In 1995/1996 Investigator hosted a debate on the unity/trinity of God. The invitation, acceptance, debate and aftermath comprised 19 items totalling 22,500 words:
 
 
1 Debate [Invitation]  Editor  #30   1993 May
2 Combatants Line Up Editor #33   1993 November
3 Christadelphians B M Johns #35   1994 March
4 Debate Near & Advertisement
#40   1995 January
5 Debate [Introduction] Editor #42   1995 May
6 Examining the Bible on the Trinity… Anonymous   "         "       "
7 Do The Scriptures Teach…A Trinity? J Hutchinson   "         "       "
8 Christadelphian Teaching… J Luke   "         "       "
9 The Trinity J F Coffey   "         "        "
10 Bible Versus Trinity H J Ossa   "         "        "
11 Trinity Debate R Rawe #44    1995 September
12 Reply to Mr Luke J Hutchinson #45    1995 November
13 Christadelphian Teaching… J Luke   "          "        "
14 Christadelphians Give Up J Luke  #47     1996 March
15 Christadelphians Refuse Round 3 B Johns #48     1996 May
16 Reply to Bruce Johns J Hutchinson #49    1996 July
17 Jesus Christ or John Thomas? J Hutchinson   "          "       "
18 Sonship and Oneness E & M Gordon   "          "       "
19 Christadelphians  B Stett  #51    1996 November

 
See also the website:    www.trutheternal.org




DEBATE

(Investigator 30, 1993 May)


Can you help INVESTIGATOR find volunteers for a debate?

The editors of Investigator Magazine want to arrange a debate on whether the Bible teaches the Unity or Trinity of God.

The conditions we propose for the debate are:

It will be a three-way debate between:

    A.     A person of Unitarian belief;
    B.     A person of Trinitarian belief;
    C.     A person who professes to be neutral.
     
  1. Persons "A" and "B" should be members of a Church – so as to be able to represent the Church. We don't want someone who's been excommunicated. For person "A" we prefer a Christadelphian if we can get one.
  2. The Bible to be used is the RSV. If a critical verse is alleged to be mistranslated then other versions may be cited.
  3. In Round One each person shall state his case in under 2,000 words. As far as this constraint allows verses should be quoted or summarized rather than merely referred to.
  4. Round One shall be published in INVESTIGATOR. Round Two may then be prepared in which the debaters reply to each other. This should be under 1,500 words and will also be published.
  5. Whether or not anything more on the topic will be published after Round Two will be up to the discretion of the Editors.
  6. If the Editors feel that any editing is necessary during the debate the debater will be consulted prior to the alteration being published.





COMBATANTS LINE UP

(Investigator 33, 1993 November)


Potential debaters for Investigator's proposed theology debate are appearing.

A Catholic and a Baptist plus three neutrals have offered. A unitarian proponent is still lacking…

 
John Francis Coffey
East Preston,
Victoria, 3072
September 19, 1993

Mr. B. Stett

Dear Bernhard,

Greetings! I have included a manuscript with this letter. I read your notice in INVESTIGATOR #30 re a possible debate on the Trinity. It did not do much for me at the time and the reasons will be obvious when you read the opening paragraphs of the manuscript. I dismissed the invitation from my mind, and it was not until I received a copy of the letter our mutual friend in Canada sent you that I gave any further thought to the idea.

My article runs to approximately 2000 words, and if you have not already had any response from the Trinitarian side to enter into the debate, you might be interested in my approach.

As a person in the "B" category of your first condition, I state that I am a Roman Catholic, and I believe I am able to articulate the doctrine of the Trinity in a way that is totally in conformity to the Church's official teaching on the subject. I have had more than thirty or forty articles published in Catholic newspapers and magazines over the years, as well as pamphlets and a book. My main interest is in Catholic history and doctrine, and to make doctrines more understandable to the ordinary person with little religious background.

If you feel that my article is suitable for your proposed debate you are welcome to use it, and I am prepared to take part in Round Two if called upon to do so.

Yours Sincerely,

John Francis Coffey






 

CHRISTADELPHIANS

(Investigator 35, 1994 March)

 
The Christadelphians have accepted a debate in INVESTIGATOR about what the Bible teaches about the unity or trinity of God. (See Investigator 33 pp. 50-51)

 
P.O. Box 36
Daw Park 5041
November 9, 1993

The Investigator Magazine.

Dear Editor,

Thank you for the offer of involvement in the debate in the pages of 'the Investigator' on the Trinity. We do have a concern about your offer. You requested that we defend the Unitarian position. The Unitarian view is that Jesus was the son of Joseph. This is not our view – we believe that Jesus was the son of God and the son of Mary but not part of a Triune God, not "God the Son". We are very happy to explain this viewpoint supported by Scripture. Our preference is to use the Authorised Version.

The other considerations of the debate are accepted. Please confirm that you wish us to defend our view.

Yours faithfully,,

B M Johns
President





 
 
TRINITY DEBATE NEAR

(Investigator 40, 1995 January)

Some time ago INVESTIGATOR offered to host a debate on what the Bible teaches about the unity or trinity of God. (Investigator 31; 33; 35)

Items have now been received from:

1. Mr Coffey (Roman Catholic)
2. J Luke (Christadelphian)
3. "Anonymous" (A non-aligned Bible investigator)
4. Mr Ossa (An independent Bible student)

An article by a Baptist is still being awaited.

The Christadelphians were founded by John Thomas (1905-1871). John Thomas left the Disciples of Christ in 1844 and concluded that all Christian churches had apostatized from at least some of the teachings of the early Church. The name "Christadelphian" (Brothers of Christ) was selected in 1864.

The Christadelphians are noted for their eagerness to defend their beliefs in debate. The item below appeared in The Advertiser (Adelaide) and is used with permission.


(Retyped)

WHAT IS TRUTH?
The Bible Challenges Church Teaching
  • In the Advertiser 20/3/93 a statement was issued by a group of nine Christian churches. It contained the "TRUTHS OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH".
    • Whilst they may be the "Truths of the Christian Faith", they most certainly are not the TRUTHS OF GOD'S WORD, the Bible.
    • The eight statements contained not one Bible quotation as proof.

    •  

       

      THE CHRISTADELPHLANS wish to direct your attention to the Bible, the only basis upon which a faith in God can be based.

       
      A CHALLENGE TO DEBATE

      The claims of these religious organisations are false and the CHRISTADELPHIANS offer to publicly debate the issues.

      The Christian faith teaches: "Jesus Christ is equal with God and part of a trinity of God the father, God the son and God the Holy Spirit".
      BIBLE TRUTH: God is the Father, Jesus Christ is his son and the holy spirit is God's power. "There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (1 Timothy 2:5). "Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs which God did
      by him...whom God raised up" (Acts 2:22-24).

      The Christian faith teaches: "The Holy Spirit is real and is an important part of the trinity."
      BIBLE TRUTH: The word "holy" means separate, whilst the word "spirit" means power. The holy spirit was God's power used in various forms. "The holy spirit shall upon thee (Mary) and the power of the highest shall overshadow thee: therefore that holy thing that is born of thee shall be called the son of God" (Luke 1:35).

      The Christian faith teaches: "The Devil (Satan) is real and very much alive".
      BIBLE TRUTH: The "Devil" is a Bible term for sin, and it originates in the mind. Jesus told his disciples sin and evil comes "from within, out of the heart (mind) of men" (Mark 7:21). Paul says "Sin dwelleth in me" (Romans 7:17).

      The Christian faith teaches: "Heaven is the eternal home of believers".
      BIBLE TRUTH: God's eternal inheritance for men and women is on the earth. "No man hath ascended up to heaven" (John 3:13). "David is not ascended into the heavens" (Acts 2:34). "We shall reign on earth" (Revelation 5:10).

      The Christian faith teaches: "Eternal hell fire is the punishment for the wicked".
      BIBLE TRUTH: Hell is another term for the grave. "In death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?" (Psalm 6:5).

      The Christian faith teaches: "Jesus died as a substitute for us".
      BIBLE TRUTH: Jesus Christ died as a representative for us, and by his example showed how we can gain salvation. "Jesus Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow his steps" (1 Peter 2:21).

      The Christian faith teaches: "All that believe and trust in Christ have total present and personal relief from the guilt and burden of sin".
      BIBLE TRUTH: Eternal salvation, and change of nature, will be granted by Christ following his return to the earth, the resurrection of the dead and the judgment. Paul whose belief and trust in Christ could not be questioned said: "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (Romans 7:24). He answered by declaring: "there is a crown of righteousness which the Lord will give me at that day (his return)" (2 Timothy 4:8)






    DEBATE

    (Investigator 42, 1995 May)


    Some time ago INVESTIGATOR editors offered to host a debate on what the Bible teaches about the Unity/Trinity of God. (Investigator 31 p.51)

    The original proposal was for a two-round debate between three persons – a Christadelphian, a Trinitarian and a neutral person. However, several others have joined in.

    The debaters are:

    1. "Anonymous": A non-alligned investigator of the Bible.

    2. John Hutchinson: Baptist lay preacher in fellowship with the Victor Harbour Baptist Church. By profession a shearer, and currently the Senior Shearing Coach for South Australia.

    3. Mr Luke: A Christadelphian.

    4. John Coffey: Roman Catholic. Author of The Gospel According to Jehovah's Witnesses.

    5. Hans Ossa: Independent Bible student. Manages a Clinic of Alternative Therapies at Glenelg (Adelaide). A report about Mr Ossa appeared in Investigator 12.

    "Anonymous" contributed the longest article but expects to drop out with Round 1. He reasons: "To argue further would result either in supporting one side or the other and so no longer being neutral or in making the Bible seem to teach two incompatible doctrines."

    For Round 1 all contributors wrote without knowledge of each other and without seeing each other's work.

    It's anticipated that Round 2 will be principally between Mr Luke and Mr Hutchinson.

    ED.



     
    EXAMINING THE BIBLE
    ON THE TRINITY DEBATE

    Anonymous

    (Investigator 42, 1995 May)

     

    INTRODUCTION

    For the purpose of this article I'll assume that the Bible is self consistent – that disagreements between denominations indicate lack of understanding by them rather than contradiction in the Bible. I'll consider what it says about God's unity or trinity.

    UNITARIANS. A Unitarian in the sense I will use the word is one who asserts the unity of God as opposed to the Trinity and ascribes ultimate divinity only to God the Father. Several denominations which can be traced back to the 16th century call themselves "Unitarian". However, I'll use the word in a wider sense to include Arius, Christadelphians, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc.

    Some famous Unitarians included
    Ochino (1487-1564);
    Servetus (1511-1553);
    Socinus (1525-1562);
    Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727).

    In the 19th century historians F C Baur and Adolf von Harnack tried to show that the Trinity doctrine resulted from the "Hellenization of the Gospel".

    In the 1970s theologian Hans Kung seemed to challenge the "orthodox" doctrine of the Trinity. (Time magazine 1978 Feb. 27) Other theologians such as Robinson (1973) and also philosophers including John Hick (1977) issued challenges against the Trinity doctrine.

    When I discuss actual Scripture below, the pro-Unitarian arguments will not all come from any one Unitarian group. Some groups may therefore disagree with some of my comments.


    CURRENT UNORTHODOX TRINITIES

    "Orthodox" Trinitarians reject the Mormon version of the Trinity because Mormons seem to regard God the Father as an exalted Man:

    "The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of spirit." (Doctrine & Covenants 132:22).


    More acceptable than the Mormon version but still not quite orthodox is the version of Witness Lee – a Korean who founded a sect called The Local Church. Theologian J Sparks (1979) explains:

    "Lee teaches that Jesus Christ had two natures. One was human and the other divine. But at this point, Lee's agreement with the historic church comes to a screeching halt. Be insists that those two natures, the divine and the human, ware mingled in such a union in Christ that both natures ceased to have their own unique identity. There was no longer a divine nature that was only divine. And the human nature of Christ was no longer just human. Lee's exact words are... 'so the human nature was added to the divine nature of Christ and the once separated natures have become one.' In plain and simple English what that means is that there is no longer a God who is just God. The very basic nature and essence of God's being has been altered eternally. He hasn't become a man, but He has mingled human nature with His divine nature. He in neither God nor man but God-man."


    DEFINITIONS

    Orthodox Trinitarians present detailed explanations and creeds to make the doctrine understandable. However, certain words used in the explanations are themselves perplexing. The present writer, for example, has been unable to find definitions of the theological meanings of the words "essence", "nature" and "substance".

    Christ and the Father are said to be "consubstantial"–of the "same substance". The NEW DICTIONARY of THEOLOGY says "Of one substance" and "of the same substance".

    One problem is that God in also said to be non physical – "God is spirit" the Bible says – and therefore presumably is not composed of a "substance". Also in what sense is the word "same" used? The water in a cup could be the "same substance" as the water in another cup in the sense that both lots of water have the same chemical formula H20. However the two lots of water are different substances in the sense of being in different locations.
     
     

    MAN

    Trinitarians and Unitarians do not debate whether Jesus was a man when he lived on Earth. The Bible shows Jesus as human. He was born, had hands and feet and body, grew in wisdom and stature, talked, ate, drank, grew tired, slept, wept, prayed, bled and died. He felt sorrow, anger, joy, temptation, etc. The Bible directly calls him a "man" and refers to his body, bones and flesh.
    (John 1:14; 19:36; Colossians 1:22; Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 4:2; 1 Timothy 2:5).

    The debate between Trinitarians and Unitarians is over the questions:
    "In Jesus Christ fully God?"
    "In what sense is Jesus Christ God?"
    "Who/what is the Holy Spirit?"


    1 = 3

    Trinitarians highlight verses that mention Father, Son and Holy Spirit together. These include: Matthew 3:1617; 28:19; Luke 1:35; 1 Corinthians 12:4-6; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Galatians 4:4-6; Ephesians 4:4-6; Hebrews 9:14; 1 Peter 1:2.

