Do Non-Denominational Churches Believe in The Trinity?

A non-denominational church is a Christian church that isn’t part of a larger group, like the Baptist or Methodist churches. Non-denominational churches really focus on the Bible, but they might have slightly different ways of interpreting it. Even though they have some differences, many non-denominational churches still believe in the Trinity, which is a key idea in Christianity.

Do Non-Denominational Churches Believe in the Trinity?

Yes, in most cases, non-denominational churches follow the basic principles of Christianity, among them the belief in the Trinity The idea of the Trinity is that God, while singular, manifests in three forms: the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit. These figures are equally divine and have always existed together as a single God.

Let’s dive into why the doctrine of the Trinity is important to many non-denominational churches:

  • ​Non-denominational churches generally believe the Trinity is rooted in Scripture. For example, Jesus’s baptism (Matthew 3:16-17) and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19) suggest a three-part nature of God.
  • The Trinity isn’t just an abstract idea – it’s central to how many Christians understand who God is, how we experience salvation, and how we relate to the divine.

While the Trinity is a central belief for many non-denominational churches, there’s some variation in how different congregations interpret or focus on it.

Like in any large group, you’ll find some exceptions within non-denominational churches. A few groups hold nontrinitarian views. The most well-known example is Oneness Pentecostalism, where they see Jesus as the only form of God.

The Main Point of Difference

Likely the biggest non-trinitarian group within non-denominational Christianity is the Oneness Pentecostal movement. Their belief, called ‘modalism,’ views God as a single being who shows himself in different ways at different times – Father, Son, Holy Spirit. This is different from the Trinity concept of three distinct, yet equal, persons within God.

These churches base their views on a particular interpretation of Scripture. They often emphasize passages that speak of God’s unity and oneness. They might argue that the Trinity, as traditionally understood, introduces complexity that isn’t supported by the Bible’s simple witness.

Some non-denominational churches with non-trinitarian views might be influenced by early church movements that also questioned the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity. These movements existed in the early centuries of Christianity but were ultimately rejected by the broader church.

These churches may strongly emphasize the supremacy and centrality of Jesus Christ. They might view the Trinity as diminishing Jesus’ unique position as the Son of God or see it as confusing the distinction between Jesus and God the Father.

Factors that Can Influence Belief

Though the concept of the Trinity is important to numerous non-denominational churches, their defining feature lies in their freedom from traditional denominational hierarchies. This independence grants them flexibility in several areas, including:

Different beliefs and ideas

Non-denominational churches mix and match ideas from different Christian backgrounds.  This can mean different ways of thinking about who God is, including different views on the Trinity.

A 2014 Pew Research Study found that non-denominational churches cover a lot of theological ground. This makes sense, right? Without a denomination setting the rules, churches are free to develop their own unique beliefs.

Many non-denominational churches adhere to the orthodox understanding of the Trinity. However, due to a lack of formal denominational oversight and a focus on individual biblical interpretation, some churches and pastors within the movement may hold differing views on the Trinity.

Some non-denominational churches may express beliefs closer to Modalism. This view suggests that God is one person who reveals himself in three different modes or manifestations at different times, rather than three distinct persons.

A belief that Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are subordinate to God the Father, either in nature or function. While less common, this view can exist in some non-denominational circles.

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In some cases, non-denominational churches may not have a rigidly defined stance on the Trinity. They might emphasize the mystery of God’s nature, leaving room for individual members to explore and develop their own understandings.

Focus on Biblical Authority

Emphasis is often placed on the Bible as the ultimate authority, leading different non-denominational churches to arrive at different conclusions about doctrines like the Trinity.

Non-denominational churches, as their name suggests, operate independently of established denominational structures. This independence translates to a less centralized approach to theology and doctrine. While foundational Christian beliefs are generally shared, non-denominational churches often emphasize returning to the Bible as the primary source of authority for formulating their specific positions on various theological topics. This focus on Biblical authority can lead to a fascinating diversity of interpretations, even when it comes to a core concept like the Trinity.

