Saturday, July 11, 2015

HOW IS GOD ONE?

Own this classic debate. Just click on the link at the end of this article.
Own this classic debate. Just click on the link at the end of this article.

Monotheism 

In a study of the Godhead, there must first be a clear definition of the terms being used. This becomes especially important in any kind of discussion, but particularly when the biblical view of the deity is concerned. A classic example of this is found in the understanding, or I should say the different understandings of the term, MONOTHEISM. Monotheism is defined as the doctrine, or belief, that there is but one God. Of all world religions only three profess themselves monotheistic: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, respectively. For the purpose of our study we will exclude Islam and consider only the first and the second, namely, Judaism and Christianity.
Since the Christian faith sprang from the cradle of the Hebrew faith, it would only seem logical that Christianity would maintain the monotheistic teachings of her spiritual Hebrew forefathers. While we hold this to be the fact in true Christianity, we must recognize a mutated form of monotheism that has appeared and spread through the ranks of Christendom to the point that it is today considered by the majority as being orthodox. This corrupted form of monotheism, unlike the true monotheism of the Hebrew prophets, declares God to be a compound One. By "compound" is meant: composed of, or resulting from union of separate elements, ingredients, of parts. This teaching, called the Trinity, confesses to believe in One God made up of three separate and distinct elementsnamely, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. These different elements are freely termed by the Trinitarian as Persons. The Trinity laity would even say, Beings. Here the term ONE has been redefined to no longer refer to the cardinal numeral, but instead to a compound one.

A Compound One?

Trinitarianism was a late comer to the Christian landscape (3rd to 5th century). Reaching final codification in the Athanasian Creed (between 5th and 7th century). This late arrival is a compromise between Christianity's original orthodoxy of Modalism and the Arian challenger in the third and fourth centuries. Finding a place between the radical monotheism of Modalism and the subordinationism of Origin, Justin Martyr, and Arius, is Trinitarianism which confesses a semi-monotheism of three God-persons who are co-equal, and co-eternal. The oneness here is a compound one. A one God comprised of three units/elements/components - called persons. Each person being fully God. Each person is totally independent from the other two, yet completely united in purpose and will. Therefore, when this view speaks of its monotheism, it is not speaking of one sentient Being; but, instead it means to say that God is a compound one - not a solitary one.
Thus, any discussion on the subject of the Godhead, in order to be fruitful, must include an investigation into the legality of the definition one uses for the word: 'ONE.' Thus, the CRUX of the mater: Do the Scriptures which teach that God is One mean to say God is One in a SOLITARY sense? Or, do the scriptures which teach that God is One intend to teach God is One in a COMPOUND sense?
The First Commandment: The Hebrew concept of God is clearly seen in the Shema Israel, “HEAR, O ISRAEL: THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD.” (Deuteronomy 6:4). The ONE, here referred to, is a Solitary, not a Compound, One. We do see this beyond question in Deuteronomy 32:39. Let us look closely at this scripture.
Deuteronomy 32:39 See now that I, even I, am he, and there is not God with me, I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal; neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.
Here the spokesman is Yahweh (Deuteronomy 32:19), Who alone is the Most High (Psalms 83:18). Who speaks of Himself as a single Being.
  1. “I” (Hebrew: aniy) first person singular personal pronoun.
  2. “He” (Hebrew: huw) third person masculine singular personal pronoun.
  3. “With me” (Hebrew immade) it is the preposition ‘immad’ suffixed with the first person singular personal pronoun. The personal pronouns in an abbreviated form are affixed to nouns, prepositions, etc, to express the genitive and objective cases. THEREFORE, THE OBJECT OF THE PREPOSITION IS A SINGLE PERSON.
  4. “My hand” (Hebrew: meyade) it is the noun “yad” suffixed with the first person singular possessive pronoun. THE HAND WAS THE POSSESSION OF ONE PERSON.
  5. All the verbs of this verse are the first person singular form. In Hebrew the verb must agree with its subject in number and gender.
Thus, the Divine person, in this verse, spoke of Himself as a single person and stated that no other person of deity existed.
It is abundantly clear that Hebrew Monotheism was a believe in one solitary God. It was not an understanding of “one” in a compound sense. To believe in God as a solitary being is of so much importance that Jesus taught it to be the first of all commandments. When Jesus was asked, by a young man, which of the Commandments was the first of all, he was told by Christ that the first commandment was “Here O, Israel the Lord Our God Is One Lord.” (Mark 12:29).

A Solitary "One!"

Heis, The Masculine "One"
Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. (Mark 12:29)
In Mark 12:29 the Greek word John used, to put Jesus’ statement concerning God’s number into Greek, is the Greek masculine word for “one.” This word is “heis.”
The use of this particular word is very important in our study of the true meaning for the term “one,” as this term relates to God.
The interest here lies in the fact that this word, “heis,” did not have to be used. Other Greek words for “one” could have been employed, such as “hen” “tis,” or even “mia.” There are reasons why the particular word “heis,” and not any other words for one, is used to describe the number of God. For example, “mia” could not have been used because it is of the feminine gender. If the word “mia’” was used it would mean that God was feminine. The word “hen” could not have been used because it is of the neuter gender; if “hen” would have been used it would mean that God was a compound one (Trinitarians really need this word to be in Mark 12:29 - it is not!). The choice of the masculine “heis” is descriptive of just how God is one. The following is a list of scholars and their comments on the Greek masculine “one.”
Joseph Henry Thayer: “Heis” means the cardinal numeral ONE. Where the word “heis” takes the place of a predicate it means one person. (Page 186. A Greek, English Lexicon of the New Testament.)
Mr. A. T. Robertson: “One,” when masculine (heis) sets forth the idea of the cardinal numeral “one.” When referring to people or beings, ALWAYS the numeral “one” is implied. (Page 186 vol 5; pages 526 and 527, vol 4; page 299 vol 4. Word Pictures of the Greek New Testament.)
Bauer: The masculine “one” (heis) means, A single; only one. (Page 230 Bauer’s Greek Lexicon.)
Gingrich: The masculine “one,” (heis), is equivalent to ‘protos’ which means ‘first’. Only one; single. (Page 57, Shorter Lexicon of the Greek New Testament).
The amazing truth is that “heis” is found 93+ times in the New Testament relating only to people, and never is this word used for more that one person, Never!
The importance of the Greek masculine “ONE” being used by John for the words of Jesus (Mark 12:29) is this: The LORD God of Israel is said to be One Person.

