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

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TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
If I may, I'll insert that faith is usually defined as assent and consent to the truth, which assumes that there is a knowledge of the truth. I think that's an important element in this whole discussion. If a person does not have a rudimentary understanding of the Cristian religion, he doesn't have anything to give assent or consent to.
 

Stope

Puritan Board Sophomore
This scenario is a very real one. Consider X Mormons who have their entire life read the scriptures with a literal reading of Jesus as "Son" of God. No doubt, after conversion, as time goes by these people will begin to be taught of the Spirit and be able to more clearly grasp the true nature of Christ (first digesting the milk of the word), but first they have the long journey of having to see this truth - hence it is not such abnormal situation, rather it is one I am familiar with first hand.


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Gforce9

Puritan Board Junior
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).

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!

It seems to me this is trying to pry into the secret things of God....who could could know them? If the triune God has set His electing love on that one, he will be saved, by the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, justified, sanctified and glorified.
Secondly, Rich has nailed it; when you try to seperate (he used the term "parse out") these "things" from the Author of these things, it's like trying to anchor a row boat to leviathan in a hurricane. It is the difference in thinking about these things in a Reformed manner (the whole counsel of God) and the American evangelical manner; to think about things in a disjointed, disconnected and atomistic fashion.
God is simple....
http://www.ligonier.org/learn/conferences/orlando_2004_national_conference/the-lord-is-one/
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
This scenario is a very real one. Consider X Mormons who have their entire life read the scriptures with a literal reading of Jesus as "Son" of God. No doubt, after conversion, as time goes by these people will begin to be taught of the Spirit and be able to more clearly grasp the true nature of Christ (first digesting the milk of the word), but first they have the long journey of having to see this truth - hence it is not such abnormal situation, rather it is one I am familiar with first hand.

Jason,

You really need to think more clearly. The scenario is the "struck by a car" scenario. Consequently, are you saying it is common for Mormons to hear and understand the Gospel properly for the first time and then they are struck by a car on their way home after believing the Gospel? I'm not aware that Mormons are coming to Christ in large numbers only to have them struck by a car the moment after they believe.

You need to slow down and engage your mind carefully on this subject. You're so set on getting the answer you want that you're not learning from the answer you need to hear.

I want you to consider Paul's letter to the Galatians. He is writing to actual Church members. These are Christians in a Church he planted. He knows who they were and what they believed.

Now follow me carefully Jason. Engage your mind carefully.

He is shocked that they are abandoning the Gospel.

How? Because they believe they can be perfected apart from the Spirit by falling back on a crass un-Biblical form of law-keeping that throws them back into circumcision and obedince to Torah.

He warns them over and over and over again that they are abandoning the Gospel not on the point of some minimal entry point of belief but on what they are presently putting their confidence in with respect to their growth in holiness.

What concerns me Jason is that you're worried about what others understand concerning the Gospel and your responses leave me worried that you have a very weak hold of the Gospel with respect to how you think you are standing in the faith. I implore you to meditate on these things more deeply for it may not be others about whom you need to worry understand the Gospel but yourself.
 

puppydlog85

Puritan Board Freshman
Guys, perhaps I missed this but does not Hebrew 2 address this very topic? The author in 1:10-12 identifies Jesus as Jehovah then moves immediately on to say NOT to neglect this message, that it is vital to your "great salvation"? Or am I reading too much into this? Thanks!
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Guys, perhaps I missed this but does not Hebrew 2 address this very topic? The author in 1:10-12 identifies Jesus as Jehovah then moves immediately on to say NOT to neglect this message, that it is vital to your "great salvation"? Or am I reading too much into this? Thanks!

You're not reading too much into this at all. It is precisely my point in encouraging people here to read the Book of Hebrews. As I noted earlier, the letter is written to presumably believing Christians and everything presented is enmeshed with Trinitarian language from the very beginning - Christ is God! All that follows is to help them to understand the excellency of Christ and what they are shrinking back from and warning them that if they continue to be slothful in learning these things about their "great salvation" then they might even be found to be like the generation that fell in the wilderness.

