60 Answers on the Godhead
I recently outlined four essential truths about the Doctrine of the Trinity. In that article, I mentioned a few detractors of the Doctrine of the Trinity, one being ‘oneness Pentecostals’. One of the more popular incarnations of this group is the organization known as the United Pentecostal Church International (UPCI). On the official website, there is a tract called “60 Questions on the Godhead” wherein the UPCI outlines 60 questions concerning the nature of God and defends a form of modalism. I will reproduce these questions and answer them in an effort to correct some of the misunderstandings in the tract.
1. Is the word trinity in the Bible
Me: No, also, this is irrelevant. The word ‘trinity’ is used as a single, summarizing word of all of the Scriptural data testifying to the nature of God. Other words not found in the Bible include ‘rapture’, ‘pre-millennialism’, and ‘Bible’.
2. Does the Bible say that there are three persons in the Godhead?
Me: No, also, this is irrelevant and anachronistic. The word ‘person’ didn’t exist at the time of the writing of the Bible. Moreover, it’s Latin, not Greek. Again, the fact that the word ‘person’ isn’t in the Bible is irrelevant. The appropriate question is whether ‘person’ accurately describes the Scriptural data pertaining to the nature of God.
3. Does the Bible speak of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost?
4. Do these titles as used in Matthew 28:19 mean that there are three separate and distinct persons in the Godhead?
UPCI: No, they refer to three offices, roles, or relationship to humanity.
Me: This depends on one’s presuppositions. As a Trinitarian, I read these as the titles of the three persons of the one God. As a Jehovah’s Witness, I would read them as the titles of the one God the Father, the created god the Son and the impersonal Spirit. So, the UPCI is just asserting its presupposition here.
5. Does the Bible use the word three in reference to God?
UPCI: Only one verse in the entire Bible does so-I John 5:7. It speaks of the Father, the Word (instead of Son), and the Holy Ghost, and it concludes by saying, “These three are one.”
Me: This is a difficult verse. My translation reads “There are three witnesses — the Spirit, the water and the blood — and these three are in agreement.” which may or may not be reference to God. In any event, no the Bible does not say there are three Gods.
6. Does the Bible use the word one in reference to God?
UPCI: Yes, many times. For example, see Zechariah 14:9; Malachi 2:10; Matthew 23:9; Mark 12:29, 32; John 8:41; 10:30; Romans 3:30; I Corinthians 8:4; Galatians 3:20; I Timothy 2:5; James 2:19.
Me: Yes, there is but one God.
7. Can the mystery of the Godhead be understood?
UPCI: Yes. Romans 1:20; Colossians 2:9; I Timothy 3:16.
Me: Yes, in the basic affirmation that God became flesh and died as an expiation.
8. Has the Christian only one Heavenly Father?
UPCI: Yes. Matthew 23:9.
Me: Yes, so does Jesus. John 10:25-30, Matthew 6:9
9. Then why did Jesus say to Philip, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9)?
UPCI: Because Jesus is the express image of God’s person. Hebrews 1:3. The Greek word for person in this verse literally means “substance.”
Me: This is true but with clarification. First, Hebrews 1 is probably the strongest passage affirming the distinction between the Father and the Son, particularly verse 5. Second, there is no Greek word for ‘person’ in this verse because ‘person’ is a Latin word. Third, the Doctrine of the Trinity says that the Father and the Son are of the same substance. They are one in substance and two in person. Fourthly, cross reference John 1:18 “No one has ever seen God; but the only and unique Son, who is identical with God and is at the Father’s side — he has made him known.”
10. Does the Bible say that there are two persons in the Godhead?
Me: No, see Question 2
11. Does the Bible say that all the Godhead is revealed in one person?
UPCI: Yes, in Jesus Christ. II Corinthians 4:4; Colossians 1:19; 2:9; Hebrews 1:3.
Me: No, because the Bible doesn’t use the word ‘person’. However, yes, the Bible does affirm that Jesus is truly God and the express image of the Divine as all of the verses listed demonstrate.
12. Is the mystery of the Deity hidden from some people?
UPCI: Yes. Luke 10:21-22.
Me: Yes, but this passage hardly does any favours to the UPCI interpretation. Look at all the personal distinctions between the Father and the Son
“Father, Lord of heaven and earth, I thank you because you concealed these things from the sophisticated and educated, yet revealed them to ordinary people. Yes, Father, I thank you that it pleased you to do this. My Father has handed over everything to me. Indeed, no one fully knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”
13. Who is the Father?
UPCI: The Father is the one God, particularly as revealed in parental relationship to humanity. Deuteronomy 32:6; Malachi 2:10.
14. Where was God the Father while Jesus was on earth?
UPCI: The Father was in Christ. John 14:10; II Corinthians 5:19. He was also in heaven, for God is omnipresent.
