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Outlasting the Gay Revolution: Michael Brown’s New Book (Plus Some Fun Interaction Toward the End on Other Important Matters)

I was joined my Michael Brown today to discuss his new book, Outlasting the Gay Revolution.  I had read the book a few months ago, and it is now available.  We discussed the principles he lays out for a “multi-generational approach” to the subject.  We covered that during the first 45 minutes, and then we discussed two issues together, one a graphic Michael had posted on his FaceBook page about Noah, grace, and obedience, and the other Michael’s comments about T.D. Jakes in a recent Line of Fire broadcast.  As usual, our goal was to model dialogue in such a way as to clarify and edify, and hopefully that is what happened.

Here is the YouTube link:

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Today’s show will air LIVE at 6:00pm EDT. Follow the link below for further information about the live show.

Scripture Index for The Forgotten Trinity

A Brother in St. Louis Kindly Generated This Index

Genesis 1:1 35, 49 Isaiah 10:21 81, 82
Genesis 1:2 147 Isaiah 31:3 81
Genesis 1:26 166 Isaiah 40:13-18 38
Genesis 18:1 63 Isaiah 40:21-28 38-39
Genesis 27 111 Isaiah 40:25 25
Genesis 43:33 111 Isaiah 41:22 100
Isaiah 41:22-24 44
Exodus 3:14 98 Isaiah 41:4 44, 87, 98, 100
Exodus 4:22 111 Isaiah 43:10 36, 98, 99
Exodus 19:5 77 Isaiah 43:25 99
Isaiah 44:24 44
Numbers 23:14 43 Isaiah 44:6-8 36-37
Isaiah 45:18 45
Deuteronomy 6:4-6 35 Isaiah 45:18 99
Deuteronomy 7:6 77 Isaiah 45:21 128
Deuteronomy 10:14 35 Isaiah 45:21-22 37
Deuteronomy 10:17 81 Isaiah 45:23 128
Deuteronomy 14:2 77 Isaiah 46:4 98
Deuteronomy 21:17 111 Isaiah 46:9-10 39
Deuteronomy 29:29 34, 173 Isaiah 48:11 91
Isaiah 48:13 133
1 Kings 11:3 135 Isaiah 51:12 99
Isaiah 52:6 99
2 Chronicles 6:18 41 Isaiah 53:1 136, 137
Isaiah 53:2 125
Nehemiah 9:32 81 Isaiah 55:8-9 35
Isaiah 57:15 42
Psalm 19:1 133
Psalm 22:1 157 Jeremiah 10:10-11 40, 105
Psalm 24:1 133 Jeremiah 23:24 41
Psalm 24:8 81 Jeremiah 31:9 111
Psalm 33:6,9 43, 50 Jeremiah 32:18 81
Psalm 45:6-7 74
Psalm 45:10-12 75 Ezekiel 37:23 76-77
Psalm 78:69 133
Psalm 89:11 133 Hosea 11:9 43, 81
Psalm 89:27 111, 113
Psalm 90:2 42, 97, 102, 133 Malachi 3:6 43
Psalm 102:25-27 42, 132, 133, 134
Psalm 104:30 147 Matthew 1:18 140
Psalm 130:7-8 76 Matthew 3:11 140
Psalm 139:7 147 Matthew 3:16-17 155
Matthew 10:19-20 149
Proverbs 3:19 133 Matthew 11:27 146, 157
Matthew 11:28 68
Isaiah 6 136 Matthew 12:31-32 144
Isaiah 6:1-3 63 Matthew 17:1-9 155
Isaiah 6:1-4 137 Matthew 27:46 157
Isaiah 6:1-10 132 Matthew 28:18-20 174
Isaiah 6:9 148 Matthew 28:19 144, 147
Isaiah 6:9-11 137
Isaiah 9:6 75, 80
Isaiah 9:7 80
Mark 3:28-29 144 John 17:23-24 155
Mark 13:11 149 John 18:5-6 96, 103
Mark 14:62 96 John 20:17 70, 91
John 20:24-25 69
Luke 1:15 140 John 20:26-27 69
Luke 4:8 112 John 20:28 70, 84, 95, 181
Luke 21:14-15 149 John 20:28-29 69
Luke 23:46 157
Acts 5:3-4 147
John 1:1 51-55, 57, 63, 84, Acts 5;32 143
John 1:1 95, 102, 123, 181 Acts 7:51 145
John 1:1-3 48, 58 Acts 8:29 142
John 1:1-18 64, 104 Acts 10:19-20 141
John 1:3 50, 56, 99 Acts 13:2 141
John 1:6, 12,13, 18 56 Acts 17:32 107
John 1:6-8 58 Acts 20:28 82, 143
John 1:10-13 58 Acts 21:11 142
John 1:14 51, 59, 102, 125 Acts 28:25-26 148
John 1:14,15,17,18 61
John 1:18 58, 62, 63, 101, 158 Romans 1:20 85
John 3:35 154 Romans 1:7 157
John 3:6 150 Romans 5:5 143
John 4:23 16 Romans 6:3 147
John 4:24 40 Romans 8:9 150
John 5:16-19 87 Romans 8:26-27 142
John 5:17 88 Romans 8:29 112
John 5:20 155 Romans 9:5 71, 73
John 6:37-39 159 Romans 14:17-18 164
John 8:24 95, 102-104 Romans 15:16 164
John 8:24, 58 101 Romans 15:30 144
John 8:58 95-98, 102-103
John 8:59 99 1 Corinthians 1:3 68, 157
John 10:28-29 159 1 Corinthians 1:9 150
John 10:30 89, 158 1 Corinthians 2:2-5 164
John 12:28 156 1 Corinthians 2:8 160
John 12:37-41 132, 136 1 Corinthians 2:10-11 142-143, 147
John 12:39-41 92, 101 1 Corinthians 6:11 164
John 13:19 95, 99, 100, 103 1 Corinthians 8:4-6 92
John 14 150 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 164
John 14:23 149 1 Corinthians 12:9-11 146
John 14:28 89, 90, 92 1 Corinthians 13:12 52
John 14:6 68
John 14:9 68 2 Corinthians 1:2 157
John 14:9-10 158 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 164
John 15:9 155 2 Corinthians 5:19 56
John 15:26 141 2 Corinthians 11:31 73
John 15:27 97 2 Corinthians 13:14 150, 164
John 16 150
John 16 13-14 141 Galatians 1:3 157
John 17:1-3 156 Galatians 3:27 147
John 17:3 83. 91, 92 Galatians 3:28 121
John 17:3-5 90-91 Galatians 4:6 142
John 17:5 90 Galatians 4:8 38
Ephesians 1:2 157 James 4:13-16 39
Ephesians 2:18 165
Ephesians 3:16-17 165 2 Peter 1:1 78-79
Ephesians 4:4-6 165 2 Peter 1:11 78-79
Ephesians 4:30 145 2 Peter 1:20-21 47
2 Peter 1:21 53, 148
Philippians 1:2 157 2 Peter 2:20 78-79
Philippians 1:21 68 2 Peter 3:18 78-79
Philippians 2:1-4 120
Philippians 2:5-11 119-121 1 John 1:1-5 60
Philippians 2:5-7 122 1 John 1:2 58
Philippians 2:6 88, 90 1 John 1:3 151
Philippians 2:6-7 123 1 John 2:23 84, 154
Philippians 2:9-11 128 1 John 4:2-3 60. 109
Philippians 3:10 150 1 John 5:10-12 84
1 John 5:20 83-84
Colossians 1:6-8 164-165
Colossians 1:15-17 106, 109-110, 112-113 Revelation 1:17-18 86
Colossians 1:16-17 58, 99, 114 Revelation 1:5 112
Colossians 1:18 112 Revelation 1:7-8 86
Colossians 2:2-3 15 Revelation 5:11-14 116
Colossians 2:3 84 Revelation 19:16 68
Colossians 2:8-9 85 Revelation 22:12-13 86-87
Colossians 2:9 85, 86
Colossians 2:18 108
Colossians 2:19 109
Colossians 3:3 159
1 Thessalonians 1:3-5 163
2 Thessalonians 2:13 164
1 Timothy 1:17 183
2 Timothy 3:16 148
2 Timothy 3:16-17 47
Titus 2:13 73, 77-80
Titus 2:13-14 75
Titus 2:14 76
Titus 3:5 150
Hebrews 1:1-3 117
Hebrews 1:2-3 99
Hebrews 1:3 110
Hebrews 1:6 112
Hebrews 1:6-8 74
Hebrews 1:8 135
Hebrews 1:8-12 133-134
Hebrews 1:10-12 132, 135
Hebrews 6:17 146
Hebrews 10:29 145

Blurring the Dividing Line:The Legacy of Phillips,Craig and Dean

This legacy article was written prior to 2006 by Eric Nielsen for Alpha & Omega Ministries. Some of the hyperlinks may no longer function, but the information is still correct.

Their songs have been standards for years in Contemporary Christian Music. They have gained legions of appreciative fans among evangelicals with their well-written lyrics, beautiful harmonies, and high-quality production values. Their music has consistently earned top ratings and frequent airplay, garnering numerous awards and nominations, not to mention album sales in the hundreds of thousands[1]. They have performed at the conventions of the National Religious Broadcasters and Christian Booksellers Association, appeared at Moody Church, played at Promise Keepers rallies[2], and recorded music for the National Day of Prayer. Their successful career in Contemporary Christian Music and popularity among evangelicals is impressive; even more so when it is realized that the members of Phillips, Craig and Dean (PCD) are Oneness Pentecostals who deny essential Christian doctrines, including the doctrines of the Trinity and of justification by faith alone!

 

Although Phillips, Craig and Deans’ Oneness beliefs have been public knowledge for some time, having been disclosed in the pages of Charisma magazine[3] and the Christian Research Journal[4], there has been very little visible reaction from the evangelical community. The reasons for this are probably several: First, as stated above, Phillips, Craig and Dean are enormously popular, and have a long career in contemporary Christian music that has provided them credibility with evangelicals. Second, the people who represent Phillips, Craig and Dean to the evangelical press and organizations have been extremely effective at obscuring PCD’s true beliefs and marginalizing their relatively few critics. There seems to be genuine confusion about what the members of PCD believe among the “gatekeepers” in the evangelical media.[5] Finally, among some evangelicals, there appears to be a general lack of concern about the doctrines of God and of salvation, or at least an insufficient understanding of their importance.

Despite the general confusion about what PCD believes, the three members of Phillips, Craig and Dean certainly cannot claim theological ignorance for themselves. The group’s promoters have been anything but shy about advertising their clients’ ministerial credentials. The group’s own web site boasts:

Phillips, Craig & Dean are three full-time church ministers; they also happen to sing together…[6]

All three men have key roles at their respective churches as pastors and teachers:

Randy Phillips serves as Pastor at his home church in Austin, Texas. Randy’s responsibilities include preaching, counseling, leading worship…

For more than 18 years, Shawn [Craig] has served as Music Pastor at his home church in St. Louis, MO. There he leads music, worship, and the New Members Disciple class.

