Newton on the Trinity Doctrine
After an intense study of the Bible, Isaac Newton concluded that the Trinitarian doctrine was wrong. “The doctrine of the Trinity means that there is one God who eternally exists as three distinct Persons — the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Stated differently, God is one in essence and three in person. These definitions express three crucial truths: (1) the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct Persons, (2) each Person is fully God, (3) there is only one God.” Newton summarizes his argument in “Twelve Articles on God and Christ.”
1. 1 Timothy 2:5: “For there is one God, one mediator also between God and men, himself man, Christ Jesus,” and 1 Corinthians 8:6: “yet to us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we unto him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we through him.” From these verses, Newton concludes that there is only one God, who is the Father, and not a triune God, i.e., Jesus Christ was not God Himself, God absolute. [According to Colossians 1:15, Christ is the image of God.] The man Jesus Christ is the mediator between God and man. Moreover, God is everliving, omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. Jesus Christ is not. [See Matthew 24:36 for Christ’s lack of omniscience, which is discussed below. Also, his lack of omnipresence is discussed below.]
2. Colossians 1:15: “who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation”; 1 Timothy 1:17: “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”; and 1 Timothy 6:16: “who only hath immortality, dwelling in light unapproachable; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power eternal. Amen.” From these verses, Newton concludes that no human has ever seen God as He is invisible. Only God is immortal and eternal. Jesus was visible and died [or did only part of him die?]. [Furthermore, being “the firstborn of all creation” also conflict with the Trinity Doctrine because being the firstborn, Christ is not eternal.]
3. John 5:26: “For as the Father hath life in himself, even so gave he to the Son also to have life in himself:”. From this verse, Newton concluded that only the Father, God, has life in Himself, and He gave the Son life in himself. This implies that God the Father existed before the Son. Thus, the Son is not eternal.
4. Matthew 24:36: “But of that day and hour knoweth no one, not even the angels of heaven, neither the Son, but the Father only.”; Mark 13:32: “But of that day or that hour knoweth no one, not even the angels in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.” John 5:19-20: “Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father doing: for what things soever he doeth, these the Son also doeth in like manner. For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth him all things that himself doeth: and greater works than these will he show him, that ye may marvel.” Revelation 1:1: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show unto his servants, even the things which must shortly come to pass: and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John”; Revelation 5:3: “And no one in the heaven, or on the earth, or under the earth, was able to open the book, or to look thereon.”; Revelation 19:10: “And I fell down before his feet to worship him. And he saith unto me, See thou do it not: I am a fellow-servant with thee and with thy brethren that hold the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”; and Revelation 19:13: “And he is arrayed in a garment sprinkled with blood: and his name is called The Word of God.” From these verses, Newton concludes that only the Father is omniscient; the Son lacks this divine essence (does not know the day or hour). However, the Father communicates the knowledge of the future to His Son Jesus Christ, as only he is worthy of that knowledge. Thus, “Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy and Jesus is the Word or Prophet of God.”
5. God the Father is immovable and fills all space. All other beings, including the Son, can move from one space to another. [Acts 1:9-11 describes the resurrected Christ moving from earth to heaven with a promise that he will return from heaven to earth in the future. Thus, being able to move from one place to another, Jesus Christ cannot be omnipresent. Moreover, the “Jesus in his humanity” argument the Trinitarians like to use to explain away Jesus’ lack of knowledge and other divine traits cannot be used here because he had already shed his human shell. God’s omnipresence is discussed further below.]
6. Moreover, all worship due to God the Father before the advent of Christ is still due to him. Christ does not and did not come to diminish the worship of his Father.
7. Therefore, prayers should be directed to the Father in the name of the Son.
8. 1 Timothy 6:8: “but having food and covering we shall be therewith content.” From this verse, Newton concludes that Christians should thank the Father alone for their creation and for providing them with food, raiment, and other blessings. All prayers of thanks or requests should be in the name of Christ.
9. Moreover, Christian should not pray to Christ. Christ will intercede if Christians pray to the Father.
10. Ephesians 5:20: “giving thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.” From this verse, Newton concludes that all that is necessary for salvation is to direct prayers to the Father in the name of Christ. Praying to any other is not necessary.
11. Calling angels and kings god does not violate the first commandment. [See John 10:34, Exodus 21:26, Deuteronomy 1:17, Psalms 58:1.] However, giving worship due God to angels, kings, or others does violate it.
12. 1 Corinthians 8:6: “yet to us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we unto him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we through him.”; Matthew 5:35: “nor by the earth, for it is the footstool of his feet; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.”; John 1:29 “On the morrow he seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold, the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world!”; John 1:36: “and he looked upon Jesus as he walked, and saith, Behold, the Lamb of God!”; and Revelation 5:9-10: “And they sing a new song, saying, Worthy art thou to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and didst purchase unto God with thy blood men of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation, and madest them to be unto our God a kingdom and priests; and they reign upon the earth.” From these verses, Newton concludes that there is but one God, who is the Father. Christians “are to worship the Father alone God Almighty and Jesus alone as the Lord the Messiah the great King the Lamb of God who was slain and hath redeemed us with his blood and made us kings and Priests.”
