Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Modalism Hayes vs Conn Hayes, Paper 2 of 3


Dear Friends, greetings in the lovely name of Jesus, the name which is above every name that is named.
Here we begin the second of my papers in defense of Modalism as the true paradigm for biblical Godhead theology. There will be a total of three papers affirming Modalism. My friend, Bishop Mike Conn, is taking the negative position on Modalism and is also writing the same number of articles. Our readers are advised that all six (6) papers should be taken as a whole. Moreover, it is important to keep in mind that both myself and Bishop Conn profess the Oneness faith.
In my first paper three positions were established:
Modalism was defined;
Modalism was shown to the the original orthodoxy of the Church;
Modalism was shown to be the proper biblical paradigm for Godhead theology. “Modes of being” is biblically justified by Hebrews 1:3 (e.g. “the impress of His subsistence”)
Since the posting of our first paper Bishop Mike Conn has posted two (2) papers in which he denied Modalism as being biblical. He did this by two basic forms: 
He completely ignored our definition of Modalism and set forth a totally false definition which he proceeded to deny. This means that his denial is invalid because he is denying a bogus Modalism (that exists only in his mind) that neither I nor my compatriots believe.
He totally ignores the role of the Dual Nature of Christ and swims in category fallacy, when he postulates that Modalism has the “man Christ Jesus” as a mode of the Deity.

Bishop Conn’s False Definition of Modalism
It seems fair to permit one to define his own belief system without being told what he believes. I did just that in my first paper. (The reader is advised to consult that paper for the valid definition of Modalism.) But my friend comes along and says, “No. You do not believe that. Here is what you believe ... .” My friend’s second paper takes the term “Straw Man” to a whole new level. It seems as though he just invented a Modalism that was more to his liking - one that he could deny.
I had warned my friend earlier, in a FaceBook exchange, that if he was going to define Modalism differently, he should give evidence why.  Well, he did define our faith differently from the manner in which we practice it; so, lets look at his definition, and his evidence for it.
My friend cites a Wikipedia reference (hardly a reliable authority): ... the nontrinitarian or anti-Trinitarian belief that the Heavenly Father, Resurrected Son, and Holy Spirit are three different modes or aspects of one monadic God, as perceived by the believer, rather than three distinct persons within the Godheadthat there are no real or substantial differences among the three, such that there is no substantial identity for the Spirit or the Son.” This is a definition that could have ONLY been written by an enemy of Modalism and could ONLY be accepted by one who is uneducated in historical and contemporary Modalistic Monarchianism.
Clear Anti-Modalist Biases: 
nontrinitarian or anti-Trinitarian ~ (The layman may misunderstand my point here.) Modalism is a viable form of Trinitarianism in many quarters. Even Sabellius used the term “trinity” as a label for his modalistic paradigm. Such an eminent Trinitarian scholar as Karl Barth blatantly and forcibly spurned the term “persons” for explaining the distinctions within the Godhead in favor of the term “modes.” Barth’s Church Dogmatics has been heralded as the Triumph of Sabellianism (Moltmann, Jürgen. The Trinity and the Kingdom: The Doctrine of God (Systematic Theology Contributions). Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 1993. 139.).
Resurrected Son, Modalism does not restrict the Son Mode of God to the resurrected Jesus. The mode of the Son of God began at the point of the Incarnation, i.e. Mary’s conception. (I can understand why Bishop Conn would choose this particular definition of Modalism to rebut, since he wants to allege that Modalism denies the human Christ’s existence beyond the Resurrection. But, his modalism is a false modalism that is not worthy of me capitalizing the word.)
no substantial identity for the Spirit or the Son. Modalism does, in fact, identify the distinctions between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. These distinctions do not constitute separate god-individuals; rather, offices/administration/modes are identified as being distinct one from the other.
Given that there are other, more favorable, definitions for Modalism in the academic reference sources, one wonders why my friend chose the one he did. All should agree that it is unwise to accept an enemies propaganda when at war. Therefore, to accept the Pluralists’ and Subordinationists’ description of Modalism, which position they hate and want to present in the worse possible light, is unwise. But to help spread the enemies’ propaganda is unconscionable. 
Britannica Encyclopedia would have been one of several sources for a unbiased definition of Modalism:
Monarchianism, in Christianity, a Christological position that opposed the doctrine of an independent, personal subsistence of the Logos and affirmed the sole deity of God the Father. Thus, it represented the extreme monotheistic view. Though it regarded Jesus Christ as Redeemer, it clung to the numerical unity of the deity. 
Modalistic Monarchianism took exception to the “subordinationism” of some of the Church Fathers and maintained that the names Father and Son were only different designations of the same subject, the one God, who “with reference to the relations in which He had previously stood to the world is called the Father, but in reference to his appearance in humanity is called the Son. ...” 
The negative, further, launched a tirade against Sequential Modalism. Never mind that our first paper expended considerable word capital in denying that Modalism has ever taught such a position. Pluralists and Subordinationists are fond of bringing this accusation against Modalism. It is unfounded, as far as this writer can tell. We have challenged Bishop Conn for over three years now to produce evidence from historical or contemporary writings where Sequential Modalism has been, or is now being, taught. He has yet, in spite of all this time, to produce one word of evidence from a verifiable source for Sequential Modalism. Like the fables of the Yeti and Sasquatch, there is a lot of hype but the evidence is still out there somewhere waiting to be found - maybe.
The negative’s attempt at evidence for Sequential Modalism consists of a few anecdotal narratives. First, how is this evidence? We asked for evidence and are given  unverifiable personal  testimony. Sorry, but anecdotal stories are not the type of evidence that will carry an argument.
(of an account) not necessarily true or reliable, because based on personal accounts rather than facts or research: while there was much anecdotal evidence there was little hard fact | these claims were purely anecdotal.