Dan [Dean] is the Senior Pastor at his home church in Irving. TX. There Dan’s responsibilities include preaching, casting the vision for the church, oversight of day to day operations, and hiring and placement of all staff members.[7]

This article will attempt to eliminate the confusion by providing a clear statement of the beliefs of Phillips, Craig and Dean concerning the nature of God and the gospel by examining their own writings and the published writings of the churches they pastor. Their doctrines will be examined and tested in the light of Scripture. Finally, examples will be provided and analyzed to demonstrate how PCD has misrepresented their beliefs to the evangelical community.

Phillips, Craig and Dean on God’s Nature

Perhaps the most essential (that is, definitional) doctrine of the Christian faith is the doctrine of God’s existence in three eternal persons, the Trinity. The New Testament in particular proclaims this precious truth, stated here in brief form:

Within the one Being that is God, there exists eternally three coequal and coeternal persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.[8]

By contrast, the god proclaimed by Phillips, Craig and Dean is not the tri-personal being of the Bible, but merely a single person who is seen to perform various different roles; those of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit As Randy Phillips has written (italics added for emphasis):

We believe in one God who is eternal in His existence, Triune in His manifestation, being both Father, Son and Holy Ghost AND that He is Sovereign and Absolute in His authority.[9]

Dan Dean’s church web site puts it like this:

…there is One True God that has manifested Himself as Father in creation, Son in redemption and the Holy Spirit in emanation. (Deuteronomy 6:4; I Timothy 3:16; Acts 2:33)[10]

PCD is willing to use words like “Triune” of God, but only in the sense that God has three different roles that he performs throughout Scripture; three different manifestations. This is a key concept that differentiates PCD’s god from the God of the Bible. Although this god manifests Himself in these three roles of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, these manifestations are not eternal, but temporary. Additionally, there are no relationships of a personal kind between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

This is demonstrated most clearly in The Enquirer’s Handbook, a book of basic doctrines published by Randy Phillips’ ministry, The World of Pentecost. The Handbook is perhaps the most detailed theological statement available from the ministries of Randy Phillips, Shawn Craig and Dan Dean. For this reason, a good deal of attention will be given to the Handbook throughout this article. The Handbook contains several specific denials of the biblical doctrine of the Trinity, and derides the use of the term “persons” as a source of confusion:

One of the primary sources of confusion in this matter is related to the word “persons.” The doctrine of the trinity states that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three “persons” who make up one God. In actuality, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three MANIFESTATIONS of one God. This word MANIFESTATION means “to appear”, and it is quite scriptural. The Bible tells us that:

“God was MANIFEST in the flesh…” (I Timothy 3:16).[11]

The implication being made here is that since the word “persons” is not used by the Bible to refer to God, to say that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are persons is to teach a non-biblical concept. Since the word “manifest” does appear in the language of Scripture, the idea of God “appearing” in various roles is a more “scriptural” concept. However, the question we should be asking is not, “Which word is used in Scripture: ‘person’ or ‘manifest’?” but rather, “Which of these concepts does the Bible teach?” Are there three co-equal, co-eternal persons that exist in the one Being that is God, or does a single divine person simply reveal himself in various modes of performance?

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you (John 14:16-17, NASB).”

“When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me (John 15:26, NASB)…”

In these verses we can see demonstrated very clearly the personhood and the distinctness of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In chapter 14 of the Gospel of John, we see Jesus, distinct from the Father, speaking of His petition to the Father on behalf of the disciples for the sending of the Holy Spirit. Jesus makes a distinction between his own person and the person of the Holy Spirit by calling the Spirit “another Helper.” He also distinguishes between the person of the Father and the person of the Spirit by declaring that the Father will give the Spirit to the disciples. In chapter 15, Jesus continues to make the same distinctions, and and provides greater detail: the Spirit is sent by the Son, He proceeds from the Father, and He testifies about the Son. All three, Father, Son, and Spirit, are obviously seen to be persons, and all three are likewise shown to be distinct in person from the others.

The Bible demonstrates the distinct personhood of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in many other ways. The love of the Son for the Father and the Father for the Son shows distinct personhood and personal relationship (John 3:35, 5:19, 10:17, 14:31). The glory of the Father is spoken of as a glory the Son had with the Father, demonstrating a distinction between the two; Jesus’ desire and request to share that glory again demonstrates a personal relationship between Himself and the Father (John 17:5). The intercessory works of both the Son and the Spirit to the Father on behalf of believers (Romans 8:26-27, 34) demonstrate that the Son and the Spirit are distinct from the Father. For example, as an intercessor, the Holy Spirit is a personal intermediary between two other persons–the believer, and the Father. Christ’s mediation between God and men confirms both His personality and distinction from the Father in a similar fashion (1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 8:6, 9:15).

     The Enquirer’s Handbook denies that the Father, Son, and Spirit are personal centers of identity, capable of relationship with each other. Instead, it claims that the terms “Father,” “Son,” and “Holy Spirit” are merely descriptive of the ways that the unipersonal God acts.

In other words, God appeared in the flesh (as a son)…The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are simply three manifestations of One God. You, yourself, may be manifested as a son to your father, a husband to your wife, and a father to your children. As an individual person you may be manifested in various ways; and likewise the Almighty God is manifested as a Father, a Son, and a Holy Ghost while He remains indisputably, undeniably, ONE.[12]

Of course this illustration fails when one considers the Biblical teaching that the Divine Persons of the Trinity interact with each other. A man may be a father to his children, and a husband to his wife, but these roles do not feel emotion toward each other; they are not consciously self-aware. On the other hand, the Persons of the Trinity communicate with each other; they love and demonstrate their love to each other. A “manifestation” cannot have a personal relationship or personal interaction with another “manifestation.”

The One Almighty God manifested Himself as a Father in creation, as a Son in redemption, and as the Holy Ghost in regeneration…The idea of three “manifestations” as opposed to three “persons” is the most scriptural way that One God can be explained.[13]

Despite the weight such a claim may initially seem to have, none of these three activities–creation, redemption, and regeneration–demonstrate the claim that there is a unipersonal God who acts in various “manifestations.” In fact, all three of these actions involve each member of the Trinity! Did God manifest Himself solely as a Father in creation? He certainly is shown to be the Father in creation, but the Bible also says that both the Son (John 1:1-3, Colossians 1:13-16) and the Spirit (Genesis 1:2) were active in creation. We are redeemed by the work of the Son, but the Father sent the Son for the purpose of redemption (Galatians 4:4-5), and believers are sealed by the Spirit unto the day of redemption (Ephesians 1:13-14). The work of regeneration likewise involves all three Persons of the Trinity (Titus 3:4-5). So the question is raised again: Is the idea of three “manifestations” more scriptural than the doctrine of three “Persons”? Certainly not.

     The Enquirer’s Handbook is not content simply to mislead its readers concerning the nature of the Godhead, but compounds error by mischaracterizing the Trinity as a polytheistic belief in “three Gods”:

Since the death of John and the other eleven original apostles, many concepts and teachings have arisen that do not necessarily coincide with the “one God” teaching of the early church. In the year 180 A.D. Tertullian began using the term “trinity” from which was born the Catholic doctrine of three Gods, co-equal, co-existent and co-eternal. The Roman emperor Constantine in the year 325 A.D. incorporated the “doctrine of the trinity” into the Catholic Church where it has remained ever since, and most Protestant churches have accepted this doctrine without thorough examination. The “trinity”, however, generates confusion and is not in total harmony with the Scriptures. To say that there are three separate persons who somehow comprise “one God” is like trying to connect opposing sides of two magnets. When you add 1+1+1 it must equal three, and there cannot, under any circumstances, be more than ONE GOD.[14]

For the purpose of this article, it will simply be noted that this is, at the very least, a creative interpretation of the history of the early church[15]. Further, the doctrine of the Trinity does not teach that there are three beings that are God. Monotheism, the doctrine that there is only one being who is God, is the fundamental assumption that undergirds the doctrine of the Trinity.[16] It is the Oneness doctrine, not the doctrine of the Trinity, that must attempt to “connect opposing sides of two magnets” in explaining away the personal relationships within the Godhead that are described by the Scriptures.[17]

     The Enquirer’s Handbook follows modern Oneness Pentecostal tradition, claiming that the name “Jesus” is the true name of God, and should therefore be applied to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit:

…The reason for so much emphasis being placed on the name of Jesus is because JESUS is actually the NAME of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.[18]

The Holy Ghost is actually the Spirit of the Lord (Romans 8:9) and always bears his name–Jesus.[19]

In his devotional book Between Sundays, Shawn Craig similarly fails to differentiate the persons of the Father and the Son when he discusses “the bread of life.” When Jesus, in the gospel of John, applies this term to Himself, He clearly distinguishes Himself from the Father. Jesus is sent by the Father not to do His own will, but the will of the Father. Jesus is the One who is given from heaven; the Father is the One who gives Jesus:

Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.”

Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.”

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst…For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me (John 6:32-35, 38 NASB).

However, when Craig encounters this passage, he confuses the Father and the Son, calling both Jesus and the Father “the bread of life”:

Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11, KJV), and he declared, “I am the bread of life,” while assuring us, “He who comes to me will never go hungry” (John 6:35)…Father, I cry to you, “Give me the bread I need for today. I am hungry and needy apart from you, the Bread of Life.”[20]

The Enquirer’s Handbook’s views the Son of God not as the eternal Word of God, who was with God in the beginning, active in creation, and took on flesh for the redemption of believers. Instead, the Son of God is simply a way of referring to the human flesh of Jesus.

     The dual nature of Jesus is puzzling to some because they view the two natures as two persons. As a man, Jesus was the Son of God; He was flesh. But as God Almighty, Jesus was Spirit robed in flesh and existing everywhere else at once. There are two natures and not two persons. For example, you possess a human nature (your body) and a spiritual nature (your spirit). Whether your flesh and spirit remain intact or are separated, you are still only one person. The same is true of God.

A rule which may be followed to simplify this is: The Son of God refers to the flesh of God, and God, or the Father, refers to the Spirit. You may make this substitution in your mind as you read certain scriptures; flesh for Son, and Spirit for God (Father).[21]

Since the term “Son of God” refers only to the human flesh of Jesus, The Enquirer’s Handbook makes it plain that the Son of God is not eternal. He came into existence only when God took on flesh:

The question arises…”Did the Son of God always exist in heaven and was He sent from there to earth?”
The answer is no. The Son of God was BEGOTTEN which eliminates any possibility of His having existed in heaven beforehand. The word “begotten” denotes “a birth”, so the Son of God could not have existed until such time as he was born (His extstence in heaven was only as a thought or a plan in the mind of God) (John 1:1,14).[22]

John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The fourteenth verse of the same chapter tells us that the Word “WAS MADE FLESH, AND DWELT AMONG US…’

Jesus existed in the beginning as the “Word.” He was simply a thought in the mind of the eternal Spirit; He would not become flesh for another four thousand years.[23]

Despite the fact that the Handbook quotes directly from John 1:1, it ignores the clear meaning of the text, instead insisting that the Word existed only as a thought or idea in the mind of God. What the text actually says, however, is that in the beginning, the Word “was;” that is, the Word existed from all eternity distinct from, but with, God the Father. The very next verses use the personal pronouns “He” and “Him” to declare that the Word has always been a Person, eternal, and active in creation–He certainly was not just a mere thought or plan:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being (John 1:1-3, NASB).

