BOTH TRINITARIANS AND ONENESSIANS
ARE REFINED FORMS OF GNOSTICISM.
By Tom Raddatz of Ohio
(Originally published in 2017)
The Apostles would be ashamed of the new doctrines
Apparently, the Oneness Jesus, and his apostles, were all ashamed of the [false] Oneness good news that God incarnated himself. Imagine if God had incarnated himself and revealed himself to you and you were Moses; what would you do?
When God presented himself to Moses at the burning bush in Exodus 3, He told Moses exactly who He was, what His name was, why He was calling out to Moses, and what He had planned. And then Moses went out and straightly proclaimed that YHWH himself had sent him. No ambiguity here whatsoever.
When Jesus presented himself to Israel to begin his public ministry, what did he proclaim of himself? Did he claim that he was YHWH incarnate in fulfillment of Isaiah 9:6 as Onenessians suppose? No he did not. Although he did quote Isaiah, not once did he or any apostle claim Jesus was a fulfillment of Isaiah 9:6. In declaring who he was and what he was about to do, Jesus quoted the following from Isaiah 61:
18 “‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim release to the captives, recovering of sight to the blind, to deliver those who are crushed, 19 And to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.’ 20 He closed the book [of Isaiah], gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began to tell them, ‘Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’”
Here, Jesus was given the whole scroll of Isaiah and had to unroll it to near the back. He had to have passed right by 9:6. He chose instead to declare his ministry by presenting himself as both personally distinct from God who sent him and having been anointed by God. We need to keep in mind that to be anointed was something no one took upon himself.
The Messiah does not anoint himself
The word for “Messiah” in the Old Testament means “to be anointed” (mishchah,
Strong’s H#4888). It comes from the root word anoint (mashach, Strong’s H#4886).
The word has the following definition in Strong’s Bible Dictionary: “unction (the act); by implication, a consecratory gift.” This latter notion of a gift very clearly and specifically means that something has been granted or given to the one being anointed. For example, Jacob’s pillow rocks didn’t anoint themselves. Nor did the sons of Aaron anoint themselves when they were anointed by Moses. Thus, when Jesus Christ said, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth…” (Matthew 28:18), this is precisely what he was referring to: the OT concept of being the anointed one and having authority gifted to him by God.
Now notice how the NT describes, very clearly, what this anointing means, and clearly states the same thing the OT taught us about being anointed:
4 “Nobody takes this honor on himself, but he is called by God, just like Aaron was. 5 So also Christ didn’t glorify himself to be made a high priest, but it was he who said to him, “You are my Son. Today I have become your father.” 6 As he says also in another place, “You are a priest forever…” (Hebrews 5:4–6)
The whole point of being anointed is that it is an “official” act of someone giving or bestowing honor or power on someone else. It is absolutely NOT something one takes on himself. And ever so clearly, the Bible says, “so also Christ.” If words and language mean anything at all, then this passage is a clear, “it is written again” Scripture that completely refutes the Onenessian jumped-to conclusion that God the Father made himself into the Messiah. If God anointed Himself, then by the very description given of being anointed, even He is disqualified! God is not the author of confusion and does not go against His own word!
Jesus was NOT a God in human clothing, a flesh suit.
Now then, back to our topic of Jesus’ introduction of himself. Instead of taking Jesus at his word, the Onenessian position is to claim that he was 100% God and 100% man. Onenessians often describe this condition by saying that “God robed Himself in flesh” to make Himself known. Jesus made a similar analogy when he said:
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves.” (Matthew 7:15)
Jesus’ point is that those who robe themselves in clothing that hides and disguises their true identity are really just masquerading in order to deceive. The problem with the theory of the “100% God/100% man” idea is twofold. First, God cannot lie; and second, God cannot be tempted. Jesus claimed to be anointed by God and spoke of God in the third person, which would be a lie if he himself were indeed God. For the second point, as we see in the comparison to wolves in sheep’s clothing, wearing outer clothes doesn’t change the inner personality. If Jesus were “God robed in flesh,” as people assume, then He certainly couldn’t have been tempted by sin like the Bible says of him.
Now then, when Jesus presented himself to the apostle Paul (presumably a lot like when God presented himself to Moses according to the erroneous Oneness view), what did Paul do? Did he run straight out and preach that God had incarnated himself as a man named Jesus? No, rather, it is written of Paul that…
20 “Immediately in the synagogues he proclaimed the Christ, that he is the Son of God… 22 But Saul increased more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived at Damascus, proving that this is the Christ.”
We need to keep in mind that to be anointed, to be “Christ,” was something no one took upon himself. Paul didn’t set out to prove Jesus was God incarnate, but that Jesus was anointed by God (something no one takes upon themselves, as Aaron, so also Christ). Now we return to what Paul was preaching (declaring) of what had been revealed to him. And it looks nothing whatsoever like what Moses said about YHWH revealing himself to Moses…
32 “We bring you good news of the promise made to the fathers, 33 that God has fulfilled the same to us, their children, in that he raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second psalm, ‘You are my Son. Today I have become your father.’
