The Trinity, the Definition of Chalcedon, and…
AUTHOR: Unknown
PUBLISHED ON: May 12, 2003
PUBLISHED IN: Bible Studies

APO:The Trinity, the Definition of Chalcedon, and Oneness Theology

  I. Introduction

  The doctrine of the Trinity requires a balanced view of Scripture.
That is, since the doctrine itself is derived from more than one stream
of evidence, it requires that all the evidence be weighed and given
authority. If any of the foundational pillars of the doctrine
(monotheism, the deity of Christ, the person of the Holy Spirit, etc.)
be ignored or even rejected, the resulting doctrinal system will differ
markedly from the orthodox position, and will lose its claim to be
called “biblical.”

  For centuries various small groups have rejected the doctrine of the
Trinity. In modern times these groups have frequently attracted quite a
following; Jehovah’s Witnesses as the modern heirs of Arius have over 3
million people actively engaged in their work; the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) are heirs of ancient
polytheism and mystery religions, and nearly 6.5 million adhere to
their teachings. A smaller number of people, however, cling to the
third-century position of modalism – the teachings of men such as
Sabellius or Praxeas or Noetus. Though fewer in number, it is this
position, popularly called the “Oneness” teaching, that prompts this
paper’s clarification of the Biblical position regarding the doctrine
of the Trinity and the Person of Jesus Christ.

  Oneness writers strongly deny the doctrine of the Trinity. In the
words of David K. Bernard,

  “The Bible does not teach the doctrine of the trinity, and
trinitarianism actually contradicts the Bible. It does not add any
positive benefit to the Christian message….the doctrine of the
trinity does detract from the important biblical themes of the oneness
of God and the absolute deity of Jesus Christ.”[1]

  The attack on the Trinity launched by Oneness writers can be divided
into two camps. There are some writers who know what the doctrine is
and disagree with it; unfortunately, many others don’t know what it is
and attack it anyway, normally misrepresenting the doctrine in quite
obvious ways. For example, one writer, while ridiculing the use of the
term “mystery” in reference to the Trinity said, “When asked to explain
how God could be one and three persons at the same time the answer is,
“It’s a mystery.” “[2] Of course, the doctrine of the Trinity does not
say God is one person and three persons or one being and three beings,
but that within the one being of God there exists eternally three
persons. It is easy to see why many find the doctrine unintelligible,
especially when they trust writers who are not careful in their

  This Oneness teaching is quite attractive to the person who wishes,
for whatever personal reason, to “purge” the faith of what they might
consider to be “man’s philosophies.” There are a number of Oneness
groups in the United States, located primarily in the South and
Midwest. The United Pentecostal Church is the largest of the Oneness
groups in the U.S.; others include the Apostolic Overcoming Holy Church
of God, the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, and the Church of our
Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith. Each of these groups has
thousands of followers, many of whom are quite evangelistic in
spreading their faith. Given that many of the issues that Oneness
addresses are not familiar ground for most Christians, it is good to
examine these issues in the light of Biblical revelation and theology
so that the orthodox Christian will be able to “give a reason” for the
hope that is within us.

  This survey will be broken into four sections. First, the important
aspects of the doctrine of the Trinity relevant to the Oneness position
will be examined. These would include the Christian definition of
monotheism, the existence of three persons, the pre-existence of the
Son and the internal operations of the Trinity. Secondly, vital issues
relevant to Christology will be addressed, such as the Chalcedonian
definition, the unipersonality of Christ, and the relationship of the
Father and the Son. Thirdly, the Oneness position will be defined and
presented, and finally that position will be critiqued.

  II. Trinitarian Concepts

  The very word “Trinity” is made up of two terms – “tri” and “unity.”
The doctrine travels the middle road between the two, and neither can
be allowed to predominate the other. Trinitarians have but one God –
the charge of polytheism or tritheism leveled at the orthodox position
ignores the very real emphasis, drawn from the Biblical witness to one
God, on monotheism. This can be seen, for example, in the definition of
the Trinity given by Berkhof:

  A) There is in the Divine Being but one indivisible essence (ousia,

  B) In this one Divine Being there are three Persons or individual
subsistences, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

  C) The whole undivided essence of God belongs equally to each of the
three persons.

  D) The subsistence and operation of the three persons in the divine
Being is marked by a certain definite order.

  E) There are certain personal attributes by which the three persons
are distinguished.

  F) The Church confesses the Trinity to be a mystery beyond the
comprehension of man.[3]

  Twice the emphasis is made that the essence or being of God is
indivisible. There is but one being that is God. The doctrine of the
Trinity safeguards this further by asserting that “the whole undivided
essence of God belongs equally to each of the three persons.” This
follows logically on the heels of asserting the indivisibility of the
being of God, for if three Persons share that one being, they must
share all of that being. The Father is not just 1/3 of God – he is
fully Deity, just as the Son and the Spirit.

  The Biblical evidence for monotheism is legion, and it is not within
the scope of this paper to review all those passages. The Shema might
be sufficient to demonstrate the point, for this recital begins at
Deuteronomy 6:4 with the words, “Hear, O Israel; Yahweh is our God;
Yahweh is one.” This concept of monotheism separates Judaism (and
Christianity) from any kind of polytheistic religion.

  Given monotheism as a basis, it must be stressed that the bald
statement of monotheism does not imply nor denote unitarianism. When
the Bible says God is one, this does not mean that God is unitarian
(i.e., uni-personal) in his mode of existence. Frequently individual
writers will quote from the many passages that teach that there is one
God and will infer from this a denial of the tri-personality of God.
This is going beyond what is written. It is vital, if justice is to be
done to the Biblical teaching, that all of the witness of Scripture be
given due consideration. If the Bible presents more data that clarifies
the meaning of God’s “oneness,” then this information must be taken
into account.

  Does, then, the Bible indicate the existence of more than one Person
in the divine nature? It most certainly does. John Calvin expressed the
proper balance well in the Institutes:

  “Again, Scripture sets forth a distinction of the Father from the
Word, and of the Word from the Spirit. Yet the greatness of the mystery
warns us how much reverence and sobriety we ought to use in
investigating this. And that passage in Gregory of Nazianus vastly
delights me:

  ” “I cannot think on the one without quickly being encircled by the
splendor of the three; nor can I discern the three without being
straightway carried back to the one.” Let us not, then, be led to
imagine a trinity of persons that keeps our thoughts distracted and
does not at once lead them back to that unity. Indeed, the words
“Father,” “Son,” and “Spirit” imply a real distinction – let no one
think that these titles, whereby God is variously designated from his
works, are empty – but a distinction, not a division.”[4]

  Before looking at the particular Biblical data, it is good to make
the same emphasis as made by Gregory via Calvin – though this paper
will emphasize the triunity of God, this is only because of the object
of clarification, that being the Oneness teaching. Balance demands that
both elements – the existence of three persons as well as the absolute
claim of monotheism – be maintained.

