I recently received an e-mail asking if I knew how to find a group of like-minded believers who do not adhere to the doctrine of the Trinity. This is a question that I too have wrestled with in the past, and the fact of the matter is that it isn’t all that difficult to find denominations and sects that reject the extra-Biblical doctrine of the Trinity. Just use your favorite search engine to look for “denominations that do not believe in the trinity” and you’ll find plenty of information.
The problem, of course, is that along with rejecting the Trinity, the alternatives typically come with a lot of their own non-Biblical baggage. As such, it does no good to exchange one error for a host of others, and I certainly would never advocate any faith-group over a traditional, Trinitarian-based fellowship simply because it rejects the Trinity. In fact, if you are currently part of a church that – except for the doctrine of the Trinity – is a vibrant, Biblically sound church, then by all means stay put! Alternatively, if you are in search of a home church where you can serve Christ and grow in your faith, don’t let the Trinity be an inhibitor or the deciding factor. It simply isn’t a deal-breaker.
This advice is probably not what you would expect me to offer, since I clearly find the doctrine of the Trinity to be exactly the kind of “high sounding nonsense” that Paul warns us about in Colossians 2:8 (NLT). That being said, it is also true that we are saved in spite of our theology…not because of it. Just to be clear, the point of this statement is not that we are free to believe whatever we want and still call ourselves Christian. Far from it! The point is that even though there are some non-negotiable things that we must believe in order to properly be called Christian, the Trinity simply isn’t one of them. Anyone who tells you differently is merely parroting the “company line,” so to speak, and so whenever someone tells you that in order to be a Christian you have to believe the Trinity, the best response is “please show me from the Bible why you believe this.” Needless to say, no one can show you where it says that you must believe that God is “three persons within a Godhead” in order to be saved…because it isn’t in the Bible!
Indeed, Paul is crystal clear when it comes to the grounds of our salvation. In his letter to the Romans, he proclaims that “if you confess with your mouth that ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10) There is no mention of the word “Trinity,” neither is there anything about a “triune Godhead.” So if someone tries to tell you that you can’t be a Christian apart from believing in the Trinity, that’s tradition talking…not Scripture. Because in the final analysis, there is absolutely no Biblical basis for arriving at that conclusion.
Nevertheless, it is important to recognize that most of those who reject the Trinity are indeed pseudo-Christian or blatantly non-Christian. Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses are two examples that come to mind, but the problem isn’t the Trinity per se. After all, you can’t rightly be called “non Christian” because you reject something that isn’t in the Bible! The real problem, then, is that much of what these groups (and others) teach contradicts actual Scripture. That’s what really makes them non-Christian, and the fact that they also repudiate the Trinity is simply coincidental.
Thus when it comes to choosing a church that you can call “home,” the most important thing to look for isn’t a non-Trinitarian understanding of the relationship between Father, Son, and Spirit. For since the Trinity cannot legitimately be held up as the determining factor in anyone’s salvation, it is therefore a secondary matter by definition and should be treated just like differing viewpoints on eschatology, i.e. something that we can “agree to disagree” on. So if you encounter a church where this singular doctrine is treated like a “line in the sand,” then my advice would be to keep looking. If, on the other hand, you find yourself in a congregation that is both Biblically sound and willing to welcome you in spite of your reservations about the Trinity, then congratulations! You’ve probably found the right place. Just be prepared, though, because in lieu of accepting “three persons in the Godhead” as the way to understand Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, they’re likely going to want to know how you would explain it…instead. 🙂