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The gospel of the Triune God: our prime concern

Published: 19 January 2013 (GMT+10)
123rf.com/Illia Uriadnikov

Since we clearly write and speak a lot on creation/evolution, people can be easily mistaken that it is the only issue CMI is concerned with. However, we are first a Christian ministry. Our concern for the truth of biblical creation is born out of our concern for the integrity of the Bible and the gospel in our day—it is not an end in itself. Our mission has always been to defend the authority of Scripture and the truth and transforming power of the gospel, as we have clearly laid out in our Statement of Faith (SoF). This includes defending doctrines such as the Trinity and the Incarnation because they are foundational biblical doctrines. P.M. writes, with comments from CMI’s Dr Jonathan Sarfati interspersed.

Dear Team,

Dear Mr M.

My wife and I have been receiving the magazine for many years now, always with interest.

Thank you for your subscription over the years.

Until recent years articles were about natural life with the occasional mention of doctrine. This has changed, obviously as a matter of policy, to the magazine articles now including specific doctrinal articles. For example in this issue “The Incarnation” by Jonathan Sarfati [see full version].

This is clearly your prerogative, but detracts from the apparent original aims of the magazine.

With respect, the original aims of our magazine are to promote the doctrines that have been clearly laid out in our Statement of Faith. This has been on our website for some time (What we believe), so it’s not a secret. Also, the leading apologists at CMI have had a part in this SoF so we have thought through the issues from Scripture. And right from the start, there is:

(A) PRIORITIES

  1. The scientific aspects of creation are important, but are secondary in importance to the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as Sovereign, Creator, Redeemer and Judge.
  2. The doctrines of Creator and Creation cannot ultimately be divorced from the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We could live with this because of the usefulness of the other articles, but not when the doctrines expressed in the magazine in either articles or boxes is unbiblical. I’ll explain that in a minute.

But as a basis for comments like the ones we want to make, we notice you always assert, and we agree, that all basic doctrines should come from Genesis. Fine, but yours don’t. Now to explain.

Genesis is the seedbed of all doctrines, yes, but Christian doctrine is laid out in all the Bible. Near the top of the SoF, under the Priorities, is:

(B) BASICS

  1. The 66 books of the Bible are the written Word of God. The Bible is divinely inspired and inerrant throughout. Its assertions are factually true in all the original autographs. It is the supreme authority, not only in all matters of faith and conduct, but in everything it teaches. Its authority is not limited to spiritual, religious or redemptive themes but includes its assertions in such fields as history and science.
  2. The final guide to the interpretation of Scripture is Scripture itself.

The box at the foot of page 41 is headed “Here’s good news for the world.” The thrust of the text is just that, but not the detail.

It claims to “give glory and honour to the triune God of the Bible”, but you know as well as we do that such terminology is never found in the Bible, nor the word “trinity”, nor, and perhaps just as important, the whole concept.

Here is where we disagree. I address both the absence of the word and the fact of the doctrine in reply to an Islamist in Islam, testimony, and the Trinity. The defense of the doctrine is presented in relatively brief form in Jesus Christ our Creator: A biblical defence of the Trinity and in more detail in Our Triune God. I specifically defend the Deity of Christ at Defending vital doctrines and the deity of Christ and address some critics at Trinity: analogies and countering critics. Indeed, the doctrine in embryonic form is found in Genesis, as shown in Who really is the God of Genesis?

With respect, I think anti-Trinitarians really are not aware of the strong biblical case for the Trinity, which is why the Church has historically accepted it, from the Church Fathers all the way to the Reformers then the Whitefield and Wesley revivals.

God is one and says so.

Trinitarians believe in one God. As I explain in The Hebrew language and Messianic prophecies, the word for “one” is the word for composite unity.

Jesus is his son and says so, to back up God’s declaration of it. The holy spirit is clearly God at work or the power of God, and not a person.

Yet as we explain on the site, ‘ … the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”’ (Acts 13:2) This first-person proclamation is conclusive proof of the personality of the Holy Spirit.

Later in the box it is stated that “Jesus Christ the Creator, God the son” though totally … But again nowhere are such words used in the Bible. Jesus is certainly responsible for the new creation, but his Father made all things.

Again, this is answered in Who is Jesus? God the Son?, showing that the appellation “God the Son” is a logical deduction from Scripture.

Not mentioned in this issue, that I have noticed, are your common comments about satan or devil. Without entering into what these words mean to us from scripture, sufficient to say neither is mentioned in Genesis, from which your foundations are supposed to come.

This again presupposes that the Bible stops at Genesis. But the Bible is progressive propositional revelation, and the serpent is identified with the devil in later parts of Scripture.

Yes we know you state you are based on orthodox Christian church doctrines, but perhaps sometime you should reexamine this stand by studying the scripture again rather than just accepting the standard doctrines.

That’s exactly what we have done, as amply shown by the articles cited. It seems that you hold to something like Christadelphianism, which is a newcomer presenting doctrines rightly rejected by the early church.

Certainly CMI believes in Sola Scriptura (not Solus Genesis as you seem to want us to believe). Part of that must logically include the biblical teaching that God has provided teachers. We agree that ultimately they must all be judged according to Scripture, as the “noble Bereans” applied even to the Apostle Paul (Acts 17:11). Thus we have confirmed that the Trinity really is a biblically-deduced doctrine.

When it comes to the wisdom of using that term, we think it wise to follow the greatest teachers that God has raised up in the Church, from the early Patristic age (see their Scriptural arguments in Trinity: analogies and countering critics), then the great ecumenical councils at Nicea and Chalcedon, through the Reformers such as Calvin whom we cited at length, the great Revival leaders and anti-slavery abolitionists, and now leading evangelical systematic theologians. We would consider it as most unwise, and with unforeseen dangers, if we were to abandon this term. The remedy for any misunderstandings must be sound instruction in the Word, demonstrating that God does reveal Himself as a Trinity.

Of course this would destroy your ministry as funding would no longer flow in the necessary quantities I’d imagine.

Imputing motives is always dubious, since you don’t know our minds. But the only objective evidence available is that we stand to lose your funding because we will not change our Trinitarian stance. (Of course we could also probably get more funding by going soft on billions of years.)

Anyway this is what we wanted to say. The result is that despite loving the articles as much as ever, we can’t support the doctrinal side of your work so when renewal comes up next, we won’t.

That is your prerogative.

May God be with you as you look into these things more closely.

I would say the same to you. I am deeply concerned that you do not “honour the Son just as they honour the Father”, because that means that you do not honour the Father either (John 5:23), as the Messiah said. We urge you to repent of the sin of not honouring the Son, of rejecting the Son of God (John 3:35–36); our loving concern is that otherwise you will see the wrath of YHWH on you. The Bible makes it clear that we are saved from the wrath of YHWH by trusting in Jesus our Saviour, not by doing the things the Watchtower (or any other organization or group such as Christadelphians or “oneness” groups) tells us to do (Acts 2:38, 4:12). That’s the only way we can be saved! How about it? Have you been forgiven for your sins? Are you safe from the wrath of YHWH? I speak in genuine loving concern.

M.M. and P.M.

Yours in “our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13),

Jonathan Sarfati, Ph.D., F.M.

Author, Speaker, Head Scientist, CMI–USA (formerly Australia)

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