Bishop Conn’s Category Fallacy
If any Oneness believer would take the time to read Bishop Mike Conn’s second paper, the Bishop’s problem would be glaring. The Bishop’s trip-stick is a lacking in his understanding of the Dual Nature of Jesus. 
When he chides the Modalist for having one mode of God talking to another mode of God, it is the human Christ addressing the Father that my friend has in view.  But he is mistaken concerning the teaching of Modalism. 
Modalism recognizes the Dual Nature of Jesus. What Oneness believer was not taught is Sunday School that: Jesus was just as much God as though He were not man, and just as much man as though He were not God? (Truly, I was taught this by my junior class Sunday School teacher, Sister Sue Reeves. And, further, it was drilled into my brain in Wednesday night Bible class by my pastor, O. T. Cottrell.) So, then, when Jesus addresses the Father, He does so as the Son of Man, the human Christ, and not as Deity. Nowhere in Scripture do we find one mode of God speaking to another mode of God. This would require two minds in God. This the Bible does not give us. Bishop Conn has confused two categories: Deity and humanity. So, his error is a category fallacy.

Solution to My Friend’s Dilemma 
The solution to Bishop Conn’s dilemma is to embrace the doctrine of the Dual Nature of Jesus. Most Oneness teachers confess to believe in the Dual Nature, but may not have a full understanding of its function. The Dual Nature teaching helps the Bible student sort out when Jesus is functioning as God and when He is functioning as a man.  Because Jesus is both God and man, He has existence on these two planes simultaneously. Jesus Christ of Nazareth is a unique Being, produced by the Incarnation. We may know only the propositions of holy Scripture about Him; beyond that we must bow to the mystery that is the Incarnation. My friend Pastor Steve Epley wrote: “It is fine tweed linen and the separating of its threads is beyond my pay grade.” I might say the same.  
The conception of Mary’s baby was unique. (Mary did experience a real and true conception. I am not sure that my friend understands or even believes this. I say this because he wrote in his second paper:He was incubated in the womb of virgin Mary for nine months, ...” To be incubated is not the same as conceived. Is my friend attempting to say that Jesus was implanted into the womb of Mary? If so, Modalism objects in the strongest terms possible.) 
The conception that Mary experienced was on this wise: Luke 1:35 states: “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Jesus is called the “Son of God” by virtue of His conception in Mary’s womb. This conception, however, was like no other before it, or since. Commingled in the womb with the humanity from Mary was the God of the universe. When we speak of the preexistence of Jesus, we acknowledge that it is as God that He experienced that preexistence. The humanity contributed by Mary had existence only from the moment of conception. The unique individual produced by the miracle of the Incarnation possessed two totally separate and distinct ousie (essences, natures),  in one hypostasis (person). The Son of God is the incarnated Deity (i.e. the Father) enfleshed and commingled with humanity.  Paul wrote of it on this wise: Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, ...” (Romans 1:3-4). The conception of Jesus took place on two planes: according to the flesh, and according to the Spirit. Thus we know Him in His duality as 1. The Son of God when we speak of the divine origin, and also as 2. the Son of Man when we speak of his human origin.  (We observe that the term “Son of God” may also reference Jesus in His complete person as the God-man. Only the context determines how to understand the appellation of “Son of God.”)
Mary had a true conception. It was not an implantation. Gabriel announced to Mary, “And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, ...” (Luke 1:31). Likewise, the Angel instructed Joseph: “fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.” One cannot biblically deny that Mary had a true conception. That being true, there are some particulars about a conception that must have impacted on Mary’s case. For instance, at conception, typically, 23 chromosomes from the female combine with 23 chromosomes from the male to make a complete cell of 46 chromosomes. The commingling of these 46 chromosomes is called conception. From this one cell, the entire individual is made. Galatians 4:4 is an enlightening text at this point, “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman,” [“γενόμενον ἐκ γυναικός,”].  The Son of God was a product of Mary’s unique conception. No part of the product of Mary’s womb can be denied humanity, and no part can be denied deity, as a result of that unique conception. And yet the two ousie remained distinct, though bonded completely as one person. Since this writer is a traducianist, he understands that the human soul was provided by Mary in the conception. The human spirit possessed by Christ was provided by God, as is every human spirit to every human person. The human spirit is that God-nature (God-spark) in every man that lies dormant until he is born again. (When the Spirit of Yahweh commingled with the human spirit, to which it was kin, they two became one Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17); and it is that Spirit [of the Son] with which believers are indwelt—Galatians 4:6 ). Thusly, the humanity is complete: with a reasonable soul and spirit. 
According to this text, God’s Son was MADE (the Greek word is gennomai, i.e. wrought; Strong’s #G1096) of a woman. Therefore, it was the enfleshing of Almighty God in the virgin’s womb: the mingling of the Deity with the humanness of a human body, soul and spirit.  This text (Galatians 4:4) is important in that it identifies the Son of God as referencing the complete God-man as he is: both deity and humanity. Since the Incarnation (enfleshing) took place in the virgin womb of Mary, it is an honest observation to make that the Son of God was, in fact, “wrought” (gennomai) of a woman. 
Moreover, John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son.” When this text is compared to John 1:18 (i.e. “the only begotten God” NASB), it is clear that the entire Son, divine and human, was given for the sins of the world. Before one objects to the idea of God offering Himself, it must be pointed out that Calvary was the cutting of a very real blood covenant; a legitimate blood covenant requires the blood of all contracting parties. Since the sacrifice of the Son of God on the cross did, in fact, facilitate the required covenant, the sacrifice, Himself, had to be the federal head of both contracting parties: namely, God and Man. The wonder of wonders, and the love of all loves: The Creator-God of the universe (the ONE who reached into His tunic and from His bosom flung stars and their solar systems into space) condescended to the human plane and subjected Himself to generation in a virgin’s womb, so that the blood shed on the brow of Golgotha would be the blood of God, as well as the blood of Mankind (Acts 20:28). 
The earthly ministry of Jesus was, mostly, lived out in His humanity—on the human plane. However, there are times in holy Scripture when the curtain (so to speak) is drawn back, and we are permitted to view His deity. In the Gospels, at times Jesus acted and spoke as God: e.g. walking on the water, raising the dead, forgiving sins, proclaiming Himself to be the “I Am;” Jesus self identifies as the  “First and the Last,” and the “Alpha and Omega,” and raised Himself from the dead, etc.; most of the time, however, Jesus acted and spoke as a man. 
The following is a sampling of biblical propositions concerning Jesus. These are not contradictions, but demonstrations of His two planes of existence. 

