The following is a response I wrote (10/26/00) and sent to Gene Cook, Pastor of the Unchained Christian Church (Reformed Baptist) of San Diego Ca. after hearing his debate with David Bernard.
To Gene Cook, Pastor,
Unchained Christian Church,
San Diego, CA,
I am writing in response to your debate with David Bernard. I am an Oneness Apostolic Pentecostal, as Mr. David Bernard. In fact, since about 17 years ago, I have considered myself a student of Mr. Bernard’s through his writing.
I must say I appreciate your loving concern for we Apostolics. So I felt moved to give you an opportunity to further expound on some questions I have about your Trinity position. I sincerely appreciate your intentions for reaching out to us with what you believe to be the truth. I hope you still feel that way. If you sincerely wish to convince me of the Trinitarian view, I would appreciate your taking the opportunity to answer some questions that I have written up in the attached html file.
Please note that I am cc’ing this to members of both your and my fellowship, for the sake of accountability. Mr. Cook, please feel free to edit the list of your fellowship as you wish. For your information, several of the Apostolic gentlemen below are my personal elders, mentors, and friends toward whom I give special mention and honor, namely Roger Skluzacek, Joel Pace, and Mitch Glover.
<List removed from web version.>
A Response to the Oneness / Trinity Debate
(By request, this version includes questions in numbered sequence. I have additionally broken the writing down into sections. I have not numbered questions I used rhetorically, not expecting them to be answered.)
Let us start, Mr. Cook, with your first scriptural text. Genesis 1:26-27. You asked- “Why does God speak in such language”?
QUESTION A1: Let me ask you- Why did God tell Abraham he had past tense made him a father of many nations before Abraham even had any children?
The answer that I hold, is that scripture gives us the answer-
Rom 4:17 …God… calleth those things which be not as though they were.
QUESTION A2: Would I have to stop believing this (or at least not be able to believe it applied in Genesis 1:26) in order to be of the Trinitarian persuasion?
QUESTION A3: Do you also believe, as I, that if we truly believe in something then we will filter our perspectives through, and conform our thoughts and responses to, that belief?
Now, is it not wise to lay a foundation before one builds?
My answer would be that it is indeed scriptural to have a plan, and lay a foundation before ever building (Heb 8:5, 1 Cor 3:10).
The point is, our God who calls things that are not as though they were, and who inhabits eternity, has said to us through Paul-
1 Cor 3:9 …WE ARE LABOURERS TOGETHER WITH GOD: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.
10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon.
2 Cor 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
6:1 We then, as workers together with him, beseech you
Does not this also then apply to Gen. 1:26 considering God calls those things that be not as though they were? And what is it that we are laboring and working toward?
Rom 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
1 Cor 15:49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
Do you believe that mankind was completely finished being made, in the Garden of Eden, and after the fall needed to be remade? Or do you accept that God knew from the very beginning of man’s creation that man would fall, but through that fall God would send Jesus as redeemer (1Pt 1:20 & Heb 4:3), and through that salvation, the seed God had sown of man in the field of the world, would be seen to be for the purpose, not of that original Adam, but for the sake of reaping a far greater grain?
Jn:12:24: Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.
1Cor:15:37: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:
So then if we, mankind, are not yet finished being made, and were not finished being made upon Genesis 1:27, how is it that Genesis 1:26 can be made to appear to be speaking conclusively of only beings in existence before “creation” if we know that God speaks in such language as to call those things which be not as though they were and that we were chosen unto salvation before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4)?
1 John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
1 Cor 13:9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
Eph 4:13 Till we all come… unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
Gen 1:26 …God said, Let us MAKE man in our image, after our likeness...
27 So God CREATED man in HIS own image, in the image of God created HE him; male and female created he them.
First God, who inhabits eternity, and calls things that are not as though they were, says “Let us MAKE man” and indeed we are specifically told later that we are laborers with God. But we also note that the word for “make” in Genesis 1:26 is Strong’s Hebrew #6213. 'asah, and means “to do or make, in the broadest sense and widest application…” It is this word that God uses when he said- “let us make man.” But then we find that, in verse 27, when God actually gets down to the business of creating man, a different word, and different phraseology is applied-
Gen 1:27 So God CREATED man in HIS own image, in the image of God CREATED HE him; male and female CREATED HE them.
When God gets down to creating, it is no longer a “they” or an “us.” In creation it is HE (not they) who created. He created him, and HE created (not made/make) them. And the word for create is absolute-
1254. bara', baw-raw'; a prim. root; (absol.) to create
So we see that Genesis 1:26 inherently, supplies absolutely no irrefutable evidence that God is three persons, but searching the scriptures reveals at least one totally different, explicitly stated, purpose for God to use such language. Isn’t that so?