I don't know how to urge this more passionately than to write it but my heart's desire is that Christians would understand that the Trinity is not merely a creedal formulation. If they do not understand how the Father, Son, and Spirit are presently and actively engaged in their salvation then what are they putting their confidence in with respect to whether they stand in the faith?
 

Ryan&Amber2013

Puritan Board Junior
I don't know how to urge this more passionately than to write it but my heart's desire is that Christians would understand that the Trinity is not merely a creedal formulation. If they do not understand how the Father, Son, and Spirit are presently and actively engaged in their salvation then what are they putting their confidence in with respect to whether they stand in the faith?

I think there is a lot of good wisdom in this statement. We really aren't just discussing trivial matters, but rather, something that is of great importance. This topic should be one that is seriously considered. Though the word "Trinity" is not spoken of in the Scriptures, we do see how each member of the Godhead is working within us to bring us to glory. We surely don't want to undermine the glory of God and the realities of His working.
 

Stope

Puritan Board Sophomore
I both hear and see and your desire to exhort believers to believe rightly about God. Thank you for taking the time to continually share insight.

I wonder, if it might be a good idea to look to the Word and ask these 2 questions;

1. What is the elevator pitch of the Gospel?

2. What is fundamental required for (and accompany) salvation?
(Bearing in mind, at what point did something enter here at number 2 that wasn't on number 1 and why?)?

I think these questions would help on many levels (I can post on a different thread if anybody thinks it's a good idea).



Again, this is helpful!


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Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
I both hear and see and your desire to exhort believers to believe rightly about God. Thank you for taking the time to continually share insight.

I wonder, if it might be a good idea to look to the Word and ask these 2 questions;

1. What is the elevator pitch of the Gospel?

2. What is fundamental required for (and accompany) salvation?
(Bearing in mind, at what point did something enter here at number 2 that wasn't on number 1 and why?)?

I think these questions would help on many levels (I can post on a different thread if anybody thinks it's a good idea).

Again, this is helpful!

May I ask some serious questions:

1. Are you reading what I'm writing in detail and trying to understand what I writing?

-or-

2. Are you skimming over it?

The reason I ask is that question 2 has been answered several times in several different ways to try and re-try and re-try again to help you to understand what salvation is.

Find somewhething in this thread that I've written (or others have) that you don't understand and ask for it to be explained to you.

What I'm teaching you is not a personal opinion or preferred way of looking at things. I'm not an original thinker here. Matthew, Bruce, Patrick, and others are not original thinkers. We're simply relating to you well-worked out Biblical principles that are in our Reformed Confessions.

You came to a Reformed board for answers to your question. You got a Reformed answer.

There are other approaches to interpretation that feel more "free" to speculate about how God might be like or they begin with human philosophies and then reason back to the Word about what it may or may not say. There are a lot of Chrsitians these days that feel very free to tell you that "...this is how they see things..." or might even take a poll of people to see if, somehow, they might have figured out some fresh insight into the Word that nobody has ever discovered before.

R.C. Sproul recounts that he sometimes gets questions from people (because he's a theologian) such as "...what's heaven really like..." or "...what job does God want me to take...."

The assumption is that theology and theologians are those who have access to some way of thinking about something more deeply than what can actually be found by the Scriptures. Of course there are theologians that do that all the time.

But not Reformed theologians.

Honestly, Jason, your questions are not terribly difficult to answer. The problem that I've found with us as Chrsitians is that we are like the audience of the Hebrews. Where we should be teachers by now we are dull in hearing because our senses have not been trained.

I've read through the Scriptures over a dozen times now. I've made study of the Scriptures my daily habit for almost 20 years now. I still learn new things every day. There are many difficult questions to answer.

But, as to your question, it's one of those questions that has a very perspicuous answer. The Scriptures don't leave any doubt about them and I've been trying as hard as I can to get you to see how plain the answer is.

If I'm using difficult words and you can't understand the sentences I'm writing then let me know.

But if it's because you're simply not taking time to read carefully what you've been told by ordained men on this board then I would suggest to you that you don't want answers that reflect Reformed (read Biblical) thinking. We're just not the "seems to me" type.
 

