The Tyranny of Christological Orthodoxy
F. Paul Haney
It can be shown from history that many of those who departed from religious orthodoxy, that is, from the trinitarian position, died horrible and cruel deaths. Others gave in, joined the orthodox group, and kept quiet. This dreadful scenario would be a wave of the future in America if some people had their way. Certainly, religious persecution is occurring today in a number of nations around the world.
Introducing: Michael Servetus
"Servetus, Michael, 1511-53, Spanish theologian and physician. His name in Spanish was Miguel Serveto. In his early years he came in contact with some of the leading reformers in Germany and Switzerland: Johannes Oecolampadius. Martin Bucer. Wolfgang Fabricius Capito. and probably Martin Luther.
"But he held views, concerning the Trinity in particular. that brought condemnation from the theologians of the Reformation as well as from those of the Roman Catholic Church.
"When he published De trinitatis erroribus (1531) and De trinitate (1532), the feeling of opposition was so strong that he assumed the name of Michel de Villeneuve, from the family home, Villanueva, and spent some time in Lyons, working on an edition of Ptolemy's geography and other scientific works, then in Paris studying medicine.
"There he is said to have seen John Calvin. He became well known for his ability in dissection and had unusual success as a physician; he discovered that some of the blood circulates through the lungs. From 1541 to 1553 he lived in the palace of the archbishop of Vienna as his confidential physician.
"When (1553) he had a work setting forth his ideas of Christianity secretly printed, investigation was begun by the Inquisition. Servetus, arrested, tried, and condemned, escaped from prison. Several months later, while making his way to Italy, he was seized in Geneva by Calvin's order. There, after a long trial in which Calvin's condemnation was a stem factor, he was burned on Oct. 27, 1553, at the age of 42." Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia.
Letter to the Editor Published In 'The Journal,' April 30, 2003
To Dixon Cartwright Jr., Editor; The Journal; P.O. Box 1020; Big Sandy, TX 75755; Thursday, March 20, 2003
Bob Schmid, writing in THE JOURNAL (Jan. 31, 2003, "God is not one or the other"), posits that God Almighty is neither a biblically singular being, as in true monotheism, nor is he dual, as in two separate entities. Since the standard common-usage definition of polytheism is the worship and support of two or more gods, the two-separate-entities model represents pure polytheism, and polytheism is an abomination to the only true God of Jesus Christ (John 17:3). Those supporting the two-god model are, by definition, practicing polytheism. This fact can hardly be denied. As in Trinitarianism, however, the supporters of "Poly-Binitarianism" (a phrase we coined at Christ Fellowship Ministries to describe the peculiar Church of God "two-gods-plus-millions-of-human-gods-later" model) insist that their worship model of two gods, plus their support of millions of latter-day human gods, somehow represents biblical monotheism, or one God. The logic of such a position escapes me, while the reason they profess this doctrine does not.
Bob Schmid suggests that both positions he mentioned, one God or two gods, miss the mark, as it were, and further, he has the "correct biblical model." His suggestion is amusing to be sure, but rather than "ground zero," I think "year zero" would be a bit more in keeping with his analogy. Nevertheless, the gist of his position seems to be that from time in eternity past to the birth of Christ, only one God being was in existence. Due to the birth of the Messiah and from then on, Schmid offers, God became two separate beings, a Father God and a Son God. In his letter, Schmid consistently capitalizes the word "God." By so doing, he is telling us that these two beings are divine, or as others have stated, "God as God is God."
Continuing, Mr. Schmid concludes that, "God was one, He became two, and He will be many." However, the writer contradicts himself and confuses his presentation in a desire to present the "correct biblical model," which model I suggest is neither correct nor biblical.
He states that the "relationship between God and his Word" (we are to assume this is the Messiah) was exactly the same from eternity past all the way to the birth of Christ even as the relationship is now between God and the Son, whom he calls "God the Son." If this is true, then because the current relationship is father to son (or God to God!), then the newborn baby preexisted himself and his birth as a son in some fashion and was, in all past eternity, a son to the Father. According to Schmid's assessment, the father-to-son relationship never changed from before the birth of Christ to after the birth of Christ. This means that rather than God existing as a single being prior to the birth of Christ, as Schmid writes in one place, Schmid now claims God existed as two beings, one called the Father and the other called the "Son" in his "biblical model." So, which is it? Did God exist as one singular entity in Old Testament times or not?
I see the problem. It is very difficult to make the case that the "Son of God" is also "God" but folks try it all the time, and wind up confusing themselves and the issue. And the "logic" they use turns out to being hauntingly similar to the trinitarian model. It reminds me of the old country tune, "I Am My Own Grandpa," which goes, "It sounds funny I know, but it really is so, I am my own grandpa." "'You are My witnesses,' says the LORD, and My servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He.
"'Before Me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after Me. I, even I, am the LORD, and besides Me there is no savior. I have declared and saved, I have proclaimed, and there was no foreign god among you; therefore you are My witnesses,' says the LORD, 'that I am God'" (Isaiah 10:10-12, NKJV).