Jesus is Omniscient (knows all): In His God Nature it is true (John 21:17; Jude 25); but in His Man Nature it is untrue (Mark 13:32; Rev 1:1). 

Jesus is Omnipotent (all powerful): In His God Nature it is true (Heb 1:3); but in His Man Nature it is untrue (John 14:28). 

Jesus is Omnipresent (everywhere at once): In His God Nature it is true (Matt 18:20; Jer 23:23); but in His Man Nature it is untrue (Matt 3:16; John 11:1-21). 

Jesus has All Authority: In His God Nature it is true (Col 2:10); but in His Man Nature it is untrue (1 Cor 11:3). 

Jesus is Lord of All: In His God Nature it is true (Acts 10:36); but in His Man Nature it is untrue (1 Cor 15:28). 

Jesus Resurrected Himself: In His God Nature it is true (John 2:19-21); but in His Man Nature it is untrue (Gal 1:1).

The conclusion of this, then, is that Jesus of Nazareth is both Almighty God and Man in one person, having existence on two planes at once: although the deity and humanity planes remain separate and distinct, the one from the other. 

My negative opponent did a masterful job in his first paper in establishing the need for a mediator between a righteous and holy God and sinful man. My friend, further, was correct is demonstrating that one mode of God could not mediate to another mode of God, for it would be God mediating to Himself. His error comes, however, into our discussion when he postulates that Modalism has just such a dilemma. There is no such confusion within Modalism because Modalism teaches that the Mediator for the fallen race is the “Man” Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5). Therefore, it is the human nature of Jesus (which acts independently from the God nature) that is the world’s mediator. Moreover, the Dual Nature of Jesus did not terminate with His resurrection, but continues to intercede at the throne with blood that speaks better things than that of Able’s (Hebrews 12:24).

Apostolically Speaking,
☩ David Ignatius

Friday, September 15, 2017

Modalistic Monarchianism


As agreed with Pastor Mike Conn, I here begin the first of three articles on the subject of Modalism, or, more correctly, Modalistic Monarchianism. This first article will be kept to under 3,000 words, as will the next two offerings. Therefore, in this first piece we will be setting forth the subject in its barest form and attempting to flesh it all out in the succeeding writings.
I must say in the very beginning that when we men attempt to bring the infinite into our finite realm of understanding, we will, ultimately, stand disappointed at the results of our efforts, no matter how Herculean. I do not expect our struggle here to be any different. However, it is a noble pursuit, and although we may never rise fully to the challenge of explaining the Deity, we may, at least bask in the aura of His being as we peer into His economy.
First, then, I will state my intentions:
To give the definition of Modalistic Monarchianism;
To show Modalistic Monarchianism to be the original orthodoxy of the Lord’s Church;
To show Modalistic Monarchianism to be the proper biblical paradigm for Godhead                               
I must warn our readers not to expect very many biblical references in this first article, as, here, we are introducing the historicity of the matter.

