The Trinity, the Definition of Chalcedon, and Oneness Theology
"Therefore, following the holy Fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance [homoousios] with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer [theotokos]; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation [en duo phusesin, asungchutos atreptos, adiairetos achoristos]; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence [hupostasis], not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the Fathers has handed down to us."
In 451 A.D. the Council of Chalcedon formulated this definition of the Person of Christ. The council was called as a result of the controversy concerning the relationship of the divine and the human in the Lord Jesus. The Nestorian controversy, monothelitism, the Eutychian controversy, and others, had precipitated the council. It can be safely said that we have yet to get beyond Chalcedon in our theology - modern orthodox Christological formulations have not proceeded beyond the Chalcedonian definition. Chalcedon's emphasis on the two natures but one person in Christ was anticipated in its main elements by the Athanasian creed. A portion of that creed reads, "He is perfect God and He is perfect man, with a rational soul and human flesh...Although He is God and man, He is not two but one Christ...because He is one person."
The relationship between the divine and the human in Christ is as unique as the God who brought this situation about. Indeed, to understand this relationship one must first define the terms being utilized, and this was one of the main contributions of Chalcedon. Schaff noted that one of the main importances of Chalcedon was
"The precise distinction between nature and person. Nature or substance is the totality of powers and qualities which constitute a being; person is the Ego, the self-conscious, self-asserting, and acting subject. There is no person without nature, but there may be nature without person (as in irrational beings). The Church doctrine distinguishes in the Holy Trinity three persons (though not in the ordinary human sense of the word) in one divine nature of substance which they have in common; in its Christology it teaches, conversely, two nature in one person (in the usual sense of person) which pervades both. Therefore it cannot be said: The Logos assumed a human person, or united himself with a definite human individual: for then the God-Man would consist of two persons; but he took upon himself the human nature, which is common to all men; and therefore he redeemed not a particular man, but all men, as partakers of the same nature of substance. The personal Logos did not become an individual anthropos, but sarx, flesh, which includes the whole of human nature, body, soul and spirit."
In his discussion of the Person and work of Christ, Dr. Berkhof gives the following information:
"The term "nature" denotes the sum-total of all the essential qualities of a thing, that which makes it what it is. A nature is a substance possessed in common, with all the essential qualities of such a substance. The term "person" denotes a complete substance endowed with reasons, and, consequently, a responsible subject of its own actions. Personality is not an essential and integral part of a nature, but is, as it were, the terminus to which it tends. A person is a nature with something added, namely, independent subsistence, individuality."
What does all of this mean? It means that when Jesus spoke, He spoke as one Person, not two. One cannot say that, when claiming deity, Jesus' "deity" spoke, or when He referred to His humanity, it was His "human nature" that spoke. It can be seen from this that natures don't speak - only Persons do. And, since Jesus is one Person, not two, He speaks as a whole Person. Hence, when Jesus speaks, He speaks as Jesus. This is in direct contradistinction to Oneness teaching that is fond of making either the Deity in Jesus speak (whom they identify as the Father) or the humanity (the Son). The two natures (divine and human) make up but one Person, Jesus Christ. The divine nature is the Son of God, the eternal Logos.
The Chalcedonian definition defines the unipersonality of Christ. Jesus was a true Person; he was not non-human, nor less than human, nor a multiple personality. He had two natures, but those natures were made personal by only one Person, the Word made flesh. Hence, though Jesus may say things that indicate his two natures, what he says represents His whole being, not a certain part thereof.
One might well ask the question, what does Scripture say concerning this question? How does the Bible present this teaching? Stuart Olyott answers that question:
"It does so by three strands of teaching. The first is its entire failure to give us any evidence of two personalities in our Lord Jesus Christ...In all that is recorded of our Lord Jesus Christ there is no word spoken by him, no action performed and no attribute predicated of him, which suggests that he is not a single indivisible person...A second line of biblical evidence is found in considering the terms in which the New Testament writers wrote of Christ...There is not a hint that two personalities came to redeem them that were under the law, but one. Both natures are represented as united in one person...But there is a third line of scriptural proof which settles the issue beyond question...It is the fact that what can be true of only one or the other of Christ's two natures is attributed, not to the nature, but to the one person. He is spoken of in terms true of either one or the other of his natures."