  The Christian church maintains that the terms Father, Son and Holy
Spirit refer to actual Persons, not simply modes of existence. As the
popular, short definition goes, “There is within the one being that is
God three co-equal and co-eternal Persons, the Father, the Son, and the
Holy Spirit.” The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Spirit, the
Spirit is not the Father, etc. Each is eternal – the Father has always
been, the Son has always been, and the Spirit has always been. No
person precedes the other, no follows another. Charles Hodge said in
reflecting on the early church councils,

  “These Councils decided that the terms Father, Son, and Spirit, were
not expressive merely of relations ad extra, analogous to the terms,
Creator, Preserver, and Benefactor. This was the doctrine known as
Sabellianism, which assumed that the Supreme Being is not only one in
essence, but one in person. The Church doctrine asserts that Father,
Son, and Spirit express internal, necessary, and eternal relations in
the Godhead; that they are personal designations, so that the Father is
one person, the Son another person, and the Spirit another person. They
differ not as allo kai allo, but as allos kai allos; each says I, and
each says Thou, to either of the others. The word used in the Greek
Church to express this fact was first prosopon, and afterwards, and by
general consent, hupostasis; in the Latin Church, “persona,” and in
English, person. The idea expressed by the word in its application to
the distinctions in the Godhead, is just as clear and definite as in
its application to men.”[5]

  Some Oneness writers have gone so far as to say, “To say that God is
three persons and find substantiation for it in the Scripture is a work
in futility. There is literally nothing in the Bible that supports God
being three persons.”[6] However, as the Church throughout the ages has
seen fit to reject the modalistic presentation, there must obviously be
some reason for this. Such reason is found in the teaching of Scripture
itself. The Bible presents a number of categories of evidence that
demonstrates the existence of three Persons all sharing the one being
that is God. First, the Persons are described as personal; that is, the
attributes of personhood and personal existence are ascribed to the
three. Secondly, clear distinctions are made between the Persons, so
that it is impossible to confound or confuse the three. The second
Person, the Son, is described as being eternal (as is the Spirit, but
in this context, given the denial of the eternal nature of the Son by
the Oneness position, and the acceptance of the eternality of the
Spirit by the same group, this point is more tangent to the issue) and
is differentiated in this pre-existence from the Father. Finally, we
see real and eternal relationships between the Persons (the opera ad

  One of the characteristics of personal existence is will. Few would
argue the point in relationship to the Father, as He obviously has a
will. So too, the Son has a will, for he says to the Father in the
Garden, “not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39) The
ascription of will to the Persons indicates the ability to reason, to
think, to act, to desire – all those things we associate with
self-consciousness. As we shall see later, there is a difference
between nature and person, and one of those differences is the will.
Inanimate objects do not will; neither do animals. Part of the imago
dei is the will itself.

  Another aspect of personhood seen to exist with each of the Persons
is the ability to love. In John 3:35 we read that “the Father loves the
Son…” This is repeated in John 5:20. In John 15:9 the Father loves
the Son, and the Son in return loves those who are His own. In Jesus’
prayer to the Father in John 17, we are again reminded of the Father’s
love for Jesus in 17:23, and in verse 24 we are told that this love
between Father and Son has existed from all eternity. That love marks
every word of Jesus concerning the Father is beyond dispute, and is it
not fair to say that the giving of the Holy Spirit to the Church is an
act of love as well? Hence we see that the persons described in these
passages (and in many others) are capable of love, a personal attribute.

  It might be argued that these personal attributes are simply applied
to the three manifestations of God, but that this does not necessarily
mean that there are three Persons. However, the Bible clearly
differentiates between the three Persons, as the brief survey to follow

  One of the more well-known examples of the existence of three
Persons is the baptism of Jesus recorded in Matthew 3:16-17. Here the
Father speaks from heaven, the Son is being baptized (and is again
described as being the object of the Father’s love, paralleling the
Johannine usage), and the Spirit is descending as a dove.[7] Jesus is
not speaking to himself here (as many non-Christian groups tend to
accuse the Trinitarians of making Jesus a ventriloquist), but is spoken
to by the Father. There is no confusing of the Persons at the baptism.

  The transfiguration of Jesus in Matthew 17:1-9 again demonstrates
the separate personhood of the Father and the Son. The Son’s true pre-
existent glory is unveiled for an instant in the presence of the Father
in the cloud. Communication again takes place, marked with the familiar
love of the Father for the Son. Both the deity and the separate
personhood of the Son is clearly presented in this passage. The Father
spoke to the Son at another time, recorded in John 12:28. Again, the
distinction of person of the Father and the Son is clearly maintained.

  Some of the most obvious passages relevant to the Father and the Son
are found in the prayers of Jesus Christ. These are no mock prayers –
Jesus is not speaking to Himself (nor, as the Oneness writer would put
it, is Jesus’ humanity speaking to His deity) – He is clearly
communicating with another Person, that being the Person of the Father.
Transcendent heights are reached in the lengthiest prayer we have, that
of John 17. No one can miss the fact of the communication of one Person
(the Son) with another (the Father) presented in this prayer. The usage
of personal pronouns and direct address put the very language squarely
on the side of maintaining the separate personhood of Father and Son.
This is not to say that their unity is something that goes far beyond
simple purpose; indeed, given the background of the Old Testament, the
very statements of the Son regarding His relationship with the Father
are among the strongest assertions of His Deity in the Bible. But, as
stated before, the doctrine of the Trinity is pre-eminently a balanced
doctrine that differentiates between the being or nature of God and the
Persons who share equally that being. If there is more than one God, or
if there is less than three Persons, then the doctrine of the Trinity
is in error.

  Striking is the example of Matthew 27:46 where Jesus, quoting from
Psalm 22:1 cries out, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” That
the Father is the immediate person addressed is clear from Luke’s
account where the next statement from Jesus in his narrative is
“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)[8] Some
early heresies (predominately gnostic in character) had to posit some
kind of “separation” of the Deity from the human Son at this point (and
indeed, some Oneness writers could be accused of the same problem).
That this is the Son addressing the Father is crystal clear, and the
ensuing personhood of both is inarguable.

  One of the high-water marks of Synoptic Christology is to be found
in Matthew 11:27. Here the reciprocity between the Father and Son is
put forth with exactness, while at the same time dictating the absolute
deity of both.

  The relationship of the Father and Son is the topic under discussion
in both John 5:16ff and John 8:12ff. The Apostle again walks a tight
line in maintaining the distinct personhood of Father and Son while
asserting the full deity of Jesus Christ. Outside of a Trinitarian
concept of God, this position of John’s is unintelligible. Important in
this discussion is the fact that in the very same passages that the
Deity of the Son is emphasized his distinction from the Father is also
seen. This causes insuperable problems for the Oneness position, as we
shall see. In John 5:19-24, Jesus clearly differentiates himself from
the Father, yet claims attributes that are only proper of Deity (life,
judgment, honor). In John 5:30 the Son says He can do nothing of
Himself, yet in 37-39 he identifies Himself as the one witnessed to by
the Scriptures who can give eternal life. Only Yahweh of the Tanakh can
do so. Hence, the deity spoken of by Jesus is not the Father dwelling
in the Son, but is the Son’s personally. This is seen even more plainly
in chapter 8. Here it is the Son who utilizes the phrase ego eimi in
the absolute sense, identifying Himself as Yahweh. It is the Son who
says He is glorified by the Father (v. 54) and yet only four verses
later it is the Son who says, “Before Abraham came into existence, I
AM!” Clearly the Son is fully deity just as the Father.

