Friday, January 27, 2012

Persons Or Manifestations? "neither one of them totally get it for me" ~ Bishop T.D. Jakes

Recently (1/25/2012) at an event named "The Elephant Room" a round table discussion was moderated by Mark Driscoll and James MacDonald in which Bishop T.D. Jakes was put on the spot regarding his proposed belief in modalism aka" oneness doctrine. 

I have featured posts on modalism on this blog. Sabellianism, as it was initially known, was a third century teaching deemed a heresy by the early church. The concept, rooted in a method of interpretation of certain biblical passages, affirms that there is only one God, but claims that the one God's name is Jesus and that Jesus simply changes role from Father to the Son and from Son to Holy Ghost. Sabellianism holds that Jesus merely "manifests" himself as the Father, and as the Holy Ghost. In contrast, trinitarian believers hold that based on the biblical description, that there is only one God who eternally exists as three persons. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost. Trinitarians affirm an eternal distinction of the personal identity of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost based on mind, will, intellect, self-awareness and not merely based on role or actions.

Semantics

In essence, it seems that Jakes, although affirming a quasi- trinitarian position, and stating that his understanding has taken him beyond modalism, suggests that the teaching and doctrinal debate between oneness and trinitarian believers is more a matter of semantics than anything else. 
"Here is why I am there. I am not crazy about the word 'persons' ... most people who know me know that ... my doctrinal statement is really no different from yours except for the word 'manifest' instead of 'person,' which you describe as modalist and I describe as Pauline,"
Reducing the conversation to an issue of semantics seems to be the aim of many, especially among the modern mega-ministry elite. Not long ago Bishop Noel Jones woefully attempted to find this middle ground also calimg that neither "manifestations" nor "persons" was an adequate description and that he had adopted the terminology "revelatory expressions". While making statements to the contrary, Jones remains oneness in his theology even if his oneness belief is not a traditional description of such. It seems that the effort is on to make changes to the words and descriptions to make oneness doctrine more palatable to the average believer. At the end of the day Jones, like Jakes, also appears to suggest that the entire argument is one of semantics, rather than substance of scripture. 

Clarifying 1 Timothy 3:16

During the discussion Bishop Jakes pointed to 1 Timothy 3:16 to make his case as to why he wasn't comfortable using the word "persons" when it came to describing God. The verse is as follows: 

1 Timothy 3:16 ~ "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory."

The Bishop stated the following as his reason for liking "manifestation" as opposed to "persons":
"That is what Paul describes as a 'mystery' and I don't think we should do that,"..."Now, Paul is not a modalist, but he does not think it is robbery to the divinity of God to say God was 'manifest' in the flesh," ~ Bishop T.D. Jakes
Since the Bishop offered this as a basis for his belief that the word "person" is possibly inappropriate, we should ask, does his view represent what the verse teaches? I don't believe it does for the following reasons the second of which I will elaborate upon:

1- God being "manifest in the flesh" does not suggest that the line of ontology or being has been crossed. However, without the need to argue that point, the greater problem is what I assert in #2    

2- The verse does not in any way teach that the "mystery of godliness" is limited to God being manifested in the flesh. Paul is pointing to the message of the gospel and the whole process by which God has offered salvation to the world. Paul, in this verse uses a technique that we find common among biblical writers called anabasis and enumeration. Anabasis, literally meaning a military march upward, is a technique that implores the description of an ascending scale with increasing emphasis.  In this case the "mystery of godliness" includes all of the the following elements which Paul enumerates:
  • God was manifest in the flesh 
  • Justified in the Spirit 
  • Seen of angels 
  • preached unto the gentiles (Christ & his message) 
  • Believed on in the world 
  • received up into glory  
Thus the whole process, which is the basis of the gospel, from incarnation to ascension, is called a mystery aka "the mystery of godliness". The mystery is not solely that God was manifested in the flesh and neither is that the emphasis of Paul's declaration. He is not teaching a "mode" of god's existence but rather a method of God's actions among mankind. 

From One Confusion To The Next

The problem with the Bishop's statements is in how far he goes in delivering his contrast. He says this:
"When we start talking about that sort of thing, I think that it is important that we realize that there are distinctives between the Father and the working of the Son: the Father didn't bleed, the Father didn't die, only in the person of Jesus Christ, coming back for us in the person of Jesus Christ ... Jesus Christ has been with us, but only indwelt in the person of the Holy Spirit. We are baptized into the Body of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. That is consistent with my belief system." ~ Bishop T.D. Jakes (emphasis added)
Now, whether it is a relic of his past or not, the Bishop yet describes the distinction between the Father and the Son as a matter of role or mode of operation and not that of being or ontology. He describes the distinction between the Father and the Son as a matter of their works or their actions using the phrase "working of" to emphasize the varying roles between both. 

That is NOT fully a biblical description. The Bishop's description goes one step further separating the Father so far from the Son based on distinctive works until the question arises what or who actually died upon the cross? At the same time, he suggests that "the person" of Jesus Christ, who shall return for us is distinct from being God. For sure God cannot die, but the moment we ask and distinguish between the work of Jesus and the works of the Father in salvation we fall into trouble. That is the essence of modalism. 

