What shall we do to be saved?

Is there such a thing as a saved Unitarian? I mean, can one not believe in the Trinity and be a follower of Jesus?

I just read - not for the first time - that among fundamental beliefs necessary to calling oneself a Christian is the teaching that God is trinitarian: One God existing in three coequal persons.

But I struggle with this. Everyone struggles with the Trinity, which is beyond difficult to understand completely, but I struggle with making it a requirement.


Don't get me wrong: I am Trinitarian to the core of my bones. I do not believe scripture supports any other conclusion.

However, I was asked by a guy if I considered him a Christian. He believed firmly in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, and had trusted him for salvation. He was "salvation by grace through faith" all the way. But he called himself a "biblical Unitarian": He did not believe in the trinity.

Of all the people he asked, I was the only one to answer yes. I am apparently in a very small minority, but I think I was right, and the others wrong.

What does it take to be a Christian? Put differently, what do we have to believe and do to be declared righteous by God?

The New Testament is clear - over 400 references - that salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus. That's all. Nothing more. It's all Jesus.

So how is it we include a belief in one of the most difficult theological concepts in the Bible?

I don't believe it. It's incomprehensible to me that God will turn away a sincere seeker for lack of agreement with a point of theology. If he did turn non-trinitarians away, would he not also be obligated to turn away the majority of Christians who profess their adherence to trinitarian theology, but who have no understanding of what they claim to believe? What's the difference? Refusing to believe what one doesn't understand, or "believing" what one doesn't understand?

So I'm not ready to buy the statement that it's trinitarian or nothing. However, I will agree that one cannot grow to fullness in knowing God and be a Unitarian. The presence of the triune God is so overwhelming in the Bible that to deny it, in my opinion, so limits one's growth in relationship as to make it impossible to live a conversational, missional life of a Jesus-follower.

So, can my friend be a "biblical Unitarian" and be saved? That is, can he be declared righteous by God and not believe in the Trinity?

Yes. I can't come to any different conclusion that offsets the weight of 400+ verses.

It's about Jesus. It's all about Jesus. Nothing else is in any way involved in salvation. After that, we can argue about whether certain doctrines are essential to growth, but first, we have to confess: It's all about Jesus.

12 Comments

Thanks for the topic. I am constantly told that I cannot be right with God if I don't believe in the trinity. My answer: I don't know. I honestly see both sides. I believe that Jesus is the son of God, died for sins that are past, rose on the third day and lives forevermore. I do not take it any further than that. I don't feel a need to figure it out. My eternity does not depend upon it.

"salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus....It's about Jesus. It's all about Jesus. Nothing else is in any way involved in salvation." (you)

I strongly disagree with this quote, and believe I can show you it is false.

To have eternal life, ones sins must be forgiven, correct?

Mat 6:14 - 6:15 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Mat 18:23 - 18:35

Mark 11:25 - 11:26 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.

Love, Forgivness, Faith and Mercy are not works of the law. The neat thing is, if we love our neighbors as we love ourselves, we will not murder them, steal from them, deceive them, or do anything that would seperate them from God. If we love God, we will obey him. If we love Christ, we will pick up our cross and follow him, and keep his commandments, (love one another as he loved us). If we forgive others that trespass against us, our father will also forgive us of our trespasses. If we are merciful to others, God will also be merciful to us. If we have faith that God will keep his promises if we keep his commandments, we know that he will give us anything ask of him. (see 1Jo 3:22) Finally, if we believe that Jesus is the son of God, died for the sins commited previously, and rose from the dead to be with the father, then we will also die (to the lusts of the flesh and of the mind) and be raised (born of the spirit) and we will share in his inheritance.

Feel free to rebutt this directly to my email churchofthelawandthetestimony@gmail.com if you want. If I am right, you will be saved and If you are right, I will be saved. It's a win win situation!

It is good to hear someone finally say that you don't have to believe in the Trinity in order to be saved! I have search the bible for all references on salvation, saved and being born again and there is no scripture to support you must believe in a tri-union God in order to be saved. It is by grace alone through Jesus.

Hi Timothy,

Thanks for the comment. I struggled with this question for a long time. Finally, I came to the conclusion that one does not have to believe in the trinity to be saved. Having said that, however, I will say that the concept is foundational to understanding and relating to God. I think it's highly unlikely one would or could grow to maturity of relationship with God while holding a unitarian position. But I agree, it is possible to come to faith without believing in -- or even knowing about -- the trinity.

I also struggle with this topic. The people I surround myself talk about the Trinity with seemingly absolute clarity. I often wonder why I cannot see evidence in the bible to support it? To me, it seems very apparent that God is singular and that Jesus is God's son. Have I not seen the light yet? It is hard to witness to others when you are unsure if you are making a colossal mistake by teaching that. Plus, I have done extensive research on religions like the Jehovahs Witnesses and do not want to be grouped together with movements such as that because of my questioning of the Trinity doctrine. I hold true to all the beliefs of a typical christian, except the Trinity. Actually, because you do not hear churches daring to touch the subject in a sermon, I was unaware of such a thing when I gave my life to Christ. It was after I was introduced to it when the confusion set in.

Hello Bob.

As I said, I don't believe -- at least not at this point in my understanding -- that it's essential to believe in the trinity to be saved. However, I do think it's an important doctrine, and not accepting it means a misunderstanding of God.

