If you consider yourself a non-Trinitarian believer in Jesus, do I have a challenge for you!

With the permission and support of Michael Patton, I am proposing a formal debate on this blog on the subject of the doctrine of the Trinity, to be conducted over a six-week period (beginning sometime after the New Year; scheduling is flexible). I am looking for one individual to argue for a position contrary to the Trinitarian position, while I will argue for the Trinitarian view.

Here is how I propose we proceed:

Week #1: My opponent and I would set forth our understanding of the nature of God (his attributes, e.g., omnipotent or not, omnipresent or not, incorporeal or corporeal) to make sure everyone understands what, if any, differences we have on that subject.

Weeks #2 and #3: The two of us would each set forth our understanding of the identity/person of Jesus Christ.

Week #4: The two of us would each set forth our understanding of the identity, status (person or non-person), and/or nature of the Holy Spirit.

Week #5: The two of us would each set forth a case for our position with regard to the Trinity (I would be for it, my opponent against it).

Week #6: Each of us will post one closing statement, with those blog entries open for questions from anyone.

At each stage of the debate, each of us would have an opportunity to rebut the other’s arguments by commenting on each other’s blog entries, and each of us would be free to give a closing response defending our position and/or criticism of the other’s view. To prevent either debater from overwhelming the other with reams of material cut and pasted into the debate, we will each agree to keep our total word count per week (including rebuttals, etc.) to no more than 10,000 words. Note that each stage would be given one week except for the second stage, which will be given two weeks. The debaters may choose to continue Q&A with others beyond the sixth week at their discretion, but the formal debate will be over at the end of the sixth week.

During the sixth week, anyone who properly registers to leave comments will be able to ask both of us any questions pertaining to these issues relating to the Trinity. These questions are to be posted in response to our closing statements. The 10,000-word limit will not apply to the debaters’ responses to these questions.

After the formal debate is concluded, a poll will be posted on the blog asking four questions:

1. Setting aside your own opinion of the doctrine of the Trinity, how well did Rob Bowman, the Trinitarian, do in supporting his position?

A. Excellent defense of this viewpoint—could not have been much better

B. Good defense—reasonably well done defense

C. Passable effort—not bad, but not particularly good

D. Poor effort—did not represent this viewpoint adequately

F. Terrible defense—a disastrous embarrassment to this viewpoint

2. Setting aside your own opinion of the doctrine of the Trinity, how well did < Name to Be Determined >, the non-Trinitarian, do in supporting his position?

A. Excellent defense of this viewpoint—could not have been much better

B. Good defense—reasonably well done defense

C. Passable effort—not bad, but not particularly good

D. Poor effort—did not represent this viewpoint adequately

F. Terrible defense—a disastrous embarrassment to this viewpoint

3. In your judgment, who won the debate? Note: This question is not asking you which person’s viewpoint you think is correct, but whose viewpoint was better defended here.

A. Rob Bowman, the Trinitarian

B. < Name to Be Determined>, the non-Trinitarian

C. It was a draw

4. What is your own view with regard to the doctrine of the Trinity?

A. I am a Trinitarian

B. I am a non-Trinitarian

C. I am undecided

I am willing to debate anyone who agrees with the following terms:

1. The individual must use his or her real name. After all, I am putting myself on the line; I expect my opponent to do so as well.

2. The individual must defend a specific understanding of God, of Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit. That is, the individual must defend a specific theological alternative to the doctrine of the Trinity. It can be anything — Mormonism, the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ doctrine, Oneness Pentecostalism, Biblical/Evangelical Unitarianism, etc. — but it must be a specific, identifiable, existing belief system. No “Lone Ranger” who thinks he alone knows the truth; no “Theological Sniper” who attacks my doctrine but offers no alternative position that can also be evaluated and critiqued. In order to put this doctrinal alternative in context, my opponent must identify the specific religious denomination, sect, group, movement, or whatever, with which he or she associates as a believer. I must and of course will also do the same; I will defend a specific understanding of these matters, namely, the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity common to evangelical Protestants, conservative Catholics, and traditional Orthodox believers. I am an evangelical Protestant, a member of a Baptist church, and will defend the Trinity within that theological context.

3. The individual must agree (as I will) that for the purposes of the debate, everything the Bible says pertaining to God, and specifically pertaining to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is true and authoritative, and that the purpose of the debate is to determine which of our two doctrines is most faithful to the teachings of the biblical authors as a whole. The Bible is stipulated here to be the 66 books of the Protestant canon of Scripture. My opponent and I may cite any published translation of the Bible or refer to the Hebrew and Greek texts; if the translation of a particular passage is disputed for some reason, each of us will be free to offer whatever justification we think best in support of our view. I don’t mind if my opponent gets his or her doctrinal ideas from some other source, but the debate must be focused exclusively on which doctrine best reflects or represents the teachings of the Bible.

4. The individual must agree (as I will) that the debate will focus solely and directly on the theological issues pertaining to the Trinity specified above. Both of us will commit ahead of time to refrain from attacking the other person’s religion, its history (e.g., alleged scandals), its leaders, or its teachings on subjects extraneous to the issues directly impinging on the doctrine of the Trinity. This means, for example, that if you’re a Jehovah’s Witness, I won’t be bringing up the Miracle Wheat scandal, Russell’s courtroom difficulties, Rutherford’s temper, the failed predictions concerning 1914, 1918, 1925, etc.; and likewise, my opponent will not be bringing up Constantine’s lack of baptism, the Crusades, the Inquisitions, Michael Servetus’s execution, etc.

5. The individual must agree (as I will) that at least two weeks prior to the beginning of the debate, he or she will provide in this forum a list of resources, which may include as few as two books and as many as six books, that best represent the viewpoint he or she will defend. The list of resources may also include from one to three websites or web pages defending that viewpoint. Neither of us is expected to agree absolutely with everything in the resources we list; the purpose of the list is to give each other, and those following the debate, some understanding of the general perspective from which we defend our respective viewpoints.

With these stipulations, I am willing to debate anyone. If any of the non-Trinitarians here would like to go find someone to come debate for their side, that would be fine. If more than one non-Trinitarian offers to debate me, we’ll set up a poll and invite non-Trinitarians only to vote for their champion. To nominate yourself or someone else (with that person’s permission), just respond to this post with a comment, identifying yourself or your nominee by name and indicating your agreement to the terms stipulated above.

Some of you already know me, but for those who don’t, I am an evangelical Christian apologist and the author of a dozen books, including Why You Should Believe in the Trinity (Baker, 1989) and Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ (Kregel, 2007), which I co-authored with Ed Komoszewski. I have worked at several well-known apologetics ministries, have taught several elective courses in The Theology Program, and am currently the Director of Research at the Institute for Religious Research.


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C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]

    232 replies to "The Great Trinity Debate Challenge"

    • Nick Norelli

      I can’t wait! I’ve posted a link to this on my blog in hopes of finding you a challenger. I had suggested that perhaps the enigmatic figure known as Servetus the Evangelical might be interested seeing as how he’s set to reveal his true identity in a few days and has recently written a book arguing against the doctrine of the Trinity.

    • Rey Reynoso

      Oh boy, I wonder if there’s going to be any takers. I personally had done a thought test on Theologica by arguing against Trinitarianism (mind you, I’m thoroughly Trinitarian) and I made it easier for myself by not supporting any single option but that there are other options that make sense of the text.

      But it is a forum with single posts and doesn’t have the well thought out representation that you’re suggesting in this opening challenge.

      I hope you find a Sith Lord to duel with; it’d be awesome.

    • C Michael Patton

      Taught courses in The Theology Program! Sweet…this is going to be good.

      *wait, am I signed on as me?

      I seriously hope we can find a good representative from the other side. It would be very beneficial.

      Thanks Rob for all your commitment.

    • William Mayor

      Sir, I was enjoying the idea of a debate with you until you required me to hold to a recognized theological position. But I cannot at this time do so. I am currently trying to get a PhD thesis approved though so that I might have a sound basis from which to launch an alternative viewpoint. Quite briefly put though, I would submit that theology must be consistent with science as far as possible, as well as with history, and I think that traditional theology fails on these points. It is too closely linked to philosophical roots that contradict science, as well as having roots that actively buried some historical facts, at least to my view. I do look forward to the debate though, and hope that a worthy opponent does arise.

    • Patrick Navas


      I’d like to debate you on this subject. Unfortunately, I’m way too busy at present with work and school. I already emailed my friend Dave Barron at scripturaltruths.com to see if he might be interested. He might be a good candidate for this.

      I can debate you in the Summer if the offer still stands then.

      Patrick Navas

    • Jonathan

      Hi Rob,

      May I suggest an additional issue for your debate: “What is first-century Jewish monotheism?”

      If you focus solely on attributes or what is God’s “nature” you may well find that both you and your debating partner are much in agreement. However, by expressly detailing your understanding of what constituted Jewish monotheism in the NT period you’ll be laying bare all of the assumptions upon which both of you are building your later case (e.g., depending on your dialogue partner: variant high-god position; monistic assumptions etc). If the assumptions concerning monotheism are not set out, you’ll both find yourselves arguing past one another. I.e., superficially, the argument might focus on a specific text (e.g., John 1:1; 10:30; 20:28), but the actual basis for the arguments will not properly surface.

      Honestly, I think this additional topic is vital. We only have to consider contemporary scholarship. E.g., think about the differently nuanced views on 1st-C monotheism by comparing Bauckham with Hurtado or Dunn and how those different foundations lead to different christological proposals. I hope you’ll seriously consider this issue, though I know it will add considerably to your workload!

    • Jeff Downs

      “Quite briefly put though, I would submit that theology must be consistent with science as far as possible.”

      What does a statement such as this mean? I can only take away from this, that the scriptures are not your final authority.

    • collards


      A good idea but why the concern for whom won or lost. It isn’t one’s ability to cleverly debate that is important here. It is the presentation of the truth. Everything else is really ego.

      It is not a theological fencing match or another athletic contest. Knowing that the truth was presented and hopefully read is all that should matter.

      And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.
      And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching [was] not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:

      That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. Paul

    • Wilson Hines

      I don’t “get it.”
      How can a person be a non-believer in the Trinity and a believer in Jesus as the Christ, at the same time. I’m befuddled.

    • David Barron

      Dear Rob Bowman,

      Hi I was recommended to come to your site. I am willing to reason this matter out and I would enjoy showing you that the trinity is completely unbiblical as well as the truth of the gospel as it is in the bible.

      I am a historic Seventh Day Adventist and if you go to my website you will find a list of what our pioneers believed. I’ve wrote several articles on the truth about God as well as many apologetics. We are not lone rangers believing one thing or another from one person to another. There are many of us who are completely united on who Gos is, who Christ is and the identity of the Holy Spirit in “unity of the faith and knowledge of the son of God”[Eph 4:13].

      If you are willing to reason this topic out I will be willing to also publish it on my website as well if you are open to that. As far as debate I personally prefer reasoning with humility and willingness to concede if God shows us by the word that we have misunderstood something. For further discussion and if you are open to the challenge, please add me on MSN Messenger. You have my email address.

      2Jn 1:3 Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

    • Andrew DeFord

      Hello Mr Bowman,

      I certainly am interested. However, I have no other qualifications other than a love for God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. I am strictly a layman who has been reading the bible for a long time. I have been a Christadelphian for 11 years. If you are interested in the debate, contact me.
      Love in Christ!

      P.S. I read Putting Jesus in His Place and thought it was a good defense for your side.

    • Patrick Navas

      To Wilson Hines,

      You wrote:

      “How can a person be a non-believer in the Trinity and a believer in Jesus as the Christ, at the same time. I’m befuddled.”

      There are many people, including myself, who do not believe the Trinity is a biblical doctrine, since it was not taught by Jesus and nowhere explicitly taught in Scripture. But we still believe that Jesus is “the Christ,” that is, the one whom God anointed, or in the words of Jesus, “the one whom the Father consecrated and sent forth into the world” (John 10:36).

      That is to say, we (non-trinitarians) believe that the “one God” is “the Father” (not the ‘Trinity’) and that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (not ‘God the Son, the second person of the Trinity’). –1 Cor. 8:6; Matt 16:15-17 1 John 5:1; Compare 1 Tim. 2:5; John 17:3

      Patrick Navas

    • Seth R.

      Since Jehovah’s Witnesses typically don’t go in for online debate, and most people don’t even know what “Oneness Pentecostalism” or “Biblical/Evangelical Unitarianism” even is, I think Bowman is pretty much throwing the gauntlet down for a Mormon to pick up.

      I agree with collards,

      The focus on “who scored the most points” seems pretty juvenile to me. This isn’t going to foster any better understanding of each others’ positions. The way Bowman has framed this – in terms of a schoolyard throw-down – ensures that the participants will be entering the debate primarily concerned with not looking stupid in front of “all these people.” The motivation to actually understand and explore each others’ positions will be minimal at best.

      This just seems like a dog-and-pony show to me.

    • Rob Bowman


      I already know who Servetus the Evangelical is. If he wants to debate, that would be fine by me.


      Both my debate opponent and I will be free to bring up the matter of how NT statements about Jesus cohere with “first-century Jewish monotheism.” I imagine it will come up.


      The poll I propose to have afterward gives everyone a chance to weigh in on how well they thought my presentation and that of my opponent supported our respective viewpoints and which side was better represented. It isn’t about ego.

      David Barron,

      It’s problematic that you would be defending a viewpoint rejected by your own denomination. I’m not saying no absolutely, but I’d prefer a debate opponent whose viewpoint is representative of the religion with which he associates. We’ll see who else steps up to the plate.


      I deliberately did not stipulate any requirements for my debate opponent in regards to education, ministerial status, etc. I appreciate your interest in participating. If we have more than one viable candidate, we’ll let the non-Trinitarians vote for the one they want. Feel free to consider yourself a candidate. And thanks for your gracious comment about my book.