Jesus said that the works he did were not those done of himself, (Jn. 8:28, Jn. 10:25) but they were his Father's works which he was accomplishing. It all began with a subjugation of will and not role or operation (works) Jesus consistently asserted that his will (distinguishing him as a person) was to do the will (distinguishing the Father as a person) of the Father. (this is identity) The scripture accords:

John 4:54 ~ "Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work."

In addition Jesus didn't do anything that he was not to do as his will was subject to the Father's 

John 5:30 ~ "I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me." 
  
Conclusion:

I understand that many of today's ministers feel that their mission is to not alienate folk, but to draw them all in. That is a commendable attitude born out of the desire to see all men blessed and saved. However, the problem exists is that if we have to create a different image of God other than what is described within the writ of holy texts what have we really done and what do we really believe?  

The scripture is clear. The nature of God and the being of Jesus was not to be confused with or lowered down to the status of man and mankind. Trying to make God be something that he is not is not what we are supposed to do and very well could have eternal consequences. Do we or are we required to understand it all? Certainly by no means NO! Some things we can only apprehend even if we don't fully comprehend. Alas, that is the nature of the God that we serve, certainly beyond our full comprehension. In those cases all we can say is simply YES!

Romans 11:33 ~ "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!"

Blessed!

27 comments:

  1. Enjoyed your piece, and I think both you and I understand Jakes’ wishy-washy position on one of the core fundamental doctrines of the faith. His charades are well documented.

    More importantly though I have to say that I was highly disappointed in the softball oriented questions that were given to him, which turns my attention to both James McDonald and Mark Driscoll. I think both of those zookeepers should turn in their resignations because there were many other elephants in that room that were left unattended. As someone who has embraced reformed theology and as a former oneness minister, I think I’m qualified to take them to task on that. This latest fiasco with some who claim to represent or at least hold to mainstream evangelicalism has those of us who have supported them grieving over this matter. Then again, perhaps it is just that folks like McDonald and Driscoll are unaware of the untold damage that Jakes’ antics have done to unsuspecting followers collectively and seekers of truth who are of the African American persuasion specifically. But that’s another topic for another day.

    Anyway, I thought it would be beneficial to send you an interview that was conducted by Richard Barcellos of Grace Reformed Baptist Fellowship with my dear friend and former oneness pastor Jordan Dayoub. I think Jordan gets to the heart of the real issues us former oneness Pentecostals have with Jakes and those like him. I think he did a superb job and my sentiments match his to the tee. Below is the link for the interview, and be sure to keep in touch.

    Soli Deo Gloria,

    Craig

    http://grbcav.org/2012/01/er2-qa-with-a-former-oneness-pastor/

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  2. Thanks for posting this elder. I enjoy reading your thoughts. I think the shoe is on the foot though. In the beginning of your post you referred to modalism and then referenced Sabellius. While Sabellius may have lived during the third century that doesn't mean that modalism did. It is probably the oldest view of the Godhead historically speaking. Some form of modalism existed in the church since the beginning. Sabellius may have taught sequential modalism which is rejected by Oneness movements like the UPCI or ALJC. The Trinity was not taught in AD 325 at the Nicean Council. That creed was later rejected. Later creeds in the late 4th and 5th centuries more closely defined the Trinity. The historical nuances aside I am Oneness. Meaning I believe there is only One God and He is one of everything that He is. God is Who and speaks as a He. This One God came. His name is Jesus. We understand Him in the threefold plan of redemption (F,S,HS) but that does not mean God exists as three divine persons, each with their own mind and will. I also think McDonald rightly concludes that there is only one Throne.

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  3. JN,

    Expound on "sequential modalism" if you would. What is the difference between that and a more traditional form of modalism? Thanks.

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  4. Pastor B,

    Anyways, not speaking for JN Anderson, but I assume he is referring to the difference between
    Sabellianism, which has the Father appearing as manifestations during
    different times (sequentially) and Monarchianism, which maintains that
    God is unknowable apart from His manifestations.

    Monarchianism pictures the Father and Jesus as one person, and that this unknowable God
    maintains sole authority over both the Son and the Holy Spirit. So, in
    other words we can only know Him by how He chooses to manifest Himself,
    whether by Son or Holy Spirit, but in any other case we could not
    discern Him.

    This branch of Monarchianism was identified as modal because of the emphasis on God having to be manifested in order to grasp
    His presence. Of course, this leads to the problem of the Father dying
    on the cross. Another branch, called dynamistic Monarchianists assumed that Jesus was born a man and received the Christ as a power from God at a later time. Of course, you probably recognize this teaching as a form of adoptionism. Certainly "dynamistic" would be related to the word "dunamis" for power (your favorite word, right??? Just kidding!!!).

    I got some of the above information from Columbia University's Religious Encyclopedia, which also references Shaff-Herzog's Bible Encyclopedia of Church and Christian History and related volumes...

    Anyways, all that aside, my more curious inclination is to know how JN Anderson would define passages like John 17 (Jesus' High Priestly Prayer), Matthew 3:13-17 (Jesus' Baptism) or anywhere in either John's gospel or John's epistles where both the Father and the Son are noted as being distinct and having discourse with one another. Especially in light of the following statement:

    "We understand Him in the threefold plan of redemption (F,S,HS) but that does not mean God exists as three divine persons, each with their own mind and will."

