Giving Every Man a Reason
By Elder Ross Drysdale
Are There Passages In The Old Testament That Teach “Plurality”? What “New Evidence, Have The Neo-Trinitarians Discovered Against The Oneness Position?
We will now consider the main objections raised by Dr. Boyd and other Trinitarians (both Neo and Classic), against the Oneness of the Godhead doctrine. Some of these objections are old “ghost” arguments that have been answered years ago. But they are constantly being “called up” and outfitted in new theological shrouds and made to appear quite “alive”. The same ammunition that laid them to rest the first time will be re-applied. Hopefully Trinitarians will not take up precious time in the future with any further conjuring of these phantoms.
Another class of objections actually does not apply to the modern Oneness movement at all. The majority of Dr. Boyd’s Objections fall into this category. These arguments have little to do with our doctrine. They are all leveled against the Modalistic teachings Sabellius and Praxeas of the second century. Thus we constantly hear Dr. Boyd characterizing our doctrine as role playing, masks, illusions, performances, etc. Our doctrine is “God in Christ,” not “God in Masks.” The Articles of Faith of the UPCI contains no references to God “playing roles” or “wearing masks.” Neither does the Creed and Discipline of the P.A.W. contain such statements! Dr. Boyd’s line of reasoning may apply (and I say “may apply”) to ancient Modalism. However even in that instance it is doubtful. We do not have any of the writings of Sabellius or Praxeas to determine what they actually taught. They were all destroyed. All that we have to rely on is what their Trinitarian opponents accused them of teaching. And we know how unreliable that can be! The true teachings of 2nd century Modalists have no doubt been greatly distorted by their detractors. We feel if their actual writing could be examined, they would probably show a theologically correct view of the Godhead. The followers of Sabellius and Praxeas were undoubtedly the surviving spiritual remnant of the Early Apostolic Church and doctrine. That is why we do not hesitate to claim spiritual kinship with them; for there is enough evidence, even in the distorted charges of their enemies, to recognize that they possessed the Truth. And it is against these gross charactertures of Ancient Modalism that Dr. Boyd, and others, direct most of their fire power, while at the same time claiming to be refuting modern day oneness. In essence they just repeat the arguments of the ancient Trinitarian forgers! If I may borrow Dr. Boyd’s own words, written against us, and apply it to them, for it fits them much better: “They present a Caricature. Hence these writings simply have the effect of tearing down a straw man in order to convince their uninformed readers about the truth of their own position” (Boyd, p. 66).
This is nothing but a diversionary tactic, to keep people from examining the real Oneness teaching. How greatly they fear the truth reaching the ears of professing Trinitarians can be seen in the following statement made by Dr. Boyd, after his presentation of our oneness arguments for sake of reference, in Chapter 1 of his book: “Don’t conclude too quickly! I have presented above some of the most frequently raised objections to the doctrine of the Trinity stated by Oneness adherents. To uninformed Trinitarians who have not been prepared for them, they can initially be devastating. These arguments have successfully converted significant numbers of professed Trinitarians…to Oneness Pentecostalism. To those who find these arguments persuasive, may I urge you not to accept them uncritically. Don’t conclude in favor of oneness Pentecostalism too quickly or too easily” (Boyd, p.48).
If this is how forceful Dr.Boyd views our arguments when he himself presents them in his book, how much more so must they be when we are allowed to present them! No wonder they fear!!
OBJECTION 1- ROLE PLAYING
Dr. Boyd lambasts the Oneness doctrine in several places because he feels it reduces the Father and the Son to two “roles” that God plays. He feels we can never know the real God, because he “hides” behind these masks, or roles. It’s similar, I guess he feels, to an actor who portrays several characters on a stage but never reveals his own personal life to the public. He writes: In other words, in oneness theology the three ‘temporary’ roles of God do not arise out of God’s essential eternal being. God ‘plays’ Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But in his heart of hearts – whoever he is – he is not these three.” (Boyd, p. 179).
Now where Dr. Boyd gained the idea that we teach God exists in “three temporary roles,” I do not know. He must be reading Church History far into the late night! I have been in Oneness for over 30 years and I have never heard it taught like that! It’s a classic straw man argument and totally inapplicable. What we actually teach is “God in Christ” (I Cor. 5:18). And from that belief we can learn a great deal about what God is Like! Because Jesus was “God manifest in the flesh” (I Tim. 3:16), we have the most personal revelation of the heart (heart of hearts, if you please) and Mind of God that is possible! Through Christ we have a clear understanding of God’s “essential eternal Being.”
We know what God looks like because Christ said: “He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father” (John 14:10). We know what God sounds like for Christ said: “I have not spoken of myself: but the Father which sent me ” (John 12:49). We know what God’s love is like for Christ said: “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you” (John 15:9). We know what it is to receive God for Christ said: “He that receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me” (John 13:20). We know what it is to know God personally, for our Lord said: “If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him…” (John 14:7). We know where God dwells, for Jesus said: “The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works” (John 14:10). We know God’s essence for Jesus also said: “God is a Spirit” (John 4:24). We even know God’s personal name for Jesus said” “I come in my Father’s name” (John 5:43).
What more does Dr. Boyd want than this? It certainly satisfies Oneness believers who hunger for a revelation of God’s “essential eternal being.” It certainly satisfied Paul who found God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ” (II Cor. 4:6).
Whatever we want to know about God is fully demonstrated in Christ. And He is no “temporary role” for in Him dwelleth (permanently resides – Greek) all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9).
THE ROLE PLAYING JESUS OF TRINITARIANISM
While we are on the subject of role playing, it would do well to examine Dr. Boyd’s Neo-Trinitarianism for a moment, for it is here that the real “role playing charade” occurs! Remember, in Neo-Trinitarianism God is not the literal Father (progenitor) and Jesus is not the literal Son (progency). See Boyd, p. 63. Therefore all this talk about the Father and the Son (“Father-Son language” as Boyd calls it on page 63) must not be taken literally, because “we are speaking analogically, not literally” Dr. Boyd tells us on page 63. They are “like” Father and Son, but they are not literally so. So if they are not really Father and Son, then they are “something else”! They play the role of Father and Son, use “Father-Son language;’ but it is all an “analogy” They are not really what they appear. Even the agony of the cross is included in this performance, for we read that God’s participation in this “devastating nightmare” was “something like a perfectly’ loving parent as Father ” (Boyd, p. 186). He is not literally a perfectly loving parent or Father, for he is “something like a perfectly loving parent.” Whatever that might be!
Due to their “Greek Olympics” in which they re-translate out of existence all references to Jesus as “the only begotten Son of God,” they are left with “something like” a Father and “something like” a Son. And all the dialogue (“Father-Son language”) in the Gospels, which we thought was between a real Father and Son, is one big “analogical” performance. Role playing if you please!
“Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God” (I John 5:5). No victory is promised for those who believe that Jesus was merely “something like” a Son!
