Memorial Day

On this day, the last Monday of May (26th), we remember all those who have died while in service to our blessed, sovereign, nation--the United States of America. Here is a poem I thought worthy of a read on this day.

"In 1915, inspired by the poem "In Flanders Fields," Moina Michael replied with her own poem:"

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies. (1)


Report on Oneness and Trinitarianism:

The below article appeared in the May-June 2008 edition of the Forward magazine. A magazine for UPCI ministers.

In 2001, the Society for Pentecostal Studies, an international society of scholars established in 1970 to provide a venue for research related to Pentecostal and Charismatic studies, commissioned a five-year study of Oneness and Trinitarianism.

The final report states, "The chief purpose was to allow for a clearer understanding of Oneness and Trinitarian Pentecostal perspectives, including the variations possible within them, as well as both the commonalities and difference between them...the goal was a clearer understanding of their positions and not the winning over of one side to the other or the adoption of a compromise position. "

The Trinitarian position was represented by Frank Macchia, chair (Assemblies of God), Kimberly Alexander (Church of God, Cleveland, TN), and Edmund Rybarczyk (AG). The Oneness position was represented by David Bernard (chair, United Pentecostal Church International), James A. Johnson (Pentecostal Assemblies of the World), and J.L. Hall (UPCI), and later Howard Swancy (PAW) and David Norris (UPCI). Several SPS members were invited to sit in as external observers.

The two teams met for one day each year, with each side presenting a paper on topic selected for discussion. The topics were Pentecostal History (2002), Water Baptism (2003), the Godhead and Christology (2004), Salvation (2005), and Holiness (2006). The final report was drafted in 2007 and presented at the annual SPS meeting in 2008.

The report will be published in Pneuma (SPS Journal), which is distributed worldwide to seminaries, libraries, and individual subscribers. It contains the first explanation of Oneness theology by Oneness adherents to be published in a scholarly theological journal.

Click here for a great article by Dr. David K. Bernard on "Unmasking Prejudice." This article is a book review of E. Calvin Beisner's, "Jesus Only" Churches (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998). It is a short jab since his book is only 87 pages. Bernard delivers with a roundhouse though, that seals the victory. "Unmasking Prejudice" can be freely accessed online through the Cyberjournal for Pentecostal Charismatic Research.


Worship of God Should Change Lifestyle:

As Von Goethe once said,

The past is valuable as a guidepost, but dangerous if used as a hitching post.” (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832))

I feel as modern Apostolics or Pentecostals our usage of history is to serve as a guidepost. A guidepost indicates to us the decline of culture that is rapidly become destitute of God by their own actions. The connection cannot be denied. We should look at historical events and trends and measure our responses according to the Word of God.

I believe though that some misunderstand a very simple premise of Christianity, or of simply being a follower of God. It is clear that worship to any god or gods will affect lifestyle. The result of worship to pagan gods such as Molech, Ashtoreth, or Diana was always in accordance with the nature or concept of that god.

Molech demanded brutal sacrifice of children; therefore, his worshippers emulated that trait. Ashtoreth was a goddess of the moon, sexuality, sensual love, and fertility. Therefore her worshipers emulated erotic and illegitimate lifestyles. In these times, their priests were male eunuchs dressed in women’s clothing.[1] Diana was a goddess that archaeological statues indicate was an impersonator of the reproductive powers of men and of animals and of all other life, therefore her worshipers, mainly women, indulged themselves in the most base of sexual perversions.

Therefore our concept of the true God and His nature should be emulated and imitated by and through His true worshipers. This is not a divisive issue until we realize that our emulation of God and HIS Holiness should have an affect upon our lifestyles and dress code. To say otherwise is negligence or willful ignorance.

The nature of God is that He is holy. He does not just have holiness or love, but He is holy and He is love. This very reason is what Peter may have been thinking when he penned:
Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, Be holy, for I am holy. (1 Peter 1:13-16 NKJV)
I really feel, when we look close we can find that our God really asks for simple sacrifices, or simple acts of worship, in relation to the demands of the gods of this world. The vices of jealousy, arrogance, pride, avarice, rebellion, and etc. are gods in their own making, or they indeed have become gods unto us. Each time we kneel to their cruel manipulations, we are kneeling in worship.

Let me clarify something here. When I refer to the term "worship" however I am not referring only to what, in Pentecostal praxis, the service leader is seeking from our believers during worship services.

I believe, from the point of syntax, that worship and praise are distinct from each other. I believe worship has a meaning more broad whereas praise may be more restrictive in meaning. For example, praise is worship but praise is not all that worship is. Worship can be anything from a lifestyle, dancing and praising God, sacrifice unto God, etc, etc. Praise does not define worship yet is part of worship, as worship does not define praise but praise is part of worship. I believe they interrelate. I believe, typically praise relates to physical or emotional demonstrations. I believe these particular aspects deal greatly with our pride and thankfulness to a God we are eternally indebted to despite our acknowledgments. He does, however, desire them.

It is difficult then to separate worship from relationship, for it is cause and effect. We do not merely do worship, but we are worshipers.

We worship God with our minds. With our actions and conduct. With how we treat others, and go about our lives. As Christians we are distinct from and against the world. We are to be the light. The darkness is our enemy, which darkness is really only the absence of light. There is not a day, that should go by at least, where we can say we are not worshipers of the Almighty.

From the standpoint of practical application of holiness. Let me say first, I am just a lover of the Scriptures and theology, my experience as a pastor is limited though. I have been a teacher more than anything most of my ministry. I have found merit though to the idea that teaching the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) in relationship to our holiness teachings is, not to be redundant, fruitful. I think the Scriptures will bear this out as well. I see the fruit of the Holy Spirit as a necessary platform for which we demonstrate or appropriate holiness. Holiness of our mind as well as our body, it is after all the temple of the Holy Spirit.

For example, the first three listed in Galatians 5 are love; joy; peace. These each concern our attitude toward God. The very next three deal with our relationships, our interpersonality (patience; kindness; goodness). The next three deal with our conduct as believers (faithfulness; gentleness; self-control). Indeed the fruit of the Spirit then is how we can "be" holy. God is greatly concerned with our holiness inwardly, but He also expects us to let man see Christ in us, the hope of glory. Something that sets us aside (separate) from the rest of the world in how we speak, act, and yes how we even dress--as vessels dedicated for His service.

[1] McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2000, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved

Discussion on Free-will and Determinism by Dr. Raymond Crownover (UGST)

The idea that God is involved in time, that time is in God, and that God fully, completely, and infallibly knows the future does not make Him the author of all evil things He knows about. Open Theism fails in not only making God ignorant of the future, but in assuming that He needs to be in order to protect free will. I use two examples to illustrate this: (1) the individual who "knows" the stoplight is about to turn red (because it just turned yellow) does not cause it to turn red even if his knowledge is correct; and (2) my memory of events of the past (if those memories are accurate) did not cause the events to occur any more than God's "memory" of events of the future cause those events to occur. Or, my observation of a present event does not cause the event any more than God's observation (of all events throughout time) cause all those events.

