The Doctrine of Christ
Let Us Reason Together
"Come now, and let us reason
together, saith the Lord."
JOHN 1:1 is the rallying point of Trinitarians. But in defense of the Bible Students non-Trinitarian reading of this verse, we quote from The Bible Translator, a periodical sent to Trinitarian scholars:
Please note their observation that, as a word-for-word translation, "it cannot be faulted." As a matter of fact, in Acts 12:22 (Herods voice is a gods voice) and Acts 28:6 (Paul is called a god), the translators supplied the article "a" to the word theos in both instances. They just happen to think this would be contrary to Johns thought in John 1:1. That is a very subjective conclusion.
John 1:1, 2 reads: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with [ton, the] God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with [ton, the] God." A word-for-word Greek rendering of John 1:1, 2 is: "In [a] beginning [arche] was the Word, and the Word was with the God, and [a] God was the Word. This was in [a] beginning with the God." Trinitarians tried to level the field by leaving out the article (ton) "the." In the King James, as in many other translations, all references to God are equal to the English reader. You do not get the contrast between the emphasized God spoken of twice and the unemphasized God referring to the Logos.
Yet consider how later in this chapter (John 1:18), in the same context, a clear distinction is drawn between these Gods apart from mere grammatical emphasis: "No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten god, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him." (New American Standard Bible, Marshall Interlinear, etc.) Clearly, there is a "begotten God" and a begetter "God." Hence, John 1:1 must be understood in a manner that harmonizes with this verse.
To be convincing, the Trinitarian must prove that "God" in John 1:1 has supreme signification in all three of its uses. We quote from an orthodox Trinitarian, Dr. G. C. Knapp: "It (the appellation Logos, here translated Word), signifies, among the Jews and other ancient people, when applied to God, every thing by which God reveals Himself to men, and makes known to them His will. In this passage the principal proof does not lie in the word Logos (revealer of God), nor even in the word theos (God), which, in a larger sense, is often applied to kings and earthly rulers, but to what is predicated of the Logos."2
Using such reasoning, is it possible to prove Jesus is the supreme God from this passage? Does the passage in fact say that the Logos God has parity with the God? Without parity, he cannot be the God, nor can he be one-third God. What beginning is John talking about? God has no beginning or end, for He is "from everlasting to everlasting" (Psa. 90:2). So what "beginning" is the Logos identified with? Rev. 3:14 supplies the answer: "The Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning [arche] of the creation of the [ton] God."
Some say that the word "beginning" (arche) is rendered "principality(ties), magistrates, at the first, first estate, corners," etc. and that this gives Rev. 3:14 a different meaning. Whether our Lord was the beginning, first, or principal "creation of God," how would that change his being a created being before all others? In the King James, the Apostle Johns use of the word arche is consistently translated "beginning." In the Appendix we submit every usage of arche in the New Testament by John and other New Testament writers as listed in The Englishmans Concordance. Please note its uses and how "beginning" is an appropriate translation. It is only because translators have seen the threat this poses to the Trinity that they have labored to change the intent of that word in this verse.
But, let us assume that the Trinitarians are correct on John 1:1. Let us presume the Logos was Jehovah (or Yahweh God). What is John then telling? If John believed the Logos was the God of Moses, why would John say the "Logos was with God, and the Logos was God"? What God was the Logos with? Why place a mark on eternity and say that was the beginning and the Logos was there? If he really wanted to prove the Logos was God, he should have said, "See this mark. It is the beginning. Now, the Logos was here before that beginning as the God, for He was the God." To place the Logos at the mark called beginning and not before the "beginning" weakens their whole position.