Hen - The Neuter “One”
As has already been stated, the neuter “one’ (hen) is the word used when a compound “one” is in view. It would seem that this word would be very important to the Trinitarian doctrine of the compound one. It is this Greek word that is used when a number of things, or beings are said to be one, such as a husband and wife, etc. Let us look to the scholars of the Greek language for a better understanding of this word:
Robert Young: “One’ when neuter means “one thing.” (Page 719 Young’s Analytical Concordance of the Bible.)
Joseph Henry Thayer: “One” when neuter means, to be UNITED in one will or spirit. (Page 186 and 187, A Greek-english Lexicon of the New Testament.)
Archibald Thomas Robertson: “One” when neuter shows a unity; a oneness of identity. (Page 526, vol. 4; page 186 vol 5, Word Pictures of the Greek New Testament.)
William Edwy Vine: “One” when neuter may be used to show a numeral one of a thing, or it may be used to show UNITY of more than someone or thing.
The form of the numeral used when two or more persons are said to exist as “one” is the nominative neuter form “hen.” This is very pronounced in the following scriptures:
John 11:52 And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather unto one (hen) the children of God that were scattered broad.” ∼ In this text we are told that many people are to be made ONE. Therefore, it is the nominative neuter from of the word “one” which is used. “HEN” would have been the only proper word in this case.
Corinthians 3:6-8 “I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he that planteth is anything, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase. Now He that planteth and he that watereth are one (hen).” ∼ In this passage, the word “one” is “hen,” because two people are said to be one in the sense of UNITY.
Ephesians 2:14 “For he is our peace, who hath made both one (hen) and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us.” Here, “both” means Jews and Gentiles. These two groups of people are made “one.” Becasue it is UNION of more that ONE person or group, the neuter word hen is required to describe the oneness.
The importance of all this to our question, How is God One, Compound or Solitary? is that the oneness of God is NEVER referred to with the neuter word (which must be the case, if a plurality of persons is in view). The oneness of God is, however, ALWAYS referred to with the masculine word “heis” (which must be the case if the oneness means a solitary one in number).
Conclusion: The monotheism of the bible is such that demands the existence of One Only Sentient Being as God. Further, that this One Sentient Being must alone be worshipped. The worship of any God-person beyond the number "one" is unbiblical, unChristian, even blasphemy.
Apostolically Speaking
☩ David Ignatius


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the Jesus Debate: A Debate On The Person of Jesus, Between Modalism/Oneness and Arianism/Unitarianism
the Jesus Debate: A Debate On The Person of Jesus, Between Modalism/Oneness and Arianism/Unitarianism
The Jesus debate is a formal discussion on the person of Jesus Christ between the Modalist and Unitarian theologies. Modalism holds that God has manifested Himself in the economy of One triune being. The One Being existing in the different modes of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. While the Unitarian view holds that God is but one being Who is limited to the Father; that the Son is separate and distinct Being from the Father Who is not God, but the Son of God. Modalism (called Oneness in the twenty-first century) teaches the full deity of Jesus and His full humanity as well. the Arian view of Unitarianism represented by Willy Olmo in this book affirms the Father to be the only person of God and Jesus to be His Son.

Monotheism of the Modalist and Trinitarian Positions

THE GODHEAD DEBATE COMMENCES (Early Church History 200-400 AD)


Excerpted from author's book entitled, "Godhead Theology." 
With the coming of a group of men called the Christian Apologists, the Modalistic Monarchian view begins to be challenged. J. N. D. Kelly, as has already been mentioned, points out that the apologists INAUGURATED a movement of thought that was alien to the Christology of either the Apostles of our Lord, or the Apostolic Fathers. The apologists were: Quadratus (dies A.D. 129); Justin Martyr (A.D. 100-165), Athenagoras of Athens (A.D. 133-190), Tertullian (A.D. 160-250), and Origen (A.D. 244, his debate with Beryllus. [It is stated in some historical records that Origen debated Beryllus, Bishop of Bostra, and converted him from Modalistic Monarchianism. What is actually true, however, is that Beryllus was suspected of the heresy of Adoptionism, which is called in modern times Dynamic Monarchianism. Origen’s confrontation with him was on those grounds. It is doubtful that Beryllus adopted Origen’s view (which was not the Trinity but Subordinationism), but is likely that Origen helped him come correct from his misguided form of Monarchianism. One must always read history through the filter of facts.])

We should not speak of the apologists without first taking at least a brief look at the cradle of their thought. For this we look to Alexandria, Egypt. According to Alex Hislop, “Two Babylons,” and H. G. Wells, “The Outline of History” the idea of the Trinity began in Babylon and moved with the flow of civilization from Babylon to Egypt, and from Egypt to Greece, and then into the whole world. In Babylon the trinity was Nimrod, Tammuz, and Semiramis. As the religion spread, its deities remained the same, only their names changed. In Egypt Nimrod became Osiris, Tammuz became Horus, and Semiramis became Isis. When this Trinity spread to Greece Osiris became Serapis, Isis remained Isis, and Horus became Harpocrates. The same gods remained in each culture, only their names changed!

(After the Greek conquest of Egypt under Alexander the Great, and on the orders of Ptolemy I, Serapis was devised during the 3rd century B. C. as a means to unify the Greeks and Egyptians in his realm. ("Sarapis" in The New Encyclopaedia Britannica. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc., 15th edn., 1992, Vol. 10, p. 447.)  Ptolemy's policy was to find a deity that should win the reverence of both groups. Therefore, the Greeks melded Osiris with their underworld god, Hades, to produce the essentially Alexandrian syncretism, Serapis. They further, transformed the Egyptian Horus into their Hellenistic god known as Harpocrates, a rendering from Egyptian Har-pa-khered or Heru-pa-khered (meaning “Horus the Child”). (1911 Encyclopædia BritannicaVolume 13).

