Who is teaching the Catholic Trinity error?

(Note: The following is based on “THE TRINITY DEBATE Defending the Indefensible . . .” by BRIAN S. NEUMANN and “Defending the Godhead” by VANCE FERRELL)

Our critics argue that we are teaching the ‘Catholic Trinity.’ But who really is teaching the Catholic Trinity error?

What is the Catholic Trinity?

Roman Catholicism teaches that the Son comes out of the Father and the Holy Spirit comes from both;—and yet there is only one God! There is no Son apart from the Father and no Holy Spirit apart from both. Significantly, the roots of Arianism (Christ is not eternal) and the no-separate-Holy Spirit teaching both find their source in this peculiar doctrine.

But doesn’t the Catholic theologians talk about “three Persons” in their Trinity?

It is INSIDE Roman Catholic theology that we find the seeds of the modern errors that Christ had a beginning and is not eternal, and the Holy Spirit does not really exist. Although Catholic theologians talk about “three Persons” in their Trinity, they do not really teach three persons!

Ironically, there are those among us today who are teaching the basic concept of the Trinity error—that there is only one Being that is the eternal God! Apart from that one God, there is no eternal Christ and no Holy Spirit with a separate existence.

Let's take a closer look at the Catholic views that give us a little more insight into what the official Vatican statements on the Trinity really are insinuating:


261 The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of the Christian faith and of Christian life. God alone can make it known to us by revealing himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

262 The Incarnation of God's Son reveals that God is the eternal Father and that the Son is consubstantial with the Father, which means that, in the Father and with the Father the Son is one and the same God.

263 The mission of the Holy Spirit, sent by the Father in the name of the Son (Jn 14:26) and by the Son "from the Father" (⇒ Jn 15:26), reveals that, with them, the Spirit is one and the same God. "With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified" (Nicene Creed).

264 "The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father as the first principle and, by the eternal gift of this to the Son, from the communion of both the Father and the Son" (St. Augustine, De Trin. 15, 26, 47: PL 42, 1095).

266 "Now this is the Catholic faith: We worship one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity, without either confusing the persons or dividing the substance; for the person of the Father is one, the Son's is another, the Holy Spirit's another; but the Godhead of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is one, their glory equal, their majesty coeternal" (Athanasian Creed: DS 75; ND 16).

In light of the above, let us have a look at what our pioneers had to say. Now we will have a clearer understanding of what exactly they opposed in the Catholic Trinity.

‘Here we might mention the Trinity, which does away with the personality of God and His Son Jesus Christ.’ (James White, Review and Herald, Dec 11, 1855, p. 85)

‘Respecting the trinity, I concluded that it was impossible for me to believe that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, was also the Almighty God, the Father, one and the same being.’ (Joseph Bates, Autobiography – Battle Creek, 1868, 205)

‘It is not very consonant with common sense to talk of three being one, and one being three. Or, as some express it, calling God the ‘Triune God,’ or ‘the Three-one-God.’ If Father Son and Holy Ghost are each God, it would be three God’s; for three times one is not one, but three. There is a sense in which they are one, but not one person, as claimed by Trinitarians. (J. N. Loughborough, Objections to the Trinity, Review, Nov 5, 1861)

First of all, James White was, primarily, concerned about the fact that the personality of the Father and Son were destroyed by the doctrine of the Trinity. Why? Because the Catholics teach a continual birth of the Son and a disturbing ‘genetical’ status that exists between these two and the Spirit – this destroys their personalities if ever anything does.

Joseph Bates balked at the idea that the Father and Son were one and the same being. Why? Again, because of the Catholic teaching that the Father and Son are, in a mystically, physical way, connected in this continually, regurgitating, birth process and thus it is impossible for the Son to have life outside of the Father – His life being derived from the former. Notice, he is not lamenting that Jesus is God or suggesting that Jesus was created or born. He is lamenting the fact that Jesus could be ‘GOD the FATHER, one and the same BEING.’ This is his principal concern.

This is not suggesting that the pioneers would, at that point, have been in total agreement with the way our understanding of the Godhead has developed, but it is as clear as black on white, reflected in the above statements, that the essential problem they had with the Trinity was this physical / biological unity that destroyed the personality / individuality of the father and Son. This is something that our critics don’t even seem to notice.

Take a closer look at some further Catholic views:

‘God the Father eternally knows Himself, and continues to know Himself, and thus continues to bring forth the Son in a continual birth . ..’ (One God in Three Persons, My Catholic Faith: A Manual of Religion, Louis Laravoire Morrow, Bishop of Krishnager, p. 31)

The Son proceeds from the Father by an act of the intellect and this is termed ‘eternal generation,’ by which we mean not only that there never was a time when the Father existed without generating the Son, but also that the act of generation is a continuous act. [the instruction in this Catholic manual also teaches that there could have been no separation between the Father and the Son while He was here on earth, since this would interrupt the process of regeneration. The son could not exist in such a case, nor the Father, since they are of one essence]. (Alfred Mortimer, Catholic Faith and Practice – Catholic instruction manual for confirmation).

‘The Son proceeds from the Father ; the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son.’ (The Catholic Encycopedia, 1914 Edition, art. “Holy Ghost.”).

The Holy Ghost is the Spirit of Christ. He is also the Spirit of the Father. Thus St. Augustine argues (in Joan, tr. Xcix, 6, 7 in P.L., XXXV, 188) . . . Just as there is only one Father, just as there is only one Son, so there is only one Spirit, who is, consequently, the Spirit of both’ . . . such is the explicit teaching of ecclesiastical tradition, which is concisely put by St. Augustine . . .This doctrine was put in the following words by the Second Ecumenical Council of Lyons (Denziger, ‘Enchiridion,’ 1908, n. 460): ‘We confess that the Holy Ghost proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son, not as from two principles, but as from one principle, not by two spirations, but by one single spiration.’ The teaching was again laid down by the council of Florence (ibid. n. 691).’ (Ibid).

