The Holy Trinity and "Oneness" Pentecostals


FILE: Thad / DATE: March 1995 / CONFERENCE: FidoNet OpenBible

CONTENTS: A series of posts from P to Thad Foster (his words are TF>) who is a "Oneness" Pentecostal holding to the ancient anti-Trinitarian heresy known as "Modalism" or "Sabellianism" (after the third century heretic Sabellius) or "Monarchianism" (Greek for "One Ruler") -- that God is but One divine Person (not Three), and the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are mere titles or modes, not distinct Persons within the nature of God. We also discuss the Trinitarian form of Baptism (Matt 28:19) vs. Baptism in the name of "Jesus only" (e.g. Acts 2:38).


TF> If you wish to carry on a conversation with me, I say again don't lable me and affirm my position. Many Cults teach part of the truth. Our teaching of the Godhead is nothing like that of the mormons, so dont get off on this kind of political debating. I do not have to discuss this matter with you if I choose not to. But it is a pleasure of mine to take the sword of the spirit and tear to shreads your propped up three god theory.

Okay, Thad, but I don't see you doing this just yet. I'm sorry I offended you by accusing you of reasoning like the Mormons. You are much closer to the historic orthodox teaching on the Trinity than them.

Let's at least get this much clear --

The Trinity teaches there is only ONE God (Deut 6:4; Mark 12:29). You affirm that much unlike the Mormons who are polytheistic. Good. And the Bible teaches there are three distinct Persons within the nature of that one God (Matt 28:19; John 14:16). Here is where our debate must center. We need to stick to this topic.

TF> You find me a scripture that proves the Holy Spirit is not the Father!

This is going to be rather detailed because I want to make the teaching of the Trinity as clear as possible to you.

In your posts to me you have ignored the grammatical points I made from the Scripture and have asked me theological questions like "how the Trinity could be true if...." type questions. Okay, I will answer your questions as I enjoy being challenged but you at least must attempt to deal with the grammar of the texts I brought up.

For clarity's sake, I will divide our debate into five sections for a total of SEVEN posts counting this introduction.

(1) Matt 1:18,20 and Luke 1:35 -- Is the Father the Holy Spirit?

(2) John 14:18 -- Is Jesus the Holy Spirit?

(3) Is the Father the Son or did the Father SEND the Son?

(4) Your Oneness objections to the Trinity

(5) The Historical quotes about the Trinity you have presented

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PROPOSITION -- The Holy Spirit is the Father

TF> The Holy Spirit is the Father...

TF> The Holy Spirit is the Father of Jesus...Matt 1:18,20

AFFIRMED: Thad Foster. DENIED: P.

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On Matt 1:18,20 and Luke 1:35 --

TF> The Holy Spirit overshadowed mary. Would the first person in the godhead allow the third person to father the second person in the godhead... The Holy Ghost is God the Father.. The God of which Jesus spake of in John 4:24

Yes the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary. This was the Holy Spirit, Thad, not God the Father, that overshadowed Mary.

NOWHERE do these texts say "The Holy Ghost IS God the Father." Since you affirm that you need to produce a text for that belief.

You asked "Would the first person allow the third person" etc.... which is kind of a rhetorical question. The answer is right there in the Bible. The Holy Spirit is responsible for the virgin conception of the Son in Mary and certainly was "allowed" by God the Father. This does not make the Holy Spirit the Father any more than this makes the Holy Spirit the Son. Please try to be logical, Thad.

I already explained to you that the Trinity affirms the Holy Spirit overshadowed (Gr episkiazo Luke 1:35) Mary. This does not make the Holy Spirit the Person of God the Father. God the Father has always been the Father of the Son (Matt 3:16ff; 2 Pet 1:16ff; Jn 3:16ff; 16:25ff; 17:1ff; 1 Jn 4:9ff; Heb 1:1-10). We can get into these texts later and the statements of Church Fathers pertaining to this.

The Luke text does not say the Holy Spirit became INCARNATE in Mary which seems to be what you are saying. Notice what you affirmed --

TF> Is the Spirit that was in Jesus The Father? If you deny this you deny the Bible! Did Jesus send the comforter or did Father God and Jesus Send the comforter? The answer is Jesus or the Spirit which dwelt in Jesus did. In this case he spoke as the Father and not as man.