Alexandria was made a great center of learning by Ptolemy I, who built there a magnificent library and temple for the worship of the trinity of Greece, Egypt and Babylon. Engraved over the archway entering into the temple of Serapis, Isis and Harpocrates was the description: “They are each other, they are three, but they are also one.” (This formula would later appear in Christian Trinitarian theology as: “Three persons in One God.” The “they are each other” clause integrated into trinitarian doctrine as the total consubstantiation of all three hypostases of the Trinity, which affirms that the Father is in the Son and Holy Spirit and personally taking part in all they do—the Son is in the Father and Holy Spirit and experiencing all they do—and the Holy Spirit is in the Father and the Son experiencing and taking part in all they do.) This idea of a hypostatic-union between three separate and distinct beings does not come from any Hebrew thought, nor from early Christian theology. The seed had been conceived in the false gods of Babylon and permeated all ancient civilizations of the time of Christ. By the time of the apologist (A.D. 150-250) the “three in one” concept had adopted the Christian garments of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Monarchian feels today, just as he did 1800 years ago: Although the names are Christian, the gods hail from Babylon.

To a Greek philosopher by the name of Plato fell the task of making the trinity of the pagan world palatable to a society that was vastly more scientific. In Plato’s system of gods he takes the three-ness of the pagan thought and sophisticates it into Greek thinking. Plato’s godhead consisted of Mind, Word or Logos and the World Spirit. To Plato the ‘Mind’ (first principle) was ineffable, thus, too exalted to be touched by matter; then Plato’s ‘Word,’ or ‘Logos’ (the second principal) was brought into existence as the intermediate being. It was a function of the logos to create—a job that the ‘Mind’ (first principle) was to transcendent to do. Together, the ‘Mind,’ and the ‘Logos’ produced a third personality which Plato called the ‘World Spirit.’ By this idea, Platonic thought had moved the pagan trinity into a position of acceptance by the intelligentsia of any age.

The Alexandrian school was Platonic; from this theology of Mind, Word, and Spirit came a disciple of Plato’s by the name of Philo. Philo was a Jew of Alexandria who was a world-class philosopher in his own right. He live from 20 BC to A.D. 54—which means he was a contemporary to Jesus. Plato’s faith in God came from his Jewish faith, but his concept of God came from the philosophical speculations of Alexandria. The influence of Platonism and the Stoics on Philo cannot be over stated. In the Mind – Word – Spirit system of Plato, Philo conceived of the ‘Mind’ as the Hebrew God Yahweh; in Plato’s ‘Word’ Philo finds an identity with the Jewish Messiah; He (at times) called the Logos a separate person from God; the mediator between God and man.

According to Emil Schurer (Emil Shurer D.D., M.A.: (1844-1910) German theologian, best know for his study in Jewish customs in the time of Christ.), Philo “agrees in the most essential points with the great teachers of the Greeks. Nay, Philo has so profoundly absorbed their doctrines and so peculiarly worked them up into a new whole, as himself to belong to the series of Greek philosophers. His system may, on the whole, be entitled an eclectic one: Platonic, Stoic, and Neo-Pythagorean doctrines being the most prominent. Just in proportion as now one now the other was embraced, has he been designated at one time Platonist, at another a Pythagorean. He might just as correctly be called a Stoic, for the influence of Stocism was at least as strong upon him as that of Platonism or Neo-Pythagoreanism.”

Where Plato and the Stoics left off, Philo picked up. Plato took the crude, base gods of the heathen, stripped them of their trappings of superstitions, and dressed them up in much scientific rhetoric. Then enter Philo with his fantastic fantasy; he set forth his far-fetched (fetch from afar – Babylon) idea of Hebraizing Plato!?! Or, was he Hellenizing the Prophets?

Philo saw himself as having a dual mission. To make the Jew Greek and the Greek Jew. Through the means of his ‘allegorical interpretation’ of the Pentateuch he was able to see there all the things taught by Greek philosophy which he conceived as enlightened.  Philo was convinced that the Greeks had acquired their wisdom from Moses and saw himself as the bridge between his co-religionist and the philosophies.

In Philo’s doctrine of God, he begin at the point of fundamental dualism: that God and matter are not in communion (here is revealed his Gnostics tendencies). God is totally good and perfect—the created universe with man at the center is imperfect and not good in the since of being un-corruptible. “An acting, therefore, of God upon the world and in the world is, according to Philo, only possible through the intervention of intermediate causes, of interposing powers who establish an intercourse between God and the world” (Schurer). Philo’s intervening causes are Plato’s ideas, the Stoic’s active causes, the Jewish angels, and the Greek daemons. All these add up to Philo’s logos. If, according to this they appear to be individual hypostases, or personal beings, Philo makes other assertions that forbids us to take them as such. It is expressly stated that they exist only in the Divine thought. The truth of the matter is this: Philo conceived of them both as independent hypostases and as immanent determinations of the divine existence. According to Eduard Zeller, Philo’s system required the necessity of these contradiction: “He combines both definitions without observing their contradiction, nay, he is unable to observe it, because otherwise the intermediary rôle assigned to the divine powers would be forfeited, even that double nature, the reason of which they are on the one hand to be identical with God, that a participation in the Deity may by their means be possible to the finite, and on the other hand different from Him, that the Deity, notwithstanding this participation, they remain apart from all contact with the world.”

As a help to arrive at an understanding of Philo’s doctrine of the Logos, we could do no better that Eduard Zeller ((1814-1908), German philosopher, was born at Kleinbottwar in Wurttemberg on the 22nd of January 1814, and educated at the university of Tubingen and under the influence of Hegel. In 1840 he was Privatdozent of theology at Tubingen, in 1847 professor of theology at Bern, in 1849 professor of theology at Marburg, migrating soon afterwards to the faculty of philosophy as the result of disputes with the Clerical party. He became professor of philosophy at Heidelberg in 1862, removed to Berlin in 1872, and retired in 1895. His great work is his Philosophie der Griechen (184452).. This book he continued to amplify and improve in the light of further research; the last edition appeared in 1902. It has been translated into most of the European languages and became the recognized text-book of Greek philosophy. Encyclopedia Britannica, 1911)By the Logos, Philo understands the power of God or the active Divine intelligence in general; he designated it as the idea which comprises all other ideas, the power which comprises all powers in itself, as the entirety of the supersensuous world or of the divine powers.” Is the vicegerent and ambassador of God; neither created nor uncreated; the instrument by which God made the world’s. The logos is, thus, identified with the creative ‘word’ of God. Further, the logos, then, is the high priest of God to the world, and of the world to God. Making God known to the world, and the world known to God. “The definitions, which, according to the presuppositions of our thought, would require the personality of the logos, are crossed by Philo by such as make it impossible, and the peculiarity of his mode of conception consist in his not perceiving the contradiction involved in making the idea of the logos oscillate obscurely between personal and impersonal being. This peculiarity is equally misunderstood, when Philo’s logos is regarded absolutely as a person separate from God; and, when on the contrary, it is suppose that it only denotes God under a definite relation, according to the aspect of His activity. According to Philo’s opinion the logos is both, but for this very reason neither one nor the other exclusively; and he does not perceive, that it is impossible to combine these definitions into one notion.” (Zeller iii. 2. p. 378.)

