Tag Archive | thomas Weisser

A Plan Conceived In Love

A Plan Conceived In Love
Thomas Weisser

The love Jesus has for people is evident when we consider the great plan He has for all of us. At the Last Supper He revealed to His disciples, as they were sitting there, that His blood was to be shed for the remission of many people’s sins. (Mt. 26:28). Before His ascension He instructed His disciples to preach “repentance and remission of sins in His name,” (Lk. 24:47) beginning at Jerusalem. In Jerusalem Peter obeyed Jesus. While under the anointing of the Spirit of Christ, he instructed new converts to; “Repent, and be baptized…in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” (Acts 2:38).

The Pauline epistles anointed by Christ say many beautiful things about baptism. The writer himself was cleansed of his sins upon entering the Christian faith. Ananias says to Paul; “And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” (Acts 22:16).

In Romans Paul asks and answers a very important question; “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Rom. 6:3-4).

First Corinthians ten reminds us that the Jews in their release from bondage and escape from Pharaoh’s army, “were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea.” (1 Cor. 10:2). To the New Testament Church, Peter plainly states that everyone desiring to be released from the bondage of sin should be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. (see Acts 2: 38 and 10:44-48). The Jews all drank from a spiritual Rock that followed them. The Rock that we now build upon is a stationary Rock. His name is Jesus Christ and He is the cornerstone of a building fitly framed together that is called the Church. He is immovable and unchangeable, the same yesterday, today, and forever. The gates of hell have not prevailed against the Church because Jesus is its builder and all power in heaven and earth belongs to Him.

Colossians says the Church is; “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead And you being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses.” (Col. 2:12-13).

When Paul was in Ephesus he found disciples of John the Baptist. After finding out that they had only been baptized “unto John’s baptism,” he proceeded to baptize them in the name of the Lord Jesus. (see Acts 19:1-5).

Peter, the preacher of the New Birth message in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost, compares baptism to the salvation of Noah and his family from the flood. “In the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 3:20-21).

When Peter commanded Cornelius and his household to be baptized in the name of the Lord, it was out of concern for their salvation. Just as Noah was building an ark for salvation from the flood, so is Christ building a church that will have the power of His name to escape the judgment of the world.

Relationship to Practices in Bible Times

Why did God choose baptism as an initiatory and cleansing rite for new converts to Christianity? Were there any parallel practices among the people of those times? If there were, this would help to explain why this was readily accepted by many thousands in the early days of the Church.

Archaeologists tell us that immersionary washings were common among the Jews of Jesus’ day. These immersion baths were called miqva’ot. William Sanford La Sor in a recent article entitled; “Discovering What Jewish Miqva’ot Can Tell Us About Christian Baptism,” argues for immersion as the earliest form of baptism. He says; “But the archaeological and Mishnaic evidence seems to support the argument for immersion. That is clearly what occurred in the contemporaneous Jewish miqva’ot, so that is probably what happened in early Jewish Christian baptism.” In considering the necessary steps for a proselyte to Judaism he says; “Three things were required of a proselyte to Judaism; circumcision, the offering of a sacrifice and immersion in the miqveh.”

Considering the significance of being baptized “into the name” Ralph Bohlmann has shed some light on early practices. After outlining the meaning of entering into union with God through baptism he explains another aspect. “Another explanation is suggested on the basis of many of the papyri coming from the Hellenistic world of business and finance. Here the expression “into the name” was used to designate an entry made into an account or account book over which the name of the owner was written. What was placed “into the name” of a person was placed into his account and became his possession.”

The Scripture tells us we; “are bought with a price.” The price can not be equated in money, but blood. The blood of the perfect sacrifice, Christ. “Therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Cor. 6:20). Paul again exhorts the Corinthians, saying; “Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.” (1 Cor. 7:23). Paul is very explicit in Colossians where he warns about men who would take us away from the beautiful experience of being; “buried with him in baptism.” (Col. 2:12) Traditions of men would take us away from this life changing action but the Word of God would never take this wonderful opportunity from anyone.

Again, Bohlmann tells us about the Jewish practice between the testaments of freeing slaves. He says; “ritual washings for manumitted slaves were prescribed and carried out
“into the name” of a free man; in such references the expression “into the name” states the special purpose and intention of the ritual act, namely, to become a free man.”

The greatest indictment against mankind is recorded in the Bible. The pronouncement is bold and straightforward; “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23). In a spiritual sense every one is a slave to sin. Is there a way out? Fortunately, yes, Jesus is the way. “And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.” (1 John 3:5). Jesus is the only one who ever lived on the face of the earth without sin. This is why it is so vital that we be washed in the name of the only free-from-sin man so that we might be free. This explains why the Scripture says; “Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12).

What about Mt. 28:19?

Much confusion concerning baptism has been caused as men interpreted this verse of Scripture. After the apostles a dangerous trend appeared in the thinking of many men. They started to view the terms Father, Son, and Holy Ghost as representing three Persons in the Godhead. This concept which was out of harmony with the general truth of Scripture gave them a ready excuse to abandon the only saving name, the name of Jesus Christ, in baptism. Instead of baptizing into the name of Jesus Christ at baptism many started to baptize into the titles Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. This, along with conceiving God as three persons was a clever trick of Satan to eliminate the name of Christ in baptism. It violates the clear word of Scripture which states; “Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12).

Then how should we interpret Mt. 28:19? First, we have to consider who Jesus was addressing in this Scripture. The obvious answer is His disciples. The question then we must consider is, how did they fulfill Christ’s commission in their actual practice? Invariably, when the words are related to baptism, they baptized in or into the name of Christ.

Were the disciples disobedient to Christ’s command? Did they purposely ignore the admonition to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost? I don’t believe so. Then what is the explanation for this incongruity? The only logical solution is that Peter and the others recognized that the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost is Jesus. Obviously, the apostles did not recognize these titles to represent three persons in the Godhead. They understood these to be three titles that could all be ascribed to Jesus Christ.

The Meaning of “for” in Acts 2:38

“…be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” The Greek word translated “for” in Acts 2:38 may mean either “because of or “in order to”. In the Revised Version it is translated to the English word “unto”.

Authorities on the Greek language have agreed that it could not mean “because of in the context of Acts 2:38. Dr. Hackett translates part of Acts 2:38 this way, “in order to the forgiveness of sins.” Professor Tyler, of Amherst, expresses the sense of the passage thus; “Repent and let every one of you be baptized to the end that your sins may be forgiven.”

Professor N. C. Cameron, of Princeton, says: “The preposition for, in Acts 2:38, is evidently used in its final sense, and the phrase is clearly connected with “repent and be baptized” as the end to which repentance and baptism in the name of Jesus, led.”

Professor Packard, of Yale University, would translate the clause classically to read; “to the end of remission of sins,” and says; “It would then make “remission of sins” an object aimed at, or a result attained by the acts denoted by the verbs.”

Professor Flagg, of Cornell, says that for in this passage…”denoted intention or purpose, “with a view to” much as if it had been written, “so as to obtain remission of sins”. This is his view from the standpoint of classical Greek.

Believing on Jesus

In the apostolic age, the command to BELIEVE ON the Lord Jesus Christ caused men to be baptized.

1. Jerusalem: “Men and brethren, what shall we do?…be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ.” (Acts 2)
2. Samaria: “But when they BELIEVED Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.” (Acts 8:12)
3. Caesarea: “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name (Jesus) whosoever BELIEVETH in him shall receive remission of sins And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. (Acts 10:43, 48)
4. Ephesus: “that they should BELIEVE on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 19:4,5)

Titus 3:5 says; “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration (baptism), and the renewing of the Holy Ghost.” Baptism is here represented, like the bestowing of the Spirit, as God’s act; which it certainly is through the hand of the administrator. It is declared to be not a work of righteousness done by ourselves. This is unquestionably correct; for in so far as baptism is a work at all, it is the act of another. What the candidate does in baptism, is to put on Christ and enter into union with him. This is simply faith. In the apostolic age, the command to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ caused men to be baptized; and it should do so now.

What about the Philippian Jailer?

“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said; “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” (Acts 16:30,31) This is one of three instances where the question is posed, “what shall I do?”

1. Acts 2:37,38
2. Acts 16:30,31
3. Acts 22:10,16

Out of these three the answer of Paul and Silas to the jailer is universally used as the answer to inquirers, (by those who say, “just believe” for salvation), while neither of the other answers is ever used.

The question must be asked concerning Acts 16:30,31; “Did it express a part of what is necessary for the jailer to do in order to be saved, or did it embrace his entire duty in order to salvation?” It is easy to supply the supposed meaning out of our own doctrinal ideas, and yet fail to be conscious that we are not interpreting, but perverting the Scripture.

The passage cannot teach the moral monstrosity of a conversion without repentance. Paul did not teach a different gospel from that of the other apostles. The others, including Christ himself, give abundant evidence that repentance is a condition of salvation, and we may be sure that neither Paul nor any other apostle will state any condition of salvation that omits it.

The Scriptures declare as clearly and positively that baptism is a condition of salvation, or remission of sins, as they do that repentance is. There are no clearer or more definite statements in the New Testament than those of Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16 (Paul is the one spoken to) and I Pet. 3:21.

Paul, himself, places baptism (the washing of regeneration- Tit. 3:5) among the conditions of salvation. Moreover, when he spoke “the word of the Lord,” which explained to the jailer what was meant by believing on the Lord Jesus, the; “jailer took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes, and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.” Speaking the word of the Lord to inquirers always resulted in immediate baptism in the apostolic age. Not so, with a faith that saves before baptism.

If reading the Scripture shows the necessity of faith and repentance, the scriptures on baptism should not be ignored. The jailer’s believing on the Lord Jesus included his baptism. After his baptism, he; “rejoiced greatly, with all his house, having believed in God.” (Acts 16:34) His believing on the Lord Jesus was consummated in his baptism.

The following scriptures show the necessity of baptism for salvation:

* In Acts 16:31 Paul tells what one must do to be saved.
* In Tit. 3:5 he declares baptism to be a condition of salvation
* In Acts 22:16 Paul’s conversion clearly included baptism
* In Tit. 3:5 Paul excludes baptism from the category of works
* In Gal. 3:27 he places in it a spiritual element which conditions justification, that is, putting on Christ.
* In Rom. 6:4 entering into union with him.

According to the apostles, the terms for saving faith included baptism. Separating faith from baptism in salvation is without scriptural support.

The Psychology of Remission

A man has committed an atrocious murder. The trial clearly establishes his guilt and shows that he was perfectly sane in the act. The indignation is so great that, were it not for their respect for the law, they would rise and execute summary vengeance. The prisoner is sentenced to execution at an appointed date. But the keepers soon discover a change in his mental state, and after a time become fully convinced that he has sincerely repented of his crime. This knowledge reaches the governor and he also believes in the man’s repentance, and immediately his feelings for him are changed. Should he have an occasion to visit the prison and meet the condemned, he would speak very kindly to him, and his tone and manner would indicate his sympathy. He would also be glad to do him any favor, or give him any help that would be consistent with his duty as the chief magistrate of the state. But it is safe to say that he will not pardon him. Even subconsciously, he has not pronounced his release. In leaving the penalty to take its course, he will feel that he is doing him no injustice. If repentance had rendered the man innocent, it would be a crime for the governor to let the penalty stand. Though out of sympathy he may commute the sentence; he will feel that he is doing right in not releasing the man. Pardon would save the prisoner’s life and restore him to citizenship. But let it be noted, that the governor’s change of feeling towards him does neither of these things. Let it be still further noted, that his proceeding will be considered by all mankind as just. The change of feeling which naturally follows the knowledge of the offender’s repentance does have some effect on the governor’s bearing toward him. But it does not change his relations, nor remove the penalty. These things hinge on the act of will which constitutes the mind’s final disposal of the case; and the conscience of the race has pronounced that it should be so.

The example of Cornelius in Acts 10 exemplifies this principle. He was earnestly striving to do his duty to both God and man. His moral state was such as repentance is designed to produce; and in the commencement of this course there must have been the essential elements of repentance. God’s attitude toward him was also what we should expect. There was no mark of displeasure. But, on the contrary, approval. His prayers and alms rise as a memorial to God. But, notwithstanding these things, the narrative clearly informs us that he was not saved; for he was told to send for Peter who should tell him words whereby he and his house should be saved (Acts 11:13,14). We also discover that he had not received the remission of sins. For Peter tells him that; “through his (Christ’s) name every one that believeth on him shall receive remission of sins (Acts 10:43). And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord (Acts 10:48).”