Jesus is spoken of many times as being from heaven: “He who descended from heaven (John 3:13), “He who comes from above…from heaven (John 3:31),” “the true bread out of heaven (John 6:31)” and “the second man [who, unlike Adam] is from heaven.” Jesus says clearly about Himself, “I have come down from heaven (John 6:38).” Jesus reveals his eternal existence when he speaks of the glory which He shared with the Father “before the world was (John 17:5).”

Finally, the assertion that the word “begotten” precludes the pre-existence of the Son is simply fallacious, and betrays a misunderstanding of the term monogenes.[24]

Phillips, Craig, Dean and the Gospel

When the apostle Paul wrote his second letter to the Corinthian church, he expressed his concern that they remain faithful to the truths they had been taught about God and the gospel in the following words:

For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully (2 Corinthians 11:2-4, NASB).

It is not by mere coincidence that the Scripture links these three–a different Jesus, a different spirit, and a different gospel–together in the same warning. Errors concerning the nature of the Godhead naturally lend themselves to errors regarding the gospel! As we have already examined the differences between the God of the Bible and the god of Phillips, Craig and Dean, we now turn to the gospel.

In a chapter entitled “Born Again,” The Enquirer’s Handbook describes the state of mankind in sin, separated from God and needing a savior. The good news of the gospel message is introduced with these words:

Jesus has paid the full price for man’s salvation (I Corinthians 6:20), and fellowship with God can ultimately be restored. Man can now escape from the bondage of sin and the curse that it brought upon the world–because a man can be BORN AGAIN. Through our natural birth we inherit from Adam, our earthly father, sin, suffering, and death. But when a man is born again it is a spiritual birth, and we inherit from our Heavenly Father righteousness, joy, and eternal life. The born again experience is God’s gift to the sinner (Romans 5:15).

By being born again a person is made a new creature and is given a chance to start his life all over again (II Corinthians 5:17). Not only are his sins washed away and forgotten (Hebrews 8:12), but he is filled with the Spirit of God to help him in his resistance to sin (Galatians 5:16). Being “born again” is the very “heart” of the gospel of Christ…[25]

Most evangelicals would have no problem reading and agreeing with these paragraphs. The term “born again” is a staple of the evangelical vocabulary, referring to the gracious, singular act of God in which He regenerates the sinner. However, this is not what the Handbook means when it speaks of “the born again experience.” The explanation continues:

…As you will see from the following pages, the Bible gives very detailed directions on how to be born again. The eternal destiny of a person’s soul is determined by his obedience to the Word of God (Romans 6:17), so all of these scriptures will be explained in the most clear and simple way possible…

There is no way to overemphasize the need of every individual to understand and receive the born again experience because without it Jesus said we could not enter into the kingdom of God:

“…verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3)

Jesus went on to say that this new birth was of both WATER AND SPIRIT:

“…verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).

…Jesus said:

“That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6).

Just as the two elements, water and spirit, are vital to the natural birth, the Bible teaches that they are also vital to the Spiritual birth. The only scriptural way to be born again is to be properly baptized in water, and to be baptized (filled) with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). (italics ours)[26]

The “born again experience” that Randy Phillips’ church, the Promiseland, teaches is necessary for salvation is a process. This process begins with repentance, and must be followed by baptism in water (using the correct spoken formula) for the remission of sins. Next, the baptism of the Holy Ghost (speaking in tongues) must take place. It is only at this point that the person who has undergone the process can be said to be “born again.” This can be seen in the brochure entitled Acts 2:38 The Ultimate Experience, also published by the World of Pentecost.

ACTS 2:38 is following Jesus in his death, burial and resurrection. In John 13:36 Jesus said, “Where I’m going now, you cannot follow, but afterwards you shall!”

Repentance is death to the old nature. Baptism is the burial (Col 2:2) Receiving the Holy Ghost is the resurrection (Rom 6:4). Luke is the first to record Acts 2:38, and it was spoken by Jesus himself![27]

In the Acts 2:38 brochure, Kenneth Phillips, who is Randy Phillips’ father, and Bishop of the Promiseland, teaches about the purpose of baptism, and emphasizes that the proper baptismal formula must be spoken to make the baptism effective:

…The purpose of baptism is to remit or wash away, your sins. Where does the power lie in baptism to wash away every sin you have committed? It is not in the preacher; it is not in the water! Something must be said over you that has all power. The name of the Lord Jesus Christ is the only name with all power! (Matthew 28:18) This is the only way the apostles baptized; in the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 2:38, Acts 8:6, Acts 10:47-48). Even if you have been baptized another way, you need to be baptized again in the name of Jesus (Acts 19:5).[28]

By “baptized another way,” of course, the brochure is speaking of the command of Jesus in Matthew 28 to be baptized “in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19).” A baptism that is performed without the “Jesus Name” formula simply does not have the power required to wash away sins. We will return to this point in a moment.

UTurn Student Ministries, the youth ministry of Christ Temple, Dan Dean’s church, presents this same view of the “born again experience” in outline form, exhorting the youth to be baptized for the purpose of progressing toward their salvation. Again, water baptism is said to “wash away our sin”:

VI. WHY SHOULD I BE BAPTIZED?

3. IT IS INCLUDED IN THE SALVATION EXPERIENCE.

“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Mark 16:16 (NIV)

“…and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also- not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God.” 1 Peter 3:21 (NIV)

4. IT IS THE “WATER” ELEMENT OF BEING BORN AGAIN.

“In reply Jesus declared, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again’…….Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.” John 3:3-5 (NIV)

VII. WHAT IS THE MEANING OF BAPTISM?

1. IT IS A BURIAL OF OUR OLD MAN.

“Christ died for our sins … He was buried … and He rose again.” 1 Cor. 15:3-4

“By our baptism then, we were buried with Him and shared His death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead… so also we may live a new life.” Rom. 6:4

2. IT WASHES AWAY OUR SIN…[29]

The Enquirer’s Handbook explains why the “Jesus Name” baptism is considered absolutely essential, and why the Trinitarian form of baptism is considered insufficient.

When a person is baptized, it must also be done with the proper baptismal formula; otherwise, it will be ineffective. Baptism is a very powerful and sacred act, and there must be something to distinguish the correct way from all others; one major difference is the baptismal formula. This means that the correct “words” must be spoken when the baptism takes place[30]

It is absolutely vital that the NAME OF JESUS be said when a person is baptized.

…The reason for so much emphasis being placed on the name of Jesus is because JESUS is actually the NAME of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.[31]

It is here that we see most clearly the strong connection between the denial of the Trinity and the required Oneness baptismal formula. As a result, the name of the Lord Jesus is reduced here to a magic word invoked in the service of man. The Handbook concludes with a warning that a baptism done with the wrong formula will result in damnation (if not followed by a “proper” baptism):

…baptism is to be done in the name of the One who was crucified for us. No other name but Jesus can fill that requirement.

The proper baptismal formula is far too important to be taken lightly; it could mean the difference between going to heaven or to hell. A person should carefully examine his baptism to see if he is following the narrow way “which leadeth unto life” (Matthew 7:14).[32]

Water baptism is only considered to be a part of the “born again experience.” Although it is considered effective to forgive and wash away sins, water baptism alone does not accomplish the salvation of the believer. Speaking of the effects of water baptism, the Acts 2:38 pamphlet says:

Now your sins have been forgiven–they are “under the blood!” Your sins have been washed away in the waters of baptism! You are now ready for the empowerment of Acts 2:38, the receiving of the Holy Ghost! The teachings of Jesus are very pointed about remaining empty after you have been “swept and garnished.” You must be filled with the Spirit! (Matt. 12:43)

…When you receive the fullness of the Spirit you will speak in tongues “as the Spirit gives utterance” (Acts 2:4) Acts 10:46 is the most definite proof of this point.[33]

Christ Temple’s U-Turn Student Ministries outlines the baptism of the Holy Spirit as follows:

While baptism in water is a part of the born again experience, Jesus told us of another baptism that was intended to empower the life of every believer. It’s called the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and it’s a gift that was given to a group of 120 believers almost 2,000 years ago and has continued to be poured out on hungry hearts to this day.

XII. WHY SHOULD I RECEIVE THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT?

1. IT WAS COMMANDED BY JESUS AND THE APOSTLES.

“ On one occasion, while He was eating with them, He gave them this command: ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’” Acts 1:4-5 (NIV)

“ Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. “ Eph. 5:18 (NIV)

2. IT IS THE SPIRIT ELEMENT OF THE BORN AGAIN EXPERIENCE.

“ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. “ John 3:5-6 (NIV)

“ ….He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour. “ Titus 3:7 (NIV)

3. IT PLACES US INTO THE BODY OF CHRIST.

“ For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body-whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free-and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. “ 1 Cor. 12:13 (NIV)[34]

Of course, if the baptism of the Spirit as described here is what places us into the body of Christ, then what about those who have not spoken in tongues? The implication is clear–those who have not spoken in tongues are not part of the body of Christ. The Enquirer’s Handbook is even more direct in stating the consequences of disobeying the Oneness gospel:

There is only one apostolic doctrine of salvation–repentance, water baptism, Holy Ghost baptism–and as a word of warning regarding this, Paul wrote:

 “But though we (Paul and Peter) or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that you have received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8).[35]

Paul certainly did use strong language against those who would declare a different gospel than the one that he proclaimed. The reason for this is simple: The true gospel “is the power of God for salvation”–a different gospel does not have this power–a different gospel is not a saving gospel. There is no “half-way” point of compromise. So the question arises: Is the gospel of Phillips, Craig and Dean the gospel that Paul taught?

If so, then PCD should preach their gospel boldly, and all people, particularly those who claim the name “Christian,” should embrace it wholeheartedly.

If not, then the PCD gospel should be soundly and publicly rejected, and the platform for their message in the Christian community removed. Randy Phillips, Shawn Craig, and Dan Dean must be warned that they fall under the anathema declared by Paul, and those who claim the name “Christian” should pray for their repentance.

In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul desired to remind the Corinthian church of the gospel that he had preached to them. It is this gospel that the believers in Corinth received and believed, and Paul proclaimed that it was the same gospel taught by all the apostles:

Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.

For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed (1 Corinthians 15:1-11, NASB).

Phillips, Craig and Dean would undoubtedly affirm the facts of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. They would simply add that to participate in the power of the gospel, you must follow the steps of repentance, water baptism in the name of Jesus, and Holy Spirit baptism.

However, the passage above does not merely claim to be a portion of the gospel message, to which further information or works must be added to complete its saving power; rather, it claims to be an entirely sufficient synopsis of the gospel. Paul clearly calls it, “the gospel…by which also you are saved.” In this gospel that Paul preached, there is no mention of water baptism for the purpose of forgiveness; neither is there any mention of speaking in tongues. Paul is concerned here with the work of the Lord Jesus, and what He has accomplished: “Christ died for sins…was buried…was raised…and…appeared.” The Corinthians could have assurance of their salvation if they trusted solely in this work of Christ alone on their behalf. Paul says “you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you.” What is the word which Paul preached? It is nothing outside of this very context; this word is “the gospel which I preached to you…Whether then it was I or they, so we preach!”