“But Philo cannot dispense with these definitions. With him the logos, like all the Divine powers, is only necessary, because the supreme God Himself can enter into no direct contact with the finite; it must stand between the two and be the medium of their mutual relation; and how can it be this unless it were different from both, if it were only a certain Divine property? In this case we should have again that direct action of God upon finite things, which Philo declares is inadmissible. On the other hand the Logos must now indeed be again identical with each of the opposites which it was to reconcile, it must likewise be a property of God as a power operative in the world. Philo could not without contradiction succeed in combining the two.” (Zeller iii. 2. p. 380.) As remarkable as it may seem, however, this very thing is done in Modalism’s teaching of the Deity of Christ and His humanity—i.e. His dual nature. He is, indeed identical with both elements He is reconciling and yet a property of God operating in the world.

Philo was, as it seems, the first to suggest that the Logos was the intermediate being between God and the world. The building blocks for his doctrine lay in both Jewish theology and Greek philosophy. Philo took from the Jewish theology the idea of the Spirit and the Word of God, then from Greek philosophy he took chiefly the doctrine of the Wisdom of God. Utilizing for his purpose the Platonic doctrine of ideas and the world spirit, or soul. But it is the Stoic doctrine of the deity as the active reason of the world, which is the nearest to his. “We need only to strip off from this Stoic doctrine of the Logos, it’s pantheistic element by distinguishing the Logos from the Deity, and it’s materialistic element by distinguishing it from organized matter, to have the Philonean Logos complete.” (Zeller iii. 2, 385.)

Now that we have a little understanding of Philo’s contribution to our discussion, we will proceed to discover how he made an impact upon a segment of the Christian faith.

 Bible scholars John McClintock and James Strong explain: “Towards the end of the 1st century, and during the 2d, many learned men came over both from Judaism and paganism to Christianity. These brought with them into the Christian schools of theology their Platonic ideas and phraseology.” (Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, 1891, Vol. 10, "Trinity," p. 553.)

Out of this nest (Alexandria) of worldly philosophy grew a Christian church (of a sort). From this swap of paganism arose the citadel to the “Logos Christology” of Plato and Philo. From this Fortress marched forth the warriors of darkness proclaiming Light—illuminating none—but blinding and binding all. The Trinitarian’s of all ages since can look to one Alexandrian bishop and proclaim, “O Captain, My captain” this Bishop is Clement of Alexandria. Not to be confused with the saint from Rome.

We need to look, for just a moment of time, to Clement of Alexandria. This will give us an understanding of this school’s three greatest apostles, Justin Martyr, Origen and Arius. Clement writes concerning the philosophies: “The multitude, are frightened at the Hellenic philosophy as children are at mask, fearing list it should lead them astray.” (One is able to detect the contempt for the common people in this statement from Clement of Alexandria; the same contempt that Tertullian displayed in his statement concerning the Monarchians.) Clement of Alexandria is full of the thought that the mission of the Christian theologian is to build a bridge between the Gospel and the Gentile wisdom; to point out the relations of Christianity to universal knowledge, to give the religion of Christ a scientific form. Clement of Alexandria writes much about the philosophy of the Greeks. He says on more than one occasion that their philosophy was of divine origin, although he occasionally makes their wisdom a plagiarism from the Hebrew prophets. “The Greek philosophy” says Clement of Alexandria, “purges the soul, as it were, and prepares it before hand for the reception of faith, on which the Truth builds up the edifice of knowledge.” The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are the “Holy Triad.” The prevailing view is that of the Son as a distinct hypothesis. The Logos is said to undergo no change, and the distinction of imminent and spoken Logos is rejected. The Logos is conceived of, after the manner of the Stoics, as the seminal reason diffused in all beings to whom reason is given. the Holy Spirit as well as the Logos, is spoken of as a distinct hypostasis from the Father. (See on Clement: George Park Fisher, History of Christian Doctrin)

Therefore, from this cradle of Platonic philosophical speculations spring forth upon the landscape of the Lord’s church this army of black knights, intent upon forging an unholy marriage between Christianity and philosophy; but before Christianity can take a new husband, the first must be killed. Thus, the attack on Modalistic Monarchianism begins.

Apostolically Speaking 
☩ David Ignatius



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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

THE HISTORICAL NUMERICAL SUPERIORITY OF THE MONARCHIANS



That the harbingers of the new logos-christology were in the vast minority, is attested to by both Tertullian and Origen. (Origen, in Johann. T. H; Tertullian, Adv. Prax.) Here is Tertullian’s account of the numerical superiority of the Monarchians, and the steadfastness of their position: “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, and that the true faith  was hardly preached in the churches” (Essays and Sketches, Vol I, Primitive Christianity 5:2).  By “the true faith” Cardinal Newman meant the dogma of the Trinity. Further, we know from the Acts of Justin Martyr and His Friends that Justin was the teacher and leader of a small Christian group who was not representative of the majority Christian population which held that Isaiah 9:6 referenced Christ and saw Him and the Father as one and the same.

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 or different moments in the life of the one Divine Person, called now Father, now Son, now Spirit, as His several activities came successively into view, 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 Modalist Mon-archianism) as the DOMINANT theology in the fourth century. This would make Modalistic Monarchianism the orthodox theology at the time of the Council of Nicaea. This manifested itself in at least two statements of the Creed of Nicaea: 1. the line of the Creed that acknowledges Jesus and the Father being homoousios; and 2. in the anathema pronounced on any who said that the Father and the Son were different hypostases.