This case presents insurmountable difficulties if we are to make remission of sins dependent only on ethical conditions. But if it depends not only on a man’s change of attitude toward righteousness and toward God, but also on his laying hold on the strong forces which God has ordained for his rescue from sin, all difficulties vanish and every feature of the case becomes what we should expect it to be.

Cornelius had reached the state where God had ceased to be displeased with him and viewed him with approval. He had not been “saved” and had not received the “remission of sins”. Simply put, he had not become a part of Christ’s church. Union with the church cannot take place by a mere act of the mind. It can be consummated only by some external act; and that act is, by divine appointment, Christian baptism.

Repentance is the ethical condition of salvation; connection with Christ and his Church are practical conditions. In repentance a change of feeling and purpose with regard to righteousness takes place; in faith and baptism connection is made with the strong forces that render righteousness attainable.

Many people have held to baptism in Jesus’ name for the remission of sins since the beginning of the Church. They felt it important that they use this saving name in baptism. They were looked down upon and persecuted. Yet they felt they were standing for something instituted by Christ and, therefore, eternal. This book is dedicated to and about them.

This article A Plan Conceived in Love was excerpted from: The History of Baptism by Thomas Weisser. Morris Publishing, 2005. It may be used for study & research purposes only.

Posted in ADBA - Baptism, AIS File Library0 Comments

Anti-Trinititarianism of Early Quakers

Anti-Trinititarianism of Early Quakers
By Thomas Weisser

The Heart of New England Rent or Hardened?

The day for the execution came. The prisoners came forth from the jail, and surrounded by a hundred soldiers walked through the streets. Drummers went immediately before them who were told to beat their drums loudly if the Quakers attempted to speak to the crowds that lined the way. The Governor was evidently fearful lest the people might make an attempt at a rescue, for thirty-six soldiers were posted about the town during the execution to preserve order’.

William Robinson was hanged first. His last words were, “I suffer for Christ, in whom I live, and for whom Marmaduke Stevenson suffered next. As he ascended the ladder he said: “Be it known unto you all this day, that we suffer not as evil doers, but for conscience sake. This day shall we be at rest with the Lord.”

Later, a young lady named Mary Dyer was sentenced to death.

It was the first day of Sixth Month, 1660, when Mary Dyer walked from the jail to the Common surrounded by soldiers. At the gallows she said: “I came to do the will of my Father, and in obedience to His will I stand even to this death.” John Wilson, the Puritan minister, said; “Mary Dyer, O! repent, O! repent, and be not so deluded and carried away by the deceit of the devil.” She replied; “Nay, man, I am not now to repent.”

Why were these merciless killings carried out? What great crimes had the Quakers committed in Boston to cause such a reaction from these Puritans?

England was alive with revolutionary ideas in the Seventeenth Century. This was especially true in matters concerning the Bible.

One of the more radical groups were the early Quakers. Controversy over their beliefs repeatedly brought them to prison. Nevertheless, with a boldness that reminds one of the Early Church they preached on.

This upset the more established groups including the Puritans in both Old & New England. During this time many tracts, pamphlets, and books were written back and forth between rival groups. In this first chapter we will look at the two writings dealing with the problem in Boston.

Initially, the Quakers coming to Boston in the 1650’s were harassed and laws were passed to drive them out. As more Quakers arrived the laws correspondingly got stricter. Eventually the penalty of death was created for those returning after expulsion. A few became martyrs as recorded at the start of this chapter.

The thrust of this report will deal with a significant aspect of Early Quaker beliefs ignored by most of their historians. It was at least partially because of their anti-trinitarianism that they were driven from Boston.

In the late 1650’s a prominent Boston minister, John Norton was commissioned to write a book exposing the Quaker doctrines. He entitled it, The Heart of New England Rent. It accuses Early Quakers of denying the Trinity. He mentions Praxeas and Sabellius:

Praxeas, who lived in the year two hundred, taught that there was but one person, only in diverse respects, called the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. After ariseth Sabellius under Valerian, affirming that in the Divine Essence, there were three names, but denied there were three distinct subsistences, or persons. 2

Concerning Quaker beliefs pertaining to the Trinity he writes:

They acknowledge that there is one God and three, viz. the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; but they deny that these three are distinct Persons. 3

Many other charges were made. Francis Howgill, a prominent Quaker leader, responded with The Heart of New England Hardened Through Wickedness. In response to Norton’s identifying the Quakers with men labelled heretics he says:

I shall not trouble the Reader with thy old Hetrodoxes, as thou calls them, of the heads of Religion, there is many that know these things as well as thyself, and as for Praxeas, Sabellius, Nestorius, Cerinthius, Eutiches, nor with Quintinius, Swinckfield, Muncer, David George, and John of Leyden, what are these to us? And what are their Principles to us? Some thing they spoke which was real heresie, if the Histories betrue, whereof I much doubt, because many such as thyself were the authors thereof… As for the Hetrodoxes of the Quakers concerning the heads of Religion, as thou hast set down, this I say to thee, and to all the World, we do not hold them because any man before did hold them, or may hold them after, but because God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit, which also may be confirmed by the Testimony of the Scripture of Truth. 4

Concerning Norton’s attacks in regards to the Godhead Howgill responds:

-First concerning the Trinity thou saith, they confess the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, and yet they deny the Trinity, and those to be three distinct Persons, for confutation of this thou brings Heb. First and third; He is the express Image of his Father’s Person. -Thy Trinity is an old Popish term and we love to keep to sound words, but by Trinity I suppose thou means three, and thy own words shall confute thee, thou confesseth we say there is Father, Son and Holy Ghost, and yet but one God, or one Eternal being or substance in which they all subsist, but thy word distinct is thy own and not the Spirit’s, yet to distinguish betwixt Father, Son and Spirit we deny not; and as for the first of Heb. it is in another translation rendered the express Image of his substance, for Person is too grosse a word, as to express an Eternal and Divine being in, and if thou do hold three distinct substances thou errs in thy Judgment, for that were to make three Gods.

Norton also accuses the Quakers concerning Christ. Howgill responds to Norton’s accusation: -They deny Christ to be God and man in one Person, and Christ to be a distinct Person from the Father, and they acknowledge such a Christ as unchrists Christ; and when they say Christ manifest in the flesh, they mean not as the Scripture, but Salaciously. -We say according to the Scripture of Truth and not according to thy falacy, that in the man Christ did the fulness of the Godhead dwell, and God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, and he saith I and my Father are one, and the Father the Son and the Spirit subsist in one Eternal Power, Life, and Glory, which thou with all thy stupid generation are ignorant of; and Christ that we acknowledge is such a Christ as is able to save to the utmost them that come unto him, and receive him and believe in him… When we say Christ manifest in the flesh we say that holy thing which was brought forth and born of a Virgin, and conceived of the Holy Ghost in whom the fulness of the Godhead dwells, in whom the Eternal Power of the Father was manifested, that he was the Christ which was manifest in the flesh and Justified in the Spirit, Preached among the Gentiles, seen of Angels, and received up into Glory, and this is according to the Scripture of Truth, and thy judgment must be judged. 6

Norton endeavors to explain the Trinity in his writing. Howgill responds: -In the ninth page thou art going about to prove thy Trinity, as thou calls it, and thou saith, The Father is a distinct subsistence, and the Son a distinct subsistence, and the Holy Ghost a distinct subsistence, and thou brings John 5. there is another bears witness likewise, speaking of the Holy Ghost, he calls him another, and this another thou says, Is intelligible of the Essence, and then saith, What is more manifest then another subsistence, and another subsistence speaks distinct subsistences, and thou saith, The Spirit is called the hand of the Trinity. -Another is not understood of another being of another life or another subsistence, but is understood of another Manifestation or Operation of the same God who subsists in the same Power in which the Father the Son and the Spirit subsisteth, as I said unto thee before, another, as to distinguish of the Operation and work of the Spirit, and of the Son, we do not refuse; but to make three distinct essences and beings is ignorance and error, as thou saith, Another is intelligible of the Essence, and so thou hast made three Essences, three Subsistences, three Persons and three Gods; but we say there is but one God, and there is three that bears record in Heaven, the Father, the Word and the Spirit, and these three are one. Now as for Subsistence and Essence, they are unsound words coined of yourselves, from your dark imaginations, in which there is no truth at all, but to cast a mist; Now where the Holy Ghost is called a Person in the Scripture I have never read, and where it is called the hand of the Trinity I have never heard of before thee, and so thy blind ignorant conclusions and Sophistical arguing will have little place with them that are come to know the Teachings with the Spirit, and also keep to a form of sound words, which thou cannot. 7

Francis Howgill died in 1668 after repeated imprisonments. His last words were; “I have sought the way of the Lord from a child and lived innocently among men, and if any inquire concerning my latter end, let them know that I die in the faith in which I lived and for which I suffered.”

Early Quakers – Oneness

The early Quakers strongly defended their beliefs in numerous tracts and books. Repeatedly they were attacked concerning their theology of the Godhead. Over and over they were said to deny the Trinity and the Divinity of Christ.

From their writings it is apparent they did deny God is three Persons. They never denied the divinity of Christ. In fact, the last section of this book is a partial reprint of the book entitled The Divinity of Christ by George Whitehead.

According to Maurice A. Creasey in his Early Quaker Christology the Early Quakers saw no distinction between the pre-incarnate Christ and the Father. This is a main ingredient of modern Oneness belief. Mr. Creasey also says that the distinction between Father, Son and Holy Ghost to early Quakers; “must be defined in terms of operation and manifestation rather than of ‘Person’ in the sense in which their contemporaries understood that term.’ 10

Quaker View of History

Most of the Early Quaker writers didn’t concern themselves much with the History of Christianity. As Howgill says concerning their beliefs; “we do not hold them because any man before did hold them.” An interesting exception to this is William Penn.

In his The Sandy Foundation Shaken he relates the idea that trinitarianism was born from the struggle between Athanasius and Arius at Nicea. “Know then, my friend, it was born above three hundred years after the ancient gospel was declared; and that through nice distinctions, and too daring curiosity of the bishop of Alexandria, who being as hotly opposed by Arius, their zeal so reciprocally blew the fire of contention, animosity, and persecution, till at last they sacrificed each other to their mutual revenge.”

He goes on to say that Trinitarianism being stronger than Arianism triumphed and the creed developed was given the title Athanasian. Penn suspected, as has been confirmed, that it was written not by Athanasius but rather it was, in his mind, “the results of popish school-men”.

Lay Preachers

A very controversial subject in 17th Century England was the right of lay people to interpret the Bible. Among the non-conformists men rose up to take the place of preachers in the State Church. This was abhored by the established Church leaders.

At the forefront of this concept stood the Early Quakers. They actualized the Reformation concept of the priesthood of believers.

With the New Testament they proported a common salvation, understandable to all repentant hearts. But, Church leaders would not tolerate wayfaring men taking the place of theologians.

One characteristic of modern Oneness believers is their leaders encourage lay people to study and teach from the Bible.

By His Spirit

Another amazing thing about these Early Quakers is that their understanding concerning the Godhead was revealed to them by the Spirit. This is amazing in that the same thing is said by modern Oneness believers.

Howgill says he holds to his beliefs, “because God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit which also may be confirmed by the testimony of the Scripture of Truth.”

Modern critics of the Oneness movement act like its claims of spiritual enlightenment are imaginary. They forget it was the work of the Spirit of God that brought about the birth of the Church [Acts 2].The Spirit annointed an incapable fisherman named Peter to reveal the gospel message [Acts 2:38]. The Spirit moved on men of God to write the entire Bible. Why is it wrong to depend on the Spirit of God to give us an understanding of God today?

Early Quaker Theology – Christ Centered

Christ was central to the Early Quaker experience. Indeed, the Light within them they identified with Christ. This is true of modern Oneness Pentecostals when they refer to the Holy Ghost within them as Christ in them.

William Penn was imprisoned for his anti-trinitarian statements in The Sandy Foundation Shaken. The primary accusation was he denied the divinity of Christ. His answer to this charge written from prison he entitled Innocency With Her Open Face.