Stope

Puritan Board Sophomore
@Semper Fidelis

"1. Are you reading what I'm writing in detail and trying to understand what I writing?"
---I was wondering the same thing about you. You see, Im thinking just because I am disagreeing with your conclusion and since Im not as learned as you that you decide to keep bullying me (removing my posts, talking down to me, etc). What you are failing to see is that what you are saying is a great opinion but it is just that, it is an opinion (no matter how pious you may be, no matter how informed, etc. it is still just that, an opinion). As you will see from this thread that it seems about 1/2t is NOT required and that 1/2 think it is.

"You came to a Reformed board for answers to your question. You got a Reformed answer."
---Indeed I got Semper Fidelis' "Reformed" answer, but I also got dissenting (from yours) answers that were "Reformed".

I really like Vern Poythress' answer on the question:
"Saving faith includes some information, but at its heart is trust. We trust that Jesus is the complete Savior, that God is gracious to us through him, and that God knows how to work everything necessary for salvation. Implicit in that trust is trust in God's plan (through the Father), accomplished in the Son, and applied to us (by the Holy Spirit). A person does not need to have worked out explicitly all the presuppositions and implications of salvation, in order to trust in the God who has worked it all out.

So my answer is not a simple yes or no. We know more and we presuppose more than what we are conscious of and what we have analyzed."

Semper Fidelis, I think what you need to see is that, as you are leaning towards an unequivocal "no", it is not as simple as that, and its ok and Im not so dull of hearing as you may suppose.
 

AVT

Puritan Board Freshman
Muslims believe that Jesus is the Messiah but He is not God,Jesus is just a man and is a prophet.

For one to be saved,one has to understand that God gave His only Son to die on the cross,no one can save fallen man but God ALONE.
The perfect sacrifice is God,a Lamb without blemish.

Scriptures says that Jesus is the Son of God and is God,begotten of the Father before he was born of Mary.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Jason,

I have not "bullied you" in the least.

I have moderated your posts to re-focus you to the question at hand. The question was "Is belief in the Trinity necessary for salvation?"

You assume that because you have received some answers that seem to confirm what you're trying to hear that I'm simply expressing an opinion. I am not. I am expressing what the Westminster Standards summarize concerning the nature of salvation.

Your misunderstanding is compounded by the fact that you think that Poythress is in fundamental disagreement with what I have written. He is not. You did not ask what saving faith is. You asked about the nature of salvation. Salvation includes saving faith but it is not all that there is in the idea of salvation.

We have a moderating team and they have looked at your "complaint" as to how you have been treated.

You were moderated because I needed to focus the discussion in a Reformed context.

You asked about whether belief in the Trinity is necessary for salvation.

I asked you to define salvation so we could focus the discussion and provide some better instruction on where you are confused.

You then complain that the discussion is being derailed because I'm asking you to define salvation but how can one determine whether the Trinity is necessary for salvation if one cannot define what "salvation" is?!

You see, Jason, all of our "opinions" on this are testable as to whether they are Reformed. They are not "Reformed" because people that post on a board have a Reformed answer to your question. They are "reformed" insofar as they can be found to be consistent with Reformed confessions.

Consider Westminister Larger Catechism Question 32 as one example:

Q. 32. How is the grace of God manifested in the second covenant?
A. The grace of God is manifested in the second covenant, in that he freely provideth and offereth to sinners a Mediator,115 and life and salvation by him;116 and requiring faith as the condition to interest them in him,117 promiseth and giveth his Holy Spirit118 to all his elect, to work in them that faith,119 with all other saving graces;120 and to enable them unto all holy obedience,121 as the evidence of the truth of their faith122 and thankfulness to God,123 and as the way which he hath appointed them to salvation.124

Notice that faith is one of other saving graces. There is not one thing (faith) that encompasses the saving grace of God but it is part of the saving realm that God has appointed for them in Christ.