    • Jeff Downs

      Seth, I may agree with you regarding the poll (i.e. having it) but please, it certainly has nothing to do with looking or not looking “stupid.” A lot of public debates (and that is what this would be) have these types of polls.

    • Rob Bowman


      I’d be very surprised if my debate opponent turned out to be a Mormon. I’m not at all targeting them with this challenge or expecting that to be the result.

      The “Biblical/Evangelical Unitarian” movement is stronger and more popular, especially online, than you might think.

      You misconstrue my motives for proposing this debate. I think it will be a wonderful opportunity to shed light on the issues.

    • Rob Bowman


      I have no problem waiting until summer. However, you would need to specify a recognizable, existing religious group with which you are actively affiliated and to commit yourself to a specific theological model. Up to now, you have been unwilling or unable to do so.

    • C Michael Patton

      People, no more comments about the poll. This is not the place to debate it!

    • Andrew DeFord

      Mr Bowman,

      I appreciate you considering me. Have a blessed day!

    • Seth R.

      I don’t know Rob, the whole thing just brings to mind those YouTube clips of you grilling some Catholic or Mormon that are floating around all over the place (I know – certainly without your endorsement). It’s the main association I get from it and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

      I suppose that Mormonism could offer someone up to the task of debating you (I know my limits – I’m NOT that person). Perhaps Daniel Peterson or Lou Migeley or Blake Ostler… someone like that. But I guess I’d be surprised if they took you up on this as well.

    • David Barron

      Hi Rob,

      You said “it’s problematic you would be defending a viewpoint rejected by your own denomination”.

      Didn’t Jude prophecy about this type of thing:

      Jud 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
      Jud 1:4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

      So what’s problematic about debating someone who believes that men crept in and changed the faith delivered to the saints? Jews who say they are and are not. There is a whole movement of us who still hold fast to the fundamental principles delivered to this church. But I would think that talking about what the bible says about the father, son and the holy spirit would be the interest of the thread. Hath a nation changed their Gods. Is it problematic that Elijah’s nation believed in BAAL and he had to come and teach them who the true God was? The thing that has been is the thing that is today and there is no new thing under the sun.

      Don’t shy away because of that.

      God bless.

    • EricW

      9. Wilson Hines on 14 Nov 2009 at 10:05 am #
      I don’t “get it.” How can a person be a non-believer in the Trinity and a believer in Jesus as the Christ, at the same time. I’m befuddled.

      If you read The Book of Acts or The Didache without any predetermined doctrines of the Trinity, I think you will see exactly that – i.e., Jesus proclaimed as the Christ with no overt identification of Him as a second member/Person of a “Trinity.”

      God’s servant/child, the Christ/Messiah, the Son of David, the Savior, etc.? Yes. But “Light from Light, True God from True God, of one substance with the Father”? No.

      Or this thing/being/substance/power called “Holy Spirit” being “the Lord(ly One)” and “worshiped and glorified together with the Father and the Son”? No.

      Any explicit declarations that “God exists eternally in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The three have distinct personalities and yet are of the same substance, one God. ” as many churches say in their “What We Believe” statements? No.

      IMO, Acts displays what I would call a lower Christology in that regard. YMMV.

    • Sam Coulter


      “Sith Lord” to “duel with”? Seriously man, what is that all about?

      Mr. Navas,

      I was delighted to see your post. In fact when I first read Mr. Bowman’s challenge, I immediately thought you would be a great candidate for this debate. I hope he can wait on you, I will be disappointed if he can’t.

      By the way, I have a copy of your book and it is one of my favorite volumes. It has been an invaluable tool, and a great blessing, in my search for the truth about the doctrine of the Trinity.

      Thank you,


    • C Michael Patton

      Don’t turn THIS thread into a debate about the Trinity (or anything else for that matter). I will start deleting comments that go in that direction (because that is just the kind of guy I am!)

    • EricW

      My apologies, CMP. (I.e., my response 22. to Wilson Hines could be the springboard to such.) Feel free to delete my response.

    • C Michael Patton

      Any discussion about this particular debate, needs to be taken here: http://theologica.ning.com/forum/topics/trinity-debate

      Otherwise, let’s leave this post for clarification directed to Rob and for people who respond to the challenge.

    • William Mayor

      Jeff Downs questioned my remark about including scinece with theology, and whether that implied that scripture is not the final authority. For none of us is scripture the true final authority, for we each interpret scripture ourselves, making ourselves the final authority. I merely include the well established findings of science as an additional filter through which I seek to understand scripture, and one that can supercede tradition if the evidence so indicates.

    • Patrick Navas


      You wrote:

      “I have no problem waiting until summer.”

      I am willing. Just let me know if the invitation remains open at that time.

      “However, you would need to specify a recognizable, existing religious group with which you are actively affiliated and to commit yourself to a specific theological model.”

      To specify, I regard myself as a “Christian” and feel no need to take on any other religious or denominational label. By “Christian” I mean that I am a person who recognizes Jesus as the Christ and I am actively trying to follow the teachings and way of life laid down by him specifically, not any denomination, organization, institution, or religious tradition (whether Catholic, Protestant, Watchtower or Mormon).

      I am actively affiliated with all those who recognize Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, and who recognize the one God as “the Father,” and who accept me into their fellowship for the same reasons.

      Although I believe the Trinity is a false teaching, I don’t necessarily think that Trinitarians are disqualified from being true Christians. I tend to think of most Trinitarians as true Christians who have simply been mislead by human tradition.

      My “theological” position is that the “one God” is “the Father” (not the Trinity) and that Jesus is, genuinely speaking, God’s beloved Son, the Messiah, and that the holy Spirit is, in fact, God’s Spirit, the means through which God himself takes up residence in the individual and communal lives of Christian believers (1 John 5:24).


      Up to now, you have been unwilling or unable to do so.

    • Patrick Navas


      Thank you for the kind and encouraging words regarding my book. I’m definitely willing to take up Rob on this challenge in the summer, if he is willing to wait for me.

      Best wishes,

      Patrick Navas

      P.S. Rob, would you be interested in debating Stafford again?

    • Afework Kara

      Hi Rob,
      It is very nice to have such debate. Thank you for that.I am an evangelical protestant and I am eager to hear from the Non-Trinitarians especially from Oneness Pentecostals and Jehovah Witnesses(if any comes to the debate forum) why they hold their position without any biblical evidence. I hope and believe,if they come and critically think about it,they would get answers to their frequently asked questions and finally would put Jesus in His Place(i.e God,distinct from the Father,worthy of worship).

    • Daniel Eaton

      I think this will be a great event, Rob. Will it be published at all once it is concluded?

    • Mike Felker

      Having debate David Barron myself (visit http://www.theapologeticfront.com for the transcript), I would very much like to see you two debate. The reason being, I feel that he is one of the most knowledgeable proponents of his position that i’m aware of. And he’s also a very respectful guy that sticks to the issues.

      But I see your point in desiring to debate someone who is associated with a particular group.

      Though i’d love nothing more than to see you debate a “Watchtower JW,” I think a snowball in a blast furnace has a better chance than this happening. Quite unfortunate.

    • EricW

      FYI, in addition to Navas’ book, which I’ve not seen or read, there is The Doctrine of the Trinity by Anthony F. Buzzard and Charles F. Hunting, 1998, International Scholars Publications, which I found in a used bookstore. Buzzard has Master’s degrees in languages and theology (University of Oxford; Bethany Theological Seminary, Chicago) and teaches at Atlanta Bible College. Affiliation – Church of God General Conference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_God_General_Conference

      I don’t know how much, if any, of the particulars of his faith confession (e.g., beliefs about the second coming, resurrection of the dead, salvation) affects the book’s arguments, as I haven’t read it. I mention it because the book may be a source/collection of anti-Trinitarian arguments/proofs that either side might want to read for this debate.

    • Rob Bowman


      You wrote: “I don’t know Rob, the whole thing just brings to mind those YouTube clips of you grilling some Catholic or Mormon that are floating around all over the place (I know – certainly without your endorsement).”

      Huh? Maybe you have me confused with James White (no offense, James) or someone else.

    • Rob Bowman


      I’m all for someone debating you, but it sounds like a Seventh-day Adventist needs to step up to the plate.

      My concern here is that I don’t want to debate someone that practically *everyone* can later dismiss as not representative of their position. This is why I would even be hesitant about agreeing to debate Greg Stafford again (been there, done that anyway), since he no longer represents Jehovah’s Witnesses. (If the non-Trinitarians here drafted him, though, I would probably agree to it.)

      In any case, I made my stipulations known up front, and I think I should try to stick by them.

    • Seth R.

      Always possible I guess. i wouldn’t be the first time I’ve failed to keep my internet personalities straight.

    • Rob Bowman


      Your response confirms that my assessment of the situation was correct. You represent no one but yourself. You have no clear theological alternative to the Trinity except repeating select phrases from the Bible as if their meaning was obviously non-Trinitarian. You are Lone Ranger and Theological Sniper rolled into one. That is why you are disqualified.

    • Rob Bowman


      The recent comment by collards, posted in clear violation of Michael Patton’s decision (not mine), is being deleted. Thank you for your understanding.

    • Patrick Navas


      You wrote:

      Your response confirms that my assessment of the situation was correct. You represent no one but yourself.

      Not at all. I represent the views of many people throughout the world and of those in my fellowship, when it comes to the belief that the one God is the Father and not the Trinity.

      “You have no clear theological alternative to the Trinity except repeating select phrases from the Bible as if their meaning was obviously non-Trinitarian. ”

      I explicitly said that my view of God is that he is the Father not the Trinity, and that Jesus is God’s Son, not God the Son the second person of the Trinity.

      “You are Lone Ranger and Theological Sniper rolled into one. That is why you are disqualified.”

      I’m not a “Lone Ranger” in any sense nor a “Theological sniper.” It’s a great dissapointment to me that you would use this kind of disrpespectful language/name calling. I fellowship with Christians in my home, at various conferences and Bible study groups, and I don’t even know what a “theological sniper” is or why you would use such language.

      I respectfully accepted your challenge to debate (for the summer), but you resorted to calling me weird names that misrepresent who I am. None of this was necessary.


    • Patrick Navas

      I forgot to mention: I have publised a 600 page book in which I explicitly offer a very clear “theological alternative” to the doctrine of the Trinity.

      Of course I attempt to limit my beliefs and creeds to the biblical language (viewing the language as inspired, satisfactory, and effective in communicating the truth about God, God’ Son, and God’s Spirit), but I have always made quite clear what I understand the biblical language to mean, based on logical reasoning and scriptural precedents.


    • Rob Bowman


      Perhaps you did not read the initial blog entry, which you can find at the top of this page. It details the terms or stipulations of the debate and explains what I meant by “Lone Ranger” and “Theological Sniper.”

      Your affirmation that the one God is the Father and not the Trinity does not make clear what your view is. A Greg Stafford, Dave Barron, Anthony Buzzard, or Servetus the Evangelical could all say the same thing, but their theologies and religious affiliations are all different. Your 600-page book does not clear up the matter.

    • Patrick Navas

      My views are clearly articulated in my book, in contrast to the Trinitarian: They are as follows:

      Trinitarian: The “one God” is the Trinity—the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, three persons, one God.
      Mine: The “one God” is “the Father” (not the Trinity)—1 Cor. 8:6; John 17:3; 1 Thess. 1:9, 10; 1 Tim. 2:5
      Trinitarian: God is three-in-one
      Mine: God is one (not ‘three-in-one’)—Deut. 6:4; Mark 12:28, 29; Gal. 3:20; James 2:19
      Trinitarian: Jesus is “God the eternal Son, the second person of the Trinity”
      Mine: Jesus is God’s Son (not ‘God the Son, the second person of the Trinity’); He is not eternal (without beginning) since he was born of God and because the kind of life that he has, as God’s Son, was “granted” to him by his Father—John 5:26; 1 John 5:18
      Trinitarian: The Father and Son are “coequal”
      Mine: The Father is “greater” than the Son—John 14:28
      Trinitarian: It is essential to believe/confess faith in God’s three-in-oneness and that Jesus is the eternal, second person of the Trinity
      Mine: It is essential to believe/confess faith in God’s oneness and that Jesus is Lord, Christ, and the Son of God—Mark 12:28, 29; Rom. 10:9; 1 John 4:15; 5:1
      Trinitarian: Jesus is “of one being” with God the Father
      Mine: Jesus is “the exact representation” of God the Father’s “being” (not of the same being as God the Father)—Hebrews 1:3
      Trinitarian: Jesus is the “God-man,” fully God and fully man at the same time
      Mine: Jesus was a man accredited by God (not a ‘God-man’)—Acts 1:22; John 8:40
      Trinitarian: The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity
      Mine: The Holy Spirit is God’s Spirit and is holy because God is holy (The Holy Spirit is not a ‘person’ of a Trinity but the Spirit of a person, namely, the spirit of God the Father which the Father gives to the Son without measure)—Gen. 1:2; Isaiah 6:3; 1 Cor. 12:3; Eph. 4:30; John 3:34

    • Paul Leonard

      Deleted by mod.

      I look forward to the debate

    • David Barron

      Hi Rob,

      Thanks for the consideration and many Seventh Day Adventists would love to see this take place since many of them have turned to the Trinitarian view. They would love to see you show me the truth so to say. Most of them believe that their leaders have the answers. I look forward to it if you wish to reconsider.

      Here is an article that explains how we are the Elijah Message in this last hour and we are restoring the truth about God and his son.


      Anyway, whenever you’re ready brother. This would be a great debate.

    • Rob Bowman


      Give it up, please.