Mr. Cook, at least three times you accused Mr. Bernard of putting words into your mouth. Sir, that is exactly what the Oneness contention with the Trinity doctrine has always been!
QUESTION A4: Therefore, without putting words into God’s mouth, could you please search His word, as I have done for you, and quote where He said as you allege, that the Eternal Father was talking to the Eternal Son, in distinction of persons, or any such specific language? Could you provide any scripture anywhere that would give us any other such specifically stated clues as to who that “us” was whom God was talking to in Genesis 1:26?
Prv:30:6: Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.
Dt:4:2: Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.
(Note: I am not saying the interpretation I’ve given has ruled out that God was also speaking to angels present, [which seems to be the prevalent opinion among Apostolics], because I believe angels do also play a part in the perfecting of man. However, I’m not aware of scriptures speaking to angels as pointedly as to the church and ministers, as do the scriptures I’ve quoted here. I’d like to point out, that if God was speaking to angels, He was also speaking to Satan, and interestingly, Satan may have taken God’s words (G1:26) as a challenge! At least, we could think so due to Satan’s zeal to make us in his likeness rather than God’s, and doing so in direct competition with God and His servants!)
You pointed out during the debate that you did not revert to history, but kept to the Bible. Since you, as all Trinitarians constantly do, or at the least seem, to put words in God’s mouth, (such as Distinct Persons, Trinity, Holy Trinity, Eternal Son, Coexistant, Coeternal, “the Son is eternally begotten” etc.) saying His word says or denotes plurality of persons, when in fact His word uses no such terminology, nor makes any such specifically stated definition of Himself, then are we out of line in asking you...
QUESTION B1: Where did you got this Trinitarian terminology from if not the Bible and if not from resorting to history as you have testified you have not done?
QUESTION B2: By stating that you have not resorted to history, are you implying that you have made these terms and definitions up yourself out of thin air without any influence whatsoever from the historical formulations of the Trinity and it’s terminology by Christian-Platonic Philosophers? Sir, would that not be plagiarism?
"When one does speak of an unqualified Trinitarianism, one has moved from the period of Christian origins to, say, the last quadrant of the 4th century... From what has been seen thus far, the impression could arise that the Trinitarian dogma is in the last analysis a late 4th century invention. In a sense this is true... The formulation 'one God in three persons' was not established, certainly not fully assimilated into Christian life and its profession of faith, prior to the end of the 4th century. But it is precisely this formulation that has first claim to the title "the Trinitarian dogma" "The New Catholic Encyclopedia" pgs. 295-305.
"The doctrine of the Trinity itself, however, is not a Biblical doctrine... It is the product of theological reflection upon the problem... The ecclesiastical doctrine of the Trinity is not only the product of genuine Biblical thought, it is also the product of philosophical speculation, which is remote from the Bible". "The Christian Doctrine of God" by Emil Brunner.
"The Holy Trinity- the basis for the doctrine of the Trinity... The question as to how to reconcile the encounter with God in this threefold figure (The Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit) with faith in **the oneness of God, which was the Jews' and Christians' characteristic mark of distinction** over against paganism, agitated the piety of ancient Christendom in the deepest way... Christ as the Logos, under the influence of Neoplatonic Philosophy, became the subject of a speculative theology... This question was answered through the Neoplatonic metaphysics of being... In Neoplatonic philosophy both the nous and the idea of the world are designated the hypostases (essences, or natures) of the transcendent God. Christian theology took the Neoplatonic metaphysics of substance as well as its doctrine of hypostases as the departure point for interpreting the relationship of the 'Father' to the 'Son' in terms of the Neoplatonic hypostases doctrine... The Neoplatonic concept of substance... was foreign to the New Testament itself... The dispute on the basis of the metaphysics of substance... led to concepts that have no foundation in the New Testament." -Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th edition, 1984, Vol. 4, page 485.
"It is a well confirmed historical fact that beginning in about 130 A.D. many of the Church Fathers- the Apologists- were converts from paganism and trained pagan philosophers. These included Justin Martyr (ca. 100-165), Tatian (ca. 200) and Theophilus of Antioch (ca. 160-200). Indeed their knowledge of the Old Testament came through their readings of the philosopher Philo. Tertullian explicitly employed written works of pagan philosophers in support of his Christian philosophy (De Test. Animae I). Such fathers as Justin Martyr (Apol. I, 4, 5, 7, 20) and Athenagoras (ca. 177) (Supplic. 5, 6), in order to defend Christianity, stated that they were following some of the practices advocated by the best of the pagan philosophers. Clement of Alexandria (ca. 150-215) actually undertook to create a new Christian philosophy he termed the 'true philosophy' (Strom. II, 11)." - Robert A. Hermann, "Oneness, The Trinity, And Logic", pg 18.