Modalistic Monarchianism Defined 
Labels are given to distinguish like things apart. This is seen to happen in the second and third centuries of the Church. Labels begin to appear for this teaching, or for that teaching, in order to segregate one thought from the other. Not until the appearance of rival doctrines concerning Christ and God upon the landscape of Christianity, did the Christian Biblical Hebraic-Christology have, or for that matter need a name. The term Modalistic Monarchianism was first used by Tertullian (that great coiner of phrases) in his writings against the same. (As is shown from Tertullian’s writings, the orthodox had a long use of the term “monarchy” for their belief in one only God.)  The Monarchian view of God was the dominant view up to, including, and beyond this time in history. (This is seen from statements made by both Origen and Tertullian.) The term “modalistic monarchianism” becomes visible at this time, not because it was a new teaching or an innovation to the Christian faith, but, because it was a label given to the orthodox faith now marked for eradication by those bringing in a new doctrine, couched in the logos-christology.
Since the Roman bishops “Zephyrinus and Callistus” (A.D. 198-222) “were… conservatives holding fast to a monarchy and tradition which ante-dated the whole movement of thought inaugurated by the Apologists” (J. N. D. Kelly), it is necessary to examine and define the original orthodoxy.
In religion a monarchian is one who believes in the monarchy of God. The word monarchian is taken from the two words mono, meaning one; and arc, meaning ruler. Thus, the monarchian is one who believes in one only ‘sentient’ Supreme Being. Monarchianism is the ONLY biblical monotheism. The term modal, which is the root of the word ‘modalistic’ or ‘modalist,’ simply means: mode. When expressing the Oneness view of God, one might say that they hold a Modalist view. This will tell us that they believe God is a one only sentient-being, existing in/with different administrations which are called modes: which the Christian faith calls Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
How can we maintain the Monarchian view of God presented in the Old Testament, and at the same time embrace the distinctions presented in the New Testament teaching of Father, Son and Holy Spirit? Enter the word “MODAL!” (From the word mode: a particular form or variety of something ; a form or manner of expression; a manifestation, form, or arrangement of being; a particular manifestation of an underlying substance. Modal: of or relating to structure as opposed to substance.) Therefore, we say that God is one only hypostasis (substance or being), who is manifested in and to His creation in different modes (ways of being), without altering His hypostasis (substance or being). Thus,  God exists “modally” as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit: with each mode (way of being) being homoousios: the same substance, essence or individual.
The three modes of Yahweh God’s existence are different in manifestation and administration, but it is the same one LORD God in each mode.  The one God, Who, with references to the relations in which He stands and reacts to the world, is called Father; but in reference to His appearance in humanity (the Incarnation), is called the Son; further, in reference to His presence in the lives of believers and the Church is called the Holy Spirit. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are different designations of the same subject—albeit in different administrations, functioning and interacting simultaneously.
To Sabellius, a Monarchian of the third century, has been accredited the following profound creedal statement:
We believe in one God, who is: 
The Father in creation;
The Son in redemption; and,
The Holy Spirit in emanation. 
 The administrations of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit are referenced as the “economy” of God. The present configuration of the deity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) serves as Yahweh’s economy to facilitate the redemption of a fallen creation. Each administration/office/mode has its particular function within the economy
. Modalism is the original orthodoxy of the Christian faith, and is the ancient term for what has been called “Oneness,” from the twentieth century onward.

II. Modalistic Monarchianism, The Original Orthodoxy of the Lord’s Church;
Given here is Tertullian’s account of the numerical superiority of the Monarchians, and the steadfastness of their position at the turn from the 2nd to the 3rd centuries: “To be sure, plain people, not to call them ignorant and common – of whom the greater portion of believers is always comprised – in as much as the rule of faith withdraws them from the many gods of the heathen world to the one true God, shrink back from the economy” (the economical trinity) “they are constantly throwing out the accusation that we preach two gods and three gods… .  We hold, they say, the monarchy” (Against Parxeas ch III). 
It is further verified that Modalistic Monarchianism dominated the first, second and third centuries by such a venerated witness as the Most Eminent Cardinal John Henry Newman of England (1801-1890): “Noetus was in Asia Minor, Praxeas taught in Rome, Sabellius in Africa.  ... their doctrine prevailed among the common people, then and at an earlier date, to a very great extent, ...” (Essays and Sketches, Vol I, Primitive Christianity 5:2). 
Supporting the testimony of Cardinal Newman is the witness of The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, which also declares that Modalistic Monarchianism was in the majority in the 3rd and 4th centuries (Newman: “and at an earlier date”). It states, “Monarchianism, identified the Father, Son and Spirit so completely that they were thought of only as different aspects ... of the one Divine Person, called now Father, now Son, now Spirit, ... , almost succeeded in establishing itself in the 3rd century as the doctrine of the church at large…. In the early years of the 4th century, the Logos-Christology, in opposition to dominant Sabellian tendencies, ran to seed in what is known as Arianism….” (I.S.B.E., Heading “Trinity” section 22.) Notice that the I.S.B.E. acknowledges Sabellianism (which is Modalistic Monarchianism) as the DOMINANT theology in the 4th century. This would make Modalistic Monarchianism the orthodox theology at the time of the Council of Nicæa (A.D. 325). 
The priority and preeminent position of Monarchianism is underlined by the writing of the renowned Professor Adolf von Harnack (1851-1930): “Modalism, as we now know from the Philosophumema [writings of Hippolytus], was ... the official theory in Rome. ... was embraced by the great majority of Christians,  ...  the sympathies of the vast majority of the Roman Christians, so far as they could take any part in the dispute, were on the side of the Monarchians, and even among the clergy only a minority supported Hippolytus. ... Bishop Zephyrine, advised by the prudent Callistus, was himself disposed, like Victor, his predecessor, to the Modalistic views; ...” (Harnack, History of Dogma Vol III)