This is a rather confusing statement to me but perhaps you can explain. Whether I am denying the Bible or not remains to be proven by you. Neither did the Father become incarnate in Mary. The Person of the Word (the Son) became incarnate in Mary (John 1:1-3,14,18; 3:16-18; 1 John 1:1-3; 4:9-14).

The angel clearly told Mary that she would conceive the Son of God (Luke 1:31-32,35) by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit -- NOT that the Holy Spirit IS the Son of God, Jesus. That is nonsense.

The Matthew texts say that which is conceived in her is "OF the Holy Spirit" -- NOT that which is conceived in her IS the Holy Spirit. We need to stick to the text. Every inspired word counts. :)

Now here are the questions --

(1) Can you produce a text that SAYS "the Holy Spirit IS the Father?"

(2) Can you produce a text that SAYS "the Holy Spirit IS the Son?"

P> QUESTION: Does Matt 1:18,20 (or Luke 1:35) SAY that the Holy Spirit IS the Father?

TF> It doesn't have to say it, It does say that which was conceived in mary was of the Holy Ghost!!! Now does it say that.

Of course it says that as I explained above. Does that make the Person of the Holy Spirit the Person of the Father? No.

You are still thinking in human terms that someone responsible for the conception of a person must be the father. But we are not talking human beings here but the nature of God. That is why I accused you of reasoning like the Mormon theologians who DID reason this way.

I realize you don't go this far but your logic is similar. The conception was miraculous and by the power of the Holy Spirit. We agree on that much. There is no "father" in the sense of human conception. All orthodox Christians believe in the Virgin Birth (or Virginal conception).

TF> It is you that has the delima of explaining how Jesus is the Son of the Father when the Bible says that that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost! Is it my understanding that you believe he had two fathers?

Again, you are still thinking in human terms. Please try to understand what the Trinity teaches. See above again. This is no dilemma --

(1) God the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary (Lk 1:35) -- God the Son was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit (Matt 1:18,20,23);

(2) God the Father is the Father of the Son (Jn 3:16; 1 Jn 4:9ff);

(3) God the Father (2 Pet 1:17) is distinct from God the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3,4; 2 Cor 3:17) and the Holy Spirit is explicitly called "ANOTHER [Gr allos] Comforter" (John 14:16,26; 15:26; 16:7ff).

God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are distinct Persons in Scripture (Matt 28:19; 2 Cor 13:14; John 14:16; etc...) yet there is only ONE God (Deut 6:4; Mk 12:29; Jn 17:3; 20:28; etc...)

Not that I (or any Christian) can comprehend all of this in fullness, but I'm just accepting what the Bible says here about the nature of God.

Furthermore, you are misreading John 4:24. The verse should read "God IS Spirit" as it does in all the modern versions (e.g. NKJV). The point is God's NATURE is spirit, is incorporeal, does not have "flesh and bones" (cf. Luke 24:39; Psalm 139). The KJV reading "God is A Spirit" is misleading you. You are interpreting this as "God is ONE Person" when the text is referring to God's nature as spirit.

You also made a mistake regarding the word "conversation" (KJV) which in King James' day did not refer to speech. The Greek here means "conduct" or "behavior" or "manner of life" (Gr anastrophe cf. 2 Pet 3:11) or "citizenship" (Gr politeuma cf. Phil 3:20).

While I told you the KJV is fine to use during our debate, perhaps we need to use a modern version since the older English language of the KJV is misleading you.

I gave you an explicit text that distinguises God the Father from God the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:16). I am still waiting for your explicit text that says "the Holy Ghost IS the Father" or something similar. You failed to deal with this below as well as my interpretation of John 14:18 which you completely ignored. You are losing this, sorry.

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PROPOSITION -- The Holy Spirit is the Son (Jesus)

TF> Jesus is the Holy Spirit...

AFFIRMED: Thad Foster. DENIED: P.

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TF> Jesus is the Holy Spirit...

TF> John 14:18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. (KJV)

P> Again, Thad, you are just quoting a verse and assuming you have the right interpretation. You need to demonstrate exegetically and grammatically that Jesus IS the Holy Spirit according to this verse and its context. I'm not very good at exegesis myself but you ignored the verse I brought up earlier.