"The Trinity doctrine... traces it's history to a rebellious extremist named Tertullian... And it is not improbable that the development of the doctrine of the Trinity, which formed no part of the original Jewish Christianity, may be traced to Egyptian influence; as the whole of the older Egyptian theology was permeated with the idea of triple divinity, as seen by both in the triads of gods which the various cities worshipped, and in the threefold names, representing three differing aspects of the same personality, under which each god might be addressed." -Joseph Crafton Milne, "A History of Egypt, pg 155. Vol. 5.
"The Cappodicians, theologians who reconciled the faith of Athanasius with the current philosophy, and apprehended it abstractly, did not retain his teaching pure and simple... They boldly characterized the plurality of hypostases, e.g., as a phase of truth preserved in Greek polytheism" -Adolf von Harnack, "History of Dogma", pg 142-143.
"It is a solution by harmonization, an attempt to combine, as Gregory of Nyssa characterizes it, the monotheism of the Jews and the polytheism of the Greeks. the method of harmonization used by them was to thin down the Jewish monotheism as a concession to Greek polytheism." -Wolfson, Harry A. "The Philosophy of the Church Fathers", pg 578-579
"The ancient Babylonians, just as the modern Romans, recognized in words the unity of the Godhead; and, while worshipping innumerable minor deities... they distinctly acknowledged that there was One infinite and Almighty Creator, supreme over all... in the unity of that one only god of the Babylonians, there were three persons, and to symbolize that doctrine of the Trinity, they employed... the equilateral triangle... just as is well known the Romish Church does at this day... the recognition of a trinity was universal in all the ancient nations of the world... The triune emblem of the supreme Assyrian divinity shows clearly... though blasphemously, the unity of Father, Seed, or Son, and the Holy Ghost..." -The Two Babylons, chapter 2, by Rev. A. Hislop.
So you see, sir, that when Trinitarians resort to the terminology of the Trinity, they ARE, by that fact alone, resorting to extra-biblical history. Therefore, to lead us to believe any different is nothing short of deception, fraud and denial, is it not?
QUESTION B3: Were you not aware that the doctrine of the Trinity is by no means a distinctive feature of certain "Christian" faiths? Were you aware that all Trinitarian "Christians" MUST trace their roots, NOT directly to Christ and the apostles, but to pagan philosophers who compromised strict Biblical monotheism with pagan Trinitarianism?
QUESTION B4: Surely you are aware of the scriptures warning God's people of defining Him by the doctrines, and philosophies of man, are you not?
Deuteronomy 6:14 "Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you..."
Deu 13:1 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,
2 And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;
3 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
Deu 13:6 If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers;
7 Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth;
8 Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him:
QUESTION B5: If you really want convince us of the Trinity doctrine, is it unreasonable for us to request you to demonstrate to us that you can describe God without resorting to history, but to describe and define your perspective of God with Bible terms and definitions only? (Which would mean without resorting to terminology and/or descriptions invented after the writing of the Bible.)
QUESTION B6: Failing this, would it be out of line to ask you to please be honest enough with yourself and us to admit you cannot state, defend, declare or define the doctrine of the Trinity without resorting to history, or putting words into God’s mouth?
Col 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
10 And ye are complete in him…
3:11 Christ is all, and in all.
Because you see, Mr. Cook, it is written in 2 Tm 2:5, that “…if a man… strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.” If we are keepers (John 14:15,21; 1Jn 2:3-4, 5:2-3) and doers (Jms 1:22) of the Lord’s commandments, it is unlawful for us to come to the conclusion of the Trinity doctrine, because we would first have to add to the word of God (Prv:30:6), second, we would have to look to the gods which are round about us (Deu 13:1-8), and thirdly, we would have to resort to philosophy and vain deceit after the traditions of men, and rudiments and elements of the world (Col. 2:8-10). All of which, as you know, are forbidden by the commandments of God. All the onramps to that wide road “freeway” called the Trinity, traveled by pagans and professing Christians alike, are closed to Christ’s commandment keepers. In order to traverse the Trinity Highway, one must first make the commandments of Christ of none effect.
But of course, they that do not submit themselves to the New Testament law of Christ, are neither Christ’s, nor subject to Him, are they?
1 Jn 2:3: And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
4: He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
Rom 8:7: Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
1 Jn 2:5: But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.
The next point I would like to address was in your interpretation of God sending His Son into the world, and your assertion that the Son couldn’t be sent without preexistence.
Consider this scripture-
2 Cor 12:2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.
3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)
4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
QUESTION C1: Do you agree that Paul was speaking of himself, or was he speaking of another person here? If he was speaking of himself, why did Paul use such language as to be speaking in the third person? Was he misleading us? If he wasn't speaking of himself, who was he speaking of?
But Paul himself clearly demonstrates that the one he was speaking of was who he would be in the hereafter-
2 Cor 12:5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.
Paul was so convinced of the change that will take place in our persons in the future, that for him to speak of his future, promised, glorified body, as his present self would be a lie. That is how real that difference is. And yet, it would still be Paul, albeit glorified (1 Cor 15:52-53).