The priority and preeminent position of Monarchianism is underlined by the writing of the renown Professor Adolf von Harnack (1851-1930): “The really dangerous opponent of the Logos Christology in the period between A.D. 180 and 300 was ...  the doctrine which saw the deity himself incarnate in Christ, and conceived Christ to be God in a human body, the Father become flesh. Against this view the great Doctors of the (Catholic) Church — Tertullian, Origen, Novatian, but above all, Hippolytus (first anti-pope)— had principally to fight. Its defenders were called by Tertullian “Monarchiani”, and, not altogether correctly, “Patripassiani” which afterwards became the usual names in the West (see e.g., Cypr., Ep. 73. 4). In the East they were all designated, after the famous head of the school, “Sabelliani” from the second half of the third century; yet the name of “Patripassiani” was not quite unknown there also. Hippolytus tells us in the Philosophumena, that at that time the Monarchian controversy agitated the whole Church, and Tertullian and Origen testified, that in their day the “economic” trinity, and the technical application of the conception of the Logos to Christ, were regarded by the mass of Christians with suspicion (Adv. Prax. 3). Modalism, as we now know from the Philosoph., was ... the official theory in Rome. That it was not an absolute novelty can be proved (see the Modalism of Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Shepherd of Hermas, Melito, etc), but it is very probable, on the other hand, that a Modalistic doctrine, which sought to exclude every other, only existed from the end of the second century. [Because at that time its orthodoxy was being challenged by the innovation of the logos-christology and was raising up to defend itself.] It was in opposition to Gnosticism that the first effort was made to fix theologically the formulas of a naïve Modalism, and that these were used to confront the logos-christology in order (1) to avert Ditheism, (2) to maintain the complete divinity of Christ, and (3) to prevent the attacks of Gnosticism. An attempt was also made, however, to prove Modalism by exegesis. That is equivalent to saying that this form of doctrine (i.e. Modalistic Monarchianism), which was embraced by the great majority of Christians, was supported by scientific authorities, from the end of the second century. ... Against these there appeared, in the Roman Church, especially the presbyter Hippolytus, who sought to prove that the doctrine promulgated by them was a revolutionary error. But 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)

Tertullian, Origen, Justin Martyr, Quadratus of Athens, and Theophilus among others are known in Church history as the apologists. J. N. D. Kelly ( who recognizes Monarchianism to have been the faith of the apostles of our Lord), when writing about the Roman bishops Zephyrinus and Callistus (A. D. 198-222) stated that: “Zephyrinus and Callistus were… conservatives holding fast to a monarchian tradition which antedated the whole movement of thought inaugurated by the apologist.” (J. N.  D. Kelly Ancient Christian Creeds, page 124) Athenagoras of Athens, and Melito of Sardis are two other Apologists that are not often included in the historical lists, because, in this writers opinion, their apologies did nothing to advance the logos-christology; more will be said about these men later.

Archeology Establishes Monarchianism as the Original Christianity (Monarchian Church At Megiddo—Third Century)
The Inscription reads: ““Akeptous, the God-loving, offered this table for (the) God  (Himself) Jesus Christ, as a remembrance.”




















On November 6th, 2005 the Associated Press reported on the discover of a third century Christian church un-earthed in Northern Israel in a town called Megiddo. As a construction crew was excavating for an addition to the Megiddo prison, workers uncovered a large tile floor with beautiful mosaics intact. A number of inlaid inscriptions were found in the tile. Further excavating discovered the walls of the church within a Roman compound. This may very well be the earliest church building found in the world, but surely in Palestine. The early date of the first half of the third century (A.D. 200-250) is established by the pottery remnants found there and the style of the Greek writing in the mosaics. Plus, the beautiful fish mosaic that is the centerpiece of one of the two tile floors predate the use of the cross as the major Christian symbol; so, the fish (instead of the cross) symbol indicates an early date, indeed.  Also, the “table” (mentioned in one of the inlaid mosaic inscriptions) as a memorial instead of an altar likewise speaks of a very early Christian custom.
  
This discovery is important to Christianity in a number of ways. Most importantly, how-ever, is the Mosaic on the floor of the third century Christian Chruch at Megiddo, Israel. The use of fish instead of the cross as the Christian symbol, the mosaic design along with pottery ramnants dates the site to the early 3rd century.inscription dedicating  the “table” as a tribute to Jesus, “Akeptous, the God-loving, offered this table for (the) God Jesus Christ, as a remem-brance.” This inscription (calling Jesus God) dis-credits all who deny that Jesus was worshipped as God until after the Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325, 4th century). Skeptics often claim that the Christian doctrine of the deity of Jesus was not “invented” until that time. Now, the discovery of an early (A.D. 200-250) third century church in Megiddo, Israel whose worshippers worshipped Jesus as the God discredits that claim. One should observe, further, that the “table” was dedicated to but one God (whom the worshippers recognized as Jesus), and not to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; as would have been expected if the worshippers were Trinitarians. Nor was the dedication to the Father, or the Son of God, which would have allowed the congregates to have been subordinationist. All the evidence points to this being a Monarchian church.

Along with the style of Greek writing used in the inscriptions, ancient geometric patterns in the mosaics and the depiction of fish rather than the cross indicate that the church predates the fourth century, The church’s location, not far from the spot where the New Testament says the final battle between good and evil will take place (Armageddon), also mades sense since a Christian bishop was active in the area at the time and a church located on this spot would have been very logical.