34 Concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he has spoken thus: ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’ 35 Therefore he says also in another psalm, ‘You will not allow your Holy One to see decay.’ 36 For David, after he had in his own generation served the counsel of God, fell asleep, and was laid with his fathers, and saw decay. 37 But he whom God raised up saw no decay. 38 Be it known to you therefore, brothers , that through this man is proclaimed to you remission of sins, 39 and by him everyone who believes is justified from all things, from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses. 40 Beware therefore, lest that come on you which is spoken in the prophets: 41 ’Behold, you scoffers, and wonder, and perish; For I work a work in your days, A work which you will in no way believe, if one declares it to you.’” (Acts 13:32-41)
1 “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the Good News of God, 2 which he promised before through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, 4 who was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 1:1-4)
The pagan concept of “Incarnations of Deity”
In no way did Paul view the Jesus that he preached as an incarnation of God.
Rather, Paul was quite absolutely repulsed by the pagan idea of gods coming to earth in the form of men!
8“At Lystra a certain man sat, impotent in his feet, a cripple from his mother’s womb, who never had walked. 9 He was listening to Paul speaking, who, fastening eyes on him, and seeing that he had faith to be made whole, 10 said with a loud voice, ‘Stand upright on your feet!’ He leaped up and walked. 11 When the multitude saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voice, saying in the language of Lycaonia, ‘The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!’ 12 They called Barnabas ‘Jupiter,’ and Paul ‘Mercury,’ because he was the chief speaker. 13 The priest of Jupiter, whose temple was in front of their city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, and would have made a sacrifice along with the multitudes. 14 But when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of it, they tore their clothes, and sprang into the multitude, crying out, 15 ‘Men, why are you doing these things?’”
The writers of the Bible knew how to form a sentence that reads, “the gods have come down to us in the likeness of men.” But nowhere in the whole Bible will you read such a clearly stated sentence about the biblical YHWH “coming to us in the likeness of men.”
Looking for such a phrase or statement in the Scripture is just as fruitless as looking for the word “Trinity” or a definition of the Trinity in the Bible. Onenessians are quick to point this out to Trinitarians. But that doesn’t stop the Onenessians from interpreting the Bible the same way Trinitarians do through their mutually held pagan idea of incarnations of deity!
Some say, “The above scriptures in paragraph #2 describe the humanity and deity of Christ…the dual nature of Christ”
The historical fact is that the dual nature doctrine that some are now preaching was originally an antichristian teaching that was repugnant to apostolic Christians. We have this from Irenaeus who was a disciple of Polycarp who was a disciple of John.
“The Gospel, therefore, knew no other son of man but him who was of Mary, who also suffered; and no Christ who flew away from Jesus before the passion; but…blasphemous systems which divide the Lord…say… that he was formed of two different substances. For this reason also he has thus testified to us in his Epistle: ‘Little children, it is the last time; and as ye have heard that Antichrist doth come, now have many antichrists appeared…’”
(Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book 3, Chapter 16, par. 5)
Let these words sink in: “blasphemous systems…divide the Lord…saying that he was formed of two different substances.”
You have just read where the idea of the dual natures in Christ came from: the antichristian Gnostics. Nowhere in the Bible will you read where it describes Christ as personally made of two natures. To the contrary, the historical truth is that the early Christians sharply rejected the “two substance” or “two nature” doctrine as an antichristian invention.
This is an extremely important truth: without the antichristian “dual natures” doctrine, both Trinitarianism and Onenessianism completely fall apart. That is simply because of the absolute overabundance of Scriptures clearly describing Jesus as a human, personally separate and distinct from his God and Father.
Onenessians are right to criticize Trinitarians for adopting the idea of three persons in the godhead from pagans. Why then don’t they realize that Gnostics invented their precious “dual natures” doctrine? How can anyone believe that the Gnostics, (the antichristians of the Bible according to Irenaeus), had a better way of explaining Jesus’ human relationship to deity than the one in the Bible?
Read this biblical explanation again:
“Since then the children have shared in flesh and blood, he also himself in like manner partook of the same…Therefore he was obligated in all things to be made like his brothers, that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make atonement for the sins of the people…”
Doctrines invented and redefined by antichristians
Any Christian who wishes to be true to the NT Scriptures and the words of Christ needs to seriously consider the evidence. If you can’t go to the Scriptures and show where it clearly and explicitly teaches that Christ is personally made of two natures, then you can be certain that you are adding to the Bible a teaching that was invented by antichristians, and you are redefining—that is, taking away from—what the Bible does say Christ is.
Both Trinitarians and Onenessians are refined forms of Gnosticism.
They are thus “Neo-Gnostics.”