Have Neo-Trinitarians Changed The Definition Of “Incarnation”? Did God Live “In A Man” Or
Was He Changed “Into A Man”? What about The Cross; Did God Really Abandon Jesus?
That God came to earth and walked among men is acknowledged by both Trinitarians and Oneness believers. How this was accomplished is another story. And it is here-we must part company. To the Neo-Trinitarians like Dr. Boyd (the incarnation is more like a “transmutation.” A portion of God (one of his distinct “ways” or “fashions” of existing) is changed into man! As a result they can be heard echoing such odd anthems as: God wept, God suffered, God was crucified, and God was killed. Dr. Boyd writes “everything the man Jesus does, God does (Boyd, 65).A belief in the incarnation means that everything Christ went through and did, God went through and did….Hence, when Christ suffered, God suffered…When Christ suffered a forsaken death, God suffered a forsaken death” (Boyd, p. 58). Of course, as we have seen, to “dance to this tune” one must set aside his Bible, for these statements are diametrically opposed to scripture. God cannot be tempted (James 1:13), but Christ was tempted! God does not faint ciz become weary, or “suffer,” but Christ fainted and was weary, and also suffered for us (Isa. 40:28). God certainly cannot be killed (Deut. 32:39-40; I Tim. 1:17). But they killed Christ! If Neo -Trinitarians would recognize the Biblical distinction between Christ’s human and divine natures, these gross contradictions of theirs would be avoided. Why do they not carry this error to its logical and predetermined conclusion: for if Christ was born of Mary, then God was born of Mary! Then they could chant: “Holy Mary, mother of God.” There can be no escape from this conclusion. Everything Christ went through God went through,” and that would include human birth!
TRINITARIAN KENOSIS DOCTRINE
Some modern Trinitarians have even become wicked enough to teach, through their “kenosis,” or self-emptying doctrine, that Christ possessed no divine attributes while here on earth! He “laid them aside” in the incarnation, you see. He still retained the title of “God” (so we can still have “God” suffering and being killed) but he has none of His divine powers. He voluntarily “surrendered” them. So they have a strange “Christ-God” who must “learn” and “increase in knowledge” like any man. In this theory when Christ “mistakenly” thinks Moses wrote the Pentateuch, (instead of the mysterious J, D, and P of Modernism), or speaks of one Isaiah instead of two (as the German “scholars” have discovered), he is to be excused! For this is “what they thought at the time.” His teaching authority is thus placed on the level of Buddha. He knows no more than any other man, and is therefore fallible. And though Dr. Boyd I am sure would vehemently deny these teachings, nonetheless this is where the “educated Trinitarians” (p. 24) he met at seminary eventually wind up. The entire drift of Neo-Trinitarianism and its “transmutation” is in this direction.
ONENESS INCARNATION DOCTRINE
Now because Oneness believers will not accept this Neo-Trinitarian concept of incarnation we fall under heavy censure by Dr. Boyd. “The Oneness Insistence that it was not as God, but only as a man, that Christ did these things splits Christ in two and is tantamount to denying the Incarnation altogether” (p. 59). If believing that Mary was the Mother of God, and that God was tempted, and that men eventually killed God(while God was busy forsaking God) is What Dr.Boyd means by “Incarnation,” –and it is-then we gladly plead guilty to rejecting this abherent Incarnation! But we have “meat to eat” that he “knows not of” namely, the true Bible Doctrine of the Incarnation, and it is a satisfying truth.