    I do wonder what JN would say in light of words Jesus says,like,

    "In your law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. I
    am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me
    bears witness about me." They said to him therefore, "Where is your
    Father?" Jesus answered, "You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also."

    Or...

    "I have much to say about you and much to judge, but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him."

    Or...

    "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am
    he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the
    Father taught me. And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me
    alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him."

    All these are taken from the 8th chapter of John's gospel, and this is only one chapter of Scripture. Sometimes I kid myself into thinking that I've heard it all, but it would be awfully intriguing and interesting just to see how that would be explained. I wouldn't rule out that there could be some new interpretation to get around the obvious.

    Soli Deo Gloria,

    Craig

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  5. Elder Burnett, thank you for your reply. Thomas Finger, an Anabaptist scholar suggests that modalism emerged first and took "historical revelation seriously" but "experienced difficulties in accounting for the Biblical distinctions...From early on theology usually rejected modalism."

    It is difficult to precisely say what Sabellius' complete opinions were. I do believe its possible that Tertullian misrepresented him since all we know of early Oneness writings are by the pen of Trinitarian apologists who were essentially quoting them.

    Some scholars feel that Sabellius may have taught sequential modalism. That is a series of modes that God undergoes in a sequence. However, UPCI and most popular OP groups will believe that F,S,HS can appear simultaneous. Not only one at a time as it is reported Sabellius taught.

    A sequential modalism is not compatible with OP belief in a genuine Incarnation. Jesus was and is not just a mask. The comments by Finger above allude the the Biblical distinctions between Father and Son. Craig has brought up some examples. I will respond to those in my next post. God bless!

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  6. Craig,

    I do not find the fact that a man praying to God teaches us anything about divine nature. Jesus was fully man and fully God however the prayers of Christ are an example for us to pray as Jesus has clearly shown the disciples.

    I don't have time to go over every text but let's take the key text that Trinitarians like to use--John 17:5. It obvious by reading Trinitarian writings, including Craig's, that they give hermeneutical preimmence to the Gospel of John and particular verses therein.

    I do not consider the option of God praying to God as a plausible or even coherent meaning of 17:5 albeit Jesus is God. This passage is teaching us something. What is it teaching us?

    The glory Jesus had with the Father at creation is proleptic, much like "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." (Rev. 13:8) The statement of Jesus, "Glorify me," is not proleptic. It refers to the immediate future as the imperative verb "glorify" would suggest. In that case, Jesus is not speaking of a past event but an event in the immediate future (i.e. death, burial, resurrection, and ascension). In this prayer, Jesus asked (command, or request?) God to fulfill the plan established for Jesus as a human before creation.

    The Trinitarian however will see this as divine glory that the Son and the Father shared in a personal Father-Son relationship prior to the Incarnation. They will even point to Isaiah 48:11 as an indicator for this. However, in Isa. 48:11 Yahweh speaks with unipersonal language using singular personal pronouns (my, I) not tripersonal language requiring plural personal pronouns.

    As I mentioned earlier, and to which Craig has yet to respond, God/Yahweh is one in everything that He is. I am applying this to God's personality also. Can you show us where God is every shown to be more than one person?

    The OT labors long to drive this into our psyche. God has many attributes but He is only ONE of anything that he is. Key word here is "is". He is love, mercy, goodness, justice, etc. He is savior and there is only one. He is Lord and there is only one. He is Redeemer and there is only one. We are taught that God is a personal spirit being but nowhere are we taught that God is more than one as he exists as a personal spirit being. If God is a person (not in a human sense only) then He is only one person. His person is unlimited and inexhaustible as it relates to human experience.

    This text suggests IMHO that Jesus was a real man. Other passages in John indicate the clear deity of Christ (John 1:1, 14, 18; 14:9-10, 20:28). It is my belief that Jesus is God so I reconcile that with testimony of Scripture which incessantly declares God is one. If Jesus is God, then, He is God in that sense and none other will do. For now, it is only through my finite understanding that I come to know Him as God and man. Jesus is God, visible to the mortal eye.

    Jesus had a prayer life in the Gospels and even participated in private prayer (See Mark 1:35, 6:46; Luke 3:21). This teaches us about the authenticity of the humanity of Jesus Christ.

    J. Gresham Machen, a Greek scholar, once noted this about Jesus: "His faith was real religious faith. His relation to His heavenly Father was not merely that of a child to a father; it was that of a man to his God." (Christianity and Liberalism). John utilizes the prayers of Christ in this Gospel, perhaps as Paul does with the humility of Christ (Phil. 2:5-11), to teach us something about the historical human Christ and today serves as our example. He prayed, so we pray. On earth Jesus prays to the Father but now we pray to the Father, in the name of Jesus. Jesus prayed but now answers prayer.

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  7. Craig, does Matthew 3:13-17 teach the Trinity? Does Jesus' baptism clearly teach three divine persons?

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    Replies
    1. JNAnderson,

      "I do not find the fact that a man praying to God teaches us anything
      about divine nature. Jesus was fully man and fully God however the
      prayers of Christ are an example for us to pray as Jesus has clearly
      shown the disciples."