‘Tertullian dwells at length on the Paraclete. The Holy Ghost, he says, proceeds from the father through the Son’ (Ibid).

“Expressions which contain the statement that the Son was created are found in Clement of Alexandria (Strom, Tatian, Tertullian, Origen . . .)’ (The Catholic Encycopedia, 1914 Edition, art. “The Blessed Trinity”).

“The Son proceeds from the Father by generation (and generation means the process of begetting offspring, reproduction, or giving birth to)...” The Convert’s Catechism of Catholic Doctrine, p 31 by Peter Geiermann, C.SS.R., Imprimatur - September 16, 1957.

Note: For anyone to believe that at some time in eternity, this One Father-God literally gave birth to, or generated, reproduced, produced, cloned, created, split off etc., a Son out of His own Being, is believing in the Trinity doctrine of Catholicism which is founded upon the mysteries of Babylon!

NB: These statements, from strictly Catholic sources, reveal some interesting insights that have a bearing on why some of our pioneers took the positions they did.

“Our opponents sometimes claim that no belief should be held dogmatically which is not explicitly stated in Scripture . . But the Protestant churches have themselves accepted such dogmas as the Trinity, for which there is no such precise authority in the Gospels.”— Life magazine, October 30, 1950.

“Q. Do you observe other necessary truths as taught by the Church, not clearly laid down in Scripture?

“A. The doctrine of the [catholic] Trinity, a doctrine the knowledge of which is certainly necessary to salvation, is not explicitly and evidently laid down in Scripture, in the Protestant sense of private interpretation.”—Doctrinal Catechism, quoted in Review and Herald, August 22,1854.

Quoted below are more statements, from official Catholic theological works. The illustration below is also from p. 32 of an official Roman Catholic book, entitled My Catholic Faith.

“The Father begets the Son, and the Son proceeds from the Father. The Father and Son breathe forth the Holy Ghost, and He proceeds from Them, as from one Source.”—“One God in Three Persons,” My Catholic Faith: A Manual of Religion, Louis Laravoire Morrow, Bishop of Krishnagar, p. 30.

“In proof of the assertion that many of the Fathers deny the equality of the Son with the Father, passages are cited from Justin (Apol., I, xiii, xxxii), Irenaeus (Adv. haer., III, viii, n. 3), Clem. Alex. (“Strom.” VII, ii), Hippolytus (Con. Noet., n. 14), Origen (Con. Cels., VIII, xv).”—The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1914 Edition, art. “The Blessed Trinity.”

“Expressions which contain the statement that the Son was created are found in Clement of Alexandria (Strom., V, xiv; VI, vii), Tatian (Orat., v), Tertullian (A’Adv. Prax.’ vi; ‘Adv. Hermong.’, xviii, xx), Origen (In Joan., I, n. 22).”—Ibid.

“Pneuma is understood in the light of John 20:22 where Christ, appearing to the Apostles, breathed on them and conferred on them the Holy Spirit. He is the breath of Christ (John Damascene, ‘Fid. orth.’, 1, viii), breathed by Him [Christ] into us (Cyril of Alexandria, ‘Thesaurus’; cf. Petav., ‘De Trin’, V, vii).”—Ibid.

“The doctrine of the procession of the Holy Spirit by means of the act of the Divine will is due entirely to Augustine . . He mentions the opinion with favour in the ‘De fide et symbolo’ (A.D. 393); and the ‘De Trinitate’ (A.D. 415) develops it at length. His teaching was accepted by the West [Rome].”—Ibid.

“Obviously, there can be only one infinite Being, only one God. If several were to exist, none of them would really be infinite, for, to have plurality of natures at all, each should have some perfection not possessed by the others [which is a ridiculous reason].”— The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1914 Edition, art. “Nature and Attributes of God.”

[You have just read typical Jesuitic thinking. Unfortunately, there are those even in our own ranks who accept the same conclusion, that there is only one Being who is the eternal God.]

“He [the Holy Spirit] proceeds, not by way of generation, but by way of spiration, from the Father and the Son together, as from a single principle. Such is the belief the Catholic faith demands.”—The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1914 Edition, art. “Holy Ghost.”

“The Holy Ghost is the Spirit of Christ. He is also the Spirit of the Father. Thus St. Augustine argues (In Joan, tr. xcix, 6, 7 in P.L., XXXV, 188) . . Just as there is only one Father, just as there is only one Lord or one Son, so there is only one Spirit, who is, consequently, the Spirit of both [of the other two].”— Ibid.

“Proceeding both from the Father and the Son, the Holy Ghost, nevertheless, proceeds from them as from a single principle. The Holy Ghost proceeds from the two, not in so far as They are distinct, but inasmuch as Their Divine perfection is numerically one. (ibid., n. 703 sq).”—Ibid.

“The mystery of the Trinity is the central doctrine of Catholic faith. Upon it are based all the other teachings of the Church.”—Ibid, p. 16.

“Unless [people] keep this Faith whole and undefiled, without doubt, they shall perish everlastingly. And the Catholic faith is this: We worship one God in Trinity.”—A Practical Catholic Dictionary,
p. 32.

Our critics accuse us of teaching a Catholic Trinity. The truth is, the SDA Church does not teach such a thing, although some have used this term to describe what we believe. Our critics say that our pioneers opposed the Catholic Trinity. They are right, but they, themselves, seem to have no idea what the root problem with the Catholic Trinity really is. Our critics say that the Catholic Trinity concept is pagan and that we should have nothing to do with it. Yet, some of their own beliefs have uncanny semblance to positions held by the mother of all harlots – the Roman Catholic Church.