    The main verses employed by Trinitarians include:
    Isaiah 9:6; Matthew 1:23; John 1:1-3; 2:19-22; 5:18, 23; 8:58; 10:30; 14:7-11, 26; 15:26; 16:12-14; 20:28; Acts 5:3-4; 20:28; Romans 9:5; Philippians 2:6; Colossians 1:15-20; 2:9; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 1:6, 8; 1 John 5:20; Revelation 1:8, 17 and 22:13 compared with Isaiah 44:6; 48:12.


    1 = 1

    Scriptures used by Unitarians include:
    Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:29-32; Zechariah 14:9; Malachi 2:10; John 14:28; 17:1-3; Acts 4:23-27; Romans 1:23; 1 Corinthians 8:4-6; 11:3; 15:28; Colossians 1:16-20; Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34; 2 Corinthians 11:31; Ephesians 1:3, 17; Colossians 1:3; Hebrews 10:7; Revelation 3:12; 5:6-10; 20:6; 2 John 3.
     
     

    FAILURES

    The two preceding lists constitute the strongest and most direct Bible evidence for each side. Before we consider how each might answer the other let's reveal some Trinitarian arguments of the past which failed.

    Some statements in the New Testament are spurious which means they were added by copyists after the death of the original writer. Examples include 1 John 5: 7; Revelation 1:11. Modern translations of the Bible therefore differ to the King James in these instances. Also in 1 Timothy 3:16 "God was manifest in the flesh" the word "God" should read "He".

    Sometimes the exact translation of a phrase is in doubt. Titus 2:13 is often translated: "the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ." This makes it seem that Jesus is the "great God". The Greek, however, can also be translated: "of the great God and of our Saviour Jesus Christ." This now gives the impression that two separate and distinct individuals are meant.

    In the Old Testament the word for "God" is usually "Elohim" which is plural and literally means "Gods". In "You shall love the Lord your God" (Deuteronomy 6:5) "God" is actually "Elohim" and so means "Gods". "Elohim" occurs over 2,000 times in the Old Testament! Trinitarians used to (and many still do) claim that the plural implied that God is a Trinity.

    It is almost certain, however, that the plural denotes excellence and power – not trinity. Other Gods are also called "Elohim" including Dagon (1 Samuel 5:7; Baal (Judges 8:33); Chemosh (Judges 11:24); Misroch (2 Kings 19:37); Ashtoreth (1 Kings 11:5; Milcom (1 Kings 11:33)

    Even Moses and the judges of Israel ware called "Elohim". (Exodus 7:1; John 10:34-35; Psalm 82) Clearly "elohim" does not mean "trinity".
     
     

    DEBATE

    Let's see how Trinitarians and Unitarians might answer some of each other's arguments. We'll consider a few of the scriptures listed under the "3 =1" and "l = 1" subheadings.

    "The Lord our God is one Lord" (Deuteronomy 6:4).
    The Unitarian says that this verse clearly teaches that "God is one" and not "God is three". The Trinitarian explains that "one" often denotes compound unity. A people can be "one people" and yet consist of many individuals. (Genesis 11:6; 34:16) A cluster of grapes is one cluster but has many grapes. (Numbers 13:23)

    "The Father is greater than I." (John 14:28)
    The Trinitarian explains that there is an authority structure within the Triune God. The three members of the Godhead are not necessarily equal in every sense. Alternatively, the Trinitarian might argue that the Father being "greater" applied to when Jesus lived on Earth.

    "God said, I Behold, the man has become like one of us..." (Genesis 3:22; 1:26; 11:7)
    "Us" implies "Trinity" argues the Trinitarian. The Unitarian might answer that the Father had a helper during the Creation–possibly Jesus in a pre-human, god-like, existence. (John 1:2-3) Genesis also says that God made man "in our (plural) image" but created two sexes, male and female, not three. Possibly "us" and "our" (the plural) is used to agree with "Elohim" which is also plural–the explanation thus lies in grammar and not doctrine!

    "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God." (John 1:1-2)
    Trinitarians often think that this verse clinches the debate in their favour. Unitarians point out that the word "with" in "the Word was with God" shows that two separate individuals are referred to. The Jehovah's Witness Bible translates the crucial phrase as "the Word was a God". Much debate rages around whether Greek grammar has a rule by which the "a" can be added. (The Watchtower 1975 p. 702; 1977 p. 319; Sire 1980)

    Another, simpler, Unitarian response is to ask: "In what sense is Jesus God?"
    Consider the words "am" and "is" which are forms of "was" in the present tense. David wrote: "I am a worm and not a man." (Psalm 22:6) "This is my blood", said Jesus as he passed a cup of wine to his Apostles. David obviously was not a literal worm and we must therefore ask: "In what sense, or in what way, was David a worm or wormlike?" Similarly, since Jesus called the Father "the only true God" (John 17:3) the phrase "the Word (Jesus) was God" must mean he was God in some special sense – and not necessarily in a Trinitarian sense.

    A similar approach is Harner (1973) who argued: "Perhaps the clause could be translated, 'the word had the same nature an God.'"

    Benson (1970) wrote that: "The Son is God." Benson cited Hebrews 1:8 which refers to Jesus and reads "Thy throne O God is forever..." The J W replies by citing his own Bible which translates Hebrews 1:8 as "God is your (Jesus') throne" thus getting around the problem of Jesus being called "God".

    Instead of retranslating the verse, an alternative is to go to Psalm 45 from which Hebrews 1:8 is quoted. In Psalm 45 the person spoken of as "God" is King David! Hebrews quotes Psalm 45 because Jesus is said to have a similar role and position as King David. David, although called "God" is certainly not a member of a Triune God! Probably the title "God" is applied to David to indicate him as God's (Yahweh's) representative and therefore David's actions were indirectly God's actions. Similarly with Jesus–he is to be regarded as God's representative and Jesus' activities therefore count as if God had done them!

    "My Lord and my God!" exclaimed the Apostle Thomas on meeting Jesus after the resurrection. (John 20:28)

    "Why is Jesus called 'God' if the Bible writers did not regard him an God?" Trinitarians ask. The Unitarian responds that Jesus is called "God" in the New Testament because:

    (a) Jesus represented God;
    (b) Jesus is said to be in "God's image" (Hebrews 1:3; Colossians 1:15);
    (c) Through Jesus God the Father revealed himself as fully in human flesh as he possibly could. Moses was similarly called "God" because he was appointed to speak on God's behalf. (Exodus 7:1) Similarly the Bible teaches that angels appeared to humans on occasion and such angels would declare: "I am God." (Acts 7:38, 53; Compare Genesis 32:24-30 with Hosea, 12:4) This meant that the angel was acting and speaking directly on God Almighty's behalf.

    The reader probably realizes by now that the debate can become quite complicated. I'll leave this part of it now and move on to other aspects.
     
     

    HOLY SPIRIT

    What, according to the Bible, is the Holy Spirit? Trinitarians claim that "He" is the third member of the Trinity. Unitarians usually call "it" a "force" or "influence".

    We read in Matthew 28:19, "In the name of the rather and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

    Unitarians sometimes compare the word "name" in this instance with the phrase "in the name of the law". No actual name in implied. The NEW DICTIONARY OF THEOLOGY seems to support this approach by explaining that "in the name of" is a Semitic expression which signifies "with respect to". (p. 70)

    Unitarians point to literal translations of John 14:17 which refer to the Spirit as "it". (e.g. The Emphasized Bible 1959) Trinitarians point to John 16:7, 13 where the Spirit in called "Advocate" or "Helper" and referred to as "he". About a dozen Bible verses refer to the Spirit as "it", "which" or "that" and several refer to the Spirit as "he".

    These pronouns, however, prove nothing one way or the other. In many languages, including Greek, all nouns have a gender and may be Masculine, Feminine or Neuter. A pronoun must agree with the noun it stands for. The word "spirit" happens to be Neuter and therefore the pronouns used in place of the word "spirit" must also be Neuter and so if the translation is literal the pronoun used is "it". "Advocate" happens to be Masculine and so the pronoun used in place of "advocate" is "he".

    Unitarians point to verses which describe the Spirit as distributed in various amounts. The Spirit can also "fill" people and be "poured out". There are about 20 Bible verses using such expressions.

    Trinitarians hit back with about 60 verses that indicate "personality" in the Spirit. The Spirit "speaks", "reveals", "teaches", "dwells", "searches", "knows", "wills" and can "grieve". Unitarians explain some such expressions as figures of speech including personification.

    The "definite article" – the word "the" – may or may not be used with the word "Spirit". Sometimes "the" is used twice and we get expressions (in the Greek) such as "the Spirit the Holy". English translations of such phrases always omit one of the definite articles and in the English we read "the Holy Spirit". Unitarians sometimes argue that when "Spirit" occurs without the definite article then the word refers to a force or influence. When "the" is present with the word "Spirit" then God the Father is meant.

    In Acts 5:3 "lie to the Holy Spirit" the definite article is present and so "Holy Spirit" refers to God. In Ephesians 5:18 "be filled with spirit" the definite article is absent and so "spirit" refers to a force or influence from God.


    JEHOVAH

    "Jehovah" ("Yahweh" in Hebrew) is a Bible designation for God Almighty. If we could show from the Bible that Jesus is Jehovah that would then mean that Jesus is (according to the Bible) God Almighty and therefore a member of a Duality, Trinity or God-Family.

    One procedure is to study New Testament quotations from the Old Testament – which I won't do now.

    Another procedure is to make a list of titles applied to Jesus and/or to Jehovah and compare them.

    Many titles are common to both Jehovah and Jesus – "judge", "mighty God", "King", "King of kings", "saviour", etc. Unitarians account for titles held in common by the principles of Christ being in "the image of God" and Christ being appointed by the Father to act on the Father's behalf. Unitarians then point to titles limited to one or the other–to Jehovah only or to Christ only.

    Jesus, for example, is called "son of God", "word of God", "Christ", etc. Jehovah is called "Almighty", "God of gods", "Most High", "Lord of Lords", etc.
     
     

    INDIRECT ARGUMENTS

    A number of secondary debates are relevant to the Unitarian/Trinitarian conflict.

    "Michael" is called "Archangel" in the Bible. If we could demonstrate that Michael is a name for Jesus and thus show Jesus to be an "Archangel" it would win the Unity/Trinity debate for the Unitarians–since of course by definition God Almighty cannot be an angel or even an "archangel". Jehovah's Witnesses try this approach.

    A similar approach is to argue that Jesus after his resurrection is an "angel". Scriptures used include Revelation 20:1-3; 9:11.

    Hebrews 1:13, however, suggests that Jesus is not an "angel":

    "But to what angel has he ever said, 'Sit at my right hand…?'"


    A Jehovah's Witness might respond that the word "other" could here be implied and it could read: "But to what other angel…?"

    He can back up this argument with about 30 scriptures where context indicates that "other" is implied. For example in Acts 5:29 we read "Peter and the Apostles…" This phrase by itself suggests that Peter was not an Apostle. Yet elsewhere the Bible is clear that Peter was indeed an Apostle. The phrase in Acts 5:29 can be clarified in meaning by adding "other" thus giving "Peter and the other Apostles".

    The weakness in all this is that no-where is Jesus directly and simply called an "angel"!

    A further debate is whether the Bible allows for prayer to Jesus. If so then this might suggest that Jesus is God Almighty. If not then that would count against him being God. The crucial verse in Acts 7:59.

    Did Jesus pro-exist? Christadelphians say "no."  If they could demonstrate this scripturally the Trinity doctrine would obviously be false. The Bible, however, seems to teach that Jesus did pre-exist.
    (John 1:1, 10, 14; 3:13; 8:56-58; 17:5, 24; Philippians 2:5-8; Colossians 1:16)

    Unitarians can point to hundreds of passages where Jesus seems a separate individual from God. For example God was in heaven when Jesus was on Earth. Jesus obeyed God, prayed to God, loved God, etc. He is in the "image of God", sent by God, is the "son of God". We read, repeatedly, of "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus…"

    Some Trinitarians argue:

    "God is love. God does not change. Therefore God has always had love. Love can only exist if another person exists to whom love can be expressed. Therefore God had at least one partner in past eternity."


    This line of reasoning is weak. We see the weakness if we start off "God hates evil." We then end with God having an eternal evil partner!

    Unitarians argue that the Trinity is a Pagan concept. They support this by pointing to various trinities in Asiatic religions. The Christian Trinitarian replies that such Pagan Trinities are unrelated to the Christian and that Satan invented them to mock the true Triune God.


    KNOW GOD

    Could we potentially "know God" – if the Bible is right and there is a God to be known – without knowing whether he in unity, duality or trinity?

    This question is important because Jesus connected "life eternal" to "knowing God". (John 17:3)

    Jehovah's Witnesses state bluntly: "We worship what we know." (The Watchtower 1984 Feb. 1 p.7; August 15 p. 28)

    They connect this claim with denial of God as a Trinity. Are they right? Must our conclusion about God's unity or trinity be correct before we can "know" Him?

    If we meet someone many times, talk with them, confide experiences, exchange ideas then we "know" the person. A wife "knows" her husband. A child at school "knows" his school friends. A parent "knows" his children. You might even "know" the bus driver although exchanging little more than greetings.

    What probably none of these people know is the discovery of psychologists that the left and right sides of the brain can function independently. This is confirmed by studying people who had the corpus callosum – the bundle of nerves connecting the two hemispheres – cut through:

    "taken together, our studies seem to demonstrate conclusively that in a split-brain situation we are really dealing with two brains, each separately capable of mental functions of a high order. Separation of the hemispheres creates two independent spheres of consciousness within a single cranium…" (Gazaniga 1967)

    Each human being is therefore in a sense two persons. We might even count the interaction effect of the two "spheres of consciousness" as a third "person". Not many people know these things about each other and yet such people still claim to "know" their friends, neighbours, parents, etc. I think that "knowing God" is likewise independent of being sure whether he is unity, duality, trinity or some combination of these.
     