Paul speaks of this same gospel in a much more detailed fashion in his letter to the Romans. However, he does not use the opportunity to add commands regarding water baptism[36] or speaking in tongues[37] to his message. Instead, he simply elaborates on the same message of the power of the gospel in those who have faith:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH (Romans 1:16-17, NASB).”

The gospel that Paul taught is “salvation to everyone who believes,” and can only be appropriated through faith. There is no room for a multi-step process of salvation; all the work involved in this salvation has been performed by Christ alone. In Ephesians, he speaks of this salvation as the gracious gift of God. In Romans, he explains that salvation must be by faith because it is by grace. No other attempted means of achieving salvation can succeed, because a salvation that is not through faith alone is not salvation by grace.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9, NASB).

For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (Romans 4:16, NASB)…

The Evangelical Picture of Phillips, Craig and Dean

Shawn Craig makes the following observation in Between Sundays:

Just as we should express our feelings, we should also speak out about what we believe. It isn’t enough to believe silently in our hearts and never express what we know to be the truth…Say what you believe, and believe what you say. That is the kingdom principle.[38]

This “kingdom principle” has not characterized the way that Phillips, Craig and Dean have responded when those in the evangelical community have questioned them about their Oneness beliefs. Instead, the information that has been promulgated by PCD has generally obscured what their true views are, and cloaked them in Trinitarian-sounding language.

To illustrate the way that Phillips, Craig and Dean have represented themselves to the evangelical community when these issues have arisen in the past, two examples are provided below. As you read these passages, try to consider how they would be understood by the average evangelical, unfamiliar with Oneness doctrine. Then, reread the passage, keeping in mind the background provided in this article. You will notice how carefully the language has been crafted to avoid offense to the evangelical community and make PCD’s belief system seem orthodox.

As far as your question is concerned, we believe in the THREE DIMENSIONS OR PERSONAS OF ONE GOD (1 John 5:7; Matthew 28:19; 1 Tim 3:16)

We believe in one God who is eternal in His existence, Triune in His manifestation, being both Father, Son and Holy Ghost AND that He is Sovereign and Absolute in His authority.

We believe in the Father who is God Himself, Creator of the universe. {Gen 1:1; John 1:1}

We believe that Jesus is the Son of God. (Col 2:9) He suffered, died, was buried, and rose from the dead for our total salvation (Luke 3:21-22; Philippians 2:5-11). We believe that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Him (John 3:36; John 3:31-32; John 14:6).

We believe in the Holy Spirit who is God indwelling, empowering and regenerating the believer. This Holy Spirit is called the Comforter. The Spirit of Truth (John14:17, 14:26)

We believe that the blood of Jesus Christ atones for our sins and iniquity. It is through His shed blood that we are saved, healed and set free from bondage and the forces of darkness (Romans 5:9-11; Ephesians 1:7; Revelation 12:11).

We believe that every believer must have a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, for apart from Him we can do nothing. Each person has a ministry from God that no one else can fill. We are to instruct, teach, exhort, and admonish believers in the ways of God (John 15:1-5; Hebrews 13:5-6).

For centuries people have debated endlessly theological differences. We do not want to spend our time in debating differences but in coming together on our similarities.

Hope this clears things up for you.

Randy.[39]

For the evangelical, there is the affirmation of the “threeness” of God, the word “Triune,” affirmation of the existence of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and a statement about the saving work of Jesus. The last major paragraph plays to the desire among many evangelicals for unity, not “doctrines that divide.”

The “THREE DIMENSIONS…OF GOD,” however, are revealed to be “manifestations,” and in this context “Triune” simply reiterates that there are three of them. Oneness Pentecostals believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; that can simply be affirmed[40]–although by Father, Son, and Holy Spirit Mr. Phillips is speaking of roles, not persons. He speaks of salvation and a personal relationship with Christ without noting that the only apostolic means of salvation is through water baptism in the name of Jesus, followed by Holy Spirit baptism evidenced by speaking in tongues. For those who still have doubts, the matter is cast as a fruitless debate for those who are actively involved in Christian ministry.

September 30, 1999

Dear Friend:

Thank you for sharing your concerns. We understand the importance of knowing that the artists you listen to not only sing the truth but speak and believe the Truth. Please allow us to clear up any confusion regarding the belief system of PCD regarding the doctrine of the Godhead, which is often referred to as the Trinity.

In the church body, controversy often exists in matters of doctrine. However, we, the members of Phillips, Craig & Dean do believe in the existence of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit–the Three in One.

We also have chosen to agree and affirm the following statements of faith which we agreed upon when we first began with Star Song in 1992. It is the Apostles’ Creed which believers have declared and stood upon for centuries.

The Apostles’ Creed

(This creed is called the Apostles’ Creed not because it was produced by the apostles themselves but because it contains a brief summary of their teachings. It sets forth their doctrine “In sublime simplicity, in unsurpassable brevity, in beautiful order, and with liturgical solemnity.” In its present form it is dated no later than the fourth century. More than any other Christian creed, it may justly be called an ecumenical symbol of faith. This translation of the Latin text was approved by the CRC Synod of 1988.)

I believe in God, the Father, almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
And born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, dead and was buried;
He descended to hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead,
He ascended to heaven
And is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
The holy catholic* church,
The communions of saints,
The forgiveness of sins,
The resurrection of the body,
And the life everlasting. Amen.

* catholic (small cap “c”) here refers to “of or pertaining to the whole Christian body or church.”

Please take a deep look into the lyrics of Phillips, Craig & Dean songs to find each song is based on scripture. We hold fast to the Holy Bible, and our music ministry and personal walks are grounded in these truths.

If you have any hesitations, please feel free to contact PCD Ministries at 615-264-0012.

For the cause of Christ,

Randy Phillips, Shawn Craig, and Dan Dean[41]

Again, for the evangelical, there is an assurance that PCD understands the need for truth. The word “Trinity” is used, the term “Three in One” is used, and an affirmation is given that PCD believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Apostles’ Creed follows, which many evangelicals are familiar and comfortable with. Those who are not familiar with it will be impressed with PCD’s grasp of church history. Finally, assurances of PCD’s commitment to the Bible are given.

Although the promise of “clearing up confusion” is made, the same methods are used here to obscure what PCD really believes. The “Trinity” is never defined. “Three in One,” like “Triune” in the previous example, simply refers to the three manifestations of the Godhead. The Apostle’s Creed was a very early creed of the church, and came into popular use before the problem of Sabellianism (an ancient version of Oneness) arose–so it does not specifically address the issue of the Trinity.

It is somewhat difficult to understand why Phillips, Craig and Dean would work so hard to conceal their true beliefs, particularly if, as their literature teaches, they believe that the true gospel message–the gospel that saves–is not the gospel of the evangelical world. At best one may only speculate what the reasons may be. Is it simply that they are earning a substantial amount of money from the evangelical community, and do not want that income to dry up? Or is something else involved?

Perhaps some light may be shed on the matter from an excerpt of a recent church service at the Promiseland. Randy Phillips’ father Kenneth Phillips stood up after a young lady had just finished performing the song “Awesome God,” and began to speak about the talent in the Oneness movement:

“It always amazes me, and I’ve been reared around it–the incredible talent that’s in the Jesus Name people; the people that have been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Some of the greatest preachers in the world, including T.D. Jakes and Tommy Tenney and all of those wonderful Jesus’ Name people…and then it seemed like there’s so many piano players and bass players and guitar players and saxophone players and song writers…and song writers…song writers…people that get together and just worship the Lord Jesus. We used to just be in tents, and brush arbors, and on campgrounds, but now–word’s got out, and it’s all over the world. People singing our song, people playing our music, people preaching our sermons–isn’t that incredible? I’m glad that I was on the ground floor of this–ground floor of this, prayed for this, believed for this.”[42]

Bishop Phillips expresses that it has been his desire all along for Oneness preachers and musicians to enter the mainstream evangelical world. But for what purpose? Surely it is not solely to sell books and music to the evangelical community. It seems entirely possible that Kenneth Phillips desires to use evangelical media and marketing channels to spread the Oneness gospel. Perhaps not now, at least not openly–but at some point, when the evangelical community has accepted T.D. Jakes, Tommy Tenney, PCD, and others wholeheartedly into their ranks–after years of heartfelt, emotional sermons, and music loved by evangelicals. One can almost hear the argument being raised even now:

“If their music is so moving, and we listen to their sermons, and we’ve welcomed them into the evangelical community as leaders now for years…maybe that means that what we believe, and what they believe about the nature of God is not an essential issue. Maybe the Trinity is not such a big deal after all. And maybe the gospel is the same way.”

Addendum, June 10, 2002

This article was first published on the aomin.org site in April, 2002. In the intervening weeks both the Promiseland and Christ Temple web sites, although they had remained relatively unchanged for a substantial length of time, have suddenly undergone significant renovations. In particular:

·    The abrupt changes at the Promisland site (http://www.wop.com) have resulted in several dead links. The main page announces “A New Promiseland is coming!” For the time being, the web bookstore at the Promiseland appears to be unavailable.

·    The Promiseland brochure “Acts 2:38–The Ultimate Experience” linked in the article footnotes above has been removed from the web site.

·    The message boards at the Promiseland which contained discussion of Jesus-name baptism have been completely erased.

·    Christ Temple has removed its statement of faith from their “About Us” page.

·    Christ Temple’s U-Turn Inneractive Student Ministries site has removed the outline containing references to Oneness and Jesus-name baptism.

·    Christ Temple has removed an article concerning their support of a oneness mission in St. Petersburg, Russia, which had a reference to oneness evangelist Andrew Urshan.

·    T.D. Jakes ministry, The Potter’s House, has moved its doctrinal statement to a new URL. The doctrinal statement remains unchanged except for a link to an article Bishop Jakes wrote for Christianity Today concerning the statement.

All of these recent modifications will make it significantly more difficult for the reader to verify the accuracy of this article.

However, although several of these pages are no longer available at their respective web sites, they are, for the time being, still available for viewing online, since they have been cached by the Google search engine.

To view these pages, browse to http://www.google.com and copy the desired URL into the search box. When Google displays the link, choose to view the cached version.

If you intend to share this article with someone else, you may want to save a copy of the cached web pages for yourself, as the Google cache may change or be cleared at some time in the future.