      (This is perfectly fine if you didn't believe that the man praying was
      also Deity Himself. But I know you believe that, so I'm wondering why
      you expect me to believe that the only reason Jesus prayed to His Father
      was to show the disciples and us how to pray. Especially since most of
      the times we have recorded of Jesus actually praying the disciples were
      either sleep (Matthew 26:36-46) or didn't get up early enough to watch
      and find Him (Mark 1:35-38). Sounds a lot like us, but I digress. I'm
      not suggesting that Jesus' praying doesn't present the quintessential
      example for us, but I would have expected you to use a passage like
      Phillipians 2. However, I can see why you wouldn't, because that passage
      clearly shows Jesus having equality with God the Father, then taking it
      upon Himself to empty Himself and take on the form of a servant. Then it
      says He "became obedient to death, even the death of the cross". But
      you wouldn't suggest that this was something that happened through
      prayer to His Father, because you don't think that teaches us anything
      about His nature. Interesting...)


      "I don't have time to go over every text but let's take the key text that
      Trinitarians like to use--John 17:5. It obvious by reading Trinitarian
      writings, including Craig's, that they give hermeneutical preimmence to
      the Gospel of John and particular verses therein."

      (John 17:5 is not "a passage that Trinitarians like to use". It happens
      to be one of many passages in scripture, all of which are undeniable.
      Pardon me, but I find it hilarious that you want to subtract the book of
      John and its clear teachings about the distinction between the Father,
      the Son and the Holy Spirit just because you think Trinitarians give it
      "hermeneutical preeminence"? I don't mind having a healthy discussion
      with you about this, but statements like that make it difficult for me
      to take you seriously.)


      Craig
      Ready4Change

      Delete
    2. JNAnderson,

      "I do not consider the option of God praying to God as a plausible or
      even coherent meaning of 17:5 albeit Jesus is God. This passage is
      teaching us something. What is it teaching us?

      The glory Jesus had with the Father at creation is proleptic, much like
      "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." (Rev. 13:8) The
      statement of Jesus, "Glorify me," is not proleptic. It refers to the
      immediate future as the imperative verb "glorify" would suggest. In that
      case, Jesus is not speaking of a past event but an event in the
      immediate future (i.e. death, burial, resurrection, and ascension). In
      this prayer, Jesus asked (command, or request?) God to fulfill the plan
      established for Jesus as a human before creation."

      (Proleptic arguments aside, quite frankly, you've quoted both Rev 13:8
      and John 17:5 incorrectly. You seem intent on using "from" creation and
      "from" the foundation of the world, when the bible uses the word
      "before" in both cases. Yes, it is true that "glorify me" is
      immediate; however you have not given an explanation or cogent argument for the
      rest of the verse. Remember? "And now, Father, glorify me in your own
      presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed."
      Key words, like "in your presence" and "before the world existed"
      rule out there just being a "plan established for him as a human before
      creation".)


      "The Trinitarian however will see this as divine glory that the Son and
      the Father shared in a personal Father-Son relationship prior to the
      Incarnation. They will even point to Isaiah 48:11 as an indicator for
      this. However, in Isa. 48:11 Yahweh speaks with unipersonal language
      using singular personal pronouns (my, I) not tripersonal language
      requiring plural personal pronouns."

      (Wow. You're confusing me here. Perhaps the reason those of us who
      believe in a triune God see that as divine glory that the Son and the
      Father shared in a personal relationship is because that's what
      scripture says? Is it really necessary to show you all of the texts in
      which the Father and Son not only speak to one another, love one another
      and act in accord in a relationship? If you do not define the connection
      between the Father and the Son as a "relationship" then how do you
      define it? What hermeneutical gymnastics will help you jump around the
      plain words of scripture? Regarding Isaiah 48:11, I assure you that you
      will not find many Trinitarians who use that as an indicator of a
      relationship prior to the Incarnation. Your views seem closely akin to
      Nestorianism.)


      Craig
      Ready4Change

      Delete
    3. JNAnderson,

      "As I mentioned earlier, and to which Craig has yet to respond,
      God/Yahweh is one in everything that He is. I am applying this to God's
      personality also. Can you show us where God is every shown to be more
      than one person?"

      (I didn't know that I was being asked to respond, but you might start
      with giving me your take on the scripture that I provided in my last
      comment. "In your law it is written that the testimony of two people is
      true. I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who
      sent me bears witness about me." They said to him therefore, "Where is
      your Father?" Jesus answered, "You know neither me nor my Father. If you
      knew me, you would know my Father also."

      Are you going to tell me that people doesn't really mean a person, or
      that "two people" really means "two natures" or a witness is not
      really a person but a nature, or that the word "and" doesn't really denote more
      than one, etc? The burden of proof is on you my friend. You could also
      try explaining Hebrews 1. I'm curious to see how you would interpret
      that chapter.)


      "The OT labors long to drive this into our psyche. God has many
      attributes but He is only ONE of anything that he is. Key word here is
      "is". He is love, mercy, goodness, justice, etc. He is savior and there
      is only one. He is Lord and there is only one. He is Redeemer and there
      is only one. We are taught that God is a personal spirit being but
      nowhere are we taught that God is more than one as he exists as a
      personal spirit being. If God is a person (not in a human sense only)
      then He is only one person. His person is unlimited and inexhaustible as
      it relates to human experience."

