Oneness or Trinity?

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He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.       (Revelation 3:5)

Here Christ is speaking after his ascension back to heaven. He states that He will confess the name of the overcomer before His Father. If, in Heaven, He still speaks of His confessing men before His Father (and If He is the Father) He will be confessing before Himself?

The Bible speaks of God as being The Father, The Son AND The Holy Ghost/Spirit.

Around A.D. 190, Theodotus of Byzantium advocated the absolute personality of God. Asserting that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were one person, he sought to propagate his views in the church at Rome. He is said to be “the first representative of Dynamistic Monarchianism whose views have been recorded” (Newman 1931, 198).

In the 3rd Century Sabellius of Libya maintained that God is uni-personal and that the names Father, Son, and Holy Ghost merely designate the same person in different capacities. As the Father, God created the world; as the Son, he redeemed it; as the Holy Ghost, he sanctifies the elect. These three, he said, are no more different persons than the body, soul, and spirit of man are three persons (Sanford 1910, 827).

The first time that the word, “Trinity” is used to describe God was in the writings of one Theophilus, a Bishop of Antioch. In Theophilus to Antolycus Book II, 15 he says: “in Like manner also the three days which were before the luminaries are types of the Trinity, of God and His Word, and His Wisdom.” The use of this word “Trinity” implies that it was already in use and understood.

Tertullian of North Africa also uses the term. In “Against Praxeus”, II he wrote:

“…in the case of this heresy, which supposes itself to possess the pure truth, in thinking that one cannot believe in One Only God in any other way than by saying that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are the very selfsame person. As if in this way also One were not All, in that All are of One, by unity (that is) of substance; while the mystery of the dispensation (economy) is still guarded which distributes the Unity into a Trinity, placing in their order the three, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit: three, however, not in condition, but in aspect; yet of one substance, but in form; not in power, but of one power, inasmuch as He is one God, from Whom these degrees and forms and aspects are reckoned, under the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

Both Theodotus and Tertullian sought to define the nature of the Godhead. Both were contemporaries and both were around in the latter part of the 2nd Century and early part of the 3rd. They are both considered to be Ante-Nicean church Fathers.

These men were writing at a time when there was no formal theology concerning the Godhead. To accuse these men of paganism is an injustice.

Critics of the doctrine of Tri-unity attempt to point out that 1+1+1=3. Proponents of the Tri-unity point out that 1x1x1=1.

The Bible leaves us in no doubt that all three (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) are one God contrary to the teaching of Arius who rejected the Deity of the Son and that of the Holy Spirit.

Part of the problem is the fact that in the Gospels we see the Son limited to time and space in human form, yet at the same time we see the Holy Spirit descending upon Him in the form of a dove and a voice from heaven speaking of Him as being, “My beloved Son.” Here we have a clear instance of the three existing at the same time, as three distinct personalities yet no one would say these were three gods!

Then we have the problem of the relationship between the Father and the Son. The Son prays the Father. Some would argue that this is because the humanity of Christ is distinct from the Deity that on these occasions Christ is speaking as a man. If Christ is fully human and fully God then whenever He speaks it is both as God AND man, otherwise Christ is then partly God and partly human which would make Him a demi-god (definitely a pagan idea)!

Christ commanded the disciples baptise people in “the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” and the disciples baptised “in the name of Jesus.” In 1913, after hearing a sermon by R.E. McAlister concerning Baptism being in the name of Jesus, a young minister by the name of John G. Schaepe felt moved to pray and read the Bible all night. At some point he claimed to have received a revelation that the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit was “Lord Jesus Christ”. Thus was born the Oneness Pentecostal Movement that soon gave birth to several schisms.

Probably the most well known of these Anti-Trinitarian preachers was William Branham who went as far as to state that Trinitarian doctrine was “of the devil”! In the present, although not always understood by a number of Pentecostals, is the ministry of T.D. Jakes.

By John Hayworth

The author acknowledges Bill Freeman whose book The Testimony of Church History Regarding the Mystery of the Triune God (published 1976 by The Stream Publishers, Anaheim, California) was invaluable in producing this article.