The trinity is a difficult concept to grasp, in my opinion. Many people who think they have it down pat, in fact really don't understand as much as they think they do.

It seems to me there is a good deal of evidence for the trinity in scripture. Psalms 2 is one. The baptism of Jesus is another. In the early centuries of the church, this was a doctrine that was fought over long and hard, with the final outcome of a formal adoption of the teaching as orthodox church belief. In centuries since, people have haggled over it, down to our day.

I think the Bible requires such a concept to make sense, and after all these centuries, this is a battle I am disinclined to fight all over again. I have much more important issues to address, such as how do we represent Jesus in our world today.

Do we need to believe in the Holy Spirit to be saved? No. However, IT believes in us and it is the Holy Spirit which calls and leads us to our salvation through Christ.

Hello Derek,

You make a good point, that the essential beliefs for salvation are few. Far fewer, in fact, than we often claim. However, it's also true that "salvation" isn't the end, and perhaps not even the main point. Making disciples, helping people grow from "just saved" to fully committed, reproducing followers of Jesus is much more than getting someone to "pray the sinner's prayer." And that's what we are called to be doing.

Having said all that, the initial knowledge necessary for salvation is not great. But the knowledge necessary to grow into the likeness of Jesus is far greater. That's why a church that focuses only on "evangelism" -- and there are few enough that do even that -- is missing the point.

One other point: The Holy Spirit is portrayed in scripture as a person, not a thing or an impersonal force. A minor point, perhaps. But I think it's important to know that we deal -- first, last and always -- with a person who is passionately committed to loving us and to the success of God's plan for his creation.

I have held to trinatarinism for 12 years, of late i have been convinced by scripture and leaning that it isn't an essential part of the gospel inorder to be saved, faith and repentance in the blood is enough. It is crazy to think that most of my friends would abandon me overnight as a heritic and as one who doesn't prayerfully study the scripture night and day and as one who doesn't love God and his son. Sad. Love to all and malice towards none. David

Hi David,

I agree that there are some who would take exception to your stand. However, I am not among them. I, too, came to believe that the trinity, while very important to Christian theology, is not an essential belief for salvation. That's about Jesus, and only Jesus.

Having said that, I would also point out that it's clear that "salvation" is far more than simply the beginning. God call us to grow into his likeness, and to represent him on this earth. He calls us to live, speak and act as he would, and even to do so in his place. In order to do that, it's essential that we come to know who he is and what he is about.

The church struggled long with the concept of the trinity. Some argue that there's no such thing, arguing that there is no direct evidence in scripture. However, there is much indirect evidence that must be accounted for. Psalm 2 is an example. Likewise the baptism of Jesus, where three different "persons" are manifested. That must be accounted for, and historically, the church has accounted for it with the trinity as the best understanding of some difficult passages.

I disagree with you because a Unitarian understanding does not allow a person to confess with their mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in their heart that God raised Jesus from the dead. The confession of the Lordship of Jesus is fundamental to salvation. YHWH according to Scriptures is the Word (Logos). He that comes to God must believe that He is. If a person does not believe Jesus is God he is not saved. YHWH of the Hebrew scriptures is none other than the Lord Jesus of the Aramaic and Greek Scripture. He is the beginning and salvation can only be found in the Name of our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ alone. This aloneness can only be a Trinitarian aloneness. Belief in the Father, Son and Holy Ghost is essential to salvation.

David I can not understand how a Trinitarian can stop being trinitarian. Are you now a Unitarian? Have you renounce the Christology that confesses Jesus is God? Sorry but this is heresy. The line of Orthodoxy must be towed. No trinitarianism means no salvation. Jesus is the reason for the trinity.

Arnold,

I think you're correct in placing a high value on orthodoxy. But I think, too, that you take your argument beyond what you can support. There are examples in scripture of people who were accepted by Jesus, or declared righteous by God, for whom the concept of a trinity would have been unknown. The very early church did indeed believe Jesus was God. Did they have a developed trinitarian theology? That's debatable.

And what do you say to the majority of folks in the world and in history who haven't a clue about anything trinitarian, but who out of a heart of genuine seeking cry out to God. Is their acceptance by God dependent on passing a theology quiz?

I am a trinitarian. I firmly believe that's the best way to understand scripture. That said, I do not believe trinitarian understanding is necessary for salvation. And, I might point out, "understanding" the trinity would leave out most self-proclaimed "trinitarian" Christians.

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  • Larry Baden said:
      Arnold, I think you're correct in placing a high value on orthodoxy. ...
  • Arnold said:
      David I can not understand how a Trinitarian can stop being trinitaria...
  • Arnold said:
      I disagree with you because a Unitarian understanding does not allow a...
  • Larry Baden said:
      Hi David, I agree that there are some who would take exception to you...
  • david said:
      I have held to trinatarinism for 12 years, of late i have been convinc...
  • Larry Baden said:
      Hello Derek, You make a good point, that the essential beliefs for sa...
  • Derek said:
      Do we need to believe in the Holy Spirit to be saved? No. However, IT...
  • Larry Baden said:
      Hello Bob. As I said, I don't believe -- at least not at this point i...
  • Bob Mitchell said:
      I also struggle with this topic. The people I surround myself talk abo...
  • Larry Baden said:
      Hi Timothy, Thanks for the comment. I struggled with this question fo...

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