Sunday, October 1, 2017

Modalistic Monarchianism, Hayes vs Conn

Modalistic Monarchianism
Bishop Jerry L. Hayes
(Third and Final Affirmative on Modalism as the Proper Paradigm for Oneness Theology)

Read all six position papers exchanged between Bishop Hayes and Bishop Conn on the subject of Modalism in the "Files" section, at:
Dear friends, I greet you in the lovely name of Jesus. 

In the dateless past, when man lifted his face to the night sky and was amazed by the awesomeness of his stelar canopy he knew there was a Creator, and when he took himself to the shore and viewed the deafening waves crashing onto the rocks he sensed the presence of the Almighty. Since that time, from before any can remember, man has grappled with coming to know that Being which was so obvious all around him. Then it happened, the Creator of the universe stepped into man’s world through the matrix of a woman’s womb, and the mystery of the ages was made transparent through the Incarnation.
So, we come before you for the third and final installment of our affirmative of the revelation of the mystery of the economy of the Deity - which we call Modalistic Monarchianism. 
My friend and opponent in this discussion is Bishop Mike Conn, who has taken the negative position against Modalism. This is an ongoing exploration of the Incarnation of the Mighty God in Christ. Both Bishop Conn and myself are Oneness believers that are seeking to bring the Jesus of holy Scriptures into sharper focus.
While this is the last position paper of this discussion, my opponent and I will continue our exchanges on the social medium of FaceBook for a limited period of time. These exchanges will be published (in book form) with the position papers, at some point in the near future.

To Begin:
My friend has been mistaken in his understanding of Modalism. The previous papers demonstrate that in living color. His misunderstanding is understandable, because he has been misinformed. Sadly, we live in a time that is characterized by “Fake News.” One can hardly place faith in what is read on news outlets or in what is viewed on the evening newscasts. Sadly, the 21st century does not have the corner on false information. At the turn of the 19th to the 20th centuries, when Pentecostalism was sprouting in America, Arian groups had put out an avalanche of misinformation relating to historical theological positions of orthodox Christianity. It is unfortunate that the 20th century Pentecostal church fathers bought into that misinformation. But they did. Attacked particularly by the Arians was the Trinity and Modalism. Both positions advocated the full deity of Jesus Christ, which Arian scholars loathed. Early Oneness Pentecostal leaders consumed the anti-trinitarian writings of the Arians’ to fill the need for historical rebuttal to Trinitarianism, since they lacked historical scholars of their own. The Arians hated the Council of Nicæa (A.D. 325) because it canonized the full deity of Jesus; they were/are guilty of teaching falsely that the Trinity was established at that time. (Actually the Council was dominated by Modalistic Monarchianism, as my book “Godhead Theology” establishes.) Thus, Oneness Pentecostals, ever since, have falsely denounced Nicæa as being a Trinitarian council. Unfortunately, Bishop Conn has injected John Paterson (a Oneness writer of this time period) into our discussion as an authority on Modalism.
Paterson, like so many of his era, was just coming out of Trinitarianism and was too gullible in receiving, as valid, the lying propaganda of the enemies of truth, whether they were Pluralists or Subordinationists. Paterson taught falsely concerning Modalism. What follows will prove my accusation against Paterson correct.
Paterson stated, concerning Modalism (see Conn’s 3rd Paper, paragraph 2): “While admitting that Jesus had a real body of flesh and blood, these men taught that it was activated, not by a human spirit, human mind, and human will, but solely and directly by the indwelling Spirit of God. The effect of such teaching is to reduce Christ to a mere body of clay pushed around by the Eternal Spirit.” Paterson had drunk the cool-aid of the enemies of truth (as has Brother Conn) and was here accusing Modalism of Apollinarianism (as does Brother Conn). 
Given here is the teaching of two well known Modalistic Monarchians of the early and mid 2nd century. Their statements will show that they believed and taught the humanity, as well as the deity, of Christ.
Ignatius of Antioch (A.D. 107-110):
Ephesians 18:2 “For our God, Jesus Christ, was conceived by Mary according to God’s plan, both from the seed of David and from the Holy Spirit. ...” 20:2 “... in Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David according to the flesh, being both the Son of man and the Son of God, ...” 
When a distinction is made between Jesus and the Father, Bishop Ignatius qualifies it by emphasizing the humanity of Christ (Magnesians 13:2 cf 1 Timothy 2:5): Mag. 13:2 “Be obedient to the bishop and to one another, as Jesus Christ was to the Father [according to the flesh], ...” ∼ In this statement, both Paterson and Conn are refuted. The Modalistic Monarchian bishop of Antioch taught that Jesus was“obedient” to the Father. Thus, MMs of the early centuries of the Church taught that Jesus had a human mind and volition, separate from God, which could determine and will to obey.
Shepherd of Hermas (A.D. 100-150):
In the following passage, the Shepherd of Hermas identifies the Holy Spirit with Christ, and as the Creator (also, the term “flesh” is used for the whole human person - not just the body): “The preexistent Holy Spirit, which created all creation, God caused to dwell in the flesh which he wished.” According to the Shepherd of Hermas, it was the Holy Spirit that was incarnated in Jesus. Then he proceeds to speak of the flesh of Christ in a submissive role – showing the dual nature: “So this flesh, in which the Holy Spirit dwelled, served the Spirit well, living in reverence and purity, and did not defile the Spirit in any way.” (Shepherd of Hermas 59:5) ~ Again, in this statement, both Paterson and Conn are refuted. The Modalistic Monarchian Shepherd of Hermas taught that Jesus “served” the Holy Spirit and lived “in reverence and purity, and did not defile the Spirit in any way.”  Thus, MMs of the early centuries of the Church taught that Jesus had a human mind and volition, separate from God, which could determine and will to serve.
So, then, John Paterson was wrong about the Modalistic Monarchians, and as a consequence Bishop Mike Conn has been wrong for believing Paterson. 
We call on Bishop Conn to acknowledge his mistake and adopt Modalistic Monarchianism as the proper paradigm for Oneness theology.