OBJECTION 2- TRANSIENT ILLUSION
This brings us to our next objection that Dr. Boyd offers. He insists that to believe in the oneness, we must also believe that Christ’s dialogues with the Father were “illusions” or conversations that were contrived to “appear” as if Christ was talking to the Father and vise versa. Some sort of a ventriloquist act conducted by one person, impersonating two, is at we are charged with. He writes: is air of ‘transient illusion’ comes out especially in the Christology of oneness Theology” (Boyd p. 180)”Everything that is said about the personal interaction of the Father and the Son, though it clearly appears to be indicative of a personal relationship, is ‘really’ about Jesus interacting with Himself. Hence ..the ‘dialogue’ is illusionary. It is ‘sustained by a single impersonator’ “(p. 181).
The caricature that Dr. Boyd has painted of our doctrine is another example of a straw man argument. Oneness people believe that conversations between the Father and the Son were exactly that – conversations between God and his Son! And how is that a problem for us? I fail to see it! We believe in One God, who is a Spirit (John 4:24), not a “person” whatever Trinitarians mean by that, they constantly change their definition. This one true God, though He is Spirit, has a mind, a will, and a consciousness. In addition to that he also had a Son, that he begat (something Neo Trinitarians refuse to believe), and who was born of the Virgin Mary. Hence Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God – as the Bible declares repeatedly. This son was a perfect, sinless man. We believe the Son could pray and speak to, and about, His Father any time. We believe that it is as real and authentic as any conversation could be! And God could speak to, and about, his Son and be just as authentic – Where is the “illusion? “Could it be the one that apparently exist in Dr. Boyd’s mind concerning our real beliefs? He wants us to believe something we do not, in order to make his argument more appealing, which he can’t!
The fact that this same God the Father is also incarnate in his Son, that he dwells in his Son, does not alter in any way the above stated facts. The Bible Truth that God was in Christ does not in anyway negate the possibility of real communication between Christ and his Father. Why should it? In fact, as we shall see it is only with a Oneness Revelation that this dialogue makes sense at all.
For there to be real and meaningful conversation, two minds and two wills are required. One mind must think and will to speak; the other must think to respond, and will to answer. Without this you truly have a ventriloquist illusion. In Oneness, the Father, who possesses divine mind and will, dialogues with his Son, who has a human mind and will. That is why Christ could pray not my will, but thine be done.” (Mark 14:36). Christ also testified that communication with his Father was continually going on within him (John 11:42). This communication was openly verbalized on occasions, not because it was necessary for Christ, but for our benefit. For example read the account where Christ prays out loud at Lazurus’ tomb: What does he say concerning this? “Father I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I know that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me (John 11:41-42).’ And when the Father willed to manifest an audible voice outside of Christ, as he did in the Garden, Jesus explained it in a similar fashion: “Jesus answered and said: This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes” (John 12:30).
So in summary, the Father who is a divine Spirit, can speak to his Son, who is a sinless man, and the Son in turn can speak to this Father, without negating the fact that God dwells in that Son. Even Dr Boyd makes the surprising admission that the Father was fully present in Christ: “…Hence we ought not be surprised to find Jesus referring to the Father and to the Holy Spirit as dwelling within Himself. “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form’ (Col 2:9) (Boyd, p.64). So even in Dr. Boyd’s very “flexible theology” the Son is conversing with the Father who is “fully present” within Him (p.64)!
ILLUSIONARY SPEECH OF THE NEO-TRINITARIANS
But Dr. Boyd and the Neo-Trinitarians have a problem of their own with illusionary speech, which is more serious than the voice argument they raised against us.
The Neo-Trinitarians, like their Classical Trinitarian predecessors, make much of the “divine conversations” that took place amongst the members of the Trinity in eternity past. This is part of their “eternal fellowship” doctrine. The Classical Trinitarians at least admitted that they had three real persons, three individuals with three minds and wills (Brumback p.55). Real fellowship, love, communication could take place among their three separate gods. But the Neo-Trinitarians want their “cake and eat it too.” They claim that the idea of three individuals with three minds, and three wills is all a “misunderstanding” (Boyd, p. 64,170). God is, they claim, only one Spirit, with one mind, and one consciousness, not three separate individuals(172.). Dr. Boyd say his Trinity exists in three personal ways (l78), three fashions (63), or three spheres (176); certainly not three separate persons. However this presents a problem for them, that is larger than big! For how, pray tell, does one “way” talk to another “way”? How does one “fashion” socialize with another “fashion”? This is quite “illusionary” If this is bad, its about to get worse.
I- THOU RELATIONSHIP” TRINITARIAN IMPOSSIBILITY
On page 192 Boyd refers to this inner life of love and sociality within the Trinity as an “I-Thou” relationship. “…we must postulate something like an ‘I – Thou’ relationship within the Godhead. For only if there is an ‘I’ and a ‘Thou’, a genuine sense of otherness within God, can there be the kind of interpersonal relationality and love that a God who eternally ‘does what is best’ would have.” But Dr.Boyd conveniently fails to mention one thing, one necessary thing! In order to have an “I – Thou” relationship, two minds, two wills, two centers of consciousness, must exist. One mind and consciousness for the “I”, and the other mind and consciousness for the “Thou.” Otherwise it is a farce, an illusion! This is why we as humans must find another “individual” in order to interact lovingly (“engage with one another in loving interaction” as he puts it, Boyd, p.195). But Boyd’s Trinity only has one mind, one center of consciousness, one will, it is basically one individual! Hence no true “I-Thou” relationship can exist. The more they chew it the bigger it gets. If they can’t swallow it, how do they expect us to??
OBJECTION 3- RECIPROCAL LOVE
Dr. Boyd’s next objection to the Oneness arises out of his previous one, and is actually a corollary to it. There can be no real love between the Father and the Son in the Oneness scheme of things; only in the Trinity can it exist. He considers this the most fundamental and important difference between Oneness Theology and Trinitarian theology. He writes: “Perhaps the most tragic implication of reducing the Father/Son personal distinction to a mere distinction of natures (or even outright illusion) is that it completely undermines the genuineness of the Father’s personal love for the Son and the Son’s personal love for the Father…(Boyd, p. 183) Oneness theology does not undermine the love between God and Christ, in fact it underlines it! For we preach the love of God the Father for his only child; a child he begat, and that grew into manhood in perfect obedience to his Father, whom he loved. We preach the real love that exists between a real Father and a real Son who was begotten by him. Remember Boyd would have us believe “that the loving relationship that exists between God and Jesus is like that of a father and a son(p.63) We believe it is that of a Father and a Son!
On page 186, Dr.Boyd gives us a personal incident of how he felt as Father, the
pain he experienced, when he saw his daughter injured. He uses this to illustrate the love between the Father and the Son. He has a problem though. He literally “begat” his daughter, so there is a real parent-child bonding and love. But in his Trinity the Father did not literally beget the Son. So as we have seen, all Boyd can say of the Father’s love is that it is something like a perfectly loving Parent” (p. 186). You see it is “like that of a Father and Son” but it isn’t.