  And what of the Spirit? Jesus said in John 14:16-17 that the Father
would send another (Gr: allos) comforter. Jesus had been the Comforter
for the disciples during His earthly ministry, but He was about to
leave them and return to heaven where he had been before (John 17:5).
The Holy Spirit, identified as a Person by John (through his usage of
the masculine ekeinos at John 16:13), is sent both by the Father (John
14:16) as well as by the Son (16:7).[9] The Spirit is not identified as
the Father, nor as the Son, for neither could send Himself.

  Hence, it is clear from this short review that the Scriptures
differentiate between the Person of the Father and the Person of the
Son, as well as differentiating between these and the Spirit. The next
area that must be addressed is the Biblical teaching of the
pre-existence of the Son, or, as often referred to by Oneness writers,
the “eternal Son theory.”

  That the Son, as a divine Person, has existed from all eternity, is
a solidly Biblical teaching. Most denials of this teaching stem from a
misunderstanding of the term monogenes[10] or the term “begotten” as
used in Psalm 2:7. Such denials cannot stand under the weight of the
Biblical evidence.

  Though other passages could be examined, we will limit the
discussion to seven Biblical sections that clearly teach the pre-
existence of the Son as a Person within the divine being. What may be
the most obvious passage is found in Colossians chapter 1, verses 13
through 17. Here the “beloved Son” is described as “the image of the
invisible God, the firstborn (Gr: prototokos) of all creation.” He (the
Son) is then described as the Creator in what could only be called
exhaustive terms. Certainly, if the Son is the creator, then the Son
both pre-existed and is indeed eternal, for God is the creator of all
that is. It will not do to say that this passage says that God created
all things for the Son who was yet to exist; for verse 16 is emphatic
is announcing that it was “in Him” that all things were created (the
usage of en is the instrumental of agency). Without doubt the Son is
presented here as pre-existent.

  The same can be said of Philippians 2:5-7, the Carmen Christi. This
passage has spawned literally hundreds of volumes, and an in-depth
exegesis is not called for here. Rather, it is obvious that the Son is
presented here as eternally existing (huparchon) in the very morphe tou
theou – the form of God. This One is also said to be “equal with God.”
Note there is here no confounding of the Persons (just as throughout
Scripture) yet there is just as plainly an identification of more than
one Person under discussion. It was not the Father with whom the Son
was equal who became flesh and “made Himself of no repute”; rather, it
was the Son who did this.

  The opening chapter of the book of Hebrews identifies the Son as
pre-existent as well. Verse 2 echoes Colossians 1:13-17 in saying that
it was “through the Son” that the worlds were made. This Son is the
“radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His being.”
Again the distinction of the Son from the Father is maintained at the
exact same time as the absolute deity of the Son is put forward, a
balance found only in the doctrine of the Trinity and not in
non-Christian theories. The Son, verse 3 says, “upholds all things by
His powerful word.” This is directly analogous to the final statements
of Colossians 1:17, and demands the continuous and eternal existence of
the Son to make any sense whatsoever. In light of this, it is clear
that the interpretation of verse 5, which quotes from Psalm 2, that
asserts a beginning for the Son misses the entire point of the opening
of Hebrews. In its original context, this passage did not indicate that
God had literally fathered the king to whom the Psalm was addressed;
certainly, therefore, such a forced meaning cannot be placed on this
usage either. Rather, the writer of Hebrew’s purpose is to exalt the
Son and demonstrate His superiority even to the angels, going so far as
to clearly identify the Son as Yahweh in verses 10 through 12. It would
be strange indeed if the writer tried to show the real nature of the
Son by saying that He, like the angels, was a created, non-eternal

  The Lord Jesus Himself never attempted to say He had a beginning,
but was instead aware of His true nature. In the real “Lord’s prayer”
of John 17, he states in verse 5, “And now you glorify me, Father, with
the glory I had with you (para seauto) before the worlds were made.”
Jesus is here conscious of the glory which He had shared with the
Father in eternity, a clear reflection of Philippians 2, Hebrews 1,
and, as we shall see, John 1. As Yahweh declares that he will give his
glory to no other (Isaiah 48:11) yet another identification of the Son
as being one with the Father in sharing the divine name Yahweh is here
presented. This glorious pre-existence of which Jesus here speaks is
also seen in John 14:28 when Jesus, having said He was returning to the
Father, points out to the disciples that they should have rejoiced at
this, for rather than His continued existence in His current state of
humiliation (the “being made of no repute” of Philippians 2), He was
about to return to His glorious position with the Father in heaven, a
position which is “greater” than the one He now was enduring.

  Many passages in the New Testament identify the Lord Jesus Christ as
Yahweh. One of these is John 8:58, where, again speaking as the Son,
Jesus asserts his existence before Abraham. As pointed out above, it
does not do to say that this was simply an assertion that the deity
resident within Him pre-existed (in Oneness teaching, the Father) but
rather it was He as the Son who was “before Abraham.”

  In John 3:13 Jesus said, “no one has gone up into heaven except the
one who came out of heaven, the Son of man.”[11] Jesus’ own words
indicate that He was aware of His origin and pre-existence. What is
also interesting is the name for Himself that is used – the Son of Man.
One would expect the Son of God to be used here, but it is not. Jesus
was one Person, not two. The Son of God was the Son of Man. One cannot
divide Him into two Persons.

  The most striking evidence of the pre-existence of the Son is found
in the prologue of the Gospel of John. This vital Christological
passage is incredible for its careful accuracy to detail – even down to
the tenses of verbs the author is discriminating in his writing. It
again must be asserted that, without a Trinitarian understanding of
God, this passage ends up self-contradictory and illogical. John
defines his terms for us in verses 14 and 18. In verse 14 he tells us
that the Logos of whom he has been speaking became flesh in the person
of Jesus Christ. He also tells us that it is Jesus Christ who, though
clearly not the Father Himself, is the one who “makes the Father known”
and who is, indeed, the monogenes theos[12] the “unique God.” That
verse 18 has under consideration two separate Persons is beyond
disputation. That these two Persons are the Father and the Son is just
as sure, for John so identifies them.