Olyott gives a number of Biblical examples. Acts 20:28 is cited. Here Paul speaks of the Church of God which "he purchased with His own blood." Christ's blood, of course, was part of his human nature, yet this attribute (the blood) is predicated here directly of the divine nature ("God"). "What could only be true of his human nature is said to have been accomplished by the divine person. There is not a human Christ and a divine Christ - two Christs. There is but one Christ." (p. 105) Another example is 1 Corinthians 2:8 which speaks of the fact that the rulers of this age "crucified the Lord of glory." Again, though Christ died in human terms, it is the divine Person who is said to have been crucified. No hint is given whatsoever of two persons in the one Jesus; rather, Christ is one Person composed of two natures.
But could the term "Father" simply refer to the divine nature in Christ, as Oneness writers assert? The New Testament does not allow for this. As we have already seen, the Biblical witness sharply distinguishes between the Father and the Son. We have seen that Jesus Christ is unipersonal; He is one person. It is just as clear that the Lord Jesus Christ is never identified as the Father, but is shown to be another Person beside the Father. A large class of examples of this would be the greetings in the epistles of Paul. In Romans 1:7 we read, "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 1:3 is identical, as is 2 Corinthians 1:2. Galatians 1:3, Ephesians 1:2, and Philippians 1:2. Nowhere does Paul identify Jesus as the Father.
Even more significant in this respect is what is known as Granville Sharp's Rule. This rule of Greek grammar basically stated says that when two singular nouns are connected by the copulative kai, and the first noun has the article, while the second does not, both nouns are describing the same person. There are a number of Granville Sharp constructions in the New Testament that emphasize the deity of Christ, most especially Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1. But, no Granville Sharp construction ever identifies the Father as Jesus Christ. The care taken by Paul and the other apostles in differentiating between the Father and Jesus Christ speaks volumes concerning their faith.
Some might object to the Trinitarian doctrine of Christ by saying that if we say the Son is (to use a human term) "begotten" eternally by the Father (i.e., there is a relationship that is eternal and timeless between the Father and the Son) that we are in effect positing either subordinationism or tri-theism, depending. Dr. Shedd replied as follows:
"But if the Father is unbegotten, does it not follow that he alone is the absolute Being? and is not this Arianism? Not so. For one and the same numerical essence subsists whole and undivided in him who is generated, as well as in him who generates; in him who is spirated, as well as in those two who spirate. There can therefore be no inequality of essence caused by these acts of generation and spiration."
Such language seems, to many, to be foreign to the "simple" message of the Gospel. But such an objection ignores the heights of Ephesians 1, as well as the object under discussion - that being the very Person of the Lord of glory. One writer expressed it this way:
"Jesus cannot be analyzed and calculated. But whoever speaks of him in human words is entering into the realm of "rational" speech. There is no unique language for the realm of the incalculable and the "irrational." Thus, where we express "eschatological history," the origin and the goal, God's reality in the man Jesus, our language collapses; it becomes paradoxical. We could also say that our language then expresses awe. It says those things which leave men "speechless." Its terms are not then a means for grasping but rather for making known that we have been grasped. It is not then a form of mastery, but testimony to the overpowering experience which has come upon man."
Oneness Theology Defined
Having examined some of the pertinent issues relevant to Christian theology, the statements of Oneness exponents themselves will now be examined. The following material is taken from original sources and materials. Following the definition of the position, specific objections will be dealt with. P David K. Bernard presented a paper at Harvard Divinity School in 1985. In this paper, Bernard provided a good summary of Oneness teaching:
"The basis of Oneness theology is a radical concept of monotheism. Simply stated, God is absolutely and indivisibly one. There are no essential distinctions or divisions in His eternal nature. All the names and titles of the Deity, such as Elohim, Yahweh, Adonai, Father, Word, and Holy Spirit refer to one and the same being, or - in trinitarian terminology - to one person. Any plurality associated with God is only a plurality of attributes, titles, roles, manifestations, modes of activity, or relationships to man."
He added in his book, The Oneness of God,
"They believe that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are manifestations, modes, offices, or relationships that the one God has displayed to man."
Hence, from Bernard's statements it is clear that the Oneness position adheres to the classical modalistic terminology of such ancient writers as Praxeas of Sabellius or Noetus. However, it would be an error to think that, from the Oneness perspective, the Father, Son and Spirit are one Person. To see exactly what this position is stating, it would be good to look at statements regarding each of the "Persons" as seen by the Trinitarian perspective. First, the question can be asked, "Who is the Father in Oneness theology?"