He writes:

That which I am credibly informed to be the greatest reason for my imprisonment, and that noise of blasphemy, which hath pierced so many ears of late, is, my denying the divinity of Christ, and divesting him of his eternal God-head, which most busily hath been suggested as well to those in authority, as maliciously insinuated amongst the people; wherefore let me beseech you to be impartial and considerate, in the perusal of my vindication, which being in the fear of the Almighty God, and the simplicity of scripture dialect, presented to you, I hope my innocency will appear beyond ascruple. The Proverbs, which, as most agree, intend Christ, the Savior, speak in this manner: “By me kings reign, and princes decree justice; I [wisdom] lead in the midst of the paths of judgment: I was set up from everlasting;” to which Paul’s words allude, “Unto them which are called [we preach] Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God;” from whence I conclude Christ the Savior to be God; for otherwise God would not be himself; since if Christ be distinct from God, and yet God’s power and wisdom, God would
be without his own power and wisdom; but inasmuch as it is impossible God’s power and wisdom should be distinct or divided from himself, it reasonably follows, that Christ, who is that power and wisdom, is not distinct from God, but entirely that very same God. Next, the prophets, David and Isaiah, speak thus: “The Lord is my light and my salvation. I will give thee for a light unto the Gentiles;” and speaking to the
church, “For the Lord shall be shine everlasting light;” to which the evangelist adds, concerning Christ, “that was the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. God is light, and in him is no darkness at all;” from whence I assert the unity of God and Christ, because though nominally distinguished, yet essentially the same divine light; for if Christ be that light, and that light be God, then is Christ God; or if God be that light, and that light be Christ, then is God Christ. Again, “And the city had no need of the sun, for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb [Christ] is the light thereof;” by which the Oneness of the nature of those lights plainly appears; for since God is not God without his own glory, and that his glory lightens, [which it could never do if it were not light] and that
the Lamb, or Christ, is that very same light, what can follow, but that Christ the light and God the light are One pure and eternal light? Next, from the word Savior, it is manifest, ” I even I am the Lord, and beside me there is no Savior: and thou shalt know no God but me, for there is no Savior besides me.” And Mary said, “My spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior:” and the Samaritans said unto the woman, “Now we know that this is indeed the Christ the Savior of the world. According to his grace made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ. Simon Peter to them that have obtained like precious faith with us, through the righteousness of God, and our Savior Jesus Christ. For therefore we suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men: to the only wise God our Savior be glory,” & c. From which I conclude Christ to be God; for if none can save, or be styled properly a Savior but God, and yet that Christ is said to save, and properly called a Savior, it must needs follow, that Christ the Savior is God. Lastly, “in the beginning was the Word, [which the Greeks sometimes understood for wisdom and divine reason] and the Word was with God, and the Word was God: all things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made. For by him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth. He is before all things, and by him all things consist. Upholding all things by the Word of his power,” &c. Wherefore I am still confirmed in the belief of Christ the Savior’s divinity; for he that made all things, and by whom they consist and are upheld, because before all things; he was not made nor upheld by another, and consequently is God; now that this Word that was made flesh, or Christ the light, power and wisdom of God, and savior of men, hath made all things, is he by whom they only consist and are upheld, because he was before them, is most evident, from the recited passages of scripture; therefore he was not made, nor is he upheld by any other power than his own, and consequently is truly God. In short, this conclusive argument for the proof of Christ the Savior’s being God, should certainly persuade all sober persons of my innocency, and my adversaries malice; He that is the “everlasting wisdom, the divine power, the true light, the only Savior, the creating word of all things, [whether visible or invisible] and their upholder by his own power, is without contradiction God;” but all these qualifications and divine properties are, by the concurrent testimonies of scripture, ascribed to the Lord Jesus Christ; therefore, without a scruple, I call and believe really to be the mighty God. And for more ample satisfaction, let but my reply to J. Clapham be perused, in which Christ’s divinity and eternity are very fully asserted. Judge then, impartial readers, [to whom I appeal in this concern] whether my Christian reputation hath not been unworthily traduced; and that those several persons who have been posting out their books against me [whilst a close prisoner] have not been beating the air, and fighting with their own shadows, in supposing what I never thought, much less writ of, to be the intention of my book; and then as furiously have fastened on me their own conceits, expecting I should feel the smart of every blow, who thus far am no ways interested in their heat.

Partial Reprint of George Whitehead’s The Divinity of Christ.

[This was a response to books written against Quakers by Tho. Vincent, Will. Madox, Tho. Danson, and John Owen.]

EDITORS NOTE: What you are about to read is copied from the original book published in 1668. In endeavoring to preserve it we have copied it verbatum with minor spelling corrections. The following is not easy reading but after you read it I believe you will agree that it is worthwhile reading.

If that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost be three distinct separate Persons, not simply One, or agreeing simply, as the Priest saith, then how far distance are they one from another? Show us Chapter and Verse for this, and make it good by Scriptures.

And let us see through all the Scriptures, wherever the Holy Men of God did give such titles or names to God, and Christ and the Holy Ghost as the Presbyterians and Independents have done, as may be seen in this Book.

The Scripture saith, That God, and Christ, and the Holy Ghost will dwell in Man; & then you Independent and Presbyterian Priests, Whether then that there is not three Persons in a Man [dwelling in him] that is a Person? For the Apostle saith, That your Bodies are the Temples of the Holy Ghosts and that your Bodies are the Temples of God, and that Christ is in you, except ye be Reprobates?

The DIVINITY of CHRIST, Confessed by us called Quakers; And, What we
own touching the Deity or God-head, according to the Scriptures…

That there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him, and our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

That there are Three that bear Record in Heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, and that these three are One, both in Divinity, Divine Substance, and Essence; not three Gods, nor separate Beings.

That they are called by several Names in Scripture, as manifest to, and in the Saints [for whatsoever may be known of God, is manifest in man, Rom. 1] and their record received as the full testimony of three, by such as truly know and own the Record of the three in Earth; and yet they are Eternally One in Nature and Being; One infinite Wisdom, One Power, One Love, One Light and Life, & c. That there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him, and our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

For, the only Wise God, the Creator of all, who is One, and his Name One, is infinite and inseparable, Deut. 6:4. Zec. 14:9. And the Father’s begetting the Son, and the Spirit’s being sent, we witness to and own; as He said, Thou art my Son, this day I have begotten thee, Psal. 2:7. Heb. 1:5. And he hath sent his Spirit into our hearts, Gal. 4:6. And that the Father is in the Son, and the Son in the Father, yea, in the bosom of the Father, Joh. 1:18 & chap. 17:21, 23. So that they are neither divided, nor separate, being One, and of One infinite Nature, and Substance; Christ being the image of the invisible God; the first born of every Creature, by whom all things were Created, both in Heaven and in Earth, Col. 1. -Yea, the Son of God is the brightness of his glory, and the express Image of his substance, Heb. 1:3. And that it was in due time God was manifest in Flesh, I Tim. 3:16. As in the fulness of time God sent his Son Gal. 4. And the Son of God was made manifest to destroy sin, I Joh. 3:8. And a manifestation of the Spirit is given to every Man to profit withal, I Cor 12.—So the manifestation of the Father, of the Son, and Holy Spirit we confess to, and own to be in Unity [and so the only true God] according to the Scriptures.

And that Jesus Christ being in the Form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, and yet as a Son, in the fulness of time, was sent of the Father, and took on him the form of a servant, Phil. 2:6,7. in which state he said, My Father is greater than I, Joh. 14:28. and he learned Obedience through Suffering, and was made perfect, and is become an everlasting High Priest, after the Order of Melchisedeck, and is the Author of Eternal Salvation, unto all them that Obey him, Heb. 5.— And God hath given us Eternal Life in his Son: And unto us a child is born, and a Son is given to Govern, whose Name is Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace, Isa. 9:6. And he is over all, God blessed forever, Rom. 9:5. Even the true God, and Eternal Life, I Joh. 5.

So that the Deity or Divinity of Christ, in his eternal, Infinite, Glorious State, we really confess and own; having known his Virtue and Power to redeem us from our vain Conversations, and to save us from wrath to come.

And our knowledge of the only true God, and our Faith in, and concerning him, and his Name, unto our Salvation, cloth not consist in the traditional Names, human Inventions (nor in Philosophical terms, and nice School distinctions, derived from Heathenish Metaphysics; which since the Apostles time, men have put upon the Godhead] but in the living sense, and feeling of his Divine Power, Life, and Love, revealed in us by the Spirit of the Son of God; whereby we have [in his gift of Divine Life and Spirit] received Life and Salvation, from sin and death; see Matth. 11:27. Luk. 10:22. Matth. 16:17. Rom. 1:17. ch. 8. 18. Gal. 1:16. Eph. 3:5. I Pet. 5:12. ch. 4:14. ch. 4:13. ch. 5:1. 2 Pet. 1:3. Matth. 1:21.

Also we judge, That such Expressions, and words as the Holy Ghost taught the true Apostles, and Holy Men mentioned in the Scriptures, are most meet to speak of God, and Christ, and not the words of man’s wisdom, or human inventions, and devised distinctions since the Apostles days.

Finally, We have received an Unction, or Anointing, from the Holy One, which as it cloth teach us, we know a continuance in the Father and in the Son, I Joh. 2. And for whom we know the Father is well pleased, and in him we know the true Satisfaction, Justification, and Peace, which all that abide in him, enjoy and witness.

Now unto the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the One Eternal Word, The Only Wise, Pure, Perfect God, who is Infinite, Omnipotent, Incomprehensible, who giveth unto all Life and Being, and is the Life of all, and the Being of Beings, who filleth all in all with his Presence, Unto whom be Glory now and evermore, [saith our Souls.]

G. Whitehead.

And for Definition of a Person, or what a Person is, we shall not need to go to Popish and Heathenish Authors, as Thomas Aquinas, Aristotle, and others; as some of these Presbyterian Teachers, and others, have done, when they have gone about to demonstrate their Doctrine of a Trinity of distinct Persons in God; And yet in Contradiction, for a cloak, they pretend the Scriptures to be their Rule, wherein there is no proof of their calling the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, three distinct Persons, while the Scriptures be full and plain enough to prove, define, or show what a Person is; as namely, a Man or Woman; sometime the body, the face, or visible appearance of either, &c. But the Infinite God is not like to corruptible man.

W. Madox: By their three Persons you mean the three uncreated Persons of the ever blessed Trinity, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost.

Three uncreated Persons are thy own words and terms; but the Father, Word, and Spirit, we really own, and bear witness to, both as mentioned in the Scripture, and as knowing the absolute Testimony and Eternal Power thereof manifested, where that which may be known of God is manifest [even within] both in creating, begetting, and quickening us again to God out of death and darkness. And these Three which are One, which bear Record in Heaven, to wit, The Father, the Word, and the Spirit, as I could not own the title of Three distinct and separate Persons to be put upon them, as thy Brother Erroniously did [being not Scripture language] so it was never my intent, nor Principle, to compare them to three Apostles, or finite Creatures, as most falsely and injuriously thou accusest me. But to endeavor to make the People understand both the grossness and falseness of Tho. Danson’s and Tho. Vincent’s Principles of three distinct Persons in the Deity, you naming each Person God, which renders them Three Gods [whilst but One God] by showing the Consequence of this your Principle; After I had from
Scripture showed how inseparable the Father and the Son were, and the Oneness of the Father, Word, and the Spirit; but if I had simply compared them to three Apostles, who were distinct and separate Persons, then had I owned your Terms and Principle, and then the Controversy had fallen between us: But instead thereof, I am accused for opposing your Doctrine of distinct separate Persons; and thus you confound yourselves in wronging of me; for were not the three Apostles, Paul, Peter, and John, three distinct, separate Persons [did I ever deny that they were] how like then to finite Creatures cloth your own Doctrine render the Eternal God, his Word, & Spirit; which to show, was my end in instancing three Apostles, for we never believed the Eternal God to be like to corruptible man, since we knew anything of his Divine Power. But T. Danson in his Synopsis, pag. 12. plainly instanceth three Apostles, Peter, James, and John; as also his instance of David and Solomon for their Trinity, or three Persons in one nature;

Was not this an instance of finite Creatures, and such an indignity put upon God as I never intended: How can such men but blush for charging that on others, which so evidently they are guilty of themselves?

Madox. We call the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Three Persons, or Hee’s, according as they are held forth in the Scriptures.