I suggest that Yahweh, the Lord God, did indeed exist as one singular entity before the birth of Christ, the Lord Messiah, and further, that Yahweh, the Lord God, continues to exist as one singular being. The Messiah cannot be "God" unless someone redefines the word "God" away from Yahweh's singularity. Yet, not only is "God" constantly being redefined into a mushrooming pantheon of millions of separate and little "God" beings, the terms "monotheism" and "polytheism" are also being redefined today, all for the sake of church tradition. Once you redefine God, expansion into Greco/Roman polytheism is inevitable. Those who ardently support the poly-Binitarian cause, suggest that because the Hebrew "elohim" (430, as God) has various meanings, the word "God" can therefore apply to millions or billions of future humans turned into "God-beings," beings of the "God kind," a newly minted species.
However, in their rush to God status and power, poly-Binitarian proponents generally utilize the capitalized "God" (supreme Divinity) definition of "elohim" and to my knowledge, seldom, if ever, use the lower case "god" definitions, such as 'judges, angels, magistrates," or "mighty ones" in speaking of themselves becoming "God Beings." If they were to correctly suggest, "We will become magistrates and judges as magistrates and judges are magistrates and judges" and forget trying to usurp the power and prestige of the singular God, most arguments in this area would cease. And if they would come clean, if they would stop redefining common-usage words like polytheism, and if they would simply stop denying and admit their polytheistic stance up front and quit hiding it, we could get on about the business of clarifying the issues and deciding whether or not their brand of polytheism is the correct biblical worship model. Until then, the arguments will continue. F. Paul Haney
NOTE: The Armstrong polytheistic camp tries to make the case that "elohim" (Heb.430, "gods in the ordinary sense, used in the plural of the Supreme God, occasionally applied by way of deference to magistrates, and sometimes as a superlative, as angels, great, exceeding, judges, mighty judges") is a "uniplural" noun, like, they say, "family" or "church." But they are dead wrong. The word "elohim" is the plural of Eloah (Heb.433, "God or god"). The words "family" and "church" are COLLECTIVE nouns as "collective bodies," words that by their nature include or may include two or more elements, yet are not plural in themselves, or "uni-plural." They are singular. The Greek word "kurios" translated "Lord" or "lord" in the NT, Greek 2962, is "controller, by implication Mr. (as a respectful title): God, Lord, master, Sir." Theos, NT Greek 2316, a deity, esp. with 3588, fig. A magistrate." F. Paul Haney
Letter sent to the editor 'The Journal,' April 30, 2003
To Dixon Cartwright Jr., Editor; The Journal; P.O. Box 1020; Big Sandy, TX 75755; Friday, June 30, 2003
I think it is high time in this ongoing "nature of God" debate, to lay our cards on the table and be totally honest with one another and with the world—maybe even brutally honest, even if that level of honesty makes us uncomfortable or angry. The nature of God debate is constantly being characterized as "Binitarian versus Unitarian," but that characterization is false. And it is false primarily because the term "Binitarian" does not properly describe the Armstrong camp worship model. Rather, the Armstrong camp's model is a first cousin to ancient Greco/Roman "polytheism" and nothing less. And this Armstrong model can only be appropriately described as polytheistic in nature.
The standard picture being presented to the brethren contains more than a simple error or mistake in terminology, I am afraid. The general debate rages about whether we should worship and support one God or worship and support two Gods. But this usual characterization contains a measure of fraud in the sense that the whole story is not being told. Rather, I believe that in their zeal to uphold the late Herbert Armstrong's polytheistic view of the gods of his imagination, a view in which many persons have a vested interest (which includes generous salaries for some preachers and a fear of losing friends), many Armstrong disciples and advocates of HWA's corrupt worship system are being blinded to the truth about that which they support. For the most part, I think these supporters are sincere but sincerely deceived persons. Consequently, the readers of The Journal are being led astray and deceived regarding the foundational position and the truth of the "Binitarian" worship model. Deceived individuals, no matter how sincere they may be, should be given mercy and treated kindly, but they also need to be awakened from their slumber.
Recently, Dave Havir wrote an article for The Journal entitled, "Can binitarians and unitarians get along?" (May 31, 2003, p. 3). In this article, he readily admits that he is a "binitarian" and goes on to rightly suggest that a brotherhood of love should prevail between these warring factions. I have no big quarrel with Mr. Havir's column. It was well presented but typical in one respect. Within his article and within others as well, including some letters to the editor that commonly appear in The Journal, a huge fraud is unwittingly being perpetuated and sustained upon the readership. Even those of us who believe in the one true God of Jesus Christ have fallen into this trap and propagate the inaccuracy.
The point: The debate is most definitely NOT between "binitarians" and "unitarians. "This is especially true if you capitalize the word "Unitarian" as is frequently done by writers (Mr. Havir did not capitalize "unitarian."). As soon as you capitalize this word, you have identified a particular historical and extant congregation of people who have their own peculiar views, many of which we in the "One-God Movement" reject. Those who support the one-God view are biblical monotheists who believe in the "unity," the oneness, or the singleness of the Creator God, Yahweh and do not, for the most part I believe, accept the standard "Unitarian" position. This is no minor point in the debate. If you are going to deride someone for his one-God belief system as many do, or simply discuss it, at least get the terminology right. Getting our terminology correct will go a long way toward understanding one another. But the next point is even worse.