[1] http://www.pcdministries.com/aboutartist.asp says: “Ten years ago, StarSong, a Nashville-based record company, urged Randy Phillips to form a men’s group. He called two friends – Dan Dean and Shawn Craig – and they sang their first concert in November 1991. They cut their first album early the next year. Since then, they’ve produced seven more albums, have had 17 No. 1 singles, topped the charts with the #1 Inspirational Song of the 90s for “Crucified With Christ,” earned a fistful of Dove Award nominations, and sold over 1.3 million units.”
[2] http://www.cmo.com/cmo/cmo/starsong/pcd/pcd.htm
[3] J. Lee Grady, “The Other Pentecostals,” Charisma (June 1997); available online at http://www.charismamag.com/june97/cu197123.htm. The article contains the brief statement, “The contemporary Christian recording group Phillips, Craig and Dean is composed of three Oneness ministers.”
[4] James R. White, “Loving the Trinity,” Christian Research Journal 21, no. 4 (1999).
[5] Angie Thomas, Music Director of the Moody Broadcasting Network writes, “Someone got ahold (sic) of information, didn’t validate it, and has exploited in on the internet and has caused them great grief in the last few years…We have no qualms about inviting them to the Friday Sing and continuing to play their music.” (Email sent by James R. White to AR-talk, 03 April 2001.) The statement may reflect a press agent’s allusion to Ernest Sanchez’s web site http://members.tripod.com/~ernchez/home/main.htm. MBN is still playing PCD’s music; The PCD rendition of “You Are My King” was listed as one of the top songs on the WMBI playlist as of 03/04/02.
A PCD press agent responding to a reporter at Christianity Today writes, “In 1999 a writer made allegations relating to PCD’s upholding of the Oneness doctrine without ever going to the guys directly…Billy Graham, Moody, Focus on the Family and every other Christian organization that has had the chance to research the matter have come to see how the allegations were untrue.” (Email from Rich Poll to AR-talk, Wed, 21 Mar 2001.) The quote probably refers to James R. White’s article “Loving the Trinity,” referenced above. Even if James White did not “go to the guys,” the article quotes directly from PCD church materials.
[6] http://www.pcdministries.com/aboutartist.asp
[7] Ibid.
[8] James R. White, The Forgotten Trinity (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 1998), 26. A brief outline of this statement may be found at http://www.aomin.org/trinitydef.html
[9] Email dated 09 September 1999; copy sent by James R. White in email to AR-talk, 03 April 2001. The statement of faith contained in this email is identical to the statement used by T.D. Jakes’ ministry, The Potter’s House: http://www.thepottershouseinternational.com/PH_PHdoctrine.htm
[10] This statement appeared for a number of years in Christ Temple’s statement of faith at the URL http://www.christ-temple.org/about.html, but was deleted between May 14, 2001. As a result, the main statement of faith for the church now contains absolutely no direct references to the Father at all! This sentence has remained untouched, however, in “THE ESSENTIALS OF THE UTURN STUDENT MINISTRY” http://www.uturn-inneractive.com/discipleship.htm, a document that appears to be designed for education in the youth ministry of Christ Temple.
[11] The Enquirer’s Handbook (Austin, TX: World of Pentecost), 64.
[12] Ibid.
[13] Ibid, 67.
[14] Ibid, 64.
[15] See James R. White, What Really Happened at Nicea? at http://www.equip.org/free/DN206.htm for a brief history of the Council of Nicea, particularly with regard to the role of Constantine.

 

[16] “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one (Deuteronomy 6:4, NASB)!”
[17] As an example, see The 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, Chapter 2, Articles 1 and 3 available online at http://www.prbc.org/Confession.htm#Chapter%202 for a demonstration of the Scriptural consistency of the doctrine of the Trinity.
[18] The Enquirer’s Handbook, 43.
[19] Ibid, 44.
[20] Shawn Craig, Between Sundays (West Monroe, La.: Howard Publishing Co., Inc., 1998), 178.
[21] The Enquirer’s Handbook, 68.
[22] Ibid, 79-80.
[23] Ibid, 75.
[24] See James R. White, The Trinity, the Definition of Chalcedon, and Oneness Theology
[25] The Enquirer’s Handbook, 29.
[26] Ibid, 29-30.
[27] Acts 2:38 The Ultimate Experience (Austin, TX: World of Pentecost), 3. This document is also available online at http://www.wop.com/promiseland/acts238.htm as of March 12, 2002.
[28] Ibid, 7.
[29] “THE ESSENTIALS OF THE UTURN STUDENT MINISTRY” http://www.uturn-inneractive.com/discipleship.htm
[30] The Enquirer’s Handbook, 42.
[31] Ibid, 43.
[32] Ibid, 45.
[33] Acts 2:38 The Ultimate Experience, 9.
[34] “THE ESSENTIALS OF THE UTURN STUDENT MINISTRY”
[35] The Enquirer’s Handbook, 32.
[36] For a refutation of specific verses used to justify baptismal regeneration, see http://www.aomin.org/bapreg.html.
[37] It is interesting to note that there are no actual commands in the Bible to be baptized in the Holy Spirit, or to pray for the baptism; rather, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is always something that is a passive event for the one baptized (see Acts 2:4, 10:46, and 19:6 for specific examples of tongues-speaking; 1 Corinthians 12:13 speaks more generally of the baptism of believers into the body of Christ).
[38] Between Sundays, 69.
[39] Email dated 09 September 1999; copy sent by James R. White in email to AR-talk, 03 April 2001.
[40] Sometimes Oneness Pentecostals are referred to simply as “Jesus Only,” which is an accurate term so far as it is used of the belief that “Jesus” is the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit. This term, though, has been used to the advantage of Oneness Pentecostals desiring to enter the evangelical mainstream–they can simply answer, “We are not ‘Jesus Only,’ we believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
[41] Transcript of fax copy received by Ernest Sanchez from Crosswalk.com. The original fax is viewable online at Mr. Sanchez’s web site: http://members.tripod.com/~ernchez/home/pcdletter.htm. Mr. Sanchez, a former Oneness Pentecostal himself, provides a brief analysis of the document as well: http://members.tripod.com/~ernchez/home/n2_appendix.htm
[42] Kenneth Phillips, excerpted from the March 18, 2001 service at the Promiseland, Austin, TX. This service is no longer available for audio streaming at the World of Pentecost web site, but the excerpt may be heard online at http://www.straitgate.com/kp031801.ram

 

The Prologue of the Gospel of John

Chapter 1

1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was Deity.

This verse provides the framework not only for the prologue that encompasses verses one through eighteen, but for the entire Gospel itself. The prologue functions, I believe, as an “interpretive window” for the entire Gospel. John means us to read the rest of his work with the foundational understanding of the nature of Jesus Christ, as presented in these verses, clearly in mind. It is just the rejection of the lofty teaching of these verses that has caused the myriad of inconsistent and illogical interpretations of the words of Jesus later in the Gospel.

1.1 takes us back beyond creation itself. Some refer the “beginning” here to that of Genesis 1.1, and this may be so, but the verb “was” (Gr: en, imperfect of eimi) takes us before whatever “beginning” we may wish to choose. The continuous action in the past of the imperfect tense of the verb indicates to us that whenever the “beginning” was, the Word was already in existence. In other words, the Word is eternal – timeless – without a “beginning.”

Note also the fact that John will very carefully differentiate between the verbs “was” and “became” (Gr: egeneto, the aorist form of ginomai). The reason for this, I believe, is that he wishes to emphasize the eternal, non-created nature of the Logos over against the finite, temporal, created nature of all other things. This will come sharply into view in 1.14.

Just why John chose to use the Greek term Logos is a matter of quite some debate. The term had great meaning in Greek philosophy as the impersonal but rational ordering principle of the universe. The Logos is what made sense Out of the universe. But John does not use Logos in just this way – in fact, he radically alters the use of the word while still maintaining some of the inherent meaning it would have for his readers. The Logos of John is personal – the Logos. is not an ordering principle but rather a personal being. As John’s explanation of the Logos unfolds, we shall see that the Logos makes Gad known and is, in fact, incarnated in Jesus Christ. For John, then, Jesus Christ is the revelation of God in the flesh (1.14) but He did not start revealing God at that time – instead, His relationship to God the Father (1.18) has always been one of revelation – the Logos always makes God known for it is the Father’s gracious choice to be revealed by the Word. This will be important as well in seeing that John clearly identifies Jesus Christ as YHWH in different ways – sometimes through the usage of the phrase “I Am” (Gr: ego eimi) and sometimes by direct ascription, as in John 12.39-41/Isaiah 6.1.

“and the Word was with God… “The Apostle John walks an exceptionally fine line in this verse. In the first clause he asserts the eternality of the Logos. Now he states that the Logos is personally eternal – that is, that the Logos has been in communion and communication with God for eternity as well. The verb is the same as the first clause, and the preposition pros (“with”) pictures for us face-to-face communication. John does not yet identify those persons for us – we must wait till verses 14 through 18 to see that John is speaking of Jesus Christ the Son and God the Father. What he wishes to emphasize here is the personal existence of the Logos in some sense of distinction from “God” (i.e., the Father). The Logos is not the Father nor vice-versa – there are two persons under discussion here.

The third clause of this verse has occasioned great debate and controversy, mainly due to the fact that the Greek word for God, theos, does not have the definite article (“the”) before it. Some pseudo-Christian or Arian groups have said that this means that the Word was a “god” or a god-like being like an angel (Jehovah’s Witnesses). But is this the case? Other Christian scholars have put great weight into the idea that the term them is being used as an adjective to describe the Logos, and that is why John did not put the article there.

Actually, the answer to the whole question seems fairly obvious, even to a first-year Greek student. The third clause of 1.1 is a copulative sentence – that is, it follows the form “The (mourn) is (predicate nomimative). In Greek, one distinguishes the subject of a copulative sentence by which noun has an article in front of It. For example, in 1 John 4:8 we have the last clause reading “God is love.” Now, in Greek this is ho theos agape estin. There are two nominative nouns in this sentence – God (theos) and love (agape). However, the first noun, God, has the article ho before it. This indicates that “God” is the subject of the sentence, and love is the predicate nominative. It would be wrong, then, to translate 1 John 4:8 as Love is God.” The only way to make the two nouns interchangeable is to either put the article with both nouns, or to not put the article there at all. As long as one has the article and the other does not, one is definitely the subject and the other the predicate. Hence, 1 John 4:8 does not teach that all love is God, nor that God and love are interchangeable things. Rather, the term “love” tells us something about God – it functions almost as an adjective, describing the noun (God) that it modifies.

We have the same situation in 1.1c. The Greek reads, kai theos en ho logos. Notice that the term Logos has the article ho while the term theos does not. This tells us that the subject of the clause is the Logos. Hence, we could not translate the phrase “and God was the Word” for that would make the wrong term the subject of the clause. Hence, the term “God” is the predicate nominative, and it functions just as love” did in 1 John 4:8 – it tells us something about the Logos – and that is, that the nature of the Logos is the nature of God, just as the nature of God in 1 John 4:8 was that of love. Now, John does emphasize the term “God” by placing it first in the clause – this is not just a “divine nature” as in something like the angels have – rather, it is truly the nature of Deity that is in view here (hence my translation as “Deity”). Dr. Kenneth Wuest, long time professor of Greek at Moody Bible Institute rendered the phrase, “And the Word was as to His essence absolute Deity.”