  With this in mind, the first three verses are crystalline in their
teaching. John asserts that the Logos was “in the beginning,” that is,
the Word is eternal. This Logos was “with God” (Gr: pros ton
theon.)[13] This latter phrase can only refer to personal contact and
communion, a point to be expanded on in much of the Gospel of John.
Hence, from this phrase, it is clear that one cannot completely
identify the Person of God (in John’s usage here, the Father) with the
Logos (i.e., the Son). However, he goes on in the third clause to
provide that balance found throughout the inspired text by saying, “the
Word was God.” The NEB renders this clause, “and what God was, the Word
was.” Perhaps Dr. Kenneth Wuest came the closest when he translated,
“And the Word was as to His essence absolute deity.” By placing the
term theos in the emphatic position, and by using that term itself
(rather than theios – a “godlike” one), John avoids any kind of Arian
subordinationism. At the same time, John does not make logos and theos
identical to one another, for he does not put an article before theos.
By so doing he walks the fine line between Arianism and Sabellianism,
subordinationism and modalism.

  Finally, John asserts, as did Paul before him, that the Logos is the
Creator. “Through him were all things made which have been made.” This
is exactly the point of Colossians 1:15-17 and Hebrews 1:2. As John
identified the Logos as Jesus Christ, the Son of God, then his
testimony must be added to all the others in proclaiming the
pre-existence of the Son.

  Having seen the pre-existence of the Son, then we are forced by the
Biblical data itself to deal with the internal relationships of the
Persons who make up the Godhead. Though many Oneness writers would
object to the terminology utilized to discuss this subject, it is they,
not the Trinitarian, who are ignoring the Biblical material and its
clear teaching. Though an in-depth discussion of the opera ad intra is
not warranted in this paper, it might be good to point out that we are
obviously here not discussing simply an economic trinity. All of the
above evidence points to real and purposeful distinctions (not
divisions) within the Being of God that are necessary and eternal, not
temporal and passing. God has eternally been trinal and will always be
so. The relationship between the essence of God and the Persons is not
a subject of Biblical discussion directly; but we are forced to deal
with the issue nevertheless – by the Scriptural testimony itself. G. T.
Shedd expressed it this way:

  “The essence…is not prior, either in the order of nature or of
time, to the persons, nor subsequent to them, but simultaneous with
them. Hence, the essence is not one constituent factor by itself, apart
from the persons, any more than the persons are three constituent
factors by themselves, apart from the essence. The one essence is
simultaneously three persons, and the three persons are one essence.
The trinity is not a composition of one essence with three persons. It
is not an essence without distinctions united with three distinctions,
so as to make a complex. The trinity is simple and uncomplex. “If,”
says Twesten,… “we distinguish between the clearness of light and the
different degrees of clearness, we do not imply that light is composed
of clearness and degrees of clearness.” Neither is God composed of one
untrinal essence and three persons.”[14]

  With these Trinitarian concepts in mind, the specific Christological
questions must now be addressed.

  III. Christological Concepts

  “Therefore, following the holy Fathers, we all with one accord teach
men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once
complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man,
consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance
[homoousios] with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same
time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all
respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the
Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us
men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer
[theotokos]; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten,
recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without
division, without separation [en duo phusesin, asungchutos atreptos,
adiairetos achoristos]; the distinction of natures being in no way
annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature
being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence
[hupostasis], not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and
the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as
the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus
Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the Fathers has handed down
to us.”[15]

  In 451 A.D. the Council of Chalcedon formulated this definition of
the Person of Christ. The council was called as a result of the
controversy concerning the relationship of the divine and the human in
the Lord Jesus.[16] The Nestorian controversy, monothelitism, the
Eutychian controversy, and others, had precipitated the council. It can
be safely said that we have yet to get beyond Chalcedon in our theology
– modern orthodox Christological formulations have not proceeded beyond
the Chalcedonian definition. Chalcedon’s emphasis on the two natures
but one person in Christ was anticipated in its main elements by the
Athanasian creed. A portion of that creed reads, “He is perfect God and
He is perfect man, with a rational soul and human flesh…Although He
is God and man, He is not two but one Christ…because He is one

  The relationship between the divine and the human in Christ is as
unique as the God who brought this situation about. Indeed, to
understand this relationship one must first define the terms being
utilized, and this was one of the main contributions of Chalcedon.
Schaff noted that one of the main importances of Chalcedon was

  “The precise distinction between nature and person. Nature or
substance is the totality of powers and qualities which constitute a
being; person is the Ego, the self-conscious, self-asserting, and
acting subject. There is no person without nature, but there may be
nature without person (as in irrational beings). The Church doctrine
distinguishes in the Holy Trinity three persons (though not in the
ordinary human sense of the word) in one divine nature of substance
which they have in common; in its Christology it teaches, conversely,
two nature in one person (in the usual sense of person) which pervades
both. Therefore it cannot be said: The Logos assumed a human person, or
united himself with a definite human individual: for then the God-Man
would consist of two persons; but he took upon himself the human
nature, which is common to all men; and therefore he redeemed not a
particular man, but all men, as partakers of the same nature of
substance. The personal Logos did not become an individual anthropos,
but sarx, flesh, which includes the whole of human nature, body, soul
and spirit.”[17]

  In his discussion of the Person and work of Christ, Dr. Berkhof
gives the following information:

  “The term “nature” denotes the sum-total of all the essential
qualities of a thing, that which makes it what it is. A nature is a
substance possessed in common, with all the essential qualities of such
a substance. The term “person” denotes a complete substance endowed
with reasons, and, consequently, a responsible subject of its own
actions. Personality is not an essential and integral part of a nature,
but is, as it were, the terminus to which it tends. A person is a
nature with something added, namely, independent subsistence,

  What does all of this mean? It means that when Jesus spoke, He spoke
as one Person, not two. One cannot say that, when claiming deity,
Jesus’ “deity” spoke, or when He referred to His humanity, it was His
“human nature” that spoke. It can be seen from this that natures don’t
speak – only Persons do. And, since Jesus is one Person, not two, He
speaks as a whole Person. Hence, when Jesus speaks, He speaks as Jesus.
This is in direct contradistinction to Oneness teaching that is fond of
making either the Deity in Jesus speak (whom they identify as the
Father) or the humanity (the Son). The two natures (divine and human)
make up but one Person, Jesus Christ. The divine nature is the Son of
God, the eternal Logos.

  The Chalcedonian definition defines the unipersonality of
Christ.[19] Jesus was a true Person; he was not non-human, nor less
than human, nor a multiple personality. He had two natures, but those
natures were made personal by only one Person, the Word made flesh.
Hence, though Jesus may say things that indicate his two natures, what
he says represents His whole being, not a certain part thereof.

