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Isaac Newton and the Trinity

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen 

Knowingly or through ignorance, people downplay the fact that God is the Creator. He is not just a little above us like a comic book superhero. Rather, he is far beyond our comprehension (Roman 9:20-22, Isaiah 29:16, Genesis 1:1). We are able to grasp some of his attributes through nature (Romans 1:20), and especially through his revelation in the Bible. An extremely difficult concept to understand is the Trinity.

Some detractors of Isaac Newton say he was not a Christian, instead, a Trinity-denying Arian heretic. It is complicated, but he was a Trinitarian.
Most professing Christians are ignorant of what and why the believe, and are essentially heretics. Someone may ask you to show them the word Trinity (or Tri-unity of God, Triune Godhead) in the Bible. It is not there. However, the doctrine is taught in Scripture. It is a difficult concept, and there are sayings like, "Whoever claims to understand the Trinity has lost his mind. Whoever denies the Trinity has lost his soul." We can get a handle on it and use analogies that don't completely work, but it it exceedingly important and taken by faith.

Isaac Newton is considered one of the greatest scientists of all time, and was also a creationist. Unfortunately, he had some odd views about the Trinity. Some creationists such as Paul Taylor and Dr. Danny Faulkner have labeled him a heretic, but these judgments seem to be based on incomplete research — but Newton didn't do himself any favors.

An early heresy that was inflicted on the church was Arianism, forms of which still exist today (e.g., Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons). I came across a journal article, "Was Isaac Newton an Arian?" by Thomas C. Pfizenmaier (which is on JSTOR, but more freely downloadable as a PDF at Semantic Scholar). The PDF shows itself to be 24 pages, and it is heavily footnoted; I had to glean from the weighty material.

Isaac studied philosophy, science and other things. Perhaps was too intellectual in matters of faith, as he apparently was shaky on church history. It didn't help matters that the church fathers themselves had disagreements on some important points. But then, they were attempting to understand God's revelation. Further, there have been varying views about the Trinity for a very long time. Some have incorporated influences from other philosophies. We cannot fully understand it, remember?

It should be noted that people's views change over the years, so someone could find materials on a prolific writer from earlier years that conflicted with statements and beliefs held later. According to Mr. Pfizenmaier, Isaac Newton had heterodox views later in life. Hewas not Arian and not a heretic.

Also, see a quote from Isaac in footnote 1 of this article. That reference also mentions a doctoral dissertation refuting claims of Newton's status as a heretic. I have not read it, but if you've a mind to, you can read or download the PDF here. It might be helpful to you to save the link to this article for reference. [EDIT: This is weird. I saw it when I wrote this article, but today, 19 March 2022, it is essentially scrubbed from the web.]

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