    Aldwinkle, R T 1976 More Than Man,  Eardmans.
    Benson, C H 1970 The Triune God, Evangelical Teacher Training Association
    Carey, G 1977 God Incarnate, Inter-Varsity Britain
    Christie-Murray D 1976 History of Heresy, New English Library Britain
    Douglas, J D et al (eds) 1982 New Bible Dictionary, Second Edition Intervarsity Britain
    Gazaniga, M S 1967 August Scientific American, Volume 217 No. 2 pp. 24-29
    Harner, P 1973 Journal of Biblical Literature, Volume 92
    Hick, J (Ed) 1977 The Myth of God Incarnate, SCM
    Hook, N 1968 Christ in the Twentieth Century, Lutterworth Press.
    Howard, G 1977 Journal of Biblical Literature, Volume 96 No.1 pp. 63-83
    Livingstone, E A 1977 The Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, Oxford University Press Britain
    Marshall, I H 1976 The Origins of New Testament, Christology Intervarsity
    McIntyre, J 1966 The Shape of Christology, SCH
    Ornstein, R E (Ed) 1973 The Nature of Human Consciousness, Freeman USA.
    Pittenger, N 1970 Christology Reconsidered, BCH Britain
    Robinson, J A 1973 The Human Face of God, SCM
    Rotherham, J B 1959 The Emphasized Bible, Kregel USA.
    Sire, J W 1980 Scripture Twisting, Inter Varsity USA pp. 161-163, 177
    Sparks, J 1979 The Mindbenders, Nelson USA
    The Bible 1952 Revised Standard Version, Collins Britain
    The Holy Bible n.d. The Authorized Version of 1611, Bagster & Son Britain
    Trinitarian Bible Society n.d. The Holy Trinity, London. England
    Wigram, G V n.d. Englishman's Greek Concordance of the New Testament, Ninth Edition Bagster & Sons Britain.
    Wigram, G V n.d. Englishman's Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance of the Old Testament, Bagster and Sons Britain.
     
     




     

    DO THE SCRIPTURES TEACH THE
    EXISTENCE OF A TRINITY?

    John Hutchinson

    (Investigator 42, 1995 May)


    Thank you for inviting me to this subject. Over the years I have aired various issues with Christadelphians. I refer to their assertion: 'It is very difficult to rid our minds of bias, but it is necessary if we would find the truth' (Who is Jesus Christ? p. 15). I ask that you follow that and get bias out of your mind and seek God's Truth.

    I respond because at the age of 14 I accepted Christ as my personal saviour, and became a new creation in Christ. I experienced what Paul meant when he said "If any man is in Christ he is a new creature, old things have passed away and behold, all things have become new!" 2 Cor. 5: 17. I was 'born again', and became a partaker in the divine nature. All things, for me, became new in Christ.

    Following the exciting experience of sins forgiven, a Christadelphian assailed my beliefs, asserting that I was astray, Churches were all false, and Christadelphians, alone, were right.

    The Trinity has many assailants:- Hindu, Islam, Bahai, Watchtower, Christadelphian, Church of God, etc.

    Attempting to rationalise the Almighty generates many distortions. We will identify Bible Truth relating to the incomprehensible Deity.


    Five Truths

    Truth No. 1: GOD IS ETERNAL. 'The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth!' Isaiah 40:28. The eternal God (Elohim) is your refuge and underneath are everlasting arms!' Deut. 33:27. Elohim is eternal. He inhabits eternity, Isaiah 57:5.

    Truth No. 2: GOD IS UNCHANGING. God is what he has ever been and will forever be. He is eternally the same. 'I am The Lord, I change not', Malachi 3:6. 'I Am what I Am' Ex. 3:14 (I will be what I will be - Margin). 'For he that cometh to God must believe that he is', Heb. 11:6 - God 'IS'. Truth and error draw swords here. Error insists that God becomes, which opens a floodgate of speculation. Pagan religious have Gods begetting Gods etc. Truth stands fast. God 'is'. HE doesn't 'become' something that He isn't now. He does not mutate or multiply! 'I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God', Isaiah 44:6. 'I am who I am.' 'I am the Lord I change not.'

    Truth No. 3: GOD CREATES. 'I am the Lord, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself ', Isaiah 44:24. God didn't employ sub-creators or angels to do his works as was suggested by Plato. Creation exhibits omnipotence. God spoke and it was so. 2 Pet. 3:5; Heb. 1:3.

    Truth No. 4: GOD IS HOLY. 'Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.' Isaiah 6:3. God's holiness is underived and absolute, I Sam. 2:2. He is 'the Holy One', Isaiah 40:25.

    Truth No. 5: GOD IS ONE. 'There is no God but one. For although there may be so called gods in heaven (Acts 7:42) and on earth - as indeed there are many 'gods' and many lords' - yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and one Lord Jesus Christ; through whom are all things.' I Cor. 8:4-6

    There is ONE, ETERNAL, UNCHANGING GOD Who created all things.
     

    Trinity

    Jesus said, 'All authority in heaven and earth has been given unto me. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.', Matthew 28:18. This text is significant, for in a singular name there are three persons and in Scripture each possesses the attributes of Deity. Notice how they are attributed to the Lord Jesus.

    Jesus is eternal. Not only do we read of the eternal Father and the eternal Spirit (Heb. 9:14), but also of that eternal life which was with the Father in the beginning.', I John 1:1-2.

    Jesus is unchanging. 'But thou art the same, and your years fail not', Heb. 1:12. 'Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and forever', Heb. 13:8.

    Jesus is the Creator. (Heb. 1:10) - 'Thou Lord didst found the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of Thy hands'. The Greek for 'earth' here is 'Ghay'–meaning 'soil' or 'solid earth.' The phrase, 'In the beginning' recalls Gen 1:1.

    Jesus is Holy. The seraphim encircling God's throne never stop saying, 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.', Rev. 4:8. In the N.T. Jesus is 'The Holy One.', Luke 1:35; Acts 2:27. John Thomas, incidentally, describes Jesus as 'filthy'. Eureka Vol. 5, p. 305. The Bible declares him 'Holy' – even in conception! – Luke 1:35.

    Father, Son and Spirit are absolute holiness. The three holy's of the seraphim are even more significant than their three sets of wings. 'Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory.' – Isaiah 6:3. Plurality in unity appears in verse 8: 'Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts'–Trinity in Unity!

    'Baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.'


    John Thomas' teachings

    What, then, do Christadelphians teach? John Thomas postulated a solitary Deity – totally alone for a past eternity. An isolate being forever past!! Isolation destroys personality. Who can survive 50 years alone?

    "Gods": Fasten your seat belt now for what's next. A Deity 'isolate' becomes "Gods" uncountable – millions of gods who create the universe. He speculates that these gods were once 'animal' like creatures of other spheres, Elpis Israel, p. 187. For John Thomas, there is a process of 'becoming' God and, according to him, Jesus has already progressed to "Godhood".


    Consubstantial

    In Eureka Vol. 5, page 306, Thomas says that Christ was instantaneously changed to 'consubstantiality' to the Father:

    'We learn from the Bible that the Deity it reveals has both body and parts, – Jesus is the peculiar nature of the hypostasis or substance of the Theos (Heb. 1:3) In other words, he partakes of the Divine Nature; so that what he now is, is what the Deity has always been.' – Eureka, Vol. 1, p.95.

    Dr. Thomas must be followed closely around his theological roundabout or we may miss his road. Think carefully about what these quotes imply:


    It's no surprise, then, that Christadelphians deny that they are Unitarian – This is polytheism!

    Christadelphian philosophy is that 'God' becomes 'Gods' and humans become God. Animal beings of other spheres becoming God rankles of Mormonism. Thomas actually postulates that we were created by beings who were once animal and fleshly from other regions.

    Questions are, 'Who is supposed then to have created the fleshly beings that created us?' 'In what ways is Christ distinguished from the 'pre-creation' gods? – or the post resurrection gods?' 'What is meant by the unscriptural term  – "The Multitudinous Christ?"'
     

    Plato

    The idea of sub-creators derives from Platonic and Gnostic sources and finds no place in scripture. Christadelphian author, Alan Eyre, writes of John Thomas: 'But the writings of his formative period - show close and accurate familiarity with Plato and other Greek writers.' (The Protesters, page 186).
     

    Creator!

    Let the unbiased compare Scripture.
    'I am the Lord that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself.'-Isaiah 44:24.
    'Hath not one God created us?'-Mal. 2:10. 'Where was thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?'-Job 38:4.
    'The Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.' - Rom 1:25.

    Thomas writes: '–and He is the Springhead of many streams, or rivers of spirit which assume "organic forms" – each one is a God in the sense of partaking of the DIVINE NATURE, and being therefore a Son of God.' – Phanerosis, p. 62.
    Alert readers will recognise affinities with Hinduism here. Also compare Plato: 'Ye Gods, those gods whose maker I am and those works whose father I am, being created by me are indissoluble without my consent.' – Timaeus, p. 56.
     

    God's Name

    'Go–and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the son, and of the Holy Spirit.' 'IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER'. 'O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!' Psalm 8:1.

    'AND OF THE SON'
    'Far above all principality and power, and might and every name that is named.' Ephesians 1:21.
    'Wherefore God has highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name; That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.' – Philippians 2:9-11.
    '–for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.' – Acts 4:12.
    'But he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.' - John 3:18.
    'Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.'- Heb. 1:4.
    'But of the Son he says, "Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever.' – Heb. 1:8.
    'And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.' - Rev. 19:16.

    'AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.'
    'Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost has never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.' – Mark 3:28-29.
    'But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things.' – John 14:26.
    'Now the Lord is that Spirit, 2 Cor. 4:1.

    Personification or Person

    Some attempt to depersonalise the Holy Spirit as the Bible or power. THE Bible, however, teaches that the Word of God is the Spirit's sword, Eph. 6:17; and clearly distinguishes between 'power' and 'Spirit', Luke 1:32; Acts 10:38. How could the impersonal be grieved? - Eph. 4:30.

    I find it incredible that John Thomas refers to the Spirit in Gen. 1:2 as 'Yahweh' himself, and elsewhere as impersonal force or electricity, Phanerosis, pp. 60-61. Personificationalists should hit the brakes before they end up with a God who's merely the personification of power. The Holy Spirit is God - John 4:24; Acts 5:3-4, 9; 2Cor. 3:17; Mat. 28:19.
     

    The Son of God

    Dr. Thomas writes 'The Supreme Power has not only a son, but a multitude of sons, and all of them partaking of His nature, or spirit-substance, hypostasis.' – Phanerosis, p. 57.

    I think the essential weakness of Christadelphian theology is evident at this point. To Dr. Thomas, Jesus is but one of a multitude. In the Bible Jesus is the 'Only' Son - The Son of God - unique and eternal - John 1:18; Mark 12:6; Heb. 1; Psalm 2:7; Matt. 3:17, 16:16; John 10:36, 20:31; 1 Cor. 8:6; Eph. 4:5; 1 Cor. 8:6. He is, not 'a' son of God, but God the Son - Heb. I:8; John 20:27-31; Phil. 2:6,9-11; 1 John 5:20; Rev. 22:13; Mat. 1:23.

    LORD.
    'Jesus Christ is Lord.' - Phil. 19-11;
    1 Cor. 8:6. He is the head over every power and authority, Col. 2: 10.

    Manifestation. Jesus is not merely 'a' god manifestation, as suggested by J. Ulmann (First Principles, p.7). Jesus Christ is 'God' uniquely manifest in human flesh, I Tim. 3:16; John 1:1, 14. Careful Bible students will observe that Jesus is His own unique manifestation, 1 John 1:1,2; 3:5.

    John 5:30 is often quoted by those opposed to Christ's Deity, 'I can of my own self do nothing.' Rarely, however, do they quote the rest of the verse which speaks of his voluntary submission to the Father's will, see Heb. 10:5-7. Please note that now he will not be subject until he has delivered up the Kingdom to the Father, I Cor. 15:28. Christ is 'all and in all', Col. 3:11.

    Can God Die? Trinity antagonists point out God's immortality and ask: 'Could Jesus die if he were God?' The Bible says that the one who died was the Lord of glory.' I Cor. 2:8, cf. Psalm 24. Blood shed to purchase the church was 'God's own blood.' Acts 20:28. What about Dr Thomas' comment on Rev. 1:18: 'But the Spirit never died', Eureka Vol. 1, p. 188. Jesus said: 'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up'. John 2:19-2l. How did he raise Himself? What does it mean – 'Put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirif'? l Pet. 3:18.
     

    Challenge

    I challenge Christadelphian authority. While lip service is paid to the Bible, really two authorities have existed. I quote:
     

    If such works as "Elpis Israel" and "Eureka" are neglected an essential foundation for individual research and investigation is lacking', Christadelphian Standards, p. 104.
    'Let us also treat with scorn any suggestion to hide or shelve the works of Bro. Thomas and Bro. Roberts', Christadelphian Standards, p. 52.

    Worship

    Whom should we worship?
    'At the name of Jesus every knee should bow–and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father', Phil. 2:9-11.
    'And let all the angels of God worship him', Heb. 1:6.
    'But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever, Amen.', 2 Pet. 3:18, cf. Rev. 1:6.
    'Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory and blessing', Rev. 5:12-14.
    'Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for Thou bast created all things', Rev. 4:11, cf. John 1:14.
    'Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever', Heb. 13:2 1.
    'But unto the Son he saith, 'Thy throne, O God is forever and ever, Heb. 1:8.
     

    Appeal

    Dear reader I beg that you eliminated bias as you read my presentation and that your mind has been open to the plain statements of Holy Scripture. Have you personally received The Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour and Lord? 'This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners', I Pet. 1:15.

    'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.'
     
     



     

    CHRISTADELPHEAN TEACHING
    ON THE GODHEAD

    J LUKE

    (Investigator 42, 1995 May)


    In setting forth Christadelphian beliefs on God, His Son and the Holy Spirit, it should be made clear that the Bible is the only authority recognized, and appeal will be made exclusively to its pages. The Apostles warned that there would be a departure from the faith and that false teachers would set forth fables in the place of Truth (2 Thess. 2:3; 2 Tim. 4:3,4).

    The doctrine of the Trinity, which this article will refute as man-made and a fable, teaches that there are three Gods, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, that these three are one, co-equal and co-eternal, Jesus existing in heaven before he was born or incarnated.

