11 thoughts on “Q & A: September 2008”

  • admin

    That’s an excellent article, Sharon. Thanks for sharing that with everyone! 🙂

    Toby

  • RadioGirl

    Thanks for this podcast Toby. I actually have a friend who says he believes in God yet refuses to read the Bible because “Man wrote it” and refuses to go to church and pray because he views it as selfish. This guy had the nerve to tell me that the Bible diminishes women and it anti-woman. I just laughed and told him he needs to read the Bible before he speaks about it 🙂

  • dziendobry

    I have noticed the word Manifestation in their Belief Statement before. I agree with you there. I googled Majesty on high and came up with Hebrews 1:3 “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:” -KJV which is what TD Jakes preaches from. Majesty on high is also used in the NASB.

    God Bless!

    Paul

  • admin

    Dziendobry,
    This is true. However, I think it’s significant to note that none of the early creeds or confessions use that verbage. They all affirm that Jesus is seated at the “right hand of the Father.” I suspect that they use the verbage from Heb. 1:3 to conceal – on the surface – their denial of the Trinity. Yes, I believe that this is blatant deception on their behalf.

    Consider the following statement by T.D. Jakes: “I think it’s very, very significant that we first of all study the Trinity apart from salvation, and first of all that we embrace Christ and come to Him and come to know Who He is. Having come to know Who He is, then we begin to deal with the Trinity, which I believe is a very complex issue. The Trinity, the term Trinity, is not a biblical term, to begin with. It’s a theological description for something that is so beyond human comprehension that I’m not sure that we can totally hold God to a numerical system. The Lord said, “Behold, O Israel, the Lord thy God is one, and beside Him there is no other.” When God got ready to make a man that looked like Him, He didn’t make three. He made one man. However, that one man had three parts. He was body, soul and spirit. We have one God, but He is Father in creation, Son in redemption, and Holy Spirit in regeneration. It’s very important that we understand that, but I think that the first thing that every believer needs to do is to approach God by faith, and then having approached Him by faith, then they need to sit up under good teaching so that they can begin to understand who the God is that they have believed upon.”

    (“Living by the Word” on KKLA, hosted by John Coleman, Aug. 23, 1998)

    There is most certainly a reason that the Potter’s House doctrinal statement uses the verbage from Hebrews 1:3 rather than the typical verbage used by the creeds and confessions of the early church – it’s to mask their denial of the Trinity.

    Thanks for the input!
    Toby

  • srragon

    I find it very interesting that when you are reading from the doctrinal statements of Oneness Pentecostal churches you read 2 or 3 scripture references and then say “yadah, yadah, yadah” as though what God’s Word has to say about the subject is irrelevant.

    When one group uses the WORD to support their doctrinal positions, and another group uses their own personal beliefs, or the teachings of the bible school, or seminary, or what the “early church” (which, as you used the term, was not the church at the time of the apostles).

    So if I disagree with the Trinity, which T.D. Jakes accurately says is NOT in the Bible. Or if we don’t use the term “Persons” to describe the Godhead, which is also NOT Biblical, then WE are the heretics ???

    To use anything other than the WORD of GOD to establish truth is HERESY !!

    Anytime you would like to have a discussion concerning the Godhead, I would love to.

    It’s OK that you don’t see it the same way I do. We all look through a glass darkly. I certainly don’t know everything there is to know about the God we serve.

    But, I will not call you a heretic because you believe in the Trinity, and you should NOT call those who do not either.

    There are probably heretics on both sides, but not necessarily because of their views on the Godhead.

    Pastor Steve Ragon
    Grace Awakening Church

  • admin

    With all due respect, Steve, there are few things that would qualify a person as a heretic. Among those qualifications is someone who misses what can be clearly gathered from Scripture. That God has a triune nature is very clearly gathered from Scripture. If God is not triune in nature, then the scene at Jesus’ baptism makes no sense. Jesus is being baptized in the river (Luke 3:21), the Father speaks from heaven (3:22), and the Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus like a dove (v. 22; see also verse 16 which clearly indicates that Jesus is distinct in personhood from the Holy Spirit). If God is not triune, this is one passage that makes no sense.

    Another passage would be John 14. In verse 16, Jesus says that He will ask the Father (and in order to do so, He must be distinct in personhood from the Father) “to send ANOTHER helper” (i.e., the Holy Spirit). If Jesus is sending Himself, why would He speak of this helper as “another?” And why would Jesus say “He may be with you forever”? It’s abundantly clear that by speaking in the third person, Jesus is necessarily indicating that the person Jesus was not this other helper.

    Further, in verse 26, Jesus says, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” If Jesus and the Holy Spirit are the same person, why didn’t Jesus say “But I, whom I will send in My name, I will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you?” There are four nouns/personal pronouns being used here: 1) the Helper/Holy Spirit, 2) “My/I” (referring to the person speaking: Jesus), 3) the Father, and 4) “you” (i.e. those being spoken to–the disciples).