Answer: Nay, had you stood to Scripture-language, there had not been any Controversy between us therein; but it would not satisfy you, but you must obtrude your Popish unscripture-like terms and distinctions, or rather worse, in telling not only of distinct but separate Persons, which being plainly refuted from Scripture, you may remember I several times called to T.D. and T.V. to confess their Error, I strewing how inseparable the Father and the Son were, reflecting chiefly on the words separate Persons, which, how you come off about, will appear hereafter. And as for their being Three Hee’s, thou W. M. durst not keep to any Argument from thence, or to make that any Cause, or Reason, why we must own them to be Three Persons, though here thou seem’st to make the terms equivolent, viz. three and the Holy Ghost, as falsely and blasphemously we are accused by this our prejudiced Opposer.

W. M. What you mean by separate, I know not; if you mean so separate as to destroy the unity and simplicity of the divine Essence, I own no such separation; if you take it to be all one with distinct, then it was no begging the Question. And in their 39. pag. it’s said, viz. The word Separate Person I disown any further then we may conceive it to signify no more than distinct.

Answer: It appears then, that T. D. and their using the word separate persons, was to explain their meaning of distinct persons, for it was used after distinct, viz. Distinct and separate persons; which word separate persons, they know I chiefly reflected upon at the Dispute, I proving the contrary from Scripture, viz. both the Oneness and inseparability of the Father, Word, and Spirit; but seeing they own no such separation as to destroy the Unity of the Divine Essence, why did they make use of the word Separate at all in the case, telling us, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are three distinct and separate persons, which they confess are of one divine Essence. Now they disown separate any otherwise then it signifies distinct; but they should not have own’d it at all in this case. Is it not sad Doctrine that supposeth any Separation, Finiteness, or Limitation, in this Divine Being? But if the separation relate to the Personality, or their distinctions of persons, and not to the Essence, then cloth not this tend to divide God, or to separate Father, Son, and Spirit, who are in each other, and how then are they three distinct, co-eternal, co-essential, coequal Persons? Or how are they three distinct uncreated
persons of an infinite nature, as before? but another while not infinite in the Personality; what wonderful confusion and gross contradictions are here! and what strange boldness is it for men, so dark in their understandings, discomposed in their minds, confused and incongruent in their Principles, thus ignorantly to attempt to define or demonstrate the infinite Power, or God-head, which is out of their sight, and beyond their earthly capacities, who are so ignorant of God who is Light; they count the Light within an Idol of our own brains, as W. M. hath blasphemously done; whereas it is the Light by which God hath shined in our hearts, to give us the knowledge of his Glory, in the face of Jesus Christ, 2 Cor. 4.

W. M. I called them three Hee’s, to try if you would own the Deity of Christ, and the Holy Ghost, under any title.

As the subject of this Trial is very mean and weak [to wit] the calling them three Hee’s to prove the Deity; so his trying of us hereby, was altogether groundless, since that we never disowned the Deity of Christ, or the Holy Ghost, as falsely and injuriously is insinuated against us. And since that three He’s will now serve instead of Persons, [he saying they are three Persons, or three He’s] to prove the Deity of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost: Why have they made such a pudder for their distinction of Persons? But would it be a strong Reason to induce Infidels to the belief of the Deity of each, because they are three Hee’s as he saith; for, are all Hee’s either God, [or yet Persons] or Divine? But I need say little to the shallowness of
this Work; Let the ingenious Reader judge of it. But when he thinks he mends the matter, by calling them three divine Hee’s, his intent is, that the Father is called Hee, the Son is Hee, the Spirit Hee; which neither proves them three separate, nor three incommunicable Persons, distinct subsistences, or bottoms; whilst both the Father’s a Spirit, the Lord is that Spirit, Christ a quickening Spirit; all inseparable.

W. M. You by refusing to call them Three Divine Hee’s, have made it manifest, that your Quarrel is not with the word Person, as some then apprehended; but with the Doctrine or Fundamental Truth, expressed by the three Persons, viz. the Modal Distinction, and Essential Union; or Oneness of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Answer: It’s manifest, that some of the Hearers that were present at our Debating this matter, had a better apprehension and understanding of us than you prejudiced Teachers and Opposers had: for some of them apprehended that we opposed your unscriptural terms and words put upon the Deity, and not that we opposed either the Divinity or Union of the Father, Son, or Holy Ghost; neither did we in the least go to quarrel with any Fundamental Truth, as most grossly and slanderously we are accused and misrepresented by thee W. M. who hast showed thyself [so far from either Truth, Moderation, or Reasonableness in this matter] as one swallowed up with Envy and Prejudice: And thy taking for granted, that thy Modal distinction and terms, are Fundamental Truth, and joining them with the Oneness of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is but a begging the Question, and presumption in thee, especially whilst by your vain Philosophy some of you have either rendered them as Three Gods, or denied them to be Infinite, as in pag. 45. Yea, and it was evident to many, That we found fault with your mix-calling and mix-representing the Father, the Word, and Spirit; and never in the least opposed nor questioned their being Three such as mentioned in Scripture, viz. The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, but there openly confessed to the Fundamental Truth of them in Scripture terms. And when you fell into your needless Questions, and Philosophic terms of incommunicable properties, subsistences, &c. I [to bring the matter to be more obvious to the People, to shorten and mittigate the Controversy, and to abate your heart] did tell you, That if you meant by incommunity of properties, the Father’s begetting the Son, and the Spirit’s being sent; state your Question so, in plain English, Whether the Son was begotten, and the Spirit sent of the Father, and it would quickly end the Controversy. But nothing would serve you, but an Answer to your vain babbling and School-terms, with such a limitation as Aye or No; as if the Scripture terms and expressions were in this to be waved and slighted as insufficient, and your confusion, vain Philosophy, and deceit, must be set up above the Scriptures of Truth, though you profess them to be your Rule, at other times. But here in plain Contradiction, you have gone about to obscure Divine Mysteries under your Traditional terms of Heathenish Metaphysics, and laid such a stress upon them, as if all were to be deem’d Blasphemers and Hereticks, and so to be damned, that cannot confess, own, and be tied up to your terms, nice and confused distinctions, which you presumptuously put upon the Father, Word, & Spirit.
And as for W. M. his accusing us with rejecting the Son, and so the Father. It is a gross slander, as many more of his accusations are; and never was it in our Intention nor Doctrine so to do, whilst the Oneness of Father, Son, and Spirit, we really confess to, but disown your blind distinctions, which deny them Infiniteness.

And as for W. M. his so much talk of three Hee’s, each of which [he saith] is by nature God: We do not read in Scripture, that God is called three Hee’s, or three distinct Hee’s; and therefore three distinct separate Persons [indeed Children in the Accidence call Hee the third Person singular] But that both the Father and Son speaking of themselves, use the word Hee, as I am Hee; and he that is with you, shall be in you; Christ speaking of his own manifestation [which was that other Comforter] I will not leave you comfortless, I will come unto you. But each of these three Hee’s he tells of, he hath told us is by nature God; so then they are One, as God, the Word, and Spirit, are.

And as to his charge of Ignorance of Philosophy about Subsistence, which he says, is not a form of a Hee, but the manner of his being.

His Charge of Ignorance, of his kind of Philosophy, and such nice distinctions [as this between manner and form] we can easily bear, and pass by, and leave them to feed upon it, who will choose such chaff for their food, knowing that the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ, consists not in such trifles.

W. M. The form of God the Father is his Divine Nature, but his Subsistence is his manner of being in the relative Property of the Father; and so he speaks of the Form and Subsistence of the Son and Holy Ghost [as his terms of them are.]

Now touching these distinct subsistences, or manners of being, wherein stands their Model, distinction of Three distinct Personalities to which they say in pag. 45. That infiniteness is not applicable, and that there be three distinct Personalities, unto which infiniteness is not ascribed: Here they have given People to understand what their meaning is about their three distinct Subsistences, or Personalities, that they are not Infinite. What then! Is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Finite? What gross darkness is this? Let the impartial Reader judge, whether we have not sufficient ground and cause to oppose them and their vain Philosophy in this so high a matter, and whether herein their Doctrine cloth not blasphemously oppose the Divinity of Father, Son, and Spirit; and they go about to eclipse [and detract from] the Glory of the infinite God-head, whilst at other times, in contradiction, they confess each to be God, and tell of the Eternal Son of God, and say, That in the concrete, every subsistence is infinite, but not the subsistence or personality in the abstract. What darkness is here? Is God divided, or Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, separate or abstract from their Essence? And where then is this finite personality so much contended for? Is it in God, yea or nay? or relating to his Divine Being, or Substance? But if these distinct personalities or subsistence, which they say are not infinite, be the relative
Properties of the Father, Son, and Spirit, then I ask, Hath not this Doctrine denied both Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, to be infinite? Let the unbiased Readers judge. And yet in Confutation of themselves again, there’s God the Father the first person, God the Son, a person distinct from him; and God the Holy Ghost, a person proceeding from both. How to make sense of these three distinctions, comparing them together, or how to make them hang together without rendering them Three Gods, and not only so, but such as are not Infinite, cloth not yet appear to me. And whether my comparison of not understanding Paul, Peter, and John, could be Three Persons [each of them an Apostle] and yet all but one Apostle, was not suitable to detect these mens unscriptural Doctrines and Distinctions, and to show the absurdity of the consequences thereof, which whilst this railing angry man, W. Madox, cloth so often take it as a comparing the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, to Three Apostles; herein he hath grossly wronged and abused me, and his own understanding, And his Charge of Blasphemy against me [for that he intimates that I should say] That God is but equal with man, or compared the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, to Three Apostles, then had I and these rigid Presbyterians accorded nearer than we did, for then had I owned their Doctrine and terms of three distinct and separate persons in the God-head, which are not infinite; which I can never own, nor believe, nor depend upon any God, or thing, which is finite, for Salvation. Besides, I never denied finite man, nor three distinct Apostles [as Paul, Peter, and John] to be distinct and separate Persons; so if I had really compared the Deity to such, we had not differed about the distinction of separate Persons, or finite substances in the God-head, which is no less than Blasphemy. But then, how poorly, maliciously, and falsely this W. M. comes off in so positively deeming their Doctrine and terms in these matters, to be Scripture Truth; and charging us with designing to blast and overthrow the Deity of Christ, and the Holy Ghost; upon which, Blasphemers, and Blasphemy, and damnable speeches, are hideously cast upon us, but most unjustly, and falsely; for no such design ever had we, as either to blast or overthrow the Deity of Christ, or Holy Spirit, we have openly professed and declared the contrary, both in words and writings. As also his accusing us with boldly spitting in the face of God, is a gross and malicious slander, and a presumptuous taking for granted, that our opposing their corrupt unscriptural distinctions, and vain babbling, was a spitting in the face of God; as if we must believe all that these men say, in this matter, to be as true as God is, and his Glory to be so deeply concern’d in their vain Philosophy: Judge whether they herein are competent Disputants, yea or nay? and whether these our Opposers, or we, have compared God, or the Father, Son, and Spirit, to men; let the Reader judge by what follows.

In their Answer to the Argument of William Penn’s, viz. The Divine Persons are either finite, or infinite; if finite, then something finite is in God; if infinite, then there would be three distinct infinites, and consequently three distinct Gods: thus far W. P. Touching which, after they have denied infiniteness to be applicable or ascribed to them [as to their subsistences or personalities, as they call them, they bring a comparison of the substance of a man, pag. 46. saying, It would be improper to ascribe the property that belong to him, unto his subsistence, to say that his subsistence in the abstract is either a learned or unlearned subsistence, a great one or a small one, a white one or a black one. What vain babbling, and blind instance is here]. And so they say, It is improper to say, that either of the Persons, in regard of the personality or subsistence, are finite, or infinite; but in regard of their Essence in the concrete, are infinite.