“Incarnation” literally means “in-flesh-ment,” It does not mean “changed into flesh.” John 1:14 says in the original that God “tabernacled among us” or “pitched his tent among us.” This is an illusion to the Old Testament Tabernacle in which God dwelt and manifested himself. Christ is now that tabernacle, or tent, in which God dwells. (See John 2:19 where Christ refers to his body as a temple or tabernacle.) The authentic Bible teaching is that God “dwelt,” or “took up residence” in a man, namely in His Son Christ Jesus. This means of course, and additionally, that Christ had two natures: one human, because he was a man, and one divine, because he was God. The ancient creeds, in which Dr. Boyd reposes so much confidence, warn us not to “confound or confuse these natures” and certainly not to “transmute” them (See Creed of Chalcedon.) The Athanasian Creed also warns us not to think of God as being changed into man. If Dr. Boyd and the Neo-Trinitarians would have adhered to this principal, and obeyed their own creeds, they would have avoided these gross doctrinal monstrosities.
When Christ was born, tempted, suffered and died – it is his humanity to which this applies, and his humanity only. His Birth was the birth of a child (Luke 2:21), that is human. The temptation was the temptation of a man (Luke 4:4) that’s human. The death was the death of a man (Luke 24:7), that’s human. I challenge any Trinitarian, neo, classical, or Modernist to find one scripture, just one, that states clearly that “God was born,” or that “God was tempted,” or that “God died!” They can’t do it. Not even their ever popular NIV translation can help them here.
GOD IN CHRIST
The Bible teaches that God (the Father) was dwelling inside Christ. That he was resident in Christ to such an extent that Christ could also claim to be God. Christ therefore was God and Man. Jesus himself taught that the Father dwelt in him/”Believest thou that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I speak to you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works ” (John 14:10). Jesus never, I repeat never identified any other divine nature as dwelling in him except the Father! He repeated it six times (John 10:38, John 14:13, John 14:11, John 10:30, John 17:21, John 8:16) “He that path an ear let him hear.” Isn’t that enough for the most obstinent of opponents or the slowest of learners? Dr. Boyd says that it was the Son of God who “dwelled fully” in Jesus Christ: “this same God dwelled fully as the Son of .0 in Jesus Christ” (p. 122). The only problem is, he has no Bible texts to prove it, and he never will have! For the Bible teaches that it was the Father that dwelt “fully” in Jesus Christ, and never that the Son of God dwelt fully in the Son of God! The texts Dr. Boyd tries to use to buttress-this unscriptural notion of a “Son in a Son” are Col. 2:9 and Titus 2:13, both of which are -o ally fatal to his theory. For Col.2:9 says “the fullness of the Godhead dwelt in Christ, and Titus 2:13 says it was the “great God!’ Neither of them say the Son of God “fully dwelt in Christ,” Whatever that’s supposed to mean! Dr. Boyd errs “by not knowing the Scriptures” and his readers err by not “looking them up!”
PAUL’S DOCTRINE OF THE INCARNATION
The Oneness view of the incarnation, namely that God dwelt in a man, is, of course, demeaned by Dr. Boyd. This is an old smoke screen when you have run out of ammunition. He says: “To state it bluntly, if their undifferentiated God really did become a man in their theology, there would be no one left to run the universe. So they must instead postulate a God Who takes up residence in a man (the Son), but who does not become a man”(p. 65). He chides us for stating that God “robed himself in human Flesh “(p. 188). But is this not what the scriptures teach? God dwelt in flesh, a man. Apostle Paul taught it, taught it often, and taught it plainly!
1. God was manifest in the flesh (I Tim. 3:16), not as flesh.
2. God was in Christ (I Core 5:18)
3. In him (Christ) dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead (Col. 2:9)
4. For it pleased the Father that in him should all the fullness dwell. (Col. 1:19).
5. In whom (Christ) are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:3) and this Paul calls the mystery “of the Father and of Christ” Col 2:2.
When you add to this Jesus oft repeated statements such as “the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works”(John 14:10), what other conclusion can one reach? God is clearly dwelling in a manlike he has never done before or since! “For God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him” John 3:34. Indeed, in Christ there dwells not just God, but all the fullness of the Godhead! Col. 2:9.
