I plan to begin a series of articles on the topic of the doctrine of the Trinity. They are based on notes adapted from a presentation I made at the London (Ontario) Seventh-day Adventist church on December 6, 2014.
As a young person I attended an Adventist church; it was where I first learned about the Bible.
Modern Seventh-day Adventists generally accept the trinity, however, the doctrine was rejected among the early Adventists in the mid-1800s. Those who rejected it included James White, Uriah Smith, J.H. Waggoner, and Joseph Bates. Some feel Ellen White (the prophetess of Seventh-day Adventism) should be included as well, at least in her earlier years, where there seems to be an Arian slant to her treatment of the relationships between the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Satan, and angels/demons.
As a young person this caused a lot of confusion for me, as I considered these people to be my spiritual forebears. Combined with the misrepresentation of the orthodox trinitarian doctrine that I was taught, I adopted a non-trinitarian position. (I should add that I always held that Jesus was divine with the Father from the beginning as per John 1:1, though not without some confusion.) Looking back, I realize I lacked teachers and environment to equip me to properly approach this issue.
A number of my close friends and family still still consider the trinitarian position to be an incorrect and erroneous view of God. Some of these are members of the Seventh-day Adventist church. I and my family are active members of a baptist church.
I am personally acquainted with leaders and adherents of historic Adventist anti-trinitarianism from around the world. My experiences there, combined with a knowledge of Christian history, have convinced me that if we attempt to undermine the deity of the Son of God, and especially if that becomes our primary passion, we will create a platform from where a solid spiritual structure can not be successfully built. What we do with Christ will affect every part of our lives, our fellowship with God, and our relationships to each other in our families and churches.
I have observed as those who have rejected the trinity have been open to embrace Judaism, had their faith in the inspiration of the New Testament weakened, or misunderstand the atoning work of Christ. An American pioneer in this movement, who I know well, has rejected Christ entirely, believing that Christianity is neo-paganism.
We need solid teaching in our churches so that we are able to kindly but clearly answer objections and provide a cohesive view of biblical doctrine, with the aim of proclaiming the truth of the beauty of the Person of Jesus and salvation through him alone to the people around us.
Part one coming soon …