Jefferson and the Trinity

Later in life, Jefferson came to disbelieve in the Trinity. But what about the New Testament—what does it say on that point?

Historic Christians don’t believe in three Gods. But we certainly believe in what the Bible seems to say about the Godhead. Here are seven basic beliefs that are the essence of the Trinity in the Bible:

  • the Father is God
  • the Son is God
  • the Spirit is God
  • the Father is not the Son
  • the Father is not the Spirit
  • the Son is not the Spirit
  • there is only one God.

Those core statements can all be justified by a multitude of Scriptures.

It’s interesting to point out too that, while we agree with Jefferson that never should blood be spilled over differences in doctrine, we disagree with the idea that the problem lays with creeds. From a spiritual critique, we see Unitarianism as having cut itself off from historic Christianity and any creedal formula and then drifting from there into unbelief.

In 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, we see that the Apostle Paul formulates a kind of creed—a creed that apparently was circulating in Christian circles. The creed said that Christ died for sinners according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, and rose again from the dead on the third day according to the Scriptures. Paul says that believing or disbelieving this simple creed is the dividing line as to your salvation. That’s a simple dividing line—compared to believing, say, the Nicene Creed. We saw that Jefferson criticized Paul (but continued reading and quoting him in various correspondence), even though Paul likely wrote before or concurrent with, in some cases, the evangelists, that is, the four Gospel writers. But we also saw from the likes of Rev. William Ellery Channing, the leader of American Unitarians at that time, the idea that the Scriptures were the Word of God. Of course, that would include Paul, who wrote about half of the New Testament.

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