What is so difficult for Dr. Boyd and the other Neo-Trinitarians to understand? The one true infinite God, who is Spirit and omnipotent, begat through means of a Virgin Birth, a Son, who was a perfect sinless Man, the Savior of the World. What is so difficult about believing that God could love his Son, truly love him; and that the Son could reciprocate this love, truly return it. The fact that the one true God also dwells in his Son, as Dr. Boyd himself admits, does not alter or abrogate this loving relationship. The fact that the father also serves as the divine nature resident in the flesh of his Son, does not impede the love of one to the other. Indeed it heightens it! See John 16:32. In fact because of this incarnation it is impossible for us to love the Son apart from the Father: “…and everyone that loveth him that begat, loveth him also that is begotten of him” (I John 5:1). Of course this is meaningless to Neo-Trinitarians, like Boyd, who do not acknowledge a “progenitor” nor a “progeny”– this begetting business is far too “pagan” for them!
TRINITARIAN LOVE DILEMMA
Dr. Boyd has a similar dilemma with his Trinitarian “love relationship” that he had with their “eternal fellowship.”
He states the Trinity was involved in a loving relationship from all eternity; and what we witnessed in the incarnation showed us what had been going on between the Father and Son in eternity past. “How they love in time has always been taken by the church to be a true revelation of how they love in eternity (p. 189). And there is more he has to say, as he climbs out even further on this already creaking limb. “From eternity to eternity, God is love, passionate love, unconditional love, perfect love! For orthodox Trinitarianism, God’s innermost being is the totally interpenetrating loving union of the three ‘persons’ of the Trinity “(p. 189). Of course in that last sentence he is careful to use the word ‘persons’, for he knows how absurd it would sound to use any of his standard synonyms like “fashions,ways,or “spheres.” It’s difficult to talk about the interpenetrating loving union of the “three personal fashions in which God exists.” Fashions can’t love each other; neither can “ways.”
We are face to face with the same old Boydian dilemma. True love can only exist between two individuals, two minds or centers of consciousness. And in Boyd’s “trinity” there is supposed to be only one mind, one will and center of consciousness (though plenty of modes, spheres, fashions and ways!). Love requires an “I – Thou” relationship, as he has previously taught us. And we agree. But for an “I – Thou” relationship to exist there must be two minds – one for “I” and one for “Thou” (or shall I say “one for me and one for thee!”) Or at the minimum two separate wills are required. But the “New Trinity” of Boyd and friends is quite deficient in this area, having only “one mind” and “one will.” The old classic Trinitarians had no problem here, for they had plenty of separate minds and wills to go around!
Dr. Boyd seeks to extricate himself from this dilemma by involving himself in a massive and fatal contradiction. He purposes that the love going on in the Trinity is best understood by picturing the Trinity as a “single human person” (see Boyd, p. 175). Let’s see if we got it straight: We are to understand the love of the “three persons” by thinking of them as “one person”! He actually put it in print: “Is describing God as ‘one person’ the same as describing him as an ‘absolute unity’? I think not, for the unity of a person is, in fact a relational unity” (p. 175). Now it is all right to define the Godhead as “one person! The gymnastics in Neo-Trinitarianism would send an Indian rubber man to the Chiropractor! But let us follow this trail, it can only get better. “The analogy that has been most frequently employed for understanding the Trinity throughout Church history has been one that likens the Trinity to the inner constitution of a single human person”(p. 175). He talks about a person having a “multiplicity of selves “(p.175)! But do these “selves” talk to each other and “love” each other (that is outside of a mental institution)? Is this how we are to understand the Trinity? Why doesn’t he simply call it the “Schizophrenic Model.” He quotes St. Augustine, who compared the Trinity to a person’s “heart, will and intellect.” Does my heart love my intellect? Does my will talk to my heart? And does my intellect listen in, as we all love each other inside my body! He calls these things, “aspects” of the self. Now “aspects” of a person are loving each other! How comforting on a lonely night! Rev. Jonathan Edwards comes along on page 175 with the “self’s relationship to its own self image.” And he asks the profound question, “who’s talking and who’s listening?” That’s what I’d like to know! Wouldn’t we all!! And he winds up saying “The fellowship of the three divine persons is something like this…” All this from the man who on page 92 ridiculed Oneness as having a “multiple personality” Jesus!
What great news all this business about “multiplicity of selves, will be for the man in solitary confinement, when he realizes that he is not actually alone, but that his “self” is loving and talking to its “own self image”! Or how socially pleasing is it for the recluse to realize he is not without fellowship because his “intellect” is busy talking to his “will.” No one should ever worry about not being loved, for one “aspect” of our “multiplicity of selves” is always ready to love another aspect! And Dr. Boyd finally concludes on page 176 that this analogy drawn from the one human person is “much better suited to clarify the Trinitarian understanding of God than it is the oneness understanding” Amen! The whole thing reminds me of a poem I read once:
“I gave a little party this afternoon at three,
Twas very small, three guests in all
Just I, myself, and me.
Myself ate up all the sandwiches
While I drank up the tea
And it was I who ate the pie
And passed the cake to me.”
And with that we will move on to our next objection.
OBJECTION 4- JESUS TWO NATURES
Oneness that Jesus was both God and Man in one person. Hence we believe he spoke from his divine nature as God, at times, and at other times from his human nature as man. This has never been a point of conflict with Trinitarians in the past. For they too acknowledged that Christ could speak from both natures. The only conflict was that we insisted his divine nature was the Father who dwelt in him (as Christ himself said in John 14:10), and they insisted his divine nature was “God the Son” (a term not found in the Bible). But Dr. Boyd, like the ancient Monophysite heretics, will have none of this. He refers to our view as a “multi personality” Jesus (p. 92). He considers it absurd that Jesus would “switch voices;’ as he puts it, between sentences: “It requires that we view Jesus as switching back and forth between his supposed identities of Father and Son – and doing so between sentences “(p. 88). And at is even more abhorrent to his monophysical view is that Jesus even “switches voices” in mid sentence. “The multi personality Jesus again (we are to believe) switches voices in the middle of a sentence.” (p. 92).
Dr. Boyd has again constructed a gross characterture of our true belief in order to drum up popular support for his untenable position. Let’s set the record straight. It is Dr. Boyd, not us, who believes in viewing God as a “Person” with “multiple personalities,” as he himself has stated on page 175. We believe in “God in Christ” like Paul did (I Cor. 5:18). When we say Jesus spoke sometimes as Father and sometimes as Son, what we mean is as obvious as it is Biblical. Seeing Jesus was both God and man, he had two “reservoirs” of knowledge from which he could draw. He could speak the “things of God.” This means information he had from his mental reservoir as God. “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17). “For the Father loveth the Son and showeth him all things…” John 5:20. But Jesus, because he was also a man, could also speak strictly as a man, drawing on his human reservoir of knowledge. This was the knowledge in which “he grew and increased.” like al-humans. Thus he could speak of earthly things/or heavenly divine things, that a mere man could never have known. “If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?” (John 3:12). If Dr. Boyd can’t see this distinction in Christ’s utterance all I can say is what Christ said: “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God..”(John 7:17).