If we can accept that, it should not be so hard to accept this-
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…
14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,
Try to look at that passage without filtering it through the mindset of a semi-converted pagan philosopher/Christian. Try to imagine it through the mindset of an absolutely monotheistic Jew who knew absolutely nothing about distinct persons in the Godhead (even though the thought of distinct persons in the godhead was in existence in the forbidden [Deu 6:14; Deu 13:6-7] pagan mindset of Jesus’ day and earlier). Now imagine the true difference of God being made flesh from what God was before being made flesh. And then tell us whether it is such a stretch of the imagination for God to speak of His changed self, as Paul did, so differently, as to necessitate speaking of himself in the third person.
John 4:22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
Luke 24:39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.
John 2:21 But he spake of the temple of his body.
Col 2:9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
1 Cor 12:4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all…
11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
The body of Christ, whether we are speaking of the man who walked the earth 2,000 years ago, or the church, which He now dwells in, is one body of many members. It does not say that the Trinity is a body with many members; it says that Christ is a body with many members. But it does say that the Spirit, Lord and God are one and the selfsame Spirit.
The point is, it wasn’t a separate person who walked the earth in the man; it was a completely new (to use your words) ontological makeup of God in relationship to man, in the flesh, made of a woman. And therefore, as with Paul viewing his glorified self, to speak of God as being the same, when He had come in such a radically different manifestation, would be as if to lie. This is exactly the same principle that Jesus used of the Holy Ghost when He said-
John 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
And as Mr. Bernard pointed out, He wasn’t saying He was sending another person. No, that would be putting words in His mouth. He merely said a different comforter, and yet indeed He went on to identify that it was He who was to come in us, and to deny that would be to take words out of Jesus mouth.
John 14:17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.
Col 1:26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:
27 …which is Christ in you,
2 Cor 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
(For a very thorough study of the fact that it is Jesus only in us, not a Trinity, and to believe otherwise is actually antichrist, please see the following web page- http://http://www.1lord1faith.org/wm/Oneness/Spirit%20of%20Antichrist.htm)
2 Cor 11:2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
So then, it wasn’t a different person who was sent into the world; rather it was God manifest in the flesh (1 Tim 3:16), as never before. It was God in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself (2 Cor: 5:19). Just as it isn’t a different person who indwells the true believer, but it is Jesus Himself, as another Comforter. As Mr. Bernard so aptly pointed out, that Jesus said “I will not leave you orphanless, I will come to you.” John corroborates this later on, when He tells us we have one advocate (parakletos-Comforter) in Jesus Christ. (1 John 2:1)
So there is your answer to why God speaks in such language. The difference is, our answer is not found in pagan philosophy, but found through searching the scriptures. Nor have we resorted to putting words in God’s mouth.
Next, Mr. Cook, I’d like to address your interpretation of 1 Cor. 11:3 as evidence of distinct persons in the godhead.
1 Cor 11:3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.
Mr. Bernard did a great job in pointing out how this is a very fine analogy for the humanity of Christ in submission to deity. I would like to point out another aspect in addition to Mr. Bernard’s point. And that is the fact that the analogy GOD USED did NOT begin at the husband and wife, but began with the man himself-
Eph 5:28 …MEN… LOVE… THEIR OWN BODIES…
29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself
You asked “What is the minimum Biblical number of persons to have loving relationship?” and there is your answer. God’s word says that men love their own bodies in verse 28-29 & 33. In fact God predicates the commandment to men to love their wives on the fact that men love their bodies. My body is not a distinct person from me, yet God Himself, through His word, says I love it, and cherish it.
QUESTION D1: Do you love your body?
The Bible says no man ever yet hated his flesh. And if you do, you have relationship with your body. Therefore, scripturally, the minimum number in order to have relationship is not dependent on plurality of persons, but on plurality of bodily members (soul, body, heart, mind, etc.). If you believe what this scripture says, then you must stop using the fact that God loved the Son, sent the Son, or any other terms of “relationship” as evidence of distinct persons. Because such a conclusion is not warranted in light of this scripture, and would also be putting words in God’s mouth.
To expand on this thought, the woman actually was at one time one and the selfsame with the man, but in order for a new form of relationship to take place, God made woman out of man. Therefore, from God’s perspective, woman is as the body of man, not as a distinct person in the head of man. Woman is no more a co-person in the “head” of a man, than the visible humanity of Jesus Christ is a co-person in the “head” of God. Scripturally speaking, the humanity of Jesus Christ (which comes from Mary’s Jewish ancestry Acts 2:30; Rom 1:3, Rom 9:4-5) is the body of God, but is never explicitly said to be a distinct person in the Godhead. (Again, one would have to resort to pagan philosophy to come to that conclusion).