      I’ll consider it, since you do seem to represent a significant faction within the SDA tradition.

    • […] Challenge to Debate on the Trinity 2009 November 14 tags: debate, Rob Bowman, Trinity by JohnDave Medina Rob Bowman issued a challenge to debate on the doctrine of the Trinity. I wonder who might take him up on the offer. The terms are set here. […]

    • C Michael Patton

      I am deleting comments left and right folks.

      This is not to be a debate about Rob’s challenge or about the doctrine of the Trinity.

      All you should do here is 1) have Rob clarify or 2) submit a name. That is it.

      I appreciate all the passion. It just goes to show how needed this always it.

    • Seth R.

      Michael, those were not the ground rules you set up from the start.

      There was nothing in my post that was violating any previous warnings. And if this is not the place to raise the concerns I just raised, what is?

    • C Michael Patton

      Not here Seth. You can go to the Theologica forum and voice your concerns, but in this post we are not debating or, even, discussing anything. I am sorry, this blog can get out of control very quickly.

      Yours is not the only comment that has been moderated.

    • C Michael Patton

      BTW: No discussion or debate about 48!

    • Seth R.

      Is my attempt to sign up on the Theologica forum going to be approved? As a Mormon, I never take those kind of things for granted.

    • Michael T

      hey that rhymes….

    • Dave Burke

      Mr Bowman, I see that your debate structure does not include a section devoted to the protagonists’ understanding of the Father. Is there a reason for this?

    • JP

      If anyone hasn’t already noticed, the Dave Barron who commented on this thread is not the same Dave Barron from Scripturaltruths.com.

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      Hi Rob Bowman!

      (Off-topic Request)

      I only have a marginal interest in this debate topic of the Trinity…, but if or when you have both the time and interest to debate a liberal protestant on a topic which you feel is damaging to historical Christian doctrine, I’d be particularly keen to read and observe that debate.

      In particular, I’m thinking of you debating James McGrath who is a Liberal Protestant. On a topic of mutual agreement and interest between the two of you. (Obviously).

    • Rob Bowman

      Dave Burke,

      I am not aware of any non-Trinitarian theology that treats the Bible as the unerring word of God but that does not regard the Father as God. Where doctrinal differences arise with regard to the Father are in his nature (e.g., Mormons believe the Father has a physical body) and his relation to the other two persons. But there is in any case room in the first and fifth weeks for the debaters to set forth their views on the person and nature of the Father.

    • Adam Kubrock

      I would also like to recommend Dave Barron as your opponent in this debate. I do not think you will find a more staunch, outspoken and studied anti-trinitarian out there.

    • M A Wilson

      I would be very interested in entering the debate regarding the “Trinity” as a non-trinitarian Messianic believer.

      How do I get registered, when does it start and what are the requirements of the participants?

    • Michael Richardson


      I’d be willing to defend the Mormon (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) perspective on the Godhead as I understand it–with the understanding that my perspective on Mormonism is not to be considered the “official” Mormon perspective. You know a bit about me, my discussion style, etc.

      I would suggest that clarifications be made on a few other points, specifically, what each participant understands such things as “Trinity,” “personality” (or personhood), “being,” and “unity,” or “oneness” to mean.

      If we aren’t clear on such terms as are central to the concept of Trinity, or on what is meant by Trinity itself, we will likely make little progress in understanding.

      In this regard, I would suggest that as part of a rebuttal, each participant be required to demonstrate an accurate understanding of the arguments presented by the other prior to attempting to either refute or present an alternative argument.

      For those who don’t know me, I claim no special theological qualifications. But I am an active member of the Mormon church. I served my LDS mission in Protestant (Evangelical) dominated regions of the U.S., and studied for my Ph.D. in psychology under a well respected scholar in the field who is also an Evangelical Protestant working for the past 15+ years at Mormon owned Brigham Young University. So I feel that my experience in understanding and responding to Protestant viewpoints in both Mormon dominated and Protestant dominated contexts may be somewhat helpful in facilitating an understanding of where our perspectives overlap and where they truly diverge.

      My dissertation addressed naturalistic bias in moral education, and contrasted it with (general) theistic viewpoints on morality, calling for a consideration of theistic perspectives in moral education. I’m also currently working on an article (with the above-mentioned Evangelical scholar) in response to a call for religious literacy in public education that we feel contained unacknowledged and problematic biases in favor of perspectives on religion from the “New [aggressive] Atheism.” I am currently also a full-time faculty member at BYU.

    • Rob Bowman

      M. A. Wilson,

      The requirements for someone who wishes to be my opponent in this debate are listed in the blog entry on which you are commenting here.

    • Rob Bowman


      You certainly meet the stipulated terms for the debate. Consider yourself a nominee.

    • Dave Burke

      Rob, thanks for the clarification. I had Mormon theology in mind when I asked that question, since they believe that although the Father is God, He is not uniquely so (ie. there is more than one god). Perhaps you feel that this is adequately addressed under the parameters of the first week.

      I would like to take up your challenge.

      Currently engaged as co-founder and administrator of an online Christadelphian forum (www.thechristadelphians.org/forums) I am a lifelong Christadelphian with some years of debate experience and serve as a pastor within my community.

      I have debated the Trinity online with Robert Turkel (“J P Holding”, of tektonics.org) and enjoyed some informal exchanges with Edgar Foster on JW Christology and the history of Arianism. For a couple of years I was also a regular at Matt Slick’s forums (www.carm.org) where I debated his evangelical staff and members alike.

      I would be ready to debate in the new year.

    • Dave Burke

      Oops, I clicked on the submit button before I’d finished editing.

      Rob, I would like to add that I have no professional theological qualifications, though I did study Christian history at university and consider myself well read for a layman.

      I am extremely familiar with evangelical theology and Christology (particularly the work of Norman Geisler, James White and William Lane Craig). My debate experience spans 10 years and I have been working as a pastor for 12 years.

      Thank you for your consideration.

    • Rob Bowman

      Dave Burke,

      I’d accept you as a candidate (we now have a few), but I do have a reservation. Your reference to J. P. Holding as Robert Turkel (with Holding’s name in quotation marks) suggests a polemical style that would not be welcome here.

      For those unfamiliar with this controversy, J. P. was born with the name James Patrick Holding. His name was changed in infancy to Robert Turkel. When he started his online ministry, he used his birth name in part because he was working for his state’s correctional system and felt using his birth name would help protect his family from potential dangers. Some critics of J. P. thought they could discredit him merely by attacking him for using a name other than his legal name. In July 2007 he legally changed his name back to his birth name. Yet some people hostile to evangelical Christianity still make an issue of J. P.’s name, as Dave Burke’s comment reflects.

    • Dave Burke

      Hi Rob,

      You see to have read an awful lot into a casual reference (there’s no need to second-guess my motives; just take me at face value, please) but I do apologise if I inadvertently caused offence.

      I did not know that Holding was his birth name, nor did I know that he had legally adopted it in 2007. (We originally crossed swords in 2003 and we were both using pseudonyms at the time, which didn’t strike me as problematic and still doesn’t).

      Since JP was “outed” by Farrel Till (late 1990s I think?) and both names spread all over the internet, I wasn’t aware that his name was still a big deal. It doesn’t make any difference to me what name he uses; after all, I use a pseudonym on my forum, as do most of the people who post there. That’s no reflection on any of us.

      In any case, since JP has formally adopted the name of Holding and abandoned his prior anonymity, this is all a moot point – isn’t it? An innocent reference to a defunct name now abandoned by its former owner is hardly polemical, nor does it constitute “making an issue”! 🙂

    • Troy

      Hi Rob,

      I have been familiar with many Unitarian Movements for several years now. Out of all of them, I see the Christadelphians and having the most reverence for the Bible as God’s Word (regardless if they may or may not be wrong on a few topics), because they appeal to the Scriptures as the final authority for theology and doctrine. This movement is strong in the UK and Australia, and it is beginning to move in North America as well. Having said that, David Burke has been extremely influencial to the layman of the Christadelphian movement more so than many of the people such as Sir Anthony Buzzard, Servetus the Evangelical, and David Baron. He is widely respected in the Unitarian movement of those not a part of the Christadelphian movement, and has spent countless hours online engaging and dialoguing with Christians from all denominations. If you chose him as your debating parter, and could without question show the Trinity to be, in fact, what the bible teaches and be able to handle the objections presented by David Burke, then in turn offer objections that he could not be able to handle, I promise you you will accomplish much in your debate with him.

      Please heartily consider debating David Burke.

    • Nate E

      So many are saying they define God or the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet if he were to stand in a line up most would not recognize who he is…
      So many take their stance on doctrine and or movement. Yet they leave behind the cause of Christ for the argument of knowing him or his portrait just a bit better than the next guy.

      I’ll follow the debate and read the statements, but none of it will bring me any closer to him, as my relationship is with God and him alone…

    • Tesfaye Robele

      Who is going to debate with Rob? What is his qualification?

    • Rob Bowman

      Dave Burke,

      The only people who ever refer to Holding as Robert Turkel are critics of his. You might think this would be over and moot given that he made the name change legal over two years ago, but not so; there are still some nasty critics who won’t let the issue go:


      But I accept your assurances and am happy to have you as another candidate for the debate.

    • Dave Burke

      Thanks Troy, that’s very kind of you. I appreciate your support.

      Rob, thanks for that. Please be assured that I’d give you a polite and courteous debate, without rancour or polemics.

    • C Michael Patton


      You will have to read the original post. It is all laid out there.

    • WLS

      Deleted by moderator for violating the rules of this post.

    • Edward T. Babinski

      [Edited by mod for distracting a provoking a debate on this thread]

      If someone wants to also include the viewpoint of non-Christians in the discussion please feel free to contact me.

    • Edward T. Babinski

      Will the debate primarily consist of trading proof-texts? One has to go deeper than that and consider that not all texts in the Bible are on equal standing historically speaking, and Jesus himself wrote nothing. As for those who did write the N.T., one must consider that historians view some verses as possibly being later than others in terms of later church doctrines being read back into say, the Gospels, like the verse in Matthew about baptizing in the names of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

    • Xavier

      I’m game…where do I sign up?

    • C Michael Patton

      Xavier, I believe you need to give your name, credentials, and what tradition you will be representing.

    • JohnDave Medina

      A couple of names who I heard being mentioned on cyberspace that would be good for this debate from the Oneness Pentecostal camp are:

      David S. Norris, PhD, professor at Urshan Graduate School of Theology (UGST), who just published a major work on Oneness theology


      Daniel L. Segraves, PhD (ABD), also professor at UGST, who has written various commentaries on books of the Bible.

      I may just send them an email to see if either are interested, if anyone hasn’t done that already.

    • Edward T. Babinski

      Deleted by mod for being off topic.

    • Mark

      Hello to all. I hope all are doing good.

      There are a few recomendations that I believe would be very good opponents for, Mr. Bowman.

      I will list these Jehovah’s Witnesses names that Mr. Bowman could contact to see if they are interested in debating him.

      Rolf Furuli, Edgar Foster, Ed Andrews, Solomon Landers.

      I would like to see what Mr. Bowman and others think about debating these individuals or other scholarly Jehovah’s Witnesses?

    • Chad Moore

      I would love to see a Oneness Pentecostal take up the non-Trinitarian side of this online debate. There are good reasons for this. For one, OPs maintain the fully deity of Jesus Christ as well as his full humanity (they are essentially Chalcedonian in their christology but pre-Nicene in their theology proper).

      Also, OPs already hold to the Protestant canon of Scripture – the 66 books of the OT and NT. So there would be no tendency at attempt to bring any other authoritative texts into the matter. And also, OPs read and utilize the same bible translations as Trinitarians and do have their own sanitized translation (as some non-Trinitarians do).

      Furthermore, I am a Oneness Pentecostal myself and would very much enjoy reading the interchange.

      David Norris and Dan Segraves would both be excellent choices. Another possible OP candidate would be Jason Dulle who runs a blog at http://theosophical.wordpress.com/ and has written many articles on this issue at http://www.onenesspentecostal.com/.

    • Mark

      Are there any thoughts on the individuals that I mentioned?

      Could they be possible candidates for you to debate, Mr. Bowman?

    • Rob Bowman


      The four Jehovah’s Witnesses you mentioned (Furuli, Foster, Andrews, and Landers) would probably all be fine, although I am unfamiliar with Andrews. I don’t think I know how to contact him or Furuli.

      Would you like to contact these four gentlemen and direct them to this blog?

    • Rob Bowman

      JohnDave and Chad,

      I would be happy to have Norris, Segraves, or Dulles considered for the debate. I confess I am not familiar with Norris (I am, however, familiar with the work of Segraves and Dulles).

    • JohnDave Medina

      Rob and Chad,

      A few days ago, I sent them an email that links them to here. I haven’t heard anything from either, but I’m assuming that if either wants to do it, then one of them will say something.

    • Manuel Culwell

      Rob, if you really want to show your sincerity and make this interesting you would debate a representative from the Oneness camp (Those who believe Jesus is God ) Also a representative from the alternative view like (the so called;) Biblical Unitarians, or JW’s, and not Just one or the other to the exclusion of Oneness, like they are all somehow the same thing. You have your yahoo debate group and have excluded Oneness for years and have only debated Sabin a very Nice man but no debater.

    • Rob Bowman


      The person whose sincerity is in question is you. I have already stated my openness to debating three different advocates of the Oneness position. I “exclude” Oneness Pentecostals from a Yahoo group that is called the Evangelical and JW Theologies Group for the obvious reason that Oneness Pentecostals are neither Evangelical nor JW.

      You make a fair point that Oneness and JW and Biblical Unitarian theologies are not all alike. But my proposal was for one debate, not three or more. However, I have been giving some thought to this very matter and may come up with a solution. What we don’t need is your kind of criticism distracting from the issues.