Before summing up the verse, then, let the reader note that when groups such as Jehovah’s Witnesses quote from Dr. Philip Harner’s article on the nature of anarthrous (=without the article) predicate nominatives, they don’t understand what they are talking about. Harner accurately pointed out that the anarthrous predicate nominative functions as a descriptive term rather than a specific term. Problem is, the Jehovah’s Witnesses make “God” in John 1.1 just as definite as the translations they attack! The point Harner is making is that it is not the definite “God” that is in view, far less the JW translation of “a god” (both are definite) but rather the nature of the Logos that is important.

Hence, 1.1 tells us some immensely important things. First, we see that the Logos is eternal, uncreated. Secondly, we see that there are two Divine Persons in view in John’s mind – the Father and the Logos. Thirdly, there is eternal communication and relationship between the Father and the Logos. Finally, we see that the Logos shares the nature of God. These items will be important for a proper understanding of many of the statements made by our Lord in this book. It seems to me that John felt it was vitally important that we understand the majesty of the Person of Jesus Christ right from the start. We will see these concepts played out through the rest of the book.

2. He was in the beginning with God.

This verse ties together some of the concepts of 1.1 and reiterates them. It takes the “beginning” of 1.1a, and the “with God” of 1.lb, and puts them together to emphasize (I feel) the eternal nature of the relationship between God and Logos. Also, it might be noted that literally the phrase reads “This one was in the beginning with God…” referring specifically to the Logos.

3. All things were made through Him and without Him was nothing made which has been made.

Here we see the fact of the “uncreatedness’ of the Logos asserted, for the Logos is the Creator! All things were made “through” Him. He is the agent of creation. But, lest one should think that He Himself was created, and then all other things were made through Him as a second-workman, John makes sure to add “and without (or “aside from”) Him was nothing made which has been made.” There is nothing in the created order that was not made through the agency of the Logos. This is important for John. The Gospel of John draws heavily from the Old Testament, and hence we should make sure to look into what this means from an Old Testament perspective. Yabweh said in Isaiah 44:24, “1 am Yahweh, who has made all things, who alone stretched Out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself.” Surely here we see the first direct allusion to an astounding fact that will underlie much of John’s discussion of Jesus – that Jesus is Yahweh! Not only this, but John will quickly add a second startling fact – Yahweh is tri-personal – i.e., Father, Son and Spirit! I feel that John is carefully explaining how he, a monotheistic Jew, can call Jesus “Lord” and “God” (20.28) and yet still maintain that the Father and Son are separate Persons, and that there is but one God!

The fact of the creatorship of Jesus is found in other NT writings as well, most notably in Paul’s discussion in Colossians 1:15-17, and in Hebrews 1:1-3. Given the wide variety of literature in which this concept is found, it is evident that this belief was foundational to the Christian community, and certainly was not some late emendation that evolved over time in the Church, as is so commonly asserted by liberal scholars.

One punctuation difficulty should be addressed. Some translations (following Nestle’s Greek text) will render the punctuation differently, resulting in “and without Him was not anything made. That which was made in Him was life…” Basically, this view sees what was created by the Logos was life, not all the created universe. This reading does have the support of nearly all the early church Fathers up to the time of Chrysostom; after that, the consensus shifted to reading it as it is translated above. I see some real problems with the resulting text if this punctuation variant is allowed to stand. First, the “all things” of verse 3 does not fit with “life” of verse four. Secondly, the resulting “that which was made in him was life’ is extremely awkward – in fact, more awkward in Greek than in English! It seems by far the best to punctuate the passage as it has traditionally been done since the time of Chrysostom.

4. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.

John here asserts that the Logos is the source of life (again, OT references to Yahweh could be produced in regards to Yahweh being the source of life). But John then says that this life “was the light of men.” What does this mean? It seems to me that the author is thinking of the fact that all that is owes its existence to the Logos, including man himself. The Logos gives meaning and purpose to man. Man, as created by the personal Logos hence has purpose, meaning, a goal in life. All is not chance. Life is not a roll of the cosmic die. We are not fashioned by impersonal, unfeeling celestial forces. It may be here that the philosophical elements of the logos idea are most prominent in John’s mind, or should I say that it is here that John allows the non-Christian meaning to have its greatest expression while not in any way surrendering the distinctives of the Logos that he has already asserted. The logos of philosophy was the guiding principle – the ordering force of the universe. The Greeks looked to the logos as their guiding light, so to speak. Possibly the idea of the laps as one that guides or gives light is here taken over by John and filled with personal meaning. All men, irrespective of their personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the Logos incarnate (1.14) are still lighted by His creative acts and providential blessings. I feel this is John’s idea here.

5. And the light Is shining in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.

Here we encounter a structure that will occur over and over and over again in the Gospel of John – that of dualism. We see two opposites here – light and darkness. It has been on this basis that many have accused John of accepting or having leanings toward Gnosticism, which is dualistic to the core. But if we look closely at John’s words, we will see that he disagrees with Gnosticism at the most basic levels. Certainly he sees opposites and often speaks in opposites. We will see over and over that John will use two meanings for the same word, sometimes at the same time (as he may just do in this verse – see below). But John is not personifying these opposites. God is still creator of all that is, which to the Gnostics was a terribly horrid concept. God is still providentially in control. The Logos, actually takes on physical, human flesh in 1.14 – so John’s opposition to the most basic concepts of Gnosticism is clearly delineated.

Here, then, is the first pair of opposites – light and darkness. This pair will reoccur in the teachings of Jesus. What does it mean that the light is shining in the darkness? Possibly this refers to the fact that the light of the Logos shines despite man’s condition in sin (i.e., darkness). Is there significance to the present tense of ‘shining”? I think so – I believe this refers to the continuous action of the shining of the light of the Logos – that light cannot be extinguished or overcome.

The Greek term translated “overcome” (Gr: katalambano) is capable of numerous meanings, two of which are possible in our context. One is to overcome or conquer, and I feel that this is the best understanding in 1.5, for there will always be conflict between light and darkness in John’s thought. But, another possible meaning is ‘to comprehend” or ‘to understand.’ In fact, one lexicon says of this term in 1.5, “It is possible that in in 1.5 a word play involving both meanings may be intended, something which is typical of Johannine style.” I agree, though I lean toward the sense “to conquer.”

6. There came a man sent from God whose name was John. 7. This one came for a testimony in order that he might testify concerning the light in order that all might believe through him. 8. This one was not the light but [he came] in order that he might testify concerning the light,

Verses 6-8 form somewhat of an excursus. John here introduces the forerunner to Christ, John the Baptist. It is interesting to note that the author uses a different verb (mentioned above) of John – carrying on that important differentiation of verbs. John’s ministry is validated when the author states that John the Baptist was “sent by God.” There are some writers who feel that John was reacting against a continued presence of disciples of the Baptist, even later into the first century. Though there may be some merit to the idea, it certainly does not seem to be a major reason for the writing. John is careful to assert that the Baptist’s mission was one with divine approval.

The purpose of John’s ministry, however, is given by the author as one of testimony – of witnessing. The greek term martureo (noun form used here) means ‘to give witness or testimony” and it appears often in John’s Gospel (47 times). We derive our English term “martyr” from it. John the Baptist was sent by God to ‘testify of the light” – which seems to clearly refer here to the Lord Jesus Himself. His was a preparatory work, so that “all might believe through him.” He was not to be gathering disciples for himself, but rather gathering a group of those who would follow and believe in the light, when that light came. It is important to remember that some of the most important of Jesus’ disciples came from amongst John’s followers (see below).

John then makes sure that it is clear that the Baptist was not the light, but rather one whose mission It was to point to the light.

9. Which was the true light, which lights every man by coming into the world.

John returns then from his brief discussion of the Baptist (which he will pick up later) to the subject of the Logos once again. We must remember that the purpose of the prologue is to identify and describe one person – the Logos. So here John asserts that the Logos, is the true light (in opposition, we would think, to many “false’ lights who had come before and would come after). But how is it that the “true light” “lights every man by coming into the world”? First, there are more than a few ways of rendering the final phrase of this verse. The difficulty lies in just how one is to take the participle erchomenon (= “coming’). I take the participle to be a “circumstantial instrumental’ – that is, the participle refers to the means by which the action of the main verb is accomplished. In this case, that would mean that every man is ‘lighted” by the coming into the world of the one who does the lighting – viz, the Logos. It is difficult to say just what it means that all men have received light because of the coming of Christ into the world. There are about as many opinions as to just how to work that out as there are interpreters of the Gospel.

10. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know him.

One of the major questions facing the understanding of this verse is the time frame involved. To what is John referring? He uses the timeless en that we saw in 1.1 when he says that ‘He w in the world…” which would suggest to me that he is referring to a pre-incarnational time where God the Son, in His providence, was active in the world.

John also asserts, again, the created nature of the world and the identity of the Creator. But, despite the fact that He created the world, “the world did not know Him.” Many have referred this to the rejection of Christ, and again this takes us back to the question of the time frame. We know that in verse 14 we get a particular historical anchor to work with – the incarnation. But it seems that John is not particularly worried about keeping some chronological order intact. But just where he refers to post-incarnation before 14 (which it seems rather certain that he does) is hard to say. Personally, I feel he does so in verse 11 (“He came unto His own…”) though even here a case could be made for the other side. So, if the phrase “the world did not know Him” is actually pre-incarnational, to what does this refer? Some commentator’s have suggested, not without plausibility, that there are actually two thoughts in John’s mind – that this section refers to both the pre-incarnational period, as well as to Jesus’ ministry. The dualistic usage would not be out of character for our author.

To complicate the matters even more, how is John using the term “world’ (Gr: kosmos)? Unfortunately for us, John uses this very term in many different ways – you can’t pin down any one usage, that’s for sure! So does the “world’ refer to all creation, to all men, to only those men who reject Christ – who? It is obviously impossible to dogmatize here, but it would seem that there is a subtle shift of meaning for the term ‘world” even within this very verse!

11. He came unto His own things, and His own people did not receive Him.

The first phrase might be rendered “He came home…” and is so suggested by Leon Morris. The exact phrase occurs at John 19:27 where John (we assume) takes Mary “into his own home…” The neuter gender used here seems to indicate that Jesus came to those “things” that were His – the created order. But, what many translations don’t show you is that the first “His own” is different from the second “His own” (see LIV for example – above translation does differentiate between the usages). The second clause refers to coming to one’s own people and not being received by them. It seems hard to see how this could not refer to Jesus’ ministry, for who was His ‘people’ before He took flesh and dwelt amongst us? Sadly, the continued fact of the Jewish rejection of the Messiah will be a part of the very fabric of the story to follow.

12. But as many as did receive Him, to them He gave authority to become children of God, to the ones believing in His name, 13. whIch ones are not born of bloods neither of the fleshly will neither of the human will but they are born from God.

To those who receive Him (in obvious contradistinction to those of His own people who rejected Him), He gives authority be become the children of God. Note that one is not a child of God simply by virtue of being a human being – John will very, very carefully choose his terms in regards to this issue. In fact, it should be noted that John will never call anyone ~‘Son of God (or ‘son”) other than Jesus Himself. The LIV renders this “sons of God” but that is misleading – the Greek term is tekna (children) not huios (son).

It seems that the author is paralleling “receive Him’ and “believe in His name.” It does not seem wise to differentiate between the two descriptions.