Dr. Boyd tries to explain away” these references to the Father dwelling in Christ by introducing a Catholic Doctrinal mutation known as the “Perichoresis” ‘Doctrine. This was something cooked up in the fourth century by unemployed monks with nothing better to do,(they may have been drunk, this was not uncommon). It basically says that all three persons of the Trinity “mutually indwell” each other and “interpenetrate each other.” “Hence,” says Dr. Boyd, “we ought not to be surprised to find Jesus referring to the Father and to the Holy Spirit as dwelling within himself” (Boyd, p. 171 and 64). Thus their “surprise” about “the Father dwelling in the Son” was finally settled for them in the fourth century by the Perichoresis theory! I’m sure it came as a relief! Dr. Boyd says on page 171 that he has put this Perichoresis doctrine in a “nutshell.” That’s a good place for it. I suggest he leave it there!
GODHEAD INCIDENTS IN CHRIST’S LIFE
Three incidents in Christ’s life give us additional insight into the Godhead dwelling in Him.
“VIRTUE HAD GONE OUT”
The first concerns the woman with the issue of who touched his garment and “straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague (Mark 5:29). Note that she touched his garment, the uttermost part of it. – The hem (Matt. 9:20). As a man he could not have .felt this gentle- non-corporal gesture. Yet Jesus knew that someone must have touched his clothes. How did he know? Listen to what he says: And Jesus immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, who touched my clothes?” (Mark 5:30). What we see in this remarkable incident is Jesus, as a man, making his way through the crowd intent on getting to the house of Jairus. While he is thus occupied a woman touches his clothes, unbeknownst to him, but not to the Father who dwelt in him, and who was the real source of his miracles (John 14:10). The Father radiated out from the body of Christ to this suffering woman in a stream of divine virtue and healed her. Christ, ever sensitive to the Godhead that indwelt him (and in a way far beyond our comprehension), felt this divine energy of the Father proceed from him, and realized so one had made contact with the deity in him. He turned around and in his humanity as a man – the Son of God-he asked in a truly unrhetorical fashion, “Who touched my clothes?” Thus we see the interaction of the two natures, God and the man He dwelt in, laid bare before us in this revealing incident. No other interpretation is possible. Only the doctrine of the two natures could explain how Christ could heal a woman and yet not know her! In his divine nature as Father he healed her body, and in his human nature as Son, he sought her identity (Mark 5:32). If there is any other explanation for this paradox, it falls outside the realm of Christ’s own definition: “But the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works John
14:10 and “The Son can do nothing of himself…” John 5:17.
HE WAS TRANSFIGURED
The incident of the Transfiguration is another penetrating glimpse into the incarnational life of Christ. Matt. 17:1-6 relates how Jesus took Peter, James and John into an high mountain. There he was “transfigured before them, and his face did shine as the Sun, and his raiment was white as light.” Something from within Christ was bursting out through his human flesh in such power and radiance that it changed his countenance and made him shine like the sun. at could this have been other than the one true God the Father, that unapproachable light (I Tim 6:16), that original Life-Light (John 1:4), manifesting. himself “thru the veil, that is to say, his flesh” (Heb. 10:20). Christ continually asserted that the Father was with him (John 8:16, 8:29, 16:32); yet of all the miracles that attended Christ’s minis ,not once die the Father ever appear alongside Him in any shape or manner. Why? Because the Father was incarnate in him (John 10:38). In the Transfiguration however, The Father did his ultimate to show that he was dwelling in Christ as the divine nature. He broke forth in glory from within Christ as much as human eyes could endure. Then for added confirmation the voice of the Father was heard saying: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” And what was it that was so particularly pleasing to the Father? Paul tells us in COI. 1:19, “For it pleased the Father that in him should all the fullness dwell,” This is further explained by Paul in the next chapter: “For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily”(Col. 2:9),
Peter recalling this incident 30 years later states that he was an “eyewitness” to Christ’s power and majesty on that Transfiguration mountain. It’s very possible that when Peter used the words “power and majesty” he had the prayer of David in mind, found in I Chronicles 29:10-11, where “power and majesty” are declared to be attributes of God the Father!