Now the Reader at length may see what’s become of their distinctions of three distinct subsistences, or persons in the God-head, or Divine Essence, wherein they having here undertaken to demonstrate that which Reason cannot demonstrate to them, nor they clear to themselves by demonstration, as in pag. 26. they have run themselves as into a Wood and Ladyrinth, as persons bewildered and confounded; so as now the subsistences or distinct persons in the Deity, they much contended for, are such as are neither learned nor unlearned, neither great nor small, neither finite or infinite; what are they then? what gods are they that these men would have us believe in? before they were not infinite, now neither finite nor infinite. What grosse Confusion and Contradiction is here! for if not infinite, then finite; but the God whom we serve and believe in is infinite, the only Wise God, and nothing relating to him, or his, being finite. Howbeit since these our Opposers are contending for that, which they cannot by Reason demonstrate, nor clear to themselves, pag. 26. It is very unreasonable in them to Impose it upon others to believe, without either Reason or Demonstration; or to pronounce them Blasphemers who cannot own their Doctrine and Distinctions therein, to be according to the Scriptures, whilst they cannot clear them [by Reason] to themselves, but both a mix-calling, and grossly mixrepresenting of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as one while with being not infinite, another while neither finite or infinite; instancing in the case the subsistence of a man, which they say is neither learned nor an unlearned one. They have accused W. P. with Blasphemy, who never denied the infiniteness of either Father, Word, or Spirit; but what greater Blasphemy can there be but their own? And now let the indifferent Reader judge, what effect this kind of their vain babbling would have in the minds of an Auditory, if thus, God should be Preached in their blind confused terms; and if one of them should exhort People to believe in a Trinity of separate persons or subsistences, which are infinite in the concrete, but not infinite in the personality, or subsistence in the abstract: Another while they are neither finite nor infinite; and what they are they cannot tell; for, by reason they cannot clear this their Mystery to themselves; Another while they are three Hee’s that People must believe in, and therefore three persons or subsistences with incommunicable properties, by all which they go to demonstrate the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, who are infinite in the Essence, but not in their Personalities: They say another while, neither finite nor infinite as they say, what effect would this kind of Preaching have with People do you think! and where ever did the Apostles, and true Ministers of God, Preach in this manner, or allow of such Philosophy in Preaching the Mysteries of God? Nay, did they not Preach in the simplicity of the Gospel, and Exhort in simplicity, as of the Ability that God gave; And did not Paul absolutely forbid such Philosophy and vain deceit? And to avoid opposition of Science, falsely so called, Col. 2:8. I Tim. 6:20. And are there not words sufficient in the Scriptures of Truth, to Preach God and Christ in, according to the plainness and simplicity thereof; but men pretending to be his Ministers, and Scripture their Rule, must thus run themselves into Confusion and Darkness by Human Inventions and Traditions both of words, terms, and blind distinctions of man’s fallen wisdom, which neither knows God, nor can rightly speak of him, but hath obscured the Glory of his Appearance from very many; but the Light is risen, and the Day dawned, which hath not only discovered, but will expel those thick Mists and Clouds of men’s Inventions, that the simple may come to be undeceived and unveiled, and so be delivered from such as these confused Babel-builders, that have made a prey upon them.

III

Something farther Observed, in Answer to Tho. Vincent.

Now let us a little observe some Passages and Arguments in Tho. Vincent’s Work; for their distinctions about Trinity of Persons [as they call them] distinguished one from another by incommunicable personal properties. But such kind of distinctions and terms he hath not learned from the Scriptures, but from human Inventions; by which they have darkened the simplicity of truth; as also he hath appeared as one in self-contradiction, when he saith, That one should be in another; the first should be in the second, and the second in the first, and both in the third, and all one and the same individual Essence. Now if they are in each other, they are not separate Persons as at the Dispute was affirmed; and if one be in another, where are the personal incommunicable properties, wherein they are not infinite as they have told us? Is there finiteness in each Person, and yet each person God; what gross darkness and blasphemy is this? But then to mend the matter, T. V. tells us, This is such a Mystery as cloth exceed the weak and narrow understandings of most enlightened and clear sighted Christians fully to comprehend; Some, by gazing too long upon the Sun, become blind.’ Surely then, if it be such a Mystery as exceeds the understanding of the clear sighted, it must needs exceed the dark understanding of T. V. and his Brethren; And seeing, as appears, he was conscious to himself of his own dimness or darkness herein, as by what follows; also, he should have let it alone, and not troubled his head with things beyond his reach; for he has confounded and married his cause, and not at all mended nor cleared it; but if he hath assayed to
demonstrate this Mystery, as he calls it, as one more clear sighted than the most enlightened, his work cloth manifest the contrary; And that God cannot represent himself otherwise than he is; It’s true: But where cloth he thus represent himself as these men do, with such invented terms, vain tautologies, and confusion? We do not read such in all the Scriptures of Truth; howbeit T. V. takes the boldness to Assert his Doctrine herein to be of Divine Authority, and to be the Truth of God revealed in his Word; and that if the Scriptures have revealed that there are three distinct persons in one Divine Essence, it is a certain truth, & c. This is sooner said, than proved; if that Word of God, and Scripture could be produced that cloth reveal their Doctrine, and say, there are three distinct persons in the Divine Essence: Produce us such a Scripture among all the Writings of the Holy men of God [in all the Bible] and it shall end the Controversy; otherwise let T. V. be ashamed of his Asserting it to be revealed in the Word of God. And of his saying that in his Syllogism, pag. 13. There is not a word but what is to be found in the Scripture; whereas neither the matter, manner, nor expressions of his Arguments are to be found in Scripture. As for Instance his Argument;

Page 13. The Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, are either three Substances, or three Manifestations, or three operations, or three Persons, or something else: But they are not three Substances, nor three Manifestations, nor three Operations, nor anything else; Therefore they are three Persons.

To the first part; Indeed they must be something: To the Minor, if they be neither three Substances, Manifestations, &c. nor any thing else, this renders them nothing, and contradicts both the Major, and Conclusion, where they are something else, which is, three Persons [he saith;] So the tenor of his Argument runs thus, they are something; but they are nothing [he meant nothing else but three Persons] therefore they are three Persons. It would have held better thus, but against himself, If the Father, the Word, and Spirit, be not three distinct Substances, then not three distinct Persons; but they are not three distinct Substances, Ergo. unless he can shew us a distinct person without its own substance: But his Brother T. D. saith, A person is a rationals nature individual substantial, an individual substance, of a rational nature; see how flatly T. D. and T. V. have Contradicted one another herein; one affirming they are three Persons, because not three Substances; the other, That a Person is an individual substance: But if T. V. by saying, There is not a word in his Syllogism, but what is to be found in Scripture; intends that every word particularly is to be found in Scripture; the word Substance, the word Manifestation, Operation, Person, &c. abstractively, what proves this of his matter? for the contrary may as well be Asserted from bare words: I never met with more silly kind of Arguing before: And if so be his other Argument from the Property of the Father to beget, of the Son to be begotten, of the Holy Ghost to proceed from them both, &c. be an Argument sufficient to prove Three distinct Persons in the God-head, with Three incommunicable Properties, &c. Then cloth it not follow as well, That every Spiritual perfect Gift that proceeds from God to man, must needs be a Person, and then so many Gifts, or manifold Graces as proceed from him [or are begotten by him] are so many Persons in him, which would be numerous indeed, and amount to a Plurality of Trinities; for the Spirit is given variously, and in divers Manifestations, and the Graces and Gifts of God are many and manifold; but the shallowness of this man’s arguing, who is it cannot see? besides that Christ being the express Image of the Father’s substance, and the Spirit the Life of both; it’s neither scriptural nor reasonable to say that the Image and Life of One and the same thing, should be either Two distinct and separate Persons from it, or from their own substance; so that still it follows, that if the Three bearing Record in Heaven, be One divine substance, and not Three substances; then not Three distinct or separate Persons: As, also, God is called both the Word and Spirit.

Farther, Mark the manner of T. V. his expressing his Doctrine; viz. The Trinity of Persons in the Unity of the Divine Essence, and the Unity of the Divine Essence in the Trinity of Persons, that three
should be one, and that one should be three; that three should be distinguished, but not divided, that one should not be another; the first should not be the second, nor the second the third, nor the second or third the first; and yet the first second and third the same that the first should be in the second, and the second in the first, and both first and second in the third.’ thus far T. V. for his separate Persons.

Reader, Do but mark his Jigg here, and what a whirling he has made like one dis-tempered; but where is his scripture for all this? See how he manages it, pag. 26. he saith, Reason it may be will leave us in our search after the Deity in the Trinity, and the trinity, &c. but where Reason faileth, Faith must supply its room: And then he tells us of Mysteries which Reason cannot demonstrate to us, and that in this Mystery of the Trinity we must exercise our Faith, though we cannot clear it to ourselves by demonstration, &c.’ But sure whilst Reason hath so much failed T. V. and his Brethren in this matter, that thereby they cannot clear it to themselves by demonstration, its very strange and unreasonable they should make such a stir in the dark, as they have done, to Impose it on the Faith of others; and what tends this to, but to force People to Exercise an implicit Faith, whilst they have neither Scripture, Reason, Demonstration, or Revelation [for that’s ceased they say] to ground a Faith upon in this matter, as he argues, viz. If the Divine Essence, or Godhead, can be but One, and the Father is God, the Son God, the Holy Ghost God, and they three distinct Subsistences, or Persons, then they are three distinct subsistences or persons, in the same single Divine Essence, but the Essence can be but One, and the Father is God, the Son God, &c. and they are three distinct subsistents or persons; therefore there are three distinct subsistents, or persons.’

Let the moderate Readers but mark this Argument, and whether it carries any matter or weight of any proof, or Argumentation along with it any more than an Empty Assertion: [Tautologies] begging the Question in the sequel of the Major, and so along still, taking the matter in Controversy for granted, which cannot be without better proof, and more convincing Arguments than T. V. hath patched up, and produced: But as for the beginning of his Argument, That the Divine Essence, or God-head, can be but One, and this in each of the Three, we never denied; and T. V. has confessed it is not denied by us, pag. 28. But as for the rest of his Argument, it runs in the substance of it thus; If they be three distinct subsistents or persons, then there are three distinct subsistents or persons; But they are three distinct subsistents, therefore, &c. Or, if they be so, then they are so; but they are so. therefore they are so.’ I shall not need to say much, to show what mean Logic this is, since it is from a Person whom Reason has so far failed, that he can neither clear nor demonstrate that to himself, which thus pitifully he has assayed to demonstrate to others; And so let the Readers judge if he be not such an one as he tells of, that by attempting to bring the Mystery to the Model of his Reason, hath lost the fight, and sunk into gross Apprehensions.

And as for his fierce Railing against W. P. and calling him, Wretched Blasphemer, accusing him with denying that the Lord Jesus Christ is God, and with denying the Divinity of Christ and Holy Ghost, and with thrusting the Lord Jesus Christ off the Throne of his God-head, &c.’

I have not yet perceived any strength or weight of the Argument from either T. V. or his Brethren, that has convicted W. P. as guilty herein; but rather the more they strive with him, and thus grossly revile him, and rail against him, the more their Folly, Confusion, and Weakness appears: And indeed if W. P. be supposed to be so grossly Erroneous as he is represented, it must be more Competent Antagonists than T. V. or such Railers as he, that must Convince him: But his strewing the absurdity of T. V. his Doctrine, and both unscriptural and unreasonable Distinctions; and his denial thereof, is neither a denial of the Son, nor Spirit, nor the Divinity of either; but the apparent falseness of their railing and slanderous Accusations before, with the Consequences thereof against W. P. in this thing, touching the Divinity of Christ. &c. appears in his own Book, pag. 14. “Of Christ being the only God, and the Divine Nature being inseparable to each [whom they call] Person, have the whole Divine Nature, the Son in the Father, and the Spirit in the Son, unless the God-head be as incommunicable to the Person [so called] as they are reported to be among themselves,” saith W. P. Doth not W. P. herein own the Divinity of Christ and Holy Spirit, let the indifferent judge how T. V. has wronged him.

And then W. P. his Admonition, pag. 15. saith, “Apply thy mind unto the Light and Grace which brings Salvation; that by obedience thereunto, those mists Tradition hath cast before thy eyes, may be expel’d, and thou receive a certain knowledge of that one God, whom to know is Life Eternal, not to be divided, but ONE pure, entire, and eternal Being; who in the fulness of time sent forth his Son, as the true Light which enlighteneth every man; that whosoever followed him [the Light] might be translated from the dark Notions, and vain Conversations of men, to this Holy Light, in which only sound Judgment and eternal Life are obtainable: [fuel testified the virtue of it, and has communicated unto all such a proportion, as may enable them to follow his Example.” [thus far W. P.]

