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Orthodox teaching on the Trinity is at best boring, and at worst an excuse for bigotry. It is difficult to believe that God is going to stop us at the gates of heaven, ask if we believe in a word that isn't even in the Bible (Trinity), and consign us to eternity in hell if we cannot grasp God being three people and one person at the same time.

In reality, the doctrine grew from attempts to reconcile paradoxical statements from Jesus, i.e. that he and God the Father are one and that anyone who has seen him has seen the Father (John 10:30, John 14:7-11), at the same time that he said that the Father is greater than the Son (John 14:28) and that he can do nothing without the Father's assistance (John 5:19, and John 5:30).

Muslims, Jehovah's Witnesses, Christadel-phians and a few other sects would make you an infidel if you regarded Jesus as divine, or addressed your prayers to him. The rest of Christendom would call you heretics if you suggested that anyone could know God without knowing that his first name is Jesus.

We don't want to take sides in this silly debate. With or without a Trinitarian doctrine, God is incomprehensible. But it seems that both sides have missed the real point.

The passages from John's Gospel, referred to on the previous page, suggest that anyone who responds to Jesus is responding to God (even if they regard themselves as atheists) and anyone who sincerely seeks to serve God is actually a Christian (whether or not they've ever heard of Jesus). If you have one, you get the other for free... two for one!

This simple interpretation exposes the religious small-mindedness that is being demonstrated on both sides of the Trinity issue.

If God and Jesus are interchangeable, then we could accept sincere Hindus as fellow Christians on the basis of their faith in God as they know him (and on the basis of the saving grace of Christ, which makes up for any errors in their theology).

If we could believe that anyone who receives Jesus has received God (Matthew 10:40), we could accept all who subscribe to the teachings of Jesus the Man or Jesus the Prophet (Muslims, atheists, etc.) as fellow Christians too... on the ground that, having accepted Jesus they have (unknowingly) accepted God.

The life and teachings of Jesus, especially his relationship with and support for sincere Samaritans (theological heretics of the day) indicates that this is precisely what he meant when he said things like "anyone who receives me receives him that sent me" (John 13:20) and "If God is your father, then you will love me." (John 8:42)

And if that's what Jesus taught, then that's what we want to teach as well.

(See also In Search of Truth.)

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