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The Shepherd's Chapel, Pastor Arnold Murray, and the Trinity: Is "One God Three Offices the Trinity?" And why it Is not.

(March 11, 2015)  When I first wrote this message, I also misunderstood the Trinity doctrine.  Specifically, when the Trinity doctrine says that the Father, Son, and Spirit are eternally co-equal.  I thought that statement neglected the ways in which the Son was said to be subject to the Father and other differences which arise due to their distinctiveness and the incarnation.  When I wrote this, it was not my intention to deny that the Father, Son, and Spirit are equal in essence and divinity.  I have always believed that Jesus Christ is fully divine, equally divine as the Father and Spirit.  (For more on this subject see my article on the Nature of God. )  But the Son of God is not one and the same as the Father either, and, in that sense, the Son does not equal the Father, they are distinct persons which may become distinctly incarnate and say, "My father is greater than I."  To say that the Father and Son are equal, is not to say that they are one and the same. In light of this, I have added a Number of Remarks to this conversation.

The Question/Comment:

----- Original Message -----
From: Name and Address Withheld
To: Paul Stringini
Sent: Thursday, October 18, 2007 12:48 PM
Subject: trinity

There is much I would like to discuss with you when I have more time.
The simple explanation for the Trinity is this:
1 + 1+1= 3         correct? yes
But that is the wrong equation friend.
1 x 1 x 1 = ONE                        
I love this explanation- when I came across it, a light went on in my head!
Blessings, xxxxx

My Response:

----- Original Message -----
From: Paul Stringini
To: Name Withheld
Sent: Friday, October 19, 2007 2:44 AM
Subject: Re: trinity
Hi Name Withheld,
Thank you for writing.  I will have to look forward to that further discussion, when you have the time.
In the meantime: The scriptures are not about mathematics. Even so, the Mathematics you are passing along to me are incorrect.
You are not multiplying three identical things, and for that kind of mathematics to work, they all have to be identically one. 
1 son x 1 son x 1 son = 1 son
but whether the following is correct:
1 Father x 1 Son x 1 Spirit = 1 God
depends entirely on the values of each being absolutely equal (and even that is questionable), but it was Jesus who said, "for my Father is greater than I." (Jn 14:28)   (Remark: I'm speaking Hypothetically in the context of his mathematical analogy, but when I refer to "absolutely equal" I am referring to the idea that the Father and Son are actually one and the same, not merely to the idea that they are of equal divinity and essence, but to the idea that the distinctions between them are merely illusions and that the Father is equal to the son, the same way that 5 = 5, i.e. that they are absolutely one and the same.  I resist that position, because I believe that is incorrect and that is also what Arnold Murray believed, even if he routinely avoided saying so. I misunderstood the Trinitarian statement regarding the Father, Son, and Spirit being eternally co-equal)
And (assuming the value of Jesus and the Spirit are equal) therefore:
(>1) x 1 x 1  = (>1)   
So, if we multiply, God is greater than One.  And the math just does not add up (or multiply). 

(Remark:This is a good example of why analogies are not very desirable.  In trying to apply another person's analogy, I realize now that it sounds like I am saying that Jesus is less God than the Father, but I'm not.  The analogy is not good, and I should not have entertained it.  Over simplified analogies are pitfalls which we should avoid in favor of clear explanations based on the teachings of scripture.)
The equation could also be expressed thus:
1 Father(>1 Son)  x 1 Spirit x 1 Son = >1
In any case, your equation does not even properly convey a proper understanding of the trinity, this is the trinity:
1 Father and 1 Son and 1 Spirit = (One) God in Three Persons, Blessed Trinity
THAT is the trinity doctrine, and I reject it. No arithmetic required.

(I would now say that I'm indistinguishable from a Trinitarian, except for the fact that I do not really want to be called a Trinitarian.  I still dislike the way in which the doctrine is often formulated in an over-simplified manner and the fact that it is so widely misunderstood.  The basic formulation I made just above, is way over-simplifying the Trinity, and I do dislike having done  that, because it is not really fair to those who teach the Trinity to explain it the way that I did.  It is more complicated than that, and Trinitarians generally take into account many of the objections I had to their teaching.  I would rather leave defending the Trinity doctrine to those who feel that calling.  I'm thankful to God for those who showed me my misunderstanding of the Trinity teaching and will continue to communicate my understanding of God in my own way.)

But the fact is that though Jesus is God; he is not "equal to" the father.
Jesus = the Father  - No, wrong.

(Remark: I meant this in the sense of 5=5, in other words in the sense that they are not "one and the same." The Son is not the Father.  He has a separate identity )
The Father > Jesus   - The Lord himself said so, "for my Father is greater than I." (Jn 14:28) 
THIS POINT ALONE VOIDS THE TRINITY DOCTRINE - Which Claims that all three are "Eternally Co-Equal" .