  One might well ask the question, what does Scripture say concerning
this question? How does the Bible present this teaching? Stuart Olyott
answers that question:

  “It does so by three strands of teaching. The first is its entire
failure to give us any evidence of two personalities in our Lord Jesus
Christ…In all that is recorded of our Lord Jesus Christ there is no
word spoken by him, no action performed and no attribute predicated of
him, which suggests that he is not a single indivisible person…A
second line of biblical evidence is found in considering the terms in
which the New Testament writers wrote of Christ…There is not a hint
that two personalities came to redeem them that were under the law, but
one. Both natures are represented as united in one person…But there
is a third line of scriptural proof which settles the issue beyond
question…It is the fact that what can be true of only one or the
other of Christ’s two natures is attributed, not to the nature, but to
the one person. He is spoken of in terms true of either one or the
other of his natures.”[20]

  Olyott gives a number of Biblical examples. Acts 20:28 is cited.
Here Paul speaks of the Church of God which “he purchased with His own
blood.” Christ’s blood, of course, was part of his human nature, yet
this attribute (the blood) is predicated here directly of the divine
nature (“God”). “What could only be true of his human nature is said to
have been accomplished by the divine person. There is not a human
Christ and a divine Christ – two Christs. There is but one Christ.” (p.
105) Another example is 1 Corinthians 2:8 which speaks of the fact that
the rulers of this age “crucified the Lord of glory.” Again, though
Christ died in human terms, it is the divine Person who is said to have
been crucified. No hint is given whatsoever of two persons in the one
Jesus; rather, Christ is one Person composed of two natures.

  But could the term “Father” simply refer to the divine nature in
Christ, as Oneness writers assert? The New Testament does not allow for
this. As we have already seen, the Biblical witness sharply
distinguishes between the Father and the Son. We have seen that Jesus
Christ is unipersonal; He is one person. It is just as clear that the
Lord Jesus Christ is never identified as the Father, but is shown to be
another Person beside the Father. A large class of examples of this
would be the greetings in the epistles of Paul. In Romans 1:7 we read,
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus
Christ.”[21] 1 Corinthians 1:3 is identical, as is 2 Corinthians 1:2.
Galatians 1:3, Ephesians 1:2, and Philippians 1:2. Nowhere does Paul
identify Jesus as the Father.

  Even more significant in this respect is what is known as Granville
Sharp’s Rule. This rule of Greek grammar basically stated says that
when two singular nouns are connected by the copulative kai, and the
first noun has the article, while the second does not, both nouns are
describing the same person. There are a number of Granville Sharp
constructions in the New Testament that emphasize the deity of Christ,
most especially Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1. But, no Granville Sharp
construction ever identifies the Father as Jesus Christ. The care taken
by Paul and the other apostles in differentiating between the Father
and Jesus Christ speaks volumes concerning their faith.

  Some might object to the Trinitarian doctrine of Christ by saying
that if we say the Son is (to use a human term) “begotten” eternally by
the Father (i.e., there is a relationship that is eternal and timeless
between the Father and the Son) that we are in effect positing either
subordinationism or tri-theism, depending. Dr. Shedd replied as follows:

  “But if the Father is unbegotten, does it not follow that he alone
is the absolute Being? and is not this Arianism? Not so. For one and
the same numerical essence subsists whole and undivided in him who is
generated, as well as in him who generates; in him who is spirated, as
well as in those two who spirate. There can therefore be no inequality
of essence caused by these acts of generation and spiration.”[22]

  Such language seems, to many, to be foreign to the “simple” message
of the Gospel. But such an objection ignores the heights of Ephesians
1, as well as the object under discussion – that being the very Person
of the Lord of glory. One writer expressed it this way:

  “Jesus cannot be analyzed and calculated. But whoever speaks of him
in human words is entering into the realm of “rational” speech. There
is no unique language for the realm of the incalculable and the
“irrational.” Thus, where we express “eschatological history,” the
origin and the goal, God’s reality in the man Jesus, our language
collapses; it becomes paradoxical. We could also say that our language
then expresses awe. It says those things which leave men “speechless.”
Its terms are not then a means for grasping but rather for making known
that we have been grasped. It is not then a form of mastery, but
testimony to the overpowering experience which has come upon man.”[23]

  IV. Oneness Theology Defined

  Having examined some of the pertinent issues relevant to Christian
theology, the statements of Oneness exponents themselves will now be
examined. The following material is taken from original sources and
materials. Following the definition of the position, specific
objections will be dealt with.

  David K. Bernard presented a paper at Harvard Divinity School in
1985. In this paper, Bernard provided a good summary of Oneness

  “The basis of Oneness theology is a radical concept of monotheism.
Simply stated, God is absolutely and indivisibly one. There are no
essential distinctions or divisions in His eternal nature. All the
names and titles of the Deity, such as Elohim, Yahweh, Adonai, Father,
Word, and Holy Spirit refer to one and the same being, or – in
trinitarian terminology – to one person. Any plurality associated with
God is only a plurality of attributes, titles, roles, manifestations,
modes of activity, or relationships to man.”[24]

  He added in his book, The Oneness of God,

  “They believe that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are manifestations,
modes, offices, or relationships that the one God has displayed to

  Hence, from Bernard’s statements it is clear that the Oneness
position adheres to the classical modalistic terminology of such
ancient writers as Praxeas of Sabellius or Noetus. However, it would be
an error to think that, from the Oneness perspective, the Father, Son
and Spirit are one Person. To see exactly what this position is
stating, it would be good to look at statements regarding each of the
“Persons” as seen by the Trinitarian perspective. First, the question
can be asked, “Who is the Father in Oneness theology?”

  “The term Father refers to God Himself – God in all His deity. When
we speak of the eternal Spirit of God, we mean God Himself, the

  “If there is only one God and that God is the Father (Malachi 2:10),
and if Jesus is God, then it logically follows that Jesus is the

  Hence, from this perspective, God is the Father. All that can be
predicated of God is predicated of the Father and the Father only. This
shall be seen more clearly as we examine the other required questions.
“Who is the Word in Oneness theology?” This question receives two
answers from Oneness writers – there is a seeming contradiction in
response to this question. John Paterson identified the Word as the
Father Himself:

  So we conclude that the Word was the visible expression of the
invisible God – in other words, the invisible God embodied in visible
form;…From the Scriptures quoted it should be obvious that the Word
was not merely an impersonal thought existing in the mind of God but
was, in reality, the Eternal Spirit Himself clothed upon by a visible
and personal form…”[28]

  In distinction to this, other writers put forward a non-personal

  “The Logos (Word) of John 1 is not equivalent to the title Son in
Oneness theology as it is in trinitarianism. Son is limited to the
Incarnation, but Logos is not. The Logos is God’s self expression,
“God’s means of self disclosure,” or “God uttering Himself.” Before the
Incarnation, the Logos was the unexpressed thought or plan in the mind
of God, which had a reality no human thought can have because of God’s
perfect foreknowledge, and in the case of the Incarnation, God’s
predestination. In the beginning, the Logos was with God, not as a
separate person but as God Himself – pertaining to and belonging to God
much like a man and his word. In the fulness of time God put flesh on
the Logos; He expressed Himself in flesh.”[29]

  Bernard further added in The Oneness of God:

  “The Word or Logos can mean the plan or thought as it existed in the
mind of God. This thought was a predestined plan – an absolutely
certain future event – and therefore it had a reality attached to it
that no human thought could ever have. The Word can also mean the plan
or thought of God as expressed in the flesh, that is in the Son. What
is the difference, therefore, between the two terms, Word and Son? The
Word had pre-existence and the Word was God (the Father), so we can use
it without reference to humanity. However, the Son always refers to the
Incarnation and we cannot use it in the absence of the human element.
Except as a foreordained plan in the mind of God, the Son did not have
pre-existence before the conception in the womb of Mary. The Son of God
pre-existed in thought but not in substance. The Bible calls this
foreordained plan the Word (John 1:1, 14).”[30]

  Thomas Weisser adds, “The Logos of John 1 was simply the concept in
the Father’s mind. Not a separate person!”[31] But Robert Brent Graves
muddies the water even more by stating, “Only when we begin to take
John at his word that God “became flesh” can we begin to understand the
power and the authority of Jesus Christ.”[32] Hence, one group of
Oneness exponents seem to be saying that the Word was the Father
Himself, but manifested in the flesh (Paterson and possibly Graves)
while others see the Word as simply the plan of God put into place at
the opportune time.

  Asking the further question, “Who is the Son in Oneness theology?”
might shed some light on the Word issue as well. The answer to this is
unanimous – the Son is the human aspect of Christ. The Son is a created
being who is not in any way divine. The Son did not pre-exist, and
indeed, the “Sonship” of God will cease at a time in the future.[33]
Important for Oneness teachers is the idea of a begotten Son (see
footnote #10 and discussion at that point).

  Robert Brent Graves says,

  “Although some religious authors have depicted Christ as an “eternal
Son. Actually the concept of an eternal Son would not allow the
possibility of a begotten Son; for the two would be a contradiction in

  For the Christian to understand just what the Oneness position is
asserting, it is necessary that, before continuing looking at each
Person individually, we must look to Jesus and the Oneness teaching
concerning Him. The key to understanding this theological viewpoint is
found in the teaching that Jesus is both the Father and the Son.
Paterson explains as follows:

  “Therefore, when we say that Jesus is both God and Man, we mean that
He is both Father and Son. As the Father, He is absolutely and PURELY
God; as the Son, He is absolutely and PURELY Man. When Jesus claims to
be God, it is with respect to His Essence as the Eternal Spirit, the
Father; and when He says, “My Father is greater than I” (John 14:28),
it is with respect to His created nature as Man, the Son…In this
connection, let me make this point crystal clear – the doctrine
enunciated in this booklet emphasizes the very real humanity of Christ;
it is not at all the same as teaching that the Father IS the Son, or
that the Son IS the Father. Such teaching is confused, illogical, and
unscriptural – but when we say that Jesus is BOTH Father and Son, BOTH
God and Man, that is a vastly different matter.”[35]

  Likewise, Bernard states,

  “Oneness believers emphasize the two natures in Christ, using this
fact to explain the plural references to Father and Son in the Gospels.
As Father, Jesus sometimes acted and spoke from His divine
self-consciousness; as Son He sometimes acted and spoke from His human
self-consciousness. The two natures never acted in conflict, for they
were united into one person.

  Aside from their emphasis on the two natures of Christ, Oneness
teachers have given inadequate attention to many areas of Christology.
Some have made statements that sound Apollinarian because of failure to
define and use terms precisely, but Oneness scholars overwhelmingly
reject this implication. If carefully developed, Oneness may be seen as
compatible with the Christological formulation of the Council of
Chalcedon, namely that Christ as two complete natures – deity and
humanity – but is only one person.”[36]

  Despite Bernard’s assertion, the Oneness position patently denies
the uni-personality of Christ. To maintain the uni-personality of God,
the Oneness position has to make Jesus into two persons, the Father and
the Son. Even Bernard demonstrates this when he says, “Sometimes it is
easy to get confused when the Bible describes Jesus in these two
different roles, especially when describes Him acting in both roles in
the same story…He could speak as man one moment and then as God the
next moment.”[37] As we’ve seen, natures do not speak, only persons do.
Bernard seems aware of the weakness of the Oneness position at this
point, for he is much more willing to admit the depths of the subject
than most Oneness writers. He says,

  “While the Bible is clear in emphasizing both the full deity and
full humanity of Jesus, it does not describe in detail how these two
natures are united in the one person of Jesus Christ. This, too, has
been the subject of much speculation and debate. Perhaps there is room
for divergent views on this issue since the Bible does not treat it

  Bernard is one of the few Oneness writers who does not directly
attribute the doctrine of the Trinity to Satan. He seems aware of the
fact that the Oneness position avoids the supposed “philosophical
language” by basically ignoring the issue that was faced squarely at
Nicea and Chalcedon.

  This viewpoint gives a unique twist to what otherwise might sound
somewhat like orthodox teaching:

  “From the Bible we see that Jesus Christ had two distinct natures in
a way that no other human being has ever had. One nature is human or
fleshly; the other nature is divine or Spirit. Jesus was both fully man
and fully God. The name Jesus refers to the eternal Spirit of God (the
Father) dwelling in the flesh. We can use the name Jesus to describe
either one of His two natures or both. For example, when we say Jesus
died on the cross, we mean His flesh died on the cross. When we say
Jesus lives in our hearts, we mean His Spirit is there.”[39]

  But what Biblical support can the Oneness teacher gather? One of the
favorite references is Colossians 2:9, which, in the King James Version
(which seems to enjoy predominance in their camp) reads, “For in him
dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” For them, the Godhead
would refer to all that makes up God, i.e., the Father:

  “According to these verses of Scripture, Jesus is not a part of God,
but all of God is resident in Him. If there were several persons in the
Godhead, according to Colossians 2:9 they would all be resident in the
bodily form of Jesus.”[40]

  However, even here the position is foundationless, for the Greek
term, theotetos, is best rendered “Deity” and refers to the being of
God – “that which makes God God” is how B. B. Warfield expressed it.
Not only this, but the same epistle had already clearly differentiated
between the Lord Jesus Christ and the Father in 1:3, and had asserted
the pre- existence of the Son in 1:15-17.

  The many passages that teach the pre-existence and separate
personality of the Son cause the Oneness position great difficulties,
as can be seen from the attempts to fit these passages into the system.
Hebrews chapter one gives a good example:

  “Hebrews 1:2 states that God made the worlds by the Son. Similarly,
Colossians 1:13-17 says all things were created by the Son, and
Ephesians 3:9 says all things were created by Jesus Christ. What does
creation “by the Son” mean, since the Son did not have a substantial
pre-existence before the Incarnation?

  “Of course, we know that Jesus as God pre-existed the Incarnation,
since the deity of Jesus is none other than the Father Himself. We
recognize that Jesus (the divine Spirit of Jesus) is indeed the
Creator. These verses describe the eternal Spirit that was in the Son –
the deity that was later incarnated as the Son – as the Creator. The
humanity of Jesus Christ could not create, but God who came in the Son
as Jesus Christ created the world. Hebrews 1:10 clearly states that
Jesus as Lord was the Creator.