If this is not the Father gloriously manifesting himself from within his incarnational Son, what is it? And if one admits that it is the Father (as all who ponder it must concede) then what other purpose is there to this incident it not to reveal the Father incarnate in the Son? It is certainly not to show that God exists “in three personally distinct ways!”
“WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN ME?”
The last and final incident is perhaps the most misunderstood event in Christ’s life. Yet when properly interpreted it provides a penetrating proof of the Oneness incarnation concept that we have been discussing. I refer to the incident during the crucifixion when Christ cried out, “My God, my God, why lost thou forsaken me?” (Mark 5:34). Trinitarians have ever been at a loss to explain why the First Person of the Trinity (the Father) would abandon the Second Person (Christ) at the hour he needed him most, especially when the Second Person had been sent by the First to die this Death! Most prefer not to explain it at all. The event becomes even more difficult for Trinitarians to explain in the light of Christ’s words in John 16:32 that the Father would not leave him alone at that hour.” Ye shall be scattered every man to his own and leave me alone; and yet. I am not alone, because the Father is with me’.”
Only in the Oneness view of the incarnation can this apparent contradiction be resolved.
It was while Christ was on the cross, as the sins of all humanity were being laid upon him (Isa. 53:5), as death was fast approaching, that the Godhead withdrew from his body. This was necessary in order for Christ to die. For Christ could not die if the Father remained in him. “For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given the Son to have life in himself” (John 5:26), and “…I live by the Father” (John 6:57). Also, Christ was about to be made sin for us;. “For he hath made him to be sin for us who knew no sin ” (II Cor. 5:21). So a Holy God would have to, out of necessity, withdraw from that body. The Father, had remained in Christ up to the very moment of death “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the Eternal Spirit offered, himself without spot to God ” (Heb. 9:14). The Eternal Spirit of the Father remained with the Son during the crucifixional offering. Then as the moment of death arrived, the Father withdrew and
Christ felt something he had never felt before the Father had left the human Temple he had lived in for 33 years. Christ had never experienced this before. Yes, he had felt the Father’s virtue go out from him during healings, as we have seen. And yes, he had felt the father radiating through him in the Mount of Transfiguration. But this was new. No wonder he cried out in surprise, “My God, My God why hast thou forsaken me?” A few seconds after that a second spirit came out of Christ, the one that comes out of all of us when we die, The human soul for he was a man also: “And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost” (Mark 15:37). The “great transaction” was done!
Compare this to Dr. Boyd’s foggy explanation that “God can and did experience the forsakeness of the cross not only in a first hand personal manner as Son, but he endured it from the equally painful perspective of Father as well” (p. 188-189). What does that mean?? Did the Father forsake the Son? Or did the Son forsake the Father? Or did they forsake each other? Why does one of God’s “personally distinct fashions” have to abandon another “personally distinct fashion?” Why does one of God’s “ways-of existing” have to forsake the other “way” he exists? Why this parting of the “ways?” Like Solomon, the only advise I have to give is: “Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away” (Prov. 4:15).
TESTIMONY OF AN ENLIGHTENED TRINITARIAN
Dr. Shedd, a noted Trinitarian Scholar, summed up the dual natured Christ in a far more Scriptural perspective than Dr. Boyd: “Jesus Christ raised from the dead, deity. Jesus Christ died, humanity. The Redeemer created all; the Redeemer hungers and thirsts. The Redeemer was before Abraham, the Redeemer was born of Mary. By the redeeming man came the resurrection of the dead, He groaned also and wept. He could say ‘I and the Father are one.’ He could also say, ‘I thirst :”( as quoted by, E.S. Williams, Systematic. Theology, p. 267). In that last couplet it is quite obvious that Dr. Shedd believed gist could s from two perspectives one human and one divine. Would Dr. Boyd care to accuse Dr. Shedd of “splitting Christ in two” also?