Those who believe are then described in a very curious way in verse 13. Those who believe are “not born of bloods…” The term is plural, though often translated in the singular. There are many, many ideas as to just what this refers to. First there is the problem of a minor textual variant that has led some to think that this is referring to Jesus, and hence to the Virgin Birth. But the evidence against this variant seems overwhelming. Secondly, it seems that the entire verse is trying to make only one point – that being that the act of regeneration (or more obviously, the fact of being born into God’s family) is not a human action and does not have its ground in human desire, action, or will. It is not an action that is based upon anything within the person, including race or parentage. Rather, if one is born into God’s family, that is the direct action of God and God alone. I realize that much more could be speculated upon in this verse, but I feel that this is the main idea that is being communicated.

14. And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us and we beheld His glory, glory as of the unique one from the Father, full of grace and truth.

We approach here a signal verse that ranks amongst the most important Christological passages in the Word. Jn 1.1, 1.14, 1.18, 8.58, 10.30, and 20.28 all are massively important, and if you add to these such passages as Phil. 2.5-11, Col. 1.13-17 and Hebrews 1.1-3, you have most of the material that has been debated for years and years in regards to the Person of Christ.

First, note that the Word became flesh. It was not the Father who was born in Bethlehem. Some early heretics such as Praxeas and Noctus, and most notably Sabellius, taught just such a thing. But the Church has always rejected such a concept, for it is pre-eminently unbiblical.

Secondly, note that the Word became flesh. The Word did not just seem to be flesh – He became flesh. The Word did not just dwell inside flesh, but He was joined to flesh, and lived as a man. Note also that right here John for the first time uses the aorist verb egeneto of the Word. As mentioned before, John had up to this time only used the imperfect form of eimi to refer to the logos and His eternal nature. But here John uses a verb that points to a specific place in time, and the reason is clear. The Word did not eternally exist in the form of flesh; rather, at a particular point in time He became flesh. This is the incarnation. To me, this use of the verb proves beyond all question that John’s differentiation between en and egeneto is specific and intentional.

Thirdly, note that the Word became flesh. To this the Gnostics and the Docetics would cry “heresy” for neither group could think of such an absurdity. See, both groups felt that all matter was inherently evil. So, the Docetics came up with the idea that Jesus only “seemed” to be here. The Greek word for “seem” is dokein from which we get ‘Docetic.” They would circulate stories about Jesus walking along the seashore with a disciple, and when the disciple turned around he would see only one set of footprints – his own. Jesus wasn’t really human, so He didn’t leave footprints, or so the Docetics thought. There is a marked anti-docetism in John’s writings (see especially the introduction to 1 John).

1.14 is the clearest statement of the incarnation we have; yet, it answers almost no questions about the mechanics of the incarnation. How did the Word become flesh without ceasing to be the Word (it is evident from the language that the Word did not stop being the Word – He simply became flesh). How was the divine Logos joined to the human nature? These questions would not find even a creedal formulation until 451 A.D. at the Council of Chalcedon, and even then all we really have a positive statements that assert what we know, and exclude any errors on those points – but the formulation does not answer the questions of “how”. The mystery of the Incarnation is a great one, and, given its unique character, one that only God can explain.

John says that He tabernacled amongst us. The term was used of ‘pitching a tent” and this would seem rather appropriate, given the character of the One who became flesh! Some see a connection here with the Old Testament term shecan from which we get the ‘shekinah glory” of God. The Hebrew term refers to the dwelling place of God, and hence by extension, the dwelling place of the glory of God. Jesus is described as having the “glory of the unique one from the Father”, hence the connection seems to be well founded. There seems to be more anti-docetism in John’s thought here (some have conjectured that John wrote this in response to some who took Paul’s teaching of a ‘cosmic Christ’ beyond what Paul actually said, and John is trying to reinforce the teaching that Jesus was true God and true man, not just one or the other) for he gives testimony of the fact that we have seen His glory… The believers had not just heard about Him, or thought they saw Him, but they actually saw His glory.

The “glory” is that of the “unique one from the Father.” The term monogenes has been translated for a long time as “only-begotten.” This is not necessarily a wrong translation, but a bad one. It is bad in the sense that the idea of generation” or “begettal” is absent from the term as we have it. See, originally it was thought that monogenes came from two Greek terms, monos meaning “one” and a verb genao which means to beget. But, we have discovered through further study that it actually comes from monos and a noun genes which means ‘kind or type.’ Hence, monogenes means “one of a kind’ or “unique’ rather than “only-begotten.” I feel this is very important to John’s thought. Jesus is the “unique one from the Father.” There are none other like Him in any way. He is the total and complete and only revelation of God to man, and as such can utter such words as 14.6 without sounding blasphemous!

Jesus is described by John as being “full of grace and truth.” Basically this seems to mean that Jesus is the source of grace and truth, most probably because He is grace and truth. Jesus is the embodiment of God’s grace, and God’s truth. When one needs grace, one turns to Jesus. When one searches for truth, one is searching for a person – Jesus Christ.

15. John bore witness concerning Him and cried out saying, ‘This is He of whom I said, the One coming after me has been made higher than I because He existed before me.’

John is intent on making sure that his readers understand the role of John the Baptist as a forerunner and herald of the coming King, who is Jesus. So he here quotes the ‘testimony’ of John concerning Jesus, and, following with the context, tells us that John knew of the supernatural character of Jesus the Messiah, for he states that Jesus ‘existed before me.” Now, chronologically Jesus was born after John, but John is not referring to chronological age. He is referring to absolute being Jesus was ‘before” John, for as we have already seen, Jesus is before all things – He, as the Logos, is eternal. Because of this, Jesus holds the pre-eminent position above John.

16. Because of His fulness we have all received, and grace upon grace; 17. for the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

This section doesn’t seem to be a continuation of John’s statement in verse 15, though it could be. It would seem somewhat strange, however, for John to have such an in-depth knowledge of the nature of Jesus and his mission. I have punctuated the translation so as to have this section as commentary on the part of the author.

The term “grace” appears here three times – and that will be it for the rest of the entire book! This is somewhat of a “minor mystery’ as Morris has put it.

There are two ways to take the first clause “ one, that all mankind has benefited in some way from the work of Jesus Christ – that in some way “all” have received of His “fulness.” The other way, and seemingly the proper way, is to see it as referring particularly to the redeemed, for our reception of the fulness of Christ is clearly stated elsewhere, and the next clause seems to modify the first by identifying that which we have received – that is, grace upon grace.

Most probably the phrase charin anti charin is a way of expressing a fulness of grace – the literal translation “grace against grace’ doesn’t seem to make any sense.

John somewhat parallels some of the thought of the writer of Hebrews when he contrasts the avenue by which law was introduced by God – that is, by Moses – and that of the entrance of grace, by Jesus Christ. I think there is an important connection between law and grace that is only alluded to here, but is expressly taught by Paul – that is, that the law functions to show man his sin, and Jesus then saves them from their sin. It is law first, then grace. We are steeped in our culture today with a ‘gospel presentation” that skips the first part – Jesus is held out as a way out of our problems, a way to have a nicer, fuller life. His grace becomes yet another self-help method that is peddled as working real well. The first part, that of law and our sin, is left out, for we know that the natural man will not have anything to do with such a teaching. Yet, the order is the same – God introduced the law first, then demonstrated His grace in Jesus Christ. We would do well to maintain the Biblical balance.

Two things are said to have come through Jesus Christ – grace and truth. Grace we know is not just unmerited favor – it is demerited favor – that is, it is favor and mercy given to one who not only doesn’t deserve it, but actually deserves wrath and punishment instead. Through Jesus Christ, we can know the Father, and that is all made available only by God’s grace.

“Truth” in John is not the bare intellectual concept of that which is real and right over against that which is false and in error. Truth is a person in John 14:6, and is the embodiment of the entire system called ‘Christianity” in John’s thought. To know the “truth” is to be a Christian, to know Christ, and to follow Him. Knowing the “truth” in John is not simply knowing facts, but knowing Christ.

18. No one has seen God at any time; the unique God, the one who eternally exists in relationship with the Father, this One has made Him known.

This verse not only closes the Prologue, but it gives us vital information that, had the Holy Spirit not provided this to us, would have caused no end of problems. Verse 18 ties up the loose strings on the central issues of the Prologue and provides a transition into the terminology that John will use for the rest of the Gospel.

He first asserts that no one has ‘seen God at any time.” Now, the Old Testament tells us that men have indeed seen God in the past – Isaiah saw God on His throne in Isaiah 6; Abraham walked with Yahweh in Genesis 18. So what does John mean? He defines for us that the one he is speaking of here is the Father – that is, no one has seen the Father at any time. OK, then who was it that was seen by Isaiah or by Abraham?

John tells us – the unique God. Here the phrase is in monogenes theos. There is a textual variant here. Many manuscripts have monogenes huios (unique Son) – and the KJV follows this tradition. But the strongest reading is “unique God.” How are we to understand this?

The term “monogenes” is used only of Jesus in the Gospel of John. Jesus is here described as the “unique God” – John is not asserting a separate deity from the Father. Rather, this ‘unique God” is the one who is eternally in fellowship with the Father. Even when discussing the “separateness” of the Father and the Son as persons, John is quick to emphasize the unity of the divine Persons in their eternal fellowship together. Here John teaches, again, the eternal and central fact of the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The unique God makes the Father known – He “explains’ Him. What we know of the Father we know because of the revelation of the Son. We know what the Father is like because we know what Jesus Is like. Here the Son’s function as the revelator of the Father is clearly set forth, and this is directly in line with the usage of the term Logos in the Prologue. Other New Testament writers use the same theme – for Paul Jesus is the “image of the invisible God” and for the writer of Hebrews Jesus is ‘the express image of His (the Father’s) person…” Both writers (or maybe just one writer if Paul indeed wrote Hebrews) are emphasizing the role of Jesus as the revealer of the Father. In the same way, this answers the above question regarding who it was, in John’s opinion, that was seen of Abraham and Isaiah. We have already had occasion to note that John will directly assert that Isaiah saw the glory of Jesus in the person of Yahweh (12:39ff), and could it be that this is the explanation for Jesus’ statement in John 8:56? Did Abraham “see the day of Jesus” when he walked with Him by the oaks of Mamre (Gen. 18:1)?

With this John transitions into his story of the Gospel. But one must never let the facts of the Prologue slip from view. John truly intends for the awesome majesty of the subject of the Prologue – the Logos in human flesh, Jesus the Son, the Revealer of the Father, Creator of all things, Light and Life, bringer of grace and truth – to remain in the forefront of our thinking. It is only when we follow John’s advice that we can correctly interpret and understand the passages that follow. So many misinterpretations of the clear evidences of the deity of Christ provided by John are based upon the disjunction of the Prologue and its message from the rest of the book. This is a tragic mistake. John has begun his book with a set of blueprints that we are wise to follow.