      (Agreed. God is one. How does he reveal Himself? What language does He
      use? Why would He go through the trouble of bearing out distinctions and
      using terms like Father and Son and Holy Spirit exclusively to reveal
      Himself? And tell me, where have you ever seen in scripture where the
      Father is said to have died and rose again? Be careful with that one.)


      Craig
      Ready4Change

      Delete
    4. JNAnderson,

      "J. Gresham Machen, a Greek scholar, once noted this about Jesus: "His
      faith was real religious faith. His relation to His heavenly Father was
      not merely that of a child to a father; it was that of a man to his
      God." (Christianity and Liberalism). John utilizes the prayers of Christ
      in this Gospel, perhaps as Paul does with the humility of Christ (Phil.
      2:5-11), to teach us something about the historical human Christ and
      today serves as our example. He prayed, so we pray. On earth Jesus prays
      to the Father but now we pray to the Father, in the name of Jesus. Jesus
      prayed but now answers prayer."

      (Mister Anderson. He still prays to the Father. Have you not read?
      "It is Christ Jesus that died, yea rather, that was raised from the
      dead, who is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for
      us." (Romans 8:34)"And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ
      the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours
      only, but also for the whole world."(John 2:1-2)
      "Wherefore also he is able to save to the uttermost them that draw near
      unto God through him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for
      them." (Hebrews 7:25)Of course, I'm sure you'll say that those scriptures don't portray a
      distinction of persons.)


      "Craig, does Matthew 3:13-17 teach the Trinity? Does Jesus' baptism
      clearly teach three divine persons?"

      (For this question, I will allow a resource called gotquestions.org
      answer you:

      "Perhaps most importantly, the occasion of the public baptism recorded
      for all generations to come the perfect embodiment of the triune God
      revealed in glory from heaven. The testimony directly from heaven of the
      Father's pleasure with the Son and the descending of the Holy Spirit
      upon Jesus (Matthew 3:16-17) is a beautiful picture of the Trinitarian
      nature of God. It also depicts the work of the Father, Son and Spirit in
      the salvation of those Jesus came to save. The Father loves the elect
      from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4); He sends His
      Son to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10); and the Spirit convicts of
      sin (John 16:8) and draws the believer to the Father through the Son.
      All the glorious truth of the mercy of God through Jesus Christ is on
      display at His baptism.")


      Craig
      Ready4Change

      Delete
  8. JN Anderson,

    Once again my friend, thank you for sharing and I believe this is a good study for edification of us all and we'll be better as a result of it.

    Now, there are a few things that I see when I read your commentary.

    First, I don't see a distinction in the application of the use of terms such as "persons" as it pertains to God.

    When we talk "persons" with men, we are talking about a different being with different natures, intellects, and personal and moral characteristics.

    When we apply the same term, "person", to God, the temptation is to hear the same thing that we hear when we refer to men, but because we are applying the term to God it is a misnomer because we are actually describing a different class of being. Human descriptives can not adequately be applied to God without deference to the nature of God and the "relationship" of what the bible calls the "Godhead".

    To be clear, we are speaking of ONE God and only one God. There is only ONE nature or essence. When we say that we are referring to the "person" of God we are referring to that ONE nature or essence of God as revealed through an eternally distinct ontology or being. ie: Jesus is no less than God and certainly not a jr. partner with God as some account, and shares the same nature of God, but does not share the same ontological or metaphysical being as the Father.

    With that said, how we identify this, especially within the new testament, is to examine how Jesus describes his being in relationship to the being of God the Father.

    So how did he describe his relationship with the Father?

    John 10:30 ~I and my Father are one.

    This certainly wasn't a metaphysical descriptive of a singular ontological being. By virtue of Jesus "I" using a conjunction "and" and a personal pronoun "my" to connect with the object "Father" indicates that He (Jesus) certainly was not the Father in an ontological sense, but yet possessed a "oneness" with him.

    How can Jesus possess this oneness with the father? Since they are ontologically distinct as recounted over and over within the gospel narrative, this oneness must be based on nature or essence.

    This is exactly what is demonstrated within scripture.

    There is a demonstration of distinct will's and mind to begin with. Jesus displays that he has a will (John 4:34), the Father has a will (Jn. 4:34) and that he had to subject his will to the will of the Father (Lk. 22:42)
    "Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done."


    In Luke, not John, we see Jesus describing, after withdrawing himself away from others to pray, that the Father has a "will" and that he himself has a will that he (Jesus) voluntarily subjects and submits to God the Father.

    In the case of God, who we agree is singular in nature and essence, does not have or identify two wills unless it is that we are talking about two distinct beings based on "ontology" ie: persons. This is the relationship that we consistently observe within scripture, and not just in the book of John.

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  9. JNAnderson,

    My prior comment leads to the second observation:

    In general, the prayer of Jesus to the Father was not simply or solely to demonstrate what men should do. But it was a tool that Jesus used to interact with the Father.