Thanks for ignoring again my request to deal with the grammar of the texts I brought up. You then asked a theological question concerning "How many Spirits...." See following posts for the answer.

But what does this have to do with properly interpreting John 14:16ff and the grammar of the texts I presented to you?

P> "I will pray the FATHER, and he shall send you ANOTHER Comforter" [the Holy Spirit] (John 14:16 KJV).

TF> You made the fatal error of not reading further.

No, I quoted the same texts you did but you ignored the pronouns.

TF> The Holy Spirit was not given until Jesus was glorified. But he was with them abiding in the flesh and blood body of Jesus Christ.

Now let me understand you here, Thad.

When Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as "HE" and "HIM" repeatedly in the THIRD PERSON in John 14:16,17,26 also 15:26; 16:7,8,13,14 -- Jesus was referring to HIMSELF abiding in the body of HIMSELF?

Do you have TWO PERSONS residing in Jesus, Thad? It would appear so. I am beginning to wonder if you can understand plain English grammar. Let's say we are building a house together and I said to you --

"I will ask the owner that he will send you ANOTHER helper so that HE may guide you in your work"

Or "the owner will send you the helper and HE will teach you many things and what HE has learned HE will tell you" --

Would you ever conclude that I was talking about MYSELF? And would you conclude the owner is the helper who is myself?

TF> John 14:18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. (KJV) And here he admits that the comforter is none other than Jesus himself.

No, the previous verses and the word "ANOTHER" and the pronouns "HE" and "HIM" rule out that interpretation. You completely ignored my interpretation of this that Jesus comforts His people BY His Spirit.

See 1 John 3:24 "HE abides in us BY His Spirit whom HE has GIVEN us."

See John 13:20 (also Mt 10:19-20,40; Lk 10:16) which says "he who receives whomever I SEND receives ME; and he who receives ME receives HIM who sent ME" -- not that He who I send IS Me. Get this clear.

Yes, Jesus is a "comforter" (see also Jn 16:33; Mt 5:4; 11:28ff) but Jesus cannot be the "ANOTHER Comforter" of John 14:16. Your interpretation is ruled out by this word ANOTHER and the pronouns.

With John 14:18 I would ask you to read John 14:23 -- Jesus says

"If anyone loves ME, he will keep MY word; and MY FATHER will love him, and WE will come to him and make OUR home with him."

Notice again the pronouns WE and OUR indicating plurality of Persons. The Father is not only distinct from the Holy Spirit (John 14:16) but distinct from the Son (John 14:23). More on that later.

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PROPOSITION -- The Father is the Son?

AFFIRMED: Thad Foster?

TF> Even though Jesus was on this earth, he was still in heaven as the Father. In his omnipresent state.

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DENIED: Thad Foster?

TF> I will fill you in on something. We do not teach or believe that the Son was the Father. Now this may be confusing to you. But we teach that the Son was the lamb of God or should I say the man. He was not from eternity with the father, but was made of the seed of Abraham, David, and finally of the woman. As prophesied in Gen 3:15 The Bible does not mention the term God the Son. What made him God or the part of God that he was, was the Fact that Jehovah God dwelt in him bodily. Col 2:9

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Now back to John 14:18 --

P> So you are saying the "I" is Jesus and the "I" is the Father and the "I" is the Comforter, right? That these are all ONE Person, right?

TF> Are you finally beginning to see!

What I am beginning to see is you have one strange theology, dude!

P> That makes no sense, Thad. A distinction of Persons is clearly taught here. Look at verse 16 carefully. Jesus is praying TO the FATHER and asking the FATHER to SEND ANOTHER Comforter.

TF> The reason it does not make sense to you is because Jesus was not only God but he was also a man which suffered like passions like as of you and I. At times he spoke as a man.

Yes, but what does this have to do with interpreting John 14:16 ?

Jesus was God and man in ONE PERSON. You again appear to deny this to support your theology, which is not only "Oneness" but Nestorian also. Jesus the man is NOT a distinct person from Jesus as God. That is not biblical. You do not have Jesus referring to HIMSELF as Father. The Father and the Son are clearly distinct Persons in Scripture (John 1:1,14,18; 3:16ff; 5:30ff; 8:16ff; 10:30ff). I suggest you study these verses carefully.

