of some theological test but is absolutely embedded in how we are to encourage, rebuke, reprove and exhort one another. A Christian who hears a "gospel" with no reference to the operations of the Trinity is not hearing the Gospel.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Rich, the "animating principle" is essential teaching, as you have well observed. "We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost" is presented as a deficiency.
 

Ryan&Amber2013

Puritan Board Junior
As for the person who hears and believes on the street only to be killed the next moment -- this is just another appeal to an abnormal case in order to establish a normal principle. In normal circumstances the person would make profession of Trinitarian faith before the church, be baptised in the Trinitarian faith, and would henceforth live out their Trinitarian faith in communion with like-minded believers. The abnormal circumstance that someone is killed before he can enter on the normal course means that we leave the person with God who alone knows the heart of the individual.

That was a great response. I agree with this. I think the normative Christian life entails embracing the Trinity, but there are those exceptions where one might not get a chance to hear the Trinity explained, and still be in the state of grace. Thanks for the clarification, friends.
 
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