Is Kim Davis a Christian and Does the Trinity Matter?

Josh Buice

By now, most people have heard Kim Davis’ name on television and talk shows as people weigh in on whether or not this Rowan County Kentucky clerk should have denied marriage licenses in her district.  Apparently the judge believed she was wrong, because he had her arrested for her actions.  Kim Davis refused to violate her conscience after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of homosexual marriage, so in order to avoid being biased in her job, she refused to issue any marriage license – to homosexual couples and heterosexual couples.  Was she right in doing so?  Joe Carter believes she was right in her refusal to resign from her job.  No matter how you look at this situation, it’s not a pretty situation for the state of Kentucky or Kim Davis.

As we examine this whole scene from a Christian worldview, we hear cheers of bloggers and commentators praising Kim Davis for her Christian convictions and her strong stand upon the gospel.  But, before we move too quickly to label Kim Davis a Christian, we should at least find out if she is a Christian – right?  The reality is, we live in a super shallow world of evangelicalism that will call a person a Christian for embracing “Jesus” at any level.  Throughout church history, before people called another person a Christian, they wanted to find out what “Jesus” the person embraced.  In the case of Kim Davis, she happens to be a member of an Apostolic Pentecostal Church – Solid Rock Apostolic Church in Morehead, Kentucky.  Their particular doctrinal distinctives range from the use of the miraculous gifts to an open denial of the Trinity.  To be more clear, the Apostolic Pentecostal Church is Oneness Pentecostal which embraces the doctrine of modalism and denies the Trinity.  On their website, they have an article titled, “60 Questions on the Godhead” where they openly deny the Trinity 60 times.

We should stop and ask ourselves at this point if the Trinity matters?  Is this a dividing line?  Is this an issue of separation or merely a lower tier issue of fellowship?  All throughout church history, the true followers of Jesus have been distinguished by their Trinitarian doctrine.  In fact, to deny the Trinity was to deny the faith.  However, in our modern day evangelicalism, the waters are extremely muddy on this issue.  James White, in his book, The Forgotten Trinity, writes, “We often hear ‘I love God,’ but how often does anyone say, ‘I love the Trinity’?” [1]  Kim Davis, when asked about her decision, said, “I owe my life to Jesus Christ who loves me and gave His life for me,” she wrote in a statement issued by Liberty Counsel.  She went on to say, “To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of a marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience. It is not a light issue for me. It is a Heaven or Hell decision.”  She sounds genuine.  She uses Jesus’ name.  She speaks of heaven and hell.  She must be a Christian – right?  Not so fast.

It isn’t my desire to be judgmental in this post nor is it my desire to harm Kim Davis any more than she has already been harmed in this unfortunate debacle.  It is my desire to shine some light upon the need for biblical discernment.  It doesn’t matter if it’s Duck Dynasty, Mother Teresa, or Kim Davis, we shouldn’t prematurely Christianize people.  Before we embrace someone as a follower of Christ for using Jesus’ name, we need to do our homework.  To deny the Trinity is to deny God.  Is that what Kim Davis has done?  While I can’t judge the heart of Kim Davis, I can judge the doctrinal statement of her church.  When you’re a member of a church that’s associated with the Apostolic Pentecostal group with an official article devoted to debunking the Trinity, that’s troublesome to say the least.  Articles are swarming the Internet with headlines like, “Apostolic Christianity fuels Kentucky clerk’s gay marriage.”  The fact is, the Apostolic Pentecostal Church is unorthodox and should not be looked upon for an accurate picture of Christianity.

I realize that by now, many readers of this article will be breathing fire and praying the imprecatory psalms upon me for calling Oneness Pentecostalism a heresy.  Questioning someone’s sincerity in the faith is an unpopular thing in our day.  That’s why it’s so easy to join an average evangelical church, because many professing Christians care very little about “doctrine” in our day.  The fact is, the bland band leads the way in our modern day evangelical world.  We live in a day where it’s unkind and unpopular and just not nice to boldly assault heresy.  That’s why Mormonism is gaining ground as just another denomination among Christianity.  That’s why Jehovah’s Witnesses enjoy visiting the homes of evangelicals.  That’s why most of the Internet is calling Kim Davis a Christian without question.  Before we research the particulars of the law and determine whether or not Kim Davis was correct in her stance to refuse marriage licenses, we should likewise read her doctrinal statement so that we will know how best to pray for Kim Davis.

To deny the Trinity is to deny who God is.  The nature of God as He has revealed Himself to us in the Bible matters.  Sure, the doctrine of the Trinity is a difficult doctrine, but it’s not an impossible doctrine to grasp.  God has revealed Himself in a certain way, and to deny His revelation is to place a mask over the face of God’s biblical revelation.  God has revealed Himself as three distinct Persons – Father, Son, and Spirit.  Wayne Grudem explains, “The word trinity is never found in the Bible, though the idea represented by the word is taught in many places. The word trinity means “tri-unity” or “three-in-oneness.” It is used to summarize the teaching of Scripture that God is three persons yet one God.” [2]

It might not be popular to call a group of people heretics, but it’s necessary at times.  The old heresies have a way of resurfacing in our present culture.  We must remain steadfast in the faith and refuse to bow the knee to Baal.  Evangelicals are often in strong agreement that the Jehovah’s Witnesses are heretics, but slow to call modalism heresy.  Just as the church protected the pure doctrine of the Trinity against the Arian controversy, we must likewise continue to stand firm upon the true gospel of Jesus Christ.  The Trinity matters because God is the Trinity and God matters.

[1] The Forgotten Trinity, Bethany House Publishers, 13.

[2]  Systematic Theology, Zondervan, chapter 14.

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Author Is Kim Davis a Christian and Does the Trinity Matter?

Josh Buice

Pastor Pray's Mill Baptist Church

Josh Buice is the founder and president of G3 Ministries and serves as the pastor of Pray's Mill Baptist Church on the westside of Atlanta. He is married to Kari and they have four children, Karis, John Mark, Kalli, and Judson. Additionally, he serves as Assistant Professor of Preaching at Grace Bible Theological Seminary. He enjoys theology, preaching, church history, and has a firm commitment to the local church. He also enjoys many sports and the outdoors, including long distance running and high country hunting. He has been writing on Delivered by Grace since he was in seminary and it has expanded with a large readership through the years.