Dual Nature Answers All
When the Negative presents the “Fatal Flaws” in his 3rd paper, they, each one, fail in the face of the biblical Dual Nature of Jesus.
It was inevitable that the battleground of this debate would be the Dual Nature of Christ. This was bound to be true because the crux of the core of the negative’s argument against Modalistic Monarchianism is that MM has one mode of God interceding to another mode of God. Since God cannot mediate to Himself, says my opponent, MM has no mediator. This is the core of Conn’s argument and the crux of it is the Dual Nature. When the Dual Nature is viewed correctly, biblically, it is the human nature that is the mediator (the Man Christ Jesus1 Timothy 2:5). The God nature, being distinct from the human nature, remains outside the administration of mediator. Therefore, it is the Incarnate Deity that is the Son of God mode. 
Of course, Bishop Conn has objected in the strongest terms.
Says Friend Conn, concerning myself: “Somehow, he claims that the Son of God is the “mode” and the Son of Man is the “mediator.” To quote his words exactly, he said, Jesus is “The Son of God when we speak of the divine origin, and ... Son of Man when we speak of his human origin.” Jerry does not substantiate any of this by scripture, nor are we given a quote from a secular source that indicates any other Modalists have this same resolve. Yet, we are expected to believe it without scriptural proof.”
First, I dealt with the Dual Nature (Son of God and Son of Man) in my 2nd paper (paragraphs 18-25) and will not use up word currency again on that particular.
Second, however, to the Negative’s challenge to produce a source other than myself for the Son of God and the Son of Man paradigm, I offer the following with which my friend should be  familiar:


... when God came in flesh, deity and humanity were joined together in the one person of Jesus Christ. Christ was the Word become flesh (John 1:14). He was “conceived” by a virgin (Luke 1:31; 2:21), gestated in her womb (Luke 2:5-6), and born of her (Luke 1:35; 2:7; Matthew 1:16-25). 
Jesus was both the Son of God and the Son of man (Son of humanity). God’s Spirit caused a virgin to conceive; therefore, the holy child to whom she gave birth is the Son of God (Luke 1:35)[,] [b]ecause “that holy thing” which was born of her was God manifest in the flesh[.] He is also the Son of man. 
“Son of” also means “having the nature or character of,” as in “sons of thunder,” “sons of Belial,” and “son of consolation.” Jesus had the very character of God as well as that of perfect humanity, for no one can be like God in every way, be equal with God, or have God’s complete character without being the one God Himself. (See Isaiah 46:9; 48:11; John 5:18.) The identification of Jesus as the unique Son of God signifies that He is God in flesh. 
Although we can recognize both deity and humanity, it is impossible to separate the two in Christ. It is apparent that Jesus was human in every way, but it is equally apparent that in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. 
the International Articles of Faith of the United Pentecostal Church International, ... state, “Jesus on His Father’s side was divine, on His mother’s side, human; thus, He was known as the Son of God and also the Son of man, ... .” 
(All bolding and underlining in the above Position Paper of the UPCI is mine, for emphasis.)

Bishop Conn was wrong to object to the Son of God and the Son of Man paradigm of the Dual Nature. 
We call on Bishop Conn to acknowledge his mistake and adopt Modalistic Monarchianism as the proper paradigm for Oneness theology.

The Holy Spirit as a Mode of God and also a Mediator to God
Moreover, when the Negative mentions the Holy Spirit as a mediator (Romans 8:26-27), he would do well to recall his own view (which we hold as well) that the Holy Spirit  is a composite of the human spirit of Jesus and the divine Spirit of God. It is the Spirit of the Son that indwells believers (Galatians 4:6) Therefore the mediation of the Holy Spirit is not without the human element of Christ. It is the human Christ that is the Mediator: flesh of our flesh, bone of our bone, soul of our soul, spirit of our spirit. So, then, the Holy Spirit (as is the Son) is the Father in a different way of being—with the human element added.  Therefore, the Holy Spirit is the Mediator, as is the Son of God, in a different way of being. 
So, then, we call on Bishop Conn to acknowledge his mistake and adopt Modalistic Monarchianism as the proper paradigm for Oneness theology.