    • Manuel Culwell

      Rob, So only your” kind of criticism” is allowed because you have truth and you say so. I was just being Honest.

    • Rob Bowman


      Is it “honest” to criticize me because I “excluded Oneness” from a group that you know is devoted to discussion between evangelicals and JWs? Yes or No?

      Any further comment from you that ignores or evades this question will be considered a nuisance.

    • Manuel Culwell

      Yes, I consider it honest! I would not exclude anyone from my group and do not. I am able to handle any and all differing belief systems at the same time, to be fair, maybe you are not so equipped. what is your reasoning?

    • Manuel Culwell

      Rob, Calling the group Evangelicals and JW’s does not cut it my book, as I call my group trinity versus Oneness, but I love for biblical Unitarain’s or JW’s to come my way.

    • Rob Bowman


      I am happy to discuss theology with Oneness believers. I have done so in the past many times, including the debate you mentioned I had with Robert Sabin. I have stated publicly right here that I would be happy to debate David Norris, Dan Segraves, or Jason Dulle, all Oneness advocates. It is frankly dishonest to suggest that I am unwilling to engage Oneness believers in discussion when I have stated otherwise right here!

      I also have the right to form a discussion forum specifically for discussions between evangelicals and JWs, and that is what I did. You already knew this but neglected to mention it when you criticized me for “excluding” Oneness believers from that group. That was dishonest, Manuel. I also “exclude” New Agers, Muslims, liberal Protestants, Mormons, Biblical Unitarians, etc., *from that group* because it is a *specialized* forum for evangelicals and JWs only.

      I also have another forum, the Biblical Apologetics Yahoo Group, which is open to people of any religious background. I would welcome Oneness Pentecostals to participate there as long as they focused on relevant issues. I would *not* welcome someone who comes to criticize the stated purpose of the forum or to attack individuals, as you are doing.

    • Manuel Culwell

      [comment deleted; see #47 above for permissible comments]

    • Paul Rosenberger

      Hello Rob. I have read many of the debates between you and Greg Stafford and between you and Jason BeDuhn and others. I’ve read the entire dialogues and I have to be honest when I say that, in general, you “lost” those debates and, specifically, you were dishonest in some cases. I had, at the time, copied all of those discussions and saved them as Word documents. But, they’re also still available online. Especially noteworthy, in my estimation, is you and BeDuhn generally agreeing that the theos in John 1:1c could be “qualitative”, thus eliminating the possibility that the intended meaning is “ho theos” of 1:1b.

      “If you conclude that all nouns without the article in Greek are indefinite, you’re right”

      “He agrees that John wishes to emphasize qualities in John 1:1c.”

      “I have no objection of translating qualitative nouns with the indefinite article in English when the qualitative emphasis is obvious. This is not the case with “a god” in John 1:1c. A translation like “the Word was D/deity” accurately reflects that qualitative emphasis John intends.”

      But, now you wish to have another debate, only this time it is “trinity versus non-trinity” and you said “I am willing to debate anyone who agrees with the following terms”, but then it seems that you “require” that whomever debates you have a certain set of qualifications.

      Personally, I believe that I could debate this with you and defend the non-trinitarian perspective quite well and fairly completely. But, I think you are really looking to debate the trinity with only someone who’s written several books and is called a “scholar”. Is that a correct assessment?

    • Rob Bowman

      Paul Rosenberger,

      What is it with these accusations against me of dishonesty? In your case, you didn’t even back up the accusation with an example (despite your use of the word “specifically”). And please don’t try. This isn’t the place for personal attacks, as Michael Patton has already made clear.

      Furthermore, your accusation of dishonesty and your assessment that I have lost my previous debates have zero credibility in light of your additional remarks. You refer to my debate with Jason BeDuhn and claim that in that debate I made certain statements regarding John 1:1 — statements that you quote for us. They didn’t sound like me, but I checked the entirety of my debate with BeDuhn — nothing. That’s not surprising, because my debate with BeDuhn was about John 8:58, not John 1:1! I then Googled your first two quotations and (with some difficulty for the second) found them. These quotations come from Robert Hommel’s debate with BeDuhn. In case you still don’t get it, my name is Robert Bowman, not Robert Hommel. Don’t feel too bad — you’re the second anti-Trinitarian to post a comment here confusing me with someone else. Still, I think we can safely conclude that I can’t have lost that particular debate, since I wasn’t one of the debaters!

      You then question my debate challenge and take exception, implicitly, to my stipulating certain qualifications for anyone who wishes to answer the challenge. Instead of dealing with any of those stipulated qualifications, though, you make up one or two I *didn’t* say: “But, I think you are really looking to debate the trinity with only someone who’s written several books and is called a ‘scholar’. Is that a correct assessment?” No. Not only did I not specify such qualifications, in comment 14 I specifically denied making any such requirement: “I deliberately did not stipulate any requirements for my debate opponent in regards to education, ministerial status, etc.”

      However, I now realize, after seeing more than one post like yours, that I should have specified two additional requirements:

      6. My potential worthy opponent must show that he knows who it is he is to debate, just by not confusing me with someone else.

      7. My potential worthy opponent must show that he can actually read and successfully interpret English, just by restating accurately the stipulated requirements for participating in the debate.

    • Seth R.

      I’ll thank you to leave me out of this Robert.

      I am not “anti-Trinitarian.”

    • Rob Bowman


      This is ridiculous. Your original claim when you first commented here was that I was allegedly angling to get a Mormon to debate me. I assume from that comment, and your other comments, that you are yourself a Mormon. Now you deny being “anti-Trinitarian.” Well, if you as a Mormon are not anti-Trinitarian, why would you have ever imagined that I was seeking a Mormon to take the “anti” position against my Trinitarian position??

      I realize that some Mormons will sometimes claim that they do believe in the “Trinity” but just not the Trinity of the creeds. However, Mormon leaders, teachers, scholars, etc., appear as best I can tell to use the term “Trinitarian” uniformly to refer to the creedal doctrine that Mormons explicitly and emphatically reject. For example, Robert Millet, a leading LDS theologian and apologist, writes:

      “First of all, it is worth stating what is fairly obvious: trinitarian ideas concerning God — that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are simply three manifestations of one and the same being — are unscriptural, foreign to the spirit or content of the New Testament, and doctrinally untenable. Trinitarianism is a creation of man, a costly compromise between Greek philosophy and Christian doctrine that was perpetuated when the Christian church had fallen into apostasy after A.D. 100” (Selected Writings of Robert L. Millet, Gospel Scholars series, 114-15).

      Sounds somewhat “anti-Trinitarian” to me!

      The _Encyclopedia of Mormonism_, edited by Daniel Ludlow, states:

      “Both Catholicism and Orthodoxy believe God to be the Creator of the universe, and that God’s being is trinitarian — that the persons of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit exist simultaneously in one divine nature. LDS doctrine is, on the other hand, tritheistic; it is subordinationist” (EM 257).

      The LDS book _Joseph Smith Translation: The Restoration of Plain and Precious Things_ actually lists the trinitarian God along with the false gods of the Egyptians and Canaanites:

      “The Lord God (Jehovah) was their God. (A great contrast to Osiris, Ammon Re, Ptah, Horus, Anubis, Hapi, Sobek, Khnum, Atum, and hundreds of other false deities in the Egyptian Pantheon, not to mention the Canaanite Baal, or the later trinitarian God of the current Christian creeds.)” (55).

      I conclude that the LDS Church is decidedly anti-Trinitarian. Wouldn’t you agree?

    • Seth R.

      We’re only “anti-Trinitarian” in the sense that we are anti-modalism.

      Which we tend to equate with “Trinitarianism.” And we always have.

      Hope that clears things up for you.

    • Rob Bowman

      Seth, you have “cleared up” nothing but only confirmed what I said was correct. If you equate Trinitarianism with modalism and are anti-modalism, then by your own admission you are anti-Trinitarian. That you arrive there by falsely equating Trinitarianism with modalism is a problem on your end, not on mine.

    • Seth R.

      Mormons usually tend to think that all other Christians are modalists.

      This is due to traditional Christianity’s inability to explain the Trinity in a way that actually makes sense. So we, always trying to think the best of people, generously ascribe to you a theology that actually makes sense.

      And say what you will about it – modalism is actually a coherent statement of theology.

      A case of Mormons being misled by their better nature I guess.

      But that doesn’t mean that we cannot turn over a new leaf and actually claim the word for ourselves – when properly understood.

      That’s the nice thing about being a Mormon – it’s always an adventure of learning new things.

    • Alan J. Eddy

      I think you have to find a mormon to debate you. The mormon “Godhead” is polytheistic and as far removed from mainstream Trinitarian theology as you can find. I recently debated a mormon on this very subject and he used the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan as his principal argument in support of 3 separate and distinct Gods. He said: “You have Jesus there in the river being baptised by John, the voice of His Father in Heaven and the Holy Spirit flying above their head. How can God be in 3 different place at the same time?” I said one word: trilocation and he laughed at me.

      I said to my mormon debater that he was trying to defend his non-trinitarian, polytheistic beliefs through the eyes of a finite human logic. Mormons tend to take the mystery out of God.

      What is even more strange to me is the mormon belief that God is married and has a wife in Heaven and they procreate.

    • Seth R.

      The mystery defense is fine as an acknowledgment that there are things we do not know.

      It is not an excuse to make logically incoherent statements. You can’t make a statement that affirms the very thing it denies, say “it’s a mystery,” and expect me to buy it.

      You might as well call God a square triangle who lives a life of non-existence beneath a rock he created too large for him to lift.

      “Mystery” is not a free hall pass to claim inherently self-defeating propositions.

    • Jeff Downs

      Y’all might be interested in listing to this recent interview with Vern Poythress, as he discusses his new book In the Beginning was the Word: A God-Centered Approach to Language.

      “The panel discusses Dr. Poythress’s multi-perspectival approach to Biblical studies and theology and specifically the trinitarian basis for language and the meaning of language.”

      Poythress is also the author of Why Must Our Hermeneutic be Trinitarian and also Reforming Ontology and Logic in the Light of the Trinity:
      An Application of Van Til’s Idea of Analogy

    • Alan J. Eddy

      My whole argument with the mormon Godhead is God said thou shall not have strange Gods before me. I know that the Jewish faith preaches one God and of course denies the Divinity of Jesus, and the Trinity.

    • Seth R.

      Well, no problem then.

      Because we Mormons do not worship “strange gods” before God the Father. So we’re all clear on that score.

    • Manuel Culwell

      Jeff, you trinitarain’s might do better reading what the scriptures actually teach concerning( John 1:1) in carefully in that passage and other passages particularly in (Psalm 33:6 the Septuagint) By the word/logos of the LORD were the heavens made and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.

      You cannot make a “God the son” out of the word from the breath of God’s mouth,(Clearly no another person but a metaphor for God’s power) no matter how you twist John 1:1 with your Greek grammar rules.

      The term was already used there and the psalmist explains it in a better understanding that is ignored by those seeking to make the word what it is in truth rather than “another person of God” or a god period, which both undertsanding’s being ridiculous

      Paul used the term in it’s inteneded meaning and usage that you ignore of two individuals in (2nd. Tim. 2:17)

      And their word/logos will eat as doth a canker of whom is Hymeaneus and Philetus who concerning the truth have erred.

      Paul did not hallow the term as do you and exclusively use it of another person of God and neither did John!

      Instead of seeking out men who also have no understanding on the subject you would do well to exhaust the scriptures instead of adding a new twist never intended by John or ever taught by any Apostle.

    • Alan J. Eddy

      Jesus turned water into wine. Can human logic explain this? No. It must be understood through the eyes of faith. How did Jesus restore sight to the blind? Or raise Lazarus from the dead? The finite mind with its strictures of time and space can never comprehend the mystery that is God.

    • Manuel Culwell

      How did he do it ? You might do well to read the scriptures! The father that dwelleth in me he doeth the works(Miracles John 14:10)

      Jesus sa a real man said I can of mine ownself do NOTHING.(John 5:30)

      Jesus did not even know the time of his own second coming But the father only (Mark 13:32)because the father only was the God indwelling him doing the works and miracles how gave the spirit by no measure unto the son(John 3:34)

    • Alan J. Eddy

      Sorry Seth the mormon Godhead is polytheistic and three separate and distinct Gods. How about also a duality of God genders? Is God’s wife also a God?

    • Alan J. Eddy

      God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are One Manuel!

    • Manuel Culwell

      Alan J Eddy, that is the pot calling the kettle black. You have God equal to God in Philippians 2:6 and the only begotten God as opposed to un-begotten Gods.

    • Alan J. Eddy

      In the beginning was the Word (Jesus) and the Word was with God and the Word was God, ……………Gospel of John

    • Manuel Culwell

      Yeah, I am Oneness Alan J Eddy, you just made a Oneness confession By saying the father ,son and spirit are One!

    • Seth R.

      I’m surprised that it never occurred to creedal trinitarians that if you can make “One God” out of three beings, you can do the same thing with more beings by the same logic.

      And by the way Alan, Jesus turning water into wine is not a good analogy at all. Turning water into wine is not a logically incoherent thing to do. Logically, if our own scientific knowledge was great enough, we might even do it ourselves.

      But that’s not what the creedal Trinity is stating. The creedal Trinity is “one essence, but three essences”, “numerically one, but also numerically three”, “one person, but not one person.”

      If you can start making statements like that, well… you can claim just about anything.

    • Manuel Culwell

      The word was not Jesus or”god the son” in eternity.

      Let’s use your version see if that is so?

      In the beginning was the word(Jesus, God the son) and the word (Jesus God the son)was with God(The father) and the word was God(God the father)

      Your version is both polytheistic and silly!(God with God) The word was God the fathers creative Power which Included the coming Lord Jesus as God in flesh in the incarnation.(Gal.4:4)

    • Seth R.