As a matter of fact, the woman actually began as the same very person of the man- Adam, but in process of time God created a distinction in order to establish a new form of relationship (subject/object).
Point being, man was preexistent in time to the woman. Also, every example in the Bible of a "father", especially when speaking metaphorically, is absolutely ALWAYS someone who is precedent in time, i.e. Satan is the father of all lies because he was the first to do so. Or in Gen 4:20-21 "Jabal... was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle. 21 And his brother's name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ."
QUESTION D2: Why, in describing the relationship between God (the Father) and Jesus Christ, did God choose to use a relationship (Father/Son) that consistently signifies precedence in time, if, as the Trinity dogma demands, the Son is coeternal, and eternally begotten?
QUESTION D3: Why then don't Trinitarians accept the scriptures that both in analogy and explicit statement declare that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was made in process of time?
Gal 4:4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
Furthermore, to speak of God as the head and Jesus as the body, as bodily members, as Oneness does, and as Mr. Bernard did, is Biblical language. In using Biblical language, we are neither putting words in God’s mouth, nor are we making God in man’s image as you have accused us of. We are simply reiterating and upholding, rather than denying, what God has said in His definitions of Himself.
In fact, if you believe what we are told in Ephesians 5:28-33, and are willing to assimilate it into your belief system, and if you were to start thinking of God and Christ in biblical language as head and body, and were to also to refrain from imposing extra-biblical predilections toward distinctions in persons, guess what you would be? Oneness! That’s how simple, non-mysterious and non-complex this Oneness doctrine is.
2Cor 11:2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
Rom 1:20 "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, BEING UNDERSTOOD by the things that are made, EVEN HIS ETERNAL POWER AND GODHEAD; so that they are without excuse:
21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations,"
So how is it that Trinitarians come to call the godhead a "mystery" when God has used such understandable terminology (head/body) to describe Himself?
On the other hand, to speak of God in distinctions in persons, as Trinitarians do, is not in God’s vocabulary, in declaring Himself to us, anywhere in His word. No Trinitarian yet has been able to supply such language in the Bible, even though, as I’ve demonstrated, many admit it is lacking in scripture. Therefore, to use Trinitarian terminology of plural persons, originating in Biblically forbidden pagan philosophy, is not only putting words in God’s mouth, and not only denying God-given definitions, but it is in fact fashioning God through the hands (works) of man which is idolatry. (Is:44:9-10, Jer:10:2-5)
QUESTION D4: So, if God explains to us, in His own word, and in no uncertain terms, that which we have therefore manifestly not taken upon ourselves to fashion God in our image, that the Head of Christ is God, then who are you to question and deny that God and Christ are anything more than one body, with one name, though there are distinctions in manifestation and bodily position and function, though specifically NOT distinction or division of persons in the Godhead?
You pointed out the scene in Rev. 5, and you allege these to be distinct persons since one is handing the scroll to another. Let me ask you simply this- Is the scene literal or symbolic?
QUESTION E1: In Rev. 5:6 it says the lamb 1) stood as it had been slain- is that literal?
QUESTION E2: In Rev. 5:6 it says the lamb has seven horns and seven eyes- is that literal? Are you expecting to see Jesus literally looking like a lamb slain with 7 horns and 7 eyes?
QUESTION E3: Without putting words into God’s mouth then, can you point to scripture where God’s word demonstrates this symbolic scene is, or is even meant to be, evidence of distinct persons?
QUESTION E4: Without such specific statement from God, and without putting words in God’s mouth, how is it then that Rev. 5:6 is any proof text at all of distinct persons in the Godhead?
Now therefore, in summary, and before we go any further;
Without demonstrating a denial of God's unique characteristic as an eternity-dwelling being, who calls those things which be not as though they were (Rom 4:17, 1 Cor 3:9 & Gen 1:26); and,
Without denying that scripturally there is indeed subject/object relationship without any necessity of there being distinction of persons, as with a man and his body (Eph 5:28,29 & 33); and,
Without denying the scriptural concept that a change in ontological makeup (Gal 4:4, John 1:1 & 14, 1 Cor 15:35-51) allows for, if not morally obligates a third person reference, without necessity of distinction of persons (2 Cor 5:19, Rev 22:16), as with Paul toward his glorified body (2 Cor 12:2-5); and,
Without redefining or in any way diminishing God's own vocabulary in the descriptions in His Word of the relationship between the Father and Son, namely head and body (1 Cor 11:3, Col 2:9); and,
Without resorting to extra-biblical (Deut 4:2, Pro 30:6, Rev 22:18), paganistic (Deut 6:14, Deut 13:6-7), or otherwise vain philosophical terminology (Col 2:8) developed historically well after the Apostles (Acts 20:29, Jude 1:3, 1 Tim 1:3); and,
Without putting words in God's mouth (Jer 23:16, 21, 25, 30-32 Ezek 22:28);
(QUESTION F1:) Could you please demonstrate THROUGH SCRIPTURAL QUOTATION ALONE a definition of the distinction between God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son of God according to and in statement and defense of the Trinity dogma?