Now let's look at how the Confession (that you listed as your confession when you signed up to participate) articulates saving faith, justification, adoption, and sanctification:

Q. 72. What is justifying faith?
A. Justifying faith is a saving grace,297 wrought in the heart of a sinner by the Spirit298 and Word of God,299 whereby he, being convinced of his sin and misery, and of the disability in himself and all other creatures to recover him out of his lost condition,300 not only assenteth to the truth of the promise of the gospel,301 but receiveth and resteth upon Christ and his righteousness, therein held forth, for pardon of sin,302 and for the accepting and accounting of his person righteous in the sight of God for salvation.303
Q. 73. How doth faith justify a sinner in the sight of God?
A. Faith justifies a sinner in the sight of God, not because of those other graces which do always accompany it, or of good works that are the fruits of it,304 nor as if the grace of faith, or any act thereof, were imputed to him for his justification;305 but only as it is an instrument by which he receiveth and applieth Christ and his righteousness.306
Q. 74. What is adoption?
A. Adoption is an act of the free grace of God,307 in and for his only Son Jesus Christ,308 whereby all those that are justified are received into the number of his children,309 have his name put upon them,310 the Spirit of his Son given to them,311 are under his fatherly care and dispensations,312 admitted to all the liberties and privileges of the sons of God, made heirs of all the promises, and fellow-heirs with Christ in glory.313
Q. 75. What is sanctification?
A. Sanctification is a work of God’s grace, whereby they whom God hath, before the foundation of the world, chosen to be holy, are in time, through the powerful operation of his Spirit314 applying the death and resurrection of Christ unto them,315 renewed in their whole man after the image of God;316 having the seeds of repentance unto life, and all other saving graces, put into their hearts,317 and those graces so stirred up, increased, and strengthened,318 as that they more and more die unto sin, and rise unto newness of life.319
Again, notice the term saving graces - plural.

What I have been trying to impart to you is what you list as your Confession in your profile.

As I've stated from the very beginning, salvation includes saving faith. Salvation includes justification.

BUT salvation includes many other saving graces that we receive as we are united to Christ by the Spirit of God: repentance unto life, adoption, sanctification, good works, etc.

This is not my opinion.

Until you go back and reset then you'll think that just getting an opinion is the same thing as listening to someone explain to you what the Reformed believe that the Scriptures teach.

And so, I ask you plainly: are you interested in learning what the Reformed confessions teach about salvation? If you are not this is very sad. You may believe that it is "bullying" to require that teaching be bound to something certain. You may be accustomed to a "seems to me" theology but you will never arrive at the Truth by this method.

I would urge you to reconsider that it is not me bullying you but you are obstinately refusing to be instructed by ordained elders and ministers and you are justifying your obstinacy by the belief that the opinions you like prove to you that you're not being obstinate.
 

Mr. Bultitude

Puritan Board Freshman
A lot of this post will be me thinking out loud, more or less. But to be clear, I generally agree with Rich and Matthew, while sympathizing with your question as it's one I've wrestled with. More wrestling follows. Also, disclaimer: I am not ordained nor do I have any formal theological training.

You've referenced your ex-Mormon wife and others who were formerly in non-trinitarian sects and then became orthodox Christians. It seems that the question behind the question is, "At what point did these people pass from death to life?" And the answer is, we don't know. We can't know. All we know is that they were hearing a false Gospel and worshipping a false God as long as they were beholden to the LDS "Church" (or whichever sect they were a part of). But God called them out of there. At what moment did they become regenerate, you wonder. I don't know. But I do know that putting aside the idols of their former faith and embracing the triune God was essential to their salvation. Leaving behind their false worship and cleaving to the church, the Bride of Christ, where they were able to hear sound doctrine, was essential to the process.

Another question behind the question is, "Where do we draw the line between essentials and nonessentials of salvation?" I've wrestled with this one myself, and various thinkers I respect have come up with different (yet similar) answers. John Stott was once asked, "How much do you need to know to be saved?" and he replied, "Not much, I hope." But he says in Basic Christianity that, "If Jesus was not God in human flesh ... we are left with just another religion." My denomination (EPC) has a list of "Essentials of Our Faith" which is meant to "define core beliefs ... common to all true believers and churches throughout the world." The trinity is the first "essential" listed. The Sum of Saving Knowledge, another attempt at an answer which has often been printed alongside the Westminster Standards, gives the Covenant of Grace between the members of the trinity as the second of eighteen propositions. I suppose you could also consider the Nicene Creed, which uses the trinity as its organizing principle, as an attempt to answer the question.

