In an earlier debate concerning the Trinity and Oneness doctrines, I raised the issue that one reason I reject the doctrine of the Trinity is that there is a huge constellation of false doctrine orbiting it. It was after this debate I decided to make a list of the different false doctrines that have been given birth because of the Trinity doctrine.
By; Kenneth James Solheim Th.B.
Number 4: Polytheism and/or the Trinity is Veiled in the Old Testament in the use of the word Elohim and Plural verbs and nouns..
Source: Many Trinitarian Christian friends of mine.
Most Trinitarians will admit that the doctrine of the Trinity is not found in the Old Testament. They claim that the doctrine is a revealed doctrine alluded to in the Old Testament stories, in the use of the Hebrew title Elohim and in the occasional use of plural verbs and nouns.
In an e-mail message Michael wrote this, “There are other references to the plurality of God both New and Old Testaments but the one I was speaking of is Deuteronomy 6:4…where the word Elohim is plural.”
I do not agree with the teaching of many gods. I believe that there is, “One God,” who, “is One,” and, “Who is alone,” and that there is, “none with Him,” and that there are, “none else”. (All the encapsulated words and phrases, within quote marks, are taken from a collection of 77 different verses from the Old Testament that teach One God and that teach man that, “many gods,” is not truth).
A Hebraism is very similar to an Americanism or American Idiom. For example, “I need to run! If I don’t go now I will not catch my bus!” Now imagine if you will a people two thousand years from now who use a different language than Americans in the 21st Century and try to imagine that they live upon a different continent coming across this sentence? A bus? Is this an animal? What do they use to catch one with? Is it a net like a butterfly net?
You may not have committed youthful indiscretions like phoning strangers and asking if his or her refrigerator is running. But, I can speak from experience that if the reply is “yes” you respond with something like, “well why are you talking with me, you should catch it before it gets away!” and then you hang up giggling like school girls. We had a million of them, similar phrases, some not very imaginative.
The American English is replete with Americanisms and idioms and in truth these have presented foreigners no end of confusion and bewilderment. (There are web sites that catalogue such phrases and examples that are fun to visit.)
Well, it may surprise you that the Hebrews had Hebraism and idioms, so also the Greeks who had their own idioms. It is because of these and because of how bewildering and befuddling some phrases can appear that there are books written about this very topic. The Hebrews would often entertain themselves by playing with words and names and the turning of phrases. Remember, they did not have television or radio at the time (chuckle), so they had to amuse themselves with story telling, plays and word games. An example of this can be found in the Story of the Judges of Israel in the story of Sampson.
One of the best-known Hebraism is translated and replaced with a 1611 English idiom, consider;
“Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wing,” Ps 17:8 (KJV)
“…and he kept him as the apple of his eye.” Deut 32:10
“Their heart cried unto the Lord…let not the apple of thine eye cease.” Lam 2:18
“…for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye.” Zech 2:8
What does this Old English phrase mean? In the original Hebrew it is something like, “Keep me as the daughter of the eye”. Now, this simply means, “Oh Lord, keep me so close to you that I can see myself in the pupil of your eye.” (This is where I want to be, in relationship with God, so close and intimate so as, if God had such an eye, to see my face in the pupil of His eye.) This verse also speaks of protection, I am sure that most people realize the speed of the eye lid to protect the pupil from debris!
The Old English idiom therefore can be properly understood as, “Oh Lord keep me so close and look upon me with such found desire and anticipation that you can see your smiling face reflecting back to you as if from the polished skin of an apple.” Now this preserves the idea of affection and closeness but it does not contain the idea of protection. This also differs from the ancient Hebraism in the transference of action form the Object and the Subject, but, the concept is basically preserved.
I offer the above example to show how idioms can make it difficult to translate the Holy Scriptures into English. Now, if you were dishonest, and if you were motivated to find Old Testament proof that would support a preconceived notion that God has a body like yours and mine (such as what the Mormons believe) you could pounce on this discussion and twist the normal understanding and handling of this Hebraism and propose this as proof of your pre-conceived dogma. But this would be dishonest and some would be able to see through this and try to raise a counter-argument in an attempt to persuade the uninitiated and unwary from being so duped.
Well this returns us to the Hebrew word, Elohim. For some 3500 years the Jews, who were the original targeted people, whose everyday language, and seemingly their idioms and figures of speech was incorporated in God’s attempt to communicate in written form to man, have understood this word to be a Hebraism.
For some 3500 years the Jews have understood that the title is to be understood as a declaration of “plural of majesty” (as it has been explained to me) not to indicate that there are many gods or that there are three gods a fact which God for some reason decided to veil in the usage of this word. I believe that the honest approach to this subject is to handle the word in its normal and usual usage.
There is also another argument, the correct argument that we should interpret this word as meaning a singular God and not as a veiled attempt by God to introduce the 4th century doctrine of the Trinity. Not only do all translations of the Holy Scriptures (that I am aware of) translate the word in a singular form but in Mark 12:29 Jesus speaks these same words and uses only singular forms!
There was no conflict or bewilderment about this until some three hundred years after the time of Jesus death. It wasn’t until after Christians had decided upon a dogma not obviously supported by the Old Testament that the confusion arose. The Christians were seeking for any hint of support to their preconceived beliefs and they latched unto this word and unto a few plural pronouns and verbs and shoehorned them into supporting their predetermined beliefs. This is simply scandalous but it continues even today.
I have a dear friend and co-worker who is a youth pastor for an Assembly of God church in the Seattle area. He has a Master’s degree in Theology and in several of our discussions about the nature of God he has attempted to use this same well-known argument with me. I believe, however, that if a Mormon were to engage Mark and attempt to prove Joseph Smith Jar’s polytheism using the same abysmal arguments my friend would have no hesitation in recognizing the fallacies and dishonesty and would make short work of it. Mark however is blinded because he believes in a lie, the existence of a Trinity, and he cannot see the parallelisms.
Unger’s Bible Dictionary (just one of many good Bible dictionaries) says this concerning Elohim, “calling attention to the fullness of divine power”. Notice that it does not say something like, “a veiled reference to polytheism or a Trinity”.
In addition to 77 verses in the Old Testament that teach that there is One God and that God is One, etc, etc there are other scriptures where God is warning His people to not make covenants with or take brides from other nations because of the dangers of their pagan, false, doctrines infiltrating and polluting the Truth revealed by God. All the nations surrounding the Hebrews and almost all nations and civilizations before and after Israel believed in polytheism and a polytheism that was most often dominated by a trinity. (At the height of the Greek civilization one German scholar announced that the Greeks believed in 120 trinities!)
God wanted to prevent this from entering into the Religious World view of the Jews. But evil men in priestly garb were successful in polluting the Truth that God has preserved unto us unto this day. Will you believe what proceeds form God or will you turn your back to the doctrine of One God and turn instead to the most common religious belief in the pagan religions, that is to say unto those who have denied God?
I hope that this satisfies your questions concerning Deut. 6:4. For 3500 years the Jews accepted and cherished this verse as a proclamation of the One God. Jesus continued this teaching as found in Mark 12:29. This is the strongest evidence as to how we should honestly handle the unfamiliar use of unfamiliar words.
It is not a mystery it is a contradiction!