When Christ said: “Before Abraham was I am” (John 8:58), who would deny he was speaking as God? And when he said “I thirst (John 19:28), who would deny that he was speaking as a man? The Mono ‘tom argued over these texts, but the Trinitarians never found a problem (until recently!)
The doctrine espoused by Oneness is far different from the ventriloquist act of which Dr. Boyd accuses us, or the different voices that fight for control in people afflicted with multi-personality disorder. And as to Dr. Boyd’s idea that Christ was so “limited” he could not change perspectives (“voice switching”) from divine to human between sentences, the Bible positively records him doing it, and in mid sentence at that! It is so obvious that even the most stubborn disbeliever will have to admit it is so. I am referring to Christ’s statement in Zechariah 12:10. “And they shall look upon whom they have pierced, and shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son…” In one sentence Christ refers to himself as “me” and then “switches” (as Boyd likes to call it) and refers to himself as “him.” I know the stampede to Hebrew dictionaries will commence immediately, but it stands nonetheless. There’s no way out. In this remarkable passage Christ uses the first person singular “me” and also the third person singular “him” to refer to himself. Two natures speaking – from one person! What else could it be? And if I may add, grammar is not the only area where we find out that Jesus is also the 1st person, as well as the third!!
I know of a scholar, a Trinitarian, who teaches that when Christ used the term “we and “our” in John 3:11 he was speaking from both his natures simultaneously!! My library is filled with books by Trinitarians which attempt to sort out the statements Christ made as a “man” from those he made as “God.” As the noted Trinitarian scholar John Walvoord says in his book, ‘Jesus Christ Our Lord”: “It seems possible to conclude that he had both a divine and human self consciousness, that these were never in conflict, and that Christ sometimes thought, spoke, and acted from the divine self consciousness and at other times from the human” (Walvoord, p. 118). Dr. Boyd’s argument is not with us, but rather with his fellow Trinitarians.
REMARKABLE INCIDENT IN THE GARDEN
On what grounds could the remarkable incident in the Garden be explained, if Christ were not speaking with all the divine authority and power of the indwelling Father: “Jesus saith unto them ‘I am’…as soon then as he had said unto them ‘I am’, they went backward and fell to the ground” (John 18:5-6, margin). The KJV reads “I am he,” but the he” is in italics, indicating it was not in the original manuscripts. So Jesus was uttering the Jehovanistic “I Am”, just as Moses first heard God say it at the Burning Bush. And if this utterance was not in some mysterious and sublime way springing up directly from the reservoir of the Father’s divine nature in Christ, how can the equally mysterious and awesome reaction it produced be explained? His words literally “pushed them into the bushes.” I must agree with the conclusion reached by first century listeners of long ago: Never man spake like this man” (John 7:46). Why Dr.Boyd ever took issue with this, as a Trinitarian, is beyond me. If he were an Arian I could understand it. Analyzing Christ’s utterance to determine which nature they issued from is standard Trinitarian, as well as Oneness practice. I will conclude this discussion with an excellent quote from the book, “Christ before the Manger, by the Trinitarian scholar and author Ron Rhodes: “It seems legitimate to conclude then, that Jesus in the incarnation was one person with two different kinds of consciousnesses. He could say ‘I and the Father are One’ (John 10:30), ‘Before Abraham was born, I Am’ (John 8:58), and ‘I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me’ (John 14:6). In his human consciousness Jesus could make such statements as ‘I am thirsty’ (John 19:28). (p.204).Trinitarians had better sweep their own steps before they start on our porch!
OBJECTION 5- THE TWO WITNESSES
This is an old argument, first raised by Carl Brumback, to my knowledge, in the book “God in Three Persons?’ The argument did not work then and it doesn’t work now. It’s been dusted off and suited out again, but to no avail. This is another dog that just won’t hunt; not only that, but it has the annoying habit of biting it’s owner! Shall we explore it?
On page 76 and 77 Dr. Boyd outlines his case. Jesus said that his ministry had been authenticated by two witnesses, namely himself and his Father (John 8:16-18). This is in accordance with Jewish Law that requires two individual testimonies to make a judgement binding. Therefore, the Father and Son must be two persons.
However, the Jewish Law is talking about two human beings (Num. 35:30); something that does not exactly apply to the Trinity or the Oneness. For in neither doctrine are you dealing with two human “persons!’ But the essence of the Mosaic Law is what Christ is using, the spirit of it, rather than the letter. God the Father, the Almighty God of Israel, who was now incarnate in Christ, bore witness by the miracles he performed through Christ. And Jesus Christ the Man, the Son who was born of Mary, also bore witness through his sinless life, and infallible teachings. In the Oneness therefore, we have two minds or centers of consciousness, one divine and the other human, that bore witness to Christ’s ministry. This is the equivalent of what Moses law required. The fact that the first witness, the Father, dwells within the Son, the second witness, has no negative bearing on the case at all. For the residence of a witness does not affect his testimony! And besides, even Neo Trinitarians admit the Father fully dwells in the Son.
We cannot say however that the “big gun” of the Boyd-Brumback Munitions Plant has failed to fire; for it did. It backfired! At least it backfires on Dr. Boyd, for Mr. Brumback was able to shield himself behind his Classic Trinitarianism. You will remember Dr. Boyd’s “persons” are not really persons, that’s why he puts the word in quotation marks. They are defined as “personally distinct ways of existing” and “distinct fashions!” He even likes the analogy where they are compared to the “heart, intellect and will” of one human person; or the “self” and the “self image” of a single person (p. 175.)
Now let’s take that to court and see how it stands.
Witness: “Your honor, I have the two witnesses you require”
Judge: “Good, where are they?”
Witness: “They are right here your honor. You see its myself and my own self image.”
Judge: “Son, we cannot admit that in this court”
Witness: “O.K. your honor look at it this way. My heart is one witness and my intellect is the other”
Judge: “Sorry son, you’re going to have to do better”
Witness: “I see your Honor, how about this? I exist in two personally distinct ways. I am a dutiful husband, and also a loving father. Can my two ways, or fashions if you want to call them that, testify as two witnesses?
Judge: “The court is getting tired with these games. Answer my question young man, just how many minds or consciousnesses do you have, anyhow?
Witness: “Your honor, I have never claimed to have more than one mind, or consciousness, But please, can’t I be two witnesses anyhow? Please?”
Judge: “The court orders the witness to undergo Psychiatric examination for multiple personality disorder. Case dismissed!”
Robert Bowman says: “One cannot go into any court of law and say, ‘I am two witnesses to the crime – my body testifies and my souls testifies'” (as quoted in Boyd, p. 77). Neither can one have their “self” and “self image” take the stand, or their “heart” and their “intellect” for that matter! Carl Brumback doesn’t have this problem however, for his classic Trinity has at least three distinct centers of consciousness that can go to court. Another Trinitarian writer of the “old school,” Peter Barnes, speaks of three “divine spirit persons” and of course, these could also be subpoenaed as separate witnesses (Peter Barnes, The Truth about Jesus and the Trinity, p. 12). But Dr. Boyd, with his “one mind” trinity has a real problem with his witnesses! If I were him I would move for a postponement. Objection Overruled!
