Friday, January 17, 2014

Modalism, Simultaneous or Sequential?

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 as a label for their faith. Or, they have accepted Trinitarian definitions of Modalism.

Some Trinitarian writers, I will not say scholars, claim that the Modalism of the early centuries of the Church taught a position of sequential modalism. This same group of writers want to postulate that the doctrine of Modalism was formulated by Sabellius. Both accusations are untrue.

These writers also postulate that Sabellius taught sequential modalism - that when God became the Son He was not the Father, 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 earlier Modalism, and we only have Sabellius' enemies for what he taught. I, for one, do not believe Sabellius taught such a doctrine.

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, while (at least some) Modalist of the second and third centuries seem to have been willing to call the incarnated Father the Son of God, 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 “monogen─ôs theos;” English: “only begotten God. (Text: NKJVmg; RSVmg; NREV; ESV; NSAB; NIV (TNIV); NEBmg; NJBmg; NAB; NLT; HCSBmg.) 

The simple biblical truth is this: One God-being has manifested Himself to His creation in three modes: As the Father in creation, in the Son in redemption, and as the Holy Spirit in emanation and sanctification. These modes exist simultaneously.

The three modes are not eternal; the mode of the Son did not manifest until Bethlehem and will end at some point in eternity future. Though the Holy Spirit has always been the "Power of the Highest," since Pentecost AD 30 the world has been in the dispensation of the Holy Spirit. Both the office of Son and Holy Spirit will be re-assumed into the one office of God at some point in the future and God will be what He was in the beginning - God: All in All.

As a Modalist bishop, I want to lovingly correct the mistaken view that is current today concerning Modalism. Modalism NEVER has and does not today teach or believe in Sequential Modalism as our enemies assert.  This is ONLY the accusation of Trinitarianism against Modalism. It is sad that so many Oneness persons have bought into the Trinitarian lie and are shying away from using this most ancient term  to classify their theology.

Sabellius was accused of Sequential Modalism; but, it has never been proven, nor can be, because anything we have of his teaching is filtered through the poisoned pens of his enemies. Even if we give the Trinitarians the benefit of the doubt and allow that Sabellius did teach a Sequential Modalism, it is quickly pointed out that he was excommunicated by the Modalist Bishop of Rome, one Callixtus. We would agree that any such teaching as Sequential Modalism would be heresy.

All Modalist of the early centuries of Christianity - and since - believed/believe and taught/teach 

Simultaneous Modalism. Modalism does not now. nor ever did, teach Sequential Modalism. This is a misnomer created by our opponents. Modalism has always believed in Simultaneous Modalism. When the Father was incarnate in 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. Just as h2o can exist in the mode of liquid, solid, and vapor without altering the underlying substance of h2o, so too God.

On Sabellianism and Sabellius:
Sabellius was a Modalist, yes, that is true. In the early centuries of the Church people had different ways of explaining Modalism, just like today people have different ways of explaining Trinitarianism. Because Sabellius was such a successful teacher of Modalism his name came to be applied to any and all positions of the Godhead that advocated Jesus as the one God in opposition to subordinationism. Consequently, then, "Sabellianism" became a  catch word for all types of Christological concepts that acknowledged Jesus as the One True God. Therefore, it must be acknowledged that just because some weird and strange teaching is called Sabellianism does not imply that Sabellius, himself, taught it.

Sabellius attempted to take the teachings of older modalists and frame it in the scientific language of the then developing trinity. He even employed the word trinity to describe his theology; I think, because it was the buss-word of his day.

Both Sabellius and Tertullian [who coined both words: Modalism and Trinity] were from North Africa. It is easy to get the Economical Trinity, of Tertullian, and the Modalism of Sabellius, mixed up. At first appearance, they sound very much alike. 

There is much talk about the difference between Modalism and Oneness. I want 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.