The point: The debate is definitely NOT between "binitarians" and "unitarians." A "binitarian" is one who supports two gods of some sort that are usually equal in status. But the basic position of those who are most often called "binitarian" in the pages of The Journal is most definitely NOT "binitarian" at all! Armstrong disciples who are self-confessed worshipers and supporters of two separate Gods (a.k.a. “binitarian”) do not stop at the support of two separate Gods, although they balk at admitting the next level of worship and support. They are supporting, in the Armstrong mold and in the Armstrong tradition (which, I might add, is well documented), millions and perhaps billions of gods! They ultimately worship and support an essentially unlimited family of gods. So to suggest that the opponents of monotheism (defined accurately and biblically as the worship of one divine God) are merely supporting two Gods is inaccurate at best. It is just not true. Somebody is not being upfront or forthcoming in the presentation of his theology, I would suggest. Those supporting the Armstrong view are POLYTHEISTS, pure and simple—they are NOT "binitarian" in any sense.
Christ Fellowship Ministries has coined a new term for the followers of HWA. It is "Poly-Binitarian." The word "poly," meaning many (two or more), is added to the self-assigned designation of "binitarian." The members of the Armstrong camp who worship and support two Gods now (and millions of gods later) are slated, by their own admission, to become "Gods" themselves—even "Gods as God is God" with all the attendant power and glory of the Almighty. This fact does not seem to bother a whole lot of people in the "Armstrong Movement." Further, these newly created "Gods" are to be worshipped as Gods in the "wonderful world tomorrow." They are supposed to become "CoSaviors" and "Co-Creators"—Gods in their own right with power to create other humans, destroy them, and raise them from the dead, and more. And I heard this very testimony with my own ears from socalled "binitarian" preachers. In the final analysis, they are worshipping the "creature."
So, let's get the name right, folks. Let's call a spade a spade and stop hiding behind more expedient and convenient terms. People who support two gods plus millions of additional humanoid gods are not "binitarians" in any sense of the word. The word "binitarian" is not an accurate description of where they are coming from. Let's put our cards on the table and name the followers of many gods exactly what they are. They are polytheists. There is no other way to state this case and there is no way to defeat this true characterization no matter how much squirming goes on in the pews of the so-called "binitarian" camp. However uncomfortable the truth may be for all of us, let's be honest, shall we? Isn't this a better way?
Yet, regardless of the facts, very many practitioners of poly-binitarianism steadfastly refuse to admit their true practice of polytheism.
They claim that the common usage definitions of the words "polytheism" (which definition they reject) and "monotheism" (which, with a straight face and just like Trinitarians, they claim to practice), do not apply to them because those definitions by Webster are not "God's definitions." On the other hand, "binitarianism" must be one of "God's definitions" because it is that one definition they do accept. Let's face it. The worship and support of two or more gods is polytheism. That is the Plain Unvarnished Truth. If you want to use the name "PolyBinitarian," that is okay, because the multi-god theology the Armstrong camp supports is just that, worship and support of many gods beginning with two, and it is that view they should be presenting to the world, but are not.
One other problem: if the leaders, especially, of the so-called "binitarian" camp cannot be honest with themselves regarding the true character and the true name of their adopted worship model, how can they be honest with the world and with those whom they are trying to reach? Thank you. F. Paul Haney
LETTERS TO READERS OF THE FELLOWSHIP COMMENTATOR
Tuesday, April 29, 2003
Thank you for writing and thanks for the materials. They are interesting but unconvincing. I don't know if you can characterize the thematic nature of the last several Fellowship Commentators as a "preoccupation," however. That term smacks of an "obsession." I prefer calling it a focus or topic. By contrast, the sermons I deliver in services usually cover other subjects. Since the issue of the nature of God is so involved and so many people have differing ideas, I believe it would be a disservice to the Fellowship Commentator readership and what I stand for with regard to the Commentator to touch upon this matter lightly and then move on to something else. I like to be thorough and as precise as possible, and since folks keep recycling many of the same objections to a singular God, I need to respond to them somewhat frequent1y. The repetition may at times be overkill, but it's better than neglecting those who have not yet learned. Besides, the issues of Christology and the nature of God are essential, I think, to proper biblical understanding. The more light that I shed on them, the better.
You wrote that, "theology has coined a word," and, "theology has invented a term" called "monotheism" and you claim that it, the term, excludes "biblical truth," essentially suggesting that the term is anti-biblical as not being found in the Bible. I suspect that you have been listening to my friend Ray Wooten because this is exactly his position regarding the terms "monotheism" and "polytheism." He essentially dismisses them and, insofar as I know, puts nothing in their place. But I suggest that theology has invented no such thing. These words are part of the English language and like other descriptive terms, we would be unable to communicate if we stuck our own definitions on them or dismissed them altogether. Words mean things and without proper definitions, words would be worthless; they would convey nothing. Theology is merely the study of God—it invents nothing—it describes the process of learning about God. Let me ask you: What terms would you use to describe a single-God concept and a multiple-God concept?