    In the case of Luke, it was angels after the prayer that came and ministered to him (v.43)...on the cross it was through prayer that he asked God to receive his spirit(Lk. 23:46) forgive them (Lk. 23:34). Now, in general prayer makes no sense if Jesus was ontologically (in being- not nature or essence)the same as the Father. however over and over we see Jesus, not simply praying to demonstrate, but praying by withdrawing himself to be with the Father(Lk. 5:16, Lk. 6:12)

    A third thing, for me, is that I have a problem with the view that John 17:5 is simply proleptic in nature...As was pointed out, Jesus asks in prayer that God "glorify" (Gk: δόξασόν Doxason- Airost imperative second person singular)him WITH "yourself" (Gk: σεαυτῷ seauto ~ (personal possessive pronoun, dative masculine second person singular) WITH the "same glory" (Gk:δόξῃ Doxe ~ Noun dative feminine singular) that he "had"( Gk: εἶχον Eichon~ verb, imperfect indicative active) WITH the Father "BEFORE" (Gk: πρὸ Pro~ preposition) the world "was" (Gk: εἶναι "to be"- verb present infinitive)

    The word WITH consistently appears to indicate relationship and the the structure of the verse in no way suggests, hints or intimates that Jesus is describing himself in any manner!!!

    There is a subject/object distinction that is maintained which is a line never destroyed within the text itself.

    So what we find is that Jesus spoke in terms that indicate an ontological difference between he and the Father, but NOT in terms of a difference in essence or nature.

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  10. JN Anderson,

    My friend, I can also follow this one up with additional statements regarding Jesus and his relationship to and with the Father.

    John 14:8-14 ~8-Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. 9-Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? 10-Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. 11-Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake. 12-Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. 13-And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14-If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

    Here Jesus is asked by the disciple to "show them the Father"...to wit Jesus responds, "if you've seen me, you have seen the Father" because "I am IN the Father and the Father is IN me"...Jesus then goes on to explain this "unique" relationship that he has with the Father. He goes on to use the word "IN" in these 6 verses 8 times. He also addresses the question of his nature or essence by concluding that when the Father (who everyone agrees is God) is asked by Jesus "authority" ie: "in his name", that HE (Jesus) would do it.

    However, the picture appears to be that Jesus has a relationship where he is IN the Father and the Father is IN him.

    Paul picks up on the same usage of the language using "IN" to indicate relationship stating:

    Col. 1:27 ~"To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ >>>in<<< you, the hope of glory:"

    He further says that:

    2 Cor. 5:17 ~ "Therefore if any man be >>>in<<< Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

    Now, if we apply the word "IN" towards ontology or being, we cannot possibly reconcile the meaning of what "IN" indicates in the verses or in context.

    To clarify even further, a simple question and statement is this: Does Christ being IN us as Christians and believers make us Jesus???

    Of course not. Being IN Christ has nothing to do with ontology, rather it has to do with relationship and communication. Once again there is and must be a subject/object distinction and not a murky, indistinguishable mix of two what could be identified as "persons" into a mix.

    When we apply the concept towards the descriptive relationship that it is trying to indicate it all makes sense.

    Jesus being IN the Father and the Father being in Jesus, although a unique relationship, does not indicate that the Father Ontologically (remember, this is by metaphysical being)dwells in Jesus, although Jesus by nature and essence is God (not a lesser nature or essence but one in the same)

    Similarly, Christ dwelling IN us as believers in no way makes us Jesus, and of course, we, being human, only "partake" of the divine nature:

    2 Pet. 1:4 ~ "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

    So Jesus lays the foundation that in nature and essence, he and the Father are one, but in being or ontology, he is eternally distinct from the Father. This distinction, which Jesus displays, is based on identity, will, and intellect all of which are attributes that constitute "personhood".

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  11. JN Anderson,

    This is my conclusion to the previous:

    Jesus further demonstrates this distinction by his need and capacity to communicate with the Father, both in and out of the presence of the disciples and for purposes not not restricted to simply teaching men how to communicate with God.

    The scripture never intimates that the Father IS Jesus nor does it hint that Jesus IS the Holy Ghost. However, scripture clearly poses an eternal distinction based on identity but a unique relationship of oneness based on nature and essence.

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  12. In the original Hebrew language; the definition of El is God, El-Shaddai is translated "The Almighty God".
    Elohim is the plural of El. If you look at the original language, Gen. 1:1 say; in the beginning Elohim created the heavens and the earth. The word translated created is a masculine singular word so it would be correct to say "he created". So to say Elohim (plural) he created would be correct. In Duet. 6:4 the word says "Hear O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord:" literally, Yahweh Elohim Yahweh. Yahweh(Jehovah) is the proper name of GOD of Yisrael (Isarel). Isaiah 48:16 (AV)
    16 Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord GOD, and his Spirit, hath sent me.
    However, the most important thing to remember is; The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, Jesus died for our sins, He rose on the third day and is the propitiation for our sins.
    "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." John 14:6 (AV)

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  13. Cogicjustice,

    You make a very interesting point. That is true. The literal reading of Deut. 6:4 would be "Hear O Israel, the Lord our >>>Gods<<<< is one Lord"

    It is undeniable that Elohim designates plurality whereas the verse itself and other verses using the same word, is speaking singularly.

    Now Revelation Chapters 4 and 5 seems to lay it out well that there is ONE throne in heaven and ONE who sits upon the throne whom All heaven falls down and worship (Rev. 4:10-11)...Later in Revelation 5 there appears one called "the Lamb slain" and in the middle of the whole scene he too receives the honor and worship of all heaven.