      You throw around words like “polytheism.” But I’m not convinced you even know what they mean.

      Likewise, I’m not sure you’re doing a very good job of explaining your own religion’s stance on the the Trinity. Besides which, you are also avoiding my main points. I can only conclude that you either don’t have an answer, or you didn’t understand what I was saying.

      Though honestly, I’m not sure how much longer Michael Patton will allow this exchange to continue, since the purpose of this thread was not to debate the Trinity.

    • Alan J. Eddy

      Polytheism= the belief in a plurality of Gods.

      Over a billion Catholics and Protestants define the Trinity as One Person but 3 distinct and separate natures, Still only One God.

      Mormons believe there are 3 Gods or should I include God’s wife does that make 4 Gods??? What’s your answer Seth???

    • Seth R.

      Mormons believe in multiple beings perfectly united in purpose, mind and love.

      Problem solved. One God.

    • Seth R.

      And your statement of “one person, but three distinct and separate natures” is basically the definition of modalism.

      Are you a modalist?

    • Alan J. Eddy

      Seth answer my question first ok for the second time are there 4 Gods in the mormon Godhead? God the Father, God the Son, The Holy Spirit and God the Wife?

    • Alan J. Eddy

      Modalism is the unorthodox belief that God is one person who has revealed Himself in three forms or modes during the Incarnation where He revealed Himself as Christ or during Pentacost when He revealed Himself as the Holy Spirit. This is in contrast to the Trinitarian doctrine where God is one being eternally existing in three persons.

      So to answer your question no I am not a modalist. I am a trinitarian,

    • C Michael Patton

      This is way off. The only thing that should be posted here is clarifying points about the debate or suggestions. That is it.

    • Seth R.

      Comment deleted.

    • Rob Bowman


      At this point I think we can assume that any genuinely clarificatory questions have already been asked. The burden will be on anyone posting a comment to make sure that his or her comment is genuinely asking a legitimate question to clarify (not to argue with) something in the original post.

      Except for such legitimate clarifying questions, do not post a comment except to nominate yourself or another qualified individual as a potential participant in the debate. Any post that does not conform completely to this directive will be subject to deletion.

    • KNS

      I wonder if Mr. Bowman would consider limiting the debate to the 10 favorite verses of Scripture of his own choosing and which he believes affirm the Trinity or the deity of Jesus.

    • Rob Bowman


      I’m not in favor of limiting either myself or my debate opponent as to how either of us wishes to make the case for our respective views from the Bible. I set up the parameters of a six-part series precisely so that both of us would have the time and space to develop our positions from as much of the biblical material as we want.

    • KNS

      Very well.

      But it would be a very good debate if ten of your most foundational Scripture verses were put to the test…. like John 1:1, 20:28, Hebrews 1:8, Titus 2:13, etc. etc.

      This would also drastically reduce the chaos and confusion which is caused by attempting to throw absolutely everything on the table at once.

      Such a debate would be far more clear cut and address the very heart of the foundational evidence Trinitarians think they have.

    • Andrew

      I could probably debate you, but I’m not sure I have the requirements. I go to an evangelical trinitarian church. I don’t know that I can point to one denomination or group that fully captures my view of the Godhead – I’m very close to Oneness Pentecostalism, but also to Biblical Unitarians as well. Also highly influenced by the Messianic movement/Judaism.

      That does not mean that I can’t fully articulate to you my position in exact terms. I can and would do that.

      I was a trinitarian for around 15 years, then started to reconsider about 3 or 4 years ago. I don’t publicly advertise to my church that I question the trinity because I don’t want to cause any to stumble over an issue that I don’t see as an essential, nor do I want to provoke my brethren to needlessly give me the left foot of fellowship.

      I believe the Son is one with the Father, an outward expression of Him, and thus I worship Him. However, I no longer believer one needs the trinity model to believe that.

    • TL

      The original heading was Trinity (subordinationalism). So are you arguing for a view of the Trinity that includes subordination in the Trinity? Or are you arguing for the view Athenasian wrote of in his 5th century Creed?

    • I throw my hat in the ring, nominating myself. I accept Rob Bowman’s requirements for the debate. If selected, I will defend the Biblical Unitarian position. It’s precepts are as follows: (1) the one God of the Bible is a single person whom Jesus called “the/my Father,” (2) this God the Father and Jesus are separate persons, (3) Jesus was and is not God but a virgin-born, sinless man, (4) Jesus did not preexist but came into existence as the Son of God at his birth (Lk 1.32, 35), and (5) the Holy Spirit is not a full-fledged person but God’s spirit manifesting his presence and power.

    • Steve

      When is this search over?

    • Dale

      Rob – any takers yet?

      I may be interested – I’m the author of this: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/trinity/

      Email me if you’re interested.

    • Daley Reece

      I accept all the terms of your proposed debate; after this debate, you will no longer be trinitarian. I look forward to hearing from you. I invite you to go first as I would love to understand how you perceive things. [email protected]

    • sam shamoun

      Daley’s arrogance should disqualify him right away. It is obvious that he is someone trying to feed his ego and make a name for himself. Rob, you are too respectful to waste time on kids like Daley who want their egos stroked.

    • Rob Bowman


      I am familiar with your article, but I am unaware of what alternative position you take or whether you are interested in debating the topic solely with regard to which doctrine best coheres with the entire teaching of the Bible.

    • Rob Bowman


      I did a search on your name and found it only here, on Parchment and Pen. We are looking for someone who can reasonably be regarded as representing a particular viewpoint on the subject, someone that others of the same viewpoint would know and respect. I’m afraid I agree with Sam’s assessment.

    • Rob Bowman


      Good question. I was about to close the nominations when Dale Tuggy posted his comment expressing interest. After I hear back from him so we can determine if he is qualified as a nominee, we will get on with the task of selecting the non-Trinitarian debater. Otherwise, I think we may consider the nominations closed.

    • Dale

      Hi Rob,

      This isn’t email – luckily, I checked back.

      My view is that what used to be called a “humanitarian” christology best fits the Bible, all told, and that the holy spirit is not a divine person, but God in action, as the OT has it (and on balance, I think, the NT as well). In my view, “the” doctrine of the Trinity – I take it you mean to defend the creedal formulas – isn’t well supported by the Bible. God is the Father of Jesus, and Jesus is the unique Son of God and savior. I can see why people think the NT teaches his divinity and pre-existence, but I think arguments for the former are weak, and the pre-existence issue is largely irrelevant to the divinity issue, though the case for it is a good bit weaker than is commonly thought. And no, I don’t believe he existed before his conception. I would, if I thought the Bible taught it.

      I think you could fairly say that I represent the “biblical unitarian” position on this; my views are similar to most of those why fly that banner. However, I don’t and never have had any real connection with any such group, and I more or less came to these views independently, although I’ve long been interested in 17th-early19th c. unitarians and their various biblical interpretations. I do call myself a (small-u) unitarian Christian, because I hold that the Father and the one God are numerically identical. My point is, I in no way represent anyone but me, but my aim has always been to get to what the Bible really says. I follow Jesus and the apostles, and where catholicism – I include American evangelicalism under that term – departs from them, I reluctantly say adios to it. I attended evangelical churches my whole life until 2005, when I decided, not because of this issue by the way, but rather on biblical and practical grounds, to go the house church route.

      I’m actually *very* interested in the Trinity and its alleged basis in the Bible – I haven’t written on it (yet), but have intensely studied it for about the last 10 years, whilst working on the recent philosophical literature. I’ve sweated over the interpretation of all the main texts, and so would enjoy this chance to actually write up my views. If you look at the supplement on the history of the doctrine in the SEP, you’ll see that I’m very interested in the sort of arguments which you give, e.g. in your Putting Jesus in his Place, which I have read. The issue of the Bible isn’t wholly separable from the philosophical issues, because mysteries and contradictions (real and apparent) come into play during systematic interpretation. But I’m happy to not get into recent philosophical theories, which I call elsewhere “rational reconstructions” of the doctrine, i.e. most of the contents of the main SEP “Trinity” entry.

      Now, I’d like to talk to you about some other things, if you’re interested in pursuing this further. So, email me, and if you want to talk on the phone, I’ll give you my number.


    • Mike Felker

      Please correct the polls on the blog. The SDA David Barron is not the same David Barron (Scripturaltruths.org) that I debated. Thanks.

      Also, I would recommend David Barron of Scriptural Truths (not the SDA David Barron) to be entered into the poll, as he has written a book and is also an active JW who, as far as I know, is still willing to debate, which is a rarity.

    • Rob Bowman


      David Barron (the JW) emailed me about the mistake in the poll and I fixed it. I asked him if he wanted to debate and I’m waiting to hear back from him. I’m not sure what to do if he says yes because we’ve already had over 50 people vote. I’ll post a follow-up comment here ASAP.

    • Mike Felker

      Thanks Rob. Though I appreciated the advertisement for the debate I had with David, keeping it up probably misinformed some people (It wasn’t anyone’s fault, as I was confused as well with there being two David Barrons). I’m actually quite surprised that the JW David Barron didn’t jump at this opportunity. Personally, I feel that he’d be far more of a challenge than the rest of the candidates, which as you know, makes for the best debates. However, I guess this will be for the voters to decide.

    • Rob Bowman


      I’ve heard back from Dave (the JW), and he wasn’t looking to be considered. So we will let the poll run its course as it now stands. I too am interested in debating someone who can mount a good challenge, but we’ll let the non-Trinitarians decide.

    • cherylu

      Oh dear,

      I missed reading the part on the poll that said it was open to only non Trinitarians and I put a vote on there. Sorry Rob, your poll is skewed by at least one vote.

    • andrewneileen

      Look forward to the debate. Know the writings of A. Buzzard and D. Burke. Suggest them for debating partner. But I don’t see how 10,000 word papers can work as a format each week. That is a lot of writing for a week unless a participant is going to cut and paste prepared material from their pre-existing stock of writing and tweak it for the debate. A debate should engage the other person and specific lines of argument and therefore it requires more the cut and thrust and back and forth of a forum that is watched by interested observers. Your format won’t be an actual debate with fresh engagement of the opponent if both rely on prepared written material. I would suggest a 500 word limit retricted to one point per day over six weeks. After an intial 2500 word opening statement. I debated with A. Buzzard on another topic in the 90s using this format and it worked very well. I would also advise narrowing the topic to an element of the doctrine of the Trinity rather than its entire scope. If one part falls the structure fails. You may succeed with objective of ‘making progress’ if the topic is narrower, such as the topic of equality. If you wanted to debate along these lines then I am free and we might be able to unravel the errors in this area.

    • Dave Hudson

      Looking forward to seeing the debate. Interest in it appears to be hotting up!

    • Rob Bowman

      I just noticed that overnight about 250 votes were registered for one of the candidates. This seems suspicious to me — not that I have any problems whatsoever with the candidate, only that it looks suspiciously like some sort of spamming. I’m going to investigate. Michael Patton, any way of checking to see how this happened?

    • Troy

      Hi Rob!

      I can tell you how this many votes were submitted so fast. On November 15 of last year, I told you that the Christadelphian movement “is STRONG in the UK and Australia, and it is beginning to move in North America as well. Having said that, David Burke has been EXTREMELY INFLUENCIAL to the layman of the Christadelphian movement MORE SO than many of the people such as Sir Anthony Buzzard, Servetus the Evangelical, and David Baron. He is WIDELY RESPECTED in the Unitarian movement of those not a part of the Christadelphian movement, and has spent countless hours online engaging and dialoguing with Christians from all denominations.”

      Last night, his networking community discovered the poll was up and the word immediately spread about the privilege available for them to vote for the candidate of their choice. Keep in mind that over in the UK and Australia the times are different from that of the US, so while it might seem overnight to us, is wasn’t to them. I suspect that there will be about one thousand votes for him because the Christadelphians regard him to be one of their best representatives, so they will be very eager to see him cross swords with such a worthy advocate of Trinitarianism. They feel that no one that has informally debated him has really held their own, and have been trying to get a champion of Trinitarianism to engage him for years, but to no avail. For them, this is the moment they’ve been praying for for years, and they are the type to create T-shirts and flyers to get their community to vote. So, I assure you that spamming is not the explanation of the rapid amount of votes for Dave Burk! 🙂

    • Rob Bowman


      It’s a bit late for me to change the format or content plan of the debate, although if the non-Trinitarian debater requests a change and I find it agreeable that would be fine.

    • Rob Bowman


      I thought something like that happened, but I was unable to find any place on the web where the word had been spread to the Christadelphians. Perhaps this was some sort of email that went around? Well, in any case, if there is that much interest among Christadelphians in such a debate, that’s fine. And here I thought Mike Richardson was going to run away with it!

    • andrewneileen


      Are you sure, 10,000 words is a lot for the silent audience to read x 2? Especially as there will be a lot to disagree with – it will be frustrating.


    • Dave Burke

      Rob, having been somewhat overwhelmed by the poll myself, I feel I should put in a few words.

      Ever since November 2009, when I was first directed to your blog by a friend, news of this debate has been spread throughout Christadelphia worldwide via email lists, online forums and word of mouth. Our community has only ~100,000 members worldwide and no central authority, but we are well organised and we enjoy a strong online presence.

      I’m sure you can appreciate that the prospect of a Christadelphian debating a premier evangelical theologian has aroused considerable interest (though I am happy to say that no T-shirts and flyers have been made! That would just be embarrassing…)

      My wife and I share a router and we’ve confirmed that we can only vote once for both of us (not once each) so I am confident that your blog is secure against double voting and spam. Your webmaster’s records will show that the overwhelming number of votes for me come from IP addresses in the UK, USA and Australia, where the majority of Christadelphians reside.