    Christadelphians, on the other hand, believe there is one God and Father of all, who made all things by His power. He is eternal, invisible and created the world and man for the express purpose of filling it with His glory (Num. 14:21). Jesus Christ is the Son of God, conceived of the virgin Mary by God's power overshadowing her (Luke 1:35). In all respects he was subject to his Father's will and died in harmony with this will, so that a means of redemption might be opened up in God's mercy for fallen man.

    Jesus Christ did not bodily exist before he was born although he was foreordained by God in the promises made to the fathers of Israel and King David, and the precise details of his life and mission were clearly set forth by the prophets of Israel (e.g. Isaiah 53). The Holy Spirit is God's special power by which He accomplishes His will. By it the prophets were inspired to write the Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16), miracles were performed (Acts 10:38; 14:3; etc.)

    In reasoning against the doctrine of the Trinity it is to be noted Jesus is never called God the Son, but is called the Son of Man 80 times in the New Testament, and 40 times the Son of God. This, from the start sets the issue forth clearly because it demonstrates the true relationship that did exist between Jesus and God, and still does exist. He, Jesus, was and is subject to His Father and sought and seeks to do His will, as an obedient Son.

    Jesus himself said that it was life eternal to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom He had sent (John 17:3). It is not possible to understand, however, the Trinity, as even its adherents acknowledge it to be a mystery. How can you understand a God who is 1 and yet 3, and 3 and yet l? How can a person exist before he was born? It is not possible for a son to be as old as his father! How can an immortal being become a mortal dying being? All these propositions show how unreasonable and enigmatical the man-made doctrine of the Trinity is. But in the Apostle Paul's mind there was no such confusion: he could say; "But unto us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for him, and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things and we by him" (1 Cor. 8:5)

    In fact, the doctrine of the Trinity is not to be found in the Scripture, and it first appeared late in the second century. The Encyclopaedia Britannica points out that its "propositions are not expressed in New Testament terms and that its terms have been derived from Greek and Roman metaphysics". Also Dr. W. R. Matthews said that the Apostle Paul "knew it (the doctrine of the Trinity) not and would have been unable to understand the meaning of the terms used".

    Bible teaching on the unity of the godhead is clear and explicit. Consider the following, "Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God is one LORD: and thou shalt love the LORD thy God, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might (Deut. 6:4). No less than 6 times in Isaiah 45 we read the emphatic statement: "I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me" (verses 5, 6,14, 18, 21, 22). If words and repeated emphasis mean anything, God is not 3 but 1. No wonder the Jews find the doctrine of the Trinity a stumbling block, for it is not found or implied in the whole of the Old Testament.

    Who is Jesus Christ? Let the Bible speak–he is "the Son of David, the Son of Abraham" (Matthew 1:1). But he was not mere man, and be was not God, nor was he an angel. He was the Son of Man because begotten of the virgin Mary; of the seed of Abraham and David, and he was the Son of God because God caused Mary to conceive by His Holy Spirit Power.

    Read carefully the Scripture which reveals this to us:

    "The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee (Mary), and the power of the highest shall overshaddow thee: therefore also that holy thing that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35).

    Notice the clear relationship between God, the Holy Spirit and Jesus in this verse. God is clearly supreme. He used his special power, the Holy Spirit to accomplish His will, namely, that Mary might conceive His Son. Clearly this Son was subject to Him, for God would give him the throne of his father David (Luke 1:32).

    He is not the Son of the Holy Spirit, but Mary was caused to conceive by this "power of the Highest" overshadowing her. Here the Holy Spirit is defined (see also Acts 1:8; 10:38). There is not the faintest suggestion of "incarnation"–Jesus divesting himself of divine immortal nature and somehow becoming man!

    From this we can see that God, His Son and the Holy Spirit are not co-equal. How could one co-equal use another co-equal to beget a third co-equa1?! How could they then still remain equal? And if Jesus was born, then he had a beginning, and if so he is not God (1 Timothy 1:17).

    Of Jesus God says, "I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth" (Psalm 89:27). Clearly God is the one who elevates him and is manifestly superior. We shall see if we read the scriptures carefully that whenever the Father and the Son are mentioned together the language used always expresses the Father's superiority and the son's subordination.

    Take, for example, Jesus' early life. We read that he "Increased in wisdom and stature and in favour with God and man". (Luke 2:52) Now this verse shows his desire to find favour with his Father, which language does not make sense if he was equal with Him. Also if he "Increased in wisdom", he must have divested all of this when he "incarnated"! His whole personality and individuality must have been lost for he grew up and accrued wisdom and understanding. But be was not "incarnated" at all. He was born of the virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit, and by careful tending and instruction from the Word of God he revealed understanding of His Father's will and a faultless life (Luke 2:46-47; Isaiah 50:4).

    Look at the occasion of the Lord's baptism. He was concerned to be baptised for His Father required it–"thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness" he told John the Baptist (Matthew 3:15). Why should he be so concerned to obey if he was God? And why should he have prayed to God if he was God? (Luke 3:21). Also be it noted that it was the Father who approved the Son's life. He did this by bestowing upon him His Holy Spirit power. By this power he was able to do the miracles he did and speak words which no other could speak (John 7:40). Also God pronounced him to be "His beloved Son in whom I am well pleased" (Luke 3:22). This is not the language of equality. Clearly the Father is supreme and the Son is concerned to do His will and please Him. As he later said–"He that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him" (John 8:29). So the Son sought to please the Father, and as a consequence the Father was "well-pleased with him". This is the language of humble compliance with the Father's will, in the case of the Son, and approval and pleasure because of obedience, in the case of the Father. The tragedy is that the doctrine of the Trinity has brought confusion where no confusion is.

    Looking at the Old Testament prophecies the same relationship is expressed in the language God used to reveal the work of salvation He would bring about through the work of His Son. Jesus did "pre-exist" in one sense–he was indeed the focal point of the promises of salvation revealed in the Scripture from the beginning; he was the "Seed of the Woman" who would bruise the head of the seed of the serpent (Genesis 3:15); he is the subject of the Messianic Psalms and prophecies. In all of these there is no confusion between the "servant" and his "Lord".

    Look at Isaiah 42:1, where God calls upon men,

    "Behold, my servant, whom I uphold, mine elect, in whom my soul delighted. I have put my spirit upon him; he shall bring forth judgement to the Gentiles... I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles"
    (Isaiah 42:1-6).

    Now carefully read this verse. Note all the inter-relationships between the servant and his Lord, and you will clearly see the Son is subject to the Father, he does His will and as a result God delivers him from death, and a way is opened up whereby Gentiles can have access to light and salvation.

    Consider also the well-known and remarkable prophecy of Christ's death, Isaiah 53. In verse 10 we are told that

    "it pleased ("was the will of" RSV) the Lord to bruise him, He (God) hath put him to grief: when thou (God) shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper his hand".

    His death was an appointment of his Father, and Jesus obeyed his Father's will and laid down his life, "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine be done", (Luke 22:42). So his own will was dismissed and his Father's complied with because his Father was greater (John 4:28).

    It is the Father who has given Christ his power, and exalted him. The Father approved him and raised him from the dead (Acts 2:22, 24). God, in Isaiah 53:11, consistent with this teaching, says,

    "by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great…"

    Jesus Christ was God's servant, one who puts himself at the disposal of another and did His will. By his understanding of his Father's will he was able to render spotless obedience and destroy the power of sin. By this a basis was laid for the Father to justify sinners. So Christ worked out the Father's will and laid a basis whereby man could be reconciled to Him. The language taken in its natural, straight-forward meaning is free of ambiguity and mystery and enables us to "Know the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he has sent".

    If we so learn of the Father we shall walk on the path that leads to eternal life (John 173).





     
    THE TRINITY

    John Francis Coffey

    (Investigator 42, 1995 May)


    The offer by the editors of INVESTIGATOR to host a debate on the Trinity immediately raises a number of questions which calls into doubt the propriety of ouch a discussion.

    Is a magazine devoted to astrology, vampires, U.F.O.s, monsters and the like a suitable "medium" for analysing the inner nature of God? Are its readers likely to have even a nodding acquaintance with such philosophical terms as "person" and "nature" and "essence" and "substance"? All of which are essential in grasping even the rudiments of Trinitarian teaching. And, if these are lacking, then one has to go back to the very basics before a discussion can begin to get under way.

    The editors also state that they want to arrange a debate on whether the Bible teaches the "unity" or "trinity" of God–a distinction which implies that there is no unity in Trinity.

    One of the conditions calls for "a person who professes to be neutral." I would submit that neutrality has no place in ouch a debate. A person either believes or disbelieves in the Trinity. Even if one were to choose a person with no religious background so that they did not care one way or the other whether there are three Persons in one God, three gods in one person, or no God at all, such a person could not be considered neutral or as being in a position to give a fair, informed, or unbiased judgement on the issue.

    So strictly speaking, it comes down to a two-way debate on a subject that orthodox Christianity settled sixteen centuries ago. And we must make no mistake that it was the Christian Church, conscious of its heritage and its descent from Christ and his apostles, that pronounced against a heresy that had sprung up in its midst, that denied the Trinity of Persons in God. It was only in the face of this heresy that threatened to confuse and lead astray the faithful that caused the bishops and leaders of the Church to define for all time a truth that up until then had been accepted as authentic Christian belief.

    The words "over sixteen centuries ago" puts us back into the 4th Century, and for Unitarians, this is the Achilles' heel of the doctrine. According to their reasoning, the doctrine on the Trinity, which was formulated in the 4th Century, is 300 years too late to be regarded as authentic Christian teaching. But there is more to it than that, and it is absolutely essential that we understand the background to the doctrine.

    Unitarianism, itself is a form of Monarchianism, a heresy which denied any separate persons in God, and which flourished briefly in the 2nd and 3rd Centuries, attempts to confine all discussion on the Trinity to the Scriptures. I have no difficulty in referring to the Bible in a dialogue of this nature, but I will not be restricted on what reference tools I choose to use, nor will I be drawn into a senseless bandying of Scripture texts that end up, as the 3rd Century writer, Tertullian put it, "Generally having no other effect than to upset either one's stomach or one's brain" (A Demurrer Against Heretics, ch. 17). Two chapters later, in the same work, Tertullian noted that "as a method, it is wrong to appeal to the Scriptures, since one cannot reach a decision, or at best, a doubtful one."

    It is the absence of the word "Trinity" in the Scriptures that is usually advanced as the first reason for rejecting the doctrine, and this is why we need to have some understanding of the development of the doctrine itself.

    I have mentioned the name of Tertullian. He was born about the middle of the 2nd Century, and it is in his work, Against Praxeas, (circa 213 A.D.), that the word "Trinity" first appears in a Western Context. This was over a century before the Council of Nicaea promulgated the doctrine (325 A.D). Tertullian wrote:

    For the mystery of the dispensation is safeguarded, for the Unity is distributed in a Trinity. Placed in order, the three are Father, Son, and Spirit...

    What I am emphasizing is that the teaching preceded Nicaea, and also preceded Tertullian, and that it is wrong for opponents to maintain that Trinitarianism appeared only in the 4th Century, or that we should reasonably expect to find it as a fully developed doctrine in the pages of Scripture. Every doctrine that Christians accept today as doctrinal truth has come down to us as a result of long ages of reflection, discussion, and development under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. And the doctrine of the Trinity is no exception.

    While it is possible to draw threads from the Bible on various aspects of the teaching on the Trinity, the entire doctrine with all its elements fully in place, developed, tested, and defined, did not reach completion until the 4th and 5th Centuries A.D., and hence is not explicitly and formally a Scriptural teaching.

    However, this statement in no way suggests or denies that the basis for our belief in the doctrine is not Scriptural. Christians who accept belief in the Trinity are well aware that the Church could not have arrived at this belief if there were not good ground for the teaching in the Bible itself. It is only when we come to examine the Scriptural foundations for the Trinity doctrine that we begin to see just how extensive this corpus of evidence really is.

    The Jewish belief in God as Father and Creator was carried over intact into Christianity, but with the added teaching of the revelation of the role assigned to Jesus Christ. It was this special prominence given to the person of Jesus and his unique relationship with his Father that formed the basis for the later teaching on the Trinity.

    It should be emphasized that the Trinitarianism of the New Testament is seldom explicit in the way we might like it to be. But if the processes behind the gradual development of doctrines are correctly understood, any fully articulated theory of the Trinity in the pages of the Bible would give us real reason to question its authenticity.

    What the Gospels do give us is a deeper and deeper insight into the relationship between the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, an insight which culminated in the limitless vocabulary of the Fourth Gospel.

    The majority of these texts in the first three Gospels are "bi-partite" formulas, in that they accentuate the Father/Son relationship. And even John's Gospel, apart from the opening Prologue, is very guarded in its statements about the Divinity of Christ. And it was not until near the end of Jesus' public life that he began to reveal more about the "Personality" of the Holy Spirit.

    Paul's letters reveal a similar pattern. The opening greetings are nearly all "bi-partite," such as Galatians 1:3–"Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ." But the "body" of the letters reveals a more "tri-partite" formula, where more than forty instances of greetings, prayers, teachings, and expressions of faith have the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit mentioned together, as in the closing words of 2 Corinthians 13:14, "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all."

    New Testament texts that deal with the Father/Son relationship and the Person of the Holy Spirit have been endlessly dissected, and argued back and forth for centuries, and it would appear that they are incapable of settling a dispute to the satisfaction of all parties. But that is not to say that they cannot provide a legitimate means of examining why the Apostolic Church accepted the teaching of the Trinity, and how it came to be defined as dogma.

    So far I've said nothing about the Trinity itself. I've mentioned the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, but not how a Christian understands how these "Persons" can be spoken of as one God. A good starting point for "explaining" the Trinity is John 1:1–"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

    In our own understanding, a word is something that is spoken or uttered. And near the end of John's Prologue, we are told that this "Word became flesh" (Jn 1:14), that is, the Word entered human history in the person of Jesus Christ - the Son of God.

