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“An Evangelical Statement on the Trinity” Seeks to Stop Ancient Mistake from Creeping Back into Christianity

Press Release –  Minneapolis, MN—November, 2011 Christians for Biblical Equality

Ever since the inception of the church, Christians have struggled to articulate their belief in one God who exists in three Persons. While we may never completely understand this mystery until we meet God face to face, theologians throughout history have developed proclamations, such as the Nicene Creed, affirming truths and rejecting heresies concerning the Trinity. The most recent of these was released November 7th on the website www.TrinityStatement.comby a collection of evangelical scholars including William David Spencer, Aída Besançon Spencer, Mimi Haddad, Royce Gruenler, Kevin Giles, I. Howard Marshall, Alan Myatt, Millard Erickson, Steven Tracy, Alvera Mickelsen, Stanley Gundry, Catherine Clark Kroeger, and other exegetes, philosophers, and church historians.

It is easy to think of the doctrine of the Trinity as a heady issue that is best left to theologians and scholars, but The Rev. Dr. Kevin Giles, author of Jesus and the Father: Modern Evangelicals Reinvent the Doctrine of the Trinity, explains that understanding the three-person God is essential for each Christian. “The doctrine of the Trinity is the foundational doctrine of the Christian faith. No other doctrine is more important,” he says. “It is ‘our’ distinctive doctrine of God. If we get this doctrine wrong, we are bound to get other doctrines built on it wrong.”

 And recently Christian teachers have been getting this doctrine wrong, according to supporters of the Trinity Statement. The Rev. Dr. William David Spencer explains just what they have been getting wrong, and how these errors weaken the basic theological foundations of the Christian faith.

We drafted “An Evangelical Statement on the Trinity” because we were concerned that an ancient mistake was creeping back into conservative Christianity. The error, adapted from Plato’s thought, states that God the Father is in charge of the Trinity, and that Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, while both full Persons of the Godhead, are ranked below the Father. This viewpoint undermines the historic Christian confession that Christians are monotheistic, since this monotheism depends on the fact that all three Persons of the Godhead, while distinct, are co-eternal and co-equal. If the Persons of the Godhead are not co-equal in rank, then imprinted in the nature of each is a difference that renders the Trinity as three gods, one ranked first in authority, one ranked second, one ranked third.  This is more similar to tri-theism than to a Trinity.

Such a major shift in the way Christians view God has far reaching consequences on the Christian view of creation and, therefore, on the way we value human beings. “Another implication that the ancient neo-Platonists drew is that God the Father is too exalted and pure to create humanity and must have divine agents to do that,” Spencer continues. “Jesus and the Holy Spirit rank less than the Father and can therefore create matter, while the Father, possessing a higher rank and being or ontology, cannot. How, then, can God create us in God’s image, if the Godhead is actually layered as greater and lesser parts?  Are humans fragmented in the same way representing greater and lesser Persons of the Godhead? 

A hierarchy in the Trinity leads to hierarchy among human beings. If the Trinity contains ranks, humans must also display a ranking as they reflect the image of God. As Spencer says, this teaching has been used to argue that “some gender (usually the female) is ranked below the other (usually the male) and some “races” may be ranked below other “races.” This conclusion not only undermines monotheism but also the equality of humanity as created in God’s image.”

In his book Who’s Tampering with the Trinity? An Assessment of the Subordination Debate, Millard Erickson issues a warning to those who adhere to and teach this ranked doctrine of the Trinity. “Please think through the implications of your view,“ he says, “observe the body of evidence against it, and reconsider the idea of the eternal functional superiority of the Father over the Son and the Holy Spirit… Go back. You are going the wrong way.”  “An Evangelical Statement on the Trinity” provides a tangible way for Christians to do just as Erickson recommends.

“An Evangelical Statement on the Trinity” rejects teachings that imply essential rank among the Persons in the Trinity and among human beings. Men and women on both sides of the gender conversation stand in support of the statement and call others to do the same by adding their names to a growing list through the Statement’s website,

Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE) is proud to support “An Evangelical Statement on the Trinity.” As the largest evangelical organization providing biblical resources on the shared authority and service of men and women, CBE sponsors annual conferences, hosts local chapters, runs an online book service, and publishes two award-winning journals. For more information, visit

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