      I am well known in the UK & Australia, having lived and worked as a Christadelphian pastor in both countries over the past 14 years. Troy’s praise does me more credit than I deserve, though it is accurate to say that I have a reputation in our community for Christological debates.

      In the interests of transparency I can advise that this debate has been publicised at the following places:

      Ecclesia-Discuss (Christadelphian mailing list: [email protected])
      Mailing list for the Church of God of the Abrahamic Faith (sorry, I don’t have the address for this one)

      Facebook Christadelphians (online Christadelphian forum: http://tinyurl.com/y9aj7sc)
      Uplifting Christadelphian Discussions (online Christadelphian forum: http://tinyurl.com/yddgl9d)

      BEREA (online Christadelphian forum: http://berea-portal.com/forums)
      Bible Truth Discussion Forum (online Christadelphian forum: http://www.thechristadelphians.org/forums)
      Christadelphian Discussion Forum (online Christadelphian forum: http://www.christadelphiandiscussion.com/forum)

      These are the ones that I know of. They are all open to public membership and free to join. Some of the forums will have details of the debate in their member-only areas, which could explain why you’ve had trouble finding them.

      I hope this helps to clarify the situation. 🙂

    • Rob Bowman


      Thanks for that information. I was already satisfied that no spamming was involved (and I certainly never thought you were doing anything improper), but it’s very interesting to know some of the specific forums and lists that have been made aware of the debate.

      I appreciate your generous description of me as a “premier evangelical theologian,” two-thirds of which is accurate. 🙂

      The poll will remain open until Saturday night after 11 pm (I’m not sure if that is US Central or Eastern time), after which I will be in touch with the “people’s choice” to discuss the timetable and other matters as needed.

    • Dave Burke

      Troy, while I appreciate your support and enthusiasm, I need to correct you on a couple of points.

      (a) While it is true that I have Christadelphian friends who believe I am competent in this field, my community has never attempted to arrange such a debate for me and no-one has ever contacted a “champion of Trinitarianism” on my behalf for this purpose.

      (b) Although this is a great opportunity for everyone concerned, it’s not really a moment for which Christadelphians have been praying for years, since we have organised similar public debates with mainstream Christians in the past.

      Having said that, I am pleased to provide Rob with a wider audience for his beliefs and grateful for the opportunity to defend my own. 🙂

    • Dave Burke

      Rob, no worries; I just thought it would help to provide some context for the results of the poll.


    • James Anderson

      I think the candidate list should be enlarged. None of these guys appear to be Oneness which is a foremost anti-trinitarian view.

    • Steve in Toronto

      As a Trinitarian I am not allowed to vote (if I could I would vote for the Christadelphian since they are active in Toronto and I don’t know a thing about them) I would however suggest that your partner should be someone that is otherwise orthodox, maybe an oneness Pentecostal? The further you move outside the bounds of orthodoxy the harder it is to talk about the trinity clearly and the less illuminating the result is likely to be. Where is Michael Servetus when you need him?

      Steve in Toronto

      PS in my experience it’s hard to talk clearly about the trinity within the bounds of Orthodoxy as well for years I was a heterodox modalist and did not even know it!

    • Frankmar Da Silva Corrêa

      I am of Ananideua in Para Brazil.i biblical research is an 11 years and I’m based in the Holy Bible that:
      1 – The Father is the only God verdadadiro!
      2-The Father is greater than his son Jesus!
      3-Jesus is subordinate to the Father!
      4-Father is the God of Jesus!
      5-Jesus is not God, it is a child of God!
      So I totally reject the doctrine of the Trinity

    • Troy


      Thanks for the correction. Perhaps it is I that am projecting my own thoughts onto your community as if they were theirs too. I know I have emailed particular premier scholars of Evangelical seminaries with some of your commentary on relevant passages asking them how they deal with it, and most either recommended a book, gave their own thoughts about the consequences of rejecting the Trinity, or gave a pat answer that actually did not answer it at all. Dan Wallace is the rare exception along with Robert Bowman who actually engaged in your commentary on John 10:30 right here on the Pen and Parchment.

      Obviously I have been wanting someone to engage your material for some time, because quite frankly, it has been the best I have read, so I assumed others have been waiting for the same. I can only imagine how it feels to be deemed as heretics by the majority of Christianity while simultaneously being ignored by their best scholars. Thank you Rob for considering Dave, and thank you Dave for the correction. If things go as it seems they will, this will be very exciting and I can’t wait to so what becomes of it.

    • Michael H

      Looking forward to seeing the debate…

      And just to confirm Daves Comments on his Poll; I am also a Christadelphian, and I’m not suprised that the poll is going up fast. Christadelphians are always keen to see debate on the trinity, and as someone pointed out, we have held many public debates, in America, England and Australia, infact we are about to have a debate on the trinity in Perth in a few months time.

      Aside from that, im looking forward to seeing the debate, as are many other people 🙂



    • Rob Bowman

      James and Steve,

      I would have been very happy for a qualified Oneness Pentecostal to be in the running. The only Oneness individual who expressed an interest was so hostile and uncivil that he disqualified himself in the very first sentence. Some Oneness scholars’ names were mentioned in the comments but none actually came forward. I have taken the initiative to contact some qualified, respected Oneness scholars in the hope of doing something separate involving them at a later date.

    • Dyron Hamlin

      As one of those Christadelphians who voted for Dave, I’ll put in my two cents: I voted for Dave because I got an email from a fellow Christadelphian whom I’ve met a few times, basically saying “vote for Dave so we can have a Christadelphian participate as opposed to someone from another denomination.” It was easy to click through and vote. I don’t know anything else about him besides that he’s a Christadelphian, yet that is enough. I’m sure he’ll do a fine job. It’s not about being a “champion” or a spokesperson. It’s about being a regular ole’ Christadelphian, which, if Dave is one (there are fringe elements of every group, eh?), then I trust that he’ll do great.

    • postroad

      The trinity is not something I have studied exaustivly, so I make to claims one way or the other.

      Just a point of interest.

      Revelation 1:5
      Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

      Revelation 3:1
      “To the angel of the church in Sardis write:These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.

      This seems to indicate that there are seven spirits in the godhead?

      It does not say from God but rather of God?

      I have often wondered about it.

    • Nate

      Hi Rob,
      Being a former Christadelphian myself – now an evangelical Baptist Christian – I’d be interested in reading an exchange between yourself and Dave Burke.

      fyi, your books were influential in helping me move towards a Trinitarian confession. I’m thankful for all of your work.

    • Steven D.C.

      I’d just like to note on the post from Dyron on 13 Jan 2010 at 8:41 pm :

      > “It’s about being a regular ole’ Christadelphian, which, if Dave is one (there are fringe elements of every group, eh?) <

      That is true, but I'd just like to confirm as a fellow Christadelphian, who has met David Burke – though only once in person I'm sorry to say, is well known as a middle of the road member of the main "Central" grouping the (which counts for 55,000 of 60,000 Christadelphians worldwide according to stats on Wikipedia), I also see from one of the forums which David mentions that members of some the smaller groups have also been supporting him. So he will be representative of the wider Christadelphian community.

      Also taking in international view, while the Christadelphians are only one (though still largest) of several Socinian denominations in U.S.A. outside U.S.A. to hold Socinian christology (or I suppose to be "Biblical unitarian" which seems to be the modern phrase) means overwhelmingly to be Christadelphian. The voting patterns overnight (which I must admit took me be surpise too) show that a large number of UK, Australian and South African viewers are tuning in.

      Regarding Oneness Pentecostal, I would have thought it would be difficult to address Sabellian (minus sequential modalism) and Arian/Socinian objections to the Trinity in the same debate.

      I'm looking forward to this debate, and who ever is the people's ultimate choice, I hope to see David collate and edit all the papers he's been writing for years as a book in the near future. The Christadelphian community worldwide is in sore need of a more up to date book which takes into account the developments in orthodox presentation of the Trinity in the last 20 years.

    • Jack

      Hi postroad, as a Christadelphian, I would consider introducing the question of numbers (7 instead of 3?) a very profitable one to this debate, and I believe John 17 is a profitable chapter to consider:

      John 17.
      v3 knowing God AND Jesus Christ is life eternal. An accurate knowledge, or much better, THE accurate knowledge of this subject is extremely important to us! But why is life eternal based on 2 Persons and not 3?)
      v4 I, thou: again 2 pronouns. They express separation and delegation, not unity and equality (this really runs all the way through the chapter, the New Testament, the Bible.
      Specifically, The One-ness of many believers that we want to show in this chapter:
      v21 here Jesus prays that all believers may ALSO be one in the same way that Jesus and His Father are ONE.
      v22 this SAME ONE-NESS is repeated and
      v23 this same ONE-NESS is repeated again.
      So a three-fold cord is not easily broken, and three times this future inclusion of redeemed believers is testified by Jesus.

      I was brought up a Trinitarian, but the way I now read the Bible is that God the Father starts as One. On an exclusive definition of God, The Father remains immutable as One, but on any attempt at a wider definition of God, He fully intends to become many, many more than Three.
      “Christ… (became)… the firstfruits” after His resurrection, and afterward, those that are Christ’s at his coming (1 Corinthians 15:20-22…24…27-28) that God may be “All in All”.

      For me the questions from John 17 are:

      1) Is my own concept of God (in the wider sense, that sense that includes the One-ness of Christ with his Father) limited to ANY number smaller than the number of the redeemed?

      2) Does my own concept of God (in the wider sense, that sense that includes the One-ness of Christ with his Father) explain the future inclusion of the redeemed believers in the same way as Christ?

      We have to start from where we are, not from somewhere else, but to me, Three is a distraction from the real issues. How I would love to hear the debate on the Nature of God without reference to the number Three!

    • Phil Forster

      Troy said –

      For them, this is the moment they’ve been praying for for years, and they are the type to create T-shirts and flyers to get their community to vote. So, I assure you that spamming is not the explanation of the rapid amount of votes for Dave Burk!

      Lol, I didn’t see any Flags or T-Shirts, but we certainly stand by our own, Yep, Dave’s got my vote, I’m a Christadelphian and I’ve known Dave and his twin brother Jonno for a number of years. They’re identical so make sure your debating the right one Rob 😉

      This is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and him whom you sent, Jesus Christ. Jhn. 17:3

    • postroad

      Hey Jack.

      How about the concept that Jesus reverted to the state of being the Holy Spirit after death and glorification.

      1 Corinthians 15:44-46
      44it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
      If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual.

      The first Adam undivided contained in him all of humanity because Eve was created from his body and did not contain a seperate breath or spirit that animated the first Adam.

      In a sense all of humanity then is animated from the dust of the earth and that first breath into Adam 1

      Adam 1 undivided realy did die to create the human race. As is illustrated in this parable.

      23Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

      So Jesus had to die as the last Adam to release the Holy Spirit that resided in him so that it might indwell all those that constituted an elect chosen to be united with the Father?

    • John Marshall

      Christadelphians do not have pastors and never have had pastors. They are a lay community so Dave’s first claim, before the debate has even started, is bogus.

    • Troy

      What claim did he make?

    • Dave Burke

      Hi John, are you a Christadelphian?

      You say:

      Christadelphians do not have pastors and never have had pastors. They are a lay community so Dave’s first claim, before the debate has even started, is bogus.

      Actually I need to correct you there. In post #63 I stated that I am a layman with no professional theological qualifications. In post #150 I further stated that Christadelphians have no central authority. So I have been totally honest in my representation and I have made no claims to any hierarchical position.

      Yes, Christadelphians are a lay community; this fact is well known and I have not claimed otherwise. It is true that our serving brethren are not actually called “pastors” (though exhorting brethren in the UK are often called “ministers”, despite the fact that “minister” is used in a completely different way by mainstream churches). Nevertheless, brethren who take on certain ecclesial roles do serve in a pastoral capacity, performing all the duties of pastors in the evangelical community – so the term is a valid one.

      I used the word “pastor” because it is one that evangelicals understand and relate to. It would make no sense for me to use Christadelphian jargon (“exhorting brother”; “Arranging Brethren”; “Recorder”, etc.) since this would mean nothing to 90% of the people on this blog. I could have used the word “deacon” (a Biblical title) and it would have been equally true despite the fact that Christadelphian brethren are never actually called “deacons.” What matters is that the title accurately describes the role.

      Rob is welcome to approach my ecclesia (our word for “church”) where the brethren will assure him that I am indeed a Christadelphian pastor. Contact details are available on request. 🙂

    • Michael H

      Hi All,

      I find it fascinating that there has been a few attempts to discredit Dave already… Is that because of his votes?

      I know Daves wider family very well, and I have “known of” Dave for some time, and I can say that he is an honest person, and you can be sure of a good and honest debate with him.

    • Jack

      Hi Postroad

      I have not considered the concept that Jesus reverted to the state of being the Holy Spirit, but doesn’t 1Cor 15:44-46 which you quote provide a complete answer?
      If that which is first is natural, and not spiritual,
      then how could Jesus ‘revert’ to a first state that was spiritual but not natural?

      I think I would prefer to say that Eve received that same life-giving spirit that Job referred to (Job 34:14-15), and took some of it in the same way that Adam and you and I do. The life-giving spirit is the same, but our individual possession of it is different and for different periods, otherwise we would all perish together, as Job said. Adam lived 930 years and died: ‘dying thou shalt die’ – the process of aging and death started in Genesis 3.

      My understanding is certainly that Christ as the second Adam died to make possible the New Creation (redeemed immortal saints in the future age). I would not say that the first Adam did any more to create the human race than father children. True, God took one of Adam’s ribs for the formation of Eve, but from all the ways God could have created Eve, He selected the way that would best illustrate how the ecclesia would be formed from the body of Christ – we are back to the Unity theme of John 17 again: Christ the Head, and believers as part of his one body, fitly framed together.