Many non-denominational churches firmly adhere to the traditional Trinitarian view. They carefully examine biblical passages that point to the distinct yet interwoven nature of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Passages such as Jesus’ baptism (Matthew 3:16-17), where all three persons of the Trinity are present, and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19), where Jesus instructs baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, become key points of support.

However, the emphasis on individual biblical interpretation in some non-denominational settings can lead to alternative understandings of the Trinity. Some churches may lean towards a modalist view, believing that God manifests in different modes (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) at different times. Others may adopt a subordinationist view, where Jesus and the Holy Spirit are seen as subordinate to God the Father. These variations arise from focusing on specific scriptural passages or placing greater weight on certain aspects of God’s character.

Individual Pastor’s Influence

The pastor or leadership team of a specific non-denominational church can significantly influence the overall interpretation and emphasis placed on the Trinity.

The Bible is the central authority in most non-denominational churches. A pastor could focus on specific verses or passages they believe contradict the Trinity, prioritizing a very literal reading. A pastor with a pre-existing non-trinitarian theological background (perhaps influenced by movements like Modalism or Oneness Pentecostalism) could shape the church’s understanding from the outset.

Some pastors might reject the Trinity as a reaction to what they see as overly complex or outdated denominational teachings. They may favor what they perceive as a simpler, more ‘Biblically grounded’ understanding of God. In a desire to create a welcoming and inclusive church, some pastors may downplay doctrines they consider divisive, including the Trinity.

Nontrinitarian Positions

A relatively small number of non-denominational churches may hold beliefs that challenge the traditional view of the Trinity (such as Oneness Pentecostalism, for example).

While the majority of non-denominational churches adhere to the doctrine of the Trinity, a small but significant number hold nontrinitarian positions. These churches challenge the traditional understanding of God as one being existing in three co-equal and co-eternal persons – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

One prominent nontrinitarian movement within the non-denominational landscape is Oneness Pentecostalism. This theology emphasizes the absolute oneness of God, rejecting the concept of distinct persons within the Godhead. They view Jesus Christ as God himself manifest in human form, rather than a separate person of the Trinity. Oneness Pentecostals often place a strong emphasis on baptism in the name of Jesus and speaking in tongues as evidence of the Holy Spirit.

Other nontrinitarian positions may exist within non-denominational churches. Some may adopt a form of Modalism, which suggests that God reveals himself in different modes (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) at different times, but isn’t simultaneously three distinct persons. A small number of churches might be influenced by Unitarianism, which rejects the divinity of Jesus Christ.

Examples of Non-Denominational Churches and Their Beliefs

Unitarians


Unitarians are a non-denominational Christian group that believes in one God, not three. They believe that Jesus was a human being who was inspired by God, but that he was not the Son of God. Unitarian beliefs about the Trinity are contrary to the norms of orthodox Christianity, which teaches that God is one being in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

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There are a few reasons why Unitarians reject the Trinity. First, they believe that the Trinity is a complex and mysterious doctrine that is difficult to understand and explain. Second, they believe that the Trinity is not explicitly taught in the Bible. Third, they believe that the Trinity is inconsistent with their understanding of God’s unity.

Unitarians’ beliefs about the Trinity have a number of implications for their understanding of God and their relationship with him. For example, Unitarians believe that God is not a remote and impersonal being, but a loving and relational God. They also believe that salvation is based on our relationship with God, not on our belief in any particular doctrine.

Unitarianism has a long and rich history. The first Unitarian church was founded in England in the 16th century. Unitarianism spread to the United States in the 18th century, and it has been a growing movement ever since.

Today, there are a number of Unitarian churches in the United States and around the world. Unitarian churches are typically open and inclusive, and they welcome people of all faiths and backgrounds.

Oneness Pentecostals

Oneness Pentecostals are a non-denominational Christian group that believes that Jesus is the only person of the Trinity and that the Father and the Holy Spirit are manifestations of Jesus. This belief is contrary to the norms of orthodox Christianity, which teaches that God is one being in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Oneness Pentecostals base their belief on a number of Bible passages, including John 14:10, which says, “I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” They believe that this passage shows that Jesus and the Father are one. They also point to other passages in the Bible that speak of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as being one, such as Matthew 28:19, which says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Oneness Pentecostals believe that their understanding of the Trinity is essential to salvation. They believe that we can only be saved by having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. They also believe that we must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ in order to be saved.