These common-usage words are representations of religious concepts, concepts that would be meaningless without some descriptive terminology. By nature, terms must be restrictive, especially in a given context, if they are to describe something that is meaningful. A tree cannot be a horse, nor could a shoe be a hat, if we are to converse at an intelligible level. In using the term monotheism to envisage two or more "God-beings" as some do, the sense of the word is destroyed and it becomes meaningless. So, if the term monotheism cannot be used to describe the single-God view, what else can be used? Just because some religious folks have hijacked this word and call the idea of two-gods-now-and-millions-later "monotheism," which it is not, or "threegods-in-one," dittos, does not mean that the term is faulty. The fault lies with the poly-binitarian and trinitarian folks who cannot face their own theology and feel a need to hide behind ambiguous words and terminology rather than present their worship model to the world for what it really is: multiple god support and worship, and face the consequences of their unbiblical stance.
You say the "truth" cannot be found through "theological processes." Think about what you are saying and then think about the theological papers you sent me, some of which are based upon The Companion Bible theological position appendices, written by E.W. Bullinger, trinitarian, and your wholehearted acceptance of his theology, at least on certain points. The Bible gives examples of learning the word of God (Acts 18:11), and therein is a "theological process." We are to get knowledge and wisdom, and thereby get understanding (Prov. 4:5, 7; 8:9-11; 16:16). Proverbs 1:22 tells us that fools hate knowledge. We are to "study to show ourselves approved unto God" as workmen (2 Tim. 2:15, KJV), more theological processes. No one I know suggests that the "only way" to come to the truth of God is through some sterile process of study, but to suggest that people cannot find God's truth via theology or the "study of God" is to not understand the process of learning or the desire of God on this point. Biblical learning is not an "either/or" proposition. The idea that "truth" only comes from reading the Bible is a fallacy of the highest order.
I agree when you say that "binitarianism preserves the same fundamental error found in trinitarianism" regarding calling their model monotheistic. But again, the problem is not with the term, but with the people who have hijacked the word "monotheism."
You wrote that you don't see HWA as being charismatic at all. I suggest you have not been paying attention. Maybe you were never in an audience when he walked in. Then you say that he was "good at presenting ideas in a way that got through to people." Well, one of the basic definitions of "charisma" is: "a special quality of leadership that captures the popular imagination and inspires unswerving allegiance and devotion." Perhaps you dismiss this term also, but recognize it or not, HWA had this quality. He captured the imagination, inspired people, and many became devoted to him. Some still are. In fact, many of the positions you take were established in the minds of HWA followers by HWA at one time or another.
HWA did in fact originate and popularize teachings. That he gathered some from other sources is immaterial; he was a master at redesigning others' teachings and presenting them as his own. Perhaps you can cite for me a prior source for the "God is a Family" doctrine that he taught, as he taught it. I have already written that this doctrine he presented was nothing more than Greco/Roman polytheism warmed-over, yet, HWA's brand, his presentation, I believe, was unique.
As to those "secretive" 134 "emendations" (scribal changes) you place so much weight upon, they are not a secret at all. Many folks are aware that copyists changed the "Tetragrammaton" YHWH (Yahweh) to read "Adonai" (LORD) in the Hebrew Bible. Fewer folks are aware that the scribes used not only Adonai for the "LORD" but also used "adoni" for non-divine persons in the Hebrew Bible in order to differentiate. One case cited in the papers you sent is the ever-popular objection to one singular God, "The LORD said to my Lord, 'Sit at my right hand till I make your enemies your footstool' " (Psa.110:1). This passage is repeated in the New Testament several times. Where you would agree with Dean Wheelock in his Hebrew Roots publication that every place (134) where the word "Lord" (one cap with lower case letters) is mentioned in the Bible, that you line it out and replace it with "LORD" or "YHWH," I would suggest that you go slow on this project.
It is obvious that the passage above is referring to two different beings. But what are they? A modicum of research will show that the first "LORD" is the Hebrew Tetragrammaton YHWH (Strong's 3068), defined in Strong's Concordance (which has its limitations) as the SelfExistent or Eternal. This is Yahweh. The second "Lord" in Psalm 110 is the Hebrew word "adon" or "adoni" (Strong's 113) defined by James Strong as: ". . . from an unused root (meaning to rule); sovereign, i.e. controller (human or divine):- lord, master, owner, compare also names beginning with 'Adoni-.' "So, when you scratch out the second "Lord" and replace it with "LORD" or Yahweh, you have made a mistake. You have been misled. The second instance of "Lord" is not Yahweh or the Almighty Self-Existent One, but a being that is not divine, not deity, not God or even a God as you might suggest. Simple research will show that these are two different words that represent two different beings—one of which is divine and the other not divine. But alas, if you reject theology or the study of God, this kind of information will escape your notice.