1 Cor 9:24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
2 Tim 2:5 And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.
Therefore, allow me to demonstrate the Oneness position and definition purely from scriptural quotations-
"...There is one God..." -1 Timothy 2:5.
"God is a Spirit..." -John 4:24.
"There is... one Spirit..." -Ephesians 4:4.
"...One and the selfsame Spirit..." 1 Corinthians 12:11.
"Now the Lord is that Spirit..." -2 Corinthians 3:17.
"There is...one Lord..." -Ephesians 4:4-5.
"...Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all)" -Acts 10:36.
"The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The lord (Jesus) our God is one Lord..." -Mark 12:29.
"...Believe me, and understand that I am He: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour... Thus saith the Lord, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel... I AM THE LORD, YOUR HOLY ONE, the creator of Israel, your King" -Isaiah 43:10-15.
"David speaketh concerning Him (Jesus of Nazareth)... thine Holy One..." -Acts 2:25-27.
1 Corinthians 12:4 "Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same spirit. 5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all... 11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will."
"For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him," Colossians 2:9-10.
"I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root (Father) and the offspring (Son) of David" -Revelations 22:16.
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace" -Isaiah 9:6
For "God is one" -Galatians 3:20
And "...Christ is all..." -Colossians 3:11.
Mr. Cook, the next set of questions I would like to pose to you has to do with the commandment in the scriptures for us to obey the gospel.
It is written-
2 Th 1:7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,
8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
QUESTION G1: Now, if we are punished in flaming fire with everlasting destruction for not obeying the gospel, can we still be saved without obeying the gospel? Obviously not, correct?
The gospel is the Death, Burial, and Resurrection-
1 Cor 15:1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
This “gospel” *must* be believed, received, stood for, and kept in memory, or our belief is in vain, according to what Paul wrote. In vain = for nothing. These are in addition to the gospel needing to be obeyed according to 2 Thess. 1:7-9.
Now Jesus said-
Mark 8:34 ...Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it.
We know he was referring to His death, that we must also die to our selves, which is repentance, which is essential for salvation, in addition to belief-
Luke 13:3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
Therefore, to die out to ourselves is completely, scripturally, per Jesus Himself, and that for the "gospel's" sake- essential, or we'll lose our lives. There's no salvation, therefore, if we believe and lose our lives anyway. And it's possible to think we believe, but find out we really were just fooling ourselves-
Mat 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
We can call him Lord Lord, and still be ruined. That isn't salvation, even though we thought we "believed". We didn't have the belief that had action behind it that demonstrated that belief. We had dead faith.
James 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.
19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
By the way, James 2:17 is the only verse in the bible that mentions the words "faith" and "alone" in the same verse. That's because...
Luke 4:4 ...It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.
And the scripture goes on to say-
Jms:2:21: Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
22: Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
23: And the scripture was FULFILLED which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
We hear all the time preachers saying just believe because that is all it takes to be saved, but how many quote James 2:23 that reminds us that the imputing of righteousness by faith into Abraham was FULFILLED when, and not before, Abraham obeyed!
We can't take out just the saved by faith scriptures and build our doctrine on those alone and deny the submission and obedience scriptures! They are complimentary not contradictory!
We DO through faith. We don't DO through unbelief!
So then, the scripture says-
Rom 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death:
Col 2:12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
This is scripture. Let me point out to you, that you can't be "buried" into the Father or the Holy Ghost because; "they" (if they be "they" as according to Trinitarian dogma) did not die!
Therefore, according to Trinitarian doctrine, there is no scripturally stated purpose to baptism whatsoever. Baptism must then be a scriptural enigma. It (Father/Son/Holy Ghost water baptism) performs no scripturally stated function, and produces no scripturally stated results.
But water baptism in and into Jesus' name produces results and performs functions. For example-
1. Buried with Christ in obedience to His death, burial and resurrection (the gospel). (Rom. 6:3-4)
2. Remission of sins (Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16)
3. To put on Christ (Gal 3:27)
QUESTION G2: Mr. Cook, since you have expressed concern for we Apostolic’s souls, my question to you is- could you be so kind as to please quote for me from the scriptures any specifically stated alternate method by which we can OBEY the gospel, other than that which Peter summarized in Acts 2:38, and Paul expounded on in the book of Romans and elsewhere?
QUESTION G3: How other than Acts 2:38 does the scripture say to obey the gospel?