  “Perhaps these scriptural passages have a deeper meaning that can be
expressed as follows: Although the Son did not exist at the time of
creation except as the Word in the mind of God, God used His
foreknowledge of the Son when He created the world.”[41]

  Elsewhere Bernard added,

  “According to Hebrews 1:2, God made the worlds by the Son.
Certainly, the Spirit (God) who was in the Son was also the Creator of
the worlds. This passage may also indicate that God predicated the
entire work of creation upon the future manifestation of the Son. God
foreknew that man would sin, but He also foreknew that through the Son
man could be saved and could fulfill God’s original purpose in
creation. As John Miller stated, “Though He did not pick up His
humanity till the fulness of time, yet He used it, and acted upon it,
from all eternity.” “[42]

  Likewise, the problem of Jesus’ prayer life elicits some intriguing

  “The prayers of Christ represent the struggle of the human will as
it submitted to the divine will. They represent Jesus praying from His
human self-consciousness not from His divine, for by definition God
does not need to pray. This line of reasoning also explains other
examples of the inferiority of the Son in power and knowledge. If these
examples demonstrate a plurality of persons, they establish the
subordination of one person to the other, contrary to the trinitarian
doctrine of co-equality.

  “Other examples of communication, conversation, or expression of
love between Father and Son are explained as communication between the
divine and human natures of Christ. If used to demonstrate a
distinction of persons, they would establish separate centers of
consciousness in the Godhead, which is in effect polytheism.”[43]

  “Do the prayers of Christ indicate a distinction of persons between
Jesus and the Father? No. On the contrary, His praying indicates a
distinction between the Son of God and God. Jesus prayed in His
humanity, not in His deity…How can God pray and still be God? By
definition, God in His omnipotence has no need to pray, and in His
oneness has no other to whom He can pray…Some may object to this
explanation, contending that it means Jesus prayed to Himself. However,
we must realize that, unlike any other human being, Jesus had two
perfect and complete natures – humanity and divinity.”[44]

  The above hardly squares with Bernard’s earlier statement that the
two natures are joined into one person. Communication between natures
is illogical; between persons it is normal. If Oneness teachers wish to
maintain a surface acceptance of Chalcedonian definitions, they should
at least make it clear that they are defining terms in a completely
different way than orthodox theology.

  Finally, a common element of Oneness-Pentecostal writing is the
criticism of the usage of non-Biblical terminology to answer the
questions of God’s existence and being. This is a common attack
utilized by many anti-Trinitarian groups. Why use such terms as
“nature” or “person” or “ousia” or any of the other terms borrowed from
philosophy? Doesn’t this indicate a reliance upon pagan sources? we are
asked. Though this point will be answered more fully below, it might be
pointed out that the Oneness position is faced with the same choice as
the Trinitarian – questions can be put to their position that cannot
possibly be answered in solely Biblical terminology. Either these
questions must be ignored or they must be answered by using words or
phrases not drawn directly from the Scriptural witness.

  In summary, the Oneness position asserts that God is uni-personal.
All the titles of Deity are applicable to the one being who is God –
Father, Lord, King, Holy Spirit, Jehovah, etc. The Son of God is the
manifestation of the Father in the flesh. The Son is not eternal nor
pre-existent. Jesus is the Father and the Son – Father in his divinity
and Son in his humanity. Hence, the Trinity is said to be a
misunderstanding of the Biblical teaching, and many Oneness writers
attribute the doctrine to pagan sources.[45]

  V. Brief Criticism and Reply

  Since the opening of this paper dealt with the Scriptural witness
concerning the doctrine of the Trinity, space need not be taken in
rebutting many of the statements of the Oneness position. The following
points should focus on the particular problems:

  A) The Oneness position cannot explain logically or Biblically the
clear references to the pre-existence and Creatorship of the Son such
as Colossians 1, Hebrews 1 and John 1.

  B) This position fails to demonstrate any kind of identification of
Jesus Christ as the Father, and ignores or inadequately explains the
many references that demonstrate the personal distinctions of Father
and Son.

  C) This position relies heavily on assumed and unproven
presuppositions, such as the uni-personality of Yahweh. These writers
tend to be very selective in their choice of facts, which can also be
seen in their easy rejection of textual evidence that contradicts their

  D) The Christological formulation of the Oneness position is
untenable and without Scriptural support. There is no evidence that
Jesus was two persons, nor that the two “natures” communicated with one

  E) The understanding of the Logos given in Scripture is totally
lacking in the Oneness perspective. The clear personal nature of the
Logos must be sacrificed to maintain the system.

  F) The position asserts historical claims[47] that are not solidly
based in fact.[48] For example, Oneness writers will assert that the
“three persons theory” was a late innovation, while noted patristic
authority J.N.D. Kelly has noted,

  “Before considering formal writers, the reader should notice how
deeply the conception of a plurality of divine Persons was imprinted on
the apostolic tradition and the popular faith. Though as yet
uncanonized, the New Testament was already exerting a powerful
influence; it is a commonplace that the outlines of a dyadic and a
triadic pattern are clearly visible in its pages. It is even more
marked in such glimpses as are obtainable of the Church’s liturgy and
day-to-day catechetical practice.”[49]

  These criticisms, substantiated by earlier references, are
sufficient to allow the student of Scripture to reject the Oneness
position as holding any real claim to being a “biblical teaching.”

  The only remaining question is the validity of the criticism
regarding the usage of non-biblical language and terminology. It has
already been pointed out that any theological system that makes any
kind of brave attempt to answer the inevitable questions that arise
when the nature, attributes and being of God is discussed will have to
utilize non-Biblical terminology in framing its answers. Why? First,
since the Scriptures themselves rarely ask these questions, and the
questions themselves are often derived from non-Biblical sources and
utilize non- Biblical language and categories of thought, the honest
respondant will have to express truth in such as way as to both be
intelligible to the questioner, as well as be honest with the subject.
The important question is, are we willing to sacrifice the true
teaching of Scripture on the imaginary altar of slavery to the limited
terminology of the Biblical writers? Benjamin Breckenridge Warfield
aptly addressed this very question:

  “The term “Trinity” is not a Biblical term, and we are not using
Biblical language when we define what is expressed by it as the
doctrine that there is one only and true God, but in the unity of the
Godhead there are three coeternal and coequal Persons, the same in
substance but distinct in subsistence. A doctrine so defined can be
spoken of as a Biblical doctrine only on the principle that the sense
of Scripture is Scripture. And the definition of a Biblical doctrine in
such un-Biblical language can be justified only on the principle that
it is better to preserve the truth of Scripture than the words of
Scripture. The doctrine of the Trinity lies in Scripture in solution;
when it is crystalized from its solvent it does not cease to be
Scriptural, but only comes into clearer view. Or, to speak without
figure, the doctrine of the Trinity is given to us in Scripture, not in
forumulated definition, but in fragmentary allusions; when we assemble
the disjecta membra into their organic unity, we are not passing from
Scripture, but entering more thoroughly into the meaning of Scripture.
We may state the doctrine in technical terms, supplied by philosophical
reflection; but the doctrine stated is a genuinely Scriptural