Of course, the question then arises: at what point does God cease to be passive observer and begins to directly cause events of the future to occur? He is the ultimate cause of all things (including evil), but not always the immediate cause. The Bible makes clear that God is causing all things to come to a determined end. However, there is nothing simple about it. Clearly God protects human free will as one of, if not THE most vital good of His creation. We know that because it is God's will that all humans be saved, yet the percentage of those who will be saved is small ("few there be..."). What is frustrating God's will? Not the devil (although he would love us to believe that). No angel, fallen or holy, can frustrate the divine purpose. The only thing that can prevent God's will from being done is God's will.

That is, God may desire X, but does not bring it to pass because it is logically impossible to bring about X without preventing Y, which God desires more. (Now, before someone says God can do the impossible, let me make clear that logical impossibilities are not in the same category as physical impossibilities. For example, God cannot make a square circle. If what He produces is a circle, it is not a square; if what He produces is a square, it is not a circle; and if what He produces is a hybrid circle and square, then it is neither a circle nor a square. It is also logically impossible for God to make a rock He cannot lift.) In this case, X is "all men to be saved" and Y is "whosoever will".

Because God cannot have all men saved without over-riding human will (forcing all to be saved), John Calvin concluded the only way to preserve God's sovereignty was to redefine "all" to mean only those He elects. In reality, that severely limits God's sovereignty by making Him a slave to His every desire. (Surely God's desires are perfect, holy, and all together good, but they serve Him, not the other way around. Desires that control are lusts, even if they are positive in their outcome.) Instead, God can choose from His desires, rank them according to His holy purpose, and put into effect one even when it means limiting the fulfillment of another. That doesn't stop God from wanting all human beings to be saved.

What does that tell us about moral free will? That it is the highest, most important, and most closely protected of all God's gifts to man. He would rather see a highly loved and precious person for whom He paid the price of death on the cross go to hell than to see them forced to love and serve Him. Most people would probably reply that they would rather God forced them to go to heaven than gave them free will, but the obvious response to that is they are simply saying they want to surrender their will to God, and if they really mean it, they will avoid hell. Unfortunately, most people don't really mean it.

Since free will is the ultimate good, God has to deal with literally billions of free choices every day, and still make it all come out according to His plan. The majority of these choices may be insignificant in relation to the ultimate outcome, but there are certainly a few that could derail the plan. However, God is not left hopelessly observing without influencing the outcome of our choices.

First, He is not constrained by natural laws of cause and effect. Second, He has myriads of angels who obey His every command. Third, He has willing human beings who desire to change the world to bring about His desired results. Fourth, He has equipped both those angels and (more importantly) those human servants with powers far beyond their individual ability to effect change, making the free decision of one man of God more powerful in its effect than thousands or even millions of decisions made by those who are ignorant of or actively working against His will. All of these elements add to His ability to bring about a determined end without violating human free will in doing so.

Some prophecies in the Bible (probably most) are statements of what will happen based on His foreknowledge of all events. A few are statements of what He will cause to happen by direct or indirect intervention in the affairs of humans. But, can we really call that divine intervention, or is it simply the divine interaction with the unfolding of His creation?


Does Proverbs 16:4 teach that God made wicked people?

Proverbs 16:3-5 NKJV, (3) Commit your works to the LORD, And your thoughts will be established. (4) The LORD has made all for Himself, Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom. (5) Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; Though they join forces,[1] none will go unpunished."

Some people have noted this proverb and suggest that God created evil, and certain people for evil as well. Notice that the tenor here seems to be that we should "commit" our works to the Lord, even the wicked will be punished, and that a "proud heart is an abomination" and that all these will not go unpunished.

The Hebrew people had a very unique and majestic style of writing. Verse four, the verse in question, is actually a an example of synthetic parallelism. This is when one line of text affirms a truth, and the subsequent line expands on it with a specific application. In this case, about the wicked, whatever disaster comes their way is an appropriate correspondent for their life.

This proverb means that God has an end, object, or purpose for everything. There is a result for every cause, a reward or punishment for every act. He has ordained a day of trouble or evil for the wicked, just as He has prepared heaven for those who love Him. The Today's Englis Version renders verse four:

“Everything the Lord has made has its destiny; and the destiny of the wicked man is destruction” (Proverbs 16:4 TEV).
Though this may be difficult to understand and accept, punishment for the unrepentant is in keeping with God’s justice.The UBS Handbook Series suggests this as an alternate reading:

"The Lord has decided how everything he created should be, and he has decided the wicked should be destroyed." (Reyburn, W. D., & Fry, E. M. (2000). A handbook on Proverbs. UBS handbook series; Helps for translators (348). New York: United Bible Societies.)
This doesn't necessarily mean that God created the "wicked" in that state. It means that the wicked have an end--punishment. Even the wicked are subservient to His eternal purposes. They are destined to experience the day of wrath and receive their well-merited punishment.

Jude 4 is another text often misunderstood. It reads:

"For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God[2] and our Lord Jesus Christ." (NKJV)

To some this says God selected these particular individuals to be doomed. But that is not the meaning. The Bible never teaches that some are chosen to be damned, that would be Calvinism. When men are saved, it is through the grace of God. But when they are lost, it is because of their own sin and disobedience. This expression teaches that the condemnation of apostates has been determined long beforehand. If men choose to fall away from the Faith, then their condemnation is the same as that of the unbelieving Israelites in the wilderness, the rebel angels, and the Sodomites. They are not foreordained to fall away, but once they do apostatize by their own choice, they face the punishment predetermined for all apostates.

Musings on States of Consciousness

The human state of consciousness prevails today as one part of the human metaphysic that is desired, by many, to alter in some form or another. Many times this altered state of consciousness is brought about by drug intoxication, whether it is through an opiate, depressant, hallucinogen or as is likely among many—cannabis. Sometimes, as in mind wanderings, the alterations seem involuntarily or at the very least—innocent. Being hypnotized offers the willing distorted views of reality through altered states of consciousness.

Humans seem fixated upon altering their states of consciousness. This may be because many are dissatisfied with the present one and therefore seek an alternate experience. Yet, at other times we simply fail to focus upon the task before us.

This brings us to what consciousness is. What is consciousness? Of course the answer may vary and even be more copious depending upon who answers. However, consciousness, in a basic sense, is a person’s present awareness of outward and inward stimuli. For example, when a person feels the need to do a certain thing, they are conscious of some stimuli that transmit the need or the emotion.

Intentional or voluntary altered states of consciousness are regularly brought on by drug intoxication. The term drug should denote any substance that alters the state of consciousness. Thus, alcohol can be presumed to be a drug just as some stimulant or hallucinogenic drug, e.g. Cocaine, LSD. Consequently modern society places lower emphasis on drugs like alcohol and nicotine, yet, ironically they herald the woes of drugs like marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. It can easily be argued that “of all theses substances nicotine is the most harmful, because it is responsible for about 360,000 deaths per year.”[1]

Typically psychoactive drugs (drugs that affect behavior, mood, and/or consciousness) are illegal and can be very dangerous. However, just because a drug is illegal does not necessary indicate to us, properly, the risk associated with the drug. Most of these drugs create dependence upon the drug which creates the “snow ball” effect wherein not only is an individual’s health in jeopardy but his/her finances and possibly family members.