      In prayer at Gethsemane, Jesus subjected His own will to the will of His Father when He resolved to go through with His sacrifice. The problem as Jesus expressed it (Mark 14:36) was not that if he did not die the Holy Spirit could not be released, but rather the problem was the difficulty that He Jesus experienced (as a man facing torture and death) in fulfilling not His own will, but being subservient to the declared will of God. It was necessary for Jesus to fulfil every word that had proceeded out of the mouth of His Father in the sure spirit word of prophecy – but then again, on the other hand, was anything impossible for His Father? And therefore the temptation was real, and words such as overcome and prevailed describe His victory….

      Maybe more will be said about that in the debate! But I hope that is a reasonable answer to the points you raised.

    • Dave Burke

      Michael H, thanks for your support but I don’t believe there has been any attempt to discredit me. It makes sense for people to ask questions and seek clarification on any point which seems inconsistent or unclear.

      More than 750 Christadelphians have been happy to vote for “Dave Burke, Christadelphian pastor”, so our community is obviously comfortable with this term and I can’t see why anyone else would object to it. 🙂

    • Ron Houben

      Well, the the electronic grapevine has reached as far as the K1W1″s of deep south and we are watching with great anticipation.
      Rob, I admire your boldness to front such a debate. Clearly your motivation is with the best of intentions and I pray that you have the courage adopt the spirit of the Bereans (Acts 17v10,11) as you embark on this debate.
      Dave, although we have never met I have had some knowledge of your brother’s work, and have total confidence that this same zeal and understanding must be a family trait.
      May this debate be to the glory of the Father and to His son – Amen

    • Jon Burke

      Ron, good to see you again! We must get in touch.


      //Will the debate primarily consist of trading proof-texts? One has to go deeper than that and consider that not all texts in the Bible are on equal standing historically speaking, and Jesus himself wrote nothing. As for those who did write the N.T., one must consider that historians view some verses as possibly being later than others in terms of later church doctrines being read back into say, the Gospels, like the verse in Matthew about baptizing in the names of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.//

      Seeing as Christians have literally written the book on the relevant socio-historical background, and totally dominate the relevant scholarly historico-critical literature on this subject, and given that both Rob and Dave are familiar with this literature, you can be certain that this will not be the kind of proof-text slapfest you would see between a typical Fundamentalist and a JW.

      For example, you can be sure that both Rob and Dave are entirely familiar with the textual arguments for and against the authenticity of the baptismal formula in Matthew 28:19, that they are aware of the ambiguity of the Eusebian evidence, that they are aware of Coneybeare’s longstanding and still popular erroneous reading of that evidence, and that they are aware that modern textual criticism from at least Kurt Aland onwards has consistently dismissed that reading. Neither a variant reading nor Coneybeare even gets a mention in TCGNT 2nd, and of course the text is included without comment in NA27.

    • Dave Burke

      Thanks Ron, I really appreciate that.


    • Sherry Stewart Luskin

      Fabulous!!!! Looking forward to this debate and contributions!!
      I am a Christadelphian pastor-ess!!!!!!

    • Tim Lange


      I am also a life-long Christadelphian and would love to see Dave Bruke debate you on the trinity. I have never met Dave, but I’m sure that he’ll give you all that you can handle. One thing for sure about serious Christadelphians, they know their Bible.

      I’m sure how the voting goes since I didn’t see a button, but my vote is for Dave. There are 4 others in my household who vote for him too, but alas, only one IP coming from my router!

      Also, greetings to all my brothers and sisters around the world reading these posts.


    • Dave Burke

      Tim, if I remember correctly the voting buttons don’t appear until you click on the word “Vote” at the bottom of the poll.

      Thanks for your kind words. 🙂

    • Tim Lange

      Hmmm… no Vote link or button under Polls or anywhere on the page. My browser maybe? (IE8, Windows 7). Do you have to register somewhere? Polls closed early?

    • Dave Burke

      Voting is still open. Here’s a screenshot which might help: http://i47.tinypic.com/ac76zn.jpg

      The poll should look like that before you vote.

    • Tim Lange

      Bro. Dave,

      Done! But you don’t want to know what I had to go through to do it! 🙂

      BTW – I imagine you’ve heard the 1960 debate with Bro. Mansfield?

      Bro. Tim

    • Dave Burke

      Tim, I haven’t heard that debate but I am pretty sure that I have read the transcript. 🙂

    • Troy

      Jon Burke,

      I appreciate your response to Mr. Babinski. Well said!

    • Steve

      Dave Burke claims to have served as a pastor in the Christadelphian community for the past 12 years. That’s odd, considering that Christadelphians do not have pastors!

      He also claims to represent a community of 100,000 members – also odd, considering that the Wikipedia article on Christadelphians puts their number at about 60,000.

      As a non-trinitarian I would have to say that there is consequently some doubt about Dave Burke’s to represent our position credibly. My vote goes for Professor Anthony Buzzard.

    • Michael H

      Tim, are you referring to the “Lee/Mansfield” Debates?

      I still have a copy of them on tape I thinks – they are really hard to come by, but very interesting.

    • Flint

      My vote goes to Anthony Buzzard in this debate.

      Having worked with Anthony in a couple of “One God” conferences, I must say he is a man of gentle spirit, quick mind, keen wit and Christian Love.

      Already in the posts above, there has been a classic misquote of one of the central verses used to argue both sides of the [eternal] Trinity debate.

      When Jesus said… “This is life eternal, that they might know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent…” contextually He was NOT engaged in a discussion about the configuration of the Godhead.

      The “knowing” God that leads us to life eternal is not how we might *draw* God on a piece of paper to explain 3 in 1 or 1 in three… or even if He were a Unity with a [nearly] 40 year old Only Begotten Son [at that point].

      The “knowing” Jesus speaks of is KNOWING God, like one might know their marriage partner, or child, or parent, or colleague… ie. likes, dislikes, habits, loves, fears [not that God has any fears] … in a word, what makes them tick as a person.

      Jesus is saying in John 17… when we get to understand what the Father is looking for in us [ie. a Love response to His awesome Grace] then we are well on the way to getting a handle of that life which is eternal in character.

      So stick to the context peoples… and don’t read stuff into the Bible that the Bible does not even deal with… especially on a matter that is not a life and death matter…. and is more about intellectual stimulation than it has to do with Christian living!

      Lets face it…. there is NO proof text FOR the Trinity any where in the Bible… and at the end of the day… who cares? For there will not be any Trinitarians in “Heaven,” because by the time they all get to “heaven” they will have grasped the fact that God is ONE [ie. He is unique…. “one of a kind”] and that Jesus is only a couple of thousand years old.

      What does count is this… “DO YOU KNOW GOD?” or as Paul poignantly puts it “NOW THAT WE ARE ‘KNOWN’ OF HIM” [cp Gal 4]… why be in bondage to things that are not profitable to the Christian … disputes about meta physics that we CANNOT *know* because they are outside our ken.


    • Tim Lange

      Michael and Dave,

      Yes, I’m referring to the Lee/Mansfield debates. If you like, I can make them available to you in mp3 format. We should probably move this off this forum since it’s off topic. I’m on FB so you can send me a friend request.


    • Dave Burke

      Hi Steve, thanks for taking an interest.

      You say:

      Dave Burke claims to have served as a pastor in the Christadelphian community for the past 12 years. That’s odd, considering that Christadelphians do not have pastors!

      This issue was addressed in post #169. The short version is that Christadelphians have brethren who are pastors in all but name; the precise title isn’t important. For the long version, see post #169. Alternatively, feel free to contact my ecclesia (the Recording Brother’s details are available on request). 🙂

      He also claims to represent a community of 100,000 members – also odd, considering that the Wikipedia article on Christadelphians puts their number at about 60,000.

      To be honest, Wikipedia’s guess is as good as mine! The precise number of Christadelphians has always been fuzzy. Due to the lack of available statistics, the figure will vary from source to source.

      For example, the Columbia Encyclopedia gives a total of 50,000 Christadelphians throughout 120 different countries. This is contradicted by government census reports, which show a total of 60,000 Christadelphians throughout the UK, Australia, Malawi, Mozambique, USA, Canada, New Zealand, Kenya, India, Tanzania, and the Philippines. And that’s only 11 of the 120 countries in which Christadelphians are found! So I think it is safe to conclude that we have a lot more than 60,000.

      If 100,000 sounds too optimistic, perhaps 80,000-90,000 is a fair estimate. 🙂

      As a non-trinitarian I would have to say that there is consequently some doubt about Dave Burke’s to represent our position credibly. My vote goes for Professor Anthony Buzzard.

      Well, you’re entitled to your opinion and I respect your choice. I wasn’t in the race myself, I would have voted for Anthony too! 🙂

    • Dave Burke

      Oops, I mean “If I wasn’t in the race…”


    • Peter

      My vote goes for Dave Burke, I have never heard him debate the trinity, but im sure he’ll do a great job!

      Steve – Rather than discuss the fact that DAve represents the christadelphian view point – He is standing, not for himself, not for the christadelphians, but for God.

      Hope it all Goes well.

      God bless

    • NorthAmerica

      Hi Steve:

      Your personal animosity towards Dave is showing through and your past history with him. Your own admin on your own facebook site calls himself a Christadelphian pastor. We know you are a good friend of Anthony. Just vote for him without grasping at straws to undermine Dave.

      Not a very pleasant thing to see in public.

    • Paul Gaitanis

      Having grown up in the Greek Orthodox faith (incidentally the church was named the “Holy Trinity” church) I became a Christadelphian after actually reading and studying the Bible. I’m looking forward to this debate as it should be very interesting and enlightening. One thing I find ironic is that the terminology used by trinitarians such as “God the Son”, “God in three persons,” “three in one,” and “trinity” itself is not found in the Holy Scriptures.

    • Rob Bowman


      I believe the poll closes in less than an hour, but it is surely safe to conclude that Dave Burke, our Christadelphian candidate, has won by a landslide. As Troy predicted, about a thousand votes were cast for him — at my last count, 1020 votes. My congratulations to Dave. I look forward to our debate. I will be contacting Dave privately by email to discuss the specifics including the schedule and any changes the two of us might agree to make to the format. I will announce the details on the blog as soon as we have them worked out.

      I would also like to express my thanks to Anthony Buzzard, Michael Richardson, David Barron, and Kermit Zarley for their willingness to participate in this debate. I’m sure all of you would have been interesting and worthy opponents. I hope to interact with all of you in the future.

    • Dave Burke

      Thanks Rob, I look forward to hearing from you.

      And a very big “THANK YOU!” to everyone who voted for me.


    • Fortigurn

      Steve, you don’t have to worry about Dave not representing your position accurately, because he’s representing the Christadelphian position and you’re not a Christadelphian.

      I don’t understand why your references to Wikipedia and Dave’s use of the term ‘pastor’ have anything to do with Dave’s ability to represent the Christadelphian position accurately, but a couple of points are worth noting.

      The first is your objection to Dave’s use of the word ‘pastor’, which he has addressed twice now. The second is that the number of Christadelphians recorded by Wikipedia is demonstrably an underestimate. It doesn’t even claim to be an accurate number of all Christadelphians, instead it provides ‘estimates’ of the number of Christadelphians in ‘the main centres of Christadelphian population’.

      It does not record the number of Christadelphians in Fiji, Indonesia, PNG, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, China, Mongolia, South America, the Caribbean, or various African and European countries. The estimate of 60,000 is therefore demonstrably an under-estimate and should not be treated as an accurate figure.

    • Susan Knight

      Congratulating David personally is perhaps not totally appropriate as this is not a popularity poll, but I can say I am very pleased that he will be the one to debate this with Rob. As a minority group Christadelphians rarely get such a serious hearing from mainstream Christians.

      A correct understanding of the Father, the Son and the holy spirit is not a matter of semantics but basic doctrine which affects our understanding of the Atonement provided by Christ.

      The doctrine of the Trinity proposes a subterfuge for the sacrifice of Jesus, in which he did not totally die, but a part or essence or other manifestation of himself remained alive in Heaven.

      This debate is a God-given opportunity for the scriptural truths to be respectfully presented to a very wide body of genuinely interested people. Thank you, Rob, for providing this public forum and choosing your opposition so fairly.

    • Steve Pitt-Francis

      This is a great idea and I look forward to following Rob and Dave during this debate. I hope its enlightening on both sides and ultimately moves all of us forwards to a closer and more true understanding of God.

      Readers could imagine this upcoming and exciting event with various metaphors of their own… Personally I hope it’s this way!: As two well mannered and well known archaeologists (maybe in a big city hall in a place like 19th century London!) each proving with clear evidence the authenticity of their finds and theories, and aware of a big interested audience before them..who become amazed to discover that overall ideas now actually connect in a way quite better than how they always had believed until this event…

    • I am a Christadelphian which means that I believe in One God. He says so through His Word the Bible!

      I have a question for you: Do you believe in “Trinity” or “Tritheism”? and how can you when both of these words come outside the Bible?


    • Gareth Avery

      As a Christadelphian I have always been comfortable with the death of Jesus being a genuine event which pained God to witness. But the majority of other Christian denominations read the same Bible and conclude that God and Jesus are the same.

      I look forward to following this debate and perhaps better appreciating the basis of the Trinitarian view of God.

    • Ron Houben

      Rob, as you discuss the format and structure of the debate with Dave, can you discuss the value of the poll that concludes the debate? To set aside one’s view of the doctrine of the trinity and vote on the quality of the presentation itself would appear to be establishing the challenge to be between two men and their debating skills rather than quality of Biblical evidence, which would give God the glory.