According to the Apostolic Constitutions the first Bishop of Caesarea was Zacchaeus the Publican, followed by Cornelius (possibly Cornelius the Centurion) and Theophilus (possibly the addressee of the Gospel of Luke). The first bishops considered historically attested are those mentioned by the early church historian Eusebius of Caesarea, himself a bishop of the see in the 4th century. He speaks of a Theophilus who was bishop in the 10th year of Commodus (c. 189), of a Theoctistus (216–258), a short-lived Domnus and a Theotecnus, and an Agapius (?–306). Among the participants in the Synod of Ancyra in 314 was a bishop of Caesarea named Agricolaus,

So, according to the historical lists of Bishops the bishop of Jerusalem during the first half of the third century was Alexander, and of Caesarea was Theotistus. The church in Megiddo was in the jurisdiction of one, or both of these bishops. This brings an interesting situation into view. This was the time period of Origen. Some of his reputed teachings, such as the pre-existence of souls, the final reconciliation of all creatures, including perhaps even the devil (apocatastasis), and the subordination of the Son of God to God the Father, later became controversial among Christian theologians. According to Origen, the mediator between God and the world, through whom the world was made, is the Logos (Fisher). Here, we see Platonic, Alexandria Jewish thought. Origen believed that the Logos was personal and without beginning. Yet in Origen’s idea, the Father is the fountainhead of deity. The Father, moreover, is God as He is, in and of Himself; the Father is “God” with the article affixed to the term.  Origen taught that Jesus was “another substance or essence” from the Father. In one place Origen calls Jesus “the most ancient of all creatures.” Fisher makes the observation that Origen was solicitous to fend off the monarchian inference of the identity of the Father with the Son. That Origen was received by both bishops Alexander of Jerusalem and Theotistus of Caesarea (in fact Origen spent considerable time under the jurisdiction of these two bishops) during the first half of the third century is interesting in that the Megiddo Church is surely a Monarchian congregation who recognizes Jesus as “the God Himself.”

Apostolically  Speaking
☩ David Ignatius



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Monday, July 6, 2015

THE CHRISTIAN CREED


ABOUT CREEDS


(Excerpted from the book "Godhead Theology," by Bishop Jerry Hayes.  Look for it on Amazon.)
Throughout the history of the Lord’s church creeds have been used; first as a teaching tool and second as a cohesive element for the community. This is because the Creed is first—the bases of the didactic, and second—the substance of what the candidate at baptism declares to be his, or her, own faith.

The word “Creed” is from the Latin credo: I believe. In this sense it is primarily an individual’s statement of faith. However, when we move beyond one’s personal relationship with the Creed it takes on a life force that extends itself far into the life of the Christian community.

Life Stages of the Creed
One may see six definite life stages of the Creed in the Christian community: 
  • First, as stated before, the Creed is the basis of catechesis in that it exists in, and as, a formal statement.  
  • Second, the candidate at baptism declares the Creed to be his, or her, faith, and may reasonably expect to be questioned on his, or her, understanding of its tenets.  
  • Third, all communicants confessing the selfsame Creed are united into a visible Church by their common affirmation.  
  • Fourth, the Creed, thus confirmed, becomes the test of orthodoxy for the community.  
  • Fifth, the orthodoxy established by the Creed becomes the denunciation of heresy.   
  • Sixth, and finally, the common creedal acceptance becomes the basis for the apostolates of the community. 

Validity of the Creed
Because some would oppose the use of creeds, a word should be said here concerning their validity in the Lord’s Church. In that a creed may be use to formally put forth false (as well as true) doctrine, it may be an agent of evil, as well as good. However, this is not to sit aside the creed as a God given tool of discipleship and communal cohesiveness. Then there are those who would ascribe to the adage, “No creed but the Bible.” To those of this mindset it should be pointed out that this too is a creed. So then, even those who would oppose formal doctrinal statements in the form of creeds are, themselves, ardent subscribers to a creed.

Creed of the Old Covenant (Testament)
The Creeds of the Lord’s Church are seen to have grown out of the first formal list of God’s requirements for His covenant people, the Jews. Of course, I speak of the Decalogue (see Exodus 20:3-17).
Exodus 20: 3-17.
“You shall have no other gods before Me. 
“You shall not make for yourselves an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. 
“You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, 
But showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. 
“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain. 
“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 
“Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 
“But the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not  do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. 
“For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy. 
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.
“You shall not murder. 
“You shall not commit adultery. 
“You shall not steal. 
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. 
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” 
Truly, the Decalogue presents itself as the fountainhead of all other statements of faith.

After the Decalogue, one need look no further (for the evidence of creedal forms) than that all important passage from Deu-teronomy 6:4-7 known the world over, and throughout all ages, since it’s writing as the “Shema.” (See Numbers 15:37-41 and Deuteronomy 11:13-21.)
Deuteronomy 6: 4-9
“Here, Oh Israel! The LORD is your God, the LORD is one! And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; And you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.  And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates...” (NKJV)

The Shema (so called for the first word of the text: “hear”) was what every covenanted person was to “hear.” It was written on the doorposts of their houses, and as frontlets worn on their foreheads and phylacteries bound to their arms. It was the credo of the Israelite of the Old Testament and continues to be so for the Orthodox Jewish persons of today. The Shema constitutes the first utterance heard as a newborn and the last upon the lips of devout Jews departing this life.

Declarations of Faith as Foundations to Creeds
Moving to the New Testament one many very well see the seeds of formal statements of faith in the proclamations of three of our Lord’s apostles: namely, Nathaniel (also called Bartholomew), Peter, and Thomas.
  • In John 1:49 Nathaniel declared: “Rabbi, You are the son of God; You are the King of Israel.” 
  • In Matthew 16:16 Peter confessed: “Thou art the Christ, the Son Of the Living God.” (See Micah 5:2; Isaiah 9: 6.) 
  • From John 20:28 one reads of Thomas’s statement of Faith: “My Lord and my God!” 
All three of these apostles give testimony in their proclamations of the deity of Jesus.

Both Nathaniel and Peter acknowledge Jesus as the “Son of God. Apart from the paternal aspect of His birth from the Holy Spirit and Mary, we should consider the term “Son of God” at a more profound level. This title (as used by Nathaniel and Peter) should not only be understood in terms of a paternal father-son relationship, but rather, as one is the “son of” an attribute. James and John (the sons of Zebedee) are said to be the “Sons of Thunder” (Mark 3:17); Paul’s traveling companion, Barnabas, has a name which means “Son of Consolation” (Acts 5:36). In the Middle East one who lives in the desert is called a “Son of the Desert.” In this sense the term “son” is the manifestation of the essence which one is a son of. Thus, Jesus termed the “Son of God” meant that He was the physical manifestation of the very essence, nature, and being of God. The Jews of the first century understood this, even if twenty-first century Christians do not. The Jews of Christ’s day sought to kill Him because He claimed God (Yahweh) was His Father; “making himself equal with God” (John 5:18). The Jews said it plain enough in John 10:33, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blaspheming; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.” Jesus had just told them (from verse 25 to verse 30) that God was His Father.