    In 1 Thes. 1:1-5, Paul makes it abundantly clear that there is a distinction between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

    So why are the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit referred to as “Persons”? Based on the definition of “person.” A person has intellect, will, and emotion. Scripture clearly ascribes these aspects individually and distinctly to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

    O.P. theology requires an inconsistent hermeneutic in which a plain reading of Scripture is insufficient. Without a consistent hermeneutic, there is no objective basis for any doctrinal position (in fact, to deny this is self-defeating). Thus, a consistent hermeneutic is fundamental to Christian doctrine. This is why anyone who denies the Trinity is a herertic…and that’s exactly what those who deny the Trinity have been referred to as for the past 1,500 years. Why should that change now?

    I pray that you would seek the truth on this matter with all of your heart, and that the Holy Spirit would lead you to the truth.

    For the Kingdom,
    Toby

  • srragon

    I do NOT deny that God has a triune nature. As you stated, scripture is clear on that. The revelation of the Godhead comes from realizing that Jesus is the express image of the person of God (Heb. 1.3) John saw ONE throne and ONE who sat on that throne (Rev. 4.2)

    Isa 9.6 shows us that Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace is also the everlasting Father.

    The Scriptures tell us that the Holy Spirit is the Father of Jesus (Mt. 1.20) That Jesus is the Father (Isa 9.6) and obviously the Father is the Father. How can this be? Scripture never contradicts itself. Here O Israel, the Lord our God is ONE !!

    And it wouldn’t matter to me if MAN had said for 6,000 years that those who deny the Trinity are heretics. The WORD OF GOD is the source of all truth !!

  • admin

    Steve,
    First of all, thanks for being willing to respond. I don’t deny that Scripture is the source of all truth and authority, so we’re seeing eye-to-eye on that issue. However, I have to note that you still haven’t even attempted to explaine the passages I brought up. Why is the Holy Spirit referred to as “another,” if He is the same divine person as Jesus?

    In regards to Heb. 1:3, we say that Jesus is the image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15), because God is pure spirit, and thus cannot be seen. Jesus, however, took on flesh, and was thus visible. Because He took on visible form, and is both fully God and fully man, it was proper to say that He was “the exact representation of His [i.e., God’s] nature.”

    Regarding Rev. 4:2, to argue that because only One was sitting on that throne implies that only One COULD sit on that throne, and that therefore God is only one Person is an argument from silence, and involves all sorts of blind and unjustified inferences. This will be addressed below.

    Regarding Isaiah 9:6, where Jesus is referred to as “everlasting Father.” The Hebrew is written so as that this would literally be translated “Father eternity” (Heb: ‘ab ‘ad). In the Hebrew culture, if someone owned/possessed or created something, they were said to be the father of it. Thus, it’s clear that ‘ad (eternity) is not being used as an adjective in this context, but as a noun. Thus, this verse is telling us that the Messiah is the creator and/or possessor of eternity. If I may ask, under whom did you study Hebrew?

    Regarding the Shemah (“Hear [not ‘here’] O Israel, the Lord our God is one!”), can you tell me what the Hebrew word that gets translated as “one” here is? And how does it differ from ‘echad (cf. Gen. 1:5, 1:9; 2:21)? The Hebrew word used in the Shema (Deut. 6:4) indicates a plurality that is unified…that is, it would be the word one would use to refer to a cluster of grapes. What is that word, and how does it differ from ‘echad? Again, under whom did you study Hebrew?

    In your next response, I would just cordially request that you would please answer the questions I have raised, both in this post and in the previous post.

    Toby

  • srragon

    To answer the questions you refer to :

    As I stated in my last post, I do NOT deny that God is Triune. Scripture is clear about that. This is what is so frustrating to me in the debate between most “Trinitarians” and most “Oneness” believers. The difference between our two positions is NOT as big as some make it out to be. Obviously, there are extremes in both camps. For those who deny the work of God as Father and Holy Spirit and claim Jesus ONLY, they are in error. And those who believe in THREE Gods are also in error. But, most of us really do see things very much alike. God is ONE. He is represented as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. His ministry and work in each of these is distinct from His ministry and work in the others. But, that does not make Him three. He is still one. I just believe that Jesus is the PHYSICAL or BODILY representation of the eternal invisible Spirit of God.

    The distinction between these at Jesus’ baptism does in no way challenge either of our positions or beliefs. The Holy Spirit is NOT a dove. He is an invisible eternal Spirit. The dove appeared for the benefit of John, so he would know that Jesus was the one, according to the word God had spoken to John. The voice from heaven was indeed from our Heavenly Father, who while Jesus walked the earth, did NOT cease to be eternal and omnipresent. The man Christ Jesus, our elder brother and covenant representative was fulfilling His calling and purpose as a Man and not as God. The baptism record accurately reflects the Triune nature of God, but does not contradict the position of most Oneness believers.

    In response to your question about John 14:16 in which Jesus says the Father will give you another helper….

    Verse 17 says that this helper you know, for He dwells with you and will be in you. Jesus was dwelling w/ them, but would be in them. (Christ in you, the hope of glory.) In verse 18 of same chapter, Jesus says, “I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you.” In John 16:7 Jesus says, “… if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will sent Him to you.”