You claim in your paper that, "the Jewish religion regards the Godhead, basically, as a single Being, a single individual." Then go on without any support to claim: "That wasn't always the case!" Then you write that the Sopherim (scribes) were "uncomfortable with the few passages that didn't square with their belief system" and as a result, "selectively changed them!" You state that they changed these words that "posed a challenge to the essence of their monotheistic views" and did so "under the pretext of protecting the sanctity of God's name" and "in order to accommodate the beliefs which they rigidly held." This sounds awfully prejudicial to me in addition to being mere wild claims. To assume evil intent on their part is just not the right thing to do, especially since you offered not one shred of supporting documentation attesting to why they made these 134 changes, beyond the common understanding of name-protection, which you apparently reject out of hand. Based on your incomplete knowledge, and what I see as severe prejudice, you go on to claim that Jewish scribes "imposed a theological stumbling-block, not only upon themselves, but before the Christian world, centuries later, even to the present in most circles." I strongly disagree with your conclusions on this issue as well as with the attitude you seem to present.
By lifting out of context the "I am not alone" portion of John 8:16, you exhibit a lack of understanding of the entire passage, which has to do with witnessing, not a number of persons in a Godhead. And your writings go on in this vein.
Perhaps you would like to explain why the Bible contains some 20,000 singular pronouns that refer to the one solitary God as "He," "Him," "His," and "I"? Will you suggest that the Jewish scribes changed all these from plural to singular in yet another conspiracy? If so, why did they overlook Genesis 1:26: "Let us make man in our image. . ."? In your response, do not neglect to read and comment upon the next passage: "So God created man in HIS own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them" (Gen.l:27).
The Bible clearly states that there is but one God and that singular God states beside him there is no other God formed. God says, "You shall have no other gods before Me" (Ex. 20:3) but you say there are two Gods. The Lord Yahweh says that he is the LORD and there is no other in Isa. 45:6 but you say there are two beings called Yahweh.
It is clear to me that you are out of step with the Bible and have adopted certain positions that have little or no spiritual merit. I suggest that you seriously rethink your position.
F. Paul Haney
Wednesday, June 04, 2003
Thank you for writing once more. I will, as you suggest, critique your four-page paper entitled: "The Doctrine of Antichrist. "
First, the bottom line: You did not say in so many words or define in an opening premise that what you call the "doctrine of antichrist is the worship of God in a manner different than your method. But, this is what I understand you to be saying throughout the piece. You are apparently defining both trinitarianism and biblical monotheism as part of the above named doctrine. You do not do so in precise words, but in an obtuse manner. Accordingly and directly, I strongly disagree that biblical monotheism is such a doctrine and resent your false implication that it is. (Never mind trinitarianism, since we both know it is a lame worldview).
As I read your writing, I got the distinct feeling that many of your negative and sarcastic remarks were directed toward those persons who believe in One God and that includes me (as opposed to our ideas), remarks that seem to be naming all those who believe as we do, as some sort of despicable "antichrist," playing the emotional card. I hope I am wrong on this point. Those who subscribe to emotionalism, as in your last line: " need to heed his [John's] warning and remain alert to that danger: THE SPIRIT AND DOCTRINE OF ANTICHRIST. " prove that their intellectual arguments are feeble and inadequate. My examination of your argumentation cements this conclusion. Your arguments are not strong at all.
I might add that you are also placing Jesus Christ in the same category as a despicable "antichrist" since he clearly testified that there is "one True God."
"And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent" (In.17:3). Jesus, the Lord Messiah, the unique agent of God, was also an advocate of strict biblical monotheism—he supported the idea of one singular God. How you defeat this passage is beyond me.
The apostle Paul, according to your evaluation, must also have been a despicable antichrist. And opposing these two persons as you apparently do, wipes out most of the New Testament. "For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live" (ICor.8:5-6). I openly echo the apostle Paul in his support of one singular God being. For me, there is but one God, identified both by the Messiah and the apostle Paul as "the Father." This is the Lord God, Yahweh. On the other hand, you apparently do not echo the beliefs of the Messiah and his true apostle at all but rather support the "so-called gods" plural concept of Armstrongism that the apostle Paul rejects, sometimes called the "Armstrong movement," including the millions of human divine "Gods-to-be" notion that present Armstrong disciples and those of the Armstrong persuasion ardently support.
But if you want to call someone an "antichrist (as I think you really are doing), why not do it openly rather than beat around the bush? I, for one, would appreciate that. I have been called all sorts of names, directly and indirectly, so join the crowd. I am pleased to be in the company of the Lord Messiah as a recipient of derogatory names due to what I consider the correct belief system about the nature of God. By the way, I have no hard feelings toward you nor am I offended regarding your negative implications of my beliefs and me. I expect to be called these names and worse because I have dealt with the polytheistic Armstrong camp many times before, have the scars to prove it, and, thanks to the one true God, I have survived intact.
About your paper: In the first two paragraphs, you go on about a "sinister error," but neglect to define what it is. (Errors cannot be "sinister"; only people are sinister, as in wicked, evil, or dishonest, especially in some dark mysterious way, as having a sinister interest.) You then go on for six paragraphs discussing "antichrist" after saying the word is a "misnomer" without telling us why it is a "misnomer." Next, you say that, "those who deny that Christ is God's Anointed (that one sent the other) are declared liars." Although the Bible does not spell out what you suggest the way you describe it, no one in the Biblical Monotheism movement, to my knowledge, denies the biblical fact that God "sent" his Messiah or that Jesus is God's anointed. And in respect to 1 John 4:1-3, again no one in the Biblical Monotheism movement, to my knowledge, denies that Jesus "is come (or came) in the flesh."