Psychotropic drugs, like those given for depression or anxiety are very addictive as well. We should be careful not to underestimate a drug just because one is legal and the other is not. Our society has established an apparent double standard in the sense of drugs and medicine. Alcohol and nicotine kill humans each and every year. In fact, alcohol is involved in a high percentage of fatal or non-fatal traffic accidents.

In mind wanderings individuals often find themselves abruptly awakening in the midst of a conversation or event. In 1997 C.A. Ross held a survey[2] that reported 80% of adults surveyed have had similar experiences of mind wanderings. This is sometimes called dissociation. An older idiomatic expression of this experience could be “daydreaming” This, normally, is a result of a mind that is uninterested or meditating on some fanciful reverie.

Sigmund Freud would probably assert that the as real as human conscious is, so is the reality of the unconscious. His theories in this area have undergone significant criticism. The unconscious is “memories, impulses, and desires that are not accessible to consciousness.”[3] Freud believed that the unconscious housed repressed memories that have painful connotations. Freud believed these types of unconscious memories surfaced in our dreams, illogical behaviors, peculiar mannerisms, and slips of the tongue.

Many of us have often heard someone slip certain words into a sentence and then hear someone say that the “slip” was the “Freudian slip.” Basically, the Freudian slip is comments or remarks that were not intended to be said, but manifest the repressed impulse. The “Freudian slip” does have some merit and Freud would like to take the credit but an older source—Jesus Christ—tells us that

"The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks." (Luke 6:45 ESV)
Personally, states of consciousness are intriguing because a persons desire to alter his/her state can typically indicate a dissatisfaction with life. This is not the case every time yet many persons are simply not happy with their life. Thus, they seek a method or a way to escape their present awareness or consciousness. This assumption cannot be applied systemically but in certain areas, e.g. psychoactive drugs, it is plausible. Although they are distinct, drug dependence and drug abuse are examples of persons whose life has lost true satisfaction.

“The prevalence of illegal substance use and abuse increased substantially in the last four decades. People who were teenagers in the 1960’s and more recent generations are much more likely to have tried illegal substances such as marijuana, cocaine, or heroin at some time in their lives than their parents or grandparents.”[4] Sadly, as we can see, the probability of using illegal drugs continues to escalate through time.

Does the moral decline of a civilization have anything to do with drug abuse and drug dependency? Why do people desire to alter their state of consciousness to the point where they ignore the consequences of certain psychoactive drugs? Why do people allow themselves to build up a tolerance to psychoactive drugs that require them to spend more, do more, and have unpleasant withdrawals when stopped?

Is this just addiction? Or addiction brought on because of dissatisfaction? Is it something to help cope with the disappointments or calamities of life? I believe it also speaks of the times in which we live, but I believe it is also the inherent dissatisfaction that humanity can acquire with a life away from God. This is generally speaking to the greatest need of man, which is to commune and be in relationship with the Creator. It is the very reason for our existence in the first place. Christian worship of the God of creation, accompanied by faith and sincerity, brings unparalleled joy that no drug can bring.

After the disciples had seen Jesus ascend into the heavens the scriptures record that they worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem “with great joy” (Luke 24:52 KJV). Intentional and focused worship can alter one’s consciousness of despair and trouble to “great joy”. However, the worship must be intentional and it must be focused. As humans we do not worship that in which we place no faith or trust, but we worship that which we do have faith and in which we place our trust—God. Therefore, to worship is to recognize a high source that can intervene in human matters.

Paul’s advice on being anxious (Philippians 4:6 ff.) still has relevant applicability for this generation of hurting and disappointed. In Philippians 4:7 he says that the “the peace of God…transcends all understanding” yet it “will guard your hearts and your minds”. He goes on to tell us to purposely meditate upon “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable”. Essentially we are to think on things praiseworthy. (See Philippians 4:7-8 NIV) We are to meditate on good things, things worthy of praise. Meditation requires purposeful reflection and capturing of the mind.

God calls us to meditate on Him and His word. It is stopping to hear Him speak and for us to listen. It is getting online with God, to restore right relationship between broken humanity and Himself. I have often found myself wondering why a person would do the things that they do. Better yet, why this mannerism or that habit? Next time we see one like that we must also seek to understand the disappointment and the calamity. Then we should let them see Jesus. Show them that the hope and solution He brings is not only wonderful, it never runs out. The solution and the hope was made with them in mind.

[1] Atkinson and Hilgard, Introduction to Psychology 14th Edition. Copyright © 2003 Wadsworth, a division of Thomson Learning, Inc. Thomson Wadsworth Publishers. Page 212

[2] Ross, C.A. (1997). Dissociative identity disorder: diagnosis, clinical features, and treatment of multiple personality. Toronto: Wiley.

[3] Atkinson and Hilgard, Page197-198

[4] Atkinson and Hilgard, Page 213


Musings on Relevance

Relevance might be relative. Man, that sure messes things up. Let me explain.

Actually relevancy is good to a point. We should not try to be relevant in every area since relevancy does use culture to determine itself. Culture shifts. Therefore, as we are relevant to culture we must always be rooted in Biblical principles. The Biblical principle will guide us in knowing when culture has went TOO far and thus the church cannot shift accordingly.

We must be cautious of our relevance to a value that can change. The world changes. We can still be relevant but not if that means we have to go to the same depths as the world. I think the jeopardy some speak of is, when in our attempts to be relevant, we become LIKE the world even more so. This is a compromise, and not relevance.

Musings on Preterism (3)

I read a preterist who posed this dilemma for futurists:

All sources that point to a 90AD writting of the book of Revelation point to Iraneas. He makes several statements that make you wonder what all you can believe of what he wrote... Statements made within the writings of Revelation point to a before 70 AD writing. I put my trust in the Word.
Discussing the dating is a very interesting topic. In fact, the full impact of the preterist view leads to some ridiculous conclusions about the book of Revelations itself. Revelations according to the preterist is now a history book. That said, even to ponder such a notion seems ridiculous since there are many events that have clearly not happened as of yet. Back to the dating:

First, the dating of Irenaeus does not stand in a vacuum. It is understood with several other historical points, idiom and context of the Revelation. More on that in a few. Besides those points, the point of Irenaeus stands as there is no early witness that even suggests an earlier date.

Second, preterism is the view here that requires an early date. Futurism does not. Preterism lives and dies by the dating of the Revelation. In fact, desperate preterists have even suggested a different authorship to accommodate this aberrant interpretation.

Third, to follow the conclusion of the preterist interpretation would also suggest that all those events would have to been concluded by 67 AD at the latest. In light of other contextual events in Revelation this is almost absurd.

Fourth, there are other early historical witnesses, e.g. Eusebius, that speak of John being banished by Domitian. In fact, it is believed by scholars that Eusebius is actually quoting an earlier historicist Hegesippus which dates to 150 AD. Victorinus (300 AD)., not necessarily Irenaeus. Tertullian (150 AD); Hippolytus (236 AD); Jerome (340 AD) are just a few others.

