Variants Don’t Affect Beliefs Except When They Do

I’ve previously posted on the issue of how just one letter can create a theological conundrum in the New Testament. On Christmas Day Dr. James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries also posted a variant that affects the beliefs of his Calvinist colleagues:


and God knows best.



    In response to the assertion, made by conservative evangelicals, that not a single important Christian doctrine is affected by any textual variant, I point out:

    a. It simply isn’t true that important doctrines are not involved. As a key example: the only place in the entire New Testament where the doctrine of the Trinity is explicitly taught is in a passage that made it into the King James translation (1 John 5:7–8) but is not found in the vast majority of the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. I would suggest that the Trinity is a rather important Christian doctrine. A typical response to this rebuttal is that the doctrine of the Trinity can be found in Scripture without appealing to 1 John 5:7–8. My reply is that this is true of every single Christian doctrine. In my experience, theologians do not hold to a doctrine because it is found in just one verse; you can take away just about any verse and still find just about any Christian doctrine somewhere else if you look hard enough.

  • Taken from Bart Ehrman’s “Jesus Interrupted”:

  • as salamu alaykum

    “you can take away just about any verse and still find just about any Christian doctrine somewhere else if you look hard enough.”

    Yes, the Trinity is an integral doctrine in mainstream Christianity. I really do like the phrasing “look hard enough”. It seems that there aspects of rudimentary Christology are underdetermined by the Bible. In other words, the New Testament can support multiple interpretations. I think a “trinity” can be supported with the Scriptures, but I do not think a reading of the New Testament unequivocally supports the homoousious doctrine of Jesus being consubstantial with the Father. There is a trinity in the sense that Jesus can be understood as some cosmic figure in the Gospel of John who is intimate with the Father, while it seems the synoptic Gospels that Jesus was more of a prophet who called for repentance because the Kingdom of God is at hand.

    I don’t know about the Holy Spirit. While I was a Catholic, I mostly conceived it as a divine entity that I ascribed my belief in Catholicism (such as belief in the Resurrection and transubstantiation) to. I don’t know how it be interpreted that it is some sort of “God”. That belief that the Holy Spirit is God is mostly due to uncritical doctrinal assent on my part.

    Yes, the Trinity exists, but mostly in the sense that the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are mentioned in the Gospels and Epistles and are believed to have divine nature (in contrast to being material or “of this world”). The relation of the Holy Spirit between the Father and Jesus hasn’t been elaborated that much in the New Testament.

    I really do like Surah Ikhlas. I really don’t know how one could interpret that and other parts of the Qu’ran to support anything else other than the tawhid. I say that in contrast to the underdetermination of Christian theology on its aqeeda..

    Who are the “TR” extremists?

  • So James White does not consider Luke 23:34 to be divinely inspired scripture?

  • Black Rose, when I talk to Christians about the Trinity in the Bible, I first make them agree that there is no triune God being taught in the Old Testament . (Typical responses are to show the plurality of God, supposed messianic prophecies, theophanies, etc. Each of which is easily refutable)

    Then I move on to the New Testament, where I ask them:

    Before bringing me so-called verse showing the divinity of Christ, do you agree that there is no triune God being taught in the New Testament?

    Upon which they bring up 1 John 5:7 and Matthew 28:19 to prove their doctrine, both of which are fabrications.

    And finally, those that are intellectually honest, will have no choice but to agree that there is no explicit mention of a triune God being taught ANYWHERE in the Bible,and they will have no choice but to admit in following Church Doctrine as opposed to the ‘words of God’ and Jesus.

    And at that point, I have accomplished my goal and my job is done 🙂

  • @archiveislam, Fabrication or not these verses still doesn’t prove the Deity of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my opinion…

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