TF> The fullness of the Godhead dwelt in Christ Jesus bodily. For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the godhead bodily and ye are complete in him (not them).

Here you try to make a grammatical point when you ignored the grammar of the previous section on the Holy Spirit. Make up your mind, Thad. Either pronouns mean something or they do not!

Yes, the word is "HIM" not "THEM." Why? Because Jesus Himself is ONE Person and not TWO Persons as you implied earlier. The word "Godhead" is more clearly rendered "deity" in the NIV and the point here is Jesus is FULLY God, not 1/3 of God which you misunderstand the Trinity as teaching. See following posts for answers to your objections.

TF> To prove my point with Gods Holy word, He said, The works that I do I do not of myself, but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.

Yes, in the context of Philip's statement "SHOW us the Father."

"He who has SEEN Me has SEEN the Father," yes. "The Father who dwells in Me does the works," yes. "I am IN the Father and the Father IN Me," yes (John 14:9-11). The context here is Philip asking "SHOW us the Father" so Jesus pointed to Himself as the exact IMAGE of the invisible God (Col 1:15ff; 2 Cor 4:4; Heb 1:3). That does not deny Jesus is distinct both from the Father and the Holy Spirit (John 14:16,23).

Jesus NEVER says "I AM the Father." If He does, please show me the verse. What John 10:30 says (from the Greek) is "I and My Father one WE are [in union]." Notice again the pronoun WE indicating TWO Persons. Jesus never says He and His Father are the SAME Person.

Yet, the Jews recognized this as a claim to deity (John 10:33), a claim to be EQUAL with God (John 5:18ff; 8:58f). Yes, Jesus is fully God, fully deity but that does not make Him the Father.

You are misinterpreting the verses in John 14:9-11 to mean TWO persons WITHIN Jesus ("of myself" = one person the man, "but the Father" = second person God). That is not biblical but an ancient heresy known as Nestorianism or Patripassianism. Take your pick.

TF> Also you might take note that it was Jesus that raised himself from the dead.

Yes, believed by Trinitarians also (John 2:19). No problem here.

TF> Even though Jesus was on this earth, he was still in heaven as the Father. In his omnipresent state.

Here we are getting a little speculative and going beyond Scripture. Yes, Jesus was fully God while on earth (Col 2:9) but that does not make him God the Father who is distinct from the Son. See verses earlier. How Jesus can be omnipresent is not something the Scripture really talks about and we shouldn't be too speculative.

TF> I will fill you in on something. We do not teach or believe that the Son was the Father. Now this may be confusing to you. But we teach that the Son was the lamb of God or should I say the man. He was not from eternity with the father....

Yes, the humanity of Christ did not exist prior to the Incarnation. We are agreed on that much. What we must discuss is John 1:1ff and Heb 1:1ff which state clearly the Word (the Son) was "WITH" the Father as a distinct Person PRIOR to the Incarnation and from all eternity.

How do you understand John 1:1 ? Is the Word a Person WITH the Father or not? (See Jn 1:14,18; 3:16ff; 1 Jn 1:1-3; 4:9ff).

"And now, O FATHER, glorify Me TOGETHER WITH YOURSELF, with the glory which I HAD WITH YOU before the world was." (John 17:5, NKJV)

Notice this is not only prior to the Incarnation but prior to the creation of the world. Also notice the plural pronouns "WE" and "OUR" referring to the Father and the Son (Jn 17:11,21,22) and verse 24 "you have loved Me BEFORE the foundation of the world" (cf. Rev 5:5ff; 13:8; John 1:29 concerning the Lamb of God).

I would be most interested in your understanding of these verses.

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PROPOSITION -- The Father SENT the Son.

AFFIRMED: P. DENIED: Thad Foster?

TF> The Father Sent the Son by being in the Son...

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Back to John 14:16 again --

P> Like I said last time, Jesus is not asking HIMSELF to send HIMSELF.

TF> The Bible says that he is going to present the church to himself! Why couldn't he send himself!

This passage is referring to a distinct Person -- the Holy Spirit that Jesus says the "Father will send in My name" (John 14:16,26). Now your question -- Why couldn't Jesus send Himself?

