I’m starting a new segment on the blog: Challenging Unitarians. It won’t be regular, like Answering Unitarians, but I’ll be posting questions that I would be very interested to hear unitarians respond to. Granted, I’m not 100% positive I have any unitarians for readers at this point (actually it is my hope that a) everyone who finds this site subscribes and b) the same unitarian never visits this site twice – i.e. they aren’t a unitarian anymore after the first visit [long shot, I know, but a guy can hope, right?]) but when they do eventually find this place (and oh, they will) I hope these challenges will cause them to think – maybe wrestle down some of their presuppositions, who knows?
Unitarians almost always act as if their position (i.e. that one God means one person) is the default/neutral position, and that Trinitarians must prove the Trinity to be right, but if they can’t, the assumption is that the Unitarian position automatically wins out – thus consistently placing Trinitarians on the defensive. This is called the “assumption of Unitarianism”, and it is patently obvious in debates on the subject.
I have a problem with this. Unitarians should be pressed just as hard to prove their doctrine from scripture as Trinitarians, so why is the neutral position on the nature of God that of Unitarianism?
My guess? Sinful human beings subconsciously make God in our image, just assuming without questioning the idea that the creator God must exist in a manner radically similar to us (1 being : 1 person). However, as I have noted in the past, when it comes to the nature of God, we can and should assume as little as possible.
Therefore, I challenge the Unitarian to defend his position in the same way Trinitarians have been forced to defend ours. From this point forward, I declare that
Negatarianism Nilitarianism (I like Negatarianism better, but Nilitarianism makes more consistent use of the Latin roots) will be the new neutral ground.*
Nilitarianism believes that there is a being that is “God”, yet that being is not personal. Instead, God is the ordering principle of the universe – a force, a power – it is the glue that surrounds and binds us, that structures the universe. God is essentially analogous to the constitution of the United States of America: it orders all that exists and gives it structure, but could not be said to be a person. As the “constitution of the universe”, God is responsible for all laws – the law against murder, the laws of thermodynamics, etc. It is out of this ordering principle which we call God that we derive our morality and nature derives its order. But again, this God is not personal, just a force, a principle, an “it”.
There you have it, Nilitarianism. In passing, this is exactly the view that many deist, new age, and panentheist conceptions of God hold, so I’m definitely not making this up.
Challenge to the Unitarian:
You say that God is a he. Prove it. Prove to me that God is personal at all. Again, Unitarianism is not the default position any more than Trinitarianism, so you must strive to prove your doctrine of God WITHOUT a priori assumptions as much as anyone.
Bottom line: Unitarianism requires we have a God with personhood. Therefore prove to me, from the Scriptures, that God is a personal being and not an impersonal one like a tree. It should be noted that I’m not asking you to prove that God is ONLY one person and not more, I’m asking you to prove that God is NOT zero persons (that is, in your response you should argue against Nilitarianism, not Trinitarianism).
Go to it then.
* It is understood that in the issue of the nature of God, there is no truly neutral ground, not even Nilitarianism, but because of the fact that Unitarianism is assumed to be neutral so frequently (thus allowing Unitarians to simply take snipe at the Trinitarian position under the cover that “if we disprove the Trinity, Unitarianism wins out”, without feeling compelled to prove their own position), a non-Trinitarian, non-Unitarian “neutral” needs to be established in order that both sides may be equally challenged to prove their doctrine from the Bible.