Now mark whether herein he has not owned the Divinity of the Son, when thus plainly he hath confessed to his Light, both as to Extent and Virtue. And so as for T. V. his railing against us so bitterly, calling us, black-mouth’d Blasphemers; accusing W. P. with Heathenism, abominableness, foulness; falsely comparing him to Arius &c. These are but mean Arguments to Convince W. P. and cloth but shew the malice and rancor of T. Vincent’s Spirit; and what an implacable persecuting Spirit appears among these Presbyterian Priests? What cruel work would they make if they had power in their hands to persecute such as cannot be tied up to their narrow Spirits and Principles, which is the same old persecuting Spirit that cried for Fire and Faggot, after it put these names, Blasphemer and Heretics, upon the Martyrs: And indeed, if any should be so disingenious and drowned in their understandings by prejudice, as to think that the Absurdities that W. P. draws from his Adversaries Principles, are his own; they may be apt to charge him with Blasphemy, and what not, though falsely: But farther, how evidently
hath W. P. in his 18, 19, 21 pag. owned and confessed Christ the Son of God, and his Light, and Grace, both for Remission of sins, Reconciliation, Salvation of men, Life Eternal; and as he is the only begotten of the Father, the Gift and Expression of Eternal Love for Salvation; Now can anything have [or work] these Effects that is not Divine? Is not Christ’s Divinity, Virtue, Divine Light and Power, plainly confess by W. P. herein, as also to his being God, pag. 21. How grossly have these angry Presbyterians wronged him in so hideously charging the contrary upon him; and are not they rather justly chargeable herein, with denying the Divinity of Christ, in setting so slight by his Light in every man, as they have done, one calling it an Idol; another Cautioning not to follow its guidance; But the Divinity of Christ, and the Honor due to him, far be it from us to deny, as these men have done; and the Scripture instances in that case, we both know and own, Joh. 3:13. Rom. 9:5. Phil. 2:6. Heb. 1:8. Joh. 2:17. Heb. 1:3. Joh. 14:1. Phil. 2:10. Col. 1:16,17. Joh. 8:58. But we are not convinced, that men’s invented distinctions put upon Christ, does add anything to his Honor, but rather diminish from it.

And where in pag. 31. it is said, In regard of his human Nature, the Jews spoke true, Thou art not yet fifty years old; as Man, he was a Son of Abraham, and born many generations after him, &c. Now I ask if he was not a Person as Man, and so born? And if there were three Coeternal Persons before, whether this cloth not make a fourth? For as he was not fifty years old, this had not reference to his Divine Nature, as is confessed; But then, where in pag. 36. The generation of the Son must be Eternal, the Son being so: [they say] How is his Personality, with reference to his being begotten, denied to be Infinite? in pag. 45. What gross and apparent Contradictions are these?

And as to his instance, Matt. 3:16,17. how that Jesus went up out of the Water, and the Spirit descended like a Dove, and lo a Voice from Heaven, to prove a distinction of the Three Persons; the Son was
cloathed in Flesh, the Spirit in the shape of a Dove, the Father was in the Voice, he saith, &c. Let the Reader but mark how far short of proving his Distinction, this instance is: Surely he will not say, That the Son was cloathed in Flesh from Eternity, nor the Spirit in a bodily shape like a Dove from Eternity; for if their Personalities did consist in these visible Appearance, how were they Coeternal, Coessential, Coequal with God, &c? And surely Personality cloth not consist in the shape of a Dove, neither do we read of the Person of a Dove, besides the Spirit’s appearing in a bodily shape like a Dove, cloth not prove that the Spirit was a distinct or separate Person from Jesus, for he had the Spirit in him, and was not separate from the Spirit, though that appearance like a Dove, was for a Confirmation to John’s belief of him, John 1:32,33.

T. V. (Isa. 6:3] Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts: the three Holies, signifies the three persons; the Lord of Hosts, the One God.

I must confess I never heard this Argument before; if each Holy signify a Person, how then are they spoken to the One God? And if so many Holies as are given in praise to him, do signify so many distinct Persons in him, then they will amount to a great many Trinities; for it is said, Rev. 4:8. They rest not day nor night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, &c. Now if all the Holies they give day and night to him, be so many Persons, then they will amount to Persons ad infinitum; but the absurdity of this Argument who cannot see? As also his Argument from the distinct Names, is kale better; for God is denominated under many Names more then Three; And also his arguing from John. 14, 15, & 16. chap. from personal Acts, as he calls them, as sending the Comforter, his speaking and guiding, &c. Where cloth the Scripture call them Personal Acts? Were they not Spiritual Acts of the Divine Spirit and Power of God? And was there any Act but what was brought forth in time? And was the Father’s begetting the Son a Personal Act? [however was it not an Act in time] if so, how says T. V. That the Generation of the Son must be Eternal? What distracted confused work is here!

And as to the Cavil in pag. 40. at the word ONE, as not being in the Hebrew, in all those Scriptures, Isa. 49:25. chap. 48:17. Psal. 71:22. where Holy One is mentioned in the English, which to Cavil at, shows little prudence; whilst Holy One, and the Lord being One, and the Only Wise God, is often mentioned elsewhere; see Zac. 14:9 which W.P. quotes, is it not: Jehovah echad ushemo echad: i. e. Dominus unus nomen Ejus unum, One Lord, and his Name One. And see Deut. 6:4. how its Jehovah echad One Lord; but where the word Echad is not expressed, whether it be not understood? Besides, T. V. himself, pag. 33. useth these words, The Lord of Hosts the One God: so that he might have spared his Contradictory Cavil about it; And if their distinctions be in regard of the Personality and not of the Essence, then I ask, Are they three Persons both distinct among themselves, and also distinct from the Essence or Being of God? and so not infinite; or neither finite nor infinite, as most Absurdly and Contradictorily is laid down in their 44, 45, 46, pages, as before, has been mentioned.

And as to W. P. his Cloudy Brain Conceptions [as it’s called] which is so difficult to find out [as they say] and his Phrases so uncouth, and his Reasonings so oddly joined together: Indeed, neither T. V. nor T. D. have showen any such Brightness, nor strength of Argument as to expel or drive away those cloudy Conceptions; if they be such, it must be another thing that unveil him, and overthrow what he hath said, than their grosse Confusion, and many apparent Contradictions, which I am certain that W. P. is so far unvail’d, as to have a fight and discovery of, though this dark ridged Presbyterian Spirit hath sought by Persecution, false Reports, and Slanders, to vail and obscure both him and others, in whom any degree, breakings forth, or glimerings of true Light have appeared; where they could not do it by slandering, grossly villifying, and traducing them, they would endeavour to bring Persecution, and Cruelty, and outward Restraint upon them, to their Power.

And as for their taxing W. P. for instancing Irenaus, Justin Martry, Tertullian, Origen, Theophil. and others, as appearing foreign to the matter in Controversy, &c. they telling us, The Doctrine of the Trinity is plainly enough to be gathered from several passages in Irenaus lib. I, ch. 2. Ecclesia accipit sidem que est. in unum Deum Patrem Omnipotentem in unum Christum filium Dei incarnatum in spiritum Sanctum qui per Prophetas praedicavit: And then our Opposers ask, Do not these words hold forth a distinction of those three persons? To which I say, However he gathers or imagines such a distinction of their being three Persons, he does but beg the Question in calling them three Persons, which their words do not prove, nor so call them; but God the Father Omnipotent, Christ the Son of God, and the Holy Ghost [in whom the Faith of the Church is] Neither do the latter words prove any thing for this purpose, which mention the God of all things, making and governing all things by his word and Spirit: If he had asserted no otherwise herein then Irenaus hath done, there had not been this
Controversy between us, and them. And as for the rest of the Authors they mention, I do not find that they called them three distinct separate persons [as T. D. did] in all these Passages mentioned and
quoted by them; And its known that W. P. his Controversy was principally against them for the un-scriptural Doctrine of the God-head subsisting in three distinct and separate persons; which also their own Instance of Theophil. lib. I Com. in Evang. cloth contradict, viz. Maragrita pretioso est Sancta Trinitas que dividi non potset nam in unitate consistit; the Holy Trinity is a precious Jewel, which cannot be divided, because it consisted in Unity: To which I say then, the Glorious Three that bear Record in Heaven, are not three separate Persons; howbeit we are not bound to believe the determinations of Fathers and Councils any farther than they accord with the pure Language of Scripture.

And whereas T. V. and his Brethren, supposing that they have detected the weakness and absurdity of W. P.; thereupon go to Caution People, Not to follow the guidance of the Light, which W. P. [truly] saith is communicated unto all, and forsake the true Light of the Word and Spirit, which alone can guide men into all truth. This is a groundless Caution, and false as it reflects upon the Light; for suppose W. P. were in Weakness as they say, yet the Light is not the cause thereof; however his Weakness [as they call it] hath brought forth much of their Folly; for the Light which is communicated unto all, which People should follow the Guidance of, is the light of Christ, which enlightens every man coming into the World; and thereof to render weakness, absurdity, falsehood, and folly, as the Products of it, is both grosse Ignorance and Blasphemy; for the Light never changeth, however the Creature may; neither is this Light contrary to the Word, Spirit, or Scripture.

And as for their so much Railing against the Socinians and Arians, and malitiously comparing any of us with them, it is no reasonable way to Convince either us or them, if we were as ill as they render us; for they have gone the way to animate and encourage both Socinians, and others, against them, and their absurdities, and ridged inveterate Spirits, and Railing against many that are of better Spirits [as men at least] than themselves. As for the Socinians, they have given ground to some to think the better of them, because they have shown so much hatred and reviling against them; howbeit Socinians [if there be any that own themselves by that Name] may answer to their Accusations, it is not my work to maintain anothers Quarrel, nor yet to reflect upon their Persons, nor either to accuse or excuse them, to gratify such incompetent Judges as these our Revilers.

I am not going about to gratify Parties, or private Opinions [or man’s Wisdom] on any hand, but to vindicate the naked Truth; yet, it’s true, I have heard of some, beyond the Sea, that went under that Name Socinians, who were accused with denying the Divinity of Christ, or Him to be of one Substance with the Father; if our Opposers do know of any such, they may tell them of it, and not accuse the Innocent with the Guilty, as they have done to us. However, it is but a mean way of Arguing, to accuse or miscall any for owning any Truth that any sort [if they do Err in somethings] do hold; for by that way, I may as well be reckoned a Papist, a Jew, or a Turk, Episcopal, or Presbyterian, or what not because some Truths are held by them all, in words: but we had not our Principles either from Arius or Socinius, neither did we ever deny the Divinity of Christ [or his being of the same substance with the Father] as Arius, Socinius, and others, are accused; so that therein we are very unjustly compared and mix-represented, for which I can say, The Lord forgive these our perjudiced Opposers. But it is no strange thing for us to be called by nick-Names one after another, by these and such false Accusers and incompetent Judges; for one while they were wont to Revile us for wanting Learning, being Illiterate, Lay-men, Preachers, &c. Another while they Railed against us, and falsely accused us for Papists and Jesuits. Another while they accused falsely with being Free-Willers, Arminians, &c. because we plead for the Free Grace of God to all men: And now we are falsely reckoned
Socinians, and most injuriously accused with denying the Divinity of Christ the Son of God, which we are ever always clear of, still Confessing him according to the Scriptures, both in his Sufferings, Dominion, and Glory, who is the same yesterday, to day, and for ever.

The Scripture saith, I Joh. 5:7. That there are Three that bear Record in Heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one. But he cloth not say that they are separated nor distinct, neither cloth call them Persons. _ And thus we call them, as the Scriptures call them, Father, Word, and Holy Ghost; and the Apostle cloth not say they are separate, nor distinct; and we do not presume above what is written.

FOOTNOTES

1. Ouaker Biographies, vol. 2, Philadelphia, PA, 1909, art. Boston Martyrs, pp. 228-230 [direct quotes taken] hereafter cited as Quaker Biographies.
2. Norton, John; The Heart of New England Rent; London, Printed by J. H. for John Allen at the Rising Sunne in St. Paul’s Church-yard, 1660, p. 3, hereafter cited as Norton.
3. Norton, p. 6
4. Howgill, Francis; The Heart of New England Hardened; London, Printed for Thomas Simmons at the Bull and Mouth near Aldersgate, 1659, p. 7, [hereafter cited as Howgill]
5. Howgill, pp. 8,9
6. Howgill, p. 9
7. Howgill, pp. 14, 15
8. Quaker Biographies, p. 214
9. Creasey, Maurice A.; Early Quaker Christology, 1956, np, p. 73, hereafter cited as Creasey.
10. Creasey, p. 74
11. Howgill, p. 8
12. Penn, William; The Select Works of William Penn; London, 1825, Sold by William Phillips, George Yard, Lombard St., vol. 1, p. 138, hereafter cited as Penn.
13. Howgill, p. 8
14. Penn, pp. 158-160
15. Chap. 3 – Whitehead, George; The Divinity of Christ: London, 1669; [part of the first few pages not numbered] to p. 39

BIBLIOGRAPHY

-Creasey, Maurice A.; Early Ouaker Christology, 1956,np; A Thesis Presented In The University of Leeds For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
-Howgill, Francis; The Heart of New England Hardened:London, Printed for Thomas Simmons at the Bull and Mouth near Aldersgate, 1659.
-Norton, John; The Heart of New England Rent; London,Printed by J. H. for John Allen at the Rising Sunne in St. Paul’s Churchyard, 1660.
-Penn, William; The Select Works of William Penn;London, 1825, Sold by William Phillips, George Yard, Lombard St.
-Ouaker Biographies; Vol. 2; Philadelphia, PA; 1909.
-Whitehead, George; The Divinity of Christ; London, 1669.