Fifth, the churches that are mentioned in Revelation do not have enough time to grow and then decline as the context of Revelation itself demonstrates has happened. The letter to church at Ephesus dates to the early 60's AD and Paul actually commends them in that letter. Paul died around 65 AD. Titus destroyed Jerusalem 5 years later.
Sixth, Revelations has idiomatic structures that relate to a time period near the close of the first century. Dr. Enoch Pond states:
A variety of evidence, drawn from the Apocalypse itself, goes to assure us that it could not have been written until near the close of the first century.

It was not till this time that the first day of the week began to be called ‘the Lord’s day,’ yet it was on ‘the Lord’s day’ that John was in the Spirit, and saw the opening vision of the Apocalypse (Rev. 1:10).

It was not till near the close of the first century that there was presiding elder, an angel, in each of the Churches. Previous to this the elders of a Church were always classed together, but each of the seven Churches of Asia seems to have had a presiding officer, or elder, when the Apocalypse was written. (Click here to read entire article)
I could go on, but I think the point is made. Futurists do not NEED or require a late or early date. It is the preterist who lives and dies by this date. It is a short life, much less the futility of it considering the evidence. I invite all our preterist brethren to find another hill to die on. This one isn't worth the effort, plus you'll die there and really it will never be a hill remembered.

Musings on Salt and Light (Matthew 5)

It is virtually impossible to make a 1st Century historical figure relevant to postmodern society. Instead, we are probably better off to demonstrate Christ's relevancy to our world. The relevancy of His work and person to all of humanity. Then they can see their need or problem, and find what they have really been looking for, and the final solution. God is stirring and dealing with the hearts of man, even now towards salvation. I believe He can surely fulfill this salvation, even in the darkest, remotest location, apart from us; but He does compel us to go out into all the world (Matthew 28:19).

I believe preaching of the soon or imminent Second coming of our Lord is greatly needed. I also believe that we need more teaching and preaching on the work and person of Jesus Christ. Principles and ethics are being blurred and twisted by our world. Eventually being "Christian" will once again be our greatest identity. The ekklesia or church, as in the days of Rome, will always prevail and flourish in persecution and heresy. Indeed, I believe that God is about to do things with this Church that this generation has not yet seen. Not only spiritually but also in demonstration of power, and demonstration by His Word. The point humanity is reaching is actually turning extremely humanistic to the point of glorifying sexuality. When this is so culture will thrive upon the blessings of its forefathers. Reason, right thinking, truth, and vertical relationship is almost lost. Man will stand at the crossroad of dark confusion or to illuminating light.

We are the salt of the world, we are a light in a dark world (See Matthew 5). Not necessarily are we a light, but we have a light, and we are to "let" our light shine (Matthew 5:16). Salt has a dual purpose. It seasons meat (too bad that meat wasn't tasty enough) and it stops decay (hey thanks!). Light, well it is the opposite force of darkness. Darkness is the absence of light. Darkness prevails because the light is absent. Jesus is the light (John 1:1-14), and we are to demonstrate Jesus Christ, and teach and witness of Jesus Christ. Then we are truly engaging culture with its only hope for this world, and in unending time.


Musings on Jesus, the Father, and two wills

This is a response to a second article on Oneness Theology by Matt Slick from CARM. Click here to see the first.
Another look at Jesus, the Father, and two wills

Oneness theology teaches that there is only one person in the Godhead whose name is Jesus. Jesus is the Father and the Holy Spirit. Regarding His incarnation, oneness people say that Jesus was in heaven at the same time that He was on earth.

Unfortunately, the oneness position presents a serious problem.This is inaccurate ultimately. Some Oneness writers or believers may or may have articulate d their beliefs inadequately but that does not mean that is what they believe, or even what most believe. The UPC has a clear statement on the Union of the Humanity and Deity of Christ. We do not believe Jesus is the Father. To say Jesus is the Father is actually a contradiction of terms. The Father is God existing as God, whereas Jesus is God existing as a man. The Holy Spirit is the very Spirit of God, it is primarily reference as God in action. His Spirit indeed is holy.
God is Spirit (John 4:24). Jesus is the expressed image of God's being (Heb. 1:3). God was "manifest" in flesh (1 Tim. 3:16). God is a personal spiritual being. I do not consider the doctrine of an eternal son to be accurate. There is debate within Trinitarianism on this issue as well, at least to some extent. Most Oneness theologians do not believe that God pre-existed the Incarnation as Jesus Christ. The deity or divine identity that existed in Christ was God the Father. Jesus Christ was who He was on account of the union between deity and the virgin Mary. Jesus Christ came in time (Galatians 4:4), in the plan and as the visible image of the invisible God. Jesus is not the Father in an equivocal sense but His divine identity does come from the only Deity of Scripture--The Almighty God. Jesus is the Father Incarnate. It was not until the 4th Century that the Trinitarian doctrine became more clearly codified. A trinity of divine persons. It was perfectly acceptable to pagan philosophers and the Greeks themselves.
In the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:42), Jesus prayed to the Father saying, "Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done." See also, ""And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, 'O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt'" (Matt. 26:39).

Notice that Jesus says that he has a will and that the Father has a will. That is two wills: one of the Son and the other of the Father. Furthermore, notice that the wills were in opposition. Jesus did not want to have to go to the cross and endure the suffering, but he submitted not to his own will, but the will of the Father. If this is so, then how can Jesus, who is the Father in flesh (and therefore, they are one person) have two separate and opposing wills on the same subject at the same time?

The response is generally that Jesus was fully a man and that in his humanity he was not the everlasting Father. But if this is so, then what was Jesus if not God incarnate? If He is not fully God incarnate, then the atonement is void since it isn't God making the sacrifice but a mere man. This is the danger of oneness theology. Ultimately, it denies the true incarnation of God.

Sometimes oneness people say that Jesus had another existence outside His existence as a man because he also was existing as the Father. But this implies that there are two beings since each has its own existence different than the other.
At the Council of Constantinople Trinitarians themselves concluded that two wills do not mean two persons. Slick is not aware of his own heritage here. The difference in existence is metaphysical and existential. The singular divine person of God took on human nature. Oneness theology also recognizes a distinction between the Father and the Son. While it does not suggest the Father is the Son one can rightly say the Father is in the Son. To honor one is to honor the other (1 John 2:23).

Jason Dulle, a graduate of Western Seminary suggests, "To confuse the issue of deity and existence when discussing the distinction is to confuse the entire issue." Dulle makes a salient point here. In further context, he states:
Because Oneness believers recognize Jesus' deity to be that of the Father it is tempting to conclude that there is no real distinction between the Father and Son. Such a conclusion would be inaccurate, however, in light of the incarnation and hypostatic union. In the incarnation God united human nature to His divine person to personally exist as man. As man God has a theandric24 existence. The Father is the deity of the Son, but the Son has a distinct existence from the Father because "Son" speaks of God's existence as man, while "Father" speaks of the same God's continued existence beyond the incarnation. To confuse the issue of deity and existence when discussing the distinction is to confuse the entire issue. Yes, Jesus' deity is the deity of the Father, but no, Jesus does not have the same manner of existence as the Father because Jesus is God's existence as man whereas the Father is the same God's continued existence beyond the incarnation as He is in Himself.