    Here is the verse:

    Revelation 5:13-And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, >>>>Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, >>and<< unto the Lamb for ever and ever.<<<< 14-And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever."

    However, look at the later part of v.13...The blessing of all people and every tongue of the living and the dead was upon the one who sat upon the throne AND the Lamb. Now are we to believe that this is simply a restatement of the same person for emphasis?

    I could go for that but the fact is that the context obliterates that excuse, reason or apologetic. It was in v. 7 "And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne"

    The text CLEARLY identifies two persons and one taking the book out of the other's hand as he remained seated on the throne. That kills the restatement for emphasis argument. However, at the end of the chapter v.14 it says that everyone worshiped "HIM that liveth forever and ever" NOT THEM that liveth, but a singular HIM...

    I've heard some of the most awful oneness apologetics on these verses including that the whole thing was a "vision" similar to a dream and was not a factual scene but were representations of things God was saying to us. In other words not only was Revelation itself apocalyptic, but the very scene of heaven itself contained within the book was apocalyptic.

    Another said, that the one who took the book was "the flesh" of Jesus. The God part had separated from the man part. So they were willing to concede that "flesh" receives worship in heaven and that heaven worships something other than God alone!

    It cannot be denied that treating the texts with consistency creates a situation that cannot be overlooked and this is only the tip of the argument. I haven't even thought to develop the argument associated with 1 Cor.15.

    So interesting point indeed.

    Thanks.

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  14. I don't know if you've seen this Pastor Burnett, but I don't know if you wanted to address this foolishness.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVkoQHCXSK8&feature=player_embedded

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    1. Yea, I heard about that garbage...This fella says he speaks life "as a Jew"...does that give him special power with God? Wrapping long up in the scroll...I hope that means he won't ever wrap his tongue up in them boys anus's anymore??? Then he said, raised up from a "commoner" to a "king"???? More in the line of self-exaltation and people worship. Isn't that in part what gave fuel to this mess? This was nothing more than worship of a man. He looks tired though, I'll give him that much.

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    2. Yeah that was a circus of the worst kind. It's stuff like that why people are leaving the church and not looking back. Furthermore, why is a jew addressing a christian church in a religious setting and being allowed to perform a jewish ceremony in a supposedly christian service?

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  15. Craig,

    Yes, I believe Jesus is God. I do not, however, believe this is John’s point here. John and other Bible writers refer to Jesus as a genuine man. This does not also mean He was not fully divine. You assumed alot in your posts. You appealed to other texts outside of John 17:5 in order to make your point about the disciples being asleep. Are they asleep at this point, Craig? 2 Cor. 8:9 and the Carmen Christi refer to the earthly humiliation of Christ and not an atemporal state. Craig, I have talked with many, many Trinitarians. John 17:5 is the key text and with all due respect just because you can feign you don’t doesn’t mean I am also subtracting the Gospel of John. Again, you are making assumptions. I gave you my interpretation above and was therefore not subtracting anything. By reading your posts I am not sure we could have a healthy conversation. It’s not even healthy now, Craig. Here are the following translations of Rev. 13:8. Notice the NRSV, NASB, KJV, LEB use “from”. The difference here is a translational preference. A.T. Robertson noted that either makes sense. “in your presence” does not rule out the fact that the death, burial, resurrection and glorification of Christ lies in the purpose and plan of God. I don’t think I’ve confused much. You are presupposing that John 17:5 is to be taken literally. In 17:5 Jesus is a real human. Did Jesus exist with the Father as a human, Craig? The connection between Father and Son in the NT is unique and is not as a father to his child. If so, then you have two gods and not one. The motif John uses is man and God. This is enough for me also. I have heard Trinitarian apologists appeal to Isaiah 48:11 and could name them but I see no need.

    NRSV | Re 13:8 and all the inhabitants of the earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slaughtered.
    ESV | Re 13:8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.
    NASB95 | Re 13:8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.
    NIV84 | Re 13:8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.
    NLT | Re 13:8 And all the people who belong to this world worshiped the beast. They are the ones whose names were not written in the Book of Life before the world was made—the Book that belongs to the Lamb who was slaughtered.
    NET | Re 13:8 and all those who live on the earth will worship the beast, everyone whose name has not been written since the foundation of the world in the book of life belonging to the Lamb who was killed.
    AV 1873 | Re 13:8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
    LEB | Re 13:8 And all those who live on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name is not written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slaughtered.

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  16. So, the Father and Son are people? Do they have arms and legs too, Craig? Are you Mormon, Craig? That's rhetoric, Craig. Much like alot of your post. In Numbers and Deuteronomy before a person was to be put to death as a murderer was to have testimony of witnesses. In the context we are speaking of human beings and not multiple persons sharing the same being as you would need. In this context, then nouns Father and Son inform our interpretation. Jesus also said that to see Him was to see the Father and that the Father was in Him. God was in Christ; God with us. Paul came to the Corinthians three times and cites that every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. Paul coming to them was a witness. In John, Jesus also talks about his miracles and teachings being a witness. So, I don’t find that argument convincing.