Now Mr. Cook, if you will, let’s look closely at baptism. Since you have mentioned the Trinitarian interpretation of Matthew 28:19, and since you have stated that our respective perceptions of the godhead are on trial, allow me to bring before the court six witnesses who shall corroborate with us (Oneness) on the subject of Jesus name baptism.
I have six honest serving men,
They taught me all I knew,
Their names? What and Why and How,
And When and Where and Who
I know that saying isn’t in the scriptures, nevertheless, it is a scriptural concept-
2 Cor 13:1 ...In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.
In response against the Trinitarian allegation that Matthew 28:19 gives us the baptismal formula, I bring forth those very same six witnesses- What, Why, How, When, Where, and Who.
Baptism in/into the name of Jesus Christ-
Acts 2:38 with Luke 24:47,
1 Peter 3:20-21 with Mark 16:16 & Acts 4:10-12,
Acts 22:16 with Rom. 6:3-4,
1. Remission of sins- Luke 24:47 with Acts 2:38 & Acts 22:16. (For evidence that “for remission” in Acts 2:38 does not mean because remission of sins that had already, past tense, taken place, but rather means “unto” remission, please see- http://www.1lord1faith.org/wm/Gospel/There%20Be%20Some%20That%20Trouble%20You.htm)
2. To Put On Christ- Gal. 3:26-27 (see also 2 Cor. 11:2).
3. Salvation- Mark 16:16 with Acts 4:10-12, 1 Pet. 3:20-21 with Heb. 11:7.
4. To be buried with Jesus- Col. 2:11-12, Rom. 6:3-4.
5. In obedience to the gospel- 1 Cor. 15:1-4, 2 Thess 1:7-9, Mark 8:34 –35.
6. In obedience to Jesus’ command (as opposed to recital of His words)- Acts 9:6 with Acts 22:16 and with Rom 6:3-4, and with Gal 3:27.
1. By immersion- Acts 8:38.
2. By faith/belief in the name (ie. not a mere recital of a formula)- Acts 8:36-37, Acts 2:38 with 10:43 & Luke 24:47.
3. By invocation of the name- Acts 22:16 with Acts 9:5 & Acts 26:15.
4. In the name of Jesus Christ- Acts 2:38, Acts 8:12-16, Acts 19:4-5, Rom 6:3, Col. 2:6, 12, Gal 3:27.
1. Day of Pentecost at Jerusalem- Acts 2:38
2. In Samaria, after the death of Stephen- Acts 8:5, 16
3. At Joppa, during Peter’s second journey from Jerusalem- Acts 10:48
4. At Ephesus, during Paul’s third journey- Acts 19:5
Who Received baptism in Jesus name-
Jews- Acts 2:38
Italian Gentiles- Acts 10:47-48
Ephesian disciples baptized by John who needed rebaptizing in Jesus’ name- Acts 19:5
Romans- Rom 6:3-4
Who Preached And Taught Baptism In Jesus’ Name-
Jesus- Act 9:5-6 with Act 22:12-13, Rom 6:3, (see also Act 9:10-15, Act 19:1-5); Luke 24:47 with Acts 2:38; Mark 16:16 with Acts 4:10-12 and 1 Pet. 3:20-21 also with Heb. 11:7
(for further study on the fact that Jesus taught baptism in His name, see- http://www.1lord1faith.org/wm/Gospel/Jesus Himself taught baptism in His name.htm)
Peter, with ALL the other Apostles, including Matthew - Acts 1:14, 2:38, 41
Philip- Acts 8:5,12
Peter with 6 other Jewish believers- Acts:10:45-48, 11:12
Paul- Acts:19:5, Rom. 6:3-4, - Col. 2:11-12, Gal. 3:26-27
Even John the Baptist taught baptism into Jesus, although he had not yet received the revelation of the name, as the Apostles did-
Mark 1:4 John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins… 7 …saying, There cometh ONE mightier than I after me,
Acts 19:4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
QUESTION H1: Mr. Cook, what scriptural witnesses could you bring to court in corroboration and defense of your Trinitarian interpretation of, and which is based solely on, Matthew 28:19?
Allow me to take a moment and point out a few other specifics, and pose a few more pointed questions about baptism in Jesus’ name.
If you will note, in Matthew 28:16, it was only the 11 Apostles who were with Jesus when He gave them the Great Commission-
Mt:28:16: Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.
17: And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
18: And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
When presented with the many scriptures on baptism in Jesus’ name, many Trinitarians resort to saying they’d rather obey Jesus’ words than the Apostles.
QUESTION I1: If you do not hold to this view, could you please explain to me why not, and why you would still defend the Trinitarian baptism formula?
QUESTION I2: If you do hold that position, then I have some additional questions for you.
QUESTION I3: If Peter was wrong on the day of Pentecost, why didn’t any of the other apostles correct him?
QUESTION I4: If Peter was wrong on the day of Pentecost, why did the Lord send him to Cornelius’ house to perpetuate the same error?
