Dr. Larry Yates
Saturday, November 3, 2012
The Conclusion of the Matter: Scripture vs Tradition
It is a most significant fact, often overlooked, that Jesus equates/links eternal life with knowledge of one true God, and Jesus Christ whom he has sent (Jn 17:3). This refers to our acknowledgement of both the divinity and the humanity of Christ (Jn 8:24, 55, I Jn4:3). It is not as many believe a reference to two divine beings. The insistence on God’s absolute numerical oneness, as well as, his manifestation in the flesh for our salvation is the overarching theme of scripture. This alone should caution us against divorcing our beliefs from the biblical theology of God; Thus building for ourselves the image of another Jesus and thereby receiving a different gospel. We must not ignore his warning, “If you believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins… He that believeth on me believeth not on me, But on him that sent me. And he that seeth me seeth him who sent me…He the rejecteth me and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day(Jn 8:24; 12:44,45,48). This should lay rest to any question about the importance “doctrine.” For, “whosoever trangresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the father and the son.” (II Jn 9). Jesus’ own creed (Mark12:29), is central to all he said and did. But does our tradition faithfully reflect that “Jewish” creed? According to the Savior, it is not possible to believe him if we are not prepared to believe Moses (Jn 5:46, 47). Our failures to grasp the realities of our Hebrew heritage and what Moses, Isaiah, and others have said about the nature of God, will lead to disastrous results when it comes to the exercise of our faith.
A genuine relationship with Jesus can only be built on the foundation of a proper understanding of who He is. This understanding will only come by our acceptance of the teaching of scripture, even when that scripture violates our “sacred” traditions. Our ability to avoid conforming to the culture around us and achieve the separation demanded of us as God’s people will only come as we are transformed by the renewing of our minds, so that we may prove what is the will of God (Rom 12:1-2). It is only by the inspired word of God that this will ever take place, as the mind of the spirit is transferred to the believer and we come to have the mind of Christ. Could it be that we are breathing the contaminated atmosphere of Greek philosophy and Alexandrian theology and would experience dramatic improvements in spiritual health from the fresh air of the plain truth of God in its original Hebrew context?
Our success as believers depends upon our attention to Jesus’ admonition that… “Ye abide in me, and my words abide in you,” (Jn 15:7, II Jn 9, Jn 8:32). All false doctrine is dangerous, because it is built on a rejection of what Jesus said. How much greater in this case, being built on the rejection of who he is. No apology is necessary, therefore, for our desire to discover what, in fact, according to scripture, God has revealed about himself and his relationship to man. It matters very much what a Christian understands and believes for, as perhaps never before in her history the church today is asleep and in bondage. The current opinion (“fad”) that doctrine divides and should be avoided for the sake of unity, is simply unbiblical. The very opposite is true: doctrine based on the clear teaching of scripture and the true knowledge of God is the only hope for genuine unity in the midst of the chaos and division present in the church today.
The object of this work, therefore, has been to present a biblical challenge to contemporary trinitarianism, and to propose a way of understanding more accurately what God has revealed about himself, thus bringing our doctrine more in line with the truths of scripture. The recovery of belief in Jesus as the physical manifestation of the one true God will dispel the fog of confusion which has enveloped the church for generations. Loss of this clear understanding about who he is has resulted in our acceptance of “another Jesus” and “a different gospel” and has created an entrenched and dangerous theological misunderstanding regarding the true nature of salvation. The doctrine of the trinity is a tragic diversion which replaces the biblical focus on faith in the one true God with philosophical speculation and metaphysical arguments regarding the nature of the “Godhead.” In many cases the result is the false worship of a “divided God” on the part of people with divided hearts.
It is no longer sufficient simply to make the assertion that “Jesus = God” as if that is a legitimate reflection of New Testament truth. Since God in the bible never means “God in three persons,” intelligent and honest bible study must seek for a revised Christology which allows for the obvious and necessary conclusion that Jesus is the promised incarnation of the Father.
In his book, The Christian Doctrine of God, Emil Brunner makes the following pointed observation regarding the Trinity: “The History of Christian Theology and dogma teaches us to regard the dogma of the trinity as the distinctive element in the Christian idea of God… On the other hand we must honestly admit that the doctrine of the trinity did not form part of the early Christian New Testament…It was never the intent of the original witness to Christ in the New Testament to set before us the intellectual problem –that of three divine persons- and then to tell us silently to worship this mystery of three in one. This “mysterium logicum”, the fact that God is three yet one, lies wholly outside the message of the bible. It is a mystery which the church places before the faithful in her Theology, but which has no connection with the message of Jesus and the Apostles. No Apostle would have dreamt of thinking that here are three divine persons, whose mutual relations and paradoxical unity are beyond our understanding. The mystery of the Trinity is a pseudo-mystery which sprang out of an aberration in logical thought from the lines laid down in the bible and not from the biblical doctrine itself” (Brunner. 1950. 1; 205, 226, 238).
In the final analysis, the doctrine of the trinity is simply not a biblical doctrine but rather the product of theological reflection and philosophical speculation. It may be in reality, satans masterstroke of deception.
In contradistinction to trinititarinism, apostolic or oneness theology asserts the following:
1) God is indivisibly and absolutely numerically one with no distinction of persons.
2) The nature of the God head is not a mystery but of the clearest revelations of scripture.
3) Jesus is the absolute fullness of the Godhead; He is one and at the same time- Elohim, Jehovah, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
4) The Son of God was begotten after the flesh at a specific moment in time and did not exist from all Eternity. “Son” is a term which refers only and specifically to God’s incarnation.
5) The logos (word) is not a separate person, but rather the mind, thought, plan, activity, or expression of the Father.
6) Jesus is the redemptive name of God, revealed in the New Testament. It is the ultimate revelation of who God is, representing the Salvation, Healing, Delivering Power and Authority of God manifested to man.
7) Water Baptism should be administered by the oral invocation of the Name of Jesus as part of the Christological baptismal formula.
8) Believers will definitely see only one Divine Being in Heaven: Jesus Christ, The Lord of Glory.
The Oneness doctrine does not destroy or alter any doctrine or belief essential to biblical Christianity; it absolutely upholds the sole authority of scripture, the Deity of Christ, his substitutionary atonement and justification by faith. Additionally as part of Gods ongoing program of reformation and restoration, Apostolic Theology restores and upholds biblical Christianity in at least four specific ways.
A) It restores biblical terminology and biblical patterns of thought on the subject of the God head, clearly establishing, New Testament Christianity as the heir of Old Testament Judaism.
B) It proclaims the absolute Deity of Jesus Christ, revealing his true identity as the incarnation of the One True God.
C) It restores apostolic authority and the biblical emphasis on The Name to the church, making the power of his Name available to every believer.
D) It restores the basic and fundamental doctrine of the New Testament church which is the bible standard of full salvation. It is repentance, water baptism by immersion in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the initial evidence of speaking with other tongues as the spirit gives the utterance.
Not only must the church know and believe these truths, but in view of their crucial significance, we must begin to propagate them everywhere. The church has the vital responsibility to teach this message from her pulpits, in her Sunday Schools, in home bible studies, and through every appropriate outlet. The fivefold ministry has been given to the church for the purpose of equipping the Saints for ministry. Every believer therefore, is a minister, anointed by God and entrusted with the grave responsibility of sharing these profound realities with others.
In short, the message of the Mighty God in Jesus Christ is absolutely essential to the restoration of biblical belief, apostolic authority and the return to New Testament patterns, principles, priorities, and power. It is the only hope for a dying world. Our only means of success in what God has called us to do.
Dr. Larry Yates
Dr. Larry Yates