 

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3 Comments

  1. Kim

    I have been baptized in Jesus name after I saw that in the Bible. But not because I believe in a formula for salvation. Jesus is the only way to the Father. I had come from a Catholic background where I had confusion about the Godhead. Mainly because the nun teaching the class said over and over again that “Jesus Is Not God!!!!!” I kept thinking, “what? I thought all three were one!” To make a long story short…. I rebelled and didn’t get sprinkled in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, but went and got fully submerged in Jesus name. And actually I am joking a little…… Rebellion was not my attitude at all….just a deep love for Jesus and what he did on the cross for me. He paid a debt He did not owe. My mom always told me growing up how much power there is in the blood of Jesus and in the name of Jesus. I had also read ” everything you do, whether it be in word or deed, do it in my name…… So I did it. The deed?…. Getting baptized in Jesus name. I am told in the Bible to cast out demons in His name, to take authority over satan and his demons in Jesus name so hey, why not be baptized in Jesus name as well. They did it that way in the book of Acts 10 days after Jesus ascended into heaven. In Mathew 27: 16 all eleven disciples are present when Jesus says 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.” So they were all there. All eleven of them. Then skip forward to Acts 2 verse 1….. It says all were present with one accord in one place. And then in acts 2: 37 – 38 ….. Repent and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ.” Say what Peter??? …… You were just with Jesus 10 days ago and that is not what He said…..and hey,…. Mathew is there with you along with all the other disciples…… Why don’t you guys say something?” That’s my thoughts lol! But see, they understood along the lines of Colossians 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 (Christ) dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. 10) and yet we are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power. 11) In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: 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. Acts 2: 41 says they gladly received his word and were baptized : and the same day there were added unto them about 3000 souls……. Wow! And just 10 days after Jesus ascended. I have looked and looked for a physical example of Baptism using the formula Father, Son and Holy Ghost in the Bible, but can’t find one. I read in an old catholic encylopedia of religion that the reason they did this was because they so identified with Christ and the Cross and the Blood He shed that they wanted to put on Christ. There are several examples of Jesus name baptism all through acts. They apparently did it this way until one of the council of Nicea where they finally did away with it……( sorry can’t remember exact one) Paul baptized that way. We will see people baptized different ways in heaven but only because they simple believed that Jesus is the Son of God and that He is the only way to the Father. But if you get baptized in Jesus name just don’t go telling the Catholic Church about it. They will not except it and will make you get re-baptized. It’s funny how 18:4 where God is saying “come out of her my people”…..some say He is talking about the catholic ways and part of it may be Baptism……hmmmm don’t know? Maybe so….. She ( the Catholic Church)sure did change a lot of things. That is why I try to get as far away from her as I can since she will give rise to the anti Christ and will be judged according to all her evil works. Soon she will deny The Lord that bought her. Some say she does this by not baptizing in the name of Jesus and that is why she is called a harlot. She is an unmarried woman. Not a bride taking the name of her husband is what some say. Soon they will reduce Jesus to nothing more than a minor prophet and will say ” Muslims- you call him Allah, we call him God…. It’s Jesus who offends so many so let’s just do away with Him since He offends.” Get ready…..it is unfolding before our very eyes.

    • It is interesting to note that we do not read of anyone who baptises another stay, “I baptise you in the name of…” We say these words simply because this is what we hear others do. Paul writes to tell us that we are baptised not simply into Christ but into His death also (Romans 6:3)! It is what Baptism signifies we ought to be looking at. Baptism is the first step of obedience to Christ. Peter states that it is not the physical act of going into the water that saves but rather our obedience to the Gospel (1 Peter 3:21).

      Muslims do reduce Jesus to being nothing more than a Prophet! Yet He IS the Son of God!

  2. Kim

    Oops meant to say Revelation 18: 4- come out of her my people. And also, we will see people in heaven who were never baptized because God loves us so much and is merciful. But be obedient and do what The Lord says. Obey His word no matter what the cost. There is an urgency in the Book of Acts to get baptized. They do it immediately when they see that Jesus Christ is the Messiah.

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