The Son is truly distinct from the Father because in the incarnation God brought human nature into metaphysical union with Himself, and began to exist as man. The union of the divine and human natures in Christ brought into being a mode of existence distinct from God's normal and continued manner of existence beyond the incarnation as the transcendent, unlimited Spirit.25 There is, then, an existential26 distinction between Jesus and the Father because of the incarnation, but not an eternal distinction within God's essence apart from, and prior to the incarnation. This distinction arises because of God's newly acquired human existence, not between Christ's deity and the deity of the Father (Trinitarianism), or between Jesus' divine and human natures (Nestorianism).(2) Click here to read entire article.
The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is the image of God’s hypostasis (KJV person; NIV being; NRSV being Grk hypostasis). In context, the God who spoke to us by His Son is the Father of the Son (1:1-2, 5). God spoke to us by the prophets but now speaks by the Son. Hebrews is declaring Jesus to be the image of the God the Father’s subsistence. In Jesus “How wonderful God is can be seen in how wonderful he is..."what God is like is what he is like...what is true about God is true about his Son."(1)

I would further say that there is no mention of the Son having a separate hypostasis from the Father. Nor are there any references to this word in the plural form. I believe the whole of Scripture testifies of this as well. I conclude then that Jesus is the image of the invisible subsistence or person (KJV) or being (NRSV) of God. Only if we were to believe that God exists as three persons could there be multiple beings. A human nature is not a person. Human nature is personalized by the person. That is actually the problematic nature of using the plural form of person.
Furthermore, the Oneness position would have a will of the Father and a will of the Son which are in opposition to each other -- yet they are supposed to be one person? This makes no sense. If the oneness people state that Jesus' flesh was at odds with His own presence as the Father in heaven, then again we have no true incarnation.

The problem with the oneness position is serious and the fact that Jesus' will was separate from the Father's demonstrates that the Father and the Son are different persons within the Godhead. The oneness people are very wrong.

Jesus is the Son of God. He is not the Son of a second divine person. He is the Word that became flesh. God’s word is not separate or apart from Himself. In the Son is a true incarnation or an embodiment of all the fulness of deity (Col. 2:9). This deity cannot be separated from that of the Father. No matter how many persons we are contending for God did indeed become Incarnate in Christ (2 Cor. 5:19). Trinitarians simply believe that the Son, a separate person in the nature of God, became Incarnate. Oneness theology teaches that the Father Incarnated Himself in human nature. God became a man (John 1:14). Alister McGrath speaks of this distinction and suggests this:

"In one sense, Jesus is God; in another, he isn’t. Thus Jesus is God incarnate-but he still prays to God, without giving the slightest indication that he is talking to himself! Jesus is not identical with God in that it is obvious that God continued to be in heaven during Jesus’ lifetime, and yet Jesus may be identified with God in that the New Testament has no hesitation in ascribing functions to Jesus which, properly speaking, only God could do."(2)
In order to understand the term “persons” outside its normal meaning, a special meaning must be offered by Trinitarians. This further complicates the entire ordeal. Theological meaning should be translated as comprehensible as possible. Using the plural form of person is not congruent with the teaching of Monotheism and in any case contradicts apparent meaning.


1. Jason Dulle, Avoiding the Achilles Heels of Trinitarianism, Modalistic Monarchianism, and Nestorianism: The Acknowledgement and Proper Placement of the Distinction Between Father and Son. Access online: http://www.apostolic.net/biblicalstudies/ugstsymposium.htm

2. Ellingworth, P., & Nida, E. A. (1994). A handbook on the Letter to the Hebrews. UBS handbook series; Helps for translators (9). New York: United Bible Societies.

3. Alister E. McGrath, Studies in Doctrine (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987) pgs. 202-203)

Musings on Oneness and the word "person"

Those of you who are familiar with CARM will probably know the president Matt Slick. Slick is the president of CARM, an online apologetic and research website and ministry. He has good material in other areas of apologetics as he does discuss more issues other than Oneness Pentecostalism. He does make it his point however to attempt refutations of Oneness theology. He even has a forum dedicated to this purpose and discussion.

You can peruse his website here. Scroll down to the Religious Movements section and click on Oneness Pentecostal. There many Trinitarians like Slick make attempts to understand and then counter Oneness theology, but actually just muddies the waters. I have not taken the time to respond to all of his articles, but I have read and wanted to reply to the two below. The first article will be in quotes. My response will follow in regular text.
Oneness and the word "person"

Oneness theology denies the Trinity doctrine and claims that there is one person in the Godhead who has manifested himself in three different forms: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These "forms" are not three separate persons, but one person who occupied consecutive modes. The Trinity, on the other hand, is the teaching that there is one God who exists in three separate, simultaneous, persons. Please note, though, this is not saying there are three gods.
I would not agree with using the word forms, if taken in a vacuum at least. First, Oneness does have a measure of weight in regards to persons since the plural form is never seen in the original texts or in English versions. The understanding of persons in relation to God is anachronistic to the original text and meaning. In fact, its fullest understanding began to emerge in the late 4th Century, when the Trinitarian doctrine was more fully codified. The way popular Trinitarians use the term person (from Latin persona) is not consistent with its earliest use.

“Manifest” is actually how Paul described the Incarnation in 1 Timothy 3:16. Trinitarianism is a developmental dogma. It has taken hundreds of years to hammer out its foundations. That fact is demonstrated by the use of “separate…persons”. This term is often used in the book The Forgotten Trinity by Dr. James White. The term persons as used theologically by Trinitarians is problematic in itself not to mention confounding the notion further by separating them. Trinitarians such as White, Slick, or Edward Dalcour believe these separate persons have each their own mind, will and conscious. This is tritheism on its face. Also, I do not believe the early creeds spoke the persons of the Trinity as being separate rather they were distinct.

If there is no real difference in distinct and separate then why the fuss over Nestorius? There is a difference in distinction and separation. I beleive however that this nuance is the evolution of Trinitarianism. It is evolving further into its logical conclusion of tritheism. In fact William Penn spent about a year imprisoned in the Tower of London for recognizing this problem of "separate persons". To refute the notion He wrote a tract called “Sandy Foundations Shaken”. He wrote,
If there be three distinct and separate persons, then three distinct and separate substances, because every person is inseparable from its own substance; and as there is no person that is not a substance in common acceptation among men, so do the scriptures plentifully agree herein; and since the Father is God, the son is God, and the spirit is God, (which their opinion necessitates them to confess) then unless the Father, son, and spirit, are three distinct nothings, they must be three distinct substances, and consequently three distinct gods.” (from Sandy Foundations Shaken)
Contemporary Trinitarians acknowledge the problem of “persons”. Karl Rahner and Karl Barth are one of two trinitarian theologians that expressed issues with the the term. Other theologians such as Frank Stagg and John Miller were both Protestant scholars who rejected popular Trinitarianism also. Church historian Dr. Bruce Shelley in the book Church History in Plain Language writes:
The word “person,” however, did not mean to the early Christians what it means today. To us, a person means someone like Tom, Dick, or Harry. But the Latin word persona originally meant a mask worn by an actor on the stage. In Trinitarian thought the “mask” is not worn by God to hide but to reveal his true character. It is clear that when we think of the Trinity, we should not try to think of three persons in our sense of the term, but three personal disclosures of God that correspond to what he is really like.”
Shelley admits the problem but attempts to rationalize the apparent amputation of the word person from reality. A person is a self-conscious being. That is indeed why I am one person, and you, whoever might be reading, is indeed another separate person. I do have distinctions within my person, as does our Creator, however these distinctions are not separate to the point of being apart from me. Trinitarians see this problem and attempt to place a special theological meaning that can only refer to the Trinitarian explanation of persons. This is gracious, however it should be noted that it should be our goal as theologians to transfer our knowledge in a comprehensible and meaningful way. Clearly special meaning is the only way the Trinitarian notion stands erect.