The following texts delineate this truththat God always existed and that a beginning in time is associated only with the Logos:
Furthermore, John 1:1 could not be a proof of the Trinity, for no mention is made of the holy Spirit. That is most embarrassing when the key scripture to the whole Trinity concept omits one-third of the Trinity. Therefore, whatever John 1:1 proves, it does not mention the holy Spirit, and it fails to provide the third part necessary to support the Trinity. Trinitarians have combed through the Bible using every possible text to prove their point. In the overwhelming majority of texts used, you find them doing the same thing as in John 1:1, using arguments that God and Jesus are one, hoping we will not notice that none of their proof verses include the third part necessary the holy Spirit. The idea is to get people so involved in the discussion that they will forget the holy Spirit is not mentioned. Therefore, the debate lacks the third part needed for rational proof. In order to prove the Trinity doctrine, it is necessary to find Biblical statements of the oneness of being of Father, Son and holy Spirit. Even if we could prove the Father and Son were one being, would it give us a Trinity?
To call God "Christ" gives them a name but not a Christ [an Anointed One]! We ask again, "What have you done with Christ?" Where is he? You cannot have three absolute Gods and one absolute God. The moment you do, you must redefine absolute. The moment you define God as Christ, you replace Christ. God can never be less than God!
Why Must the Savior be a God-Man?
The Trinity concept insists that Jesus had to be a God-man to be the Savior. If he was a mere man, they say, how could he take upon him the sin of the whole world? It sounds good to make such extravagant claims about Jesus. Generally, we cannot pay sufficient homage to our Savior for his great sacrifice, so why not go all out in our claims for him? To some extent that is how the Trinity was started, countering claims that Jesus was just a mere man. As the defense of our Savior was made, so the claims for him grew and became exaggerated from being a perfect man and Son of God, until at last the ultimate claim was made that he was in fact God. Then followed the super patriotism and the cry "To the fire" with those who dare claim Jesus someone less than God. History records John Calvin burned (roasted) Michael Servetus at the stake for not believing the Trinity. As they lit the flames, Michael Servetus cried out, "Oh thou Son of the eternal God have pity on me." One observer said, We might have had pity on him if he had said, "Oh Eternal Son of God." Why is church history so lacking in mercy and kindness and so mean?
"By this shall all men know ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35). If only Gods people had served their God as well as they had their Church organizations, how much kinder Church history would be. In a Church bent on world conquest, there is little love or kindness to be found. Our country was born to provide refuge from religious persecution.
Jesus Christ the "Ransom for All"
We read in 1 Tim. 2:5, 6: "The man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." What is the ransom? The Greek word for ransom is antilutron defined by Dr. Young as "a corresponding price."3 One perfect man was a substitutionary sacrifice for the perfect man Adam, who forfeited his life along with the human race in him. However, the Church fathers lost sight of the true meaning of the ransom. When this happened, there was no holding back the ground swell of extravagant claims about Christ. Anything less than calling Jesus God was considered demeaning.
For the sake of argument, let us go along with this exalted claim that Christ is Goda claim neither he nor Scripture makes. Let us accept their claim that he was God and, therefore, God died for us. May we ask, How could an immortal God die?
Did the Absolute God die? The creed maintains Christ was "very man." Hence, to call God "Christ" gives them a name, but not a Christ. It was the "very man" Christ who died. No matter how they define it, they have only a "very man" who died. How, then, did "very God" die? God is immortal, death-proof. God could not die; only some flesh form could die. Despite the semantics, they come away with only a perfect "human sacrifice." That is exactly what we believe and claim.
Dr. Adam Clark, a Trinitarian, says, "Two natures must ever be distinguished in Christ: the human nature, in reference to which he is the Son of God and inferior to him, and the Divine nature which was from eternity, and equal to God."4 He also disallows that Jesus could be begotten from eternity, saying: "To say that he [Christ] was begotten from all eternity, is, in my opinion, absurd; and the phrase eternal Son is a positive self-contradiction. ETERNITY is that which has had no beginning, nor stands in any reference to TIME. SON supposes time, generation, and father."5 In other words, it was only the human flesh of Christ that died. Hence, they do not have an infinite sacrifice, because it was the inferior Son who died. So where, oh where, is the infinite sacrifice of God?