OBJECTION 6 – APOSTOLIC SALUTATIONS
On page 68 Dr. Boyd makes much ado over the Bible references that mention God the Father and Jesus Christ together. “In fact over 50 times the juxtapositioning of the Father and Jesus the Son is rendered explicit within the very same verse” And he gives examples such as II John 3, “Grace Mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son”
Now references to the Father and the Son, especially as typified in the salutations, are theologically neutral. The Trinitarians see it as a reference to the First Person of the Trinity and the Second Person. Arians see it as a reference to the one true God and his created Son. Oneness adherents see it as a reference to the one true God, the Father, and to the Son in whom he dwelt, our Lord Jesus Christ. I have used these very salutations in personal letters that I have written to others. To speak of the Father and Son “justapositioned” in the same sentence in no way the fact that the Father is also in the Son, and that in Christ we have both. Paul, who wrote most of the salutations, also stressed the fact that God in Christ. (See I Thessalonians 5:18, II Cor. 12:19, Phil. 3:14, II ”ht. 5:19, col. 2:9). It certainly presented no problem for the Apostle John. For after the above quoted salutation in II John 3, we hear him saying in the same epistle: “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son”(II john 9).How about that for a juxtaposition! What the Trinitarians need and want is a salutation which says: race and peace be to you from the first and second persons of the Triune God.” And is, thank God, they will never find!
The same thing applies to the threefold references scattered throughout the New Testament to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These no more prove three persons in the Godhead, than do the five titles given to Christ in Isaiah 9:6 prove five persons in the Son-head! For that matter we read of “God and our Father” (Gal. 1:4) and ‘he “mystery of God and of the Father” (Col. 2:2).Are we to assume two persons are meant?
We are very comfortable reading about the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. We have always believed in a God who has “revealed himself as Father, through his Son, in redemption, and as the Holy Spirit by emanation” (Articles of Faith of the I.).
Dr. Boyd’s own explanation of the threefold references seems good to me. He says: “It is a way of saying ‘God/God/God but in a richer and more felicitous manner”(p. 58); and on page 57,and in his footnote on page 230, he refers to the whole thing as a “literary convention!’ So if it is a “literary convention,” Why try to prove anything from it? It is theologically neutral and any side can read what they want into it. So why all the excitement? Like the old Indian Chief said: “Heap big thunder, heap big – no rain!”
OBJECTION 7 – “I GO TO THE FATHER
Jesus statement in John 16:28 and a similar one in John 13:3 where he speaks of going or ascending) to the Father is often used against us. How can he go to the Father, if he is the Father!” This is supposed to prove the utter “distinction” of the two: “The distinction continues on, and becomes even more explicit, when we hear the Jesus of John’s gospel immediately continue on to say ‘I am going to the Father’…”(Boyd, p. 74).
If Dr.Boyd and other Trinitarians feel this is a problem for Oneness believers, they need to begin to take inventory themselves, for the text in question is an immensely greater problem for them. I will explain.
A TRINITARIAN PROBLEM
According to the Trinitarian doctrine of the “Perichoresis,” a Catholic invention of the 4th century, “wherever and however God exists – as Father, or on, or Holy r it all of God exists. From this it follows that whatever person of the Godhead one is referring to the other two are fully present” (p. 64). “And Indeed…each person completely dwells within the other two” (p. 171). He goes on to talk about the “totally interpenetrating loving union of the three persons of the Trinity” (p. 189).Hence “the inseparability of the three persons.”(p. 171).
Well now, according to what was just expounded as standard Trinitarianism, wherever the Son is, the Father is also fully present, and the Father completely dwells within the Son, “interpenetrates” him in a loving union, and is “inseparable” from him. Then how do they explain that the Son has to go to the Father? You can’t get any closer than “interpenetration”! The fact is they don’t even dare to attempt an explanation! They use this verse against us as one would a time bomb. They bring it forward, set it in place, and then run for cover, for they certainly don’t want to be there when it goes off! In summary, if John 16:28 is a problem for anyone, its a problem for Trinitarians!
ONENESS HAS THE ANSWER
To understand this verse properly we must realize that Jesus is not speaking about “going” to the Father or “ascending” to God in a geographical sense; as if he was in one place(down here) and the Father was off in another place (up there).Jesus repeatedly told us “the Father is with me,” “I am not alone, the Father is with me,” “the Father dwells in me’ and “I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” John the evangelist tells us the Son ever dwells in the “bosom of the Father.” You don’t get much closer than that! No amount of travel could get Jesus any closer to the Father than he already was. So what did he mean?
Let us take the whole context. Jesus said “I came forth from the Father and am come into the world: again I leave the world and go to the Father” (John 16:28). “He was come from God, and went to God” (John 13:3). In other words, he came from deity, dwelt in human form among men on earth, and is now returning to his previous mode of existence. He originally was the unhampered and unlimited divine Spirit, he came to earth and accepted the limitations of the flesh, and now he is returning to unlimited Spirit existence. In other words, he is giving a short history of his changes in office or position, not location. Before he came to earth he was the Father, an unlimited all powerful Spirit. But he left that position (I came forth from the Father) and became incarnate in human flesh, and lived among us (“and am come into the world”). In this position he was limited and humbled. “But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion of a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death” (Phillip 2:7-8). Now after the resurrection, he is no longer “humbled,” no longer “limited” and hampered by the Flesh. He returns to what he was before, all powerful, unlimited, unencumbered Spirit (“I leave the world and go to the Father”). That is why the Bible said he “ascended that he might fill all things� (Eph. 4:10). “Him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:23). That is why Christ said it was necessary for him to “go away” that the Comforter, (the Holy Spirit) “might come” (John 16:7), “For the Spirit was not yet, for Christ was not yet glorified” (John 7:39, margin). “The last Adam (Christ) was made a quickening Spirit”(I Cor. 15:45). When? When he went back to God (John 13:3). He went back to Spirit! Now we can rejoice with Paul that the “Lord is that Spirit” (II Cor. 3:17). He came from unlimited Spirit life (Father), “limited” himself’ in flesh (“came into world”), and has now returned to unlimited Spirit existence (Father). And thank God for it. For instead of being able to comfort just a limited number of disciples in the flesh, he is now able to dwell with us all
as the Holy Spirit! This is what he meant when he told the disciples, concerning the Comforter, “He dwelleth with you, but shall be in you”. John 14:17). “I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you (v.18). To do this he had to return to what he was before.
It should not surprise us that Jesus used the verb “go” in the sense of changing office, rather than geographical travel. We do the very same thing. We talk about a successful man “going to the top of his company.” We surely don’t mean he rode the elevator to the twentieth floor! Or when we say a bright student is “going to the head of his class”, we don’t mean he’s going to run up to the chalkboard! It all indicates a change of office or position, for the better. One humble preacher when asked to explain the verse that says “Jesus came from God and went to God,” simply responded: “That’s easy, Jesus is God, comin’ and goin! ‘” I can’t improve on that!