"The term Father refers to God Himself - God in all His deity. When we speak of the eternal Spirit of God, we mean God Himself, the Father."
"If there is only one God and that God is the Father (Malachi 2:10), and if Jesus is God, then it logically follows that Jesus is the Father."
Hence, from this perspective, God is the Father. All that can be predicated of God is predicated of the Father and the Father only. This shall be seen more clearly as we examine the other required questions. "Who is the Word in Oneness theology?" This question receives two answers from Oneness writers - there is a seeming contradiction in response to this question. John Paterson identified the Word as the Father Himself:
So we conclude that the Word was the visible expression of the invisible God - in other words, the invisible God embodied in visible form;...From the Scriptures quoted it should be obvious that the Word was not merely an impersonal thought existing in the mind of God but was, in reality, the Eternal Spirit Himself clothed upon by a visible and personal form..."
In distinction to this, other writers put forward a non-personal "Word":
"The Logos (Word) of John 1 is not equivalent to the title Son in Oneness theology as it is in trinitarianism. Son is limited to the Incarnation, but Logos is not. The Logos is God's self expression, "God's means of self disclosure," or "God uttering Himself." Before the Incarnation, the Logos was the unexpressed thought or plan in the mind of God, which had a reality no human thought can have because of God's perfect foreknowledge, and in the case of the Incarnation, God's predestination. In the beginning, the Logos was with God, not as a separate person but as God Himself - pertaining to and belonging to God much like a man and his word. In the fulness of time God put flesh on the Logos; He expressed Himself in flesh."
Bernard further added in The Oneness of God:
"The Word or Logos can mean the plan or thought as it existed in the mind of God. This thought was a predestined plan - an absolutely certain future event - and therefore it had a reality attached to it that no human thought could ever have. The Word can also mean the plan or thought of God as expressed in the flesh, that is in the Son. What is the difference, therefore, between the two terms, Word and Son? The Word had pre-existence and the Word was God (the Father), so we can use it without reference to humanity. However, the Son always refers to the Incarnation and we cannot use it in the absence of the human element. Except as a foreordained plan in the mind of God, the Son did not have pre-existence before the conception in the womb of Mary. The Son of God pre-existed in thought but not in substance. The Bible calls this foreordained plan the Word (John 1:1, 14)."
Thomas Weisser adds, "The Logos of John 1 was simply the concept in the Father's mind. Not a separate person!" But Robert Brent Graves muddies the water even more by stating, "Only when we begin to take John at his word that God "became flesh" can we begin to understand the power and the authority of Jesus Christ." Hence, one group of Oneness exponents seem to be saying that the Word was the Father Himself, but manifested in the flesh (Paterson and possibly Graves) while others see the Word as simply the plan of God put into place at the opportune time.
Asking the further question, "Who is the Son in Oneness theology?" might shed some light on the Word issue as well. The answer to this is unanimous - the Son is the human aspect of Christ. The Son is a created being who is not in any way divine. The Son did not pre-exist, and indeed, the "Sonship" of God will cease at a time in the future. Important for Oneness teachers is the idea of a begotten Son (see footnote #10 and discussion at that point).
Robert Brent Graves says,
"Although some religious authors have depicted Christ as an "eternal Son. Actually the concept of an eternal Son would not allow the possibility of a begotten Son; for the two would be a contradiction in terms."
For the Christian to understand just what the Oneness position is asserting, it is necessary that, before continuing looking at each Person individually, we must look to Jesus and the Oneness teaching concerning Him. The key to understanding this theological viewpoint is found in the teaching that Jesus is both the Father and the Son. Paterson explains as follows:
"Therefore, when we say that Jesus is both God and Man, we mean that He is both Father and Son. As the Father, He is absolutely and PURELY God; as the Son, He is absolutely and PURELY Man. When Jesus claims to be God, it is with respect to His Essence as the Eternal Spirit, the Father; and when He says, "My Father is greater than I" (John 14:28), it is with respect to His created nature as Man, the Son...In this connection, let me make this point crystal clear - the doctrine enunciated in this booklet emphasizes the very real humanity of Christ; it is not at all the same as teaching that the Father IS the Son, or that the Son IS the Father. Such teaching is confused, illogical, and unscriptural - but when we say that Jesus is BOTH Father and Son, BOTH God and Man, that is a vastly different matter."