If this point is dismissed by Trinitarians then let me ask further. Why do you assign the term "person" to God at all? Is it to establish a way for us to comprehend how God exists in human terms? It would seem then that the appeal to special meaning is in fact contradictory to the very reason for assigning such meaning in the first place.

I believe Oneness Theology does not have a problem with “personal disclosures” as Shelley states. It does not necessarily refer to three separate persons giving the disclosures. In Oneness theology God is aware of Himself as existing in two distinct modes. As God Himself and God existing as a man. Separate persons giving unique disclosures of their selves smacks of tritheism. This should logically mean then that three divine, eternal subsistence’s each have their own center of consciousness. This sounds like something closer to an early Greek mythological description than a Biblical one in my opinion. In fact, if we read early Trinitarian apologists like Justin we might realize how such philosophical meaning became infused with Christian theology in the first place. The Trinitarian notion of persons and pre-existence is not wholly outside Old Testament and New Testament theology.
In defending the doctrine of the Trinity and in examining the Oneness doctrine regarding the Godhead, it is first necessary to define the terms that are used. Since the Trinity doctrine states there are three persons in one Godhead, and Oneness Pentecostal theology states there is only one person, we first need to know what a "person" is before we try to discover whether or not God is three persons or one. Therefore, we need to ask what qualifies someone as having "personhood"?

I offer the following analysis as an attempt to adequately define personhood. After the outline, I will try and show that the definition and/or characteristics of personhood can be applied to both the Father and the Son in a context that shows they both existed as persons at the same time, thereby proving Oneness theology is incorrect.

What are the qualities and attributes of being a person?

1. A person exists and has identity.
2. A person is aware of his own existence and identity.
A. This precludes the condition of being unconscious.
A self aware person will use such a statement as "I am", "me", "mine", etc.
A person can recognize the existence of other persons.
. This is true provided there were other persons around him or her.
A. Such recognition would include the use of such statements as "you are", "you", "yours", etc.
A person possesses a will.
. A will is the capability of conscious choice, decision, intention, desire, and or purpose.
A single person cannot have two separate and distinct wills at the same time on the exact same subject.
. Regarding the exact same subject, a person can desire/will one thing at one moment and another at a different moment.
A. Separate and simultaneous wills imply separate and simultaneous persons.
A person has the ability to communicate -- under normal conditions.
Persons do not need to have bodies.
. God the Father possesses personhood without a body, as do the angels.
A. Biblically speaking, upon death we are "absent from the body and home with the Lord" (2 Cor. 5:8).
God qualifies as having personhood in that He exists, is self aware, has identity, uses terms such as "Me", "I AM", "My", and possesses a will.
The question now becomes whether or not there is more than one "person" in the Godhead.
This is good information and has merit as it relates to a singular being, with self consciousness which we normatively call a person. However, I believe one must have the presupposition that Trinitarianism has to believe the argument that is actually being made. The Trinitarians presuppositional apologetic betrays him here. They must indeed prove these three separate persons are disclosed to us in Scripture first. This cannot be done. There is never a mention of any plural hypostasis or persons (substance) in the Greek or English versions in reference to God.
"Let this cup pass from Me."
"And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, 42Saying, 'Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done'" (Luke 22:42).

"And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, 'O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt'" (Matt. 26:39).

In both Luke 22:42 and Matt. 26:39 (which are parallel passages), the context is Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, right before His betrayal. He was praying to the Father about the ordeal He was about to undergo. Several points are worth bringing out here.

First, in this passage, Jesus addresses the Father. He says, "Oh my Father..." Note that Jesus says "my" and "Father." These two words designate a "me and you" relationship.
Slick does make a good point. “My” (adjective) is properly serving to describe the relationship between the Father and the Son. Jesus is indeed the Son of God, and can rightly say that God is His Father. The only begotten. The Incarnate expression of God Himself. Deity united inseparably and permanently with humanity. The Father is God existing as God. Jesus is God existing as God and man united together inseparably. 

The assumption though, which is not necessary to the text, is that the “me and you” is actually two persons. This has yet to be proven. A plural persons is not an adequate meaning to impose upon the God of the Hebrews (See Deuteronomy 6:4).
Second, "If it be possible" is Jesus expressing a desire, a hope. What is that hope or desire? It is that "this cup pass from me." The cup Jesus is speaking of is the immanent ordeal of betrayal, scourging, and crucifixion. Jesus did not want to go through this. He was expressing His desire. It was His will not to undergo the severe ordeal ahead of Him. If this was not so, He would not have expressed the desire to have the cup pass from Him.
This is indeed a good point. It further stresses how distinct, yet not separate, is the union of the humanity and deity of Jesus Christ. We can see this further in Revelations 21:22 when the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are one. Jesus was a true human that was conscious of who He was and that God existed somewhere other than Himself. If Jesus was not truly man then He could not have been our final and subsitutionary sacrifice.
Third, in Matt. 26:39, Jesus says, "Nevertheless., not my will, but thine, be done." In Luke 22:42 he says, "Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." With this, Jesus is expressing His will and contrasting it to the will of the Father. Yet, He is stating that even though He does not want to undergo what lay ahead, "Nevertheless," He would submit to the will of the Father -- and not his own will.

This shows that the person of Jesus had a separate and different will than the Father. Since we have two separate simultaneous wills, we have two separate and simultaneous persons and Oneness Pentecostal theology is incorrect.
There is no Nestorius Christ (Nestorius was probably more orthodox than Nestorianism) and Oneness theology does not teach it either. It is possible that a Oneness believer created too much stress on Christ's dual nature or used a poorly thought analogy but this does not mean Oneness theology adopts Nestorianism into its credo. Jesus was a complete person without confusion of his humanity or deity. The Son was subject to the will of the Father. This is why we can say Jesus could not sin, did not sin and is our perfect example and way to the Father as fallen creatures. We must see Christ as He was and now as He is. Jesus is the self-revelation of the Father.


1. http://www.carm.org

2. "Sandy Foundation Shaken" by William Penn. Above text cited from here. Other Biographical info concerning Penn.