What are the main alternatives to trinitarianism? One could deny that there is only one God, deny that there are distinctions/persons within the Godhead, or deny the deity of one or more of the persons. In the case of polytheism, surely it's an open-and-shut case that such a "believer" is not saved under normal circumstances. All throughout both testaments, the cardinal doctrine is that there is one God, he does not share glory, and his people must turn from their idols. I don't see any way around such a diagnosis for the LDS "Church," which affirms that there are three "personages" within the Godhead, each with a separate body, mind, and origin, and which says that before God was God he was a man who worshiped a different God on a different world. It's blasphemy through and through, an outright mockery of the truth.

What about those who deny the deity of Christ? Does the person who holds that belief think that Jesus was perfect? If so, how was he free of the stain of sin? Is that method available to us as well? If so, why do we need a savior? What did his death save us from? I don't see any way around requiring a profession of Jesus' divinity, or else the Gospel is in danger. A "semi-divine" Christ in the manner of Arians and JWs is nonsensical. A "merely human" Christ is powerless to save. If one is united to the true Christ, how could he possibly fail to profess the true divinity and true humanity of Christ?

You mentioned denying the deity of the Holy Spirit. What alternative do you have in mind? Is the Holy Spirit an angel? A binding force in the universe? I don't know if I've encountered anyone who holds such views, so it's difficult to interact with such ideas. I'm aware that there were some in antiquity who denied the Spirit's divinity, but I don't know the ins and outs of that theology.

More commonly I see people denying the personhood of the Spirit, though I think I've only seen it done in ignorance, not defiance, of sound doctrine. Are such people saved? I don't know their hearts. I can't know. But if I encounter such error in conversation with a brother, don't I have a responsibility to correct it? And doesn't their response to said correction indicate something about their state?

We baptise in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. If someone denies that name, they shouldn't be baptised. If we judge someone unworthy of baptism, isn't that functionally equivalent to saying that we don't have confidence in their present salvation?

Regarding "elevator pitches": the apostles gave quite a few speeches and pitches for the Gospel in the Book of Acts. They were all different, all pitched at the level the audience understood. So it doesn't seem that there is one possible elevator pitch for the Gospel. We must be sensitive to the person we're talking to and be mindful of what they do and don't already know. The shortest one is Acts 16:31, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household," but the text indicates that they then talked with the jailer for many more hours.
 

Reformed Fox

Puritan Board Freshman
Ignorance was what I was originally pushing for as well. Actively denying the existence of the Holy Spirit or it's deity is distinct from simply not having a fully formed understanding of the nature of the God head.

Many may be ignorant of the true nature of the Holy Spirit. This is neither good not acceptable, but it happens.
 

ijunn

Puritan Board Freshman
The doctrine of the Trinity is a Biblical doctrine, just as the doctrine of justification, election etc. is. The Christian Church was and is being pointed to the truth of the Trinity, because the Bible teaches:

1. That there is but one true God
2. That there are three divine Persons (Father, Son, Holy Spirit)
3. That the Persons are coequal and coeternal

So rejecting the Trinity is rejecting who God is. Take away the Trinity and you have no Christianity left. Also the Athanasian Creed defines the Christian faith as a Trinitarian faith.

"And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons; nor dividing the Essence."

Best regards,
 
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lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
There is a difference between false teachers and those deceived by them.

There are plenty of elect saints ( I have known them)who came to faith in what Jesus Christ did on the cross, believe the bible, and have been taught modalism (oneness). They are Christians, and I have seen them eventually come out and become trinitarians. But they were saved while denying trinitarian orthodoxy.

I know former Roman Catholics who were the exact same way. They were saved, came to faith, and eventually came out of the RCC. But for a time as true Christians they held to errant doctrines.

The question should be if the teachers of this sort of thing are saved. I wonder about those perpetuating the heresies in high places. But even many RCC priests have gotten saved.

How many men teaching orthodoxy ended up going off the rails? At one time they believed, years later they are heretics. Don't be so quick to try and figure out who is saved/elect. Only much time reveals the heart.
 
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