Unless the complete Trinity died on the cross, Trinitarians have but a very man for their savior. While Trinitarians insist Jesus was wholly God and wholly man, their burden is to prove this and also to show that both God and man died on the cross. The Bible does not say this. Theologians have labored long and hard to compensate for what is not clearly stated in the Word. Did Jesus ever say he would give his flesh and deity for man as a ransom? No. He said, "The bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world" (John 6:51). Then could he take his flesh body back after giving it? What would have become of his ransom if taken back after it had been given?
Dr. Adam Clark renders Psalm 8:5: "Thou has made him little less than God." He refers to this verse in Heb. 2:7, and applies it to Jesus, saying, "For a short while, he was made lower than the angels, that he might be capable of suffering death."6 If Dr. Clarks assertion were true, Jesus was less than God or lower than the angels. How could he be "less than God" and still be Absolute God? This presents a problem in logic.
A Mighty and Infinite Sacrifice With Small Results
Let us allow that Christs sacrifice was infinite as claimed. We are allowing this without a Scriptural basis, for nowhere does the Bible say Jesus sacrifice was infinite. It does not say he suffered more than all mankind. It does not even say he suffered more than any man. Even Isaiah 52:14, which speaks of his "visage" and "form" being marred "more than any man," does not fulfill the infinite suffering assertion. It is not wise to say more than the Scriptures say. We are allowing such reasoning only to see where it leads.
Now, allowing for the most extravagant sacrifice for sin, we ask, How come so few are saved? How come, when salvation has been reduced to just making a "confession for Christ," the vast majority of mankind are not accepting Christ? The churches, for some 1500 years, have entreated the world. They have carried on bloody wars, imposed the "holy(?) inquisition," employed the powers of the state, threatening damnation and eternal fire on those slow to respondtorturing, killing, maimingall in vain. The vast majority of the world is not Christian in any sense of the word, and the part called Christian is suspect of being mostly a field of "tares" (Matt. 13:24-30). Would God provide such a powerful salvation, requiring only the faintest acceptance, and still somehow fail to save the vast majority of those purchased?
Even when telling people that Christ has purchased their ticket to heaven and all they have to do is accept it, still the world at large is unsaved. How come this mighty salvation fails? More than two-thirds of the world are without Christ. And the part that accepts Christ might have a goodly number of "tares" among them, who are the planting of the Wicked One. How could something so overpowering be so ineffective? With such an overwhelming salvation, how is it that most people are lost?
The claim that Jesus had to be God to pay for every mans sins, who, according to their theology, is to be tortured forever and ever if unsaved, means that Jesus would have endured the fires of theological hell for every man, woman and child that eternity would inflict upon thema very sadistic concept. They claim he had to be God to do this. This whole claim is totally unscriptural. The Bible says, "For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul" (Lev. 17:11). Again we read: "Without shedding of blood is no remission" (Heb. 9:22).
This shedding of blood requires the death of the victim, not merely suffering. If people could atone for their sins by suffering, then the Hindu and Eastern religions, wherein people afflict themselves, laying on spikes, putting hooks in their flesh and staring at the sun until blind, would certainly commend themselves to God by buying remission for their sins. Even the pre-reformation Christian theology with its flagellations should not then have been discarded. The world already endures such great suffering because of sin. As we look out into the world, our hearts ache for humanity. How they need the hope of Christs glorious Kingdom on earth, when all men will be lifted up and blessed as God pours out His "spirit upon all flesh" (Joel 2:28). All of this will be possible by Christs death on the cross. Let us see how.
Our understanding of Scripture is that Jesus died as a perfect man providing a "corresponding price" for father Adam. He died a substitutionary death for Adam. All who are in Adam, therefore, will be ransomed, released from the condemnation of death. It stands to reason that if Adam did not possess everlasting life (and he didnt because he died), then Christs ransom sacrifice can restore to Adam and all men only what he lost before he sinned. Adam had an opportunity to live everlastingly if he obeyed God, but failing in this, he died. Christs ransom sacrifice can only bring Adam, and all in him, another opportunity to attain everlasting life.