3. Church History in Plain Language, by Shelley, Bruce L. Updated 2nd ed. Dallas, Tex.: Word Pub., 1995.


Musings on the Eternal Son

Fred Sanders a Trinitarian professor at Biola University made a statement for the doctrine of the Eternal Son. He stated:
The fundamental problem of all forms of modalism is this: if God, in order to reveal Himself, becomes something other than what He is, then he has not revealed Himself but has revealed something else. In this case, if God emerges from a state of being a non-modal and non-interpersonal being to become a modal, interpersonal being in the story of Jesus, then He has not revealed His true non-modal, non-interpersonal self. He has revealed instead a Father-God who has interpersonal fellowship with Himself in the modal person of the incarnate God, Jesus Christ. But according to Oneness theology, that interpersonal fellowship of Father and Son is precisely the thing He is not. So the unipersonal God attempts to reveal Himself but instead reveals an interpersonal divine being. The early Christians recognized this dilemma and solved it by confessing that if God reveals Himself to us by showing Himself to have a Son, then He must always have had a Son to show us in the fullness of time. Modalists, including Oneness Pentecostals, should face the unpleasant implication that their view makes God reveal Himself as that which He is not. Such a revelation, by its nature, cannot be true.

Fred Sanders


Sanders seems to be interpreting Scripture through the lens of ecclessiology. He is at least influenced by it heavily. God is not eternally "Father" anymore than he is eternally "Son". In the Old Testament His named is revealed to us thousands of times as "YHWH". Here it must be obvious that God has various titles in His relations with His creatures.

God's title as "Father" serves to describe Him in more than one sense of Fatherhood, i.e. Creator. The Old Testament concept of Fatherhood never relates to a Trinity of persons. It relates to His created people, Israel, and is indeed the very one who brought Adam into being at the dawn of Creation.

This assumption leads to a more problematic understanding of the Trinity, at least in the Old Testament texts. For example, if the Son is eternal and was just as coequal and coeternal as the Father, in person, then His absence as such a person in the Old Testament texts is further confounding of the properties of the persons in the Trinity. In the 4th Century the Cappodocian fathers basically rendered the properties of the persons of the Trinity as beyond human reason and incomprehensible.

Fifth, I feel Sanders is making the assumption that modalism is Oneness theology. This might be a misconception and/or a failure to articulate proper theology on someone's part, but Oneness theology is not ancient modalism. It should be known that all of our excerpts or texts that relate to Oneness teachers, notably Sabellius, Noetus, or Praxeas are found in quotations by Trinitarian apologists. It should also be noted, in historical context, that many of these Trinitarian apologists weren't even bishops or held any office. In fact, Tertuallian lets us know that he discounts the "majority" who disagreed with his "trinitas" as simple, yet not unlearned. That was kind, but it was also a concession. It concedes, in some sense that Trinitarian theology is a developmental dogma that was not even widely held, but in fact seen as a violation of true Monotheism early on (See Tertuallian "Against Praxeas:) Trinitarianism has proceeded from ecclesiastical efforts. I would also say that Protestantism has not protested enough.

Much of what we read of such Oneness teachers like Sabellius or Praxeas come from the pen of Trinitarian apologists like Tertullian or Hippolytus, etc. From their accounts these modalists (a word imposed upon them most likely) all believed in one God and one person of God. It is in the discussion of nature or humanity of Christ, in some sense, that it is distinguished from Oneness theology.That is why UPC teachers should and continue to say that our theology is coming from the Scripture texts and not ancient modalism.

For example, Modalism makes Christ to be a shell or some temporal mode, i.e. pure Modalism. Some Oneness Pentecostals do speak of Jesus manifesting in temporal terms such as "skin on" or "robed in flesh" etc. I believe Oneness theology disagrees with them though. An example of Oneness theology would be by the pen of Dr. Daniel Segraves or Dr. David Bernard. Neither of them write in such modalist terms. In fact, they both defy it at times.

Ultimately, it is not easy to say that these early Oneness teachers were totally right but neither can we say that they are totally wrong either. There is common beliefs found with Sabellius and Praxes or Noetus. Due to the fact, however, that their writings are found only in Trinitarian apologetics (Tertullian, Hippolytus, etc) we do not know some very important things:

a. if what we know is not distortion or
b. if we even know everything or the full extent of their writings.

The Restoration of Christianity was translated into English in 2007. Some may know that he wrote a lengthy piece against the Trinity and was burned by fire fueled by green wood and his own books. Servetus suffered a terrible death because He would not recant his beliefs. In 1628 William Harvey would use the writings of Servetus to explain blood flow.

I believe that the Son of God was truly God and man united inseparably. The humanity and deity were united inseparably into one divine person. The Son however was subject and in perfect obedience to the Father. This does not deny His existence as a true human. God existing as man. I do not believe God assumed a human person but rather Jesus is the only expressed image of the Divine Being. The distinction of existence is metaphysical and existential. God is always the eternal God Almighty but He did come into human history. He entered into His creation. God was in Christ (2 Cor. 5:19) bringing us back to proper relationship. Jesus was the Way and the Ultimate Sacrifice. He is the visible imprint of the invisible God's being (See Hebrews 1:3 NRSV).


Quotes of Note:

"I think most Reformed folk have learned habits of worship that effectively constrain the sovereignty of God by adopting highly defined and narrow expectations of the Spirit's operations. I long for a kind of "Pentecostalized" Reformed spirituality that expects the sovereign Lord to show up in ways that might surprise us."

James K. A. Smith
"Teaching A Calvinist To Dance" Christianity Today, May 2008

There are those who desire to acquire knowledge for its own value—and this is a base vanity. But there are others who desire to have it to edify others—and this is charity. And there are others who desire it so that they may be edified—and this is wisdom.

—Bernard of Clairvaux, The Song of Solomon


Dates to Remember

The chronology of the New Testament period is difficult to determine with precision, although some dates are known. In areas of uncertainty, however, scholars differ from one another only by a year or two.
Excerpted from:

Understanding the Bible Expanded Edition Copyright © 1972, 1976, 1984, 1999 by John Stott
Published by Zondervan Publishing House under special arrangement with Scripture Union, 130 City Road, London, England

Musings on Preterism (2)

One of the major elements of Full preterism or so called "Apostolic Preterism" that interrupts its relationship with the Apostolic church is the omission of the imminent return of Christ. I feel Pentecost was founded upon the "soon coming of the Lord" and that is what brought them haste in "searching the scriptures", e.g. Charles Parham and students in Kansas.

This is old news, but preterism is problematic in regards to the dating of Revelation also. Preterist hold that since both the apostles and Jesus talk about the Lord’s coming as near, either the event happened in their lifetime or both Jesus and His apostles were liars. This is held despite the fact that Joel describes the same event as “nigh at hand” seven hundred years earlier.

The vast majority of all biblical scholars agree that the Book of Revelation was not written until the close of the first century, long after the fall of Jerusalem. If this were indeed the case, then it would obviously be impossible for the Book of Revelation to be prophesying the demise of a city that was already destroyed.

Revelation was written by John, and scholars typically suggest that it was written during the reign of Domitian (81-96). Irenaeus specifically supports this claim. Additional evidence can be supplied by any number of church fathers.

According to the Anchor Bible Dictionary,

“Victorinus of Pettau states that John was banished (damnatus) by Domitian to a mine or quarry (metallum) on the island of Patmos, where he saw the revelation.”
Additionally, ”Eusebius cites Irenaeus and follows him on the date of Revelation. Jerome states that John was banished (relegatus) by Domitian to the island of Patmos, where he wrote Revelation (De. Vir. Ill. 9).” The majority of scholars argue that the weight of evidence is that both Origen and Clement are making reference to Johannine authorship during the reign of Domitian, that is, at the close of the first century.