Jesus is God, the Father
In a FaceBook exchange, my friend was asked: “Bro Mike is Jesus not God? Or, not the Father.” To which he answered: “I prefer to define Him like God, angels and the Apostles defined Him. Jesus is the SON OF GOD.” This, in my view, is Bishop Conn’s weakness; he has a problem confessing Jesus to be God the Father. This weakness is revealed in the last paragraph of his first paper. There Mike juxtaposes the three views: Trinitarianism, Arianism and Oneness. When defining Oneness he writes: “True Oneness sees the Son as a glorified human being. He is a MAN not a mode. He has a human mind that understands our difficulties and He mediates between us and God.” The sad thing about Mike's position is that that is ALL he seems to see Jesus being: i.e. “a glorified human being.” (If this is all one says about Jesus, he is telling only a half truth.) Then in his 3rd and final paper, in his closing remarks, where he could have, should have, assured us all of his fidelity to the Oneness faith by acclaiming the full deity of Jesus, he does no such thing. But he does double down on his position that Jesus is nothing more than a “glorified human being.” And he does so in a manner that causes us concern for my friends Oneness orthodoxy.
In explaining his view of the Oneness doctrine, Bishop Conn draws a parallel between Moses and Jesus. 
Conn: “Moses became a “god to Pharaoh” (Exodus 7:1). Does Bishop Conn mean that Jesus was god in the same sense as was Moses? It seems so. But I hope not. We may never know.
Conn: God did many signs and wonders through Moses. God revealed Himself to Moses in “ways” that no other man had ever known (Numbers 12:6-8 and Psalm 103:7)” Is Bishop Conn saying that the miracles of Jesus were not His own? It seems so. But I hope not. We may never know.
Conn: “God took Moses[’] human “spirit” and placed it on seventy selected men in Israel (Numbers 11:25). When the “spirit” of Moses came upon them, they prophesied and had supernatural ability.” Is Bishop Conn saying that the Holy Spirit that came at Pentecost was only the “human” spirit of Jesus (the spirit of “a glorified man”)? As the rest of the Bishop’s paralleling demonstrates -  It is certainly so! 
Here, is demonstrated how the spirit of false doctrine will blind those caught up in its spell: The Bible does NOT say that “God took Moses[’] human “spirit” and placed it on seventy selected men in Israel...” as Brother Conn has, mistakenly, stated. Here is what the Bible actually states: And the Lord came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders:...” (Underlining mine.) The “spirit that was upon him” ( this v25 is a result of v12) was NOT the human spirit of Moses, but the Spirit of YHWH. I ask my Friend, Were you not aware of this and made a mistake? Or, did you know what the Scripture states and chose to misrepresent it anyway? I prefer to believe the former of you and not the latter. 
The Negative’s paralleling of Jesus with Moses, as to both being god, leaves us puzzled as to just how he understands Jesus being deity - especially after he has so challenged our explanation of the Dual Nature. And even more so, now that he has misrepresented Numbers 11:12, 25, where it is clearly the Spirit of Father God (that was upon Moses to govern), and not Moses’ human spirit that was shared with the elders of Israel.
Conn: Did God and Moses’ body and spirit constitute a Trinity of Divine Persons? Absolutely not! It was a picture of the future Incarnation of God in Christ Jesus and what one God, and one man can do when that man is totally one with God.” If one ever doubted Bishop Mike Conn’s view of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, he has cleared it up for us in the final words of his final position paper denying Modalism. In his Moses/Jesus parallel, Moses and YHWH are one God and one man. This one man had a man body and a man spirit. Conn likens this three-ness to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but assures us this does not make a Trinity. This one God, and one man body, and one man spirit, which we see in Moses and YHWH, in Bishop Mike Conn’s theology, demonstrates the one Father, one human body of Christ, and one human spirit of Christ. Again, we are assured that this does not make a Trinity. So. here we have Bishop Conn’s concept of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit: it is God (Conn’s Father), “a glorified human being” (Conn’s Son), and the human spirit of the “glorified human being”(Conn’s Holy Spirit).  I do not know any Oneness scholar anywhere, nor at any time, that would consider this to be Oneness orthodoxy. 
So, then, We call on Bishop Conn to acknowledge his mistake and adopt Modalistic Monarchianism as the proper paradigm for Oneness theology.

Modalism as a Biblical Term
We do recognize distinctives within the Deity. This position is articulated by Paul to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 12:5-6. 
Truly, God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. One must admit that these are three separate and distinct ... somethings: but not persons—at least in the modern understanding of that word.  What to call these distinctions has been a point of debate: Augustine says: “three somewhats;” Anselm, “three I know not what;” Barth, “three ways of being” or “three modes;” Moses Stuart and Sabellius say “distinctions.” Karl Barth, considered by many in academia to have been the greatest theologian since Paul, felt that “mode” was the best and most biblical term to use. He cited Hebrews 1:3 as Scriptural support for his championing of “mode.”
Heb. 1:3 already called the Son χαρακτὴρ τῆς ὑποστάσεως θεοῦ i.e., in His mode of being an "impress" or countertype of the mode of being of God the "Father." —Karl Barth (Church Dogmatics, Vol 1.1, pg 360)

“who being the brightness of the glory, and the impress of His subsistence, bearing up also the all things by the saying of his might -- through himself having made a cleansing of our sins, sat down at the right hand of the greatness in the highest,”

Apostolically Speaking
☩ David Ignatius

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