    So Jesus says in one place the Father will send the Holy Ghost. In another place, Jesus says I will come to you. In another place, Jesus says, I will send the Holy Ghost to you. Was Jesus confused? Or is there a message hidden just beneath the surface that simply reveals the majestic and beautiful truth that God is one. Though, he operate as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, He is still one.

    I am a father, a son, and a husband. But I am only ONE person. As a father my actions, personality, and position is different from those of when I am son or husband. This does not make me THREE PERSONS. It just reveals the complexity of life. And we were created in the image of God. We have a body, soul, and spirit, but are still just ONE PERSON.

    Your question of under whom did I study Hebrew. I have spent my life studying the Word of God in the Seminary of the Holy Ghost. I give no man credit or blame for my beliefs or positions. Seminaries and Bible Schools are wonderful tools, but we MUST keep the Holy Spirit as our teacher throughout life. I have no titles before our after my name. If this makes me unqualified to discuss the Word w/ you, that is fine.

    But, if not, I would love to continue – not to prove you wrong, but to show you that we are NOT that far apart. And Oneness believers are, for that most part, NOT heretics.

    Steve

  • admin

    Steve,
    Again, thank you for taking the time to respond. I think you and I can at least agree on one more thing (aside from the authority of Scripture): if God is the ultimate Being, then having an accurate understanding of Him is of ultimate importance.

    Let me start off by defining what a cult is. As the late Walter Martin defined the term, a cult is a group of people which deny one or more of the essential doctrines of a religion – either implicitly or explicitly – and claim to still be a part of that parent religion.

    One of the defining doctrines of Christianity is that of the Trinity. It’s something that the early Church realized once the New Testament was canonized and the Church leaders had time to make sense of all of the things the New Testament had to say about the nature of God.

    As for your lack of knowledge regarding the Hebrew language, no…having no working knowledge or training in Hebrew doesn’t disqualify you from talking to me. But I will say that if you know nothing about Hebrew, then of course you would miss a lot of things that get lost in translation…such as God declaring that He is one (Deut. 6) was really God declaring that there was a plurality within God. This is one reason Christianity has historically affirmed that God is one Being who is of one substance, one nature, and yet three distinct Persons. Further, how can you make the argument from Isaiah 9:6 when you didn’t even know that the Hebrew can be translated differently (and that, in light of the cultural and textual contexts, maybe SHOULD be translated differently)?

    You still have not answered why Jesus would refer to the Holy Spirit as “another.” The belief that God is one Person who is manifested, revealed, or operates in different modes is indeed a heresy called “modalism.” But you have touched on an even more significant heresy (and I hope that, in this case, I am simply not understanding you correctly): you referred to Jesus as simply a man. Do you not believe that Jesus was BOTH fully God and fully man?

    Further, I find it absolutely unbelievable that you would support your position using John 14:17. Clearly Jesus is not referring to Himself, because, in referring to the other Helper – the Holy Spirit – Jesus very unambiguously states in this verse that the world “does not see Him.” Yet I’m sure you would not deny that Jesus was visible…right? The Greek word used here is “theoray”, which is translated elsewhere as “perceive” (cf. John 4:19, 12:19; Acts 4:13, 17:22, 27:10). The Holy Spirit was with the disciples (after all, they had worked miracles themselves already), but could not dwell within them because the ultimate sacrifice had not yet been made to enable the Holy Spirit to dwell WITHIN believers at that point. This is why the curtain in the temple was torn when Jesus was crucified…because the wrath of God was satisfied, allowing the Holy Spirit to dwell within believers instead of a temple.

    That God is three Persons who are one God who is one substance, one nature, and one essence is also drawn from the fact that each plays a different role in the salvation process. God the Father chooses who will be drawn (John 6:44; Eph. 1:4), God the Son redeems the saved (Eph. 1:7), and the Holy Spirit seals them (Eph. 1:13). Paul makes three functional distinctions because…there are three distinct Persons in the Godhead. Throughout 1 Thessalonians, Paul again names each Person of the Godhead distinctively. Why? Because there are three distinct Persons in the Godhead.

    Also, if you are looking for meaning underneath the surface, then why should I not interpret Scripture to really be a story of a clan of ninjas who get defeated by a clan of samurai warriors? There is only one meaning in Scripture: the objective meaning which is intended by the original author. Any attempt to read “under the surface” is a self-defeating methodology, because if meaning is found “under the surface,” then what is the sub-surface meaning of the phrase “under the surface”? The meaning is that which is ON the surface. I would strongly suggest that you pick up Thomas Howe’s “Objectivity in Biblical Interpretation.” You’ll see that you’re shooting yourself in the foot without meaning to when you argue that the true meaning of something is found “under the surface.”

    In short, you are teaching modalism, which is a heresy (see http://www.carm.org/heresy/modalism.htm), which you have arrived at through use of a self-defeating method of interpretation. Further, you have used a verse (John 14:17) which supports the distinction in Personhood between Jesus and the Holy Spirit to deny such a distinction.

    Thanks again for your response…I pray that you’ll see the errors in your interpretive method and understanding of God’s nature.

    For the Kingdom,
    Toby

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