Likewise, Bernard states,
"Oneness believers emphasize the two natures in Christ, using this fact to explain the plural references to Father and Son in the Gospels. As Father, Jesus sometimes acted and spoke from His divine self-consciousness; as Son He sometimes acted and spoke from His human self-consciousness. The two natures never acted in conflict, for they were united into one person.
Aside from their emphasis on the two natures of Christ, Oneness teachers have given inadequate attention to many areas of Christology. Some have made statements that sound Apollinarian because of failure to define and use terms precisely, but Oneness scholars overwhelmingly reject this implication. If carefully developed, Oneness may be seen as compatible with the Christological formulation of the Council of Chalcedon, namely that Christ as two complete natures - deity and humanity - but is only one person."
Despite Bernard's assertion, the Oneness position patently denies the uni-personality of Christ. To maintain the uni-personality of God, the Oneness position has to make Jesus into two persons, the Father and the Son. Even Bernard demonstrates this when he says, "Sometimes it is easy to get confused when the Bible describes Jesus in these two different roles, especially when describes Him acting in both roles in the same story...He could speak as man one moment and then as God the next moment." As we've seen, natures do not speak, only persons do. Bernard seems aware of the weakness of the Oneness position at this point, for he is much more willing to admit the depths of the subject than most Oneness writers. He says,
"While the Bible is clear in emphasizing both the full deity and full humanity of Jesus, it does not describe in detail how these two natures are united in the one person of Jesus Christ. This, too, has been the subject of much speculation and debate. Perhaps there is room for divergent views on this issue since the Bible does not treat it directly."
Bernard is one of the few Oneness writers who does not directly attribute the doctrine of the Trinity to Satan. He seems aware of the fact that the Oneness position avoids the supposed "philosophical language" by basically ignoring the issue that was faced squarely at Nicea and Chalcedon.
This viewpoint gives a unique twist to what otherwise might sound somewhat like orthodox teaching:
"From the Bible we see that Jesus Christ had two distinct natures in a way that no other human being has ever had. One nature is human or fleshly; the other nature is divine or Spirit. Jesus was both fully man and fully God. The name Jesus refers to the eternal Spirit of God (the Father) dwelling in the flesh. We can use the name Jesus to describe either one of His two natures or both. For example, when we say Jesus died on the cross, we mean His flesh died on the cross. When we say Jesus lives in our hearts, we mean His Spirit is there."
But what Biblical support can the Oneness teacher gather? One of the favorite references is Colossians 2:9, which, in the King James Version (which seems to enjoy predominance in their camp) reads, "For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." For them, the Godhead would refer to all that makes up God, i.e., the Father:
"According to these verses of Scripture, Jesus is not a part of God, but all of God is resident in Him. If there were several persons in the Godhead, according to Colossians 2:9 they would all be resident in the bodily form of Jesus."
However, even here the position is foundationless, for the Greek term, theotetos, is best rendered "Deity" and refers to the being of God - "that which makes God God" is how B. B. Warfield expressed it. Not only this, but the same epistle had already clearly differentiated between the Lord Jesus Christ and the Father in 1:3, and had asserted the pre- existence of the Son in 1:15-17.
The many passages that teach the pre-existence and separate personality of the Son cause the Oneness position great difficulties, as can be seen from the attempts to fit these passages into the system. Hebrews chapter one gives a good example:
"Hebrews 1:2 states that God made the worlds by the Son. Similarly, Colossians 1:13-17 says all things were created by the Son, and Ephesians 3:9 says all things were created by Jesus Christ. What does creation "by the Son" mean, since the Son did not have a substantial pre-existence before the Incarnation?
"Of course, we know that Jesus as God pre-existed the Incarnation, since the deity of Jesus is none other than the Father Himself. We recognize that Jesus (the divine Spirit of Jesus) is indeed the Creator. These verses describe the eternal Spirit that was in the Son - the deity that was later incarnated as the Son - as the Creator. The humanity of Jesus Christ could not create, but God who came in the Son as Jesus Christ created the world. Hebrews 1:10 clearly states that Jesus as Lord was the Creator.