    • […] those unaware, last November Rob Bowman issued a call for an opponent to debate the doctrine of the Trinity. Now, two months later, the call has been […]

    • Susan Knight

      I think we need to be cautious about rejecting a doctrine or challenging its adherents just because the word commonly used as a kind of shorthand to describe, it doesn’t appear in any English versions of the bible. “Trinity” and “Tritheism” are sensibly used words to describe particular beliefs, and the fact that they are not biblical words does not prove that those beliefs are incorrect.

      English-speaking Christadelphians may refer to “God Manifestation”, a phrase which doesn’t appear in the bible either, but is a basic, lofty scriptural concept and the true meaning of ‘that they may be one, even as we are one”.

      The only test for correct doctrine is, “Is it in harmony with the WHOLE of God’s revelation concerning His past, present, and future dealings with humanity?”

      The mainstream church doctrine of the Trinity is not: but this needs to be clearly demonstrated and understood from scripture as a whole – simply rejecting the doctrine on the basis of its label is not sensible.

      I look forward to this debate, and hope it will be a clean argument from scripture, and not become bogged down in over-intellectual theology and esoteric terms of reference which someone like myself will find it hard to understand without explanation.

      May this not be a debate where after many ‘strifes about words’ the outcome is only decided on point scoring, (the concern of post 199) but rather one where the result will be a clear shining forth of Divine Truth, with the confusions swept away, in the minds of those open-mindedly and honestly seeking after it, regardless of their previous position.

      To God be the glory.

    • Susan Knight

      Marko, my apologies, a misplaced comma in my opening sentence made it very confusing to read. It should read:

      I think we need to be cautious about rejecting a doctrine or challenging its adherents just because the word commonly used as a kind of shorthand to describe it, doesn’t appear in any English versions of the bible.

    • kevin

      Marko… The words “monotheism” and “monotheist” do not occur in the Bible, yet you would probably consider that the Bible teaches monotheism. Right?

    • C Michael Patton

      Friends, please. I appreciate so much everyone’s zeal. What an important topic this is. But this is not the place to discuss the Trinity. It is only for the discussion/debate that is going to soon take place.

      From now on all back and forth about the Trinity will be deleted.

    • Nigel

      Michael – thank you for facilitating this opportunity for everyone – really looking forward to the interaction and the benefit of a better understanding of both sides of this argument at the end.

      It is good to see that you are able to control the enthusiasm to pre-empt this debate – on this blog – despite your clear instructions!

      Can we log in anywhere to get notification of the timing etc of the ongoing debate, or do we need to just keep going onto this url every few days?

    • James Anderson

      I have noted, as possibly many others have, that the Christadelphian element is predominately an online following. As a Oneness believer I would look forward to a debate on the issue of the Trinity but would be greatly disappointed to see it debated with a Christadelphian. My view is the minority here online. I have nothing against Dave Burke personally but would rather see the debate take place with a Oneness person. Mr. Bowman, I would ask you to peruse my Oneness apologetic website and see if I would be worth your time in an email discussion or dialogue at the very least. My website has a topical archive and has been going for about 5 years now. I am also good friends with Jason Dulle and could speak with him about a debate with yourself if you wish. I have noted your works and would be very interested in discussing this important topic with you. I am not associated with any Oneness organization but did hold license with the UPC for several years.

    • Chris Kelly

      I just want to thank Rob and Dave for pledging their time and best efforts to this debate. It’s a big task and I know I would not be up to it. I am one of the Christadelphians watching this and am greatly looking forward to it. I appreciate it is us the observers who are the beneficiaries of your labours and I am sure you will both give us a great deal of food for thought. Thanks again.

    • Dave Burke


      I have noted, as possibly many others have, that the Christadelphian element is predominately an online following

      This is not true. Our sect has existed for more than 150 years, during which time we have established ourselves throughout 120 different countries. The global Christadelphian population is variously estimated at 80,000-100,000 believers and I believe we are currently the largest Biblical Unitarian sect in the world.

      We did not begin to use the Net as a serious preaching tool until the late 80s and our online presence only reflects a tiny proportion of our real life community.

      All of that aside, I am not sure what your point is, since this debate will be “Trinitarianism vs Biblical Unitarianism”, not “Trinitarianism vs the Christadelphians.”

    • Mark from Holland


      From the voting it is clear that you represent a minority of the on-line viewers looking forward to this event. However, according to the rules (which seem very fair to me) you get the chance to raise questions if you see either debater going off course from what you take to be biblical teaching and not already addressed by the other. “Anyone who properly registers to leave comments will be able to ask both of us any questions pertaining to these issues relating to the Trinity”. So if you feel some Bible verses are being neglected or taken out of context, just raise a question and I assume you will get a reply.

    • James Anderson

      Dave and Mark, thanks for your replies. Dave, no offense meant and I apologize for the generalization. I would disagree that Oneness is Unitarian. There are distinct and vital differences (deity of Christ) and as far as I can tell the debate was to be with a non-Trinitarian not just a Unitarian. As I noted, and Mark also repeated, my opinion here, is obviously a minority. My point was that Oneness believers number close to 30 million globally and that is significant as they are adamantly anti-Trinitarian. I am partial too, and believe the Oneness view creates numerous problems for the Trinitarian view.

    • Dave Burke

      Hi James:

      Dave and Mark, thanks for your replies. Dave, no offense meant and I apologize for the generalization.

      That’s fine, no problem.

      I would disagree that Oneness is Unitarian. There are distinct and vital differences (deity of Christ) and as far as I can tell the debate was to be with a non-Trinitarian not just a Unitarian.

      I agree that Oneness is not Unitarian; I didn’t say that it was! And yes, the debate simply called for a non-Trinitarian, not a Unitarian. My point was that it will *now* be “Trinitarianism vs Biblical Unitarianism”, since a Biblical Unitarian has been chosen.

      As I noted, and Mark also repeated, my opinion here, is obviously a minority. My point was that Oneness believers number close to 30 million globally and that is significant as they are adamantly anti-Trinitarian. I am partial too, and believe the Oneness view creates numerous problems for the Trinitarian view.

      I appreciate what you’re saying.

      One thing that’s always struck me as odd is the ferocity with which Trinitarians and Oneness believers attack each other’s respective Christologies. The funny thing is, you only disagree on the personhood of the Godhead. Everything else is exactly the same.

      You both believe that Jesus is God; you both believed that he remained alive after his body died on the cross; you both believe that he re-entered his dead body and raised it to life again; you both believe that he is to be worshipped as the only true God. The points of convergence just go on and on.

      With so much in common, wouldn’t it make more sense for you to join forces and unite against those of us who don’t believe in the deity of Christ?

    • Troy


      Do Oneness believers reject a Tri-personal/Trinitarion conception of God’s being and believe in a Uni-personal God? That would, by default, make them unitarians of a different sort than biblical unitarians!

    • James Anderson

      Troy, yes they do reject the Trinity and no they are not Unitarian since to use that word outside its historical meaning would mean we should use another word altogether. Oneness is good. Some mistakenly label us Modalists but I have found that labels fit better on jars and not people.

    • Chris Kelly

      Interesting, but is there a scheduled start date for the real debate?

    • Rob Bowman

      Hi all,

      I have emailed Dave Burke privately to begin discussing the dates for the debate and other details. I will announce the start date when we have everything in place.

    • Xavier

      For more on Anthony Buzzard see:


    • Dave Burke

      I’ve had an email from Rob and sent two in reply. There’s a few aspects of the debate that I’d like to clarify and negotiate.

    • Miriam

      How profitable is it to put the Word that was made flesh into words?

      Isn’t it more important to follow the Word that was made flesh, and live out the example of Jesus in our lives, than to invest a lot of time and effort in writing words about what Scripture calls “the mystery of godlinesss”?

      “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” 1 Timothy 3v16

    • Sandra H

      I nominate Dave Burke

    • Geoff Wickham

      The profitableness is in our salvation from sin. –

      1Co 15:17 “and if Christ hath not been raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.”
      – if Christ didn’t die (ie. he was tranlated directly into spirit) then neither was he raised from the dead (ie. he was translated back into his body) then 1Cor 15:17 applies.

      The fact that he did die (not translated into spirit) and was ressurrected from the dead (not translated back into his body) makes him the perfect sacrifice for our salvation from sin and gives us the hope of our still future restoration to a full relationship with our Father with Jesus as our “brother”. –
      1Co 15:28 “And when all things have been subjected unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subjected to him that did subject all things unto him, that God may be all in all.”

      How much more do we need to know about death & ressurrection (both Christ’s & our’s) & the restored relationship with God that was lost in Eden, than what is written in 1Cor15?

      Rob & Dave
      Looking forward immensely to the debate guys. May it proceed to the glory of God & of his Son, our Lord Jesus, whose coming we await.

    • Miriam

      Geoff – I’m not sure what you mean by “translated” in spirit/back into body. I wasn’t aware trinitarians believe that?

      I am “atrinitarian” (as in the sense of “apolitical” ie: totally neutral about it) and I am neither trinitarian or non-trinitarian, since they are man-made doctrines.

      I wondered why it is necessary to define Christianity by debating two man-made doctrines which were essentially formed by reacting to each other. Is debating reactionary man-made doctrines profitable for godliness? Possibly. I guess there is only one way to find out!

    • Rob Bowman

      Dave Burke and I have agreed to a six-week debate that will begin April 11, 2010. We have also agreed to limit ourselves to 5,000 words each week instead of 10,000.

      I am going to post this message also as a new post, just to make sure everyone sees it. In that post I will also list the pro-Trinitarian works I recommend for the purposes of this debate. After Dave posts his recommended works, I will add his list to that new post so it will appear on equal footing with my list.

    • Dave Burke

      The following list comprises a collection of books and articles which accurately reflect my Christology. None of them were written by me.

      Where possible, I have provided hyperlinks to online versions of the books as well as the articles.


      The Racovian Catechism (1605) Polish Brethren: http://tinyurl.com/ygmo936
      Lectures on the Principles of Unitarianism (1824) Hyndman, J S: http://tinyurl.com/yhjz46g
      The Doctrine of the Trinity: Analytically Examined and Refuted (1937) White, Percy: http://tinyurl.com/ybvsfut
      Wrested Scriptures (1964) Abel, Ron: http://tinyurl.com/ycodx2t
      What Are the First Principles? (1990) Booker, George: http://tinyurl.com/yb9j3br
      The Trinity: True or False? (1995) Broughton, James & Southgate, Peter: http://tinyurl.com/md3o3l
      The Doctrine of the Trinity: Christianity’s Self-Inflicted Wound (1998) Buzzard, Anthony & Hunting, Charles
      Before He was Born (2007) Perry, Andrew
      The Restitution of Jesus Christ (2009) Zarley, Kermit

      “What do Biblical Unitarians Believe?”: http://tinyurl.com/39qu8o
      “Who is Jesus Christ?”: http://tinyurl.com/yg7e47w
      “Interpreting Jesus’ Birth”: http://tinyurl.com/y85gvqq
      “The Two Adams”: http://tinyurl.com/yhvaglh

    • Sam Clements

      I may have missed one or two of the posts/comments/lines in this blog post but have both parties expressed their initial statement as to their belief as to what they understand the relationship of God Jesus and the Holy Spirit to be? Given that this debate is about the trinity, I think that it would be necessary to have a base-line to work from.

    • Ron Houben

      OK, less than a week away now. No correspondance for a month now; must be time to start generating the interest. Dave/Rob are we still on track for the 11th? Is the debate going to be conducted through this current link? Any update on the format?

    • Dave Burke

      Ron, the debate will commence on the 11th. A new thread has been started here: http://tinyurl.com/y25akpo

    • […] can read Rob’s introduction to the debate challenge here. And also worth reading is Rob and David’s list of resources that are relevant to the […]

    • Oun

      From a gadfly:

      As I have a fear to go through, spending time and enjoying reading in this important topic, I hope someone has clearly set what is the proposition of the doctrine we are going to debate and discuss.

      When I have to go through hundreds and hundreds pages of books and hundreds and hundreds web-pages piled and waiting to be read up, I find that most of arguments are wasteful of my time because they fail to have all the words appearing in the proposition precisely defined at the start. [e.g. are they still using such inadequate term ‘person’ without having it defined? If they do, it will be a clue for something to follow.]

      As far as I’m concerned this doctrine of Trinity is the only doctrine as such any Christian needs and it will survive and be defended until everything ends, including the whole Torah, at the Consummation.

      Are there any other things to be called ‘doctrine’? Maybe, but I bet, it’s all theological phrasing of what the Bible says, no more, no less. My understanding of the doctrine may be different from the ‘traditional’ one, but I’m die-hard on this. If I have to die on a doctrine as such, this might be it. (Of course, no one dies for any doctrine. Even if someone dies for the ‘truth’, the truth cannot be a vague idea or doctrine. It has to be the divine reality, God himself. For that, one has to die when called for.)

    • Fortigurn

      I note that the debate threads have been closed before Dave Burke was able to post his final counter-rebuttal. Was there a reason for this?

      Furthermore, I haven’t seen anything about the poll which was to be held. Is this still going ahead?

    • Rob Bowman


      After 33,000 words of comments dumped all at once, are you saying that your twin brother is still not done rebutting? I stated in my comment after that onslaught that it seemed only fair that I be given the last word. But then you kept posting comments, essentially in his place. Since your comments (like his) repeatedly misrepresented the facts (including the facts about what I said), I felt that there was no point in allowing it to continue. Therefore, against my own preference to have continued posting comments replying to your brother’s comments, I decided it would be best to close the comments.

      As far as I know, we are still going to do the poll.

    • […] on November 14, 2009 by Louis| Leave a comment Robert Bowman at Parchment and Pen has issued a challenge to debate someone who does not believe in the […]

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