    I believe that the roles F, S and HS are necessary to God's plan of redemption for fallen humanity. F, S, and HS describe God's redemptive roles or works but not three separate or distinct persons in God. A.D. Urshan, an earlier OP, taught that there is a pluarlity in God’s mysterious Being” but he did not suggest they were persons either. For Urshan it was an inexplicable, incomprehensible threeness. So the F,S, HS or a 3 in 1 are not foreign to OP theology.

    Craig, please cease with the strawmen. The Father did not die on the cross. It was the Son of God who bled, suffered and died. Jesus "always lives" (Heb. 7:25) to make interecession but that doesn't mean He is NOW pleading for sinners, nor are our prayers being offered by Him in heaven. This verse means that anbody who comes to God through Christ can obtain salvation. The application of His atonememt continues. Jesus did not literally bring blood to the mercy seat of heaven nor is He literally or actually pleading and laying prostrate before the Throne for us. Heb. 10:12 says that by the death of Jesus He offered "one sacrifice for sins forever". He is now sitting on the One Throne of heaven not prostrate before. His singular sacrifice is sufficient. The same happened in Egypt when the Israelites applied the blood to the doorposts. Jesus is both God and the Lamb. He is exalted to the supreme place of the universe. He no longer prays but is the one who answers prayer.

    I like gotquestions.org too but can you please answer that question. I want to know your thoughts. A simple yes or no will suffice.

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  17. Elder Burnett, Colin Brown in the NIDNTT notes that Jn. 10:30 "should not be interpreted to mean that the oneness of Jesus with the Father consists of the joining of two persons or beings who were formerly separated. We must understand it in the light of Jn. 14:9: "He who has seen me has seen the Father." In a Christian sense no one can speak of God unless he is speaking concretely of Jesus." (New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology) B.F. and A. Wescott in Gospel According to St. John suggest that this could have reference as being "The revelation of the nature of Christ in the fulness of His double nature." (pg. 159). If Christ is saying that He and the Father are two divine persons then this was totally lost upon those who were standing by for this revelation was never repeated. This oneness Jesus claimed cannot be reduced to mere oneness in agreement or purpose as we see om John 17:20-22. If that was all Christ asserted He would not have been accused of blasphemy. The pronouns or the neuter form of one used here is not that significant IMHO. The plural verb "are" that is used here is more important in exegesis but not a conclusive one IMHO. For example, in Rev. 21:22 God and the Lamb from one subject with a singular verb so a plural verb doesn't necessarily mean more than one person. I believe John 10:30 is a claim to Deity.

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    1. JNAnderson,

      I didn't intimate that that Jn. 10:30 was referring to Jesus simply being one with God in purpose or agreement. I spoke in terms of Nature and essence distinguishing the difference between it and his ontology or being.

      Further, I have rendered a proof, that Jesus claimed to be IN the Father and that the Father was IN him. However Christ is also IN us as believers and we are IN Christ, but ontologically we are not ever Christ neither in deed will we ever be. Nor will he become us. These terms indicate relationship and communicability with, not the necessity of constituting the same ontological metaphysical or metaspiritual being which i believe is the fault of oneness theology.

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  18. Hi there Pastor Harvey!
    I heard Obama say that Jakes was a pastor he listened to and wondered if you had anything to say about that or Obama using the words of Jesus (out of context) for political gain.

    This was an interesting discussion on the false teacher Jakes. I was reminded of a paper I read by a well-known atheist that concluded:

    ""In precisely this way literature, by refusing to assign a "secret", an ultimate meaning, to the text (and to the world as text), liberates what may be called an anti-theological activity, an activity that is truly revolutionary since to refuse to fix meaning is, in the end, to refuse God..."
    ~Roland Barthes

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    1. What's happening Laura??? Glad to see you (hear from you or read from you-LOL).

      Yes, I was looking at President Obama flip flop on the "Christian Nation" and whole spirituality move. He has a trail of anti-Christian statements regarding America, even claiming that we ARE NOT a Christian nation, but a nation of all religions. He espouses religious pluralism as I have documented on this blog. In fact he has policies that are vastly opposite Christian teaching and biblical morality. Now he says that we ARE a Christian nation...Why? Because his first stops for reelection is to shore up his relationship with the black church in particular. AME, CME, COGIC, NBC, NPBC, PAW, UPC...everyone you can name will be courted under the guise of the "Lord's will"...The thing I can't stand is that people like this, that do this, think that everyone is so stupid that we can;t see it...I didn't graduate from Harvard but I do have good sense and too much common sense to be deceived by these little ploys. I've placed more information regarding this In This Post. That's a good discussion I welcome to have there.

      Thanks and great to hear from you again.

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  19. Good to chat with you too. I come by and read often. Haven't done much posting other than correcting misinformation about God and the Bible on Yahoo Answers R&S.

    I hope you are right about all of us not being that stupid. I worry sometimes and have little faith in those that don't care to keep up with events but can still vote.

    Obama got a pass from the media when he quoted the passage spoken by Jesus "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required" (Luke 12:48). Jesus was speaking of what we will be found doing at His return. By no stretch of the imagination could we make this passage mean that the One doing the "requiring" is the US government!

    I don't look forward to more class warfare that's to come. I think it's a sin - promoting envy for political gain. It may split this country in two.

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