"Perhaps these scriptural passages have a deeper meaning that can be expressed as follows: Although the Son did not exist at the time of creation except as the Word in the mind of God, God used His foreknowledge of the Son when He created the world."
Elsewhere Bernard added,
"According to Hebrews 1:2, God made the worlds by the Son. Certainly, the Spirit (God) who was in the Son was also the Creator of the worlds. This passage may also indicate that God predicated the entire work of creation upon the future manifestation of the Son. God foreknew that man would sin, but He also foreknew that through the Son man could be saved and could fulfill God's original purpose in creation. As John Miller stated, "Though He did not pick up His humanity till the fulness of time, yet He used it, and acted upon it, from all eternity." "
Likewise, the problem of Jesus' prayer life elicits some intriguing interpretation:
"The prayers of Christ represent the struggle of the human will as it submitted to the divine will. They represent Jesus praying from His human self-consciousness not from His divine, for by definition God does not need to pray. This line of reasoning also explains other examples of the inferiority of the Son in power and knowledge. If these examples demonstrate a plurality of persons, they establish the subordination of one person to the other, contrary to the trinitarian doctrine of co-equality.
"Other examples of communication, conversation, or expression of love between Father and Son are explained as communication between the divine and human natures of Christ. If used to demonstrate a distinction of persons, they would establish separate centers of consciousness in the Godhead, which is in effect polytheism."
"Do the prayers of Christ indicate a distinction of persons between Jesus and the Father? No. On the contrary, His praying indicates a distinction between the Son of God and God. Jesus prayed in His humanity, not in His deity...How can God pray and still be God? By definition, God in His omnipotence has no need to pray, and in His oneness has no other to whom He can pray...Some may object to this explanation, contending that it means Jesus prayed to Himself. However, we must realize that, unlike any other human being, Jesus had two perfect and complete natures - humanity and divinity."
The above hardly squares with Bernard's earlier statement that the two natures are joined into one person. Communication between natures is illogical; between persons it is normal. If Oneness teachers wish to maintain a surface acceptance of Chalcedonian definitions, they should at least make it clear that they are defining terms in a completely different way than orthodox theology.
Finally, a common element of Oneness-Pentecostal writing is the criticism of the usage of non-Biblical terminology to answer the questions of God's existence and being. This is a common attack utilized by many anti-Trinitarian groups. Why use such terms as "nature" or "person" or "ousia" or any of the other terms borrowed from philosophy? Doesn't this indicate a reliance upon pagan sources? we are asked. Though this point will be answered more fully below, it might be pointed out that the Oneness position is faced with the same choice as the Trinitarian - questions can be put to their position that cannot possibly be answered in solely Biblical terminology. Either these questions must be ignored or they must be answered by using words or phrases not drawn directly from the Scriptural witness.
In summary, the Oneness position asserts that God is uni-personal. All the titles of Deity are applicable to the one being who is God - Father, Lord, King, Holy Spirit, Jehovah, etc. The Son of God is the manifestation of the Father in the flesh. The Son is not eternal nor pre-existent. Jesus is the Father and the Son - Father in his divinity and Son in his humanity. Hence, the Trinity is said to be a misunderstanding of the Biblical teaching, and many Oneness writers attribute the doctrine to pagan sources.
Brief Criticism and Reply
Since the opening of this paper dealt with the Scriptural witness concerning the doctrine of the Trinity, space need not be taken in rebutting many of the statements of the Oneness position. The following points should focus on the particular problems:
A) The Oneness position cannot explain logically or Biblically the clear references to the pre-existence and Creatorship of the Son such as Colossians 1, Hebrews 1 and John 1.
B) This position fails to demonstrate any kind of identification of Jesus Christ as the Father, and ignores or inadequately explains the many references that demonstrate the personal distinctions of Father and Son.
C) This position relies heavily on assumed and unproven presuppositions, such as the uni-personality of Yahweh. These writers tend to be very selective in their choice of facts, which can also be seen in their easy rejection of textual evidence that contradicts their position.
D) The Christological formulation of the Oneness position is untenable and without Scriptural support. There is no evidence that Jesus was two persons, nor that the two "natures" communicated with one another.
E) The understanding of the Logos given in Scripture is totally lacking in the Oneness perspective. The clear personal nature of the Logos must be sacrificed to maintain the system.