OBJECTION 8 – THE HIDDEN FATHER
Dr. Boyd rejects the Oneness belief that “Jesus is the Father,” which he rightly refers to as the “cornerstone” of Oneness Theology, because he insists it’s not in the Biblical Record. He cannot understand why Jesus didn’t come right out and say “I am the Father.” He repeats it more than once, so it must be important to him: “Jesus emphatically does not here (or anywhere) say ‘I the Father'”(p. 75.). And again: Note that Jesus does not here (or anywhere) say ‘I am the Father'”(p.74). “If Jesus was trying so hard to do this, why didn’t he simply do it?” (p. 74).
As usual, Dr. Boyd needs to sweep his own door step before he comes cleaning ours!
WHAT ABOUT THE HIDDEN TRINITY?
Throughout his book he mentions that Jesus is God, and rightly so. But where did Jesus ever say “I am God”? Come now, “What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.” Why didn’t Jesus come right out and say “I am so”? If he was trying so hard to do this, why didn’t he simply do it! It would have certainly cleared the air on the controversy of Christ’s deity. The Arian conflict that raged for centuries would never have gotten off the ground. The Watchtower Society and its millions of Jehovah Witnesses would have nothing to preach. Unitarianism would have been “nipped in the bud.” All he had to say was “I am God.” But he didn’t. Or better still, Christ, with his omniscience, could have headed off all controversy and simply stated “I am the Second Person of the Trinity,” at least”, “I am the Eternal Son.” Dr. Boyd believes firmly, fervently, unequivocally that Christ is indeed the Second Person of the Trinity and the Eternal Son. Yet he doesn’t have the slightest utterance from Christ’s mouth to that effect! And while we’re at it, where does Christ say “I am one of God’s personally distinct ways of existing? Passing strange is it not, how people in glass houses insist on throwing stones? If Dr. Boyd can believe that Jesus Christ is God, God the Son, and the Second Person of the Trinity, without ever once hearing Jesus say it, then we certainly cannot be censured for believing he is the Father! But Trinitarians will quickly tell us that even though Jesus never said, “I am God, or God the Son,” they have other corroborating evidence and strong indirect statements. So do We! And much stronger ones than they. For we have a text that calls him the Eternal Father (Isa. 9:6). Let them produce one that calls him the “Eternal Son”. The world’s been waiting over 1600 years for it. If they haven’t found it yet, I doubt they will.
THE HIDDEN FATHER MADE PLAIN
In respect to the doctrine of the Fatherhood of Christ, he asks: “But why, one must ask, is the New Testament so much less clear on this score? (p. 70). He refers to the “opaqueness of the teaching concerning the ‘Fatherhood’ of Christ…”(p. 70). “Why is the supposed fact that Jesus was his own Father so secretively hidden?”(p. 70).
These are all good questions. And-Jesus himself provides the answer! At the very close of his ministry, just before his crucifixion, he made this remarkable statement to his disciples: “These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak to you in proverbs (parables, margin) but I will show you plainly of the Father ” (John 16:25). Christ purposely throughout his ministry was “opaque” in his teaching concerning the Father. He spoke of the Father in “parables” (margin) a “hidden” method. Christ unhesitatingly admitted that his teaching concerning the Fatherhood up until that point had not been plain! That is why he also taught it would require a special revelation to “see it” “All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him” Luke 10:22. This revelation of the Father, Jesus just finished stating, had been “hid from the wise and prudent,” and “revealed unto babes, for so it seemed good in the Father’s sight”(Luke 10:21). Without this revelation, all will remain “opaque” and “hidden” This is why the teaching that Jesus is the Father “sounds so off” to Trinitarian ears. They are getting their revelation not from the Son, but from Catholic Church Councils. No wonder it sounds so off!
Now the question might arise, why didn’t Jesus teach it “outright” and “plain” like Dr. Boyd thinks it should have been, if it were true?
First of all, the Master doesn’t need Dr. Boyd’s advice on this point or any other. Christ’s motives are not for us to judge. But I might suggest several reasons why the doctrine of the Fatherhood of Christ was hidden to an extent. Of course, we must always bear in mind the main reason “it seemed good to the Father” to do so. That ought to be enough for anyone! Also it was a controversial doctrine that prompted extreme reaction among the Jews when he mentioned it (John 8:19-20; John 8:58-59, John 10:30-31). Jesus said: “I and my Father are one. When the Jews took up stones again to stone him” (John 10:30). Therefore Jesus spoke of the Father in “parables” to them (John 16:25). It was not given to those stoney hearts to know this great truth (stoney hearts still have a problem with it!). “And the disciples came and said unto him, Why speakest thou to them in parables? And he answered and said unto them, Because it is given to you to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but to them it is not given” (Matt. 13:11-12).
Another reason Christ did not come right out and say “I am the Father” or for that matter “I am God” should be quite obvious. It was better to have the disciples gradually realize it, through faith, and confess it to him, than for him to simply announce it. I could say I preached a great sermon, and say it often, but wouldn’t it be better if others told me, no matter how long I’d have to wait!
Christ preferred to give them the evidence through his life, ministry and teachings and let them draw the conclusion and make the confession. His parabolic statements about the Father grew clearer toward the end of his ministry as John 14 shows us. .Even then they were not grasping it, for Phillip was still asking unenlightened ‘questions like, Show us the Father,” Jesus answer to him is tinged with a slight rebuke, for he says : “Have I been so long time with you and yet hast thou not known me Phillip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, show the Father?” (John 14:7-9). He goes on, giving ever more light on the subject: “Believest thou not that I am in The Father, and the Father in me? The words I speak unto you, I speak not of myself: but the father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works ” (John 14:10).
Boyd is forced to say something on this passage by way of explanation. Here it is: In a sense of course, the verses do imply that Jesus is the manifestation or ’embodiment’ of the Father.” (P. 73). Imply indeed! Dr. Boyd puts embodiment in quotation marks, for he knows it means incarnation, and he wants to leave open an escape hatch in case he’s pressed for a definition. He goes on (how can he?): The main intent of John 14:7-10 is to assure us that ‘the Father’ is not a different God ‘ than the God revealed in Christ. One does not, and cannot, look someplace else to ‘see’ and ‘know’ God the Father …For just this reason, ‘picturing’ the Father (and/or Spirit) along side Jesus, a sort of horizontal tri-embodied Trinity is prohibited…” (74-75).
Sounds very nice, does it not? Now for the contradiction! On page 75, this opponent of a “horizontal” Trinity says: “Christ is the one is at the Father’s side and the one through whom we must go to get to the Father, but he is not himself the Father.” Christ says the Father is “in him.” Dr. Boyd says they’re “side by side,” but not ‘!horizontal!’ They are “side by side;” “along side” each other, but not to be conceived of as “horizontal”! Do you remember the Queen of Hearts in “Alice in Wonderland”? She declared that she made at least two impossible statements every morning before breakfast. She would have heartily approved of this “non-horizontal,” yet “side by side” doctrine, of the Father and the Son.
It would be best if their teachings became “opaque,” better still, invisible! And remain that way!