Me: God is omnipresent, so ‘where’ is a non-category. The Father is united with Christ (as the verses affirm), but that doesn’t make them the same person.
15. Did the prophet Isaiah say that Jesus would be the Father?
UPCI: Yes. Isaiah 9:6; 63:16.
Me: No. The famous titles ascribed in chapter 9 are often misused. They are Pele-Yo‘etz El Gibbor Avi-‘Ad Sar-Shalom which rendered in English are “Wonder of a Counselor, Mighty God, Father of Eternity, Prince of Peace. “Father of Eternity” is not the same thing as “God the Father”. It is a title equivalent to Creator. This is further supported in John 1:3. Chapter 63 isn’t talking about Jesus.
16. When God said, “Let us make man in our image” (Genesis 1:26), was He speaking to another person in the Godhead?
UPCI: No. Isaiah 44:24; Malachi 2:10.
Me: Maybe. This is a contested among Trinitarians whether this ‘our’ is reference to the other persons of the Trinity or a sort of royal ‘our’. In any event, Isaiah 44 and Malachi 2 say that only one God was creator and Trinitarianism affirms that.
17. How many of God’s qualities were in Christ?
UPCI: All. Colossians 2:9.
Me: “In him was all the fulness of Deity pleased to dwell” – Colossians 2:9
18. How may we see the God who sent Jesus into the world?
UPCI: By seeing Jesus. John 12:44-45; 14:9.
Me: By seeing Jesus who is the express image of God. Hebrews 1:3
19. Does the Bible say that Jesus is the Almighty?
UPCI: Yes. Revelation 1:8
20. Whom do some designate as the first person in the trinity?
UPCI: God the Father.
Me: God the Father.
21. Whom do some designate as the last person in the trinity?
UPCI: The Holy Ghost. But Jesus said that He was the first and last. Revelation 1:17-18
Me: God the Holy Spirit. Notice Jesus didn’t say he was the “first and last person of the Trinity”. Context is king.
22. How many persons did John see sitting on the throne in heaven?
UPCI: One. Revelation 4:2.
Me: One. But it is important to notice that God also hasn’t been seen by any man. The only begotten Son is the one who has made him known. These types of arguments don’t hold any water. For one, these visions are sometimes not literal representations of what God looks like. Secondarily, on Trinitarianism, Jesus (the Son) is the only person of the Trinity who would have a visible component to his nature; the Holy Spirit and the Father are immaterial. In other words, the presence of only one visible divine person is consistent with Trinitarianism and oneness Pentecostal theology.
23. If Jesus is the first and the last, why did God say in Isaiah 44:6 that He was the first and the last?
UPCI: Because Jesus is the God of the Old Testament incarnate.
Me: This is true and consistent with Trinitarianism.
24. Did Jesus tell Satan that God alone should be worshiped?
UPCI: Yes. Matthew 4:10
25. Does the devil believe in more than one God?
UPCI: No. James 2:19.
Me: No, and neither do Trinitarians
26. Does the Bible say that God, who is the Word, was made flesh?
UPCI: Yes John 1:1, 14.
Me: No, the Bible says that the Word who is God was made flesh. This may seem nit picky but the ordering matters. John 1 states “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God”.
27. For what purpose was God manifested in the flesh?
UPCI: To save sinners. Hebrews 2:9, 14.
28. Was Jesus God manifested in the flesh?
UPCI: Yes. I Timothy 3:16.
29. Could Jesus have been on earth and in heaven at the same time?
UPCI: Yes. John 3:13.
Me: This is a really odd question. I suppose that it could be possible but I don’t see the relevance. More importantly, John 3:13 does not support this notion. If anything, it contradicts because Jesus says that he has come down from Heaven; this would more strongly imply he is no longer in Heaven than simultaneous presence in both.
30. Does the Bible say that there is but one Lord?
UPCI: Yes. Isaiah 45:18; Ephesians 4:5.
Me: Yes. Also, keep reading Ephesians 4. It says “there is one Lord, one trust, one baptism, and one God the Father of all, who rules over all, works through all and is in all”. There is one Lord and one God the Father. This is one of the many many examples throughout the Epsitles where the Apostles distinguished between the Son and the Father by ascribing “Lord” to Jesus and “God” to the Father. As noted earlier, both are affirmations of divinity. In this way, the Apostles could affirm that there is one God, Jesus and the Father are that one God, but the Father isn’t Jesus. There’s a really interesting grammatical discussion that would be relevant here, but it is rather lengthy and tedious.
31. Does the Bible say that Christ is the Lord?
UPCI: Yes. Luke 2:11.
Me: Yes, see above!
32. Does the Bible say that the Lord is God?
UPCI: Yes. I Kings 18:39; Zechariah 14:5; Acts 2:39; Revelation 19:1.
Me: Yes, see number 30!
To be Continued!
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