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: https://www.facebook.com/groups/179321745539247/
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.
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 Jesus—1 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:
UNITED PENTECOSTAL CHURCH INTERNATIONAL,
GENERAL BOARD, DOCTRINAL POSITION PAPER
(PASSED BY THE GENERAL BOARD ON MARCH 3, 2004)
THE TRUE HUMANITY OF JESUS CHRIST
... 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,”
☩ David Ignatius