Preterism always finds itself in the minority, uses spurious documentation, and falsely interprets the Scripture. The interpretation is not even supported by the very dating of the book of Scripture (Revelation) that they wish to distort.

God created time. He transcends but at the same time works with us by the power of His Spirit. In the Incarnation God entered human history and events. As the creator of time He knows it from beginning to end, if there be. The past is only a human perspective of past time. The future is only our contemplation and hope for what will actually come in time. The only real time is the present.

The context of the Revelation of John is a revelation. A revelation from the Almighty God. It was a prophetic experience certainly where John saw things as they were happening and going into the past. He was however in a prophetic realm and therefore the events were yet to be done. They had not actually happened in actual time.

In fact that is why events have yet to happen in Revelation and other prophecy of Scripture as well.
The interpretation of Preterism is off, its understanding of time is off, and importantly the understanding of the very nature of John's Revelation is off as well.

The futurist does not need the dating of the Revelation to be early or late. By acknowledging the later date and its preeminence in scholarship the futurist simply points out the warning sign that reads STOP, or even DEAD END. Needless to say there was probably a few more warning signs before this one though. They just got ignored.

Musings on Preterism (1)

Before we get into a discussion of the Olivet Discourse or certain Biblical passages I would like to point out something that preterism often forgets. One Greek word can have many meanings. Strong's Dictionary and Concordance is a simple primer and it lists all possible meanings of one word, or the semantic range of that word. In defining Greek words in certain Biblical passages preterists typically pick a meaning among the various semantic range of a particular word and apply its meaning to a particular verse. This is done without really knowing that the context of the verse actually determines the applicable meaning. Strong's is a primer, and personally I recommend something a little better. Other lexicons will show what the word means in different contexts or different passages. For example consider the BADG on G3625. This is only one of the possible meanings:

1. the inhabited earth, the world—α. as such (Ps 23:1 and often): πάσας τ. βασιλείας τ. οἰκουμένης Lk 4:5. Cf. 21:26; Ro 10:18 (Ps 18:5); Hb 1:6. ὅλη ἡ οἰκ. the whole inhabited earth (Diod. S. 12, 2, 1 καθʼ ὅλην τὴν οἰκουμένην; Ep. Arist. 37.—Diod. S. 3, 64, 6 and Jos., Bell. 7, 43πᾶσα ἡ οἰκ.) Mt 24:14; Ac 11:28; Rv 3:10; 16:14. οἱ κατὰ τὴν οἰκ. ἄνθρωποι PK p. 15, l. 20. αἱ κατὰ τὴν οἰκ. ἐκκλησίαι the churches throughout the world MPol 5:1; cf. 8:1; 19:2.

Arndt, W., Gingrich, F. W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (1996, c1979). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature : A translation and adaption of the fourth revised and augmented edition of Walter Bauer's Griechisch-deutsches Worterbuch zu den Schrift en des Neuen Testaments und der ubrigen urchristlichen Literatur (561). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Just because Strong's lists all manner of possible definitions for one word does not make that one word apply every possible meaning in that Scripture verse. A bass can mean a fish, just as in other context it could refer to a musical instrument.

The Second Coming of our Lord is being discussed in such passages as Matthew 24 (also referred to as the Olivet Discourse), and the destruction of the Temple is under discussion as well (Matthew 24:2-3). Because the phrase these things is plural, more than the temple's destruction is in view. The conjunction “and” here also denotes two different clauses or thoughts are in view.

Verse 22 speaks of those days being cut short: surely this does not mean the preliminaries to the Fall of Jerusalem were cut short for the elect's sake, for that would entail the conclusion that the fall itself was a mercy on the elect.

Matthew 24:13"But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved."
What type of saving was being spoken of here for the ones who "endure unto the end"? Preterist suggest it was deliverance from destruction and imminent danger.

I believe that Christ’s promise of salvation here is bound to mean the soul’s salvation in the last days. I think it arbitrary to mean the safety of human life. He had already said some shall be killed (Matthew 24:9), therein he refers to “you“ as being the believers. Therefore, is the deliverance conditional or situational? Texts such as Matthew 10:22, Luke 8:15, Hebrews 3:6 & 14 share conspicuous affinity here with endurance persecution and salvation.

Matthew 24:14 "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come."
This verse implies that the preaching of gospel is to be preached, and then shall the end come. If the end, which denotes a consummation, is come then why preach the gospel? Also, if this is not "The End" but a protracted form of coming then why does Jesus not indicate a sequence of comings or alert the disciples that I will come figuratively, then, later come again literally?

Preterist suggest that Colossians 1:5-6 states the gospel already went to all the world by the time Paul wrote Colossians. Paul refers here though to the then known world. Not, literally, to every person on the globe, for we know it highly probable that the North Americas were inhabited yet not exposed to the Gospel.

If the gospel had been preached to the world, assuming the preterist interpretation of Colossians, then why do we still preach? The comings seem to be too arbitrary, especially if it was so important to know and realize. We should have some explicit citations of multiple comings by the Disciples or historical writings. None of Epistles or other NT writings refer to Jesus being already come. It is hardly conceivable that if He had indeed came a second time that they would not write a word about such an event.

Matthew 24:15 "When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand."
Here is one of the assumptions you must take for granted to interpret this passage in the preterist fashion. It is not historically proven that the Abomination of Desolation has occurred. No such man has done what is prophetically required of him. Therefore, this is a passage that should be in the immediate discussion of preterists to emphatically solidify, then once this is proven other time-texts can be relevant.

Matthew 24:30 "And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory."
Here, the "sign of the Son of man" in the preterist fashion has occurred, yet no literary evidence remains of such a magnificent event. "They shall see" here comes from a Greek word always translated in meaning "look" or "see" etc and indicates an actually "looking on", "to be seen by" or "visible to", it is the same Greek word used of Jesus in Acts 1:3, "he was seen by them for forty days" It is hard, also, to restrict "all the tribes of the earth" to those of Israel alone.

Ge or earth is translated 188 times as “earth”. In instances where ge is translated land (only 33 times) the context indicates the locality. Such is not the case in Matthew 24. For example:

Matthew 2:6 "And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, art not the least among the princes of Judah: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.“
Notice Matthew uses ge here to be land and is localized by citing actual geographical locales.

Matthew 24:31 "And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."
Again, there is no record of such events. One must wonder, sincerely. "Four winds" is an Hebraism that refers to the four corners of the earth as well. No such gathering of the diaspora has occurred, as of yet.


Quote from Bruce L. Shelley

In his attempts to elucidate Church History in Plain Language, Bruce Shelley says,

“The word “person,” however, did not mean to the early Christians what it means today. To us, a person means someone like Tom, Dick, or Harry. But the Latin word persona originally meant a mask worn by an actor on the stage. In Trinitarian thought the “mask” is not worn by God to hide but to reveal his true character. It is clear that when we think of the Trinity, we should not try to think of three persons in our sense of the term, but three personal disclosures of God that correspond to what he is really like.”

Shelley, Bruce L. Church History in Plain Language. Updated 2nd ed. Dallas, Tex.: Word Pub., 1995.

Adversus Trinitas

"...unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins." (John 8:24 ESV)