Oneness Pentecostalism is a growing movement, with churches all over the world. Oneness Pentecostals are typically very passionate about their faith, and they are committed to spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Jehovah’s Witnesses

Jehovah’s Witnesses are a non-denominational Christian group that has a number of beliefs that are different from the beliefs of other Christians. Two of the most significant differences are their beliefs about Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus is the Son of God, but that he is a subordinate being to God the Father. They believe that Jesus was created by God and that he is not equal to God. This belief is contrary to the teaching of orthodox Christianity, which teaches that Jesus is fully God and fully human.

Jehovah’s Witnesses also believe that the Holy Spirit is not a person, but an impersonal force. They believe that the Holy Spirit is God’s active force in the world. This belief is also contrary to the teaching of orthodox Christianity, which teaches that the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity, equal to God the Father and God the Son.

The personal beliefs of Unitarians, Oneness Pentecostals, and Jehovah’s Witnesses can affect Christians in a number of ways. First, they can challenge Christians to think more deeply about their own beliefs. Second, they can lead to conflict and division among Christians. Finally, they can also lead to evangelism and outreach. Overall, the effects of these groups’ beliefs on Christians can be both positive and negative. It is important for Christians to be aware of the beliefs of these groups and to be prepared to engage with them in a way that is loving and respectful.

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Nontrinitarianism

Nontrinitarianism is a type of Christianity that doesn’t follow the usual Christian belief in the Trinity, where God is seen as three coeternal and coequal persons in one being. Some religious groups from the Protestant Reformation are known for being nontrinitarian.

For many mainstream Christian churches that consider the decisions of certain ecumenical councils, trinitarianism was officially declared as Christian doctrine in the 4th century at the First Council of Nicaea (325) and the First Council of Constantinople (381).

Nontrinitarian beliefs differ widely, with some seeing Jesus as a special created being, others emphasizing his role as a messenger, and some focusing on the idea that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are different aspects of one God. These views have roots dating back to early Christianity, and nontrinitarianism has reemerged at various times in history. It’s important to note that the doctrine of the Trinity is not present in other major monotheistic Abrahamic religions.

Conclusion

The Trinity is a mystery, but it is also a gift. It is a gift that allows us to understand God more deeply and to experience his love in a more profound way. It is also a gift that allows us to be united with one another in Christ.

Even though some non-denominational churches reject the Trinity, we should still reach out to them in love and compassion. We should seek to understand their beliefs and to share our own beliefs with them in a way that is gentle and persuasive.

As Christians, we are called to be a bridge between different people and different denominations. We are called to show the world that the love of Christ transcends all boundaries.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here, you’ll find answers to some of the most common questions about Non-denominations and their view about the Trinity. If you have a question that isn’t answered here, please feel free to contact us.

What is a non-denominational church?

A non-denominational church is a Christian church that is not affiliated with a particular denomination. Non-denominational churches typically have their own unique set of beliefs and practices, but they generally adhere to core Christian doctrines.

Do all non-denominational churches believe in the Trinity?

Most churches that are not part of a certain denomination hold to the doctrine of the Trinity. Most non-denominational churches hold to the major Christian doctrines, including the Trinity.

Why do some non-denominational churches reject the Trinity?

There are a few reasons why some non-denominational churches might reject the Trinity. These churches typically do so because they believe that the Trinity is not explicitly taught in the Bible or because they believe that it is a pagan doctrine.

What are the implications of rejecting the Trinity?

Rejecting the Trinity has serious implications for our understanding of God and our relationship with him. The Trinity teaches us that God is both one and many. God is not a single, monolithic being, but a community of three persons who are in perfect relationship with one another. This understanding of God is essential to our understanding of God’s love and our relationship with him.

How should I engage with non-denominational churches that reject the Trinity?

You should strive to engage with non-denominational churches that reject the Trinity in a way that is loving and respectful. You should seek to understand their beliefs and to share your own beliefs with them in a way that is gentle and persuasive.

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