Moreover, Nathaniel refers to Christ as “the King of Israel” (John 1:49). Nathaniel, being familiar with the Psalms, knew that Yahweh was the only King of Israel (see Psalms 10:16; 24:7-10; 44:4; 89:18 , etc.). Therefore, Nathaniel acknowledges Jesus as Yahweh!

When Peter recognizes Jesus as “the Christ” (Matthew 16:16) he is acknowledging Him as the Mighty God of Israel. Peter knew the prophet Isaiah had written of the Messiah in this manner: “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest up one His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6);  nor, had Micah escaped his notice when that prophet had written that the Messiah (Christ) would be the eternal One (see Micah 5:2).

Finally, the Apostle Thomas confessed for himself, and respectively for all believers, that Jesus of Nazareth, Mary’s baby boy, is “My Lord and My God” (John 20:28). Because of his confession he received the Lord’s commendation: “Because you have seen Me, have you believed?” Then Jesus pronounces a blessing on all who would ascribe to the credo of Thomas: “Blessed are they who did not see and yet believed.”

Apostolic Formulas of Faith
One must acknowledge that some years passed between the birth of the Church, on the day of Pentecost (A.D. 30), and the writing of the New Testament scripture. We know, for instance, that the book of James was written around A.D. 50 with the epistles of Paul soon afterwards, and the Gospels even later. The point is: by the time written scripture begin to make its rounds in the Christian community The Faith had ALREADY been established by the oral instructions of the apostles and their surrogates. In fact, the epistles are replete with evidence of preexisting formal doctrinal formulas which were drawn upon for the writing of the New Testament scriptures. This evidence suggest preexistent Christian formulae in both creedal and hymnal structure.

It seems more than abundantly clear that some type of formal confession of faith, such as a creed, is reflected in Hebrews 10:23 where the writer states: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful;(NKJV). The KJV renders this verse thus: “Let us hold fast the profession of our hope without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)” 

Scriptural evidence that formal confessions established ortho-doxy among Christians is common enough throughout the Pauline letters. The following is a list of that evidence:
First: The apostle Paul admonishes his son Timothy to, “Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.” The KJV reads, “Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:13). Here, the Greek word translated “standard in the NASB, and “form in the KJV is hupotuposis (Strong’s #NT5296); means: a sketch (figure) for imitation: - form, pattern. Paul references a “sketch” a “pattern” of “sound words” to be imitated among believers. This BODY of “sound words” was formulated - therefore: a formula of doctrinal belief.
Second: The Apostle references the same formula in Romans 6:17 where he addresses the Roman Christians and says: “But God be thanked, ..., but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you” (KJV). The NASB reads almost the same way: “But thanks be to God ..., you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed...” Here, the word translated “form” is the Greek word tupos (Strong’s #NT5179) which means: a stamp..., a shape, i.e. a statue, ... a model, ...en-(ex)ample, fashion, ... form, ... pattern,...” So, here too, the doctrine which the Roman’s had “obeyed from the heart” was delivered unto them in a shape, a model, to be imitated; it was in a pattern; a stamp. This formula was in place and establishing apostolic orthodoxy BEFORE the New Testament canon was available to the Romans, or anyone else for that matter. 
Third: In both 1 Timothy 6:20 and 2 Timothy 1:14, Paul urges Timothy to keep the parakatatheke (par-ak-at-ath-ay-kay) (Strong’s #NT3872) - “deposit” that was committed unto him. The “deposit” to which Paul referred was the “form of sound words” that Timothy is admonished to “hold fast” in 2 Timothy 1:13; and is this form of sound words” that the young Timothy is instructed to “commit ... to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2)
Fourth: In the letters of First and Second Timothy Paul mentions the “faithful words.” Obviously this is a reference to the sayings that were common currency in the Christian community. Therefore, before we pass from the topic of a “form of sound words” we should, at least, give cursory attention to the “faithful words” passages of First and Second Timothy. The list that follows is a record of the “faithful words” of the pastoral epistles: 
  • 1 Timothy 1:15 and following, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. ...” 
  • 1 Timothy 3:1 and following, “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desirous of good work. ...”
  • 1 Timothy 4:8-9,  “For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.” 
  • 2 Timothy 2:11 and following, “It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him....”
In the Scriptures given above (called “The Faithful Words Passages”) it is discerned that formulas of words were common currency among the first Christians. These “sayings” were universally known and accepted as true. This knowledge should go a great distance in helping the student of Church history understand the use of formulas of faith to establish orthodoxy before the canon of Scripture was written.