    Augustine of Hippo spent sixteen years writing his famous work on The Trinity - it appeared in 416 A.D. In this work he writes about the Father and the Son, and how we are to understand the relationship between them:

    The Word, therefore, the only, begotten Son of God the Father, is in all things like the Father and equal to the Father, God of God, Light of Light, Wisdom of Wisdom, Essence of Essence. He is wholly what the Father is, but not Father, for the one is Son, and the other is Father. And therefore he knows all that the Father knows; but for him "to know" is from the Father, just as "to be" is from the Father. For in this case, to know and to be is one. And therefore, for the Father, just as "to be" is not from the Son, neither is "to know" from the Son. Hence, just as if uttering himself, the Father begot the Word, equal to himself in all respects. For he would not have uttered himself wholly and perfectly, if in his Word, there was something less or something more than himself. (Augustine, The Trinity, 15, 14, 23)

    As a means of explaining the Trinity in less-scholarly language, Augustine described the three Persons as Mind, Knowledge, and Love (The Trinity, ch.9).

    The Father has uttered or begotten his Word; but it is a word not framed by the mouth, for God, as pure spirit, does not have a mouth. So we would understand the Word as being in the Father's "mind" an Idea – the Knowledge God has of himself. And the similarity between having a son and having an idea about oneself is that both produce a certain likeness. But whereas any idea we have of ourselves will be imperfect, God's Idea of himself cannot be anything but perfect. So everything that God has in himself must also be present in the Idea he has of himself. But there is no confusion here. God and his Word are distinct, they cannot be otherwise. The Son is not the Father, nor is the Thinker the Thought or Idea. A thought or idea can exist only in the mind of the thinker, but in God's case this Thought is perfect, and is of the same nature as the Father. The Father and his Word each possess this divine nature, but each is wholly himself.

    When the 4th Century heretic, Arius, sought to deny the Divinity of Christ and the reality of the Trinity, he attempted to convey the inferiority of the Word by implanting in the minds of the people the clever formula: "There was a when- he-was-not." By omitting the word "time" he permitted the acceptance of the Word as pre-existent before the creation of the world, but emphasized that he was still a creature. However, the Idea or Thought the Father has of himself cannot be constrained in this manner. We speak of the Son as being "eternally begotten of the Father," and in the context of the Trinity, the Father has always "known" himself, or has always had this Idea of himself. So to re-phrase the words of Arius in the words of a slightly later contemporary, Cyril of Jerusalem (d. 386 A.D.), "There was never-when-he-was-not."

    The Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity, is the reciprocated love of the Father for his Word. In our case, a thought or word is purely abstract. It is something. With God, however, his Thought or Word is someone–a reality, a Person. The Father loves the Son, and the Son loves the Father with an infinite intensity which we can never even begin to imagine. And the Holy Spirit is the expression of this love. It is the mutual giving of the Father and the Son to each other that produces the Spirit, as in the words of the Creed: "Proceeding from the Father and the Son."

    Augustine described the Spirit as the "Gift" of God. The love between the Father and the Son is infinite, and is absolutely perfect. It is complete and unlimited, and the Holy Spirit as the expression of this love, completes the eternal cycle of God-Knowing, God-Known, and God-Loved.

    The Trinity has been explained in many ways over the years, but for me Augustine's explanation is still the most lucid. There may be many who are not satisfied with anything less than a full Scriptural debate on the subject, but, as I have pointed out, while the beginnings of the teaching may be found in the Scriptures, the development and defining of the doctrine belongs to a later generation under the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit leading the Church into "all truth" (John 16:13).




     
    BIBLE VERSUS TRINITY

    Hans J. Ossa

    (Investigator 42, 1995 May)


    THE DOCTRINE OF TRINITY

    The doctrine of the trinity is not based on God's Word, the Bible; it does not teach such an idea at all.

    The doctrine or any conception of the trinity was unknown in the early Apostolic Church, however, it has been gradually developed and systematically introduced by theologians, Greek and Latin, when the apostasy took place during the early second century, only few generations after the Messiah's Apostles.

    There are no documents or any other literature which express any trinitarian thoughts before 180 A.D.

    After the apostasy of the second century A.D. many ideas and doctrines of Greek philosophy penetrated into Christian assemblies, especially pagan teachings of the immortality of the soul, the idea of an Incarnate God, a forerunner of the doctrine of trinity, furthermore, pagan rituals, customs and festivals which do not originate in God's Word, the Bible.

    The first formulation concerning the Trinity we can trace back in the literature of Tertullian at the time of abt. 200 A.D.

    Tertullian developed the formula, "There are three persons and of one substance." Since then the thought of a trinitarian God was formed until the present creed of the so-called Christian religions. Those, however, admit that such thoughts have no basis in the Bible but in ancient Egyptian and Indian religions.

    What is the doctrine of trinity?

    It can be best expressed in the words,

    "The Father is God,
    the Son is God,
    and the Holy Ghost is God,
    and yet they are not three Gods but one God."
    Or,
    "There are three persons that can be called God."
    Or,
    "The whole divine nature or essence is in each of the three persons."


    The Council of Nicaea (325 A.D.) decided and the following Council of Constantinople (381 A.D.) ratified the teaching that "God and Christ are of one (same) substance (or, essence)," and Christ, therefore, was not creature but Creator.

    This was the result of the "trinitarian dispute" between Arius and Athanasius of the fourth century.

    Arius was an opposer to the trinitarian thought; the Council condemned Arius and the (pagan) Roman Emperor exiled him and favoured the teachings of Athanasius who was Bishop of Alexandria. The creed of Athanasius was generally accepted and taught since then which says,

    "The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. There are not three Gods but one God, only."

    "The three divine persons are of one (same) essence."  

    The formulation of the term, "God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost," was found at the Council of Chalcedon, 451 A.D.

    Protestantism is based on the same doctrine of the 4th and 5th century, as laid down in the "AUGSBURG CONFESSION" of the Lutheran Church (1530). As far as the trinity is concerned it is said that

    "There is one Divine Being that is called God, eternal…, and there are three persons of the same essence and power, also equally eternal, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost."

    The creeds, inherited from the time of the 4th century found place in all other Protestant Confessions of Faith, and in other Protestant Bodies of the so-called Reformed Churches, and later in Baptist, Methodist and other Protestant Churches.

    Let us now examine The Bible, God's Word which does not teach such a doctrine and the trinity in particular.

    The only Bible Translation used is THE JERUSALEM BIBLE, Imprimatur 1966.

    I. THE HEAVENLY FATHER, THE ALMIGHTY GOD

    1. THE CREATOR

    "Such were the origins of heaven and earth when they were created. At the time when Yahweh God made earth and heaven..." Genesis 2:4

    2. THE SACRED NAME

    "And God said to Moses, 'I Am who I Am. This,' he added, 'is what you must say to the sons of Israel: "I Am has sent me to you".' And God also said to Moses, 'You are to say to the sons of Israel: "Yahweh, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you." This is my name for all time; by this name I shall be invoked for all generations to come."" Exodus 3:14-15

    3. THE MOST HIGH

    "...and let them know this: you alone bear the name Yahweh, Most High over the whole world." Psalm 83:18

    4. ONE GOD

    "'Listen, Israel: Yahweh our God is the one Yahweh.'" Deuteronomy 6:4

    The footnote of the Jerusalem Bible reads,
    "Another translation sometimes adopted 'Listen, Israel: Yahweh is our God, Yahweh alone,' but it is more likely that we have here a declaration of monotheistic faith."

    "Still for us there is one God, the Father, from when all things come and for whom we exist…" I Corinthians 8:6

    "... yet God is one." Galatians 3:20

    5. THE HEAVENLY FATHER
    "Our Father in heaven, ray your name be held holy…" Matthew 6:9

    6. GOD IS SPIRIT

    "God is spirit, and those who worship must worship in spirit and truth." John 4:24

    7. GOD HAS SPIRIT

    "... and God's spirit hovered over the water." Genesis 1:2

    8. HIS SPIRIT WE CALL THE HOLY SPIRIT

    "God raised this man Jesus to life, and all of us are witnesses to that. Now raised to the heights by God's right hand, he has received from the Father the Holy Spirit, who was promised, and what you see and hear is the outpouring of that Spirit." (Acts 2:33-34)

    SUMMARY

    <>The sacred name of God our Heavenly Father is Yahweh. He is the Creator and Most High, and who is Spirit. He is One (God), and not "two-in-one," or "one-in-two."
    He has a spirit which is called THE HOLY SPIRIT.  

    II. THE SON OF GOD

    1.The personal name of the son of Yahweh is Jesus (Latin; English).

    "Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High…" Luke 1:31-32

    The name Jesus means, "salvation (or help) of Yah(weh); Yahweh saves."

    2. THE ONLY BEGOTTEN SON OF GOD. BEGOTTEN BY THE HOLY SPIRIT
      "'The Holy Spirit will cane upon you' the angel answered 'and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God.'" Luke 1:35-36

    The footnote of The Jerusalem Bible reads, "The conception of Jesus is effected only by God and his Spirit."

    "Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son... For God sent his Son into the world...that through him the world might be saved John 3:16-18

    3. THE SON OF GOD AND NOT 'GOD THE SON'

    Further testimonies:
    (a) A voice from heaven: "This is my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on him." Matthew 3:17
    (b) Jesus: "... I am the Son of God..." John 10:36
    (c) Apostle Peter: "Truly, you are the Son of God." "You are...the Son of the living God." Matthew 14:33 16:16
    (d) Apostle John: "... that Jesus is (the Christ), the Son of God." John 20:31 IJohn 4:15 5:5
    (e) Saul: "Jesus is the Son of God." Acts 9:20
    Apostle Paul: "(Jesus) Son of God." Romans 1:3-4

    4. JESUS WAS NOT COEQUAL OR C0ETERNAL WITH THE FATHER
    BUT SUBJECT TO HIM
     
    "...for the Father is greater than I." John 14:28
    "... and God is the head of Christ." I Corinthians 11:3
    "His state was divine yet he did not cling to his equality with God but emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave, and became as men are, and being as all men are…" Philippians 2:6-7

    Verse 6 of the above text reads according to another Bible translation, "...who though being in God's form [Greek, 'morphe'] yet did not meditate a usurpation to be like God."

    The Greek word, 'morphe,' means, "outward or external appearance, form, shape."  

    5. JESUS NOT (A) GOD BUT A MEDIATOR BETWEEN GOD AND MANKIND

    "For there is only one God, and there is only one mediator between God and mankind, himself a man, Christ Jesus..." I Timothy 2:5

    6. THE SON OF GOD HAD A BEGINNING, WAS CREATED

    "but when the appointed time came, God sent his son, born of a woman, born a subject of the law..." Galatians 4:4
    "He is the image of the unseen God and the first-born of all creation, for in him were created all things in heaven and on earth…" Colossians 1:15-16
    "He was made visible in the flesh, attested by the Spirit…" I Timothy 3:16

    7. THE SON OF MAN WAS A JEW, BORN BY THE VIRGIN MARY, ALSO CALLED 'THE SEED OF THE WOMAN', DESCENDANT OF DAVID

    "…he is the Son of Man… " John 5:27
    "This news is about the Son of God who, according to the human nature he took, was a descendant of David…" Romans 1:3
    "...everyone knows he cane from Judah, a tribe which Moses did not even mention when dealing with priests." Hebrews 7:14

    8. THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST

    The Father of Jesus, Yahweh Almighty, is the source and giver of the spirit. Jesus (like every human being) had his spirit, belonging to him as individual consisting of body (= flesh and blood), mind and spirit.

    "(Jesus) said, 'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.' With these words he breathed his last." Luke 23:46

    Apart from his own spirit, he also has got the HOLY SPIRIT from His Heavenly Father Yahweh.

    "Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit through the wilderness..." Luke 4:1

    "The Spirit of the lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me…" Luke 4:18

    9. SO-CALLED 'DISPUTED' BIBLE TEXTS  
    (a) John 1:1-2 According to the original Greek manuscripts we read as follows:

    "In the beginning was the Logos and the Logos was with the God, and god was the Logos. This was in beginning with the God."

    What is the Logos (Word)?

    Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament explains: "In several passages in the writings of John, "ho logos" (the Word) denotes the essential Word of God, i.e., the personal (hypostatic) wisdom and power in union with God."

    Thus, "the logos (Word)" is neither God nor Jesus. What is it then? Any message from the Almighty God and Creator (Yahweh) – even uttered through an angel or a prophet - is "the Word of God."

    In Genesis chapter 1 we read eleven times, "and God said..." Consequently, by HIS WORD all things were created. The "Logos (Word)" is no person; the expression "The Word of God" appears hundreds of times in the Scriptures.

    (b) John 10:30 "The Father and I are one."

    The footnote of The Jerusalem Bible reads, "The Son's power is other than the Father's. The context shows that this is the primary meaning..."

    The Greek word, 'en,' which has been translated as "one" has the following meaning:

    "en = of that in which any person with which it is intimately connected; of a person to whom another is wholly joined and to whose power and influence he is subject, so that the former may be likened to the place in which the latter lives and moves. So used in the writings of Paul and John particularly of intimate relationship with God or with Christ, and for the most part involving contextually the idea of power and blessing resulting from that union; of Christians, "in Christ," of disciples, i.e., amplified and strengthened in the fellowship of Him and the consciousness of that fellowship; ingrafted as it were in Christ, in fellowship and union with Christ, with the Lord; that I may be found (by God and Christ) most intimately united to him. Since such union with Christ is the basis on which actions and virtues rest, the expression is equivalent in meaning to 'by virtue of spiritual fellowship or union with Christ'; in things pertaining to Christ."
    [Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament]

    The context of John 10:22-39 clearly explains the real meaning of the Son's words.

    (c) I John 5:7-8 "...so that there are three witnesses, the Spirit, the water and the blood, and all three of them agree."

    The footnote of The Jerusalem Bible reads, "[The Latin] Vulgate verse 7 reads as follows: 'There are three witnesses in heaver: the Father the Word and the Spirit, and these three are one; ...these words (not in any of the early Greek MSS (= manuscripts) or in any of the early translations in the best MSS of the Vulgate itself) are probably a gloss that has crept into the text."

    (d) Colossians 2:9 "In his body lives the fullness of divinity..."