III. Modalistic Monarchianism, A Biblical Paradigm 
It has been my experience that those who say there is a difference between Oneness and Modalism theologies have little or no knowledge of Modalism; or, worse yet, have accepted Trinitarian definitions of Modalism.
Some Trinitarian writers claim that the Modalism of the early centuries of the Church taught Sequential Modalism. This same group of writers wants to postulate that the doctrine of Modalism was formulated by one Sabellius. Both accusations are untrue.
These writers also postulate that Sabellius, himself, taught Sequential Modalism—that when God became the Son, He was no longer the Father; and now that He is the Holy Spirit He is no longer the Father or the Son. What we know is that this was not the opinion of Modalists earlier than Sabellius; and we only have Sabellius’ enemies’ word for what he taught. This writer, for one, does not believe Sabellius taught the doctrine of Sequential Modalism.
To Sabellius, the Modalistic Monarchian of the third century, has been accredited the following profound creedal statement:
We believe in one God, who is: 
The Father in creation;
The Son in redemption; and,
The Holy Spirit in emanation. 
When we consider this statement, coming to us from the ancient Modalistic faith, we find it an exact paradigm for the Oneness faith of the 20th and 21st centuries,:
WE BELIEVE IN ONE GOD: “Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God is one LORD” —Deuteronomy 6:4. “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” —1 Timothy 2:5.
FATHER IN CREATION: “Have we not all one father? Hath not one God created us?” —Malachi 2:10.
THE SON IN REDEMPTION: “In that day, saith the LORD (YHWH), ... They shall look upon me whom they have pierced ...” —Zechariah 12:4, 10. “the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him” John 1:18 NASB. “… feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood” —Acts 20:28. “… Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in the fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” —Philippians 2:5–8.
THE HOLY SPIRIT IN EMANATION: “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:” ( John 15:26). “… The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee:” —Luke 1:35.
Moreover, the following sentence is attributed to Sabellius by Athanasius: “As there are diversities of spiritual gifts, but the same spirit, so also the Father is the same, but unfolds himself in Son and Spirit” (Orat. c. Arian IV. 25).
Between modern Oneness and ancient Modalism, there may be a shade of difference in the understanding of the phrase “Son of God.” Modern Oneness theology has a tendency to view the Son as ONLY the humanity of Christ (this writer understands the term “Son of God” to be referencing the person of Jesus as He is: the God-man.), while the Modalists of the second and third centuries seemed to have been willing to call the incarnated God the Son of God (as does this author), because He was God that had undergone generation. This view is reflected in the Greek text (Greek New Testament) of John 1:18 where John calls Jesus “monogenēs theos;” English: “only begotten God.” The simple biblical truth is this: One God-being has manifested Himself to His creation in three modes: As the Father in creation, as the Son in redemption, and as the Holy Spirit in emanation and sanctification. These modes exist simultaneously!
The present economy of the Deity is not eternal; the mode (administration) of the Son did not manifest until Bethlehem, and will end at some point in eternity future (though the person of Jesus, the God-man, is eternal). Though the Holy Spirit has always been the “Power of the Highest,” since Pentecost A.D. 30 the world has been under the dispensation of the Holy Spirit. Both the office/administration/mode of the Son and the office/administration/mode of the Holy Spirit will be assumed into the locus of the Deity at some point in the future, and God will be what He was in the beginning—God: the All in All.
As a Modalist bishop, I want to lovingly correct the mistaken view that is current today concerning Modalism. Modalism NEVER has taught, and does not today teach, or believe in Sequential Modalism, as our enemies assert.  This is ONLY the accusation of Pluralists and Subordinationists against Modalism. It is sad that so many Oneness persons have bought into the lie, and are shying away from using this most ancient term to classify their theology.
All Modalists of the early centuries of Christianity, and since, believed, and still believe, taught, and continue to teach, Simultaneous Modalism. When the Father was incarnate in, and as, the Son, He did not cease being the Father; now that God is also manifested as the Holy Spirit, He has not stopped being the Father and the Son. 
Three ancient views found within Monarchianism that Modalistic Monarchians denounce are: 1. Dynamic Monarchianism, which, in its most common position, holds that Jesus was not God until His baptism (also called Adoptionism), and 2. Sequential Modalism that taught that when God became the Son, He was no longer the Father, and now that He is the Holy Spirit, He is no longer the Father or the Son (this position only existed in the minds of Pluralists), and 3. Apollinarianism, which taught that Jesus did not possess a human soul, thereby, denying the Dual Nature of Christ (This teaching shows up today in the poorer educated branches of Oneness Pentecostals called “Jesus Only.”). 
Modalistic Monarchianism is unlikely to have been intended in the anathemas of the creeds; but if it was, it was overreach. This can be asserted with a certain amount of confidence, since Modalistic Monarchianism (called Sabellianism by many today) has been the rescuer of Orthodoxy from subordinationism at least three different times in history: first at Nicæa (A.D. 325), again in the 19th century, against Unitarianism in America, through Moses Stuart, then again in the 20th century by the Swiss theologian Karl Barth. It is the Modalistic understanding of the Trinity that keeps that doctrine from going over the precipice and into the abyss of tritheism.
There is much talk about the difference between Modalism and Oneness theologies. This writer wishes to go on record as stating there is no REAL difference. As in all theological paradigms different “laymen” have different ways of explaining their particular views; so, because of this, there may appear to be a difference when, in truth, there is none.
Many have asked why I favor and promote the term “Modalism” over the term “Oneness.” Well, I will tell you clearly: The term “Oneness” is a twentieth century term that has come to be associated with 20th century Pentecostalism (not to be confused with 1st century apostolicism), which has allowed itself to be associated with such non-biblical practices as: regulating the dress and personal appearances of both men and women as a test of salvation, removing the apostolic headcovering of the women (a Religious Article of Clothing [RAC]) and replacing it with long uncut hair which is a clear and present innovation to Church dogma, the insistence on a belief in pre-millennialism for ministerial fellowship, and their non-sacramental position on the Eucharist. Modalism, on the other hand, is a term that goes back to the early centuries of the Church (and is truly apostolic) and does not carry with it the stigma of the items mentioned. The cognomen of “Modalism” moves us beyond the 20th century Oneness Pentecostal movement, historically, to the apostolic age of the Church and is a step in the direction of reclaiming the historicity of our faith.