Because according to you, Jesus as the Son does not EXIST as a distinct Person from the Father or the Holy Spirit. I'm not saying God is not omnipotent or all-powerful. I'm just trying to be logical. For example, God could not create Himself. God does not contradict His own nature. Present the church to Himself I have no problem with (Eph 5:25-27) -- the Church EXISTS prior to her being presented as a Bride to Christ.

When the numerous texts in the Gospels say the Father SENT the Son -- are you saying the Father sent the Father but only calls Himself the "Son?" Or are you saying the Father sent a human body called the "Son?" Please help me understand you.

TF> The Father Sent the Son by being in the Son, The Son sends us by being in us. Christ in you the Hope of glory.

By being in the Son? So "Son" to you refers to Christ's humanity which did not exist prior to the Incarnation. The word "to send" (Gr apostello or pempo) loses all meaning for you when referring to persons as in "the Father SENT the Son INTO the world."

The Son sends us yes, but we exist PRIOR to being sent. Christ in us the hope of glory sends us (Col 1:27; John 17:18). Okay. However, the Father cannot send the "Son" INTO the world if the "Son" does not exist PRIOR to the Incarnation. I do not understand how you can believe your theology (see Jn 16:25-28; 17:1,5; 1 Jn 1:1-3; 4:9-14).

See particularly Hebrews 1:6,8 and explain the following --

"But when He [the Father] again BRINGS the firstborn [the Son] INTO THE WORLD, He says: 'Let all the angels of God worship Him.' "But TO THE SON He says: 'Your throne, O God, is forever and ever..."

This is a dialogue BETWEEN the Father and Son PRIOR to the Incarnation of the Son (cf. Heb 10:5). How do you understand this dialogue?

P> "And I will pray the Father, and HE [not "I"] shall give you ANOTHER Comforter, that HE [not "I"] may abide WITH you forever;

TF> He the Father not the man Christ Jesus But the Father was in the Son! Do you follow me.

No, I do not totally follow you. Please be more clear and deal explicitly with the pronouns and the grammar of the texts.

TF> Why was it then that the Spirit could not come until Jesus went away from the Apostles? He said it is expedient for you that I go away, for if I go not away the comforter cannot come. Then he said that he Jesus would send him to them. In another place which you already quoted the Bible says that the Father would send the comforter.

All of this is straight out of John 14-16, yes. But the Comforter is "ANOTHER" of the same kind, not the SAME Person as Jesus or His Father. You never dealt with this word "ANOTHER" nor the fact that Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit in the THIRD PERSON (he, him).

TF> Is the Spirit that was in Jesus The Father? If you deny this you deny the Bible! Did Jesus send the comforter or did Father God and Jesus Send the comforter? The answer is Jesus or the Spirit which dwelt in Jesus did. In this case he spoke as the Father and not as man.

You are not dealing with the grammar and pronouns. I won't accuse you of denying the Bible but you are ignoring the WORDS of the Bible. Every word counts, including pronouns (HE) and prepositions (WITH).

NOWHERE is the Holy Spirit called the Father. NOWHERE is the Holy Spirit called the Son (Jesus). NOWHERE is the Father called the Son (Jesus). If you believe this, please provide the explicit biblical texts.

TF> ....but if I depart, *I will send him unto you.* (KJV) Looks like you lost that one too, and Gods word is the winner.

QUESTION: Are the pronouns and prepositions in the Bible God's word?

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Thad's Oneness objections to the Trinity

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OBJECTION ONE: How many Spirits do you have?

TF> How many Spirits do you think we receive when we are born again? Do you believe that we receive the Spirit of The Father, The Spirit of the Son, and also the Spirit of the Holy Ghost. Would you have everyone here believe that we receive three Spirits? When the Bible says that we receive ONE. Jesus said he would not leave us comfortless, that he would come to us.

He certainly did. However, you are not dealing with the pronouns ("HE" "HIM") referring clearly to the Holy Spirit and you ignored any explanation for the word "ANOTHER" (Gr allos) used of the Spirit. I want you to deal with the actual grammar of the biblical texts.

Your questions are like asking "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?" These are not really relevant. We are not able to figure out the nature of God completely (Isa 55:8-9; Rom 11:33). Apprehension, maybe, but not complete comprehension.

In answer to your questions -- we receive the one Holy Spirit when we are regenerated ("born again") at Baptism (John 3:3-5; Acts 2:38; Titus 3:5). That is also the unanimous teaching of all the early Church Fathers. But that is another whole debate. :) However, I won't limit God's Spirit at all. He works as He wills (John 3:8; Rom 8:9ff; 1 Cor 3:16; 6:19; 12:11).