(Remark:I misunderstood the sense in which Trinitarians say that the Father and Son are eternally co-equal.  I thought that statement made the Trinity self-contradictory in that the trinity considers Father and Son to be distinct "persons." (so how can they equal one another?)  And I will say that I still think the statement is problematic in that it requires some addition explanation beyond what the surface may be mistakenly supposed to be saying that: "father = son")
It is only by denying the words of our Lord and savior that the seducers are able to maintain their traditions.  Has it not been always so?  Does not the Word warn us?
Take instruction from the Apostles and prophets of the Lord, not on the successors and disciples of a bunch of powerful men voting on doctrine 400 years after Jesus, who were meeting at the request of an emperor who wanted to "unify the Church."   The scriptures and the Spirit are sufficient to describe the nature of God.  I don't need scribes and other pretenders doing it for me.

(Remark: Well I certainly still agree with the (general) essence of this sentiment, but when God sends a brother with wise words, we should all be ready to listen and search the scriptures, and our hearts and consciences. )
Allow me to put you in remembrance of the words of the Apostle Paul:
Acts 20:17 And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.
18 And when they were come to him, he said unto them,  ...(just for context)... 28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
The men who they call "early church fathers"  I trust none of them, they were the people the Apostle Paul was warning us about.  Not only that, I don't need them, I have the Holy Ghost and I have the scriptures, I have Paul!  If one fails to understand that the doctrine of the trinity is found wanting when the light of scripture is shed upon it, then they simply have never shined that light on it.  

(Remark: I still do not put my trust in the writings of the successors of the Apostles, but when a Trinitarian brother took the time to more fully explain to me what they mean by "eternally co-equal"  I was willing to listen.  I do not consider my position to be substantively any different from that of a Trinitarian.)
I used to accept the doctrine, but now I see what it is, it is a cornerstone of Apostasy.  The Roman Catholic prostitute church and all her slut daughters hold it dear, because they despise the teachings of the scriptures and love the doctrines and commandments of men, of their fathers, who shed the blood of prophets and saints.

(Remark:Very Rough Stuff, I would retract the first sentence having learned of what they believe more perfectly.  The instruction of my youth was not very good, I "believed" the trinity, but I cannot say I ever understood what it all meant.  That is still, in my view, one of the problems with boiling the nature of God down to "The Trinity"  I still resist that sort of super-simplification.  Men ought to understand what they believe.  Otherwise they are just believing empty words.)

Consider this:
John 17:22 "And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:"
As Jesus is One with the Father, he intends that we also should be One, in just the same way. "even as we are one"  so is the new math going to look like this?
1x1x1x1x1x1 (times alot more ones) = 1 ?
(Remark:This was an hypothetical I was trying to demonstrate that the nature of God should not be carelessly over-simplified or presumed to fit some earthly analogy.). 

"even as we are one"  That is what the Lord said. Period.  If Jesus is One with the Father, in a "Trinity" type arrangement, as they say, "co-equal" with God.  Then what does that mean in regards to all for whom Jesus was asking this, "that they may be one," Is the Trinity (or as I call it "Team God") going to expand? Take on new membership?
The trinity should be rejected, it does not fit in the framework of Christian doctrine which is contained in the scriptures. Period.  And I would replace it with nothing, nothing except more bible study for lazy Christians.

(Remark:I still think there are problems with the Trinity, but I now understand better how Trinitarians fit the Trinity into the framework of Christian doctrine.  I still choose rather to replace it with nothing but a more direct understanding of the scriptures.  ...But I retract my harsh statements against Trinitarians. The teaching is not any sort of Apostasy, even if apostates abuse it.  I am not going to remark much more. I will allow these remarks to hopefully inform your understanding of whatever I say below.)

Know the scriptures and you will know God.
Paul Stringini

Emailer's Reply:

----- Original Message -----
From: xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Sent: Friday, October 19, 2007 8:02 AM
Subject: Re: trinity
Very interesting- I will get back to you on all you said- I do disagree though that Scripture has nothing to do with mathematics- and that is not because of anything Pastor Murray says. It is from the book "Biblical Mathematics" by Bullinger. You should order it- you don't have to get it from the chapel- it is totally mind boggling-
By the way I moved to xxxxxxxx in 19xx to go to the chapel. I'll tell you more about that later- for now I will just say I was disillusioned by some aspects of it- 2 weeks ago I moved to xxxxxxxxx. I no longer attend the chapel- I also started studying with them in 1993 when I lived in Florida. Through the years I have caught some contradictions in the teachings, but this I know- I have to thank Pastor Murray for his teachings or I would never be where  I am now spiritually- but I have to remember he is just a man- knowing him personally, I can say with confidence that he absolutely would NOT deliberately lead anyone astray- he believes what he teaches including the fact that judgement begins in the pulpit.
Have to go for now- looking forward to some powerful discussions- not debates- we are not to get into vain babblings- and what would satan love more than 2 Christians arguing over the Word?
 By the way, how would you explain Isaiah 9:12 , Matthew 1:23 ,(Emmanuel- Greek dictionary word 1694) meaning God with us, and John 1:1?  It seems to me that these , along with many other Scriptures where the fact is stated so clearly- well, if I didn't believe God is who He said He is, I am calling Him a liar. As the great I AM, can He not take on whatever role He wants- I know His thoughts are far above mine and some things i have to believe by faith- Paul says right now we look in a mirror darkly, but you and I both know that one day soon we will know the full truth- in the meantime, I won't put Father into some sort of box and try to explain Him away.
Blessings, Jody
PS_ do you have a Companion Bible?

My Reply:

----- Original Message -----
To: xxxxxxxxxxxx
Sent: Saturday, October 20, 2007 1:52 AM
Subject: Re: trinity
Interesting, I'm surprised that you are a Trinitarian since you chose to live in Gravette, but on the other hand, Dr. Murray has been trying to hide his non-Trinitarian views since the early 90's (maybe earlier)  "One God Three Offices" is not the doctrine of the Trinity, which is more like "One Office (God) - Three Guys"
I've read biblical mathematics, I've read every book in the SC Library (just about) What I'm saying is that mathematics do not dictate doctrine, it is the reverse.  You didn't even say anything about the substance of what I said, something that will discourage me from having a prolonged discussion with you. 
Of course Murray is not intentionally leading astray, If he knew what he was doing, then he wouldn't do it.  According to the word of God "there must needs be false prophets among you" 
Try this one:
Eze14:9 And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the LORD have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel. 10 And they shall bear the punishment of their iniquity: the punishment of the prophet shall be even as the punishment of him that seeketh unto him;
The reason Dr. Murray is a false prophet is because God has appointed him to be so.
"what would Satan love more than 2 Christians arguing over the Word?"
If we never even speak of the disagreement...does that mean that the argument does not exist?  If Satan loves us arguing all we have to do to please him is keep silent over our disagreement
"Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind."
If we don't have the same mind then we are already out of accord.
I'll tell you what Satan loves more, two "Christians" agreeing to disagree.  He loves The Righteous standing in silence as falsehood is broadcast all over this nation and the world.
"Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows."
I hate false doctrine, because God hates it.
"By the way, how would you explain Isaiah 9:12 , Matthew 1:23"
Well Isa 9:12 doesn't make sense; you must mean 9:6
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."
Do you think that because I deny the trinity that I deny the deity of Christ?  You assume wrong.  You ought to first Explain how this verse establishes the fullness of the doctrine of the Trinity.
Matthew 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
Again, did you really think I denied the scriptures?  One of the first things one ought to do when trying to discuss with someone is know what the other person believes.  The other is; know what you believe before even that.
You say you believe in the Trinity, but all you are doing is quoting verses at me which establish the divinity of Christ; if you had read my first response you would know that this course of persuasion was like force feeding a child its favorite sweet. 
"won't put Father into some sort of box and try to explain Him away."
Uhhh...That is exactly what the Trinity doctrine does, that is exactly what Dr Murray does. That is exactly what I DON'T DO.

(Remark: I have been guilty of doing just that, but God has been gracious to me in showing me my hypocrisy, for which I am thankful)
Have you ever studied The Trinity?  I have, and I think that is the biggest difference between us right now.  I don't think you really have understand what the Trinity is, it is an Historical doctrine, it is not whatever xxxnamexxx xxxxwitheldxxxx wants it to be, it is not whatever Dr. Murray wants it to be.  Dr. Murray uses the word "Trinity" because ignorant people who think they are Christians get scared when you start denying the Trinity,  but his doctrine is NOT Trinitarian. PERIOD.   "One God Three Offices" is not the doctrine of the Trinity, which is more like "One Office (God) - Three Guys"  Dr. Murray gets off with teaching a non-Trinitarian Trinity because most folks are just ignorant of what the doctrine of the Trinity is. 
I still use a companion bible.
Paul Stringini

Emailer's Reply:

----- Original Message -----
From: xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Sent: Saturday, October 20, 2007 2:05 PM
Subject: Re: trinity
Paul- if Jesus is God (which you stated), how can He not be equal with Himself? Please don't talk down to me though- I am not a baby Christian and I, like you, very much want to understand. I'm glad the Lord knows our hearts! some of what you wrote the first time is so deep (the math part), I haven't had the time to sort it all out. I have always questioned whether A. Murray really believed in the Trinity as he often seemed to skirt around that question. But if it was not God who took on flesh and shed His own blood for us- what is the point of any of it??
And i didn't mean it was wrong to discuss and try to understand the Word- not at all. But haven't you ever met someone who will argue just for the sake of arguing?
I appreciate your talking with me- as a disabled 58 year old single mom with a 16 year old son, I don't have much time to get online. I'm surely not trying to avoid the things you said- some things just take much thought and the Holy spirit to understand. "On my own I can do nothing"........  there were a few things I mentioned that you didn't explain to me- like the verse in Isaiah "a son shall be born etc. and His name shall be the Mighty God"-
or even John 1:1- " the word was with God and the Word was God"- how are we to explain these things? So much to learn- it seems the further along I get the more I realize how little I know!
What do you feel about the 3 world ages? And what do you think happened in the garden? Genesis 6 seems to be very clear that angelic beings could mate with women.
Thanks for your patience and taking time to write.
Again I say,
Blesings, Jody

My Reply:

----- Original Message -----
To: xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Sent: Sunday, October 21, 2007 12:44 AM
Subject: Re: trinity

I'm sorry if I've been talking down to you, but I'm not at all clear on whether you believe the traditional doctrine of the Trinity,  The statements you made in your last email make me believe that you do not believe in the trinity.  You seem to be suggesting that Jesus and the Father are one-and-the-same, that is definitely a non-Trinitarian view.
 "But if it was not God who took on flesh and shed His own blood for us"
It was God, and this is where I'm getting frustrated with you, you seem to be suggesting that I do not believe that Jesus is God.  What I think you are doing is assuming that because I do not accept the Trinitarian doctrine that I reject every aspect of it.  Some people (Like Murray) who teach that the Father is just "an office" of the Godhead teach that the father sent himself. But the scriptures are clear The Father Sent His Son, not himself, when Jesus prayed, he was praying to an actual "Father in Heaven"  This is the Trinitarian view and it also happens to be my view.  If you don't agree then you are definitely not a believer in the Trinity.  My view, and the Trinitarian view see the Father and Son as distinct persons, not just distinctions of role.  If you write again would you please clarify to me, are you saying that Jesus and the Father are one-and-the-same??
Isa 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
My view:
"His name shall be called" does not mean that he is one-and-the-same (and I repeat, if your view is that the Father and Jesus are one-and-the-same, then you have in fact denied the Trinity in your heart). 
This is what Jesus said about His role as "Father," and I understand the words of the prophet in light of what we are taught by the Lord.
John 14:8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us.
9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?
Pastor Murray emphasizes Jesus identification as the Father,  I would emphasize that the only God that anyone will ever see appear as a man is the Son of God Jesus Christ (and always has been)  There is no other "old guy" "Fatherly figure" of God.

John 14:10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.
So, the Father "dwells in" Jesus,  Jesus does not say, "I am the Father" but rather "The Father is in me" (And I in Him)

12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
Jesus also says "I go unto my Father" in reference to his ascension; so the Father exists somewhere other than in Jesus, obviously.  Why this? "he that hath seen me hath seen the Father"
1John 4:12 No man hath seen God at any time.
God is Invisible the Father is invisible.
Jesus, (Col 1:15) "is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:"
God is in visible, the Son of God "came forth from God" ...I like to say this, "As words proceed out of the mouth so the Son came out from God" that is why he is called "the word" and "the son" because he is after the Father.
Heb 1:2 whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

4 Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
What Jesus has, he received from God, as from a Father to a Son.
5 For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee?
The son was Begotten, not just through Mary, but before anything else was made.
5 And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?
6 And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.

7 And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.
8 But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.
God says to Jesus, "Thy throne, O God."  That is profound, Jesus is God, by inheritance, as from a Father to a Son.  But they are not one-and-the-same; not even for a Trinitarian.
Hope that helps,
Paul Stringini

An Additional Reply:

----- Original Message -----
To: xxxxxxxxxxxx
Sent: Monday, October 22, 2007 1:21 PM
Subject: 1+1=2
I wanted to add one more thing for you to consider. I wanted to add this before you got a chance to reply.
My wife, Katie, pointed this out to me.
Sometimes, with God, it is addition, as in: 1+1=2
John 8:17 It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.
18 I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.
That's Two. In Jesus own words.
Interesting, huh?  And I'm not denying that "I and my Father are One"  But, like you said, you can't put God in a box, can you...


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