Gospel Guidebook: Getting and Keeping It Right  한국어    日本語

One God in Theory, Three Gods in Practice

Trinitarians often say it is a straw man fallacy to say that they worship three gods. I agree that it is somewhat of a straw man, but not entirely. When I was a Trinitarian, I often found myself worshiping two gods, as it were, the Father and the Son, and sometimes three gods if I included the Holy Spirit. I sometimes felt this was strange because I knew God was one, and yet, I was worshiping three. In theory, I knew there was one God, but in practice, I was living as if there were three gods. I guess Trinitarian apologists would just say that I was misunderstanding and misrepresenting the Trinity. That may be true, but this "one God in theory, three gods in practice" phenomenon is not a figment of my imagination. For example, I once read a portion of A. W. Tozer's book The Pursuit of God where he speaks highly of Frederick Faber's style of worship. On page 40, he says, "[Faber's] love for God extended to the three Persons of the Godhead equally, yet he seemed to feel for each One a special kind of love reserved for Him alone." When I was a Trinitarian, I remember reading this and feeling something wasn't right about Faber's "each One" style of worship. It seems like Faber was also experiencing the "one God in theory, three gods in practice" phenomenon, and A. W. Tozer was whole-heartedly applauding it.

Many years later while reading the Gospel of Luke, I stopped to think deeply about Luke 1:35. "And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." If the Trinity were true, I would have expected the "eternal God the Son" to have come upon Mary, but we don't find that. Rather, it says that it was the Holy Spirit of the Highest (presumably the Father, in light of verse 32) who came upon her, and because of this, the "Son of God" had his beginning (notice the future tense). This got me thinking. What if God, the only true God (John 17:3) who is numerically one (Deuteronomy 6:4), manifested Himself as the Son of God (1 Timothy 3:16), literally becoming the visible image of the one true invisible God (Colossians 1:15)? Shortly after this realization, I pursued further study and became a Oneness believer.