Two classes, the Church and the world, will be privileged to benefit from Christs death. During the Gospel Age, the True Church receives justification to life and, upon "overcoming," will receive a heavenly reward. The world will be released from Adamic condemnation during the Millennium. Christ will be their Mediator (1 Tim. 2:5, 6). How can he mediate between God and man if he is God? A Mediator must always be a third party! When the world is nurtured back to human perfection and their reconciliation with God shall have been accomplished, they will then be delivered to God, the Father. When Christs mediation is completed, then shall "The King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matt. 25:34). The Mediators work shall have been accomplished. See 1 Cor. 15:24-28.
Mankind, which had been driven from Eden, will return to an Edenic Paradise on earth. We have all that is requiredthe perfect man Christ Jesus as our Savior and tremendous results from two salvationsthe Church now, and the world of mankind in Christs kingdom here on earth. Therefore all men will be benefited from Christs sacrifice. That is as it should be.
And in the final picture, the Divine Christ will be subject to the Father, with all "overcomers" of both the Gospel Age and the Millennium received back into favor with God (1 Cor. 15:24-28). Then God will be all in all. What could be sweeter?
"Are You the Christ?"
In Jesus illegal trial at night, while Peter was still there, they asked Jesus "Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?" And Jesus said, "I am" (Mark 14:61, 62). If Jesus was truly the Absolute God, didnt Jesus owe them that information? The reason Jesus was crucified was because he was the "Christ, the Son of the Blessed." If Jesus proclaimed himself to be Absolute God, they would have had a perfect right to put him to death according to their understanding of the Mosaic Law: "You shall have no other Gods before me" (Ex. 20:3). Oddly, they crucified Jesus for claiming to be the "Son of God," exactly what he admitted being, while they themselves claimed, "We have one Father, even God" (John 8:41).
If the disciples believed Jesus was God, they would not have believed his death. How could they if they held any concept of his being God? God is eternal! Their immediate problem after his death was accepting the truth that God raised Jesus from the deadThomas being the last to believe. Later, they became witnesses to his resurrection, saying to the Jews, "Ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead" (Acts 3:14, 15).
"Christ who is above all, God
for ever blessed! Amen."
The above quoted subhead is from Romans 9:5. Several interesting commentaries on this verse may be found in the literature. A Catholic Dictionary states: "We have the strongest statement of Christs divinity in St. Paul, and, indeed, in the N[ew] T[estament]."7 But establishing Christs divinity is not the same as establishing the Trinity. The King James reads, "Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen." No one would argue Jesus is not "God blessed." To argue that this statement makes him God the Father is pressuring this verse to say something more than it does.
The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology comments on this verse: "Even so, Christ would not be equated absolutely with God, but only described as being of divine nature, for the word theos [God] has no article. But this ascription of majesty does not occur anywhere else in Paul. The more probable explanation is that the statement is a doxology [praise] directed to God, stemming from Jewish tradition and adopted by Paul."8 A Catholic Dictionary comments: "There is no reason in grammar or in the context which forbids us to translate God, who is over all, be blessed for ever, Amen."9 The Revised Standard Version so renders it"God who is over all be blessed for ever. Amen." Hence, we see, there are rational thinkers who try to prevent the spread of hasty and unwarranted conclusions. Some Trinitarians are in constant and labored activity reading Trinity into verses so eagerly that it is needful for their fellow theologians to try to temper some of their excesses.
There is another strange fact of Trinitarian behavior. They seldom inform the laity of the host of criticisms and corrective evaluations from within the walls of religious academia. They vent most of their anger and frustration upon those who openly and honestly confess not believing the Trinity based on personal Bible study. They endeavor to malign these by calling them improper names or even failing to recognize such as Christians.
In Acts 11:26 we are told the disciples of Jesus were "called Christians first in Antioch." If this be so, how could they be called Christians who knew nothing of the theological Trinity which did not become defined until the fifth century? How is it that those who believe in the Father, the Son and the holy Spirit are not recognized as Christians today if they say they do not believe the "incomprehensible" Trinity? Perhaps the old desire to persecute and stigmatize those who differ still exists latently in the hearts of some. Insecurity can surely lead to unchristian behavior.