Call Me Heretic. Please.

Posted: January 30, 2012 in On Being Apostolic, Uncategorized, United Pentecostal Church
Tags: , , ,

So. TD Jakes has openly confessed to being a full-on Trinitarian.

So what? And who cares? I don’t. I’ve thought for years that TD was ambivalent at best in his public statements about his beliefs, so I’m personally glad that he’s finally declared himself. I’m not surprised, shocked, chagrined, disappointed, angry, troubled, upset, disillusioned, or otherwise emotionally distraught and spiritually devastated. It is what it is. If you want to be accepted in the evangelical world, you’re going to have to accept trinitarian theology. After years of equivocating and “bridge building”, he’s finally done the inevitable; give public assent to trinitarianism.

Why on earth does that surprise anyone?

Look. I’ve sat across the table from evangelicals more than a few times discussing oneness/trinitarian theology, and I’ve known for ages that the concept of distinct personalities in the Godhead is absolutely fundamental to their theological worldview. Trinitarianism isn’t optional for them; believing in the trinity is a fundamental tenet of faith. And lest you think it’s just a matter of semantics, you just try replacing the word “persons” with “manifestations” in a serious discussion with a serious trinitarian. You see, it’s that “persons” thing that’s at the very core of trinitarian dogma. No “persons” means no trinity. Those apostolics who think its all a matter of semantics haven’t talked to serious trinitarians. No sir. It’s not semantics to them; it’s the very heart of Christianity. If you don’t believe in the trinity, you’re not a Christian. And that’s that.

It doesn’t matter that the doctrine of the trinity is developmental and evolutionary in nature. It doesn’t matter that the early church wouldn’t have had a bloody clue what contemporary trinitarians are talking about. It doesn’t matter that the doctrine of the trinity was established at the heart of Catholic Christianity by the fiat of Emperor Constantine. It doesn’t matter that the so-called orthodox doctrine of the trinity espoused by evangelicals today wouldn’t have even been imagined by Tertullian. And it doesn’t matter that the first ancient trinitarians wouldn’t be considered trinitarian enough by contemporary evangelical standards. And finally, it doesn’t matter that some poor misguided souls have, in their efforts to be even more trinitarian than the great unwashed, made themselves veritable tri-theists.

It especially doesn’t matter that the trinity doesn’t make sense and that it’s a mind-bending distortion of all logic. It doesn’t matter that it sounds schizophrenic. It doesn’t matter that the only people who profess to understand how trinity can exist are physicists. You know…those super-duper smart guys who think that time travel and teleportation and multiple universes ala old-skool DC Comics are really possible, and that a cat can be both dead and alive at the same time. (Ok. Sure. Now let me help you tie your shoes.)

It doesn’t matter that God had all kinds of opportunities over the course of thousands of verses in Scripture to declare Himself a trinity. It doesn’t matter that among the many self-declarations He made, He never once alluded to the existence of any more than one person in the Godhead. He could have just once said, “Oh yeah. I’m really three. I mean, I’m one¸ but we’re three too. We mean, well, just get this…there’s a trinity of us-me-we up here. Don’t try to figure it out.” No…never…not once does God ever declare Himself to be anything other than unequivocally one. It doesn’t matter that the Jewish people worshiped God for a really long time without any concept of a trinity. And it doesn’t matter that trinitarians violate one of the most basic rules of interpreting Scripture; interpret the few in light of the many.

Nah. None of this matters. As a professor at a Weslyan Bible College once said to me, “You don’t have to understand it. You just have to believe it.”

Right.

Hey, I realize that I’m not adding anything of value to the great debate. I recognize that I’m not assisting with the great and noble effort of building a bridge between Oneness and trinitarian viewpoints. No one will ever accuse me of fostering understanding. Many well intentioned and Christian spirited people with far more education, Biblical understanding, and better communication skills than I have discussed this issue ad nauseam. Symposiums, debates, interviews, books, articles…all produced with the same naive idea that “if somehow they could only just have oneness explained to them by someone who can really explain it, they’d see that we really believe the same thing.” (sincere smile and batting eyelashes) Wake up, already. Trinitarian leaders and theologians know what we believe.