DR. MARTIN LUTHER’S GOD
Martin Luther, founder of the Protestant Reformation had this to say: “I have no God outside the flesh that lies in the bosom of the virgin Mary. Be not persuaded to seek him elsewhere than in the Lord Christ. Let thine heart and study begin with Christ, and there let it stay and cling” (E.S. Williams, p. 35). The only God Luther cared to meditate upon was the one found in the Lord Jesus Christ;’ and no wonder, “He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son” (II John 7), And that is the real truth of the Incarnation.
THE PARADOX OF ONENESS
Some object to the idea of one Person being both Father and Son (although there are countless millions of men on earth right now who are both father and son). Trinitarians often ask us, “Who ever heard of a son who was his own father?” To which I always respond “Who ever heard of a son who was as old as his Father?” When it comes to paradoxes they have no room to talk!
Dr. Boyd thinks it odd for Jesus to be both “Father” and “Son of the Father.” He writes: “This typical New Testament way of speaking is, of course, exceeding strange if Jesus is himself God the Father” (Boyd, p. 68). The problem is not removed by Trinitarianism however. For if it is strange sounding to refer to Jesus as “Father” and “Son of the Father” as Oneness does, is it not equally strange sounding to refer to Him as “God” and “the Son of d” as both oneness and Trinitarians do? I had a good friend of mine,once remark to me: “I can’t understand the Trinity. How could Jesus be God when the Bible says over and over that He’s the Son of God? He can’t be the Son of Himself!” And I have heard many Trinitarians say the same thing. I knew a District Superintendent who was reading a Bible story to his little girl. He pointed to a picture of Jesus in the book and told her that Jesus was d. She looked at him somewhat puzzled, then smiled and said: “Oh Daddy, don’t be silly. Everyone bows Jesus is God’s Son.”
The dual nature of Jesus may seem strange and almost contradictory to many people, and indeed nothing is so strange as some of the titles given to Jesus, which nevertheless are true, for “with God nothing shall be impossible.” (Luke 1:37). For example:
He is the High Priest, the Altar and the Passover Lamb (Heb. 5:1; 13:10; 1 Cor. 5:7),
The Temple and Veil of the Temple (John 2:19-21; Heb. 10:19,20),
The Shepherd and the Door of the Sheepfold (John 10:9,14),
The Judge and the Mediator or Advocate (II Cor. 5:10; Rom. 14:10,11; Rev. 20:11,12 with I Tim. 2:5; I John 2:1),
The Apostle of our Profession and the Bishop of our Souls (Heb. 13:1; I Peter 2:25),
The Lamb of God and the Lion of Judah (Rev. 5:5,6),
The Sun of Righteousness and the Morning Star (Mal. 4:2; Rev. 22:16),
The God of Battles and the Prince of Peace (Psa. 24:8; Isa. 9:6),
The Root (Father) and the Offspring (Son of David) (Rev. 22:16),
David’s Son and David’s Lord (Rom. 1:3; Matt. 22:4145),
The Son as well as the Everlasting Father (Isa. 9:6),
Master and Servant (John 13:13; Phil. 2:7),
The Foundation of the Church and the Chief Corner Stone thereof (I Cor. 3:11; Eph. 2:20),
Stone of Stumbling and Rock of Offense to Backslidden Israel and Head Stone of the Corner to Restored Israel (Isa. 8:14; Matt. 21:42),
The Stone on which the Unbeliever falls and the Stone which falls on the Unbeliever (Matt. 21:44),
The Rock which Followed Israel in the Wilderness and the Water which Flowed from it (I Cor. 10:4; Isa. 32:2)
This subject is unending because all the way along it is JESUS. No wonder Jesus is called the Mystery of Godliness, which can only be known by revelation. (Matt. 11:27; I Cor. 2:10).
This article The In-Flesh-Ment of God written by Elder Ross Drysdale is excerpted from the book Enter the Neo-Trinitarians.