Newton summarized his belief as follows:
And we are to believe in one God, the father, almighty in dominion, the maker of heaven & earth & of all things therein; & in one Lord Jesus Christ the son of God, who was born of a Virgin, &; sacrificed for us on the cross, &; the third day rose again from the dead, & ascended into heaven, & sitteth on the right hand of God in a mystical sense, being next unto him in honour & power.Moreover, Newton believed “that there is one everliving omnipresent omnipotent (invisible) God the creator of heaven & earth & (of), all things therein . . . [and] therefore to acknowledge . . . one God infinite eternal omnipresent, omniscient & omnipotent (. . . the creator of all things most wise, most just, most good most holy;) & to have no other Gods but him.”
Newton also notes that in several places Christ confesses his dependence on the will of the Father. He also confesses that he himself is less than the Father and the Father is greater than he and calls the Father his God. [According to John 5:19, 30; 10: 29; 14:28 and 1 Corinthians 11:3; 15:28, the Son is subordinate to the Father. In John 14: 28, Jesus even admits that the Father is greater than he is: “for the Father is greater than I.” Thus, this conflicts with the Trinity Doctrine that the Father and Son are equal. It also leads to the question if the Father is the God of the Son, then who is the God of the Father? Also, how can God have a God?] Moreover, the Son confesses that only the Father has knowledge of all future events (Matthew 24:36).
Furthermore, Newton contends that “word” (“logos”) as used in Chapter 1 of John should be understood in its ordinary, everyday use and not in the mystical way Trinitarians explain it. John was trying to avoid Jesus being seen as a mere man or as the supreme God. John attempted to avoid these extremes by referring to him as the “word.” He intended that “word” be understood in its ordinary, everyday use. When John wrote, “word” was used in the sense of the Platonists [that which is spoken] when applied to intelligent beings.
Moreover, Newton does not believe that Jesus had a human soul as such. He finds no evidence or mention in the Scriptures of him having a human soul. He was the word incarnated, and by the word itself, he was made flesh and took on himself the form of a servant.
Also, only the Father is God almighty. However, this does not limit the power of the Son, who does whatever he sees the Father doing. Nonetheless, all power is originally in the Father, and the Son has no power in himself; he derives his power from the Father, for the Son professes that he can do nothing of himself (John 5:19). [The Son’s admission that he is inferior to the Father conflicts with the Trinity Doctrine of three coequals.]
Moreover, in all things the Son submits his will to the will of the Father. Such submission argues against the Trinity Doctrine of the Son being equal to the Father. [How could and why would an equal submit to an equal?]
The union between the Son and the Father, Newton understands to be like that of the saints with one another. It is in agreement of will and counsel. It is a unity of purpose.
Newton believes that “God is one not only in essence (as in Trinitarian Theology) but also in person.” God is the Father; the Father is God. The two words are synonymous.
Newton declares that there is only one God, who is the God of the Patriarchs and the Christians. He is the father who has life in Himself and who has given the Son to have life in himself. Moreover, the Father is the author of life to all intelligent beings, the Almighty (universal monarch, that is, the supreme and universal governor of the Universe), the maker of heaven and earth and of all things therein visible and invisible.
As for Christ, Newton declares that he is Lord, who has received life from the Father and who was slain for us, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven. To express his being next to the father in dignity and dominion, he sits at the right hand of God the Father. Christ will come again to judge and reign over those who remain alive in the flesh and the dead whom he will raise again to life and reward according to their works at his coming. He will establish his kingdom, for he must reign till he had put all things under his feet, the last of which is death.
“For Newton, the unity Christ shared with the Father was moral rather than essential.” Nevertheless, although Christ is not very God in the Nicene sense, “Christ is divine in origin (literally the Son of God) and that he pre-existed his birth by Mary.”
Newton believes that the Father alone is the invisible God of the Bible. God is the first cause and consequently eternal and omnipresent. Thus, He is always invisible, present at all times and in all places, and knows everything that everyone does, says, or thinks. Being everywhere at once, He does not move from place to place. He is void of external shape or bounds, intangible, and invisible, whom no human has ever seen. “Because God is by nature invisible, Trinitarian theologians were wrong to discuss God’s substance.”
Unlike God, who is always invisible, Christ was visible and will be visible again. Newton writes, “The son can do nothing of himself but what he seeth the father do John 5.19. The father judgeth no man [visibly] but hath committed all judgment unto the son, that all men should honour the [visible] Son even as they honour the [invisible] father, John 5:22,23.” Thus, he distinguishes between the invisible Father and the visible Son. [If the Father and Son are of the same substance as the Trinity Doctrine claims, then no such distinction should exist.]