In addition, you insist (later) that whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ is "a LIAR," as you loudly put it, but that he is an "antichrist" who denies the Father and the Son, with respect to 1 John 2:18ff and your interpretation thereof. This looks like a straw man to me. I tell you that I know of no biblical monotheist who denies that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah) or that Jesus is the Son of the Father in heaven, Yahweh. So, I think you are wasting your time here, even with your re-interpretation of some of these and other passages. The problem with your extension of I John 7 (p. 2) is that (it) covers much more than what the passage (or the epistle!) literally says or implies. So, you say (without biblical support, I might add) that, "The problem area with many people was and is the fact that He [Jesus] had a Spirit pre-existence, and for a time became manifest in the flesh!" Surely, you must know that John's epistle does not address your assertion and claim.
Thank God that assertions and wild claims as this by mere humans do not create facts. Remember: saying so does not make it so. A couple of paragraphs later you insert your "proof text." And lo, it is the ambiguous John 1:14, no less. What else do you have? Nothing. The passage states that the "word became flesh." How? In what manner?" And who, specifically, defined the Greek word "logos" so that it became "Word" and a specific heavenly being? Have you ever investigated your assumption that the "word" or logos, was a real being and how that assumption got inserted into all of Christendom? Who began capitalizing the English "word" into "Word" and why? Dittos with the words, "His" and "He" of the next verse. If you have not made such an investigation, why then do you assume that "Word" equals a pre-existent being, and why then do you insist on teaching others something you have not thoroughly and properly investigated? If you are in error, and I believe you are, would that not make you a false teacher—even a sincere one? I think so. (I do not doubt your sincerity.) To simply regurgitate a doctrine that came from a certain church organization is to skate on thin theological ice, wouldn't you say?
You gave an interpretation of the next verse. "John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, 'This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me is preferred before  me, for He was before  me' " (In.1:15). First you interpret John 1:14 by stating the "Word was made." You suggest that, "He was made" by someone "other than Himself." So, right off the bat, you insert your ideas into the passage. Having this false basis, you go on to leap all the way to writing that, "John the Baptist alleges that this begotten Being [your caps equals an allegation of deity] pre-existed before he did!" This is preposterous. John alleges no such thing.
Now, my friend, you can read this passage as easily as anyone else and surely you know that what you claim that John alleges is NOT IN THE PASSAGE. This is not rocket science. First, I ask: What is the immediate sense of this passage? What is John saying? Have you read the context? A person is preferred "before" John. What does this mean? Does this mean the person was preferred "before John was born"—a pre-existent preference? I don't think so. What John is clearly talking about is a relational position with regard to honor and respect of a person who is far greater and more honorable than he is. Want proof? No problem.
A few verses later, in context, John responds to someone about the very same subject. "John answered them, saying, 'I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know. It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before  me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose'" (Jn. 1:26-27). John is simply saying in context that this man Jesus is preferred above and beyond his own minor and low position; that this person is great and John is not. Why complicate the passage according to church tradition?
Consider the Greek words. Strong's 1715: enprosthen from 1722 and 4314, in front of (in place [lit. or fig.] or time):- against, at, before, (in presence, sight) of. The base 1722: primary preposition denoting (fixed) position (in place, time or state), and (by implication) instrumentality (medially or constructively), i.e. a relation of rest (intermediate between 1519 and 1537); "in," at, (up-) on, by, etc., and 4314: pros, a strengthened form of 4253; a prep. of direction; forward to, i.e. toward (with the gen. the side of, i.e. pertaining to; with the dat. by the side of, i.e. near to; usually with the ace., the place, time, occasion, or respect, which is the destination of the relation, i.e. whither or for which it is predicated).
Then, we look at the second "before." It is Strong's Greek 4413: protos, contr. super!. of 4253; foremost (in time, place, order or importance):-before, beginning, best, chief(-est), first (of all), former. All this means that what you assert is an error and not really what John was saying at all. You are teaching an error.
You write: "But was the 'Son' Divine? Did He abandon His Divinity in order to become a 'Son of Man, born of the human kind? Can a God Being exist other than that of Spirit? . . . The fundamental premise was that God could not exist other than that of Spirit, that He could not exist IN the physical dimension and still be Divine. A further progression along that line of reasoning concluded that God could not die. .. [This so-called "progression" is simply another faulty claim. FPH.]
"Yet, the fundamental assertion in Scripture is that He in fact did become flesh, and DID die! (Heb.2:9, 14, Jesus became flesh and blood that He might taste death for every man!)" (p. 3).
Neither citation supports your claim. Nowhere in these passages does it say or suggest that, "The God of the Old Testament became flesh and died."
"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. . . Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death. . ." (Heb. 2:9, 14). In fact, one verse you somehow skipped over is the tail end of verse 13: "And again: 'Here am I and the children whom God has given Me' " (v. 13). Why did you skip over this verse? Maybe because the verse states clearly that Jesus is differentiating between himself and God.
