Saturday, March 5, 2011

"In The Name Of"...The TRUTH & The Granville Sharp Rule

Matthew 28:19-20 ~ "19-Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20-Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."

Acts 2:38 ~ "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."

In my post dealing with Bishop Noel Jones and his recent attempts to make the heretical belief in oneness doctrine and its resultant baptismal formula requirement "In Jesus Name" more palatable and acceptable for mainstream and trinitarian believers, the Bishop challenges those that disagree with him with the following statement:
"Well if they were baptized in the name of the Father, The Son and The Holy Ghost, it can't be a contradiction"...."It' can't be a contradiction or Jesus would have started the biggest revolution in the whole Christian matrix"...In Matthew 28:19: the name of Jesus was implicit, it was implied. In Acts 2:38 the name is not implied, it's explicated. Now, my word to anybody who would call me a heretic, is, if something is implicit and something is explicit, it can't be contradictory"..."Matthew 28:19 does not contradict Acts 2:38, neither does Acts 2:38 contradict Matthew 28:19."
I have dealt with the bishop's assertion previously in print HERE, and by audio HERE and HERE, but I thought to revisit the issue adding a little more detail to my previous argument in effort to equip believers with additional information. 

Preface

I would like to say that, this topic wasn't confused by the early church as some may think. The early church certainly struggled with the concept that God revealed himself as three distinct persons in his dealings with the church and the world, but this distinction wasn't blurred until the 4th Century  heretical beliefs of Sabellianism appeared. The misteaching is that The Council Of Nicea established the Trinity. This is a patently false understanding! Nicea defended how Jesus was deity rising to establish a standard against the heresy of Arius, who taught that Jesus was god but not the eternal God. Arianism taught that Jesus was the greatest of all God's created beings, was created out of nothing and was divine in as much as he was like the Father but that he was yet a created being. I will deal with this issue and what happened at Nicea in a separate post.



I: The Authority Of God Himself

Along with many scholars, I have long held that neither passage (Matthew 28:19 nor Acts 2:38) either establishes or affirms a baptismal formula. Example, the context of the passage appears to be provided in Matthew 28:18 when Jesus tells the disciples that he had been given all "authority". The passage reads as follows:

Matthew 28:18 ~ "And Jesus came and spake unto them saying All power [Gk. ἐξουσία ~ authority]  is given unto me in heaven
and in earth"

Clearly the context is is the establishment and affirmation of authority or the source from where one's actions have been validated and authorized. Jesus then goes on to tell the disciples that they have been given the "authority" of God under his commission or command describing the scope of that authority as being derived from the greatest source, the only God who is above all and is the overarching creator of all things. This information would have been of particular interest in the ANE culture in which the message of Christ would be preached and delivered, as many deities claimed many different things and authority was an important issue. Being able to communicate the source of authority for ones actions would have been beneficial to the presenters of the message. In fact it would have been required. We see this pattern of the establishment of authority repeatedly in the book of Acts and throughout the Old Testament in general. This would have been done so that noone would be confused about who was doing the work or from where the authority by which the work was being done had derived.

This concept is not unfamiliar to biblical students and just doesn't suddenly appear out of thin air in the New Testament. It first appears when God explained to Moses that he was to work in God's authority and on his behalf in delivering Israel from Egypt. God responded to Moses's inquiry in Exodus 3 by saying "I AM THAT I AM" (Ex. 3:14) Most biblical students are aware that God's literal name wasn't "I AM" but that God's response was a description of his nature and being. It also specified the scope of his power and divine nature indicating that he was over everything as a self-existent, uncaused cause. This is one of the most startling descriptions of God found within the Old Testament text and is directly linked to the scope of God's authority and being. Moses was to go and deliver Israel in this "name" or more appropriately put, under the authority of the God above all gods.

Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that both passages, Matthew 28:19 and Acts 2:38, describe the authority by which the New Testament church and those who carry the gospel have been given in which to operate calling men to righteousness and remitting sins. A literal "name" or formula is not being described nor endorsed although it is certainly not out of order to take a literal name for performance of the ceremonial rite of baptism or any other work done for Christ and HIS church. However it should be noted that the passages only deal with and pinpoint the authority by which such works are performed.

If this premise stands, which I believe it will, the bishop's statement falls as being an incorrect representation of the purpose and interpretation of what was said in both Matthew 28:19 and Acts 2:38. The "implication" and "explication" of "Jesus name" simply does not exist and would be considered an imposition upon the text in general.

II: The Granville Sharp Rule

The second reason is more illusive for the the fundamentalist hanging every word on the King James Version of the translation and deals with a sound biblical interpretive method that has been tried, tested and found to be accurate in dealing with passages that offer a succession of names with the definite articles in front of them. It is called the Granville Sharp Rule:
Rule VI ~ And as the insertion of the copulative kai [the word "the"]between nouns of the same case, without articles, (according to the fifth rule,) denotes that the second noun expresses a different person, thing, or quality, from the preceding noun, so, likewise, the same effect attends the copulative when each of the nouns are preceded by articles," 
The following exception is also delivered within the rule:

Except distinct and different actions are intended to be attributed to one and the same person; in which case, if the sentence is not expressed agreeably to the three first rules, but appears to be an exception to this sixth rule, or even to the fifth, (for, this exception relates to both rules,) the context must explain or point out plainly the person to whom the two nouns relate
Let's explain this in layman's language:

When there is a succession of nouns, and one sees an article such as "the" in front of each successive noun, that construction indicates that each noun is different from the other, unless their is a compelling contextual reason for holding that the succession is talking about the same noun. (Clear as mud???)

An example of a scripture that is covered under the exception to the rule, is John 20:28. When John calls Jesus "My Lord and my God". Here there is two nouns separated by a conjunction, however it is clear from the context that John is not talking to two different persons. He is talking to Jesus giving him two appellations, "Lord" and God". The context clarifies whether the rule is established or whether an exception to the rule is in effect.

However in Matthew 28:19 Jesus delivers orders to the disciples using names in a succession each with a definite article stating that they should teach and baptize:
"in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost"
Unfortunately, most oneness Pentecostals interpret this verse as if it reads,
"in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost"
If the latter construction were the case, the Grandville Sharp rule exception would be invoked and the passage would be self-explanatory, but because the wording is such that it is and the fact that the Gospels have taken much care to distinguish the difference between the Father and the Son makes it a highly erroneous imposition upon scripture to suddenly conclude that Jesus was talking about himself and implying that the literal name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost is Jesus. 

The Evidence Prior To The Verse

To build on my last statement, one of the problems that scholars have that wish to affirm the oneness position, is that they somehow would have to view Matt. 28:19 in isolation as if the gospels did not affirm or establish a relationship between God and Jesus prior to that particular account and afterward. However, quite to the contrary and throughout the gospels, we observe that Jesus establishes a clearly distinct relationship between he and the Father. Example, Jesus clearly claims that his "will" was to do the Father's will (John 4:34). As I've stated previously, manifestations or revelations do not have distinct wills. Will is an indication and a function of person-hood and being. In the Garden of Gethseminie Jesus voluntarily submitted his will to the will of the Father. (Mt. 26:39, Lk. 22:42, Mk. 14:36) The oneness pentecostal without warrant and with consistent arbitrariness, views this struggle between the humanity of Jesus and his divine nature as a matter of some sort of variation in the hypostatic union between the divnity and the humanity of Jesus. Jesus wasn't a flesh/God mixture as Noel Jones describes and some oneness Pentecostals claim. Neither did he conveniently flip at times from his divine nature to his human nature. Jesus was fully God and fully man as God incarnate from birth and inception. (John 1:14) [Special note: Most oneness believers claim that since the word "trinity" is never mentioned in scripture it is therefore and invalid concept. Surprisingly enough, the word "incarnation" is never mentioned in scripture either, but oneness believers are usually reluctant to say that God did not become flesh to manifest himself to us, whether they know how he became flesh or not. Their denial of the trinity then becomes a case of special pleading and a logical inconsistency at best.]

