This article highlights the lengths that some groups and individuals will go in their opposition to the doctrine of the Trinity – even to the point of quoting Bible passages that don’t exist!
While preparing some Bible study notes I came across a web site called Forerunner Commentary. It is quite a large resource of topically arranged biblical and theological material. After some searching around I decided to see who the site was actually run by. Eventually, I discovered that it was run by one of the many breakaway groups of The World Wide Church of God (WCG), who left to go it alone in 1992 due to disagreements over major doctrinal changes going on in that church (The Worldwide Church of God are now very similar in doctrinal beliefs to other evangelical Christians). The breakaway group in question (run by John W. Ritenbaugh) is still faithful to the teachings of the original WCG when it was under the leadership of H.W. Armstrong and calls themselves Church of the Great God (CGG) (http://www.cgg.org/).
Like other breakaway groups from the WCG the CGG identifies itself as “non-trinitarian” and it was from this link on their website that I came across this statement (as of September 2006), which begins by quoting a Trinitarian author and then goes on to make comment on the quote. It is in the comment where a serious misquoting of scripture occurs:
"The mind of man cannot fully understand the mystery of the Trinity. He who has tried to understand the mystery fully will lose his mind; but he who would deny the Trinity will lose his soul." (From A Handbook of Christian Truth by Harold Lindsell and Charles Woodbridge, pp. 51-52).
This line of reasoning is in direct opposition to Christ's statement in Matthew 13:11, where He says that it was given to the disciples—and by extension, to us—to understand the mysteries of God. (quote taken from: http://bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Topical.show/RTD/CGG/ID/431/Trinity.htm).
Problem is, Matthew 13:11 doesn’t say anything of the sort! Instead it actually says:
'And he answered and said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.' (emphasis added)
There is a big difference between the disciples being told they could know the mysteries of the kingdom of God and knowing the mysteries of God Himself. Big difference!
In response to this serious misquoting of the words of Jesus I sent this email to the CGG through their online email form:
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Wednesday, September 27, 2006 10:01 AM
To: John W. Ritenbaugh
Subject: Contact from cgg.org
Date/Time: 09/27/2006 09:11:29
Name: Vincent McCann
Email Address: VSpotlight@aol.com
Ref. Website: cgg.org
Just wondering with your article on the Trinity why you say:
"This line of reasoning is in direct opposition to Christ's statement in Matthew 13:11, where He says that it was given to the disciples?and by extension, to us?to understand the mysteries of God."
When the actual text doesn't say mysteries of God but rather 'mysteries of the kingdom of heaven'?
I have checked this in 5 translations so far and none of them say mysteries of God.
Isn't it therefore, misleading to try and make a case from this? I wanted to see what you had to say on the Trinity but lost all respect for the researcher of this article when I saw this.
Worth bearing in mind:
God's ways are unfathonable (Rom. 11:33).
Also - Job 11:7-9 and Isa. 55:8-9.
If we profess to know everything about God then we would be God wouldn't we? It, therefore, shouldn't surprise us in the slightest that there are things about God that are difficult or mysterious (i.e. the Trinity) wouldn't you agree?
This is the response I received:
Subject: RE: Contact from cgg.org
Date: 27/09/2006 15:30:37 GMT Standard Time
Sent from the Internet (Details)
Dear Mr. McCann,
I apologize for my misstatement regarding the kingdom of God and for my overstatement for giving the impression that we can know everything about God. We can know that which He has revealed and He has clearly revealed He is not a trinity of coequal beings. Despite my inadequacies at expressing my beliefs I do not apologize for what is plainly true as revealed in His Word.
My second email:
Subject: Re: Contact from cgg.org
Date: 27/09/2006 18:37:51 GMT Standard Time
Hi again John,
Thanks for your willingness to admit the error on the article. I assume that this will therefore be corrected now?
Of course, I disagree that the Trinity is not revealed in the Scriptures. On the contrary, after examining other models of the Godhead, I feel that it is the model of the Godhead that is most faithful to the Scriptures. Have a look at this article on the biblical evidence for the Trinity if you are interested in knowing more:
I have also written a number of articles myself which answer a lot of common objections and misrepresentations of the Trinity doctrine which you can find here:
To date, the misquote has not been changed and remains on the CGG website.
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