Apostolically Speaking
☩ David Ignatius

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Reasonably Termed the Father (Commentary on The Apostolic Creed)

“Thereby, and because of creation, reasonably termed the Father.”

Idea of “FATHER” is one of progenitor, nourisher, protector and upholder. In the Old Testament the
concept of Yahweh as Father is not as fully developed as in the New Testament; although, He is acknowledged as such by the Psalmist (68:5; 89:26), and the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah (see Isa 9:6; 63:16; 64:8 and Jer 3:19; 31:9 respectively). Moreover, the New Testament magnified His capacity as creator, nourisher, protector, and upholder of all things in heaven and earth, both visible and invisible (Col 1:16), by His eternal Word (see John 1:1-3 and Heb 11:3 respectively). God’s Fatherhood is abundantly demonstrated in both Testaments.
This fact sets the deity of the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures apart from the deity of the Islamic Qur’an. Of the much touted names of Allah in the Qur’an, not one of them is Father. It is acknowledged that for God to be one’s Father implies relationship. Therefore, the God of the Bible is a God of relationship, unlike the god of the Qur’an, who is impersonal and un-relational.
The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews writes of the Father-hood of God on this wise: “Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?” (Heb 12:9; cf Zech 12:1). The prophet Malachi acknowledges one Father, who is the one God that created us (Mal 2:10). Congruent with all this is the apostle Paul, who writes: “But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things,…” (1 Cor 8:6). Therefore, the Creed states correctly that because of His acts of creation, it is reasonable to term (call) the one solitary God, the Father.
“The Father is He to whom all that exists owes its origin. He is in Christ; and through Christ, He is the source of all things. Moreover, His existence is existence in itself, and He does not derive His existence from anywhere else. Rather, from Himself, and in Himself, He possesses the actuality of His being. He is infinite because He, Himself, is not contained in something else, and all else is within Him. He is always beyond location, because He is not contained; always before the ages, because time comes from Him.… God, however, is present everywhere; and everywhere He is totally present.

Here Bishop Hayes is teaching on the term, Father, as that term is related to God.