Jesus further indicated that the works that he did, were done to the glory of the Father(John 14:13, 7:16-17) Once again Jesus  established a basis for his authority and performance of miracles on earth. (John 5:32-37,10:25) Prayer is another issue. Jesus would often pray to the Father(Mt. 14:23, Mk. 6:46, John 17:5)   In John 14:16 Jesus stated that he would pray to the Father and that the Father would send "another comforter" ~ {Gk: ἄλλον παράκλητον [allon paraklēton] meaning a different one of the same nature or essence} In the book of Acts we observe that the Holy Ghost could be lied to (Acts 5:3) and Paul also tells us that the Holy Ghost has a  mind (Rom. 8:26). Therefore, all the elements of personhood are present with the Holy Ghost and at no time is there even the slightest hint that the Holy Ghost had the same personality as Jesus himself although the scripture is clear that he shared the same nature and essence with Jesus who also shared teh same nature as and with the Father (John 1:1).

So understanding that the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost are separate persons, and that the grammatical construction of Matthew 28:19 DOES NOT simply allow a name summary, further destroys the argument that Matthew 28:19 implicates the name of "Jesus". Therefore, the proper understanding of this text and the subsequent text of Acts 2:38 does not solely rest on the Granville Sharp Rule, but is even more firm when the scripture narrative is considered and the Grandville Sharp Rule is applied.

Out Of Confusion

The reason that this is important is because #1 the New Testament church gave many lives for the truth of the gospel. The heresy of oneness wasn't an issue in the early church and was condemned as soon as it arose by most church fathers. So this issue is worth defending even if most of Christianity is already convinced that oneness doctrine is invalid.

Second, many individuals are tying heavy and undue burdens on believers by totally misrepresenting one verse of scripture: Acts 2:38. By initiating the original error of the nature of God and perpetuating that with other errors about baptism and other practices, people are not being set free, they are becoming bound by an endless and almost impossible set of regulations that restrict them from being saved when there is no water, or if there is no formula for baptism and a host of other problems and issues. Having an error is one thing, perpetuating an error is another. Left unchecked, these sort of errors create another gospel. A gospel that the early church did not live and die to perpetuate.  

When the focus of salvation is on anything less than the cross and the atoning work of Jesus you can be sure that whatever belief system is embraced is a false one. In the world of oneness Pentecostalism the effort and work is on man and what he can do and perform. Apologist Dee Dee Warren in observation of Oneness Pentecostals system of salvation states the following:
"The Oneness Pentecostalism God is a performing God and thus His people tend to be obsessed with performance. Salvation is literally conditioned upon our performance and not upon God’s grace. You must speak in tongues (at least once), women must never cut their hair, you must live according to strict holiness standards, you must be baptized using the correct formula... and so on. Imagine the tragedy of constantly seeking the gift of tongues in order to know that you are saved... begging God for this gift and never receiving it... believing that you must purify yourself before God will even deal with you."
This is a serious issue. Certainly we respond in holiness to what God has done, but there remains NOTHING that can make us clean and free from sin except faith in the precious blood that Jesus shed on the cross. THAT is and was the Apostles doctrine. This is the doctrine they gave their lives for and taught in every community. Only Jesus saves, not a baptismal pool or a formula.  

1 John 4:6 ~ "We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error."

Blessed!

5 comments:

  1. I moved that comment to the forum that it best fits sistah. It went to the "Calling The Community From Death To Life.

    Thanks Oregonsistah.

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  2. Thanks so much for a wonderful and clear explanation of those two scriptures.

    I find it quite baffling how the Oneness deal with these scriptures and many more such as

    John 7:16 Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.
    Joh 7:17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.
    Joh 7:18 He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.