QUESTION I5: If Peter was wrong on the day of Pentecost, and we should obey the Lord rather than the Apostles, why is it written that Jesus both opened up the Apostles understanding (Luke 24:45), and that Jesus prayed for those who would believe on Him through their word (John 17:20), and why was the Lord working with him with signs following (Mark 16:20)?
QUESTION I6: If it is better to obey the Lord Jesus than the Apostles, why does Acts 2:41-42 make such commendation of those who “continued steadfastly in the Apostle’s doctrine”?
QUESTION I7a: What does the word “therefore” mean to you?
QUESTION I7b: Why did Jesus say- “….All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye THEREFORE, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the (singular) name…”? Matt. 28:18-19.
QUESTION I8: One of the ways that Trinitarians “write -off”, or make of none effect the scriptures that command being baptized into the name of Jesus Christ, is that they claim they mean “in the authority of” Jesus Christ. How can being “buried with Him in baptism” (Rom. 6:4, Col. 2:12); or being baptized to “put on Christ” (Gal 3:27) possibly, scripturally, only mean “in the authority of Jesus”?
QUESTION I9: Can you show me even one Biblically stated purpose for being baptized “into” the Father, Son and Holy Ghost? Or are those who do so, strictly scripturally speaking, just getting wet?
There is only one other “purpose” that I’ve heard Trinitarians give for being baptized “in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.” And of course, I have not heard what scripture they use for this position. Maybe you could provide that scripture for me. But they say baptism is for the purpose of making a public confession of their faith.
QUESTION J1: Is that what you believe?
Because that is the only “purpose” I can see in being baptized in the titles Father, Son and Holy Ghost- to make a public confession. Not that it is a confession I’d want to make.
QUESTION J2: Do you have any idea what that confession is that is made by, or what the full ramifications are, in saying “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” at baptism?
By the act and declaration of that Trinity formula baptism, all parties involved, whether participants or consenting witnesses, in demonstrating in word and in deed that they’d rather obey Jesus’ words in Matt. 28:19 than the testimony of all the other scriptures, are in word and in deed publicly confessing, though most likely quite unwittingly that -
· They don’t believe they have to be buried with Christ in baptism. (Rom 6:4; Col 2:12)
· They believe Jesus was wrong when He told the Apostles “at that day” they would know. (John 14:17-18)
QUESTION J3 Mr. Cook, is this the public confession you have made, and wish to continue to be party to?
QUESTION J4 Is this the confession we would be expected to make if your proselytizing us into your Trinitarian faith is successful?
QUESTION J5 Is this the public confession your public debate with Mr. Bernard was intended to make us accountable to?
As for we Oneness, at least we can agree with Trinitarians on this one thing. Their baptism is nothing more or less than a public confession of their faith.
Unfortunately, it is not a Biblical confession of faith in Jesus Christ; it is rather, in all points in both word and in deed, a public denial of both His absolute omnipotence (Col 1:18), and their absolute denial of the necessity of absolute faith in Jesus Christ alone!
Mat 28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
Rev 1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
Rev 22:13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last...
16 I Jesus
Isa 44:6 Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his (Israel’s) redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.
Mark 12:29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:
1 Cor 8:6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.
John 20:28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord AND my God.
29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
Col 1:18: And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
Col 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
10 And ye are complete in him,
Col 3:11 …Christ is all, and in all.
In closing, thank you Mr. Cook for allowing us the opportunity to share our faith with you. And now, it is time for you to make a decision based on your own statement about being held accountable to what we know.
Jn:10:1: Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.
Jn:10:7: Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.
8: All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.
9: I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
10: The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
11: I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
This is why the subject of baptism in Jesus’ name is of such paramount importance. Once one realizes that Jesus is the name to apply in baptism, through faith and invocation of that name (and not as a mere “formula”), and that by commandment of both Jesus and all the Apostles, and all the other recorded disciples, then it becomes clear that the singular name being referred to in Matthew 28:19 is Jesus Christ. And at that point both the Revelation of the Oneness of God in Christ, and entering into the church body of Jesus Christ, becomes truly realized, as being efficacious as the Master said only by entering through the door of Jesus Christ Himself both in word and in deed.
Why then do men rather resort to employing nothing more than a man-made ladder called “the traditions and the philosophies of man” to climb over the wall into the church, rather than entering through the door of faith in Jesus Christ?
Why indeed, when those traditions and philosophies of man tend only and always to constantly and flagrantly keep putting words in God’s mouth which He never uttered, making liars of men who use such extra-biblical language, and rather than saving them, condemning them instead to an everlasting hell?
Prv 30:6 Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.
Rv:21:8 …and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
May the Lord bless you, sir, with this One-derful revelation of the ALL Powerful and Saving Name of Jesus Christ!
Please continue with Pastor Gene Cook's Reply