OBJECTION 9-WORD MADE FLESH”
Dr. Boyd, and other Neo-Trinitarians, use this verse, John 1:14, to prove their concept that God was made flesh (transmuted) rather than simply embodied or robed in flesh. To them, God did not take upon himself human flesh, or robe himself in it, no, he was changed into human flesh, made into a man. Dr. Boyd writes: “As I have already pointed out, to affirm with scripture that ‘the Word became Flesh’ either means that what the man Jesus experiences, God experiences or it means nothing at all.” “Either God became a man or he did not; if he did then everything that the man Jesus does, God does” (p. 65). “…What Jesus endured on the cross, God himself endured… God could truly humble himself in order to become a real full human being- he did not just robe himself in flesh- while at the same time remaining the transcendent Father in heaven” (p. 188).
What Dr. B o y d is actually saying is that G o d exists in “three personally distinct ways” and one of these three ways was “changed into a man.That these “three ways” are actually three divine individuals becomes quite evident when he starts telling us, as he does on pages 189, that from eternity to eternity they talk to each other and love each other. ” A form of loving communion,” “love bursts forth between the Father and the “triune celebration of love within Himself,” “real loving interaction,” are the terms he uses to describe this activity. This requires in individuals, not “ways” and fashions” and “modes of being.” at we have, no matter how hard and long it is argued, is three divine persons, three gods, and one of them is changed into a man! For “real loving interaction” two minds are required at least. For love to “burst” forth between two persons, two separate minds and centers of consciousness are required; otherwise we do not have a “celebration” of love, just a “recitation of love.” Why “burst” with love if there is not a real “other individual” to receive it, and return the ‘burst!” Ways, aspects, fashions, modes, and manners can’t do these things!
ONENESS EXPLANATION- “THE TENT OF GOD”
But does the Bible say that even one of these “persons” was changed into a man? It does not. John explains what it meant to be “made flesh” in the next clause – and it is not a transmutation! He says “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” The Greek word for dwelt among us means “to pitch a tent and live in it,” “to tabernacle.” So God “lived in a tent” while here. And what tent was that? It was the flesh tent of his Son! Jesus said, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up… but he spake of the temple of his body” (John 2:19-21). Tabernacle and Temple are used interchangeably of the human body (II Peter 1:13 and I Car. 3:16). Jesus’ body was a temple, a tabernacle or tent. But who was living in it? By now you know the answer. “The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works,” Christ said in John 14:10. So even Dr. Boyd’s supposed proof text, in which Neo-Trinitarians repose so much hope, proves that God “dwelt in flesh” or “robed himself in flesh” instead of being “changed into flesh.” And because of this, we can avoid the bizarre conclusion that when the flesh was killed, God also was killed. He could, and did vacate the tent temple just before it died on the cross. This is why the man Christ Jesus, the Temple, cried out, “My God, My God, why heist thou forsaken me” (Matthew 27:46). God did not die on the Cross.
I hope this finally puts an end to these “whisperings and swellings” (II Cor. 12:20).
We will now proceed to some of the more “standard” objections that have been raised against oneness over the years. While the preceding objections were unique for the most part to Neo-Trinitarianism, the following ones are used by both Classic and Neo-Trinitarians. They have been answered often in the past, and answered well. However, in order to provide a full response for “the hope that Beth in us” we will revisit these questions and answer them at this time.
OBJECTION 10- “LET US MAKE MAN
The plural use of “us” is argued as proof of “three persons” of the Trinity. The Father is supposed to be talking to the Son. This is impossible seeing that the Son would not be born, or come into existence, until his birth at Bethlehem 4,000 or more years later (Luke 1:35, Held. 1:5). None of the Bible writers in the New Testament ever advanced this text in any Godhead discussion. Neither John, nor Paul, nor Peter, nor any New Testament author utilized it in any fashion, much less as a proof of a so-called Trinity. Why was such a “powerful Cannon” never fired?
By comparing the use of “us” in other passages we can readily see to whom God was speaking. For in each case angels, either cherubim or Seraphim were present.
In Genesis 1:26 we know angels were there because the book of Job says that the “morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy”(Job 38:7). And this occurred during the Creation. (See Job 38:4-6).
In Genesis 3:22 God says: “Behold the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil…” The context immediately, reveals the presence of Angels, Cherubims in this case: “He placed at the East of the Garden of Eden Cherubims…” (Gen. 3:24). Wherever God was/the “us” angels are nearby. It is natural He should talk to them; they are his companions, created for service and fellowship.
In Genesis 11:7 God goes down to inspect a city, namely Babel, and the phrase “us” occurs in connection with this: “Let us go down and there confound their language.” Could God have been talking to angels here? It would seem so. For a few pages later in the Bible, God inspects another city, Sodom, and takes two angels with him (Gen. 18:1-2, 22; 19:1-2). It appears to be customary for God to take an Angel “escort” with Him on these occasions. It must be remembered also that at this time God Himself was manifested as the Angel of the Lord, also known as the Word. This Jehovah Angel was God’s Old Testament body or form, (See Gen. 16:7-13 for one example).
The final instance of the use of “us” occurs in Isaiah’s vision of God’s throne (in which One, not Three were seated thereon!). He hears God saying: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us” (Isa. 6:8). The angels, to whom God is obviously referring, are mentioned in verses 2 and 6. They are Seraphims, one of the classes of angelic host.
So we have seen that in every case in which “us” is used, angels are mentioned either directly or indirectly. Would it not be more logical, as well as scriptural, to believe God was talking to them instead of postulating two additional “divine Persons” in the Godhead?
OBJECI’ION #11-BAPTISM OF JESUS
“To Jordan, thou heretic and there behold the Trinity” has been the challenge thundered forth by the Early Trinitarian Fathers of the Church. We have of course gone to Jordan to see the “three divine Persons” and have come away somewhat perplexed. For two of the “divine Persons” are “missing Persons”. The only divine Person that we can see is our Lord Jesus Christ. There were two other “manifestations” that occurred, namely a voice from a cloud, and a dove descending, but these do not constitute Persons. In fact these manifestations were actually miraculous works, and as such were produced by the deity that dwelt in Christ: “The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works” (John 14:10).
The divine omnipresent Spirit of could produce a “voice” an here He desired. God once caused a donkey to speak with a voice in the old Testament (Num. 22:28). Is a donkey therefore a person? Jesus said the stones could be made to “cry out” (Luke 14:40). Would the stones therefore become persons?
What Trinitarians want, and cannot get, is a scene in which the Father appears along side the Son and points to Him and says, This is my beloved Son. They will have to go to Mormonism and consult Joseph Smith’s visions, so called, if they wish that kind of proof. It’s just not in the Bible.
While Trinitarians are busy trying to turn “voices” and doves into substantive, persons they miss the message that the voice announced. The divine Spirit said: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” (Matt 3:17). God was actually declaring that He was in the beloved son, and well pleased. Paul so interpreted it, for he wrote: “For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell” (Col. 1:19). And this of course is the “fullness of the Godhead” (Col. 2:9).
The descent of the dove was a special sign to John the Baptist whereby he could identify the Messiah who would baptize with the Holy Ghost and fire (John 1:32-33). A dove is not a person.