“Thus, He transcends the realm of understanding. Outside of Him there is nothing, and it is eternally His characteristic that He shall always exist. This is the truth of the mystery of God, And of the impenetrable nature which this name Father expresses; God is invisible, unutterable, and infinite. In His presence, let a word about to be spoken remain silent; let a mind attempting to investigate admit it’s weariness; let an understanding which attempts to comprehend admit its own limitation. Yet, He has, as we have said, in the word Father a name to indicate His nature; but He is Father as such. For He does not, as humans do, receive His Fatherhood from elsewhere. He Himself is unbegotten and eternal; and it is His property, eternally in Himself, that He shall always be.” (Hilary of Poitiers, A.D. 310-367)

Apostolically Speaking
Mar David Ignatius

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Sunday, August 13, 2017

By The Breath Of His Mouth (Commentary On The Apostolic Creed)

“That is to say: By the breath of His mouth.

Because of error, that has found its way into the Lord’s church, it was necessary to not only profess One God, but to define what the Scriptures mean by ONE (see lines 1 and 2). So, too, here. Because of false teaching concerning the “Word,” it is necessary for the Creed to set forth what the Scriptures mean by this term. Here, in line 5, the Creed defines the “Word” of God as “the breath of His mouth.” In this statement the Creed militates against the logos-christology of all Pluralists.
The logos-christology, that found purchase in Christianity from the late 3rd century and onward, originated in the theological philosophy of Plato (Greek philosopher 428-348 B.C.). Logos-christology makes the “Word” (Greek: logos) a separate person from God the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Space will not allow an exhaustive examination of the logos theology, however a few comments on the subject are necessary at this point. As stated, logos-christology sees the logos (Word) as a separate person (individual) from God the Father, and has come into Christianity from pagan thought, in point of fact: from Plato by way of Philo (first century Jewish Platonic philosopher) and the early Christian (so-called) Apologists (so-called) such as Justin Martyr.
Plato (fourth century B.C.) taught that God the first principle was, Himself, too holy to personally come into contact with a universe of matter, so He brought into existence, as His first creation, god the second principle, whom Plato called the logos (translated in our English Bibles as “word”). God the first principle delegated creation of the physical universe to the logos (god the second principle). Once the universe was created by the logos, according to Plato, both god the first principle and god the second principle (logos) brought into existence a third entity whom Plato called the world spirit.
This concept of the godhead was current in the pagan world in which Christ's church found itself. Contemporaneous to Christ was one Philo of Alexandria, Egypt: a Platonic Jewish philosopher. This Philo saw the Jewish Messiah pre-shadowed in Plato’s logos concept of god the second principle. It must be pointed out that Philo was a non-Christian, who had a profound effect upon later generations of Christians, who would become apostate from Biblical-Christology.
The logos concept of Plato required one more step to infect Christianity; this needed step was found in the early Christian Apologists, of whom Justin Martyr is a prime example. Justin (A.D. 100-165) was a Platonic philosopher who continued to wear the philosopher’s habit, as a Christian preacher. (Justin was not representative of the Christianity of his time. According to his own testimony, he was not associated with any Christians other than those who sought him out as a philosopher. 
(Justin Martyr and Companions: Justin Martyr Is Questioned About Christian Meetings
"Where do you assemble?" Rusticus proceeded.
“Wherever we want to and are able to," Justin replied. "Do you imagine that we all meet in the same place? Not so! The God of the Christians is not limited to a location. He is invisible, and he fills heaven and earth. Therefore, he is worshipped and glorified everywhere by the faithful."
Rusticus sighed. This was no angry prefect. He was not the least bit interested in Justin's speech. "Just tell me where you personally assemble. In other words, in what place do you, Justin, gather your followers?"
"I live above a man named Martin, at the Timiotinian Bath." Justin paused, then, knowing what the next question would be, he continued, "During the entire time I've lived here, because I'm now living in Rome for the second time, I don't know about any other meetings. I've simply taught the truth to anyone willing to come to me."
Justin saw Christianity as the fruition of Platonism, and preached Christ (Messiah) according to the understanding of Philo. Justin called Jesus the “second god.” Through Justin Martyr, and others of his time and philosophy, logos-christology came to the fore in post-apostolic thought.
When John wrote that all things were made by the Word, it was not the logos of Plato, nor of Plato’s student, Philo, that he had in mind. It is clear that John is writing to combat this false christology, for he opens his gospel with words that strike a fatal blow to this heresy. Plato, Philo, and one Cerinthus 
(Eusebius, Church History: Chapter XXVIII.—Cerinthus the Heresiarch.
1. We have understood that at this time Cerinthus, the author of another heresy, made his appearance. Caius, whose words we quoted above, in the Disputation which is ascribed to him, writes as follows concerning this man:
2. “But Cerinthus also, by means of revelations which he pretends were written by a great apostle, brings before us marvelous things which he falsely claims were shown him by angels; and he says that after the resurrection the kingdom of Christ will be set up on earth, and that the flesh dwelling in Jerusalem will again be subject to desires and pleasures. And being an enemy of the Scriptures of God, he asserts, with the purpose of deceiving men, that there is to be a period of a thousand years for marriage festivals.”
3. And Dionysius, who was bishop of the parish of Alexandria in our day, in the second book of his work On the Promises, where he says some things concerning the Apocalypse of John which he draws from tradition, mentions this same man in the following words:
4. “But (they say that) Cerinthus, who founded the sect which was called, after him, the Cerinthian, desiring reputable authority for his fiction, prefixed the name. For the doctrine which he taught was this: that the kingdom of Christ will be an
earthly one.
5. And as he was himself devoted to the pleasures of the body and altogether sensual in his nature, he dreamed that that kingdom would consist in those things which he desired, namely, in the delights of the belly and of sexual passion, that is to say, in eating and drinking and marrying, and in festivals and sacrifices and the slaying of victims, under the guise of which he thought he could indulge his appetites with a better grace.”
6. These are the words of Dionysius. But Irenæus, in the first book of his work Against Heresies, gives some more abominable false doctrines of the same man, and in the third book relates a story which deserves to be recorded. He says, on the authority of Polycarp, that the apostle John once entered a bath to bathe; but, learning that Cerinthus was within, he sprang from the place and rushed out of the door, for he could not bear to remain under the same roof with him. And he advised those that were with him to do the same, saying, “Let us flee, lest the bath fall; for Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is within.”) 
taught that the logos had a beginning as the first creation of God the first principle; but, John’s first salvo is “In the beginning was the Word (logos).” To John the logos did not have a beginning, the logos was eternal—had always been. Secondly, John was a Jew who knew and confessed the Shema. To him God was a radical one. When he wrote that the “logos was God,” one may be confident that he did not mean “a god” or “another god” or “also god.” To John there was but one God: namely, the Father. The logos was that God.
Whereas, logos-christology understands the Word to be a personal being, separate and distinct from God the Father, who is ALSO God (second god, says Justin Martyr), the Modalist theol-ogy of the Creed defines the Word, by which the one God created, to be the breath of the Father’s mouth. This is not just so much Modalistic interpretation—it is the word of God! To show that this is not just so much bluster, one is directed to see Psalms 33:6, where the Psalmist writes: “By the word of the LORD (YHWH) were the heavens made; And all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.”
The true disciple of Christ will permit the Bible to interpret itself. Whereas John, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, writes that all things were created by the Word, the Psalmist explains that it was by “the breath of his mouth.” The difference in the logos-christology of Justin (originating from Plato and Philo and showing up in the pluralism of the Arians and later Trinitarians), and the Hebraic-Christology of the bible, is this: In logos-christology the logos (Word) is the second person of the Godhead, while in Hebraic-Christology (which is held by Modalistic Monarchians) the logos (Word) is the speaking of God, i.e. “the breath of his mouth.” Truly, this is the narrative of Genesis where Yahweh created by saying; “Let there be!” (Genesis 1:6, 9, 14, 20, 24.)