I don’t really care that there’s a great divide between us theologically. I’m all good with that. Hey, they put it there…let them worry about trying to bridge it. Let them come to us and change their theology. I don’t care if Mark Driscoll, Rob Bell, or any of the other contemporary evangelical greats serving up the same tepid saws the evangelical world has served up for a century now (albeit admittedly cleverly repackaged) don’t accept us as “brothers”. Vive la difference is what I say!

The only thing I’m remotely troubled by in this whole tempest-in-a-teapot is the doe-eyed response of some young apostolics to the idea that the evangelical hotshots consider us (gasp!) heretics. It’s as if they’ve been cut to the quick! “But gosh! We’re just so doggone nice, after all! We’re just so sunny and so…so…cute! And clever too! As well as open-minded! We buy your books and DVD’s! We watch you on TV! We follow you on Twitter and retweet your pithiness! We even like you on Facebook! How can you be so…so…mean?” Get this, apostolic, your belief in oneness separates you from them. They know it, and they’re unashamed to tell you that your view of God is unmitigated heresy. So pick your lip up off the floor and get your heretic on! Me? I wear the heretic badge with pride. I’ve been called “heretic” so many times by frothing, red-faced trinitarians that I’m thinking of making up t-shirts that say something like, “HERETIC: LOUD AND PROUD!”

I emphatically deny the existence of a trinity of persons in the Godhead, and I’m not ashamed to say it. Again. So, yeah. Call me heretic. Please.

Comments
  1. chrispaolini says:

    Well said, my friend. I’ve come to the same conclusions recently and I’m preparing my congregation for the onslaught. We preach Bible instead of traditions of men, and am glad to stand shoulder to shoulder with you, my friend. Keep up the good work!

  2. Paul says:

    man…i feel the thunder coming over to Wales…. Preach It!…..A man with convictions cannot be shaken but a man with convictions can shake up a lot of unshaken, Hope you follow me on my blog after being brave enough to write a comment lol. not a lot of apostlics have convitions like you my brother and those that do, hide and dont connect….

    Jesus is God

    Tell the word our God’s name and let be prayers to be an influence as well as hammer….

    Paul,

  3. Paul says:

    Brother Dennis…. you got more blog posts like this on the One God?…I be eager to known and read more… I was a trintarian for many a year, preached it too as a pastor and later as a missionary, God knocked me off my horse on the road to Waco Texas…. and I heard him speak his name….Brother Dennis this is the bread from heaven everything else online is just a blog post……

    .

  4. Cooldonnyd says:

    Yea Bro. Munn glad someone else agrees with me, who cares if he accepts the trinity. Are the podcast on iTunes

    • Dennis Munn says:

      No, not yet. Not being much of a tech guy, it takes me rather a long time to figure this stuff out. Frankly, I haven’t been able to figure out how to make the iTunes thing happen. I’ll probably have to have some 13 year old explain it to me!

  5. Ed Arbeau says:

    Reverend Dennis., Ed here.
    Just read through your post and…Yah, it’s about time the man declared publicly what/who he really is. Now the controversy is over – the elephant can leave the room with the herd – no problem. The oneness of God is beautiful. The oneness of God is like…”the greatest”-the first-you’re going no further till you get this. Few weeks ago I was in conversation with a very nice pastor who resides in our city and after much discussion – I discussed and he patiently and politely listened, he responded with, “I believe it (oneness) exactly as you have just explained it!” My response was, “then change your website under ‘what we believe; and tell all your friends to change their websites under ‘what we believe.” Thank God, my friend, for this wonderful, clear and concise revelation. Heretic? Name calling and false accusing will never, ever nullify the fact that “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one LORD”, you know where that’s located.
    Thanks for the strong stand, Dennis. You have a gift (preaching AND writing). I encourage you to hit the keypad and send. I enjoy your articles.
    Ed Arbeau

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