The Holy Spirit is CALLED the "Spirit of the Father" and the "Spirit of Christ" because He proceeds BOTH from the Father and the Son. Eastern Orthodox disagree here. There is no "Spirit of the Holy Ghost" in Scripture as that would be redundant.

Another completely different debate is whether we should baptize in the triune formula (Matt 28:19) or "in the name of Jesus Christ" which you mentioned and whether the former is a human tradition invented by the Catholic Church to promote the Trinity. As a Catholic, I don't believe so, Thad. :)

OBJECTION TWO: The Father is "greater" than Jesus

TF> And I might add here that the teaching of the trinity says that Jesus is co-equal with the Father. This is a false teaching that can be brought to light by the One statment which Jesus made. My Father is greater than I.

That might be a problem text for Trinitarians but such texts present "greater" problems -- no pun intended -- for you Oneness people. You again have TWO persons, the man Jesus, and the God "My Father" in Jesus?

John 5:18 and Phil 2:5ff teach that Jesus was by nature "EQUAL with God" yet in his voluntary state of humility He could say the Father in heaven was "greater" than Him. You accept the full deity of Christ as do all Trinitarians (John 1:1; 8:58; 10:30-33; Col 2:9) so John 14:28 should not really be brought into the discussion.

OBJECTION THREE: Did one-third of God die?

TF> To hold the position of the trinity you must face the matter that 1/3 of God died.

Here you sound like a skeptic of Christianity. You are again misunderstanding the Trinity as being three parts of God. That is not what the Trinity is -- God the Son is FULLY God. Also, death is not defined as complete annihilation as the conditional immortalitists believe so what you bring up is not a problem.

TF> Did you know that at the time of the reformation the protestant chuch took over the doctrine of the trinity WITHOUT SERIOUS CONSIDERATION!

Of course since the Protestant Reformers recognized the early Creeds as biblical as do Evangelicals today.

TF> Historical Facts about The Trinity!

Thad, you posted this once before and I received it the first time.

Perhaps you did not get my response to this. Here it is --

P> Don't you guys realize that the nature of God was settled 1,700 years ago in the Church councils?

TF> ISAIAH 45:21 Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the Lord? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.

I assume you apply this verse to the Councils of the Christian church of the first few centuries? The context of Isaiah 45 says nothing about that. Do you suggest Isa 45:21 contradicts Acts 15 where the FIRST Church Council was held? Councils are biblical and receiving the doctrine and authoritative decisions of councils is a biblical concept. "He who hears you, hears Me" (Luke 10:16).

TF> Historical Facts about The Trinity!

You quoted a few statements from various Encyclopedias. I appreciate your research here but it will take a lot of time to get into the specific quotes you brought up. LIFE magazine from the 1950's is hardly a proper theological text. I do have access to the New Catholic Encyclopedia where you quoted the following --

TF> New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1977 Edition, Vol. 13, p. 1021 The first use of the Latin word "trinitas" (trinity) with reference to God, is found in Tertullian's writings (about 213 A.D.) He was the first to use the term "persons" (plural) in a Trinitarian context.

That is really irrelevant to whether the teaching of the Trinity -- whatever term you want to use -- is taught in the Bible. This aspect of the Trinity -- the development of the precise language and Christian development of doctrine in general -- would take a good amount of explaining. Do you have any writings from the early Church Fathers or a book like E. Calvin Beisner's GOD IN THREE PERSONS (Tyndale,1984) that traces the development of the Trinity from the New Testament through early Church history? If not, let's not discuss this aspect.

What I challenge you to is a debate FROM THE BIBLE ALONE!

The Trinity (ONE God in THREE DISTINCT Persons) versus the Oneness-Sabellian idea of God as ONE Person -- Jesus IS the Father, Jesus IS the Holy Spirit, the Father IS the Holy Spirit, etc....

Your view cannot be supported biblically in my opinion.

P> Thad, do you have the Walter Martin/Calvin Beisner v. Robert Sabin/Nat Urshan debate on the John Ankerberg Show (1985) ? If not, write Ankerberg, P.O. Box 8977, Chattanooga, TN 37414.