In fact, why did you skip over the prologue of Hebrews? Here, the writing clearly shows a difference between God and Jesus and indicates that the "Majesty on High" is God and NOT Jesus! "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 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 at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they" (Heb. 1:1-4). In this verse, Jesus is not God; he is the Son of God. The "Majesty on high" is God; Jesus is not God; he is the Son.
You suggest: "Perhaps we shouldn't be trying to comprehend or define the nature of God by the theological limitations of 'monotheism' or 'trinitarianism.' Because, you see, neither discipline allows the basic Biblical Truth! Rather, we should conceive of this subject by the Biblical definition of the 'Father and the Son. ' (That's the term John used.) "
"Father and son" is not a definition of a theological position. Of course, Jesus NEVER used the term "God" for himself, I notice, but you folks do all the time. Nor did John state that, "Jesus is God," either. This is Biblical truth. He only called himself the "son of God" or the "son of Man." Well, now, I suppose we should throw out the English language when it is contrary to your tradition. I guess that when a legitimate common-usage word is inconvenient, it should be replaced by something convenient. But this is nothing more than trying to dodge the truth of the matter. Perhaps if you and others would stop saying that Jesus is God and just say that he is the "son," we could drop the terms of monotheism and trinitarianism you detest, as well as "binitarianism." But until you folks in the Armstrong polytheistic camp stop claiming that Jesus is God and the Father is God and the Family is God and the Kingdom is God (implying also that the Church is God) and that human beings are going to become Gods, and stop using the false term "binitarian" for your worship model, we will have to continue calling your worship model what it is, polytheism. Your model is neither monotheism nor binitarianism. Still, these descriptive terms are valid. You cannot invalidate such terms just because they make you uncomfortable, and I am sure these terms make a lot of folks in the polytheistic Armstrong camp uncomfortable.
My friend, is it necessary for you to twist a passage in support an unsupportable doctrine? HERE IS WHAT YOU WROTE: "We should keep in mind that Jesus was condemned to death for affirming that there are two Beings in the Godhead" (p. 4).
Really? How did you come to this conclusion since it is not in the Bible? You then give this partial citation as "proof': Matthew 26:64 ". . . sitting on the right hand of power." Lifting a passage out of context and applying it to a personal doctrine is not good exegesis. In fact, you are reading your ideas into passages, which practice is called eisegesis. Why do you not read the context of that passage or cite the entire verse?
Nowhere in the context of the entire referenced chapter does Jesus ever suggest or imply that he was God, a God-Being, or that he was one of the "two Beings in the Godhead."
"'What is it these men testify against You?' But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, 'I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!'" (Matt. 26:62b-63).
Oops! You write that Jesus claimed to be God as in "two Beings in the Godhead." Notice that this passage never says what you say it does say. It says he claimed to be "the son of God." That's a big difference. Well, then, what did Jesus affirm? "Jesus said to him, 'It is as you said'" (Matt. 26:64a). Jesus only affirmed that he was the Son of God. He did NOT affirm that he was one half of a "Godhead," did he? Why did the priest tear his clothes? Because in his eyes, affirming to be the son of God was just as good as claiming to be God, yet, Jesus never claimed to be God at all-nowhere, so regardless of what the priest thought, Jesus was not claiming "Godhead" status.
Here is another contextual passage you must have overlooked supports the conclusion that Jesus only claimed to be the son of God and not God at all. "And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, "You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself. If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross" (Matt. 27:39-40). Even bystanders at the crucifixion knew the charge against Jesus was not that he claimed to be God or another God as you suggest he did claim, but only being God's son. I am not only puzzled at how you arrived at your conclusion, but why you did so.
Worse, you then bring up Stephen wherein you snidely remark about the people before him, extending it to all such believers: "Being the 'strict monotheists' that they were, they reacted in typical fashion. "Typical? Here is their reaction: "And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God. . ." (Acts 7:59). Come on now. Is this your idea of "strict monotheists" acting in a "typical fashion"? Do you expect to be "cast out of the city" and stoned by some of us who support biblical monotheism? Why do you suggest that murder by a mob is "typical" of monotheists? And why do you ascribe murderous activity to "strict monotheists" today as "typical"? I think you owe somebody an apology.
The Cloning of a God. You wrote: "One God Being changed the SPIRIT ESSENCE of the other God Being into PRE-CODED GENETIC MATERIAL capable of producing a physical reproduction of what that other God-Being had been" (PA). Frankly, this is gobbledygook—it is nonsense. You cite Heb. 1:5, ". . . this day I have begotten you. . ." This is no proof at all. You neglect the context: "But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: 'Let all the angels of God worship Him' " (Heb. 1:6). Here, God's Son is his "firstbom" and that term refers to a physical procreation of a human being; it does not suggest an implanting of a God as a cell (or genetic material) in the womb or cloning of one God by another God. The annunciation to Mary was that she would conceive and become pregnant with a child by the overt act of God's spirit and one to be born would be called Jesus (Lk. 1:31) —Yashua, if you please.
I guess the angel neglected to mention that this Jesus was going to "cloned" or just "implanted" and therefore would not actually be of the line of David. Neither would this child really be Mary's child, but only a speck of the "God kind." By this method of bringing a genetic preJesus being into the world, the genetic material that was implanted inside of Mary's womb would NOT be Mary's child because she would only be a biological "oven" for something that was of a different "kind." I suppose she would have been a "surrogate" or "stand-in" mother "of a God."