  1. David Bernard, The Oneness of God, (Hazelwood, Missouri: Word
Aflame Press) 1985, p.298 2. Thomas Weisser, Three Persons from the
Bible? or Babylon, (U.S.) 1983, p. 3. 3. Louis Berkhof, Systematic
Theology, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, 1941)
pgs. 87-89. 4. John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, John
McNeill, ed. (Philadelphia: Westminster Press) 1960, pp. 141-142. 5.
Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 3 Volumes, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B.
Eerdman’s Publishing Company) 1986, 1:459. 6. Weisser, Three Persons,
p. 2. 7. The particular responses of the Oneness theologians will be
noted at a later point in the presentation. 8. The words of Jesus at
Matthew 27:46 have come in for many kinds of interpretation.
Unfortunately, many of the theories have compromised both theology
proper, as well as Christology. That the Father never was separated
from or abandoned the Son is clear from many sources. The second person
is utilized by Jesus, not the third in verse 46. Immediately on the
heels of this statement Jesus speaks to the Father in the vocative
(“Father, into your hands…”). Whatever else Jesus was saying, He was
not saying that, at the very time of His ultimate obedience to the
Father, that the Father there abandoned Him. Rather, it seems much more
logical to see this as a quotation of Psalm 22 that is meant to call to
mind all of that Psalm, which would include the victory of v. 19ff, as
well as verse 24 which states, “For he has not despised or disdained
the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.” 9. It would be a grave error to
identify the Father and the Son as one person, or to say that Jesus is
both the Father and the Son, simply due to their mutual work and
actions. As there is only one God, overlapping of work and action is
hardly to be thought unusual, and does not indicate an identity of
person but rather an identity of nature. 10. James Hope Moulton, George
Milligan, The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament. (Grand Rapids: Wm. B.
Eerdman’s Publishing Company) 1930, pp. 416-417. See also Barclay
Newman and Eugene Nida, A Translator’s Handbook on the Gospel of John.
(New York: United Bible Societies) 1980, p. 24. 11. The variant reading
“…who is in heaven.” is opposed by P66 and P75 along with Codex
Sinaiticus and Vaticanus. These witnesses are joined by the Coptic
versions, a few uncials, minuscules, and Fathers. 12. The reading
monogenes theos is strongly supported by the manuscript witnesses. This
is the reading of P66 and P75 as well as the original reading of
Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, a few other uncials, and a large number of
the early Fathers. That there is good reason to see monogenes huios as
an assimilation to John 3:16 is obvious; just so, that monogenes theos
has no logical antecedent is just as true. 13. Some try to render this
as “the Word was pertaining to God” on the basis of the occurrence of
pros ton theon in Hebrews 2:17 and 5:1. However, this attempt fails for
the two instances in Hebrews are different syntactical constructions;
the presence of the neuter plural article before the phrase in Hebrews
changes the subject to an assumed “things.” Also, John 1:1b represents
a sentence structure using the verb form en while this is not so in
Hebrews. 14. William G. T. Shedd, Shedd’s Dogmatic Theology.
(Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers) 1980, pg. 253. 15. As cited by
Henry Bettenson, Documents of the Christian Church. (New York: Oxford
University Press) 1963, pp. 144-145. 16. For a discussion of the
Council of Chalcedon, see Philip Schaff, History of the Christian
Church. (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company) 1910,
3:740-762. 17. Schaff, History of the Christian Church, 3:751. 18.
Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman’s
Publishing Company) 1941, pp. 321-330. 19. See Berkhof, Systematic
Theology, Doctrine of the Person and the Work of Christ, Section III,
“The Unipersonality of Christ.” 20. Stuart Olyott, Son of Mary, Son of
God, (England: Evangelical Press) 1984, pp. 103-105. 21. Some Oneness
writers such as Robert Brent Graves have attempted to assert that the
copulative kai found here and in the other epistolary greetings should
not be translated in its normal sense of “and” but rather as the
equative “even.” Hence, Graves translates 1 Cor. 1:3 as “Grace to you
and peace from God our Father even the Lord Jesus Christ.” That there
is no scholarly support for such an assertion is clear, for Graves
would hardly be consistent and say “Grace to you, even peace…” which
would be required should he follow his own suggestion through. 22.
Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, p. 303. 23. Otto Weber, Foundations of
Dogmatics, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company) 1962,
2:116. 24. David K. Bernard, Essentials of Oneness Theology,
(Hazelwood, Missouri: Word Aflame Press) 1985, p. 8. 25. Bernard, The
Oneness of God, p. 15. 26. Bernard, The Oneness of God, p. 98. 27.
Bernard, The Oneness of God, p. 66. 28. John Paterson, God in Christ
Jesus, (Hazelwood, Missouri: Word Aflame Press) 1966, p. 29. Bernard,
Essentials in Oneness Theology, p. 22. 30. Bernard, The Oneness of God,
p. 103. 31. Weisser, Three Persons, p. 35. 32. Robert Brent Graves, The
God of Two Testaments, (U.S.) 1977, p. 35. 33. See Bernard, The Oneness
of God, p. 106. 34. Graves, The God of Two Testaments, p. 44. 35.
Paterson, God in Christ Jesus, p. 22. 36. Bernard, Essentials in
Oneness Theology, p. 19. 37. Bernard, The Oneness of God, p. 88. 38.
Bernard, The Oneness of God, p. 90 39. Bernard, The Oneness of God, p.
86. 40. Bernard, The Oneness of God, p. 57. 41. Bernard, The Oneness of
God, p. 115. 42. Bernard, Essentials in Oneness Theology, p. 21. 43.
Ibid., p. 22. 44. Bernard, The Oneness of God, pp. 176-177. 45. See
Weisser, Three Persons, pp. 17-28. 46. Bernard rejects, for example,
the reading of monogenes theos at 1:18 by saying, “We do not believe
these variant readings are correct…This verse of Scripture does not
mean that God is revealed by God, but that God is revealed in flesh
through the humanity of the Son.” Here theology determines textual
criticism. 47. Bernard, The Oneness of God, pp. 236 ff as an example.
48. Kenneth Scott Latourette, A History of Christianity, 2 Volumes,
(New York: Harper and Row) 1975, 2:144-145 gives a brief account of the
origins of the modalistic teaching. 49. J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian
Doctrines, (New York: Harper and Row) 1978, p. 88. 50. B. B. Warfield,
The Works of B.B. Warfield, 10 volumes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book
House) 1929, 2:133.

Doc Viewed 18805 times

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating / 5. Vote count:

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.