You gave no response to this. Do you have this debate or not? I can send you a video of this FREE if you send me your home address through NETMAIL.

There was also a debate in 1990 between Robert Bowman, author of WHY YOU SHOULD BELIEVE IN THE TRINITY (Baker,1989) and UPC advocate Robert Sabin. I'd be interested in tapes of this.


Oneness Pentecostals and Baptism "in the name of Jesus only"

Thad,

Just wanted to let you know I received your two posts here. Hope you have a chance to deal with my 7-part post to you.

Much of what you gave me here is your theology of the Godhead which I hope I understand better now. Thanks for this.

However, I do not believe the following statements can be supported by the Bible --

TF> In other words *Jesus* is the Name of the Father, the Name of the Son, and the name of the Holy Ghost! At least the Apostles believed that.

No way, Thad. Jesus is called the Son of God (Mt 1:21; 1 Jn 1:3). See just the opening of Paul's epistles (Rom 1:7; 1 Cor 1:3; 2 Cor 1:2; Gal 1:3; Eph 1:2; Phil 1:2; Col 1:2; 1 Thes 1:1; 2 Thes 1:1; 1 Tim 1:2; 2 Tim 1: Titus 1:4; Philemon 3). In each of these it is always like...

"God our Father AND the Lord Jesus Christ" (KJV).

Try 2 John 3 -- "from God the Father AND from the Lord Jesus Christ, THE SON OF THE FATHER...."

NOWHERE is Jesus called the Father. NOWHERE is Jesus called the Holy Spirit. I am still waiting for your explicit texts for this belief.

The text at Matthew 28:19 itself disproves your idea that "Jesus" is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Each of these nouns are preceded by the definite article "THE" separated by the conjunction "AND" indicating distinct Persons! Neither logic nor the grammar of the text indicates that these THREE Persons are the one Person "Jesus."

The singular "NAME" here indicates a unity of power or authority -- that there is only ONE God -- but that does not deny there are still THREE distinct Persons here, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

You also misunderstand the meaning of the word "NAME" as used by the Apostles in Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5; etc...

As I explained earlier, Baptism is another whole debate. The apostles baptized by the AUTHORITY (Gr onoma=name) of Christ. They were not giving a special formula of words to use during Baptism but recognizing it was Christ who gave them AUTHORITY to Baptize (Matt 28:18-20).

And since it was Christ who has all authority and who told us to baptize "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" -- Catholics, Orthodox, and most Protestant churches obey this command and use this Trinitarian baptismal formula.

The "problem" you bring up concerning which formula to use was discussed early on in the history of the Church. I quote Origen and Cyprian --

"Perhaps you may inquire even into this: WHY, when the Lord Himself told His disciples that they should baptize all peoples in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit [Matt 28:19], does this Apostle [Paul] employ the name of Christ ALONE in Baptism, saying, 'We who have been baptized in Christ' [Rom 6:3]; for indeed, legitimate Baptism is had ONLY in the name of the Trinity." (Origen, Commentaries on Romans 5:8 c. 244 A.D.)

"After the Resurrection, when the Lord sent the Apostles to the nations, He commanded them to baptize the Gentiles in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit [Matt 28:19]. How then do some say that though a Gentile be baptized beyond the pale and outside the Church, yes, even against the Church, never mind how or of whom, so long as it be done in the NAME of Jesus Christ, the remission of sins can follow -- when Christ Himself commands the nations to be baptized in the full and united Trinity?" (St. Cyprian of Carthage, Letters 73:18 c. 255 A.D.)

The answer lies in the meaning of "in the NAME..." Greek scholar W. E. Vine states that the phrase "in the NAME" may be analyzed as follows --

(1) REPRESENTING the AUTHORITY of Christ (Mt 18:5; 24:5; etc...)

(2) in the POWER of (see below)

(3) in acknowledgement or confession of (e.g. Acts 4:12)

(4) in RECOGNITION of the AUTHORITY of (e.g. Mt 18:20)

(5) owing to the fact that one is called by Christ's "Name" or is identified with Him (e.g. 1 Pet 4:14)

TF> Acts 2:38 ...baptized in the name of Jesus Christ / Acts 8:16 ...baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus / Acts 10:48 ...baptized in the name of the Lord / Acts 19:5 ...baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus

I understand these Baptism texts under 2) or 4). For example, see Acts 4:7 -- the Jews asked "by what POWER or by what NAME have you done this?" Peter answered "by the NAME of Jesus Christ of Nazareth" (v. 10). See also Acts 3:6; 16:18; Mk 16:17; Lk 10:17; James 5:14.