Rev. Thomas Weisser is a minister with the United Pentecostal Church. He has spent nine years of extensive research, gathering little-known facts on the Oneness belief in Church History. Because of his research and study he has become an authority on Modalistic Monarchianism, and was asked to speak at Harvard’s Symposium on Oneness Pentecostalism held July, 1984. He has recently been listed in Who’s Who in Religion. Resulting from his discoveries is this book, as well as After the Way Called Heresy, containing Oneness believers from Bible days to the present century, and Three Persons’ which exposes the pagan roots of Trinitarianism.

THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY THOMAS H. WEISSER, 1985, PAGES 1-39. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.

Posted in AD - Apostolic Doctrine, ADAH - Apostolic History, AIS File Library0 Comments

Was the Early Church Oneness or Trinitarian?

WAS THE EARLY CHURCH ONENESS OR TRINITARIAN?

By Thomas Weisser

Thomas Weisser is pastor of Independence United Pentecostal Church in  Monmouth, Oregon and has served on the youth committee of the Oregon  and has served on the youth committee of the Oregon District. A  graduate of Apostolic Bible Institute, he has written three books. He  has also conducted Oneness Heritage seminars in a number of churches in  Oregon and California.

Was the Early Church Oneness or Trinitarian?

What was the Early Church like? The answer varies from church to  church. To a Catholic, the answer is Catholic-with Peter sitting in the Pontiff’s chair. To a Protestant, Peter was a Luther-like figure  preaching justification by faith alone. Some concepts of the Early  Church are ridiculous. It is important for us to have a clear picture.

Just as the Law was instituted at Sinai and remained the unchanging  ideal for Jews, so with Pentecost (Acts 2) and the Church. Early  Christianity rather than being primitive presents to us an ideal to be  sought after.

Many conceptualize the church of the first century as unorganized  charismatic groups with myriad variations in doctrines. The New  Testament strongly disagrees with this assessment. An objective reader will conclude the Early Church was organized and had a developed faith.
The question we are primarily concerned with is: What was this faith in  regards to God? Historical evidence points to a conclusion that the  Early Church was not Trinitarian. What was it then? Significant facts  point to it being Modalist.

Baptismal Formulas

“There is little doubt that baptism was practiced by the first  Christians as a kind of initiatory rite, when they received new  believers into their community. Also, we can be quite certain that this  baptism was given `into the name of Jesus’ or, at least, that it was  referred to as `into the name of Jesus'” This is a quote from a recent  issue of Studia Theologica by Lars Hartman. He goes on to say this belief “implied a rather `high’ Christology” on the part of early Christians.

E. C. Whitaker writes, “Similarly, in the Acts of Paul and Thecla,  written in the middle of the second century, Thecla is represented as  baptizing herself and saying, `In the name of Jesus Christ do I baptize myself for the last day.’ If we may assume that we have here a case of  the formula in ordinary use adapted to extraordinary circumstances,  then it appears that the formula in ordinary use must have been `I  baptize thee in the name of Jesus Christ.’ This not only brings our  evidence for a baptismal formula of this type to a very early date; it  also strengthens the view, suggested in the Acts of the Apostles, that  an invocation of Jesus Christ had a place in the baptismal practice of  the Early Church.

A modern Oneness or Modalist believer welcomes the above statements  from the theological community. The records of the Acts of the Apostles  clearly point to baptism in Jesus’ name as the universal practice of  the Early Church.

This not only implies an advanced Christology as Hartman supposes. It  also strongly implies something that most theologians and historians  have missed: the Early Church was Modalist. Instead of attaching three  personalities to the Father, Son and Holy Ghost they recognized them as  three modes, or manifestations, of the One God. The saving name they gave to Father, Son and Holy Ghost was Jesus. Indeed, this idea is not foreign to the New Testament for Jesus identified Himself with all
three titles.

The next question that comes to mind is: What about Matthew 28:19? This  verse of Scripture simply says to baptize “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”. This really does no more than  strengthen the Modalist stand. For it is obvious that, if these words  did indeed come from Christ, the Apostles interpreted them the way a  Modalist would; i.e. to baptize in the name of Jesus Christ. The only  reasonable and logical explanation for the difference between Matthew  28:19 and Acts is that the Early Church was Modalist.

What About The Didache?

The Didache is an ancient writing attributed to the Apostles. Since the  discovery of an eleventh-century copy of it in 1875, it has been the  subject of great controversy. Various dates have been ascribed to it  and authorities have yet to agree on a date. The problem that we must  consider is that some say it was written in the first century.

The particular part we are concerned with is Didache 7:

But concerning baptism, thus shall ye baptize. Having first recited all  these things, baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of  the Holy Spirit in living (running) water. But if thou hast not living  water, then baptize in other water; and if thou art not able in cold  then in warm. But if thou hast neither, then pour water on the head  thrice in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Many Trinitarians claim this proves the Early Church was Trinitarian.  Let us first consider that we are dealing with a forgery. Although it is ascribed to the Apostles they probably never saw it.

Secondly, the internal evidence points to Didache 7 as an  interpolation, or later addition. In Didache 9, which deals with  communion, the writer says, “But let no one eat or drink of this  eucharistic thanksgiving, but they that have been baptized into the  name of the Lord; for concerning this also the Lord hath said: Give not  that which is holy to the dogs.”

Shortly after saying baptism should be performed in the titles Father,  Son and Holy Spirit he states the absolute necessity of being baptized  in the name of the Lord (i.e., Jesus-the same Greek word as in Acts
10:48). This represents an obvious contradiction and gives validity to  the argument Didache 7 is an interpolation.

Thirdly, the writer’s approval of baptism by pouring presents a problem  with dating it in the first century. Bigg points out that this must  have been written after A.D. 250. He argues that pouring was generally  unacceptable in baptism as late as Cyprian (c.250). Therefore, Didache  7 could be no earlier than the late third century.

Conclusion-Baptism

Baptism in the Early Church (first century) was in the name of Jesus  Christ. The apparent contradiction of Matthew 28:19 is clarified when  we consider that the Early Church was Modalist.

Didache 7 is an interpolation written no earlier than the late third  century.

First Century Church-Primitive?

A popular term for the Early Church is primitive. The implication is  that it was destined to become sophisticated as time passed. This does not agree with New Testament writings.

We read there was an established, recognized faith. This faith was  established “upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus  Christ himself being the chief cornerstone.” And this faith once  delivered to the saints should be sought after.

The general idea of an evolving or formulating faith holds no credence  with the New Testament.

The Godhead

Harold 0. J. Brown in his recent book Heresies says, “It is a simple  and undeniable historical fact that. . .the doctrine of the Trinity. . .was not present in a full and well defined, generally accepted form  until the fourth or fifth centuries.” The written evidence points to a  gradual development of Trinitarianism from the descending triad of  Tertullian to the three co-equal, co-eternal persons of the Athanasian
Creed.

Even Fortman states, “There is no formal doctrine of the Trinity in the  New Testament writers, if this means an explicit teaching that in one  God there are three co-equal divine persons.” The question comes to  mind, “If the first century Church did not give us written evidence  they were Trinitarian how can we assume they were?” Certainly any one  of the New Testament writers were capable of expressing basic  Trinitarian dogma. If they were not, then God, whose thoughts are above  ours, could have inspired them to articulate it.

A casual reader of the New Testament is able to conclude no real  problem existed concerning the Godhead. John warned about those who  denied Jesus is the Christ and Jude warned about men who denied the  Lord, but these men had obviously left the Church. Even the strong  language of the first three chapters of Revelation does not reveal a  problem with first century belief concerning the Godhead. It appears  that belief in One Lord had been established and that the titles  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit presented no problem.

On the other hand, if the New Testament is inspired and prophetic as  any fundamentalist trinitarian would agree, something is missing. Where  is there any indication that a greater understanding of the Godhead  would follow? I find none, and certainly this presents a tremendous  obstacle for the fundamental trinitarian.

While the Church is “built upon the foundation of the apostles [New  Testament] and prophets [Old Testament] and not Chalcedon, it is  amazing how freely Trinitarians lean on this post-apostolic creed. Whenever we read in the New Testament about the future it is a gloomy  picture.

Paul wrote to Timothy, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the  latter [following] times some shall depart from the faith giving heed  to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.” Immediately before this  Paul emphasized that “God was manifest in the flesh”. Again he said,  “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after  their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching  ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be  turned unto fables.”

Jude tells us of “mockers” (deriders) who have separated themselves and  given themselves to their natural senses. A perfect example of this  deriding carnal behavior can be seen in Tertullina. His Against Praxeas  fulfils Jude’s prophecy. We are talking about the father of the  Trinity.

The problem a Trinitarian faces is that there is no indication of  developed Trinitarianism in the New Testament. Many try to overcome  this by saying Trinitarianism was implicitly believed. This cannot be proved or disproved but there is no reason, if it is true, why God  would keep it a secret for decades, especially if its belief is a  prerequisite to salvation as the Athanasian Creed brazenly says.

Philosophy

Beware lest any man spoil you [take you captive] through philosophy and  vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the  world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth [keeps dwelling] all  the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

Paul here explicitly mentioned philosophy as something that would take  a believer away from Christ. The philosophy Paul was talking about here  is the philosophy of men as opposed to the truth of God. Apparently, he  was warning that the philosophy of men could rob the church of an  understanding that the fulness of the Godhead is in Christ.

The predominant philosophy of the third and fourth centuries in the  Roman Empire was Neoplatonic. It was begun by Plotinus, who was not a  Christian. In the early third century this philosophy grew tremendously  throughout the Empire. At first it was the greatest antagonist to  Christianity. Later, it actually became assimilated into the Catholic  Church, and a union shown in the creeds of the fourth and fifth  centuries was the result. That this philosophy had a tremendous impact  on the formulation of Trinitarian thinking is supported by many  sources.

Platonism had a marked influence on Christianity. It entered from many  channels, among them the Hellenistic Jew Philo, who was utilized by  some early Christian writers, and through Justin Martyr, Clement of  Alexandria, Origen, Augustine, and the writings which bore the name of  Dionysius the Areopagite. The term Logos, which was extensively employed by Christians as they thought about the relationship of Christ to God, came from Greek philosophy, perhaps by way of both Stoicism and
Platonism.

From the middle of the fourth century onward, however, Christian thought was strongly influenced by Neo-Platonic philosophy and mysticism. In the East Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, Synesius of Cyrene, and Nenesius of Emesa and, in the West, Marius Victorinus, Ambrose, and Augustine made abundant use of Plotinus or Porphory, frequently without citing them. . . .The encounter between Neoplatonism and Christianity thus conditions the entire history of Western
philosophy.

The dogma of the Trinity and the drama of the redemption must be interpreted in a manner that would be consistent with this priori definition of the deity of God [one essence, three persons]. Neoplatonic elements were unmistakably present in this definition, but in setting it forth Augustine believed himself to be-and he was-expressing the Catholic creed.

The Catholic creed of the Trinity is not the belief of the Early Church. The Logos Christology of the philosophers (most of the Fathers fit under this description) fell far short of early Christian Christology.

Weaknesses in Trinitarian Historiography

Many Trinitarians agree with the historical fact that Trinitarianism evolved or was formulated. The irony is that, after admitting this, they continue to say that Trinitarianism is a Bible doctrine. Both these could not be true. Either the Trinity was developed or it was there all the time.

The fact is that it appeared after the New Testament was written. Another fact is that Jude exhorted us to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Jude was written c.
A.D. 80 and he was telling us to look back to the beginning of the Church (i.e. Acts). Trinitarians are telling us to look ahead from Early Christianity to the Creeds of Nicea, Chalcedon, and so on. Which voice will we heed?