    The Thayer's Lexicon explains: "the Greek word 'pleroma', translated as 'fullness' has a passive sense, that which is (or has been) filled. In the N.T. the body of believers, as that which is filled with the presence, power, agency, riches of God and of Christ...fulness, abundance." Alternatively it could read here: "In his body live all divine attributes."

    The headline of Colossians 2:9-15 of The Jerusalem Bible reads, "Christ alone is the true head of men and angels," and the footnote of the same translation continues explaining, "In this way he himself is the 'pleroma' of all possible categories of being. A Christian shares this 'pleroma' of Christ by being part of it, i.e. part of Christ's body...and as a consequence of this he is raised to be higher than even the highest grade of angel. The following verses develop these two ideas: disciples of Christ share his triumph (verses 11-13), or even the highest grade of angel (verses 14-15)."

    The same Greek word 'pleroma' we also find in Colossians 1:19 and in Ephesians 1:23 3:19 4:13
     

    CONCLUSION

    All above stated socalled "disputed" Bible texts do not allow an interpretation as "a godhead of two in one."

    SUMMARY

    The SON OF GOD is not YAHWEH of the Old Testament, and also not "GOD THE SON," but the ONLY-BEGOTTEN SON OF GOD, the "Son of the Most High," and mediator between God and mankind; he had a beginning, was created. He was born by the Jewish virgin Mary, and thus called the "Son of Man."

    When he was born, he had his spirit, called in the Scriptures "the Spirit of Christ", and he also had received God's Holy Spirit. Therefore, he cannot be god nor a second person in a 'trinitarian godhead.' There is no mystery of incarnation because the "Word" is no person.

    III. THE SPIRIT

    According to the Scriptures the spirit can be

    - the Spirit of Yahweh, the Most High God who is spirit and has spirit, the 'Holy Spirit…'
    - the breath of life = the vital spirit to the soul (which is the body)
    - the breath of air, air in motion (i.e., breeze, wind), breath of mouth
    - the Spirit as a "Helper, Comforter, Assistant"
    - the Spirit as source and seat of understanding, reasoning, someone's 'inner life,' or, 'spirit of man'

    THE SPIRIT IS NO PERSON. THE HOLY SPIRIT IS NO PERSON.

    A person has a name, e.g., Yahweh, Jesus, however the HOLY SPIRIT has no name, consequently, it is no person.

    The Holy Spirit cannot be considered as a "divine person" within the doctrine of trinity. The triple mention of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, we only find in the Scriptures in the two following texts:

    Matthew 28:19 "Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit..."

    I1Corinthians 13:13 "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all."

    The above texts do not indicate a 'tri-une God' nor that the Spirit is a person.

    As mentioned before, Yahweh Almighty has His Spirit. The Holy Spirit is His active force, invisible to human eyes, however, giving evidence of force or energy in motion, and thus producing visible effects, and accomplishing His Will.

    Through His Spirit, all inanimate and all animate creation have come into existence. The same Spirit is a force that guides, controls, directs, operates and supervises.

    God gives His Spirit to those who ask Him for it. Human beings can receive or being filled with His Holy Spirit which then shows a variety of effects. The Scriptures reveal such manifold operations.

    To assume or even to teach that the Holy Spirit is a person as Yahweh is and Jesus likewise, would be a blasphemy.

    "And so I tell you, every one of wen's sins and blasphemies will be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And anyone who says a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but let anyone speak against the Holy Spirit and he will not be forgiven either in this world or in the next." Matthew 12:31-32

    SUMMARY

    A spirit is not visible to human eyes. Spirit is not physical. The Holy Spirit is not a person but a person has a spirit (the own spirit), and can also receive the Holy Spirit of God the Creator. The Holy Spirit is the active force or life energy of Yahweh through which all things exist that had come into existence. The Holy Spirit inspired the writers of the Scriptures and can direct a person.
     

    REFERENCES

    The Jerusalem Bible, Imprimatur 1966
    Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, 1982
    The Encyclopedia Britannica, Britain 1966




     

    TRINITY DEBATE

    Richard Rawe

    (Investigator 44, 1995 September)


    Thank you so much for producing and sending me your magazine! I think the series on Trinity is just great! I would like to make some comments, if I may.

    "Anonymous" made a great contribution! I hope he continues. His incisiveness would help everyone, I believe. He could be "neutral".

    I might observe where he says on page 18:2 'that the weakness is that nowhere is Jesus called an angel' that non-trinitarians would not see that as a weakness but as a strength! Since they do not see him simply as an angel, far from it, rather as a super angel, an archangel; or, as the LXX puts it in Isaiah 9:6 "an angel of great counsel".

    As to Baptist's John Hutchinson's article: He says a lot of interesting things about John Thomas, which I hope Mr Luke will confirm or deny. But he leaves us much in the dark and for us to guess at true specifics of his own views, as demonstrated in the article by "Anonymous".

    J. Luke is specific and has some interesting arguments but you would never know he agreed with John Thomas' views as presented by Hutchinson! I hope he will clarify this.

    J. F. Coffey gives us a good view of the current Roman Catholic view of early church history but what actually went on and was believed is quite another thing as the original documents and careful historians show. Theophilus of Antioch (d.c. 180AD) was the first to use the word trinity in Greek ecclesiastical (Christian) writings. But he simply meant a threeness (like Peter, James and John) with no hint of the later speculative definitions.

    Likewise with Tertullian's newly formulated "Trinity" doctrine! 150 years later he would have been burned at the stake for it; he was a subordinationist! 'The Son was a far lesser light than the Father was', he said. He even recognized that his brand of Trinitarianism was too pagan for the "majority" of Christians even then: "I will not call them unwise and unlearned–who always constitute the majority of believers who are startled at the…Three in One, on the ground that their rule of faith withdraws them from the world's plurality of gods to the one only true God"–Adv. Prax.3. (As quoted in the Philosophy of the Church Fathers by H. A. Wolfson, Harvard University)

    Coffey (p.36) makes a valid concession when he says the trinity "is not explicitly...a scriptural teaching". He could not be more wrong, especially from a historical perspective, when he hastens to add: "the church could not have arrived at this belief if there were not good grounds...in the Bible itself'"! For the doctrines that developed and the basis for them could not have been more dependant on anti-scriptural beliefs. This is well documented by scholars of many religions, e.g. Wolfson (above cited); Patrology, Vol. 1 by Roman Catholic scholar, Quaston; The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God by Richard Hanson; The Church of the First Three Centuries by Lambson; Christian Thought in the Patristic Period by Fischer; The Paganism in Our Christianity by Arthur Weignall; The Formation of the Christian Dogma by Martin Werner and many, many more!

    I would like to give you an example, the key or core concept of the thentrinity doctrine– one that remains at its center but is not well understood. "Salvation" meant to become "God"; not "a god" or a part of God but God in the same sense they believed Jesus was God. Therefore it took "God" to save man, a lesser one couldn't "make man God". This is all through the Patristics and is undeniable even though ignorant ones will protest and deny it because it is so blasphemous! Nevertheless this is the naked truth and was openly proclaimed for many centuries! Today, very little is said about it (except in the Greek Orthodox Church). There are other shocking things too, such as Tritheism and Pantheism with the early formulation of the trinity doctrine!

    The actual history and doctrines of the times are quite different from the way they are represented today.

    H. J. Ossa's article (p. 40, 41) is defective, I believe, as noted above and it should also be noted that at least until 381 AD three conflicting views were all considered "Orthodox" on the holy spirit: "But of the wise men amongst ourselves (orthodox Trinitarians!) some have conceived of him as an activity, some as a creature, some as God" (PNF 2nd series Vol. 7, page 319). That should rattle a few cages!

    I find it hard to understand why Ossa (page 46) would be willing to accept the pagan philosophic definition of logos when he apparently wouldn't for other Greek pagan terms like hades and psuche. I would suggest the Hebrew use of the word was simply to mean spokesman for God, without any pagan overtones.

    I see Ossa as having many good clear points in harmony with scripture and wish him to be consistent.

    In conclusion: I wish to thank all the participants for their diligent efforts and work of love, whether or not I agree in all details.

    Soap Lake, Washington, 98851
    July 19, 1995
     
     




    Reply to Mr Luke #42

    John Hutchinson

    (Investigator 45, 1995 November)


    Mr Luke, why depart from your opening declaration: 'The Bible is the only authority recognised, and appeal win be made exclusively to it's pages?'

    You appealed to 'The Encyclopaedia Britannica' and W.R. Matthews. Even more seriously you appealed to your own reasoning. e.g. You ask, 'How can a person exist before he was born?'

    Rationalism
    It seems that what you can't understand you don't accept. Human reasoning must ALWAYS be humbly submissive to what the Almighty, reveals. See Job 11:7-8, Isaiah 55:9, Matthew 11:25-7, 16:17.

    Question
    If Jesus didn't exist before his physical birth then how did he create the earth? Refer back to my comment on Heb. 1:10.

    Compare Heb. 1:2 'Through whom also He made the worlds'. (aeons). If Christ made the 'aeons' (ages) then he was prior to all beginnings. cf. John 1:1. Hebrews, however, links 'aeons' to the physical universe. Cf Heb 1:2 with 11:3. - declaring Christ creator of all matter.

    Stumbling
    You say: 'No wonder the Jews find the doctrine of the trinity a stumbling block.' Haven't you read of the stumbling stone? Rom. 9:33.

    The Jews stumbled over Christ's claim to Deity. The Old Testament highlights the Deity of Jesus Christ. Isaiah 40:9,3. cf Mark 1:3. Isaiah 6:5 cf John 12:41. Isaiah 9:6. Micah 5:2. Psalm 110:1 cf Mark 13:35-37. Psalm 24:7-10. Zechariah 14:4,9. Mal. 3: 1.

    The Jews
    The Jews perfectly understood Christ's words. When he said, 'I am the good shepherd!, and 'There shall be one flock and ONE shepherd', John 10:14,16 they recognised Yahweh. Psalm 23:1, 100:3. Ezekiel 34.

    Note their remark: 'For a good work we stone thee not but for blasphemy, and because you being a man, make yourself God'. John 10:33.

    'gods'

    Please study John 10–particularly verses 22-39. Observe how Jesus differentiated himself from those merely 'called' gods.

    Christ was sanctified and 'sent into the world'. He was 'The Son of God'. He is 'the good shepherd', the 'one shepherd', 'that great Shepherd of the sheep'.

    'The Son of God'
    The Son of God declares that He is 'The Son of God'. His sonship is unique and eternal. 8:3, John 1:18, Heb. 1.

    I reject as deliberate distortion John Thomas' 'The Supreme Power has not only a son, but a multitude of sons'. (Phanerosis p.57).

    Jesus is NOT 'a' son of God. He is 'The Son of God'. Acknowledgment of that is essential to salvation. John 3:18, 20:31.

    Multiplicity
    Mr Luke, since you say God is not three but one, please explain the statement, 'Not God as a trinity but God in multiplicity' (Key to Understanding p. 111). Have you asked the Jews about your 'God in myriads' theory?–or creators once animals?

    'The True God'
    John 17:3 Why wasn't verse 5 quoted, where Jesus himself speaks of glory EXPERIENCED 'before the world was'?

    'Sent'
    'And Jesus Christ whom you have sent'. Scripture speaks of Jesus being 'sent into the world'–implying from another realm. John 10:36, 3:17, 1:9, 1 Tim. 1:15.

    Consider his explicit statement, 'I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again I leave the world and go to the Father'. John 16:28,

    Vital Issue
    According to John 8:23-24 belief in Christ's eternal pre-human existence is ESSENTIAL to salvation.

    Mr Luke, instead of imposing human rationalism upon Scripture, why not accept what the Bible states? Instead of relying on John Thomas, Robert Roberts, Ron Abel, etc., commit yourself to God's Holy Word and be made 'wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus'.
    Jesus said: 'I am the bread which came down from heaven'. John 6:41, 38, 33, 58, 62, 46, 50, 51.

    In John 6, Jesus who is eternal and eternal life giving, is directly contrasted to the temporal and material manna.

    Fables
    Mr Luke referred to 'man-made fables'. Was ever a greater fable imagined than animals become creators???

    'Behold then the consumation! animal beings such as ourselves become Elohim (gods), mighty in strength and framers of new worlds'. Elpis Israel p.187.

    Isn't this the serpents lie? Gen. 3:4-5. - In whom there is no truth! John 8:45.

    Animals have not become creators nor do humans become Gods! Rev. 21:3. Christadelphian teaching at this point is bedfellow to Mormonism. Both are serpentine. Gen. 3:4-5.

    Obedience
    Of the perfect obedience of Jesus to the Father, Mr Luke says; 'This is not the language of equality'.

    It is, however, the language of 'condescension'. Phil. 2:5-11.

    Jesus
    Mr Luke, what confusion you present on page 30! Indeed, Jesus was 'the Son of David, the Son of Abraham' (according to the flesh) Rom. 1:4. Then you say: 'But he was not mere man, and he was not God, nor was he an angel'.

    Whatever, then, was he???

    You add, 'He was the Son of Man because he was begotten of the Virgin Mary'. Where does the Bible say that?

    Continuing you say, 'And he was the Son of God because God caused Mary to conceive by His Holy Spirit Power'. Luke 1:35 is the only Scripture given.

    Luke 1:35
    Luke 1:35 clearly distinguishes between 'The Holy Spirit' AND 'the power of the highest' cf. Acts 10:38. Where does it say 'His Holy Spirit Power'?
    'That holy thing' - reference to the essential purity of Christ's nature. cf. Acts 2:27, 1 John 3:5.
    'Shall be called the Son of God' – refutes John Thomas 'The Supreme Power not only has 'a' son, but a multitude of sons'.
    Please note the future application of these words - 'Shall be called the Son of God'.
    Psalm 2:7 'I will declare the decree of the Lord: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee'.
    'This day' didn't apply to Christ's physical birth – see Luke 2:22, Acts 13:33,
    Rom. 1:3-4 and especially Heb. 1:5.

    Mary
    Never did Jesus call Mary 'Mother'. – always 'Mary' or Woman'. cf John 2:4, Matthew 12:48.