 

THE NATURE OF GOD – THE TRI-UNITY OF GOD

I. The Attributes of God:

A. Natural:

1. Spirituality (John 4:24)
2. Personality (Exodus 3:14)
3. Life (Jeremiah 10:6-11)

B. Pertaining to His Infinity

    1. Absoluteness – Uniqueness
2. Sovereignty/Supremacy (Isaiah 40:12-17, 43:12-13, 46:9-10, Psalm 135:6)
3. Self-existence
4. Immutability – He doesn’t change – Psalm 102:27, Malachi 3:6, James 1:17
5. Unity – one substance, one ousia (Deuteronomy 6:4)
6. Perfection (Matthew 5:48)
7. Immensity (2 Chronicles 6:18)
8. Eternity (Exodus 3:14, Psalm 90:2, 1 Timothy 1:17, Jude 25)

C. Pertaining to Creation

    1. Omnipresence – Psalm 139:7-10, Jeremiah 23:23-24
2. Omniscience – Hebrews 4:13, Matthew 10:29-30, Romans 11:33
3. Omnipotence – Genesis 17:1, Revelation 1:8, Romans 4:17

II. Moral Attributes of God

    A. Holiness
B. Righteousness
C. Love
D. Truth

III. The Tri-Unity of God

    A. The Creeds:

The Nicene: “We believe in one God, the Father almighty, creator of all things both visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten born of the Father, that is of the substance of the Father; God from God, light from light, true God from true God; begotten, not created, consubstantial with the Father; through Him all things were made, those in heaven and those on the earth as well…And we believe in the Holy Spirit. As for those who say: ‘There was a time when He did not exist’ and ‘before He was begotten, He did not exist;’ and ‘He was made from nothing, or from another hypostasis or essence,’ alleging that the Son of God is mutable or subject to change – such persons the Catholic and apostolic church condemns.”

The Athanasian: “We worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in unity; we distinguish among the persons, but we do not divide the substance. [Father, Son and Holy Spirit are distinct persons still they] have one divinity, equal in glory and coeternal in majesty. What the Father is, the Son is, and the Holy Spirit is. [Each, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, is uncreated, has immensity, is eternal, is omnipotent, is God, is Lord, yet there is] but one eternal being…one uncreated being…one being that has immensity…one omnipotent being…one God…one Lord…The Father is not made by anyone, nor created by anyone, nor generated by anyone. The Son is not made nor created, but He is generated by the Father alone. The Holy Spirit is not made nor created nor generated, but proceeds from the Father and the Son. There is, then, one Father, not three fathers; one Son, not three sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits. In this Trinity there is nothing antecedent, nothing subsequent to anything else. There is nothing greater, nothing less than anything else. But the entire three persons are coeternal and coequal with one another, so that, as we have said, we worship complete unity in Trinity and Trinity in unity…we believe and profess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is both God and man. As God He was begotten of the substance of the Father before time; as man He was born in time of the substance of His mother. He is perfect God and He is perfect man, with a rational soul and human flesh. He is equal to the Father in His divinity but is inferior to the Father in His humanity. Although He is God and man, He is not two but one Christ…because He is one person.

IV. Foundation of the Trinity: The doctrine of the Trinity is based on three Biblical truths that together form its foundation: 1. There is only one God (monotheism); 2. There are three Persons – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is in direct contradiction of modalism, Sabellianism, or the “Jesus Only” teachings that deny the separate personhood of Father, Son and Spirit; 3. There is full equality of the Persons. This is in direct contradiction of Arianism and all systems that would deny the full Deity and equality of the Son and the Spirit. Each of these truths is part of God’s revelation of Himself, and no system can claim to be based on the Bible unless these truths are taken into account. The denial of any one of these Biblical teachings leads directly to heresy and false doctrine – denial of monotheism leads to polytheism (such as in Mormonism); denial of the three Persons leads into modalism (such as the United Pentecostal movement); and denial of the equality of the Persons leads to subordination-ism (Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Way International, etc.).

A. There is One God:  Deuteronomy 4:35, 6:4, 10:14, Psalm 96:5, 97:9, Isaiah 43:10, 44:6-8, 44:24, 45:5-6, 45:21-23, 46:9, 48:11-12, John 17:3, 1 Timothy 2:5, Revelation 1:8, (Hosea 13:4). He is not, in His essential nature, a man: Hosea 11:9, Numbers 23:19.

B. There are three Persons: Father, Son and Spirit:  Matthew 3:16-17, 11:27, 17:1-9, 27:46, John 1:18, 14:16-17. The Pre-existence of the Son:  Colossians 1:13-17, Hebrews 1:2-3, John 1:1.

C. Equality: the Deity of Christ: Colossians 2:9, John 20:28, Titus 2:13, 2 Peter 1:1, John 1:18; identification as Yahweh: John 6:39-41/Isaiah 6, Hebrews 1:10-12/Psalm 102:25-27.

V. The Personality of God: He is Trinal

A. Scriptural Evidence: (Quotations from The Works of B. B. Warfield, vol. 2, pages 133-135).

     The term “Trinity” is not a Biblical term, and we are not using Biblical language when we define what is expressed by it as the doctrine that there is one only and true God, but in the unity of the Godhead there are three coeternal and coequal Persons, the same in substance but distinct in subsistence. A doctrine so defined can be spoken of as a Biblical doctrine only on the principle that the sense of Scripture is Scripture. And the definition of a Biblical doctrine in such unBiblical language can be justified only on the principle that it is better to preserve the truth of Scripture than the words of Scripture. The doctrine of the Trinity lies in Scripture in solution; when it is crystallized from its solvent it does not cease to be Scriptural, but only comes into clearer view. Or, to speak without figure, the doctrine of the Trinity is given to us in Scripture, not in formulated definition, but in fragmentary allusions; when we assemble the disjecta membra into their organic unity, we are not passing from Scripture, but entering more thoroughly into the meaning of Scripture. We may state the doctrine in technical terms, supplied by philosophical reflection; but the doctrine stated is a genuinely Scriptural doctrine…In point of fact, the doctrine of the Trinity is purely a revealed doctrine. That is to say, it embodies a truth which has never been discovered, and is indiscoverable, by natural reason. With all his searching, man has not been able to find out for himself the deep things of God. Accordingly, ethnic thought has never attained a Trinitarian concept of God, nor does any ethnic religion present in its representations of the Divine Being any analogy to the doctrine of the Trinity.
As the doctrine of the Trinity is indiscoverable by reason, so it is incapable of proof from reason. There are no analogies to it in Nature, not even in the spiritual nature of man, who is made in the image of God. In His trinitarian mode of being, God is unique; and, as there is nothing in the universe like Him in this respect, so there is nothing which can help us to comprehend Him.
The fundamental proof that God is a Trinity is supplied thus by the fundamental revelation of the Trinity in fact:

that is to say, in the incarnation of God the Son and the outpouring of God the Holy Spirit. In a word, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are the fundamental proof of the doctrine of the Trinity. This is as much as to say that all the evidence of whatever kind, and from whatever source derived, that Jesus Christ is God manifested in the flesh, and that the Holy Spirit is a Divine Person, is just so much evidence for the doctrine of the Trinity; and that when we go to the New Testament for the evidence of the Trinity we are to seek it, not merely in the scattered allusions to the Trinity as such, numerous and instructive as they are, but primarily in the whole mass of evidence which the New Testament provides of the Deity of Christ and the Divine personality of the Holy Spirit. When we have said this, we have said in effect that the whole mass of the New Testament is evidence for the Trinity. For the New Testament is saturated with evidence of the Deity of Christ and the Divine personality of the Holy Spirit. Precisely what the New Testament is, is the documentation of the religion of the incarnate Son and outpoured Spirit, that is to say, of the religion of the Trinity, and what we mean by the doctrine of the Trinity is nothing but the formulation in exact language of the conception of God presupposed in the religion of the incarnate Son and outpoured Spirit.

B. OT: “Let us”; tri-hagion of Isaiah 6; plural Yahwehs in Genesis 19:24.

C. NT: Deity of the Son & Spirit in correlation with the fact that there is only one God. Matthew 28:19-20. On this section: Deuteronomy 28:58 – “this glorious and fearful name, Yahweh thy God.” Jeremiah 14:9: “Yet Thou art in our midst, O Yahweh, and we are called by Thy name.” Jeremiah 15:6: “I have been called by Thy name, O Yahweh God of hosts.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 literally: “and My people over whom My name is called…” c.f. Daniel 9:18-19. When, therefore, our Lord commanded His disciples to baptize those whom they brought to His obedience “into the name of…,” He was using language charged to them with high meaning. He could not have been understood otherwise than as substituting for the Name of [Yahweh] this other Name “of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy [Spirit]”; and this could not possibly have meant to His disciples anything else than that [Yahweh] was now to be known to them by the new name, of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit…There is no alternative, therefore, to understanding Jesus here to be giving for His community a new Name to Yahweh and that new Name to be the threefold Name of “the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Nor is there any room for doubt that by “the Son” in this threefold Name, He meant just Himself with all the implications of distinct personality of “the Father” and “the Holy Spirit,” with whom “the Son” is here associated, and from whom alike “the Son” is here distinguished. This is a direct ascription to Yahweh God of Israel, of a threefold personality, and is therewith the direct enunciation of the doctrine of the Trinity.

D. Triadic formulae: 1 Thessalonians 1:3-5, 2 Thessalonians 2:13, 1 Corinthians 2:2-5, 6:11, 12:4-6, 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, 13:14, Romans 8:26-27, 14:17-18, 15:16, 15:30, Colossians 1:6-8,Ephesians 2:18, 3:16-17, 4:4-6.

E. Statement of the Doctrine: 1. There is in the Divine Being but one indivisible essence (ousia, essentia). 2. In this one Divine Being there are three Persons or individual subsistences, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 3. The whole undivided essence of God belongs equally to each of the three persons. 4. The subsistence and operation of the three persons in the divine Being is marked by a certain definite order. 5. There are certain personal attributes by which the three persons are distinguished. 6. The Church confesses the Trinity to be a mystery beyond the comprehension of man.

1. One essence, substance, or ousia.

2. The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Spirit, the Spirit is not the Father. 3 subsistences – “personal self-distinctions within the Divine essence.” 3 modes of existence – there are personal relations between the three.

3. Naturally following from the indivisibility of the ousia of God. Hence, there can be no subordination of one Person to another with respect to essential being. Turretin once said, “The mind of the worshiper will not be distracted by the consideration that there are three Divine persons, if he remembers that the whole Divine essence is in each of the persons, so that if he worships one he worships all.”

4. Father, Son, Spirit. Son is begotten by the Father (book example). Spirit is spirited or proceeds from both Father and Son (Western) – also seen in the positions each took in the Eternal Covenant of Redemption.

5. opera ad intra: Father generation; Son filiation; Spirit procession. opera ad extra:  creation, redemption, sanctification.

6. Finite versus infinite existence.

F. Eternal Covenant of Redemption

Remember the voluntariness of Christ’s humiliation, His unique new position, how that explains the “my God” passages and how this reflects the inherent positions within the eternal Trinity.

“In interpreting those passages in which omnipotence and divine exaltation (Phil. 2:9) are said to be “given” to the incarnate Son, it must be recollected that it requires an infinite nature to receive and wield such infinite gifts… They are communicable only to an infinite person.” (Shedd, vol. 1., p. 318).