Canonizers

Some Trinitarians claim that because the canonizers were Trinitarian the writers of the New Testament were also. They assume the approval placed upon the New Testament by Trinitarians implies strongly that the first century Church was Trinitarian. I imagine the implication is that had the writers not been Trinitarian the canonizers would have disapproved.

This may sound good to someone trying to prove the Early Church was Trinitarian. Before we jump to conclusions, let us see what a few Trinitarians say about the canon:

The church councils only acted at a later time, when the decisions had already been made in a practical way.

The Church no more gave us the New Testament canon than Sir Isaac Newton gave us the force of gravity. God gave us gravity, by His work of creation, and similarly He gave us the New Testament canon, by inspiring the individual books that make it up.

We never find a church council saying in effect, “We have reviewed this writing and found it to be good; henceforth, it will be considered part of the canon.” Instead of conferring canonicity on a book, the pronouncements were always statements of recognizing what the scattered congregations already considered canonical.

The Catholics, of course, conceive the canonizers as a special breed on a par with the Apostles. The general Protestant position is that the canonizers approved books already accepted as divinely inspired (except when attacking the Oneness position). The latter is a more accurate assumption. But even though the canonizers were Trinitarian what does it prove? It certainly does not necessitate the New Testament being Trinitarian. It is hard to prove anything by association. Any prosecutor who tries to prove a man guilty simply because he was in the vicinity of the crime is going to lose his case.

Considering the canonizers, an interesting comparison can be seen in Scripture.

The main duty of scribes in Jesus’ day was to copy and therefore preserve the Old Testament. Jesus said, “The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say and do not.” Jesus continued His discourse on scribes by saying they were “hypocrites, fools, blind, whited sepulchres, full of iniquity.” He ended by asking the question, “How can ye escape the damnation of hell?”

Clearly, just because the scribes were preserving Scripture did not make them holy or even good judges of holiness for themselves. If this was true for the scribes it could also be true of the canonizers.

Conclusion

In conclusion let us examine our reasons for the Early Church being Oneness or Modalist as opposed to Trinitarian.

1. Early baptism was in Jesus Name. The difference between Matthew 28:19 and the record of Acts presented no problem and the only logical explanation for the difference is that the Early Church was Oneness or Modalist.

2. In the First Century a basic faith was established. lt was not to be changed but rather sought after (Jude 3).

3. Trinitarians have not come to grips with the contradictory statement that Trinitarianism evolved while it was always present in the Church.

4. Colossians 2:8-9 explicitly warns about philosophy taking Christians away from an understanding that the fulness of the Godhead dwells in Christ. The concept of Trinitarianism was drawn largely from the philosophy of its day.

5. There is no indication of an evolving faith but warnings of apostasy in the New Testament.

6. The assumption the Early Church was Trinitarian because the canonizers of later years were is based on no verifiable historical facts.

Oneness believers, as well as many fundamentalist trinitarians, agree that it is an absolute miracle of God that the Bible has been preserved and remains infallible. We do not agree that this implies any inherent virtue in the dogma of the Trinity.

Notes

1. Hartman, Lars, “Baptism into the name of Jesus and early Christology” Studia Theologica, Vol 28 no. 1 (1974), p.21 [hereafter cited as Hartman].

2. Hartman, p. 48.

3. Whitaker, E.C., “The History of the Baptismal Formula,” The Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Vol. 16 (April 1965), pp. 5-6.

4. Yadon, C.H., Birth of Confusion (Hazelwood, Mo.:Pentecostal Publishing House), tract no. 106.

5. See John 5:43 and John 14:9, 16-18, 26.

6. Matthew 28:19.

7. Vokes, F.E., “The Didache – Still Debated,” Church Quarterly, Vol. 3 (July 1970), pp. 57-62.

8. Lightfoot, p. 232.

10. Bigg, Charles, The Doctrine of the Twelve Apostles (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1898), p. 58.

11. Cyprian, Epistles LXXV no. 12, 13.

12. Ephesians 4:5.

13. Ephesians 2:20.

14. Jude 3.

15. Brown, Harold O.J., Heresies (Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Co., 1984), p. 20.

16. Fortman, E.J., The Triune God (Philadelphia, Westminster, 1972), p.32.

17. I John 2:22.

18. Jude 4

19. Ephesians 2:20.

20. I Timothy 4:1.

21. I Timothy 3:16.

22. II Timothy 4:3-4.

23. Jude 18-19.

24. Colossians 2:8-9.

25. Latourette, Kenneth Scott, A History of Christianity (New York: Harper and Row, 1953), Vol. 1, pp. 260-261.

26. The New Catholic Encyclopedia, 14th edition Edited by William J. McDonald (New York: McGraw, 1967), Vol. 10, pp. 335-336.

27. Pelikan, Jaroslav, The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600) (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1971), pp. 296-297.

28. Jude 3.

29. Harrop, Clayton, History of the New Testament in Plain Language (Wave, TX: Word Books, 1984), p. 136.

30. Packer, J.I., God Speaks to Man (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1965), p. 81.

31. Saucy, R.L., Is the Bible Reliable? (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1973), p. 94.

32. Matthew 23:1-3.

33. Matthew 23:13-17, 19, 23-29.

34. Matthew 23:33.

RESPONSE

by Richard M. Davis

In fulfilling the duty of a respondent, it is necessary to play the role of “devil’s advocate.” It is a challenge indeed not to allow one’s bias and intense love for the Oneness message to override the effort to look at the paper as a Trinitarian might consider it. In scrutinizing each point, we will attempt to consider four areas of reasoning: scriptural, historical, logical, and practical.

Overall the discussion was very well organized and presented. The paper contains several well documented arguments and suggestions which add credence to our beloved message of the fulness of the Godhead which is in Jesus Christ our Lord.

First, the point is well made that the Early Church was not primitive, but highly developed in its organization and in its doctrine. This is evidenced by a close examination of the New Testament writings. This is an important aspect of the paper inasmuch as it pressures the Trinitarian to document his Trinitarian philosophy in the Scriptures, and not primarily in history as is his custom. As the author has noted, many Trinitarians have themselves admitted the Trinity is not highly developed in the New Testament, but was later refined. They attribute this to the church being primitive and unorganized, but this simply is not evident in Scripture.
Secondly, concerning the Didache, it is probably wise to recognize the points made indicating that the writing was spurious or at the least an interpolation. If written in the first century as most claim, then why was it not included in the canon of the Bible? Again the author pointed out that the canon was not selected by men, but only recognized. God gave the inspiration and hence formed the canon.

It is evident that parts of the Didache are not congruent with the Scriptures; therefore, one or the other must be rejected. The author brought out well the fact that the concept of the Didache allowing pouring water on the head for baptism did not appear until much later than the first century and is at least not apostolic. It is nowhere to be found nor implied in the Scriptures.

Thirdly, a strong point in the treatise involves the differences of perspective between the Apostles and Trinitarians. Namely, Jude and other writers encouraged believers to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints – that it is the ideal; whereas Trinitarians constantly appeal to second and third century history to identify ideal doctrine regarding the Godhead. Who is correct?

This is a common mistake of trinitarians. They fail to remember that history records the failures of mankind as well as the achievements. It is to the Scriptures we must look and solely depend upon to find our concept of God in Christ.

Yet another outstanding point is made regarding the scribes of Jesus’ time. Though they kept the Scriptures and preserved them yet they were personally condemned and rebuked by our Lord Himself. This confirms the truth of the message Brother J. T. Pugh has shared with us that although a man may be anointed to accomplish a task he may yet not be blessed or approved of God.

The author pointed out that because the canonizers were Trinitarian in philosophy and because they approved the canon does not even by implication prove that the apostles were Trinitarians. Such reasoning on the part of the Trinitarian segment of society is, of course, absurd.

Quite honestly, this paper has been very well prepared and presented for the time allowed. There are perhaps areas which were not as documented, or at least developed as completely as would be necessary to dissuade a Trinitarian from following his doctrine of error. In the time allotted, however, the author has done a commendable job of covering a good scope of his assigned subject.

There are perhaps three cautions that should be shared:

(1) From the viewpoint of a Trinitarian the subject of baptism was probably not adequately dealt with. Of course this was not the author’s subject and thus he probably did not have time to fully develop that aspect. The conclusion that the Early Church was modalist in theology was based solely upon the difference of the modes of water baptism. To convince a Trinitarian, we need to develop that argument more fully. This could be done by delving further into the area of water baptism and by further Oneness theology from the Scriptures.

In addition, we must bear in mind that some who were called modalist in early church history did not have a pureness of total doctrinal thought. We should be careful what areas of modalism with which we identify ourselves.

(2) A brief comment regarding the Logos concept of John 1 would be in order. Although most Trinitarians will caution that we must consider the historical aspects of the Greek Logos as well as the grammatical aspects, we must realize these men write from a biased point of view. Of course they must mix history with grammar because the simple grammar of the Greek word Logos allows for a development of Oneness theology.

Regardless of the origin of the word Logos we should not hastily set aside the concept John endeavored to present. John 1 is a beautiful Oneness exposition by Greek grammar. It is no wonder each Trinitarian appeals to the historical aspects of the word. Let us accept the simplicity of John’s intentions.

(3) Finally a Trinitarian would question the apparent contradiction inherent in the following statements: “A casual reader of the New Testament is able to conclude no real problem existed concerning the Godhead. . . . Whenever we read in the New Testament about the future it is a gloomy picture.” If there were no real problem in the church at that time concerning the Godhead, and if the apostles believed and taught the imminent return of Christ, then when did they expect this falling away to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils to occur? Could there have been evidence of doctrinal division even during this time of the first century?

Richard Davis is the Editor of Word Aflame Publications.

RESPONSE

by David 0. Walters

The paper was very good. It went into the historical aspect, which was excellent. One important thing was the simplicity of the language. It was easy to understand. It was easy to know where the author was coming from and where he was headed. It is important to have that kind of writing in our fellowship. Sometimes our clarifications only muddy the water. We should appreciate the approach taken in this paper, its simplicity, the excellent work, and the research into areas unfamiliar to most of us. We do not all have available to us the resources used by those who have worked so hard to bring this information to us.

Several points should be made about this presentation:

First, the strong scriptural appeal is to be appreciated. That is still the United Pentecostal Church’s strongest point. We stand on the Word regardless of whatever history may bring to us-distorted or otherwise. The Word of God still must be the foundation of the church.

Second, the author did a good job of appealing to Trinitarian writers who state and often deal a death blow to their own cause. He appealed to their writings and pointed out areas where they themselves are not sure that what they believe is correct.

There is an inconsistency in the paper’s use of the example of Thecla, when the author quotes E. C. Whitaker:

Similarly, in the Acts of Paul and Thecla, written in the middle of the second century, Thecla is represented as baptizing herself and saying, “In the name of Jesus Christ do I baptize myself for the last day.” If we may assume that we have here a case of the formula in ordinary use adapted to extraordinary circumstances, then it appears that the formula in the ordinary use must have been “I baptize thee in the name of Jesus Christ.”

The author concludes that a modern modalist would welcome the above statement from the theological standpoint. He later does an excellent job in dealing with the Didache, discrediting it because of the reference to baptism by pouring.

The problem is that we do not approve of people baptizing themselves. Moreover, Thecla baptized herself in the name of Jesus Christ for the last day, and our position is that we baptize for the remission of sin. To take a questionable reference such as this and include it in such a fine paper could serve to discredit the paper in the eyes of a Trinitarian, especially when we use the same reasoning to discredit the Didache. There are many authentic historical references to baptism in the name of Jesus. We do not need something as questionable as this. To toss out the Didache and then use this example weakens the author’s position.

Finally, a stronger scriptural development would have been helpful, particularly on our position that the early church was not primitive. The Apostle Paul was a Jew and a scholar. He knew the only Scripture at their disposal at that time and he knew it well. Jesus Himself said to the woman at the well, “We know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.” They certainly did not have an undeveloped position. The Early church knew whom they worshiped. They knew what they believed and they knew why they believed it. We can have the same understanding and confidence today.

David 0. Walters is the Superintendent of the North Dakota District and pastor of the First United Pentecostal Church of Bismarck.
(The above information was published by SYMPOSIUM, 1986)

Christian Information Network

Posted in AD - Apostolic Doctrine, ADAH - Apostolic History, AIS File Library0 Comments


Log in / Logout

Subscribe Today!

Options

CLICK TO VIEW ISSUE 30-10

Archives