    Through Mary the eternal Word (who was Jesus Christ – Rev. 19:13) became flesh. 'God was manifest in the flesh'. I Tim. 3:16 (Textus Receptus), John 1:1,14.
    Jesus was declared the Son of God not by virtue of his birth to Mary, but by virtue of His eternal and unique relationship to the Father. John 1:18.

    Holy Spirit
    Mr Luke says, 'He is not the Son of the Holy Spirit'.

    The Bible says that Christ is 'The Son of God'. The Holy Spirit is God - John 4:24, Acts 5:3-4, 9, 2 Cor. 3:17, Matt. 28:19.
    The Son of God is God. Heb. 1:8, John 20.28, Rev. 22:13, 1 John 5:20.

    Subordination
    Mr Luke comments: 'We shall see if we read the scriptures carefully that whenever the Father and the Son are mentioned together the language used always expresses the Father's superiority and the son's subordination'.

    Has Mr Luke read Phil. 2:9-11, Eph. 1:17-22, Heb. 1:8-10, Rev. 1:4-6, Heb. 3:14???
    Subordination, in itself, doesn't necessarily imply inequality. A son may be subordinate to his father even though superior in strength and knowledge!

    Luke 2:52
    Again this Scripture speaks of voluntary submission. The Bible refers to 'Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God'. I Cor. 1:24.

    How the power of God and the wisdom of God was manifest in humility and weakness is not for us to know. He who created the universe, Heb. 1:4, 10, was cradled in a manger as a babe.

    This is the wonder of the incarnation. I Tim. 3:16, I John 1:1-2.
    In passing let us note that Christ's wisdom on earth surpassed that of all others. Luke 2:46-47, John 2:24-25, 3:11-13, 4:39, Matt. 11:25-27, 24:36.

    Cerinthian
    Let's return to Mr Luke's statement; 'He was not a mere man, and He was not God, nor was he an angel'.

    What confusion!!

    Perhaps this reflects Dr. Thomas' confused thinking about Christ:– until birth to Mary there was nothing - only an idea with God. He was born with a filthy human nature and lived as a mere man until about age 30. Suddenly the all powerful Spirit entered him and he became a 'god-manifestation', whatever that is supposed to mean!
    Just before his crucifixion the Spirit abandoned him and the god-manifestation ceased–reducing Christ to mere manhood again. Expiring on the cross he is obliviated and then recreated on the third day as a man. He ascended to heaven where he was 'instantaneously changed to consubstantiality to the Father'. (God).
    Compare confusion with Scripture: Hebrews 13:8 - note verse 7!

    Now
    Mr Luke referred to what Jesus was (or wasn't) but he didn't say what he considers Jesus to be now.

    Dr. Thomas speaks of animal beings of other spheres becoming Gods and creators. Is Jesus one of these?

    The Truth

    Let the Bible correct Mr Luke's bewilderment, 'He was not a mere man, and He was not God, nor was he an angel'.

    The Bible agrees that Christ was not an angel (Michael or any other) and will never be. Heb. 1.

    The Bible, however, is specific. It teaches that Jesus was truly and fully man. John 1:14, Galatians 4:4, Heb. 2.

    It also teaches that He was truly and fully God. Is. 40:3, 9. Heb. 1:8, Mark 2:7, John 1:l, 20:28, 1 John 5:20.

    The Bible's essential message is that 'Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners'. 1 Tim. 1:15. He was 'The Lord of glory'. 1 Cor. 2:8.

    The simple and beautiful message of the gospel is that God loved each one of us so much that He gave His only Son to die for our sins so that we could be saved and come to know Him as our personal Saviour and Lord.

    'God commendeth His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us'. Romans 5:8.

    True Christianity is a personal relationship between a believer and the risen Christ.

    Paul said, 'For me to live is Christ'.

    'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved'. Acts 16:31.



     

    CHRISTADELPHIAN TEACHING ABOUT GOD & HIS SON

    Jim Luke

    (Investigator 45, 1995 November)


    In the previous article I made very clear exactly what Christadelphians believe about God, His Son and the Holy Spirit.

    In brief they teach that God is the Creator Who made all things, that He has been from everlasting and He had a purpose with the earth when He created man. God is immortal, dwelling in heaven in light unapproachable to man. He is omnipotent, omniscient and everywhere present by His Spirit which fills heaven and earth.

    Jesus Christ is His Son, special and unique, and was conceived by the virgin Mary when God caused His Holy Spirit, (His Special Power) to overshadow her (Luke 1:35). As Mary was of the house of David, Jesus was both Son of God and Son of David as the promise made to King David required (2 Sam 7:12-16; Matt 1:1). Jesus did not exist in person before he was born but was the subject of promise, prophecy and type. The teaching that Jesus pre-existed is therefore false.

    The Holy Spirit is not a person but God's Special Power which He gave to the Lord Jesus when he was baptised (Mat 3:16), and which he used to perform miracles etc (Acts 10:38). It was also bestowed upon holy men of old, by which means the inspired scripture was given (2Pet 1.19-21; 2Tim 3:16).

    As Jesus came to do the will of the Father and to open up a way whereby God could forgive men whilst His righteousness was maintained, it follows that he bore the relationship of Son and Servant to Him and in no way was he equal to or coeternal with God, as the doctrine of the Trinity asserts.

    I was interested to read the following comment from your correspondent, Richard Rawe, "J Luke is specific & has some interesting arguments, but you would never know he agreed with John Thomas' views as presented by Hutchinson. I hope he will clarify this."

    This I would like to do and to point out to begin with that my views are identical with J Thomas'. It is because of the slanted presentation of J. Thomas' views by Mr Hutchinson that such a difference appears. I will now set the record straight for the benefit of your readers in the hope that this endeavour may help them find the true God and His Son Jesus Christ (John 17:3).

    J Hutchinson throws in an aside, "John Thomas…describes Jesus as 'filthy'". This is a less than honest reference as John Thomas was dealing with the type of Joshua (Hebrew for Jesus) in Zechariah 3 who was clothed in filthy garments which were to be changed. The filthy garments refer in figure to Christ's mortality which was to be changed upon his resurrection.

    John Thomas is not referring to Jesus' character which was indeed 'holy'. So the point is lost and the lesson is that we must be more careful readers lest we misrepresent what others teach.

    Mr Hutchinson should read what God says about Himself before charging John Thomas with error when he says he postulates a 'solitary Deity'. John Thomas meant no more than what God Himself says m Isaiah 45:5, "I am the LORD and there is none else, there is NO GOD BESIDE ME..." and I Tim 1:17, "Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the ONLY WISE GOD, be honour and glory forever and ever."

    John Hutchinson in his attempt to portray Christadelphians as polytheists has apparently again misunderstood the writing of John Thomas. Polytheism is 'the belief in and worship of many gods.' But Christadelphians believe there is but one God (Deut 6:4 etc), Who will be manifest in others who show forth His qualities. Jesus revealed these characteristics of His Father perfectly and so John declared, "we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14); and so Jesus said, "I have manifested thy name unto Men which thou gavest me out of the world" (John 17:6).

    Jesus demonstrated God's love and ways before his followers with the objective of them also revealing these qualities in their lives (IPet 2:21; IJn. 3:3). He looked to the time when his followers would be one with him and the Father and prayed accordingly, "And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them, that THEY MAY BE ONE, EVEN AS WE ARE ONE" (Jn 17:22). The Bible teaches that God is 'taking out of the nations a people for His Name (Acts 15:14). The ultimate destiny of the redeemed is to be made like Christ, immortal and incorruptible (IJn 3:2; 1 Cor 15:53-54). Then the saints, redeemed from among men, will be "made equal to the angels, and able to die no more" (Luke 20:36). John Hutchinson's confused picture and far-fetched allusions are misleading and mischievous and do not savour of sincere and unbiased inquiry.

    Christadelphians believe that God created the world and man but they believe, too, that He has angels who do His will and that thew carried out the commandment to create. Hence we read, "Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word" (Psa 103:20). We also read that these 'sons of God' were present at Creation and 'shouted for joy' (Job 38:7). Thus God created by His power through the instrumentality of His angels: "And God (elohim = mighty ones, re the angels) said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…` (Gen l:26). God communicated with men via his angels, for of God Himself we read, 'No man hath seen God any time" (Jn 1:16; ITim 6:16). These angels bore His Name, spoke for God, and did His will (cp Exod 23:20-23). Even men who taught on God's behalf bore His Name and were called "Elohim" (Jn 10:34, 35; Psa 82: 1; Exod 21:8, 9 the word "judges" in the Hebrew is "elohim", or mighty ones).

    The reference by John Hutchinson to Mormonism and Hinduism are novel, fanciful, and one can only wonder at his reasons.

    To suggest that Dr Thomas teaches that Jesus "is but one of a multitude", and not the unique and only Son of God is a travesty and grossly misrepresents what Christadelphians and Dr Thomas teach. This so-called "weakness in Christadelphian theology" is rather a weakness in John Hutchinson's ability to represent what Christadelphian theology truly is.

    But John Hutchinson's theology is defective when he alleges that Jesus is His own unique manifestation. In fact Jesus had no special agenda of his own. He came to manifest the Father in every respect. That is why we read that he revealed the glory of the Father, full of goodness and truth, that he manifested the Father's name, that he said he "sought not his own will, but the will of the Father which had sent him" (Jn 1:14; 17:6; 5:30).

    As to "Christadelphian Authority", again we have quotations from Christadelphian works which are taken out of context.

    Christadelphians regard highly the writings of Dr John Thomas a man they believe God used to bring to light in these last days the truths taught by Christ and the apostles, but they in no respect hold his works to be inspired or "authoritative". The Bible is the absolute authority being true, inspired and infallible and no one, would have affirmed this more than Dr Thomas himself.

    Though our words have been in part confused with correcting misleading impression given by John Hutchinson about what Christadelphians really teach, it is hoped that such an elucidation may be helpful to your readers in ascertaining what the Bible truly does teach about God and His Son, and so lead others to "know God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent", which in turn leads to eternal life (Jn l7:3).
     

     



     

    CHRISTADELPHIANS GIVE UP

    (From: Investigator 47, 1996 March)

    J Luke
    Panorama
    SA. 5041
    26/11/95

    Dear Mr Stett

    Thankyou for the opportunity to contribute to the debate on the Trinity. I cannot see any value in continuing the debate with Mr Hutchinson & so do not wish to "proceed to Round 3".

    Sincerely,

     

     

     
    Mr B Stett
    Port Adelaide
    SA 5015
    1996 February 1

    Bruce Johns
    Daw Park
    SA 5041

    Dear Mr Johns,

    The first two rounds of the debate on what the Bible says about the unity/trinity of God were informative.

    Therefore I'm disappointed that Mr Luke wishes to avoid Round 3. He says: "I cannot see any value in continuing the debate… "

    Page 2 of the Christadelphian magazine The Godhead Explained says regarding the Trinity doctrine: "those who are in error are not in the way of life eternal, no matter how sincere they may be. This is a very serious statement, and many may not like us stating it so bluntly. In fact many may deprecate debating about God as being undignified."

    In Round 1 "Anonymous" argued that "life eternal" is not necessarily at stake if the unity/trinity of God is misunderstood. (Investigator 42 p.19) Since, in contrast, Christadelphians do believe eternal life is at stake there is great "value" in continuing and it would be irresponsible to "deprecate debating".

    Mr Hutchinson informed me that attempts to arrange a public debate before an audience failed due to disagreement over the venue. A preliminary written debate would also assure much higher quality of information in the public spoken debate if that were still to take place. This would be of "value" to the audience.

    In the Christadelphian advertisement reprinted in INVESTIGATOR 40 we read:

    "The claims of these religious organizations are false and the CHRISTADELPHIANS offer to publicly debate the issues."

    To make this offer and then back out of Round 3 when Round 3 is freely offered shows lack of commitment – even lack of sincerity.

    Therefore Mr Johns I respectfully ask you to find out whether Mr Luke will reconsider and prepare Round 3.

    Yours sincerely,

     





     
    CHRISTADELPHIANS REFUSE
    ROUND 3!

    (Investigator 48, 1996 May)


    The request to the Christadelphians (INVESTIGATOR 47) to agree to Round 3 of the debate about the Trinity received a reply by letter which is here retyped:
     
     

    Christadelphians
    P.O. Box 36
    Daw Park
    16.3.96

    Dear Mr Stett,

    In reply to your letter re the TRINITY Debate. Could I first correct 2 statements by Mr Hutchinson. In discussion with us prior to a public debate he insisted 2 points were not negotiable

    A. The venue must be in one of our Halls – not a neutral venue, nor his own church hall.

    B. The only speaker to represent us was to be Mr Mansfield, the editor of the Herald magazine.

    It should be obvious why the negotiations broke down.

    Mr Hutchinson wasted his first article by totally attacking the Christadelphians and not pressing on with his proof of the Trinity. A comment from one of your readers about this article is interesting & I quote from a list of comments sent to Mr Luke after this edition in May 95. "He (John Hutchinson) leaves us much in the dark and for us to guess as to true specifics of his own views."

    In relation to "Anonymous" Round 1 he has adequate information in relation to the subject in Jim Luke's 2 articles which were very positive & scriptural regarding the subject. We stand by our public advert inviting debate with whom & at any time. However it has to be in a neutral venue open to the public not in a church to which some might not come. Further we reserve the right to choose our speaker. I am sorry to report I cannot change Mr Luke's view.

    Yours sincerely,

    Bruce Johns

     







    REPLY TO BRUCE JOHNS

    J Hutchinson

    (Investigator 49, 1996 July)


    In 1992 I received a challenge from Mr. G. E. Mansfield to debate the 'trinity' – publicly in Adelaide. After promptly notifying Mr. Mansfield of my agreement I didn't hear from him.

    The Christadelphians, however, wanted to change the debator, the subject and location. (Documentation available)

    Mr. Johns says that I wasted my first article by totally attacking the Christadelphians. Didn't he read the positive evidence to the subject on pages 22-23?

    Christadelphians, themselves, have relentlessly attacked churches. What about the advertisement of 27.3.93 (Advertiser) which misrepresented and attacked churches in the public eye?