So what we have at Jordan, as anyone can see, is one Person in the water, our Lord Jesus Christ, and a manifested voice and a symbolic dove. One Person, and one person only. If we are going to use every instance of God creating a manifestation and turn it into a divine Person we cannot stop at three. For manifested Himself in cloud, a Pillar of Fire, a Still Small Voice, a Burning Bush, a wheel in a wheel and so forth. It’s going to get very crowded!
OBJECTION #12- THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD
Trinitarians who know their own doctrine never bring this argument up. It would constitute an argument against their own beliefs, for they have always taught that God’s essence is “spirit” and is not composed of bodily parts. A Critical Lexicon and Concordance To The English and Greek Testament, by E. W. Bullinger, a Trinitarian, has this to say on page 896: “The Godhead is ‘Spirit'(John 4:24) and as Spirit has no likeness to matter…” A literal right hand would certainly be a “likeness to matter.” The Expression “right hand of God” is clearly symbolic and not actual. The Revel Bible Dictionary, a Trinitarian reference, defines this usage of hand as follows: “The hand is mentioned some 600 times in the Old Testament, often symbolically or in idiomatic expressions, frequently serving as a symbol of power or ability. For example, the ‘hand of ‘ indicates both sovereignty and divine action” (The Revel Bible Dictionary, Fleming H. Revell Co; 1990, p.465). The Bible also talks about God’s “wings” and “feathers” (Psalm 91:4). No has ever taken this to be literal.
So Jesus being “at the right hand of God” cannot be taken literally, for God is a Spirit (John 4:24) and a “spirit” bath not flesh and bone (Luke 24:39). And without “flesh and bone” you cannot have a hand (right or left). So what does “seated at the right hand of God” mean? It means Christ now has all power and sovereignty. As a result of his resurrection, in which ad took up permanent residence in the glorified Temple of Christ, our Lord possesses all power and authority. “All power is given unto me in heaven and-in earth” (Matt. 28:18).
Christ Himself defined the “right hand” as meaning precisely that: “Hereafter shall ye see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven” (Matt. 26:64). “And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of Power, and coming in the clouds of heaven” (Mark 14:62). This is later described as simply “coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matt:24:30),omitting the mention of “right hand” altogether.
OBJECTION #13- “ELOHIM”
In the past, every Trinitarian polemic would eagerly point out that the Old Testament word for God (“Elohim” -Hebrew) was in the plural. Hence they would declare that it should be translated as “Gods” or the even more ludicrous expression “the adorable ones.” For eighty years Oneness advocates pointed out that “Elohim” simply signified “the Plural of Majesty” and in no way alluded to “divine adorable persons” in the Godhead. The Jews always understood it as “Plural of Majesty,” and after all, it is their language. Besides, Christ alone is called “Elohim” in the Old Testament; and certainly there is no “plurality of persons” in the Son! Elohim was always used with a singular verb, for example: “Elohim is,” but never “Elohim are.” This is additional proof that Elohim is to be taken in the singular.
Now after 80 years, Trinitarians are finally “seeing the light” on this question. Dr. Boyd states: “When the one true God is referred to as Elohim, however, the corresponding verbs are always singular…Hence it is easiest and best to understand the plural of Elohim when referenced to Yahweh as denoting a plural of majesty.” (Boyd, p. 47).
If God granted us the time, it would be interesting to see what further concessions Trinitarians would make after another 80 years of Oneness exposure. One can only hope they will not be such slow learners in the future; time is short.
OBJECTION #14- JESUS PRAYING TO THE FATHER
“Why did Jesus pray to the Father if he was the Father?” We are constantly asked. We respond with, “If the Persons of the Godhead are all equal, why did one divine Person have to pray to another divine Person for help?” The more enlightened will quickly explain that though Jesus was a “divine Person” he was also man, and as such was dependent on God the Father, and needed to pray (as a man that is). And in so explaining it, they have stated our position also!
To illustrate the point, I quote Dr. Boyd’s correct (for once ) interpretation of this question: “A final word must be said concerning how it is that Jesus (and others) can refer to the Father as his God (John 20:17, II Core 1:3; Eph. 1:3, Rev. 1:6). On the face of it, the traditional Trinitarian answer to this differs little from the answer Oneness believers would themselves give: namely, it is because of Christ’s Incarnation, because of the fact that he was a full human being, that he could not only refer to the Father as his God, but also explicitly say that the Father was greater than he (John 14:28). It was, moreover for the same reason that the Son had to continually pray to God as any human must pray (Mark 1:35; 14:35; etc.).
As a man, in his human nature, Christ prayed to the Father. Some object saying “wasn’t the Father dwelling in Christ at the time?” We reply, “of course”. Then they say, “well, this means Christ prayed as a man, to the God who was dwelling in Him’?” But why should this present a problem? I once asked a Trinitarian if the God that he worshipped and prayed to also dwelt in him? Naturally the answer was in the affirmative. So’ if a Christian can pray to God, even though that same God dwells in him, why can’t Christ? Of course, we all realize the “indwelling” of God in Christ is far different in degree than the “indwelling” in a Christian; for Christ is God because of the indwelling, but no Christian can make such a claim for himself. Nevertheless the principle is the same, humanity must pray to divinity and the “location” of that divinity is not germane.
OBJECTION #15- MY FATHER IS GREATER THAN I”
How could Jesus be the Father if he said the Father was “greater” than he? This is more of a problem to the Trinitarians, for in their theory none of the “divine persons” of the Trinity are greater than any of the others! The Athanasian Creed states: “and among these three persons none is before or after another, none is greater or less than another.” They can’t escape it either as easily as they would like by simply saying: “The Son was referring to his ‘lesser’ position on earth at the time; the Father being greater because he was still in “heaven’.” The Creed we just quoted talks about “persons” and not their location. The Son was still the Second Person of the Trinity, regardless of his location or condition. It’s precisely for this reason that Dr. Boyd says: “When Christ suffered a forsaken death, God suffered a forsaken death” (Boyd, 58). By _which he means, God the Son, 8econd Person. So this statement of Christ that the “Father is greater” contradicts the Trinitarian creed and leaves them fumbling for a way out. We will not allow them the luxury of “switching” their “God the Son” to same thing “less” everytime they get hemmed in by the Word.
Far from contradicting the Oneness message, Christ statement as to the Father being greater, actually supports it. For it is axiomatic to so Oneness that the Son is “lesser, being a human. That is why the Son said: I can of mine own self do nothing” (john 5:30).And it was as the human Son that Christ said: “My Father is greater than I” (John 14:28), and “My Father which gave them me is greater than all” (John 10:29). But
at the same time, it is this Father, who is “greater than all, who dwells incarnate in the Son. For Christ said: “The Father, that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works” (John 14:10). And that is also why immediately after Christ stated that the Father was “greater than all” he proceeded to say: “I and my Father are One” (John 10:30), and “The Father is in me…” (John 10:38). When one realizes that Christ’s divinity is not derived from his human nature as “Son, but from his divine nature as “Father,” then there is no difficulty in the text at all!