According to John 5:26 (“For as the Father hath life in himself, even so gave he to the Son also to have life in himself:”), the Father has life in Himself, but the Son does not; he gets his life from the Father. Thus, the Son is subordinate to the Father. Newton concludes that the God of the Patriarchs and the Christians is the Father who has life in Himself, and He has given to the Son to have life in himself.
Being omnipresent, God is everywhere at once throughout space and time. About space, Newton writes:
Absolute space, of its own nature without reference to anything external, always remains homogeneous and immovable. Relative space is any movable measure or dimension of this absolute space; such a measure or dimension is determined by our senses from the situation of the space with respect to bodies and is popularly used for immovable space, as in the case of space under the earth or in the air or in the heavens, where the dimension is determined from the situation of the space with respect to the earth.Thus, God, being immovable, is coextensive with immovable absolute space. “Just as relative space is measured against the benchmark of absolute space, so all changing creation (of which Christ is a part) is distinguished from the immutable God.” [Being omnipresent, God is everywhere simultaneously. He surrounds every atom and fills all voids between and in every atom. Moreover, he fills all the electrons, protons, and all other parts of every atom.] Therefore, God is absolute and Christ is relative. [This is another conflict with the Trinity Doctrine.]
Newton holds that Christ should not be worshiped as God. Christ should be worshiped, but not the point of distracting from the proper worship due God the Father Almighty; to do so violates the First Commandment (1 Corinthians 8:5-6). Christ should be worshiped, not as God Almighty, but as a king of kings and lord of lords, who has redeemed his elect with his blood. Thus, God is to be worshiped as God and Christ as Lord.
Newton notes that the term “God” is occasionally applied to angels and Israelite kings in the Bible as an honorific title. However, bearing the title God does not grant them the privilege of receiving the worship due to God alone. According to Newton, the term “God” is relative in nature. It obtains its meaning not from essence, as in the Trinitarian Doctrine, but from dominion. He explains:
[God] rules all things, not as the world soul but as the lord of all. And because of his dominion he is called Lord God Pantokrator [i.e., Almighty]. For “god” is a relative word and has reference to servants, and godhood is the lordship of God, not over his own body as is supposed by those for whom God is the world soul, but over servants. . . . And in this sense princes are called gods, Psalms 82.6 and John 10.35. And Moses is called a god of his brother Aaron and a god of king Pharaoh (Exod. 4.16 and 7.1). And in the same sense the souls of dead princes were formerly called gods by the heathen, but wrongly because of their lack of dominion.1 Corinthians 8:6 (“yet to us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we unto him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we through him.”) distinguishes a separation not only between Father and Son but also between God and Christ.
In summary, Newton believed there is one God the Father, who is everliving, omnipresent, omniscient, and almighty and who is the maker of heaven and earth, and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus. The Father is the invisible God, whom no eye has seen or can see; all other beings are visible. The Father has life in Himself and has given the Son to have life in himself. Moreover, the Father is omniscient and has all knowledge of future things originally in His own breast. He communicates knowledge of future things to Jesus Christ, for none in heaven or earth or under the earth is worthy to receive knowledge of future things immediately from the Father except the Lamb. Therefore, the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy, and Jesus is the Word or Prophet of God. Furthermore, the Father is immovable, and no place can become emptier or fuller of Him than it is by the eternal necessity of nature. Prayers are most prevalent when directed to the Father in the name of the Son, and Christians are to give thanks to Father alone. Moreover, whatever Christians are to thank God for or to desire that He would give them, they should ask of Him immediately in the name of Christ. Also, Christians need not pray to Christ to intercede for them; if they pray to the Father correctly, Christ will intercede. Furthermore, it is not necessary for salvation for Christians to direct their prayers to any other than the Father in the name of the Son. For the Christian, there is but one God the Father of whom are all things and one Lord Jesus Christ by whom are all things (1 Corinthians 8:6). Christians are to worship the Father alone as God Almighty and Jesus alone as the Lord, the Messiah, the King, and the Lamb of God (1 Corinthians 8:6, Ephesians 4:5-6, Matthew 5:35 and John 1:29,36). Jesus is the Lamb who was slain and has redeemed Christians with his blood and made them kings and priests.
[For more details on the above discussion, see Endnote 4.]
1. Matt Perman, “What Is the Doctrine of the Trinity?”, January 23, 2006, http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/what-is-the-doctrine-of-the-trinity, downloaded July 29, 2017.
2. “Isaac Newton’s Twelve Articles on God and Christ c. 1710s-1720s,” Keynes Ms 8, King’s College, Cambridge, https://newtonprojectca.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/english-kms8-with-verses.pdf, downloaded July 29, 2017.
3. Quotes from the Bible are from the American Standard Version, which some theologians consider the best translation of the New Testament.
4. Stephen D. Snobelen, “Commentary on Isaac Newton’s Twelve Articles on God and Christ,” https://newtonprojectca.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/english-kms8-commentary.pdf, downloaded July 29, 2017.
Copyright © 2017 by Thomas Coley Allen.
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