F) The position asserts historical claims that are not solidly based in fact. For example, Oneness writers will assert that the "three persons theory" was a late innovation, while noted patristic authority J.N.D. Kelly has noted,
"Before considering formal writers, the reader should notice how deeply the conception of a plurality of divine Persons was imprinted on the apostolic tradition and the popular faith. Though as yet uncanonized, the New Testament was already exerting a powerful influence; it is a commonplace that the outlines of a dyadic and a triadic pattern are clearly visible in its pages. It is even more marked in such glimpses as are obtainable of the Church's liturgy and day-to-day catechetical practice."
These criticisms, substantiated by earlier references, are sufficient to allow the student of Scripture to reject the Oneness position as holding any real claim to being a "biblical teaching."
The only remaining question is the validity of the criticism regarding the usage of non-biblical language and terminology. It has already been pointed out that any theological system that makes any kind of brave attempt to answer the inevitable questions that arise when the nature, attributes and being of God is discussed will have to utilize non-Biblical terminology in framing its answers. Why? First, since the Scriptures themselves rarely ask these questions, and the questions themselves are often derived from non-Biblical sources and utilize non- Biblical language and categories of thought, the honest respondant will have to express truth in such as way as to both be intelligible to the questioner, as well as be honest with the subject. The important question is, are we willing to sacrifice the true teaching of Scripture on the imaginary altar of slavery to the limited terminology of the Biblical writers? Benjamin Breckenridge Warfield aptly addressed this very question:
"The term "Trinity" is not a Biblical term, and we are not using Biblical language when we define what is expressed by it as the doctrine that there is one only and true God, but in the unity of the Godhead there are three coeternal and coequal Persons, the same in substance but distinct in subsistence. A doctrine so defined can be spoken of as a Biblical doctrine only on the principle that the sense of Scripture is Scripture. And the definition of a Biblical doctrine in such un-Biblical language can be justified only on the principle that it is better to preserve the truth of Scripture than the words of Scripture. The doctrine of the Trinity lies in Scripture in solution; when it is crystalized from its solvent it does not cease to be Scriptural, but only comes into clearer view. Or, to speak without figure, the doctrine of the Trinity is given to us in Scripture, not in forumulated definition, but in fragmentary allusions; when we assemble the disjecta membra into their organic unity, we are not passing from Scripture, but entering more thoroughly into the meaning of Scripture. We may state the doctrine in technical terms, supplied by philosophical reflection; but the doctrine stated is a genuinely Scriptural doctrine."
1. David Bernard, The Oneness of God, (Hazelwood, Missouri: Word Aflame Press) 1985, p.298
2. Thomas Weisser, Three Persons from the Bible? or Babylon, (U.S.) 1983, p. 3.
3. Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman's Publishing Company, 1941) pgs. 87-89.
4. John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, John McNeill, ed. (Philadelphia: Westminster Press) 1960, pp. 141-142.
5. Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 3 Volumes, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman's Publishing Company) 1986, 1:459.
6. Weisser, Three Persons, p. 2.
7. The particular responses of the Oneness theologians will be noted at a later point in the presentation.
8. The words of Jesus at Matthew 27:46 have come in for many kinds of interpretation. Unfortunately, many of the theories have compromised both theology proper, as well as Christology. That the Father never was separated from or abandoned the Son is clear from many sources. The second person is utilized by Jesus, not the third in verse 46. Immediately on the heels of this statement Jesus speaks to the Father in the vocative ("Father, into your hands..."). Whatever else Jesus was saying, He was not saying that, at the very time of His ultimate obedience to the Father, that the Father there abandoned Him. Rather, it seems much more logical to see this as a quotation of Psalm 22 that is meant to call to mind all of that Psalm, which would include the victory of v. 19ff, as well as verse 24 which states, "For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help."
9. It would be a grave error to identify the Father and the Son as one person, or to say that Jesus is both the Father and the Son, simply due to their mutual work and actions. As there is only one God, overlapping of work and action is hardly to be thought unusual, and does not indicate an identity of person but rather an identity of nature.
10. James Hope Moulton, George Milligan, The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament. (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman's Publishing Company) 1930, pp. 416-417. See also Barclay Newman and Eugene Nida, A Translator's Handbook on the Gospel of John. (New York: United Bible Societies) 1980, p. 24.