God is spirit. He is all spirit. He is 100 percent spirit (In. 4:24). So, to change or boil down the "spirit essence" of the "other" God is to reduce him in his entirety. Consequently, there would be nothing left except this tiny brainless bit of "pre-coded genetic material," which itself would be a "God" since the brainless bit before he was boiled down was a "God." Since "it" (the brainless bit) was capable of reproducing the "other God," it must not have been combined with the genetic material in one of Mary's eggs, because the "God" genetic material would have been reduced by combination with Mary's genetic material and would not have reproduced the other "God-Being." So, in all likelihood, this idea you suggest above is an act of "cloning" or simple insertion of the "God" genetic material into an egg at the same time the resident genetic material was removed from the egg. This way, Mary would think the child was hers, and so would everyone else, when in fact it was not. In this case, Jesus would have been "God in the flesh" for sure, but he would not have been of the Davidic line at all, nor would he have really been a true human being.
Or, if the "God kind" genetic material were recombined in one of Mary's eggs without the removal of her genetic material, she would have been the legitimate mother of Jesus (not God). This would be "artificial insemination," which seems a likely method that God used to impregnate Mary, anyhow. Only by artificial insemination (half of her genetic material plus half of whatever DNA Yahweh added) would Jesus have been a legitimate member of the Davidic line and a son of God at the same time. However, to suggest that one God reduced the other God down to a manageable size for impregnation is just preposterous. Why? Because the thing (God?) that went into the egg would not have been itself reproduced and it would never reproduce "what the other God being had been." Using a human analogy, no impregnation results in "what the other adult" had been, only partially in what the one was and partially what the other was, resulting in a new and unique offspring. The problem with your speculation of a reduced or freezedried God is that there was only one God in heaven to start with and one God period. And there is only one God in heaven now.
I am fairly certain that none of this will persuade you to look more carefully into your assumptions or to help change your mind on any of these points. But there is always hope. Nevertheless, you have given me a chance once again to expose and debunk the very doctrines you seem to hold so close and a chance to reveal assumptions that are primarily church tradition and a mixture of truth and error. So, in the end, I appreciate this opportunity. Thank you.
F. Paul Haney
I wanted to hasten this letter off to you because within my last letter, mailed yesterday, I may have left you with the wrong impression. In re-reading your cover letter dated 5/25 a moment ago, I was reminded that you expressly mentioned you would respond to my earlier letter when you got a chance, so forgive me for saying that "although you failed to respond to the questions in my previous letter to you (4-29-03)" as though you had just ignored the letter.
The other main point I wanted to bring out, which I do not think I did very well in my letter yesterday, was that you should not take my critique of your paper as a personal attack upon you, but only upon your ideas and teachings, although admittedly, my critical reviews and responses can be and are often pointed. My purpose was not to offend you. But expect me to be rough on writings I decide to critique. I take what I consider "poor scholarship" to task. As to your paper, I appreciate the effort, but I think it lacked a lot of substance.
In respect to the term "antichrist," others and I have been called this name on a few occasions (by people you may know) simply because we believe in one God, and it is this sort of disparaging and insulting name-calling that does not further anyone's interest. Certainly, it breeds disrespect both for the person calling the name and his issue. I think I made it clear in my letter that rejecting the pre-existence of Christ or rejecting his supposed "Godhead Divinity" (have you looked up the term "Godhead"?) does not mean that the Messiah is rejected. He is not rejected. And he is to be worshipped and highly respected as the Son of God, as the unique agent and representative of Yahweh Elohim.
Little has really changed between my former position of Armstrongism's two-plus Gods and my present position on one single God other than I now worship and support one God while the Armstrong people continue to worship and support multiple gods (even millions and billions!). (Other WCG doctrines are different issues.) I think I have always had a problem with their doctrine on this. My switch was innocent enough; the result of a search for the truth, yet multi-god advocates got vicious in their defense. I have moved from supporting Jesus as a pre-existent God to supporting him as the Lord Messiah and supporting his one true God of John 17:3. It is terribly logical and clear to me. It is a seemingly small step from my former position to my current understanding, but it has wide implications with respect to the very first of the Ten Commandments. So, in my view, the amount of work it takes to maintain a multi-god position as Armstrong disciples do over against the simplicity of supporting one true God is an amazing comparison. It is, for me, a God-given release from trying to believe in one God while maintaining support for multiple gods. You really should try it sometime.
Finally, when you get your next study finished ("the development and dependence on the monotheistic definition") I would like to have a copy, if we are still on speaking terms. Take care and God bless. F. Paul Haney
Godhead: Strong's Greek #2304, Acts 17:29; #2304, Rom. 1:20; #2320. Col. 2:9. DEF: #2304, from 2316, god-like, (neuter, as noun, divinity); 2305, from 2304, divinity, abstract; 2320, from 2316, divinity, abstract. #2316, theos, of uncertain affinity, a deity, esp. (with 3588) the supreme Divinity, fig. a magistrate.
Copyright © 2003 F. Paul Haney. All rights reserved.
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