IOW, the apostles Baptized by the AUTHORITY of Christ. They were not giving us a specific Baptism formula of words. If you believe they WERE giving us an exact formula, then please identify for me the EXACT words to use. You gave me three formulas --

(1) "in the name of JESUS CHRIST"

(2) "in the name of the LORD JESUS"

(3) "in the name of the LORD"

Which is it? Answer: All three -- the phrase "in the NAME of Jesus" refers to the AUTHORITY of Christ, not a specific formula.

TF> Now if you can show me anywhere in the Bible where anyone was baptized in the Titles Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, then you win and I will join your church. Now you can talk around it all you want, but the facts remain very steadfast, that the Apostles baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ and not the Titles Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are not simply "titles" but Persons as I've already tried to explain. "NAME" = AUTHORITY. Jesus commanded Baptism in the name (singular indicating unity of authority) of THE Father, AND of THE Son, AND of THE Holy Spirit -- THREE Persons.

So are you ready to become a Catholic yet? :)

Next you brought up more objections to the Trinity including --

How could Jesus pray to the Father? Why would he need to pray? Would not the Trinity insist Christ had one will? And again, did one-third of God die? Some of these were answered last time, we are getting off topic.

Speaking of Christ you said once again --

TF> He was the Father and he was the Son.

No way, Thad, I can't accept this. Give me some verses. I dealt with the "Father was in the Son" (John 14:9-11). Answer what I gave you.

TF> The Son was the body, the lamb, the perfect sacrifice.

No way, Thad. The Son is a divine Person, God and man in ONE Person.

TF> The Father entered back into that body after three days and raised him from the dead. Spirit and Flesh is the key to understanding the godhead.

No way, Thad. Give me ONE verse that ever says "the Father entered back into Jesus' body." Have you ever heard of Patripassianism?

TF> By the way the term God the Son is not in the Bible, it is a made up term by the Catholics.

Try Hebrews 1:8 -- the Father says "O God..." to the SON. Close enough.

TF> By the token the Father dwelt in him made him the Father.

No way, Thad. We can discuss Isaiah 9:6 if you like. You haven't brought up that one yet but I saw you bring it up for others.

TF> the man Christ Jesus was going to pray to the Spirit (which was the Father).....it was the Spirit which was in Christ, which was the Father....

No way, Thad. Instead of just giving me your theology of the Godhead, please answer what I already gave you on this.

TF> While in his fleshly tabernacle he could only do so much but he longed to break out of the straight jacket of his flesh so that he could fill his disciples with his Spirit.

What the heck? No way, Thad. Excuse me, but you sound like you want to put the Godhead in a box and figure everything out completely. Can't you accept the fact the Trinity is a mystery?

TF> He said that the world could not receive him (talking about the Spirit of truth) because it seeth him not neither knoweth him. Now look closely! he said but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you and shall be in you.

I'm looking very closely. HIM, HIM, HIM, HE, HE, HE referring to the Holy Spirit in the THIRD PERSON as I've pointed out to you. Jesus simply cannot be referring to HIMSELF! Jesus said HE, HIM!

TF> Jesus was with them at that time as their comforter. but when he sent his Spirit back after he ascended, he came as the Holy Ghost in their hearts.

(1) Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit, not Himself (John 14-16).

(2) Jesus, not the Holy Spirit, ascended to heaven (Acts 1:1-11).

(3) Jesus sent the Holy Spirit, not Himself (Acts 2).

TF> The Spirit of Jesus not Jesus in the flesh! Yes it was the Spirit of Jesus that came back to comfort them and millions more who have received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost.

So you are saying the "Spirit of Jesus" IS Jesus? No way, Thad. The "Spirit of Christ" of Romans 8 is the Holy Spirit, not Christ the Son of God, but the Holy Spirit. Stop confusing the TWO.

TF> I will keep the mail packet and respond to the rest of your statements at a later time.

Looking forward to more.

P (March 1995)


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