11. The variant reading "...who is in heaven." is opposed by P66 and P75 along with Codex Sinaiticus and Vaticanus. These witnesses are joined by the Coptic versions, a few uncials, minuscules, and Fathers.
12. The reading monogenes theos is strongly supported by the manuscript witnesses. This is the reading of P66 and P75 as well as the original reading of Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, a few other uncials, and a large number of the early Fathers. That there is good reason to see monogenes huios as an assimilation to John 3:16 is obvious; just so, that monogenes theos has no logical antecedent is just as true.
13. Some try to render this as "the Word was pertaining to God" on the basis of the occurrence of pros ton theon in Hebrews 2:17 and 5:1. However, this attempt fails for the two instances in Hebrews are different syntactical constructions; the presence of the neuter plural article before the phrase in Hebrews changes the subject to an assumed "things." Also, John 1:1b represents a sentence structure using the verb form en while this is not so in Hebrews.
14. William G. T. Shedd, Shedd's Dogmatic Theology. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers) 1980, pg. 253.
15. As cited by Henry Bettenson, Documents of the Christian Church. (New York: Oxford University Press) 1963, pp. 144-145.
16. For a discussion of the Council of Chalcedon, see Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church. (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman's Publishing Company) 1910, 3:740-762.
17. Schaff, History of the Christian Church, 3:751.
18. Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman's Publishing Company) 1941, pp. 321-330.
19. See Berkhof, Systematic Theology, Doctrine of the Person and the Work of Christ, Section III, "The Unipersonality of Christ."
20. Stuart Olyott, Son of Mary, Son of God, (England: Evangelical Press) 1984, pp. 103-105.
21. Some Oneness writers such as Robert Brent Graves have attempted to assert that the copulative kai found here and in the other epistolary greetings should not be translated in its normal sense of "and" but rather as the equative "even." Hence, Graves translates 1 Cor. 1:3 as "Grace to you and peace from God our Father even the Lord Jesus Christ." That there is no scholarly support for such an assertion is clear, for Graves would hardly be consistent and say "Grace to you, even peace..." which would be required should he follow his own suggestion through.
22. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, p. 303.
23. Otto Weber, Foundations of Dogmatics, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman's Publishing Company) 1962, 2:116.
24. David K. Bernard, Essentials of Oneness Theology, (Hazelwood, Missouri: Word Aflame Press) 1985, p. 8.
25. Bernard, The Oneness of God, p. 15.
26. Bernard, The Oneness of God, p. 98.
27. Bernard, The Oneness of God, p. 66.
28. John Paterson, God in Christ Jesus, (Hazelwood, Missouri: Word Aflame Press) 1966, p.
29. Bernard, Essentials in Oneness Theology, p. 22.
30. Bernard, The Oneness of God, p. 103.
31. Weisser, Three Persons, p. 35.
32. Robert Brent Graves, The God of Two Testaments, (U.S.) 1977, p. 35.
33. See Bernard, The Oneness of God, p. 106.
34. Graves, The God of Two Testaments, p. 44.
35. Paterson, God in Christ Jesus, p. 22.
36. Bernard, Essentials in Oneness Theology, p. 19.
37. Bernard, The Oneness of God, p. 88.
38. Bernard, The Oneness of God, p. 90
39. Bernard, The Oneness of God, p. 86.
40. Bernard, The Oneness of God, p. 57.
41. Bernard, The Oneness of God, p. 115.
42. Bernard, Essentials in Oneness Theology, p. 21.
43. Ibid., p. 22.
44. Bernard, The Oneness of God, pp. 176-177.
45. See Weisser, Three Persons, pp. 17-28.
46. Bernard rejects, for example, the reading of monogenes theos at 1:18 by saying, "We do not believe these variant readings are correct...This verse of Scripture does not mean that God is revealed by God, but that God is revealed in flesh through the humanity of the Son." Here theology determines textual criticism.
47. Bernard, The Oneness of God, pp. 236 ff as an example.
48. Kenneth Scott Latourette, A History of Christianity, 2 Volumes, (New York: Harper and Row) 1975, 2:144-145 gives a brief account of the origins of the modalistic teaching.
49. J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, (New York: Harper and Row) 1978, p. 88.
50. B. B. Warfield, The Works of B.B. Warfield, 10 volumes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House) 1929, 2:133.