    Where it is clear that Jesus and God are two distinct persons. This is another scripture that deals with authority. I dare say that that doctrine has blinded them to the truth of God's Word.

    This is a very serious error that they have adopted, and it takes all emphasis off of the finished work of Christ. When you do that, you have nothing more than a bunch of garbled mess that leads to more bondage and no freedom.

    Thanks again as I have truly been further equipped to deal with those who believe this heresy.


    I had never heard of the Granville sharp rule, but wow you make me want to study more!

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  3. Marcia,

    Thanks for your comments. That's the idea of teh post to bring these type of things to light.

    Now, language and language use is what Grandville Sharp clarifies. Greek and Aramaic grammar was totally different than our construction and our misunderstandings are sometimes exacerbated by the Elizabethan English of the King James Version. Granville Sharp clarifies the intent of the original language and the grammatical construction and flow of what was said. This is one of the most iron clad rules that exist among grammarians seeking the real emphasis of the text. However, if one is a literalist and believes that Elizabethan English of the 1500's and 1600's are the way that biblical characters spoke, there's big trouble in little China-LOL

    Interestingly enough this rule has been around for years and is nothing new, yet the literalist plays it down as some sort of "worldly scholarly deception" where the "Spirit" is minimized. Another thing that is commonly done is to tie the interpretation of the passage to other errors and say that Granville Sharp doesn't apply. One professor says that the writers of the rule never applied it to the Matthew 28:19 passage therefore the rule doesn't effect it??? Which is question begging and an argument from silence at best.

    As you said pointing out the abundance of other passages that affirm that there was a relationship between what can be termed as identities clearly within scripture, solidifies the deal.

    God exists as three distinct persons but yet are one God. It is a mystery how it works, but that's what scripture teaches and we can only say "Yes Lord"!

    Blessed!

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  4. It just amazes me the unmerited zeal these oneness pentecostals possess. They are "gun ho'" for their heresy and it is just jaw dropping to see.

    A man centered gospel is all they are preaching and like you said they are removing trust in the completed work of Christ on the cross as the propitiation for our sins and trusting in their works instead.

    Unfortunately we can NEVER work ourway into heaven. Genesis chapter 11 confirms that...and Ephesians as well...

    "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." Ephesians 2:8

    Keep up the good work Pastor!

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  5. Min. Davision,

    You're right and as I've studied this out I found that one of the modern proponents if "In Jesus name" teaching Elder Cook, wrote and taught that he observed that nothing significant happened in the church unless someone said that phrase. It was he and another called Ewart, that started teaching churches and Saints to use the phrase to invoke the power of GOd.

    In essence they reduced the phrase to a mantra or a formula like a magic spell. That was ashame. Now read what 1 Sam. 15:22-23 said about rebellion. So the question is, are those that continue in this overly literalistic appeal to "phraseology" in rebellion toward's God? I mean anytime a person thinks that a certain order of words "attracts" the spirit of God to their situation or makes him move...what is that??? I don't believe it's the gospel.

    Nonetheless, that was a part of the foundation of Oneness doctrine and among the first one's they convinced was Bishop G.T. Haywood. Haywood was influential and many people simply followed because he said it was good.

    The interesting thing is that Haywood's history is generally scrubbed to remove any association that he had with COGIC. See, he was IN COGIC before the Assemblies left because of Jim Crowe and racial issues. Many whites didn't want black folk as leaders and the laws of the South weren't conducive to interracial fellowship. Many set Haywood's history forth as if he went straight to Azusa by himself, received the Holy ghost and just came back and started a church...nothing further from the truth...he was a COGIC member until he left in about 1912 and was one of the first major one's in the Assemblies that baptized in Jesus name and was one that called for the Assemblies to adopt oneness theology which they did for a time until about 1915 until they reverted back to biblical doctrine and teaching. It was in 1916 that the PAW was formulated and I believe they were officially incorporated in 1918.

    So the root of the modern oneness movement is rooted firmly in trinitarian doctrine and most specifically COGIC so far as Pentecostals go.

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