To attempt any other understanding of the “Word” leads to an unending world of confusions. For example, consider John 1:1. A question would be asked the one who believes Plato’s logos theory:
In John 1:1 who is the God that was with the logos? The answer would most likely be: The Father.  Accepting the answer, let us read the text in that light, substituting the word Father for the word God: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with the Father, and the Word was the Father.” Immediately the Pluralist would object because that is not his theology, at all. So, we would try again by asking the same question:  Who is the God that was with the logos (Word)? This time, perhaps, we get a new, and, hopefully, better answer: The God that was with the logos, we are told, was the Trinity. Accepting this second answer, let us then read the text of John 1:1, substituting the word Trinity for the word God: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with the Trinity, and the Word was the Trinity.” Again, immediately, foul is called: because neither is this his theology.
Here, are the horns of the dilemma upon which the Pluralist, whether Arian or Trinitarian, finds himself tossed back and forth. On the first horn, if God is understood to be the Father, then the Word is proven to be the Father. Since pluralism demands the Word to be a separate god-person from the Father, this horn proves too sharp, and off it comes. However, finding itself impaled upon the second horn is even less desirable, for if the God of the text is the Trinity, then the Word is Not. That is to say, the Word is said to be “with” the Trinity (alongside of the Trinity, or as Pluralists of every stripe like to say: “face to face with...”); therefore, not a component of the Trinity. Compounding the confusion is the statement that “the Word was God,” which, according to the Pluralist, is the Trinity. This is the third horn upon which the Pluralist is impaled. Either of these three horns proves too sharp for such an unscriptural understanding of logos—the Word.
Such a dilemma is avoided by accepting the Holy Bible’s interpretation of the Creating-Word as is masterfully presented by the Psalmist: “By the word of the LORD (YHWH) were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth” (Ps 33:6).  It is interesting and edifying to read John 1:1 in the light of this biblical truth. The paraphrasing of John 1:1: In the beginning was the breath of God’s mouth, and the breath of God’s mouth was with God, and the breath of God’s mouth was God. The reader will see that this works perfectly well with all the Scriptures say about God and His Word. A man and his word are one – how much more God; a man and his word cannot be separated – how much less God!

Apostolically Speaking
Mar David Ignatius

If the Bishop's ministry has been a blessing to you, please make a donation at the link provided here. In this way you will help this ministry to continue its work. Thank you.