    I recall our town being letterboxed with booklets which featured a triple headed Hindu idol on the front cover with a subheading: 'Bible Truth contrasted with Church error.'

    To me, this was a poor way of discrediting others. Should Christadelphians look to ancient Babylon they may well find examples of 'God in multiplicity' and 'God Families.'

    If Mr. Johns is serious about the 'public advert' then why is Mr Luke dropping out of Round Three?

    I have never requested a debate with the Christadelphians. They have issued the challenge and I have responded.
     
     



     

    JESUS CHRIST or John Thomas?
    Reply to Mr Luke

    John Hutchinson

    ( Investigator 49, 1996 July)


    On 27-3-93 the Christadelphians placed a prominent advertisement in The Advertiser attacking Church doctrine and offering to debate the issues. Mr. Luke is now defaulting at Round Three of the 'Trinity' debate in the Investigator.

    The problem, as I see it, lies in Jim Luke's statement of Round Two : 'My views are identical with J. Thomas.'

    In the opening essay I challenged Christadelphian authority, quoting (in context ) from 'Christadelphian Standards', 'If such works as "Elpis Israel" and "Eureka" are neglected an essential foundation for individual research and investigation is lacking.'

    J. Thomas.

    Thomas practiced medicine (not a doctor of theology!) who withdrew from Cambellism to form a group that he named 'Christadelphian'.

    Sensational and dogmatic predictions eroded his credibility – most of which failed – and some before his very eyes. He forecast a massive Russian victory in the Crimean war. Russia, however, was soundly defeated by Britain, France and Turkey. The millennium was to commence in 1905 and Queen Victoria, who Thomas said was the Queen of Sheba, would come and lay her crown before Christ.

    Slanted.

    Mr. Luke accuses of a 'slanted presentation'. My quotes, however, came direct from J. Thomas–and in context!!

    Filthy Christ.

    Mr Luke should be honest. If J. Thomas defined Christ's mortality as 'filthy' isn't that exactly what I said?

    If Jesus Christ is 'The same yesterday, today and forever' (Heb 13:8) how can he be 'filthy' in the flesh and 'holy' in the resurrection?

    You say that Jesus was 'holy' in character. Nature and character are inseparable. 'A bad tree cannot bear good fruit.'

    Joshua.

    Where does the Bible say that Joshua was a 'type' of Christ?

    'The brand plucked from fire', clothed in filth, steeped in iniquity and accused by Satan types sinners - not the Saviour.

    Joshua was saved, clothed and cleansed by God's grace.

    Deity.

    Mr Luke quotes Isaiah 45:5. But what about Isaiah 43:10? 'Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be after me.' Where do animals become gods here?

    Why did you sidestep the citations from Phanerosis, Elpis Israel and Eureka?

    Agenda of Jesus.

    'This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the word to save sinners.' I Tim 1:15 cf Luke 19:10, John 10:10, Eph 5:25-27.

    Manifestation.

    Jesus was absolutely unique in His manifestation. 1 John 15, 8, 1Tim 3:16 John 1:14. 'We beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father.'

    Angelic creation.

    Here lies the crux of Christadelphianism – sub creators – Platonism – Gnosticism.

    I address Jim Luke' s texts.

    Psalm 103:20. Where is creating mentioned? Heb 1:14 identifies angelic role.

    Job 38:7. Who quotes out of context here? 'Shouting for joy' isn't creating! Verse 4 reveals the creator! 'I laid the foundations of the earth.'

    Gen 1:26. 'Elohim' in Gen 1 refers exclusively to the 'Omnipotent Creator' Matt 19:4, Heb 4:5, 2 Cor 4:6, James 3:9.

    Angels are creatures not creators. Until Mr. Luke recognises this he is as far from truth as East from West.

    Psalm 8:5 shreds such notions. 'Thou (God) hast made him (man) a little lower than the angels.'

    Plato.

    Again, I remind that Plato speculated subcreation ideas. Christadelphian, Alan Eyre, says of John Thomas: 'But the writings of his formative period–show close and accurate familiarity with Plato and other Greek writers.' This is self evident!

    Dr. Thomas says:

    'It is part of the "strong delusion' – to suppose that the Invisible God left the throne of the universe on a visit to this region of immensity, where, like a mechanic building a house, He worked in creating the earth and all things therein… Such a procedure…would have been unfitting His dignity… He has revealed Himself to us as a Potentate, a King, a Lord, etc.: now they who fill such stations commit to others the service of executing their will and pleasure.' Elpis Israel. p. 185

    Scripture says:

    'He who built all things is God.' Heb 3:4

    'All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.' John 1:3

    'God that made the world and all things therein.' Acts 17:24

    'The Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.' Rom 1:25

    'That they may be one.'

    The text does not say, 'That they may be 'Gods'. Jesus had earlier said that there would be one fold and one Shepherd. John 10:16. 1 Cor 12:3, Gal 3:28, Eph 4:4-5, fulfil the prayer of John 17.

    'Equal to the angels'.

    Angels for J. Thomas, however, are 'ex-animals' of other spheres–now mighty gods!!

    'Like Christ'.

    Yes, but not Christ!

    Jesus and multitude.

    Again, my question was ignored: 'What is the multitudinous Christ?'

    I refer to Dr. Thomas' comments on Rev 1:7 (Eureka 1) where he speaks of the dew and the clouds and says, 'Every resurrected saint will be a dewdrop, sparkling in the star-like glory of a divine refraction.' Then he goes on to say on page 142, 'The power of Deity in every particle of these clouds is the omnipotence of the apocalypse.'

    '-his omnipotence will be in the clouds of the Elohim.' p. 143 He refers to a Son of a man who is a 'collective' – 'The eternal Spirit incarnate in the saints.'

    In Eureka ch. 1 we are told that the Son of man is a 'multitude' and the glorified saints are 'omnipotent.'

    Utter Nonsense!

    The clouds are not myriads of omnipotent beings! (God incarnations)

    When the Son of man comes with clouds, I believe he comes in literal clouds for a cloud overshadowed Jesus in his transfiguration and received him at the ascension where it was said that he would return as he went.

    The Son of man in Rev. 1 is an individual who says, 'I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen.'

    Christadelphianism carefully conceals polytheism. It has 'gods many and Lords many.'

    'But unto us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.' 1 Cor 8:6

    'For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.'

    Please note, 'The man Christ Jesus'. John Thomas says that Christ was 'instantaneously changed to consubstantiality with the Father'…hence no longer 'The man Christ Jesus.'

    The Bible says nothing about Christ being 'instantaneously changed to consubstantiality to the Father'. It teaches that Christ who is eternally consubstantial to the Father became man. John 1:2,14.

    MORMONISM

    I'm lost to know why Jim Luke bucks here. Dr. Thomas' speculation of animals of other spheres becoming Gods and creators and speculating that we will be 'Elohim' and 'Framers of new worlds' strikingly parallels Mormon belief.

    Why, in the Christadelphian publication "Mormonism" which purports to refute Mormon errors is there no reference to Mormonism's notorious error and aphorism: 'As man now is, God once was; as God now is man may become'?

    Dilemmas confront both groups. In the case of Christadelphians I inquire: Who made the animals who became 'gods' and made us? How far back does the animal-gods succession go? Did the Almighty make animals at some point?

    I ask Mormons : Who made "Father God" if he was once a man?

    Compare:

    Herbert Armstrong. 'God is neither one person nor a trinity. God is a Family into which we may be born and also become God.' From '18 Restored Truths.'

    H.P Mansfield, (Christadelphian) '…not God in a trinity, but God in multiplicity. It teaches that God is extending his being that he might create a family of divine beings.' (Lee-Mansfied debate)

    Exposing the lie

    'Ye shall be gods,' Gen 3:5. The serpent's lie pervades religion today.

    According to the Bible man will never be God.

    'I heard a great voice from the throne saying, "Behold the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God."' Rev 21:22.

    'I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end… He who conquers shall have this heritage, and I will be his God and he shall be my son.' Rev 21:6-7

    I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Rev 22:12.




     
    SONSHIP and ONENESS

    E & M Gordon

    (Investigator 49, 1996 July)
     

    One God. and Father of All

    It is clearly stated in Eph.4:6, that there is, "One God and Father of all, who is above all and through all, and in all (i.e. true believers). We shall try to show that this Truth, if applied simply and consistently, is the true teaching of the Christian Gospel.

    Some time ago the Leader of a study group asked how we could strengthen the bond between the husband and wife relationship. He was asked, "Do your children owe their existence to their parents." He readily replied with a definite, "Yes." Again he was asked, "Does Jesus Christ as the Son of God owe His existence to His Father. After some hesitation he shouted, "No! ".

    Now we ask you the Reader, "Why should the reply to the first question be, "Yes", and the reply to the second question be, "No! ". All we are dealing with here is the simple concept of, "Sonship." Then why the contradiction? In fact why is this idea of Sonship important?

    True Sonship

    When Jesus asked His disciples who He was, Peter replied, "Thou art the Anointed (Christ), the Son of the Living God." Jesus replied, "Blessed art you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father WHO is in heaven… and upon this rock I will build My church." (Mt. 16:16,17). This is confirmed in Jn.6:69.

    Why did Christ put so much importance on His Sonship? We can read in 1 John 5:12, "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." There it is in a nutshell! Either we have the true idea of sonship and have Life, and that more abundantly, or we do not have the true idea of sonship and we fall short of the mark of eternal salvation.

    If we allow that true believers will be known by their fruits, it can surely be conceded that these are few and far between, judging by reports of the lack of love shown between the denominations in the past. Then surely we have to look for something better. Let us consider again the answers given by the Leader mentioned above. If earthly children owe their existence to their parents, then surely also Jesus Christ, as the Son of God, owes His existence to His Father before time began. Time is only measured through the created things, so it follows that there was no such thing as "time" before God created all things through the Son. The fact that the Son had a hand in the creation is substantiated by the words, "Let there be…" in Gen. 1. Again it is verified with the words, "All things were made by Him (the Word); and without Him was not any thing made that was made. (Jn. 1:3).

    Following this idea of Sonship further, allow us to suggest that as the Son of God, Jesus Christ, had a Spiritual beginning with the Father before He took part in the physical creation of all other things. If this is not the case then He was not the Son of God, and was not in the likeness of the heavenly Father; if this is the case then He was in the likeness of the Father and was of the same Divine Nature as the Father, just as He was of human nature as the Son of Mary, that is to say, "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." Heb.4:15.

    It is to be remembered, of course, that Christ was given all the gifts of the Holy Spirit immediately after He came up out of the water after His baptism. Jesus did not need to be without a beginning in order to be Divine. In fact if He had no beginning He would not necessarily be Divine as His Father is Divine. All this Jesus confirmed when he said, "I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father." Jn. 16:28.

    Oneness

    Jesus clearly indicated time and time again that the Father was greater than Himself as we can read, "My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father's hand.", Jn.10:29. Again He declared, Jn: 14:28: "Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I." Jn. 14:28. Therefore, to say that Jesus was equal to His Father is to say one of two things:

    1) Jesus did not know what He was talking about, which of course is utterly incongruous, or

    2) Those who say that Father and Son are equal have something to be desired in their thinking. "HE hath put all things under His feet. But when HE saith all things are put under Him, it is manifest that HE is excepted, which did put all things under Him." 1Cor. 15:27. God is not an earthly father who grows weak with age, nor is there anything that HE does not know. HE is confident that His Son will so rule, however, that HE can entrust all to Him who conquered sin and death. In this respect let us be reminded that a man and his wife are to be one. Does this mean that they dissolve into one person. Obviously this is a ridiculous suggestion, and we offer that it is just as ridiculous to say that Oneness makes the Father and Son one god. They are one in Spirit, they are one in purpose, and Christ is one with the Father meaning He is dependent on the Father as the believers are dependent on the Son.

    As we have suggested, it is time that we awake from our slumber, from our inhumanity to man, from our human thoughts, and try something that rests on Christ's own words, so that with the strength of the indwelling Holy Spirit we might have the strength to live as we ought, and worship God, the Father, in spirit and in truth, through Jesus Christ, the only Mediator between man and God, "For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus." 1Tim.2:5. This does not mean that Jesus Christ is GOD in the ultimate sense, but it does make Him in the Nature of God and therefore God-like, or Divine.

    There is a difference, and this difference lies in the fact that God the Father is the Prime Mover, and His Son, Jesus Christ, is the Secondary Mover. All else is subordinate to Them. Let all those who care, learn what that means, including the writer. In this way, and in this way only, we can gain that abundant Life through the True Son! Then surely we will refrain from referring to either the Father or the Son, in their glorified State, as Persons, which is a human term, and not on a level with Divinity; nor should Divinity be used to refer to human beings, no matter how elevated the state of man here on earth.





     
    CHRISTADELPHIANS

    B Stett

    (Investigator 51, 1996 November)


    "They put forth a challenge. John answered it. In the end they didn't want to debate with him."

    That's how the chairman introduced John Hutchinson to a seminar on cults at the Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Adelaide.

    Mr Hutchinson spoke on Christadelphian history and belief along the lines of his debate with Jim Luke in INVESTIGATOR from which Mr Luke withdrew after Round 2.

    A member of the audience said, "Christadelphians are some of the rudest persons I ever talked to; they didn't want to know my viewpoint at all."

    The audience of 26 included four persons who left the Christadelphians earlier this year – Jim, Alison, David and Heather. All four now attend a Baptist church.

    Heather Edwards grew up as a Christadelphian. "I felt very, very down," she said. "I prayed for the Holy Spirit.

    "I read and applied, the book Power in Praise by Merlin Carothers. It changed my life.

    "Sure Hope Ministries were very helpful to us. All my family no longer want to know me.

    "It's been painful. But there's joy in knowing you're saved."

    The coordinator for the lecture was Bruce McKenzie of Sure Hope Ministries an interdenominational group which reaches out to members of "cults." (See Investigator 25)

    On offer were tapes, books and pamphlets about Christadelphians and a reprint of Mr Hutchinson's debate with Jim Luke.

    _____________________________________________________________



     http://users.adam.com.au/bstett/

    http://ed5015.tripod.com/