Biblical Numerics, Harold Camping, and the Trinity

An article in the Christian Post notes: 
"there are some popular numbers in the Bible that scholars generally agree are significant and are attached to a certain idea or Biblical story. These numbers include three, which refers to the trinity...So those numbers have significance, but the significance is always plainly given,"...When God wants to tell his followers something, stressed the Fuller professor, He usually says it in a “fairly plain” way."
Protestants and Evangelicals need another great-awakening. An awakening and realization of the trappings and baggage of the Roman Catholic Church. An even greater awareness than even Luther possessed many years ago. Clay Schimt from Fuller Theological Seminary is commenting on Harold Campings apparently false predictions. Camping, who claims to be a Reformed Trinitarian, will probably use the story of Jonah and God's mercy upon the repentant Ninevites to avoid being labeled a false prophet. However, Schimt rejects Campings numerics and then instantly advances his own. One of which includes the number three and the Trinity.

There is some significance to Biblical numerics. The consistency of these numbers only confirm the fact of divine inspiration (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21). The tenor of Ephesians 4:4-6 and its use of "one" is significant denoting absolute singleness. The number one can also refer to unity of purpose (John 17:21-23) but never to the compromise of monotheism (Deut. 6:4). Seven seems to be a number of completion. God rested after the seventh day of Creation. There are seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3. Seven parables in Matthew 13. There are seven notes of music, seven colors in a rainbow, even seven days in a week.

The number three does not refer to the Trinity. At least not a Trinity of divine persons as is popularly promoted for sure. Numbers usually take on spiritual meaning or significance in the context they are used. 1 John 5:7 is a reference to "three" but is not a reference to a Trinity of persons and is considered by some to be a later addition to the Bible. Matthew 28:19 is a threefold reference and never teaches a Trinity of persons. Both of the previous texts have valid interpretations that do not include the dogma of the Trinity.

The number three can refer to blessing as in Isaiah 19:24-25 or Zechariah 13:9. In Ecclesiates 4:12 a threefold cord is not easily broken thereby denoting strength. In Judges 7:22 Gideon has a mighty victory accomplished by three bands of soldiers. Ezra also took three days to prepare for revival in Ezra 10:9. It took three days for the decision to build the walls of Jerusalem in Nehemiah 2:11. Esther calls a three day fast in preparation to meet the king in Esther 4:16. Jesus was in the belly of the earth for three days (John 2:19). He had an earthly ministry of three years (Luke 13:7) and as Christ he is prophet, priest and king.

There is a fine line between Biblical numerics and Numerology. The latter is where one worships and idolizes the numbers. Numbes have both good and evil connotations. Numbers can be used as simple data in written text or have a form of symbolic meaning in Scripture. We must be careful that we do not abuse this to create private interpretations. The symbolic meaning of numbers is typically to amplify or intensify the truth they symbolize. They are to be used with careful discretion.

Notice the words of Schimt carefully above though. Although probably not intentional this seems to be a bait and switch. In reply to Camping he points out that when God wants to tell believers something it is done in a "fairly plain" way. Did anyone notice the switch? The most common appeal of Trinitarians in explaining this belief is to mystery. If God speaks to us in a plain way then He has not spoken--at all--concerning the Trinity.

Harold Camping has taught the world a great lesson. Hopefully they will learn. When the Trinitarian appeals to the number three or Biblical numerics to support the Trinity they are smuggling post-Biblical concepts and philosophy back into the Bible through their own numerology. Just as Camping did with May 21, 2011.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you whole heartedly.

I see a problem in the Apostolic Pentecostal churches. We discuss the Godhead using Trinitarian terms and vocabulary. I do not know how affective the we shall be until we use the Bible as our source for vocabulary.

JN Anderson said...

Do you have any suggestions?

Adversus Trinitas

"...unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins." (John 8:24 ESV)