Confession of Faith
Once introduced to the Pauline epistles, the student of Holy Scripture soon sees the importance of confessions of faith and the central position held by these confessions in the life of the first Christian communities. The Apostle instructs Timothy to: “Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:12). From his instructions to his son Timothy, Paul has told us four things:
  1. That Timothy was “called” to eternal life (see Rom 1:7 “called to be saints;” 8:28 “to them who are called according to his purpose;” see also 8:30; 9:24; 1 Cor 1:9 1:26; Gal 1:6; 1:15; 5:13; Eph 4:4; Col 3:15; 1 Thess 2:12; 2 Thess 2:14; 2 Tim 1:9; 1 Pet 1:15; 2:9; 2:21; 5:10; 2 Pet 1:3; Jude 1:1; Rev 17:14; 19:9). 
  2. That he made a confession of faith regarding that eternal life which he was called unto. See Romans 10:1 “... if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you shall be saved.” 1 John 4:15 “Who ever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.”  2 John 7, “ For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confessed not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh....” (KJV). 
  3. Timothy’s confession was made publicly before many witnesses. One  recalls the words of Jesus recorded by Matthew in his Gospel chapter 10, and verse 32, “Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also             confess him before My Father who is in heaven.” (See Revelation 3:5 “... and I will confess his name before My Father, and before He is Angels.” See also Luke 12:8 “And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son Of Man shall confess him also before the angels of God;”).
  4. Lastly, Timothy’s confession was said, by Paul, to be “ten kalen homologian;” literally, “The Good Confession.” The definite article “ten” before “kalen homologian” (good confession) declares Timothy’s confession to have been a particular confession. Not simply “a” good confession, but “the” good confession. A Definite (Particular) One!  One would expect the requirement of a particular confession to be in keeping with apostolic thought, in light of all the Apostle Paul taught concerning: holding “fast the confession of our hope” (Heb 10:23); holding “the form of sound words” (2 Tim 1:13); and the need to guard “the good deposit” (1 Tim  6:20 and 2 Tim 1:14).
The Elements of the Confession
The basic creedal elements of the “Good Confession” may be ascertained from the essential tenets of the Christian faith, as these tenants appear in creedal language throughout Paul’s letters. The confession would naturally give assent to the gospel Paul preached. This gospel was rather simple and straightforward; it comprised five basic elements:
  1. The deity of Jesus Christ; 
  2. The fact of the death of Christ; 
  3. The fact of His burial; 
  4. The fact of His resurrection; 
  5. The necessity of a confession. 
Paul writes clear enough in Romans 10:9-10, “... if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”
The above five elements are deposited in creedal form in key locations throughout the Pauline epistles. As examples, one might notice the following:
  1. Concerning the deity of Jesus: Colossians 1:15-19; 2:9-10; 1 Timothy 3: 16. 
  2. Concerning the death and burial of Jesus: Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12. 
  3. Concerning the resurrection of Jesus: 1 Corinthians 15:3-4. 
  4. Concerning confession: Romans 10:9-8; reflected in Hebrews 10:23; see also 1 Timothy 6:20 with 2 Timothy 1:4, and 2 Timothy 1:13. 
Orthodoxy
Although it is true that first century orthodoxy is not so easily identified in twenty-first century Christianity, it, nonetheless did exist and was established by the Lord’s apostles.  It is to that orthodoxy that all true disciples of Jesus Christ must strive to attain. That such orthodoxy did (and does) exist is apparent from such New Testament passages as: 1 Corinthians 15:3, “For I delivered to you as a first importance what I also received.” The orthodoxy that Paul is here passing on to the Corinthians was the tradition he had received from earlier Christians; it had been established before his ministry began. This is seen earlier in his first letter to the Corinthians (11:23) where he is giving instruction on the Lord’s Supper and writes: “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you,...” Paul wrote this before any of the Gospels were written; he, therefore, received it by oral tradition in the form of a faithful pattern that was passed on. This form of sound words” which comprises the “good deposit” was the agent of establishing apostolic orthodoxy. The first century believers were admonished to “hold fast the form” (formula, pattern) “of sound words” (2 Timothy 1:13). The writer of Hebrews urges to “let us hold fast the confession of our hope...” (Hebrews 10:23). The same writer observes that, “for we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end;” (Hebrews 3:14). The writer of Hebrews is simply echoing in v14 what he had written in verse 6: “... but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house -- whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.” Jude, in his epistle “to those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ,” writes; “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” (Jude vv1&3).  Both the apostles Paul and Jude (the half-brother of our Lord) writes concerning our “assurance” and “confidence” in the “faith that was once and for all delivered to the saints” and admonishes all Christians everywhere of the importance of holding to the original “assurance” and “confidence” in the faith that was delivered complete in the very beginning.

The orthodoxy of the apostles was the absolute test of fellowship for biblical Christianity; this is stated emphatically in Galatians 1:6-9 were Paul writes to those “foolish Galatians who had departed from the true faith “for a different gospel.” Those who would preach “a different gospel” were anathema (accursed) from the faith of Christ, Paul wrote. Furthermore, the Ephesian letter speaks plainly when it states: “There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph 4:4-5).

The “good confession” (1 Tim 6:12, compare to: Heb 10:23) which established the apostolic orthodoxy of the first century is recalled in the above texts which are worded in formal creedal language.

The Apostolic Creed
After serving the Lord's church for several decades as a Apostolic Pentecostal evangelist, this author discovered a sameness of doctrine throughout the movement, but a multitude of ways in presenting it. In short we felt the need for a creed that would be common to us all. So, for over a period of ten years we worked with many Apostolic leaders in several countries and several organizations, including independents, to devise such a statement of faith.
This writer feels strongly that the Holy Spirit lead him throughout the entire journey. The end result is the combined consensus of the Apostolic movement at large, as pastors and leaders have made suggestions over the years of its formation. I feel reasonably safe in stating that “The Apostolic Creed” is twenty-first century Apostolic (Modalist/Oneness Pentecostalism) orthodoxy.
As is true with all faiths, there are those on the fringe who have their strange ideas—who feel that God has revealed the truth to only them. The Creed does not attempt to speak for these persons. However, if one would care to poll the major Oneness Pentecostal organizations’ formal statements of faith, one would find unanimous agreement with this Credo.

THE APOSTOLIC CREED
I believe in one God, solitary in being; Maker of Heaven and Earth, and all things therein: by His eternal Word. That is to say: By the breath of His mouth. Thereby, and because of creation, reasonably termed the Father.
Who, because of us sinners, and for our salvation, became manifested in flesh. Conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, This incarnation not lessening His deity, nor altering His humanity; fully God and fully man, consubstantiated. Therefore, the angel named Him Jesus—Yahweh Savior. As to His deity, He is the same essence, nature, and being as the Father. As to His humanity, He is a like essence, nature, and being with us men. Thereby, and because of generation and redemption, reasonably termed the Son of God.
Who suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, was buried, and descended into Hades. Who, in His deity raised Himself from the dead on the third day, ascending to the right hand of the Majesty on High, from which He shed forth His Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. Thereby, and because of emanation and sanctification, reasonably termed the Holy Spirit.
I believe in the one true saving gospel: the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which saving graces are individually appropriated respectively through repentance; water baptism by immersion with the invocation of Jesus’ name: thereby washed in his blood; and the infilling of His Spirit as in the beginning.
I believe in the holy, universal, and apostolic Church; the communion of the saints; and the forgiveness of sins; the sacramental mysteries of: Jesus name water baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and the laying on of hands. I believe in the resurrection of the body; the catching away of the church; the physical return of Jesus Christ; eternal judgment; and life everlasting.

Amen


Apostolically Speaking
☩ David Ignatius


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