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 title that has come to be associated with 20th century apostolic-ism (not to be confused with 1st century apostolic-ism) which is, itself, associated with such non-biblical practices as regulating the dress and personal appearances of both men and women as a test of salvation;  the insistence on a belief in pre-millennialism for fellowship; and the 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), which moves us beyond the 20th century interlopers that wish to claim the title of "apostolic."

Peace to your houses.
☩ Jerry Hayes

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The Three Horsemen of Dispensationalism

The Three Horsemen of Dispensationalism

As each of you know by now, a concept of the Kingdom of God has laid hold on me in a hard and fast manner, which is somewhat different from the view that is commonly held by most Pentecostal authorities. (Of course, I mention Pentecostal authorities, because, for the past several generations our family has been a very large part of that particular movement.) However, history testifies that the common view (in most Pentecostal and mainline Evangelical churches), now called Dispensationalism, is actually rather new, and therefore neo-orthodox, to say nothing of not being apostolic. The apostolic view of the Mystery of God (see Rev. 10:7), as it was believed by most Christians before the American Civil War, was the view of Kingdom Theology, as I have now come to embrace. It seems that the present view of Dispensationalism took root in American evangelicalism and spread throughout the world by means of Evangelical missionary activity. 

Before the American Civil War (1861-65) most Christian bodies viewed God’s plan for the ages (the Mystery of God–Rev 10:7) as that of Kingdom dominion: namely, the converting of the world to Christ Jesus! However, this particular war (which took the lives of more Americans than all other wars, even up to this present time) fought by our nation, where the Christian North and the Christian South killed one another in such wholesale manner, caused the religious teachers to rethink their position on the Kingdom of God. The world, to them, was not getting better, but worse. It appeared that the end was near, and Christ would surely return soon. About this time, an English minister by the name of  John Nelson Darby (Plymouth Brethren) first popularized the view now called Dispensationalism.

Coming on the heels of the American Civil War was the Great War (1915-1917), or World War One, as it came to be called after the Second World War (1941-1945). These two great world conflicts seemed to give validity to Dispensationalism’s call for the imminent and physical return of Christ, and the appearing of the Antichrist. It was in the midst of all this that an American Bible expositor by the name of Cyrus I. Scofield wrote his famous Study Bible which carries his name, to this very day. Mr. Scofield’s Study Bible contains notes that are both Dispensational and Calvinistic. This particular study source was widely used by evangelical preachers and Bible colleges throughout the last half of the twentieth century.  (My first serious Bible-study tool was a Scofield Study Bible, given to me by my pastor. I think the year was 1962.) Giving a visual concept to dispensationalism was Clarence Larkin, of Philadelphia. Larkin was an Episcopalian mechanical engineer, turned Baptist minister, who employed his skill as a professional draftsman to give Dispensationalism a visual concept.  Adding to this has been the troubled events of the world for the last fifty, or so; years that have been touted as the “signs of the times,” which presage the end of time.

Though this may seem like sound reasoning at first thought, when one applies oneself to rightly dividing the Scripture, it seems far more likely that the shaking and trembling of the earth, for the last 150 (or so) years, are not signs of the end.  Instead, they should more correctly be understood as birth pangs of something new—namely, the consummation of the Kingdom of God.

In this consummation of God’s Kingdom, the earth will be united under the theocracy of the one true God of Heaven. All men will live in a community of peace and love as set forth by the New Testament. The New Testament has many names for this community which we will discuss later. To arrive at that place, the Church should begin now to establish micro communities throughout the earth. These communities should be established on the principle of Christian order, under Christ as the one and only Principality.

                                John Nelson Darby, Born Nov 18, 1800, Died April 29, 1882

                                      Cyrus I. Scofield, Born Aug 19, 1843; Died July 24, 1921

                                          Clarence Larkin, Born Oct 28, 1850; Died Jan 24, 1924

With Darby’s theology, Scofield’s Study Bible,  and Larkin’s drawings, American evangelicalism  was in position to spread Dispensationalism around the world.